Below is the diary of Joseph Beiler, 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, Troop B. The diary has been contributed verbatim from the original, including spelling errors (which are interesting in that they show the author "accent"), etc. The format and page width have been modified for use on the web.
The regiment was organized at Cleveland, Ohio after President McKinley’s first call for volunteers to serve in the Spanish American War on April 26, 1898. On May 9, all of the Troops of the regiment, with the exception of Troop G were mustered into service. Troop G followed two days later. When originally mustered in, the regiment consisted of thirty-three officers and 555 enlisted men.
The various troops were formed in the following locations:
Troop A: Cleveland
Troop B: Cleveland
Troop C: Cleveland
Troop D: Columbus
Troop E: Toledo
Troop F: Dayton
Troop G: Marysville
Troop H: Cincinnati
The regiment left Columbus on May 14 bound for Camp Thomas. The 1st Ohio arrived at the camp, built on the grounds of the former Civil War battlefield of Chickamauga, Georgia the next day. At Camp Thomas, the regiment was assigned to 1st Cavalry Brigade. The regiment remained at Camp Thomas until July 13, when it was ordered to lakeland Florida, near Tampa, Florida. Here it was assigned to the Provisional Cavalry Brigade of the Fourth Army Corps. After being in Florida for a little over a month, and while the regiment was there, an armistice was declared between the United States and Spain ending the fighting, but not the war which would continue officially until the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.
On August 22, the First Ohio Volunteer Cavalry arrived at its next and final destination of Huntsville, Alabama. Here it was assigned to the Cavalry Brigade, Second Division, Fourth Army Corps. On September 12, the regiment was ordered back to Columbus, Ohio, arriving the following day. On arriving, the regiment was granted a thirty day furlough, effective September 14.
Troops A, B and C were mustered out at Cleveland on October 22. Troops D, E, F, and G were mustered out at Columbus on October 29. Finally, Troop H was mustered out at Cincinnati on October 29.
At the time of muster out, the regiment consisted of thirty-three officers and 763 enlisted men. During it term of service the regiment lost eight enlisted men to disease, and four men deserted. In addition, seventeen men we discharged on disability. Interestingly, although the regiment did not see service, one of its officers was wounded.
For a time, private Harry J. Chaloner of Troop C was the oldest surviving veteran in the United States. He passed away in October of 1984 at the age of 110. Chaloner had also volunteered for service in World War One, but was rejected as being too old. He then tried enlisting in Canada and was accepted, serving three years. He past away at St. Petersburg, Florida.
Biographical information on Joseph Beiler:
Joseph Beiler was apparently born in New Holland, Lancaster County in 1870. Leaving the Amish faith and his home, Joseph relocated to the vicinity of Cleveland, Ohio. On April 26, he enlisted in the 1st Ohio Cavalry and was mustered into service with his troop on May 9, 1898. At the time of his enlistment, he was a twenty-seven year old butcher, 5'-8 1/2" tall, with a light complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. During his service with the 1st Ohio, Beiler began serving as a cook on May 29, 1898. In early June, his future as a cook seemed to be threatened when he was disciplined for throwing kitchen refuse into the kitchen "sink" rather than disposing of it in the perscribed manner, something he makes no mention of in his diary. It is quite possible that his entry on June 10 referring to his having to bury a horse indicates the discipline meted out for the offense. In spite of being disciplined, the event had little effect on his ability to advance as a cook! He was appointed troop cook officially on July 27 and given the rank of corporal. Returning from his service in the army after being mustered out on October 22, 1898, he met a young lady from Wales. They were married in 1907. The couple had one child, a boy, in 1909. Joseph Beiler died in 1925.
Joseph Beiler's wife later served as president of the United Spanish War Veterans Auxiliary.
The diary, below is interesting for a number of reasons. It belies the boredom of camp life. It shows the variety and quality of food that was available. Lastly, it indicates some of the lawlessness that developed in the camps once it was understood that the war would end with the troops in the camps in the U.S. never seeing action. The pent up feelings of frustration, fear, relief, etc. boiled over after the armistice was signed on August 13, 1898. Though the diary makes no note of the armistice, it does note the effects.
The Text of the Beiler Diary:
"Joseph B. Beiler
Thursday May 5, 1898.
Troop B. 1st. O V. C. left Cleveland O. today at 10 oclck for Colombus arrived at Colombus at 4 oclock had to drill 4 miles to camp Bushnell & had to fix our tents before we could turn in for the night had no supper and only a sandwich for dinner it rained very near all day
had just two peices of bread and one potatoe for breakfast fixed our tents up put flors in filled our mattress with straw went over to the head quarters were examined had a peice of bread peice of bacon & cup of coffee at four oclock after we came back wich was our dinner & supper it rained hard all day
The weather was worse today than yesterday it rained all day the mud is ankle deep I was digging ditches all forenoon had no more to eat than we had yesterday
When I got up this morning the sun was shining brightly after breakfast we put up the sides of the tents dried the blankets made a bench to sit on & a cubboard to put our dishes in & cleared up our tents we had a better dinner today I had a fill for the first time in camp this afternoon we played cards the ground is drying of fast a nice brisk is blowing & the sun is shining brightly & life is worth liveing after all
I was put on guard duty last night was two hours on & four hours of for 24 hours had to stay at the guard house all the time I was not out on a post duty well every thing goes along lovely now we had three pretty good meals today we had ham & eggs for breakfast browned ribs of beef potatoes & bread for dinner & beef steak & fried onions & bread for supper we are now soldiers of the U. S. of A. we were sworn in this evening there were 20 thrown out of troop B. before we were sworn
This forenoon I was on police duty this afternoon I done nothing but read & write letters untill 4 oclock when we had to drill for the first time since we are in camp in the evening it rained.
This morning I went to the doctor I have a little cold the doctor put me on the no duty list so I don't have any thing to do at all it rained again this evening
It rained all last night & was still raining this morning the sun came out this noon and dried of the ground pretty good
This morning we received orders to move on to Chickamauga and we were all day getting ready
We were ready to move at 8 oclock but did not start untill 12 oclock
& then marched 4 miles to Colombus where we took the train & got to Cincinatta at 8 oclock
We were riding all forenoon got to Chatanuga at 12 oclock & to Chickamuaga at 2 oclock had marched only 1/4 of mile when it started to rain very hard so we took to shelter where we could find it till it stoped raining & we had gone but half a mile when it started to rain & hail the hail was as big as a hickory nut & the rain just poured down all the way to the camp ground then we had to wait two hours till our tents came the ground was wet our cloth were ringing wet & we had but one blanket & that was wet but we rolled ourself up in the blanket and went to sleep.
This morning we fixed our tents secure put a flor in & dug ditches around the tents
This fore noon we had a good drill in the afternoon we went to a creek about 3 miles away to get a wash
This morning we had a very warm drill it was about 90 in the shade this afternoon I had my hair cliped short we drilled awhile this afternoon for the first time that we drilled in the afternoon
This morning I was put on no duty list we got our uniforms this after noon I got one pair of pants one blose one hat a pair of under pants two flannel shirts a pair of leggins a puncho two pair of sock
Today I washed some of my clothes helped to dig a dugout for provisions and drilled in the evening
This morning we had inspection this afternoon & we had no drill & I packed my clothes to send home
Today we had no drill this morning we were read the article of war this afternoon I went out for a walk & I run across some old friends of mine from Manston Wis. belonging to the 3 Wis Inf. Co. D.
This morning I got the loan of $5.00 from Sergeant Marley & I send my cloth back to Cleveland in the evening we had regimental parade at 7 oclock we went on guard in the afternoon we practiced for guard mount in the evening
Last night & today I was on guard I was on post number one on the first releif I had two prisoners under my charge
This morning I was on fatigue duty until 11 oclock. This afternoon we had a little rain in the evening we had dress parade
This morning I cut up a pig & helped to get dinner this after noon we got the rest of our uniforms in the evening we had dress parade which we have now every day today two troopers were Court Marsheld one out of Troop H he received a fine of $10.00 & 60 day in the guard house at hard labor the other trooper was out of G troop he got a double fine of $10.00 & 60 days on two charges these are the first cases of Court Marshel
This morning we started on the new schedgle we have two drills two & one half hours in the morning instead of one & one half hours & in the afternoon we have one & one half hours instead of one as we used to have
This morning I was detailed as cook police so I took charge of the kitchen by request of the cook & I made a good vegatable soup the first real soup that we had
Today I was detailed to do the cooking for today as the cook was sick I had roast beef & soup baked beans & potatoes for dinner & I had my fill
Today is Decoration day & I worked hard all day I was detailed for steady cook this morning it is a perfect fright to cook on a camp fire under a hot sun
This morning I drilled after breakfast from 7 oclock to 9:30 oclock today we received our saddles & bridles
June Wensday 1 1898
Today we received our first saber drill & allso our first drill on horse back & bear backed at that
Today we received our carbins & pistols & were vacinated
Today we had a drill with our new carbins in the evening I went to Lytle Station
Today we had inspection at one oclock P. M.
Today we had a very find dinner we had a roast beef with brown gravy beef tea or broth rice pudding with leamon flavor smashed potatoes light bread & coffee for supper we had a cold lanch we got done early
Today I sent a letter to A. H. Nieding
Today we had our first mounted drill with saddles this evening I am very near played out I made saratoga chips for supper after supper I went to church
This morning I over slept myself it was half past four when I got up that was one hour later than usal this afternoon they assined horses I got a chestnut sorrel left hind foot white a white star on the fore head & a white stripe of the nose & light forelock a scar on the left front foot.
Today I did not feel very good we shot three horses to night that
This evening I was unfortunate enough to be detailed to burry a horse
This morning I received a letter from Burton Neiding & at one P. M. we had inspection
Today at half past eleven oclock just as I was about to serve dinner it commenst to rain something awful & kept it up all day till late in the evening
This morning we got up we had no wood & the kindling wood was wet & the fire hole was full of mud & water & we had a great time getting breakfastn ready in the afternoon a Captain of one of the other troops came over to our picket line & claimed my horse & the stable Sergeant give him the horse now I have no horse in the evening we had a regimental inspection
June Tuesday 14 1898
Today we had squadron drill in the afternoon it rained today. I received letter from my sister
Today Captain Corning came back it rained again this morning
Today we were call out twice for boots & saddles because we were to slow the first time. a lot of recruits came in this evening more rain today
More rain today seven more recruits came in this morning the old troop A fellows got States pay nineteen dollars
Today it rained very hard about noon so they had no inspection
Today troop B went on guard I went on guard to & left the second cook do the cooking
Today we got a lot more of our equipments I got a bridle carbin scaboard saddle bag spurs & a canteen in the evening we went on dress parade we were presented with a Regimental flag
This morning we got ten days rations we had oat meal for breakfast with milk & sugar
Today we traded of 300 lbs. of salt pork 100 lbs. of beans two cases of bakeing powder for 50 lbs. of rolled oats 4 hams once case of prunes 20 cans of milk 4 buckets of jelly two bottles of tomatoes sause
Today it was very warm we got 14 more recruits today just before dinner which makes a totalof 94 troopers
Today I went out to drill we went away about six miles a cross the contry
Today there arrived seven more recruits we had inspection at 3.30 oclock
This morning we had fried mush and oat meal milk and sugar for breakfast this afternoon it rained this evening they had out the report that we were going to move a way from here
Today troop B. went on guard it rained in the evening
Today they isued belts to us it is again desided that we stay here
for a week or two
Today I drilled we had an extra good drill
Today we got orders to pack up at once & be ready to move to Lakeville Fla.
July Friday 1 1898
Today after we had everything packed we got word that the order was countermanded we were paid of today we received $33.80 for each priavet
This morning we kill three pigs & we had a pig roast with dressing in the evening I went to the theather in Lytle got $7.50 from the canteen fund for cooking & the second cook got $5.00
Today I had a easy day of it I was away all after noon had a cold supper got $21.85 from Corpral Nye which he colected from the boys for the benifit of the cooks each of the boys giveing .25 cts. I give my second cook $7.25 1/3 of what was colected
Got a pass for this afternoon went two Chatanuga went up on Look Out Mountain stayed up there all afternoon came down to the city for my supper after supper Mr. Brown my chum & I then went out to take in the town did not go back with Mr. Brown but stayed untill 12 oclock P.M.
Today we went on guard at ten oclock A.M.
Was sick this morning but this evening I felt a good deal better
This morning Major Runcie returned from Cleveland I was sick all day
This evening we received orders to be ready to move by monday morning that we were to go to Tampa where we are to take transports for Santiago.
Today we had inspection at one oclock
Today we received orders that we would not go until Wensday the 13 of July
Today we had Regimental parade & got ready to go on a march
Today we broke camp at one oclock & marched three miles & back & h our pup tents instead of the big tents
Today we broke camp at five a.m. & marched 12 miles to Ringgold & took the train at six P.M.
Today we rode all day stopped at Macon Ga. for one hour
Today we got to Lakeland Fla. at nine oclock & went into camp instead of going on to Cuba
Today we had no drills so we fixed up the camp
Today we built a cook shanty in the evening I went to the lake & took a bath there was a report that we were to go to Porta Rica
Today I took it a little easy I was sitting in the shade of my cook shanty most of my time
Today I took a swim in the evening I went to the city of LakeLand
Today we had Saber drill in the fore noon & in the afternoon it was head cutting practis
Nothing exter happened today
Today I was promoted to cook Corpral to rank as Corpral
Today we had inspection in the evening I went to town
Today we had roast beef for the first time since we are here
This morning I went out to drill in the afternoon I got a mounted pass & I rode out to see the country
Today we had turtle soup for supper
Today my helper Ed. Mill was send to the guard house but this evening he was released
Today we had a very quiet day nothing occured of any importance this evening I went to town
Today we got such rotten beef that the doctor condemned it & we had to bury it
Today we had a general inspection in the afternoon I got a mounted pass & I went out to exercise my horse in the evening we signed the pay roll we also got our amunitsion for target practice
Today we was mustered for pay at 9.30 a.m.
Aug. Monday 1
Today Roy Brown was tranisfered from C troop to B troop I went to Tampa Fla this evening
Today I was in Tampa all day & it rained hard all day in the evening it quit & I took the train & came back to camp
Today we got fifty rounds of cartridge & we had target practice
Today we had dinner sent out to the target ground we had ice tea
Today we had saber drill in the forenoon & target practice in the afternoon
Today we had target practice instead of inspection
Today we had rifle practice in the afternoon I went along with the troop we shot at a target 5 hundred yards off I scored 5 points out of 5 shots it rained comming in & we all got ringing wet
Drilled today had sweet potatoes for dinner they were the first sweet potatoes we had
Nothing of importance occured today
Today we had pistol practice
Today we got orders to move to Montauge point
Today we got paid I colected $10.00 that I had standing out
I went down town & bought a lot of provisions for my partner & I to eat on the road when we move
Today I got a mounted pass & went out for a ride & I got my dinner out
Today there was nothing of any importance happened
This morning we got orders to pack up at once & move to Huntsville in the evening I went to town & when I arrived at camp there was a shooting fray one U. S. Reg. Caverlary of the first shot an other & killed him on the spot 3 bullets entered his head & one shot entered his lung
This morning Captain Carmichael of the Commissary of subsistance of
the Brigade commited suicide by shooting himself
The orders of Teusday were countermanded & we will not go till Saturday because the people of Lakeland wanted us to stay to keep order & to let the 10 C. Colored go first because they were not so orderly
Today we got ready to move
This morning we broke camp but did not get loaded untill night left Lakeland at 11.30 P.M.
When I woke up this morning we were at High Spring Fla.
This morning at 1.30 oclock we arrived at Mongomery Ala. I dressed and went up town at day light I went up to see the Capitol we did not leave Mongomery till 12 oclock we arrived at Birmingham Ala. where we stopped for one hour
This mornin when I woke I found myself in Huntsville on a side track we arrived at Huntsville at 11:00 oclock last night at ten oclock we started to saddle up & go out to camp we had nothing to eat till supper
We had more disorder in putting up this camp than all the rest about half the troop is sick & the camping ground is on the bum the water is good the air is pure
Today the camp is yet in a disorder equipment laying around & everything upside down & I am very much disgusted with things in general
Nothin of importance happened to day
Today we had inspection of our equipments & everything was checked of ready for mustering us out
Today I went on the sick list but I still continued to work
Today I was put on the no duty list as I was a good deal worse Roy Brown went to the general hospital today to be furloughted home
Today I was still marked no duty as I felt worse than yesterday
I am still on the no duty list but I feel a good deal better to day sergeant Sherwood went a round today to find out how many men that wanted to go to Porta Rica & he only found two in the troop
Sept Thursday 1 1898
Today I was changed from no duty to light duty
Today I was still on light duty
Today I went to town took my pants & coat to the tailor shop to get cleaned & pressed.
Today I hurried up with dinner & went out & got my picture taken mounted at a carry saber in the evening I hurried supper over & went out for a ride the first time I was out since we are camped here
Today I washed my leggins & my gauntlets my hat & my blue shirt I am getting ready to be mustered out
Today we received orders to get ready to move to Cleveland Ohio & to take our horses with us & also our equipments & that we are to get a 30 day furlough before we are mustered out in the afternoon the fellow that took my picture brought them a round he had but two finished
Today Captain Corning came back from Cleveland Ohio in the evening after supper I got a mounted pass & I went up on the mountain
Today I went to town & got my suit of clothes & I find that they fit all right
Today we turn in our pup tents bridles & saddles canteen &
Today we turned in our carbins & blue belts so now we have nothing left to care fore except our mess kits
Last evening I went to town & bought my self a pair of shoes this fore noon we turned over our horses & the troop commanded turned over all our equipments to the regimental the rumor had it that we will not be here tomorrow afternoon
This morning we turned over all our kitchen utensils & all our tents & everything belonging to thegoverment & were ready to move by 9 oclock & we were told that we would march down town & take the train at 2.30 oclock but at 11 oclock there was officers call & then we were told that we would have to get our tents back & put them up as we would have to stay until tomorrow because the cars are not here & would not come until to morrow then at 2 oclock we got an invitation to from Troop B. 5 Reg. C. to come over to them for supper & for breakfast that excused me from ooking so I ask to stay down town over night as our troop did not get our tents back so I went down town had my supper at a restaruant & put up for the night at the Segal hotel
This morning I did not wake up until 7 oclock I had a very good night rest I had taken some medicine last night & that and the rest together has helped me greatly at 9 oclock I met Sieut. Day & he told me that they were going to load out at the switch by the camp instead of in town as they had intended to do so I got a hack & drove out to camp & they were just ready to go the 5 reg. C. seen us off they had their band & were mounted & we followed them dismounted to the cars & got started at 10.30 oclock get to Decherd Tenn. at 1 oclock P.M. &at 7 P.M. we reached Nashville Tenn. where we layed 6 hours before we started
This morning when I woke up we were 30 miles from Louisville Ky. we got into Louisville at 6.30 oclock stayed there one hour & we reached Cincinnati at 11 A.M. & we left at 12.30 & reached Xenia at 2 P.M. and we reached Colombus at 4 oclock and stayed there on the cars over night
This morning we left Colombus at 9 a.m. and arrived in Cleveland at 2 P.M. Hurrah for Cleveland Hurrah we are back once more and I am not broke in two but badly bent
Oct 26 today I was mustered of out Service
Joseph Beiler's diary courtesy of Sue Fisher (family of Joseph Beiler)
Unit History sources:
Correspondence relating to the War with Spain And Conditions Growing Out of the Same Including the Insurrection in the Philippine Island and the China Relief Expedition. Vol. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902) 612.
Minton, David – Newspaper article from the Hobbs News Sun (New Mexico) dated October 31, 1984 concerning the death of Harry Chaloner.
Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers in the War with Spain 1898-1899 (Columbus: Edward T. Miller Co., 1916) 790, 810.
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).