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Charles Reynolds

of the 3rd U.S. Volunteer Infantry

Writes of Life with the Cuban Occupation Forces

Contributed by Thomas McGeary 
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The following letter was written by Charles Reynolds of the 3rd U.S. Volunteer Infantry. The regiment was serving in the occupation forces in Cuba when the letter was written. The War would not officially end until December 10, 1898, but at this time an armistice was in place and the fighting was ended.

Charles Reynolds was born in 1872 in Augusta, Georgia, the son of Patrick and Anne Reynolds and was the seventh of eight children. Prior to joining the military, he worked as a granite and marble stone cutter, possibly in his father's company (Patrick Reynolds Marble & Granite). Reynolds died on April 27, 1905.

Article 1:

The Augusta Chronicle Tuesday September 6 1898

Charlie Reynolds
At Santiago
Writes an Interesting Letter telling
 about Capt. Twiggs, Company.
Are All Well Cared for
Boys Are in Good Health---occupying  Gen.Torral's
Late Headquarters and Guarding Sugar Plantations----Almost
a Tobacco Famine

Some time ago there were exaggerated rumors in Augusta about trouble in which Charlie Reynolds  got into Colonel Ray's regiment of immunes. Mr. Reynolds enlisted with Captain Twiggs' company from Augusta. His little affair with one of the officers only called for a few words of advice and he is doing duty in Santiago  province as the letter will show. Mr. Reynolds writes very entertainingly,and his letter  is one of the most interesting that has been received. He writes to his brother,Assistant Fire Chief Frank Reynolds,as follows

Jamaica de Cuba, August 24, 1898

Dear Brother: I think that I am now settled down here for a while,after being on the move for about weeks or more. I have got out of my scrape alright and all that was done to me was to get a good lecture about respect for my superior officers. Frank this is a devil of a country over here;it is the dirtiest place on earth. I guess our company is split up now into squads. There are only 41 men station here out of 77, and we have got the best quarters of any

When we left Savannah we took the shortest route for Santiago. We left Savannah on Saturday evening and arrived at Santiago on Wednesday morning about 10 o'clock and left Santiago on Saturday evening and arrived at Cameira on Sunday morning ( all of these trips were by boat ) and from Cameira we took a train to Guantanamo,where we stopped all night and left soon the next morning for here We left two battalions at Santiago and our battalion came on as far as Cameira,where we left 15 men and a lieutenant from our company and than at Guantanamo we left three companies and Lieutenant Laird and the rest of company came on here where three and four men were sent off to different farms to guard sugar plantations but they were only a few miles from here and Captain Twiggs goes out and visits  a few every day

This is the poorest place I have ever been. There are a woman and three children about 50 yards from here who live in an old a Catholic church and when we first saw them they were almost starved to death we gave them something to eat and the woman said it was the first thing they had to eat for  four or five days and she was so glad she cried. Every time we eat there are about 50 or 75 waiting outside to get the scraps but we are not allowed to give  them any for if we did we would have to feed the whole town.

We get along alright with the people here we have an interpreter furnished us and there is a fellow by the name of Adam who came with us who can speak with them and from whap the Spaniards said they are glad that the United States has put a stop to the war. I never saw a more sickly and weak set of people than the Spanish soldiers. I guess there era about eight or ten thousand of them at Santiago alone. They are all going there to take transports back to Spain.

The Cubans are a more healthy set of soldiers than the Spaniards but most of them are nothing but black negroes. They are tickled to death on account of us coming here and will do anything in the world that they can do for us. There are about 1,000 of them in camp on top of a mountain about a mile from where we are and they have all kinds of guns,some have mauser rifles other springfields, whinchesters, Krag-jorgensen and a few other kind of rifles i never heard of and all of them carry machetes.

We are stationed in the building that was occupied by General Torral. the man who surrendered Santiago but we have to sleep in our tents on the outside, which we would rather do. We are having a right good time now but we caught the devil all the time we were on our way from Savannah here. We were fed on hard tack. canned beef and coffee and there was not enough of that to give everyone enough but we have our stove up here and are cooking once again. I was sick two days on the boat coming from Savannah but was not confined to my bed I had a slight attack of malarial fever but I am feeling all right now.

We saw Merro [Morro] Castle [at Santiago] and it is pretty well dilapidated. You can see holes all over it where the shells tore through the walls and we saw the Merrimac where she was sunk by Hobson and we had a hard time ourselves getting past the wreck and just beyond that we saw the Spanish boat [Reina] Mercedes. they were sticking a few feet out of the water and you could see where they were hit in several places and there were a few other boats that were sunk but we could not find out what boats they were. all we could see were the smokestacks and the masts. We also passed a fleet about 100 miles from Santiago but we passed them at night and could not tell what fleet it was except that it was an American fleet. I tell you what I will never forget all that I have seen as long as I live and if I tried to write down everything it would take a whole book and about a year to finish it.

Well Frank let me hear from you soon and let me here how all are making out. It seems to be the general opinion of a many that we wont stay over here for more than six months at the longest but than that doesn't make it so.

Give all the boys my best regards and tell them I will bring them back a souvenir when I come if they want one give all my love to all at home I guess we will all be as black as Cubans when we get back as the sun is as hot as Hades over here. Frank I wish you would try and send some tobacco to make cigarettes as we cant get any over here the tobacco we get is not fit to smoke on account ob being green. It took all my money to buy cigarettes and something to eat coming here. Cigarettes were selling at 15 cents per pack of 10 on the boats and out at some of the camps they paid as high as 35c per pack

Be sure and write and let me hear from you as soon as you get this I will write you more in my next letter I would like to get some old papers or books to read I am on guard duty and have to get ready to walk my post. Hoping all are well and having a better time than I am having I remain your  Your Brother Charlie.

C.A.Reynolds care      Co. H., 3rd Regt., U.S.V.I., Guantanamo, Cuba


Augusta Chronicle; Augusta,Georgia on September 6th 1895

McGeary, Thomas - biographical data on Charles Reynolds.

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