While doing research I came across these letters in the 1898 Greenpoint Star newspaper from Greenpoint boys who were fighting in the Spanish-American war. The letters bring home the horror and reality of war, even a war that was portrayed as glorious by the Americans. James Allen of Calyer Street the second correspondent fought with the famous “Rough Riders” commanded by Teddy Roosevelt.
Greenpointers at the Front.
Interesting News as to Two of Them Now in Santiago.
Among those who went to the front at the outbreak of the war was Albert H.
WASHBURN of 122 Noble street. He went out as a corporal of Company I,
Seventy-first Regiment, and had been in the employ of the firm of Belding &
Co., 455 Broadway. Mrs. WASHBURN, the mother of the young soldier was seen
at her residence on Friday afternoon, and showed a postal card written by
her son which read as follows:
Santiago, Cuba, July 3d.
Dear Mother: – The battle is still going on. I have been detailed to the
ambulance corps and am safe and well. Will write soon. Your loving son,Allie.
An intimate friend of Corporal WASHBURN was Frank BOOTH of Jersey City
Heights. They were employed in the same business house in New York, and
they were both members of Company I, Seventy-first Regiment. Frank BOOTH
was killed at the battle of San Juan Hill. On Thursday Mrs. WASHBURN went
to Jersey City Heights where she saw the mother of BOOTH, who is a widow and
Frank was her only son, and as Mrs. WASHBURN says, he lived for his mother.
Mrs. BOOTH is almost distracted. He was a fine promising young man. On the
mantel piece of the parlor are cabinet photographs of the two young men in
the uniforms of their regiment; both bright, promising, American youths, and
on of them gone. However, Mrs. WASHBURN hopes that the worst is now over.
She is anxious day and night now for peace. She expects another letter daily.
Another Greenpointer with Company I, of the Seventy-first, is Private P.J.
ALLEN of 125 Calyer street. Two letters have been received from him
recently, on dated June 28th and the other July 4th. In the letter of June
28th he speaks of the daring of the Rough Riders, in making an assault on
the first landing, before orders were given by their officers, and before
Cuban guides could show them where to go. It was in this ill-starred charge
that Young Hamilton FISH was killed. The letter of July 4th tells of the
charge of San Juan hill in which he took part. They found the Cubans
half-starved. Babies of four years did not weigh five pounds. These babies
drank cocoanut milk, and parents ground up the cocoa and made a sort of
coffee, to call it such; at any rate a drink. Cubans especially women, fell
on their knees and prayed before American soldiers welcoming them as
deliverers. Spanish sharp shooters, hidden in the branches of trees, shot
at the ambulance corps and the wounded as the latter were borne from the
field of battle. Mr. ALLEN writes that he is now in the woods back of
Santiago; weather not so hot as it is up in New York in midsummer; good
cook, spring water from mountain streams, no yellow fever where he is. Mr.
ALLEN was a pressman for DEVINEY in New York before he went to the war. He
is also very young. He went out as a drummer and was soon made a bugler.
His father, John A. ALLEN, was a veteran of the late war; he died two years
ago; he was for a long time in charge of the Calyer street armory and went
out in the last war, at first as a drummer.