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Letters from Camp Cuba Libre


Letters from Corp. John Werling,

Company D, 2nd New Jersey Volunteer Infantry

Contributed by Mary Andrews
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Below are a series of letters from by Corp. John Werling to his acquaintance, Mr. J. Charette of Garfield, Bergen County, New Jersey. The letters indicate the many problems that the soldiers who served out their enlistment in camps in the U.S. had to face. The tone of the letters slowly changes with time.

Letter 1:.

Camp Cuba Libre
Co. D, 2 Regiment NJ Vols.

Jacksonville,  Fla., Aug 2. 1898

Mr. Charette

Dear Sir

You may be surprised to hear from me but have so much time to my self now that get thinking of all my old friends and so I thought would write and let you known how am enjoying my self I am kept busy trying to find some thing to do.

I am now acting Sergeant for the company I am 2nd quarter master and all have to do is see that the company gets enough to eat it take about two hours each day that is all I do no drills no parade or any thing else to do.

I am applying for a 15 day furlough and will stop and see you if can get a chance to get away

We are not going to leave here untill fall we are for Havana and if not needed there we will go home.

I am going to stay in the Regular Army as there is a good way to work my way up in the Army now

They are going to have a large Army after this fight and the life suits me.

It is very warm down here now we have rain most evry day but we will get used to it after we are here for a while They are shipping troops here by the train load They will have about 25 thousand men here in another week or so.

Have you seen the alligator that sent to Berthold we had a live one in our tent about his size and he could fight any dog in the street we to get rid of him as they make a lot of dirt and are a nuisance around the place we have a number of sick men in camp but no very severe cases I am feeling like a 15 year old school girl am gaining in weight every day will be as big as Gen Lee in a short while h only weighs about 350 lbs. If you should see Seymour Carpenter give him my best regards and tell him we expect pay day here in a week or so then will send you a little token from Jacksonville

We are going to have a dress parade here to night They have three Regiments out at a time.

We are having lot of fun with them southern cracker from North Carolina We went over the other night to clean them out but they had the whole guard out so we had to go back to our camp without doing any mischief but we will get a crack at them before we leave here there was some talk of moving us back to some of the northern camps but it is not likely that we will go.

I will have to close as the letter is getting to long for to be any good

Best regards to all the folks

       Your Friend
       Corp John Werling
       Co. D. 2 NJ Vol.

What do you think of the Spaniard and Uncle Sam

Patriotic envelope, Spanish American War

The last line of the letter referred to the envelope and letterhead which shows Uncle Sam chasing a Spaniard. On the envelope above the image it reads "If you don't catch him in 10 days, return to..."

Letter 2:

Camp Cuba Libre
Co. D, 2 Regiment NJ Vols.

Jacksonville,  Fla., Aug 12. 1898

Dear Friend

I received your welcome letter and was glad to hear from you so soon we are having hot weather again This is the warmest month down here it rains most every day and it is warmer after the rain than before it rains we have just had dinner we had a fine lay out today we had steak and onions and fried potatoes and coffee and stewed tomatoes but for breakfast we had salt pork and coffee so the dinner tasted like a Waldorf dinner to us. I had some cocoa and I cook it in an old tomatoe can but it tastes fine someday will buy a pail to boil it in but will have to wait for pa day fist to come around for supper to night we will have stew it will be a change as we have not had stew since yesterday dinner time that was a long time ago

I do not believe we will leave here for Havana before the latter part of October. That is what Gen Lee is preparing for that. By the latest report we will go together that is the whole seventh Army Corps at once

Tell Clara I have sent a hard tack we do not get the real hard tack now we get fresh bread every day so we do not use the tack at all. By the latest reports we are going to have rice pudding for supper if we do there will be a hospital full of men to morrow as we can not stand such a fancy meal as that but we may live over it. I  have little Joe  -------- [unreadable] on the cook detail now he makes a fine cook. But he is a little noisey but he is a good worker. So we can get along all right. He is siting in my tent now but does not know am writing about him

I expect to hear from my furlough every day now but will not have much show to get home before the last of the month we have two men going home from our company this week and will have to wait for them to return before I can go away You can send that layer cake by mail or express it will taste good down here I will have to keep it in a safe if it comes as the company would fight a battle to get a hold of a piece of home made cake. I will try and get you a souvenir from here when get my furlough. We are going to have a brigade review today but I am not in it as do not have any more to do with drills we have our white stripes on now they look fine on our New Jersey blue uniforms

I think it is time to stop writing or you will get sick reading it

Best regards to all the folks

I remain
         Your Friend,
        Corp John Werling
         Co. D 2 N.J. Vol.

Letter 3:

Camp Cuba Libre
Co. D, 2 Regiment NJ Vols.

Jacksonville,  Fla., Aug 19 1898

Dear Friend

I received your letter and was glad to hear from you so soon.

I guess my furlough knocked in the head as we will get out of here in a month or 6 weeks at the most Gen Lee says we will go to Cuba by the first of October. We are losing men here by the dozen yesterday they had ten men die in the division hospital and today there are five so far. We have lost three men in two days. But we are lucky not to have more men die than have died since we have been here.

We had a band accident today down at our kitchen A quart can of milk fell in the coffee and before we could fish it out the coffe had turned white the boys all got sick drinking the coffee as we are not used to drinking coffee with milk in

We have remodeled our house we raised it one story and put a basement in so as to get more fresh air tell Clara will send her some more hard tack in a few days we will get some more in then will pack it in a box so it will not get broken

I have been out to get some thing to eat as got hungry writing have had to write five letters today I got fourteen letters last week it takes my months pay to buy stamps but I like to hear from the folks at home so do not mind the stamps we have just received 6 cases of hard tack and will go down and see what it is like so will close for this time. Best regards to all the folks

      Your friend
       Corp John Werling
        Co D 2 N J Vol.

Company L of Rutherford had another man die in hospital just now.

Letter 4:

Another patriotic envelope, Spanish American War

Camp Cuba Libre
Co. D, 2 Regiment NJ Vols.

Jacksonville,  Fla., Sept 5. 1898

Dear Friend

I received your letter and was glad to hear from you

I received the cake you sent me it was spoiled in the center you should have left some air holes in the box

I was going to write and let you know that received it but expected you to write so waited for a letter

I have been on the sick list for the last two days but will be out again in a day or two we have been getting very poor food here the last weeks we have not had any thing to speak of we are now camping in pablo beach and it is three miles from nowhere we had to cut palmetto brush for two days before we could get our tents up and still it is so wild and brushy you can hardly see 20 feet from you We are right on the ocean and when we get the Sea breeze it is all well  but when we get it from the land the heat is terrible we may all be home in a few weeks but I am going to see --- from out of have to enlist in another regiment.

I am thinking of getting in the fourth under Capt Gibbs if there is any show will get there the hospital down here have about 464 men in it now and the one of the 2 divisions in Jacksonville has over 500 cases as there are 3 divisions here and they all have a lot of sick men in them you can have an Idea what we have to go through in our own country
I think will have to close for this time

     Your Friend
      Cor J Werling
       Co D 2 N J Vol.

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