Leon Reporter, Leon, Iowa
Thursday, July l4, l898
San Francisco, Cal., July, l898.
Editor Leon Reporter: When next Monday rolls around we will have been here two weeks, which seem only about that many days. Notwithstanding the fears of change of climate with the ocean fogs, cold and hot days, for instance yesterday in the morning it was uncomfortably hot and last night a person could wear an overcoat. The fog rose last night and fog whistles blew nearly all night.
Most of the boys are well and able to answer every call for duty except one man whose wife died about a month ago and one of the home boys in Co. I, who has pneumonia fever and is dangerously ill, his temperature being as high as l03. Some of course are sick to get off of duty. They have all been vaccinated; those who have not been vaccinated within three or four years get it twice. Anyone who has a scar on his arm was vaccinated within the last year or two. If anyone should wake up in the night they could hear all over the camp exclamations like this: "For God sake lay over you are on my sore arm!" "Oh my arm!" "Get off my sore arm!"
We just received our new guns today and all are trying to have the cleanest gun when inspection comes which is at 5 p.m. They are the 73 model Springfield single-shot gun.
We have a Y.M.C.A. tent in our regiment for the benefit of the soldiers. They have magazines, books and all kinds of Christian papers, writing tablets and stationary which the boys can use any time in the day.
During the drills very few fall out, and they are men who cannot abstain from pie, ice cream, beer and other intoxicants, all of which are cautioned against almost daily. We have water furnished by the city and comes from the county east of us, from about Oakland. There being no freezing, the pipes are laid near the surface and the water is warrm and not wholesome by any means.
Our camp is scattered over a sandy desert about five miles from Mainport town to which we have easy access by means of car lines, but the boys prefer to walk, at least, until pay day, which is always tomorrow. The great difference in the character of northern and sub-tropical vegetation is very striking and forms one of the chief attractions for the new comer who never tires of rambling through the suburbs and parks. The hospitable citizens never tire in their endeavors to make the boy in blue feel perfectly at home. The whole regiment marched up to the presidio drill grounds (Government fort) Thursday to check up the pay roll, and there was where we met our first grief, Gen. Otis being in command since Gen. Merritt departed. He issued orders to allow only five men out in the forenoon and five men out in the afternoon and to issue passes at night to men on their meritous conduct during the day which is like stepping into a refrigerator on a hot day. Before we went to town when we pleased so we were in at ll:30. But Col. Loper is trying to get it modified so we can go at night. There is a rumor afloat in camp that Gen. Shafter has met with severe reverses; there is nothing of that kind printed in the papers. I guess they are afraid some of the soldiers will show the yellow streak. The regiments went out to drill yesterday with four other regiments to see which would go to Manila on the next expedition. The 5lst put up such a rotten drill that we don't stand much show. We are going to try it again next Friday to see whether we go on the fifth expedition or not. I saw a letter from Manila to a boy in Co. I. which said it was healthful but most uncomfortably hot.
The fog whistles have been blowing all night. This morning the ground looks as though there had been a small rain.
We had a man in our Co. who got homesick the next day after we arrived. He got lame and couldn't stand the drills, but when he learned he would be court marshaled he got well surprisingly quick.
We were all very thankful for the things we received from home.
There is some talk of us taking part in the celebration on the Fourth, which will be a tiresome day, marching all day with our field outfit, but we will get a good dinner and that is considerable.
"Don't ask us how we like it,
Or if we'd like to quit;
If the boys are getting chummy,
If the stuff we eat is fit
For a cat or a dog to live on,
Much less men who have a home.
Don't ask us any questions,
Leave us to our grief alone.
Don't ask us how we're living,
Of the soft beds we have -- nit.
Of the girls we've left behind us
With whom evenings spent have flit,
Don't tell us how you're living,
How at will you are free to roam.
Don't tell us we were foolish,
Leave us to our grief alone."
As the bugle is sounding for mess (dinner) I will have to close, so farewell.
Co. K. 5lst Ia. Inf.'t. Vol.
Copied by Nancee(McMurtrey)Seifert
"With permission from the Leon Journal Reporter"
January 27, 2003