Blount Smith, January 31, 1899
Our Boys in
Blount Smith Writes from
The following letter from Blount Smith, a
“We broke camp in
We were then filed out and issued 100 rounds per man, of ball cartridges and started on our march to camp grounds, about seven miles from the city. It is impossible to give you an accurate account of our reception. The Cubans fairly went wild! We marched entirely through the city, with flags flying and bands playing national airs. We were the first American soldiers to march through the city. All of the streets were crowded and we were led and followed by at least two thousand Cubans. It was one continuous yell along the entire line of march. From the balconies and house tops we were fairly showered with flowers and fruit. Their joy was shown in various ways, some yelling, some laughing or crying and all making some kind of fuss.
I saw many beautiful women, and several hundred came the entire distance to camp. We marched directly through the largest Spanish barracks where there were thousands of them all standing At Attention. Many expected trouble of some kind, but the day passed off very serenely. We had hard work making camp, but finished about , and naturally turned in a very tired crowd.
Our camp is a model one, on a hill about 250 feet above the
level and only, two miles from the Gulf, where we go swimming two or three times
per week. The climate is almost like summer in
The section is quite hilly and about fifteen miles from our camp we see a small mountain, apparently about six or seven hundred feet high.
There is a Cuban camp about five miles away, on the coast,
containing eight thousand Cuban soldiers, that is the nearest point they made to
the city in their recent fight. We had a little experience with them on the 17th
of December, one of our men died with meningitis, and a squad while burying him
in the government plot, was fired upon three times. The plot is one and a half
miles from camp and the squad was unarmed. The first bullet struck about ten
feet from the crowd, the second struck the blockhouse
in front, and the third grazed one Lieutenant’s cap. They hid in bushes and
after watching awhile they saw a soldier come out of the bushes and mount his
horse, the squad encircled him and he was held up with pistols and brought to
camp, but the evidence was not sufficient to shoot him. He claimed to be a Cuban
Lieutenant of the Guards, and stated the Spaniards fired the shots and he was
coming over to let the Americans know there was danger. He was kept in the guard
house two days then set free. The 1st of January was a big day for
We were called to “attention” about and promptly at 12, with a salute of 21 guns down
came the Spanish flag, and immediately afterwards with the same salute up went
the Stars and Stripes. The column of course, made a great yell as the one came
down and the other went up, but as “Old Glory” reached the top the boys could
keep quiet no longer, there were eleven thousand of us in line, and so with one
voice we gave three yells, such as I know the Cubans never heard before. We then
fell out to eat our New Year’s dinner, which consisted of eight hard-tacks,
three pieces of white meat and ½ gallon of water. At we were called to “attention” and marched
through the city, passing in review before Gens.
[New Bern Weekly Journal,
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