Below is the journal of Charles H. Taylor of the 17th U.S. Infantry, Co. E.
This personal journal has been transcribed, without altering spelling or punctuation. It is one soldier's record of his time in the conflict, written with no expectation that it would later be able to provide rare insight into the work of his regiment during the war. Throughout the journal, he refers to himself ast "CRT." Notes of clarification from the editor have been added in brackets .
Charles Taylor was born on February 29, 1868 in Wapakoneta Ohio. His early life was full of heatbreak. He was married twice - to Celia Evard on October 11, 1891 and Hattie Bolyard on February 13, 1894. Both women died in child birth within a year of marriage. Taylor worked as a photographer, but the occupation did not pan out.
After enlisting the 17th U.S. Infantry at the beginning of the Spanish American War, he served in Cuba and was present at El Caney and the post July 1 San Juan heights actions. Taylor contacted malaria, and was thought to be beyond hope, but was nursed back to health by his best friend and tent-mate, with whom he had enlisted, Lewis D. Noyer (referred to "LN" in the journal). Taylor was honorably discharged on physical disability before the end of his enlistment. Friends who knew him before the war said he was never the same after his service. After the war, Taylor and Noyer lost track of one another, as Noyer stayed with the regiment, married and moved to California. In 1929, the Noyers moved to Indiana, and re-established the friendship.
At the time of his discharge, Taylor was listed as being 5 feet, 6-1/2 inches tall, with a dark complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. His service was listed as "honest and faithful" on his discharge papers.
On July 27, 1901, Taylor married Belva O. Weist in Findlay, Ohio. The couple had two children, Flo Rose and Norman. Taylor worked as a railroad clerk for the P. & F. W. and Chicago Railroad and as a U.S. Rural mail carrier in Warsaw, Indiana. He was a member of the Odd Fellows, the Presbyterean Church, and the United Spanish War Veterans (USWV) Camp 14. On his death on May 6, 1941, at the age of 73, Taylor was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Warsaw..
The journal ends abruptly about the time disease was raging in the
American forces in Cuba. It may be assumed that his illness is what kept
Taylor from continuing his journal.
Monday June 20/98
Arrived in the bay at Sandiago [Santiago] 15 mi below Sandiago west
Thurs June 22
Landed and marched 2 mi and went in camp
Friday June 24
Broke camp at four o’clock A.M. marched 12 mi went in camp 3 o’clock.
and camped on first battle ground [battlefield of Las Guasimas?] Passed
through fine cocanut grove.
Saturday June 25
Broke camp at 6 o’clock 1 ½ mi march went in camp on a mountain
top in sight of the outskirts of Sandiago waiting reinforcement of artilery
to make an attacked on Sandiago. and also to draw rastions [rations], and
also being reinforced by infentry. My Co. broke camp about 1 o’clock
and marched about 1 ½ mi on another mountain top for out post duty
wher the Spanish had been driven out the day before. CRT helped covered
up a Spanish Soldier here.
Sunday June 26
6 o’clock were detailed on a Scout party to go about 2 miles in the
direction of Santiago. 3 P.M. were relieved of out post duty.
Joined our Regt. and advanced about 2 miles struck camp at Sun Set
Monday June 27
We had a fine time. Layed in camp and Rested all day.
Tuesday June 28
Cooked (?) a days rasions [rations] in preperation to go to the font
in case we were called on. were not called out. layed in camp
and rested. rained in the afternoon. Compliments were received
from the President fore our brave movements
in landing and gaining our line so close to Sandiago. 3 Spanish spies
brought in by other regements.
Wednesday June 29
Layed in camp all day. Drew rastions & tobacco. Rained in afternoon
Thursday June 30
broke camp about 4 o’clock P.M. Marched about five miles in
mud and water. CRT slipped and spraned [sprinaed] my self on this march
Friday July 1/98 [the first portion of the information for July 1 appears to have written July 2. The information is squeezed between the June 30 listing and the beginning of the listing originally written for July 1]
Lieut. Dickerson Quartermaster shot 3 times died July 2 [he was] the officer that swore ous [us] in the service [i.e., he was the officer who gave taylor and others the oath at their formal mustering in]. Corporal Graff missing during first day’s battle. L.N. busy helping wounded get some of their rations out of their packs. More dangerous in the rear than in the front. Was on high ground.
Broke camp at day broke to go to the firing line My company rear guard. battle commenced about Seven o’clock a.m. col [Colonel] was shot battle lasted until about 4:30 p.m. L.D.N. Guarded F. Co. Rolls and Haversacks. C.R.T. First Segt. My Self and 15 others got lost from our regt. and joined the firing line of the Seventh Regt. captured the block house about four o’clock and 120 prisoners. got supper and started on the march again. Marched until 11:30 P.M. Saturday July 2/98
Sunday July 3/98
Battle opened about day brake. U.S. Army Sent in a flag of
truce about 10 o’clock to ask the Spanish to Surrender. Sampson
[Rear Admiral William Sampson] captured Spanish
fleet [reference to Battle of Santiago]. Sampson
pulled in Sandiago Harbor and gave the city 24 hours to surrender.
We fired no shots after 10 o’clock all day but layed lowed and rested.
[Sampson and his squadron diod not attack Santaigo or order its surrender
on July 3rd as indicated. This is probably an example of camp "scuttlebutt"
trying to make sense of what was heard from the battle].
Monday July 4/98
What a funny way we are opending the 4th [July 4th] Drew Rations
and Tobacco had a fine dinner. got orders to pack [words missing?]
about 9 o’clock A.M. to go on the march. 11 o’clock our division
all fell in under arms and heard compliments read from General
Miles complimenting us fore our quick march and gaining our way so
close to the city and our bravery in capturing the different block houses
Thursday July 5
C.R.T. and L.N. on gard in the trenches at 4 o’clock men women and
children left the city and were leaving until 11 o’clock old men and women
half starved to death. It was a piteous sight to see them We
left our trenches at 9 o’clock and occupied the trenches of the 25 inf.
colored [25th U.S. Infantry, an African
American regiment] 1 ½ mile to right. We are under flag
of truce. the read cross [Red Cross] conveyed the Spanish wounded
to Santiago in the after-noon, reinforcements are coming in on our
right flank. C.R.T. was stung by a scorpion on the end of the little
finger gave him considerable pain it was hid in his blouse which he was
covering his shoulders [apparently he was using his sack coat to try to
keep the burning sun off of his neck]. L.N. slight attack of muscular
rheumatism this afternoon. Also our daily rain this afternoon.
drew rasions to day get plenty to eat now.
Wed July 6
Were ingaged in streanthening our works flag of truce still up. no
Thur July 7
On guard in pit truse still up. drew rasions and resting
up, no rain. L.N. stiff with rheumatism may only be from heavy marching.
Friday July 8
Streangthening our breast works. L.N. went to el Kanay [El
Caney] there was a sight I never want to see again. I was in
the hospital and seen the wounded Spanish prisoners also visited
a plantation where there was once as fine a mantion [mansion] as was in
the island with coca-nut trees each side of the road approaching from each
4 corners of farm. We received mail to day. I got 3 letters
from Clyde, Uncle Sines and my best girl.
Sat July 9
passed the day watching the Spanish no shooting done
C.R.T. took a walk[?] to Canna [El Caney?] to see the City and the block
house that we had taken on the first of July.
Sunday July 10
were ordered to be Ready to go in the pit at 12 noon but the order
[offer of surrender] was Extended [?] to the Spanish to 4 o’clock then
we opened fire that lasted until dark no one hurt in our regement.
Monday July 11
Giving them a shot once in a while orders came to move at 9
o’clock moved out at 12 o c marched about 2 mi to the right
in good plain view of the city and bay. drew rations, which consisted
of hard bread, can beef, tomatoes, coffee rice and sugar. 1st
Ill. [1st Illinois Volunteer Infantry]
regiment took our trench.
Tuesday July 12
Made no movement but layed in camp all day drew rations potatoes
onions and meat - Rained all fore noon.
Still in camp nothing unusial occurred Drew potattoes,
sugar onions Rations. Fell in at nine o’clock for dress parade.
we fell in at 12 noon. Twenty one guns were fired the U.S.
flag was hoisted in the city of Sandiago we gave three cheers, CRT
Monday July 18
Saw the refugees return to the city. quite a sight saw one
lady dead in the road people of all Descriptan Twenty some
pulled in the bay. orders issued to drill ½ hour each day.
Order issued to raise our bunks of [off] the ground Every body busy.
daily Rain drew ration C.R.T. rec'd two papers from home, one from
Findlay. [Reduced drill and raising of bunks was the result of increased
illness among the troops in general]
Tuesday July 19
No rain today. Short on Rations nice cool evening.
All the transports on the bay lit up nice --- Drew no Rations.
wednesday July 20
Nothing but coffee for breakfast.
Nothing happened with the exception of Charley has bin sick and we
have had pleanty of rations Today we atended a funeral of a fellow
in G company this morning at 7 o’clock.
Hoffert, David - family records, newspaper obituary and newspaper account of the Taylor-Noyer friendship.