Private James Roxberry

U.S.M.C., First Marine Battalion, Company D

Describes the Action of June 12-13 at Guantanamo Bay

Contributed by Robert Pendleton

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The following is a letter from Private James Roxberry of Company D of the First Marine Battalion (Reinforced). The letter provides his brief account of the events of June 12-13, 1898 at Camp McCalla, Playa del Este. In the action decribed Roxberry was wounded shortly after Midnight. A bullet entered the inner side of the middle third of the right arm exiting the outer third. He was transferred to the U.S. Hospital Ship SOLACE on Tuesday, 14 June 1898, and then transported to the U.S., 13 July 1898.

Roxberry re-enlisted in the Marine Corps on November 23, 1897. He joined the First Marine Battalion from Marine Barracks, Philadelphia Navy Yard, League Island, Pennsylvania on April 17, 1898. His company, which was commanded by Captain William F. Spicer, was in action at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from the 11th through 13th of June 1898.

Company D suffered the following wounded that were transferred  (except for Private Thomas Wallace who did not require hospitalization) to the U.S. Hospital Ship SOLACE on Tuesday, 14 June then transported to the  U.S. on 13 July 1898 :

 4 Marines wounded on Sunday, 12 June 1898, Camp McCalla, Playa del Este.
 5 Marines (including Private Roxberry) wounded on Monday, 13 June 1898 at the     same camp.
 3 Marines  wounded on Tuesday, 14 June 1898, Battle of Cuzco Well.
 In addition that were two non-combat wounded at Camp McCalla, Playa del Este:  one on 16 June and the other on 19 June 1898. Both were also transported on  board the U.S. Hospital Ship SOLACE to the U.S. on 13 July 1898.  

Additional notes are added in brackets [] below.

The Letter:

 “Boston, Mass.,
            January 12, 1900

Sir, -
        In reply  to your question  as to my recollection of the events of June 12th and 13th, 1898, I can say that I was serving in “D” Co., at the Playa del Este camp under your command. A little after midnight an orderly came down from the hill [the original Camp McCalla ], from Colonel Huntington, and said that  the Spaniards were coming in by the shore trail and to keep a lookout for them.   The Marines and Cubans were stationed as supports for the three inch gun and, cautioned to keep absolutely quiet and on guard, and on no account to fire until they could see them close to [us] and word was passed. The pickets were also warned not to fire on any account but to fall back and coax them into a good hot fire. “Big” Smith [Private Charles F. Smith...later promoted to corporal on June 21, 1898  at Camp McCalla, Playa del Este then to sergeant at Camp McCalla, Playa del Este on July 31, 1898] who had been in the Army out West, scouting, who was detailed to bring in any news, came in and reported that the Spaniards were in the cocanut (sic) grove. Some time after this Lieutenant Shaw [2nd Lieutenant Melville James Shaw] reported that he could see them and then the order was given “Rapid fire.” I was just back of the Cubans and about 4 to 5 yards behind you, and had fired twice, and I was hit by a bullet in my right arm while my gun was at my shoulder. Sergeant Clifford [at the time actually Private John Francis Clifford...promoted to corporal , Camp McCalla, Playa del Este,  July 8, 1898; promoted to sergeant Camp McCalla, Playa del Este, August 12, 1898] helped me to the Doctor’s place and soon after daylight I was sent aboard of the (Panther)[then U.S.S. Solace on the 14th]  with Private Bourke [James David] and some other wounded men.

        Very respectfully,
       {signed)  James Roxberry
              Private, U.S.M.C. ”


Letter to Lt. Col. Henry Clay Cochrane from Private James Roxberry, Co. D, 1st Marine Battalion (Reinforced). Personal Papers Collection of General Henry Clay Cochrane, U.S.M.C. (Retired), Marine Corps University Archives and Special Collections Branch, Gray Research Center, Quantico, Virginia.

1st Marine Battalion (Reinforced) ROSTER, listing Company D Marines wounded in battle on Sunday 12, (Camp McCalla. Playa del Este)Monday 13, (Camp McCalla , Playa del Este) and Tuesday 14 (Battle of Cuzco Well) June 1898, Robert M. Pendleton, unpublished manuscript, 2005-6

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