The following letters were written by trooper Carl Lovelace of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Infantry (also known as the "Rough Riders"), Troop D. The letters detail his service in Cuba during the war. These letters appeared in the Waco Times Herald.
CARL LOVELACE WRITES A LETTER
A WACO BOY HAS BEEN HEARD FROM, BUT IT WAS BEFORE THE BATTLE.
A ROUGH RIDER
Anxiety of His Friends as to His Safety - His Name Does Not Appear In the List.
Deputy District Clerk Ben G. Kendall is very much interested in his
friend, Carl Lovelace, of this city, who
is one of the Rough Riders in Cuba.
He has searched every list of names which has been published of killed and wounded, and Carl's name has not been found. While he hopes it will not appear in that way, still he feels anxious until he knows positively that the young man has escaped unharmed. He has received two letters from Trooper Lovelace, which were written before the battle of last week. As the soldier has many friends in this city, they will be interesting reading, and are here given:
On Board Yucatan, alias Transport No. 8, June 20, 1898. - At the time, about 8:30 a.m. we are about a mile and a half from the hills of Cuba. At daybreak we rounded Cape Maceo and are now headed to the west. Our destination we don't exactly know, but think we are to land at a point about forty miles west of Santiago.
We are now making very slow time and it will be late tomorrow before we get off this infernal ship.
I have been sea sick, in fact I am still sea sick, and I yearn for the solid earth, with a yearning that can't be stilled. I have spent the last twenty-four hours at the railing, and am now as hollow as any mockery on earth.
Early this morning, when I awoke, my eyes rested on a grayish mass to the north, it was Cuba, and a tumult of emotions raged through me. Because there before me was the enchanted isle of song and story; there the spot where liberty struggles as in her birth throes and freedom seems to be fading from the great world's face? O, nein - it was because there were good solid earth - ground - you understand - God-given dirt, that you could put your foot on in one place without having a place five feet in front of you caress you on your alabaster brow.
You don't understand, you can never understand, until you are on the sea about four days. What a magnificent thing was God's flat. "Let there be land." Sick - why I have thrown up every thing except my job, and only the iron-clad oath Uncle Sam administers enabled me to hold that. But the voyage is nearly over now, and midst the fire and smoke of conflict, which soon will come, all this will be forgotten.
We are going almost due west now, under a pretty fair head of steam, and by tomorrow any way, will land. Whether we will have any trouble in landing is a thing we don't know.
By our going forty miles west of Santiago it looks very much as if it were intended that we, in conjunction with Schley's fleet, are to take that city. But the papers will have told you all by the time you get this. Can't write more now.
Just off Santiago de Cuba, June 22, 8 a. m. - We have just disembarked, and rather expect a hold old time today. Couldn't finish the letter I began on Tuesday, and have only a moment now in which to write.
I am all right this morning, and am seeing things worth going round the world to see.
Will write you of it all first opportunity. I'll tell you of every thing later. There's no time for writing now. It seems there's a "hot time" in store for us, and we are ready and eager for it.
CARL LOVELACE TELLS OF THE FIGHT
LETTER FROM A WACO BOY WRITTEN NEAR SANTIAGO DE CUBA.
HEARD THE BULLETS.
Long Fight and a Fatal One For Some of The Rough Riders - Not a Man Wavered.
A letter was received yesterday by Ben G. Kendall from Carl Lovelace of this city, who is one of the Rough Riders now in Cuba. The letter was written June 24, after the famous fight in which Capt. Capron lost his life. The letter has been delayed in transmission, and came via Baltimore. It is as follows:
Cuba, June 24
I have written you two or three jerky little letters during the past three or four days. Every time I started to write something interfered. While we were on the ship I was too sea sick to do anything in a rational manner. Yesterday was an eventful day. Today promises to be more so, because from my coconut palm tent I can see a grim black looking mountain and on its brow floats the banner of Spain. We are momentarily expecting an order to move. Three regiments of regulars have already moved. The insurgents have been fighting all day, only a few miles from us. Every one in awhile I can hear the roar of some of our warships' guns firing at what is supposed to be a masked battery on the heights around the bay or Santiago. The situation is at least interesting. The scent of battle is in the air and the light of battle gleams in every eye. We are camped thirty miles from Santiago, 200 yards from the Caribbean sea, and in a camp where the Spaniards took breakfast yesterday morning. Friday, June 25, the order to go forward did come. We moved eight miles to a little Spanish town which was abandoned two hours before our arrival. We camped there in the rain, and early yesterday morning went on as the vanguard of the army. About 8 o'clock we ran into an ambush [the Battle of Las Guasimas], and for two hours and twenty-five minutes our regiment was under fire from a hidden enemy. My troop was under fire for about an hour, and bullets fairly rained about us, and into some of us. It was mean fighting, because we couldn't see what to shoot at. The underbrush is so dense that one can hardly see twenty feet in front of him, and where there is no underbrush, the grass is three or four feet high. The country is mountainous and full of ravines. We were dead tired and altogether we had a hard time. Our regiment lost about thirty-one killed and wounded. Capt. Capron of L was killed, his first lieutenant was wounded and Major Brodie of our squad was wounded. Our troop had one slightly and five severely, but not fatally, wounded. I don't understand why more of us were not hit. The bullets seemed to hit everywhere, except in the particular spot where a man was, so it seemed to each man. But we licked the Spaniards. Less than 600 Rough Riders held them off for two hours and a half, then a couple of regiments of regulars came up and they retreated in a hurry. Don't think there is a pleasurable thrill about a long fight; that there is a wild kind of joy about the music of whistling bullets. There isn't. After firing the first jalf dozen shots the whole thing seemed just like regular routine business, just like marching and drilling and roll call, and all such werisome things. But I think this was largely due to the fact that we were so tired after our long forced march. When it comes to fighting the Rough Riders are all right. Part of the time we were under two fires, front and flank, and could not see what to shoot at, and still not a man wavered. The rank and file are all right. We are now only about ten miles from Santiago, and it will be ours inside of three days, we think. We will be used as a reserve for the next few days, until our turn to go front comes again. So it is probable that won't be in the worst place at Santiago. I will close now. Wilt write again from Santiago. Your friend,
One of the Rough Riders Writes to His Father.
T. J. Lovelace has received a letter from his son Carl, dated July 9, near Santiago de Cuba. The letter is a short one. The young man says he is in good health, is not wounded, and is enjoying the climate of the island.
He said he was short of paper, but would write at length as soon
as he arrives inside Santiago. Carl is one
of the Rough Riders, who did such good work in
the charge at San Juan.
BEAUTIFUL LETTER. WACO ROUGH RIDER.
CARL LOVELACE WRITES A GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION OF HOT TIMES AROUND SANTIAGO.
NEGRO SOLDIERS FIGHTERS.
The Liberty-Loving Cuban a Great Disappointment - Praise for Col. Roosevelt and Richard Davis.
The friend of Carl Lovelace of this city will be glad to read the letter which is printed herewith, which was written by the young man at Santiago de Cuba. Carl is a member of the Rough Riders, and was in the famous charge which is now a part of the history of the war with Spain. During his absence he has been in correspondence with Deputy District Clerk Ben G. Kendall, when mail facilities were afforded him. The letter which is given here was received Saturday. It is a very interesting one, in fact is the best that has been received from the young man. He is quite a good writer, and in the art of description he is as capable as a novelist. His letter follows:
Santiago de Cuba, Island of Cuba, July 26, 1898.
Your letter of the 13th came this morning. I have not yet received the one written before that date. No doubt it will reach me, however, for a regular post office has been established and mail facilities will be better...
...It is rather late in the day to write an account of the Santiago fight, and I won't attempt it, since you have doubtless read a dozen descriptions of it already. Our part of the battle opened in a rather thrilling manner. We had made a forced march the night before and were camped just behind the brow of a hill, a mile in front of which was a Spanish battery. We had just finished a very hasty and a very meager breakfast and were trying to borrow enough tobacco from each other to fill our pipes, when suddenly, seemingly from the heavens themselves a Spanish shell dropped among us. It was a totally new experience to all of us, and we were - well we are Rough Riders and of course weren't scared, but it thrilled us with a thrill that made my hair rise even as the quills of the fretful porcupine, and my backbone felt like it had run amuck of a Klondyke blizzard. We got accustomed to little Mauser whizzings in the Sevilla scrap, but this first shell! It seemed to come like a meteor from peaceful skies, glowing like a falling sun and shrieking like an unchained demon; then it stuck, burst into ten thousand fragments, tore up great piles of earth, and wounded three men. I haven't yet figured out why it didn't kill a dozen. We have since then had lots of them shot at us, and the sensations differ only in degree. They are the wickedest things in Cuba.
After a very few minutes of this we marched around the hill, threw off our rolls, formed a skirmish line and began a continuous advance through grass five feet high, towards the Spanish riflemen. All the morning we followed them, through the dense underbrush, through great groves of mangrove and cocoanut trees, through their barbed wire fences, across creeks, shooting whenever we caught a glimpse of striped uniform, and trying to make as comfortable as possible, the poor fellows who were wounded. There is a serious of rifle-pits and blockhouses some distance from, and extending around the city. Spanish valor, that stubborn dogged valor anent which the London Something or Other speaks so feelingly, consisted in retreating to an Entrenchment, then when we got within five hundred yards of them, retreating to another. That is why the fight was so prolonged. In the open they wouldn't have lasted as long as half a plug of Tinsley's natural leaf in our own Troop D.
Early in the afternoon, came the charge up San Juan hill. Of course you have read of it, and know as much or it almost, as I, so I shan't attempt to tell of it. And, too, I don't remember much about it, except that at the foot of the hill, I had five minutes of beautiful shooting; that when we came to the brow of the hill our ranks were perceptibly thinner; that we captured some rum and rice and cigars in the blockhouse on the crest, and that I saw a pile of dead and wounded Spaniards lying in the trenches.
That night we fortified the hills that we had captured, by digging trenches on the Santiago sides of them; then began the protracted siege on Santiago; we stayed in the trenches and exchanged Krag-Jorgueson [Jorgenson] bullets for Mausers all day long. Sunday came the truce, which held until the following Sunday, July 10. Every night during this period we dug trenches and bomb-proofs.
Sunday at 3:20 P.M. came the much talked of bombardment; it was featureless except the work of the dynamit [dynamite] gun carried by our regiment. We had all been abusing this long telescope looking arrangement, which had caused us so much trouble to bring with us, because of its almost total ineffectiveness in the first day's fight. This time it gave us an agreeable surprise. In front of a large tree in front of us, a Spanish battery was half hidden by some underbrush. One shell from "Dinah" struck the right place, exploded, and gun, gunners, tree and all went fifty feet in the air. It was a beautiful shot, and evidently brought terror to the hearts of the Dons. At any rate, it produced a lively scampering among them.
One thing was painfully evident, which should make our war department blush. In one thing did mediaeval Spain show more progress than we. This was in the matter of powder. Her artillery used smokeless powder, and our gunners had a deuce of a time locating her batteries; we used the old kid, and the enemy located ours without any trouble. Why we, who consider America buy a synonym of progress, should be so palpably and so culpably behind in this, above all other things, I cannot understand.
One thing I noticed; one great thing; one thing, that if the colonial policy is adopted by our people, ought to be an large factor in solving the ever recurring race problem. Get it out of your head that Negroes can't fight. They can. That Tenth cavalry. Will I ever forget one charge I saw them make. They were on our left, and in taking one hill, moved out about two minutes before we did. Amidst a hall of bullets I saw them deploy and move up the hill as if on dress parade with a grand stand attachment. At every step some of them fell but the line never even wavered. They simply closed up to all the gaps, and kept advancing, shooting and cheering as they went. We made some good charges ourselves, but we don't make them with the exquisite mechanical perfection of the Tenth Cavalry Colored. They surprised us all, and I've got more respect for the colored soldier and citizen than I ever had before. If we are going to keep all these tropical islands, we have got to keep troops in every one of them. The Negro soldier is the equal of any, and he stands this climate better than the white man; a place in the regular army betters his conditions, and it seems to me that when our standing army is increased, the Negro should be given a chance. At present there are only four colored regiments in the service...
...I can't say that I am especially gratified with the liberty loving Cubans. Like a great many other things that have ever before been linked with liberty, they are a bad lot. A dirty, greasy looking black or yellow devil will come up to you an smite himself across the middle a couple of times, thus indicating that his inner man yearns for a hard-tack; you turn to get the hard-tack, and he will steal your tobacco, your shirt - your anything, except soap, that he can get his hands on. I hope that the Cuban who hangs around our camps is not a fair specimen of the people as a whole. If so, our Uncle Samuel has a white elephant on his hands. The United States is feeding a great multitude of them who are about as worthless as an equal number of Digger Indians. Whenever there is any prospect of a fight, not a Cuban can you see - after the fighting is done they make a gallant charge towards the commissary...
...Never was a commander better liked by his men than is Colonel Roosevelt by the Rough Riders. He was on the firing line all the time during both battles, and occasionally he used a rifle himself. Although of a very enthusiastic temperament, he is perfectly cool when the bullets are flying. Altogether he is the ideal dashing cavalry colonel, and wherever he goes, he stirs things up; whether it be as police commissioner in New York city, or assistant secretary of the navy in Washington, or at the head or this heterogeneous gang, euphoniously dubbed the Rough Riders, he is a whole bunch of pansies...
...Richard Harding Davis has been with us for some time. Was with us in the Sevilla fight. At one time, the bullets were coming especially fast, and we couldn't tell exactly where they came from; presently the nervy author of "Soldiers of Fortune" sauntered up and asked Colonel Roosevelt why we were not shooting. On getting his reply, Mr. Davis coolly mounted a stump, took out his field glasses, and surveyed the country in front of him, after a minutes search with Mausers whistling all about him, he located the Spaniards; then grabbling a gun from a wounded man, he sat for several minutes on the stump, pumping lead at them as rapidly as he was able; his absolute coolness during this little affair was remarkable. Personally, he is a big heavily built man, looks to be about thirty something, goes clean shaven and is a splendid type of affable-looking, robust, young manhood. He can fight as well as write about fighting...
...We are camped four miles from Santiago in the mountains. The place
is said to be very healthful, and is certainly very beautiful. We are surrounded
by mountains, and the highest of them is perpetually covered with mists
and films of vapor that brood over and around its summit, and that are
changed to purple and then to gold, by the slant rays of the afternoon
sun, until one can imagine that some great Sun God is handling many colored
slides, like the man with the calcium light machine, when Madame Hermann
does the butterfly dance - you remember. It rains almost every day, and
all vegetation grows like mushrooms. It is just now starting to rain, so
this must end.
Baylor Line, Fall 1997 Issue - Photo of Carl Lovelace
Waco Times Herald, July 6, 1898, p. 8 (Letter 1)
Waco Times Herald, July 8, 1898, p. 8 (Letter 2)
Waco Times Herald, July 29, 1898, p. 5 (Letter 3)
Waco Times Herald, August 15, 1898, p. 5 (Letter 4)