This is an account of the experiences of the 6th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, Company A, as seen through the eyes of one man. His account covers the period of the Spanish American War and the U.S. occupation of Cuba.
History of the 6th Missouri Volunteer Infantry:
The unit was organized under President McKinley's second call for volunteers on May 25, 1898. Between July 20 and August 6, the unit was mustered into service at the Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. At the time of mustering in, the unit consisted of twenty-seven officers and 1,265 enlisted men. The unit left St. Louis on August 11 and 12 in three sections, bound for Camp Cuba Libre, near Jacksonville, Florida. The unit arrived on August 15. The unit was at Camp Cuba Libre until November 7, when it left by train for Camp Onward in Savannah, Georgia. On December 21, the unit boarded the transports OBDAM (1st battalion) and ROUMANIAN (2nd and 3rd battalions) for the journey to Havana, Cuba. From Havana, the unit marched to Camp Columbia-Quemados, Mariano, Cuba.
From February 20 to 27, 1899, the unit was engaged in a "practice march." On April 8, 1899, the unit boarded the Ward Line Steamer HAVANA for the journey back to the United States, arriving on April 10, 1899, As the fear of disease was ever-present, the unit was quarantined on Daufuskie Island until April 16. The unit went into camp at Savannah, where it remained until its muster-out on May 10, 1899.
At mustering out, the unit consisted of fifty-three officers and 1,357 enlisted men. During its term of service, the 6th Missouri lost one officer and twenty-three enlisted men who died of disease. One enlisted man died as the result of an accident, one was court-martialed, twenty-four deserted, and thirty-two were discharged on disability.
Brief Biography of Martin Anthony Schuster:
Martin Anthony Schuster was born on February 4, 1871. He enlisted with the Missouri State Guard and then was mustered into U.S. Service Co. A, of the 6th Missouri Volunteer Infantry in June of 1898. He survived Typhoid Fever before going to Cuba as part of the U.S. occupation. He received his discharge papers and arrived home in Missouri on February 13, 1899. He married Anna Margaret Schubert on January 16, 1900. The couple had two children, Glessie Louise Schuster and Jerome Schuster. Anna died the 20th of June 1939 and Martin died on February 9, 1952.
February 15, 1898-Battleship Maine was blown up.
April 21, 1898-Spanish-American War was declared.
May 1, 1898-Admiral Dewey destroyed Spanish fleet at Manila Harbor.
1898-Enlistment & Army Life
June 13 - Signed to enlist in Co. A.
June 15 to July 1-Drilling 2 hours every day in hall and on streets of Brookfield, Mo.
July 2 - Enlisted in Missouri State Guard.
July 2 to July 11-Drilling every day.
July 11 - Left Brookfield for Jefferson Barracks on 3 special cars. Brookfield people gave great sendoff. Arrived at Jefferson Barracks July 11 10:30 p.m. Marched out to our camp in weeds 5 feet high & wet, where we had to sleep first night.
July 12 - 2 hours drill in weeds.
July 13 - Put up tents for Co. M besides drill.
July 14 -15-16-17-18-19 - Three hours drill.
July 17 - Two of our men deserted and two men, Roberts & Robertson, went to town and got full & forgot to come back. I had loaned money to each & it never was returned.
July 20 - 6th Missouri Volunteer Infantry mustered into U. S. service Co. A, had 98 men.
July 21 - 22 - Drill 3 hours in square & one hour in company.
July 20-All noncommissioned officers appointed, myself a corporal in Co.
July 23-Camp inspection, no drill.
July 24 - Sunday, got pass from 7 a.m. Sunday to 2 a.m. Monday & went to Union Station, from there to Hermann, Mo. on visit to folks to say goodbye. Arrived at camp 12:40 a.m. Monday.
July 25 - 4 hours drill, heard we were to start soon for San Francisco, Cal.
July 25 to August 10 - Drilling 4 hours every day except Saturday and Sundays.
July 26-Received our guns and belts, the old Springfield.
July 23-We got our first uniforms.
July 29 - I was first time on guard, rain all night.
August 2 - Presentation of flags to 6th Missouri.
August 11-We received our first pay.
August 11 5:30 p.m. - Broke camp and got ready for train to take us to Jacksonville, Fla. Cars did not come until July [meant August] 12, 5 a.m. Night was very cold and damp. Train left barracks 8:20 a.m. August 12 over the Iron Mountain going south through Missouri all the way. People came to depot and gave us baskets filled with eating, and farmers drove their wagons along the track and pitched in watermelons.
At Columbus, Ky., we crossed the Mississippi River and layed over from 6:30 to 11 p.m. when we changed cars. From there we had sleeping cars. That night & next day we passed through Kentucky and into Mississippi. At Tupelo, Miss., we stopped off for a short drill up & down the streets.
Next day we passed through Alabama, where we saw the first troop of wild hogs. They carried nearly train & all of us away. Then through the finest pine country and into Georgia where country is all level and large cotton fields. Lots of fine pine the only wood there.
August l5 - Arrived at Jacksonville, Fla. at 9 a.m. We went to our camping grounds. Set up our tents and rested. Scott Burger thought pineapples grew on pine trees and therefore thought there should be lots of them on account all trees were pine trees.
August 17 - We started to drill again in good earnest.
August 18 -19-20-21-5 hours drill daily.
August 23 - Got pass & went to Jacksonville to look around.
August 24 - Corporal Singleton was arrested for mutiny and was reduced two ranks.
August 25 - Drill & rain all mixed up.
August 26 - 3 hours drill. Rain again.
August 25 - 4th Illinois started to rebel and tried to break out of camp. Half or nearly all of Co. A 6th Missouri had to go on extra guard. I was detailed as Corporal of Special Guard around camp and had to take care of all. Three relieves, 36 men in all.
August 26 - Singleton released from guard house.
August 27 - 3 more Corporals lost their stripes, Cpl. Hurst, Stark, & Chapman.
August 28 - Singleton again arrested. Captain Goldman told me to arrest Singleton and take to guard house. Obanon [O'Bannon?] & Hart got into fight. I placed them under arrest also.
Jacksonville Camp Life
August 29 - First trial or hearing of evidence in Singleton trial. Afternoon we had Brigade Review at Panama Park.
August 30 - Drill & rain.
August 31 - Squad drill. Rain afternoon.
September 1 - Drill forenoon. Afternoon went out for rifle practice & rifle range. Singleton set free. American Tobacco Co. distributed 15 oz. worth tobacco to each soldier.
September 2 - Drill in Battalion formation. Charges & retreats.
September 3 - Inspection drill by regiment review and battle.
September 4 - Got passes and went to town with some boys and had my picture taken.
September 5 - Squad drill. Battalion drill. Street drill & regimental review in afternoon.
September 5 - Rope pulling match between Co. M & A Co. A winners best 2 out of 3.
September 6 - Drill & rain like always. Rope pulling between Co. B & G Co. B wins best 2 out of 3.
September 7 - Drill, rain, and orders to move camp.
September 8 - Drills in sections & battalions. Hot air about moving camp.
Panama Park Camp Grounds
September 9 - Regimental drill & review at large grounds.
September 10 - Inspection. No drill. All kinds of sports.
September 11, Sunday-Myself and several other boys, Gus Burns among, went on a steamer down the St. Johns River for a pleasure trip. Very nice scenery. Saw old Spanish fort, also St. Johns [masked?] battery & fort and stopped off at Mayport. Saw lighthouse and gathered lots of shells. On trip back our ship broke and we had to get off and walk a ways, then we got on another steamer and got back all OK except that Private Barr got full.
September 12 - Company drill & rain.
September 13 - Drill, battalion formation.
September 14 - The hottest, driest, & darndest drill we ever had. We started out at 7 a.m. and had to drill steady till 11 a.m. First Major Dickenson commanded, then Captain Goldman. When he was tired Captain Healey commanded. All took a hand at it. It was only good for the officers as it was only different alignments. Several men fell out. The hot sun and hot sand was terrible.
September 15 - Another long drill. After that we had a ball game, Team 6th Missouri & 4th Illinois. 4th Illinois won 6 to 0.
Camp Cuba Libre-Jacksonville, Fla.
September 15 - Kirkpatrick & Mettler released from guard house.
September 16 - Long drill. Hot day & rain.
September 17 - Inspection & rifle practice at rifle range. I kept tally for Co. My score was 21, best score was 24.
September 17-Rose & Mettler deserted.
September 18, Sunday-Worked nearly all day getting names signed on clothing list at 3rd Division Hospital.
September 19 - Drill, battle formations 4 hours on large grounds.
September 20 - Change of orders of the day: Roll call 6:15, mess 6:30, fatigue 7:00, sick call 7:05, drill 8 to 10 a.m., guard mount 3:30 p.m., regimental parade 3:45 p.m.
September 21 - Drill & parade & rain.
September 22 - No drill. Rain. Review afternoon & went to St. Augustine, Fla. for sightseeing. Had lots of fun. Was in old Spanish Fort [Marrion?] at old city gates, at oldest house in U.S., was on small [porge?], was at barracks and all over town. Bought some nice pictures. Some of Co. A went on excursion down the river.
September 23 - Camp inspection by Gen. Alger.
Panama Park-Jacksonville, Fla.
September 23 - Inspection of camp and general cleaning up around camp so it looks nice when the general comes. 3:30 I went on guard for 24 hours but had to stay on 4 hours overtime on account the [heeb much?] inspection of Gen. Alger.
September 25 - Alger drove in fine carriage along main road around camp. 3:20 division review.
September 26 - No drill for Co. A. Private Busby died 7 a.m. 9 men from 6th Missouri are taken to 3rd Division hospital.
September 27 - Boys all want to go back to Jefferson Barracks. 2 hours drill & review. Lieutenant West was sick for 4 days and was taken to hospital today. We were to move to St. Augustine, Fla. Sgt. [Wreim?] returned from trip there. He reports wagon road very bad and no water to drink for about 28 miles.
September 28 - Maior Dickenson starts for Washington to have regiment moved.
September 29 - Nearly everyone sick. Only about 30 men able for duty.
Camp Cuba Libre-Jacksonville, Fla.
September 29 - Very little drill. All companies are nearly 2/3 sick.
September 30 - Signed payroll & went through muster roll. No drill. Report that Mettler is arrested & taken to Fort Leavenworth. Capt. Goldman is acting Major of 2nd Battalion.
October 1 - Inspection of arms & quarters. 6 men went to St. Augustine. 3 men taken to division hospital. Detail of garrison & Illinois for nurses.
October 2 Sunday morning woke up, found myself laying in water. Rain & storm all night. Sunday morning cooks could not get to kitchen for water & storm. Several tents blew down. Storm blows about 60 miles per hour and it is pouring down. Not a man has a dry stitch of clothes. Our tent is going down so I had to fix it. Captain's tent went down. All is wet. Trees are breaking down. Everybody wants to go back home. Report is we are to start for home soon.
October 3 - Storm lasted 42 hours. Now sun is shining nicely and we have short drill. No review. One of the band men died.
Camp Cuba Libre-Panama Park
October 4 - Battalion & regimental drill review and rain. All got wet. No news but lots of hot air, going home.
October 5 - Drill, morning 2 hours, afternoon 1 hour and review.
October 6 - Drill and extended order changes.
October 7 - Asked Lt. Millburn to be relieved from dress parade but he said we would be exceeding his authority. I fell in line, then he came and told me to fall out, but then I did not want to.
October 8 - Saturday inspection. I fell in at lower end back rank. Lt. Millburn inspection. Said my gun was always in good condition. He knew he did wrong. All or nearly all the boys went to town. I felt too sick to go.
2:30 p.m.-I am the only corporal in camp and I had to go on guard mount but was nearly too sick to stand up. Got relieved at 7:30 p.m. by Corporal [Brummley?]. I went straight to A Regt. hospital. My fever was then 102 2/5. Got a few quinine pills, went to my tent but could not sleep all night.
3rd Division Hosipital-Jacksonville, Fla.
October 9 - Went to hospital. Fever 104 1/2. Dr. Lieberman ordered me to be sent to division hospital but I layed there all day with no medicine. Evening a few quinine pills.
October 10 - Fever 103 3/5. Ordered again to be taken to division hospital and gave Sgt. [Murry?] a chackin up for not sending me the day before.
4 p.m. - Fever 104 2/5. Felt very bad. No medicine and no attendant. Cpl. Burns in bed next to me.
7 p.m.-Called for priest, then Dr. Lieberman called to see me. Then Dr. Baudway and Capt. Goldman all tried to keep me from sending for a priest, but Cpl. Burns advised me to send and I did.
10 p.m. - Father Sullivan and another father called and gave me all attention and last sacraments. I had about given up all hopes.
October 11 - Fever still worse and again ordered to division hospital and at I 1 a.m. was taken there. I called for Corporal Wright and while being in wagon wrote a few lines with lead pencil to Mother and also sent $40.00 which I gave to Cpl. Wright to tend to.
11:30 - Arrived at division hospital. Was taken to Ward 25 but was taken out to Ward 9 where the Sisters were nurses. They gave me a cold drink at first, then Dr. Brooks came and tended to me, pronounced Typhoid Fever 104 1/2. Priest called ["called" believed to mean "visited" here & in following references].
October 12 - Fever is getting worse.
October 13 - Still worse. Priest called.
October 14 - Fever 105 2/5. Priest called.
October 15 - Fever 105 1/5 all day.
October 16 - Fever 106 2/5, highest point reached. Ice on my head from 2 p.m. to 7 a.m. October 17. Ice baths every 2 hours.
October 17 - Felt easier. Priest called. Also Burns, Wright, Lane, Monroe.
October 18 - Fever 102 3/5. Had a small glass of milk, first in 3 days.
October 19 - Fever less. Milk diet.
October 20 - Felt much better. Got very good care. Sister wrote a letter for me to my sister Mary and Mother. I signed my name. All I could do.
October 21 - I had 6 letters under my head from few days before. Had not read them for I was too weak.
October 22 - Little better. Man next to me died. Also Ramm of Company A died.
October 23 - Another man in my ward died and was taken to Dead House.
October 24 - Fever less. Got 3 letters.
October 25 - One glass milk, one glass beef tea.
October 26-Wright and lots of boys called. Millburn called. Lt. West is across in a ward not far from me.
October 27-Feel much better. Got my overcoat. Was taken over to another ward where Lt. Chapman was.
Josiah Simpson Hospital-Fort Monroe, Va.
October 27 - Dr. came to examine me and passed me to be sent on train to Josiah Simpson Hospital.
October 28, 3 p.m.-Little fever. Was carried on the train. Left Jacksonville for Fort Monroe at 5:30 p.m.
October 29 - Fever again 102. One glass milk.
October 30, Sunday morning-Arrived at Fort Monroe, carried into Ward No. 7. First thing fresh bath. 3 days more on milk only.
Nurses at Ward No. 7 Miss Wood, Miss Shaw, Miss Sudcliff, Miss Auldstub.
November 2 - One boiled egg and milk.
November 3 - Wrote the first letter since I took sick and got up a little.
November 4 - Wrote 4 letters and was up half a day.
November 5-6-7-Up all day.
November 8 - Ate at table in ward. Rain, cold weather.
November 9 - First time out of ward. Walked to [get my pep?] and nurse Miss Sudcliff took my picture with Kodak.
November 10 - First time ate a light diet hot.
November 11 - Another train of sick soldiers. Several of Co. A on train. Also Lt. West, Obannon, Hurst, Treepier, Shafer, James. Total 142 on train.
November 12 - About 780 soldiers at this hospital. Cold weather.
November 13 - Went to barber shop for shave.
November 14 - Went to heavy diet dining.
November 15 - Heard we are going to Cuba.
November 16 - Shafer, Hurst & James went back to regiment.
November 17 - Cold, rain.
November 18 - Regulars get paid.
November 19 - We all get paid. Nice weather.
November 20 - Went to chapel for service. Episcopal preacher there.
November 21 - Went first time out of hospital grounds. Went to Newport News. Stopped off at Hampton & Pheobus. Bought satchel [and?] box cigars.
November 22 - Called for 30-day furlough but could not get it.
November 23 - Very much rain & cold. Some got furloughs.
November 24 - Cold rain & snow mixed. Had a good turkey dinner.
November 25 - Letter to Cpl. Wright.
November 26 - Cold. Went to Hampton.
November 27 - Played tricks on some boys.
November 28 - Spain signed terms of peace.
November 29 - Cold, clear.
November 30 - Muster roll call for all.
December 1 - Went to Old Point Comfort and went on Battleship New York and had a fine time. Went all through the ship, then came over to [Phoebuss?] and had tintypes taken.
December 2 - News: 2nd Division is going to Cuba.
December 3 - Cold, rain storm, real cold at night.
December 4, Sunday-Stayed at ward.
December 5 - Went to Hampton, bought box of cigars, pocket knife, papers, and then reported for duty.
December 6 - At ward. Cold.
December 7 - Nice weather. Some boys go home.
December 8 - Went to Hampton, had pictures taken.
December 9 - Loaned money to Chapman.
December 10 - Put application for discharge.
December 11 - Went to chapel for service, 10:30. Congressman Landes of Indiana called at ward. I got acquainted with him. Gave him a note to Champ Clark. They are good friends together.
December 12-13-14-At ward. Rain.
December 15 - Went to Hampton.
December 16 - Sleet, rain, & snow.
December 17 - Payday at hospital. Chapman draws private's pay.
December 18 - Ed Knight paid me 200 dollars.
December 19 - Chapman & myself went to Newport News. Had several drinks. Went to a theater, then went out again and Chapman was run in by a cop but was released. The next day Clover & Miner got run in for trying to drink up all whiskey and shooting holes in the air. Were taken to Hampton and fined $24.00 & 15 days each.
December 20 - Chapman had trial but got dismissed.
December 21-Went to Hampton to get Clover out but no success.
Camp Onward-Savannah, Ga.
December 22 - Lt. West went on 60-day furlough.
December 23 - Reported again for duty. Evening-Ordered to Savannah. 7 p.m. started from Old Point Comfort for Norfolk, Va. in charge of 6 men. Arrived at Norfolk 9 p.m. Stayed there till 12:15 a.m. Went all over town. Started from there to Pennies Point on steamer and from there on railroad. 6th Missouri Donahue Co. B in my lot. [?]
December 24 - Traveled through North & South Carolina and Georgia. Arrived at Savannah, Ga. at 9:40 p.m. December 24. Started for camp but heard 6th Missouri had gone so we went to hotel overnight December 24. Stopped at Liberty House. Reported adjutant next morning. Took streetcar for old campgrounds of 6th Missouri, then came back to Provost Headquarters where we stayed till sailing.
December 25, Xmas-Went to church 3 times.
Provost Headguarters, On Guard at Savannah, Ga.
December 26 - Walked all over the city of Savannah, Ga. It has very nice large streets. Some are paved with bricks. Its population is about 65,000, 30,000 white and 35,000 colored. Has lots of saloons and brewery but many low nigger dives.
December 27 - I took a corporal's place in Provost Headquarters so he can go to theater. Had lots of fun while on duty. One prisoner of the 9th Illinois Regiment was brought in. He had 2 one-gallon jugs and 2 bottles of good port wine and 2 bottles of whiskey and 10 cents in pocket. We all helped ourselves.
December 28-Transport Chester sailed today but refused to take us along. Frank [?Iuman came along today from hospital. He is the only one of Co. A 6th Missouri here with me. I am advancing money so he can get something fit to eat and sleep in a good bed. He is very weak from sickness.
December 29-Went about town again, saw more.
Savannah, Ga.-Getting Readv to Sail
December 29 -[Morel cotton in bales here ready to be shipped than I ever seen in my life. Savannah is building a fine post office, all of which marble stone from its porch. President McKinley viewed the soldiers parade.
December 30 - Got on board of transport Obdam. Large vessel, 420 feet long. lst Battalion of 3rd Nebraska and Headquarters and 60-odd men from other regiments all formed in line at Provost Headquarters and marched down to dock where we all piled in our ship through a mass of howling people, men, women, and children, all wishing us good speed to Cuba.
3:40 p.m.-Left dock down the Savannah River. A little tugboat is pulling the Obdam by a heavy rope. The river is so narrow at places that the tug has to zigzag from one side to the other, pulling and puffing to get through. All along down on the right side all mills & factories are blasting their whistles as far as they can see us. About 10 miles below Savannah the Obdam came near running into the left bank of the river and the little tug had all she could do to hold her back. Sometimes the tug was nearly under water.
Well at last we are out in the open ocean. All is low swamp land on both sides of river. We are now under our own steam, the tug is returning. It's now 6 p.m. and we are having our supper, corned beef & hardtack & coffee. Every man got a hammock to sleep in. I got mine next to stairway [outer?] row. All is very nice and everyone seems to enjoy.
9 p.m.-Tattoo & Taps. All go to their hammocks, but lots of the boys are getting sick. 10 p.m.-I feel very bad. I got up and went up on deck to middle of ship and sat down on floor. Took a little whiskey and lit a,cigar and am getting to feel better. One Nebraska boy came along and groaned and kept wishing he was home and that he was dying. I had him sit down beside me and gave whiskey and cigar and so he is feeling better but still wishing for home.
December 31 - Well I woke up and feel fine. Sun is just coming up but we can see no more land. Nothing but the heavy water and the ship we are on. 7 a.m.-Had breakfast. Same thing. 9 a.m.-Lots of porpoises and jellyfish and flying fish. Porpoises are having a race with the ship. There are the nicest little sailfish but I can't get any.
10:30-Bought 5 meal tickets for $1.25 so that I can get something [decent?] to eat. I can get the same food and at the same table when the officers eat. 3:30-Wind from south and a few waves. 4 p.m.-Sail ahead looks just like an eggshell. It must be about 30 miles. 6:30 p.m.-Miami, Fla. lighthouse in sight. 7 p.m.-Officers, doctors, nurses, and men all are on deck singing and having a real good time. It's nice and warm. Nothing like New Year's Eve in Missouri.
8 p.m. - Signaled to lighthouse and got answer by 4 skyrockets. Obdam answered with red, white, and blue lights. Miami is firing lots of fireworks. 9 p.m.-Now we are on the way 30 hours and seeing the last of the American coast for some time to come at least. So goodbye Sweetheart and all I love.
10 p.m.-Steamer passes us to east. Showed U. S. colors by lights. 10:30All go to sleep. I am feeling fine.
January 1, 1899 - All up and well. 6 a.m.-Can see just a little speck of Key West, Fla. So this is new year 1899. On water sun comes up nice and warm. 9:30 a.m.-Passed the Key West lighthouse and seen the last rock [riffles?] of coast of Florida. 10 a.m.-Steamer southwest of us. 12 o'clock New Year Dinner. Three kinds of meat, 2 kinds of pork and cold beef, potatoes, beets, bread, butter, coffee. All taste fine. 3:45-Three-mast ship in sight.
First Land Seen of Cuba
January 1 - Large clouds come over us and the wind blows very brisk. Water is getting rougher and it's starting to rain. We are now in the Gulf of Mexico. All men are sitting and lying on deck telling stories, while I am writing this sitting at the front point of the ship. The sun is hidden by the clouds, so it is very pleasant up here.
4:30 - First of Cuba land in sight, just a dim outline over the water, real dark grey. Also a steamer came in sight. 5:15 p.m.-Mountains of Cuba can be seen in 4 different directions. One to the southwest must be real high. 6 p.m.-Three-sail steamer passed us 1/2-mile to right coming from Havana. 6:30 p.m.-Light can be seen and a better outline of the lay of land. Light from Havana lighthouse. 6:50 p.m.-Can see light from Morro Castle. 7 p.m.-Morro Castle has searchlight on us. Water is very rough. We went around in a circle till the pilot came out in a little skiff-5 men with him-to pilot us in past Morro into the harbor. 8:15-Passed under Morro and very slowly went into harbor. 9:20-Cast anchor opposite the old wreck of the Battleship Maine. Since we are in harbor it seems much warmer. 9:50-All go to sleep. Lots of hurrahs from shore.
Januarv 2. 6 a.m.-All up, breakfast. Ship pulls up to dock. First thing we see on shore is lots of timothy hay & provisions and soldiers all over it and mules & wagons all mixed up together. Four other transports are here unloading. The old wreck looks old and dreary. Lots of old stone forts can be seen from harbor and blockhouses can be seen on every hill around harbor. 9:15-Ready to get off ship. Cubans and Spaniards fetch lemons & oranges to us. The last breakfast on ship was not much. The boys that could not buy their meals got 1 hardtack and coffee.
Go On to Part II
Schuster, M. A. of the 6th Missouri Infantry, Co. A as reported in his "Private Book." Contributed by his great-granddaughter, Patricia Meis.
Statistical Exhibit of Strength of Volunteer Forces Called into Service During the War with Spain; with Losses from All Causes. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899).