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The Letters of

Private Peter Hertzog

Teamster, 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co. B

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4th Pennsylvania Letter on Patriotic Letterhead, 1898The following are letters written home by Peter Hertzog of the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co. B as the regiment travelled to Camp Thomas at Chickmauga, Georgia and then served in the occupation forces in Puerto Rico. One of the letters, written from Puerto Rico, contains a first-hand account of the action at the heights of Guanami, northwest of Guayama, which ended just before it began as news of the armistice had been agreed to between Spain and the U.S.

Peter J. Hertzog was a member of the National Guard of Pennsylvania, and lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania. When the Spanish American War began, he, along with his National Guard Regiment, enlisted for federal service as part of the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. His National Guard company formed as Co. B. He enrolled on April 28, 1898, was mustered into service on May  9. He served with the regiment as teamster as it was sent south to Camp Thomas, located on the old Civil War battlefield at Chickamauga, Georgia, and eventually served in Puerto Rico. He was mustered out with his company on November 16, 1898.

Minerva appears to be his girlfriend/fiancť or common law wife. They appear to have a son named Clifton, however, the letter is addressed to ďMiss M. A. Schaadt,Ē not Mrs. Hertzog. According to their family, Minerva and Peter did marry and had a long, happy life together.

The other people mentioned in the letters are:

Roy Applegate Ė A member of the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Company L. Applegate was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is noted to have enrolled with the regiment on June 30, 1898, serving until being mustered out on November 16, 1898. Interestingly, he is present in the first letter, almost three weeks before he supposedly enrolled in the regiment.

Corporal George A. Rex Ė A member of 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Company B and was from Allentown.  He enrolled on April 28, 1898, was mustered into service on May  9 and was mustered out with his company on November 16, 1898.

Captain James Medlar Ė The officer in command of 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Company B and was from Allentown.  He enrolled on April 28, 1898, was mustered into service on May 9 and was mustered out with his company on November 16, 1898. From June 10 to 22 he was detached to recruit new soldiers, most likely for the expansion of the regiment through the addition of several companies.

Morris F. "Doc" Cawley - Cawley, of Allentown, was originally a 1st lieutenant and assistant surgeon and had served with the national Guard of Pennsylvania. He enrolled in the federal service on April 28, 1898, and was mustered in on May 5. On May 12, he was promoted to major (third in command of the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry) and surgeon. On June 3, he was promoted to Acting Chief Surgeon for the 1st Division, 2nd Brigade, of the First Army Corps. He was relieved of this post on June 17, and went back to his regiment. He was mustered out with the regiment on November 16, 1898.

Letter 1, June 12, 1898:

[The letter, postmarked June 12, 1898 in Lytle, Georgia and Allentown June 14, 1898, is  addressed to:
ďMiss M. A. Schaadt
929 Liberty St

Chickamauga June 12th/98

Minerva & Clifton

I take the opportunity to write a few lines to you let know that I am well hoping the few lines will find you the same I thought I would write wonse more but this is the last time if I donít here from you it is over two weeks that I heard from you last perhaps you like that other feller better then me if you donít want to let here from you then let me know how Clifton is getting along we received the boxes last week but we ditent get much of it the officers get the best things but we have enough pickles for a few days and we have enough other thing to eat and last week we went to Chickamauga spring for water its ave [over?] 4 mils but they laid pipes abought ľ mile from our camp its is only good to wash I wish you would let me know if you get the money or not let me know as soon as you can on Friday I very near a runway [runaway] I watered my mules and left Roy Applegate hold them and they off with him I had to run for them and I caught them in time two drivers got killed last week and one broke his leg but not of our Regt [regiment] I take care of my self there a feller in our company that shit in his pans on Saturday he had the shits like I have them just now we had our piteures [pictures] taken and if they are good I send one home I guess that is all for this time answer soon good by


Peter J Hertzog
Co. B, 4th Regt.

Chickamauga Park

Camp Thomas,

[Below was a small decorative curved line with the ďMinerva & CliftonĒ written on it]

Letter 2, July 31, 1898

[Written on Camp Thomas letterhead - see image above] Camp H. Thomas
Chickamauga Park
Lytle, Ga. Ponce July 31th, 1898

Dear Minerva & Clifton

I Take the opportunity to let you know that I arrived at Ponce Porto Rico on the 28th of July we left Charleston on the 21st on the Mobile the largest ship in the harbor that is here now we didn't see nothing but sky & water for five days & enjoyed the trip only the food wasn't so plenty but I hope our Regiment will soon be here then I try and get back to the company again there were over fifteen hundred soldiers and over eight hundred mules & horses on the ship and lots of provisions there were several soldiers shot on Friday and yesterday they captured eight Spanish officers don't forget to send that picture of yours and Clifton and send me a few stamps this is the last one

Let you know that I am well only I was a little sick on the way coming down although half a day but I feel alright and hope these few lines will find you all the same this was the hardest time I ever had on the way coming down we had to sleep on the upper deck right in the rain I am glad we are down here it is a good climate it is now two weeks that I am away from the company and I don't know how long it will take yet till I meet them I am tired to stay with the _____ this is all for this time I must and help to unload mules answer soon good by and sweet kiss for Minerva and Clifton

Peter J. Hertzog
Co. B. 4th Regt Penna Vol
Porto Rico

Letter 3, August 15, 1898

Guamyana Aug 15th 1898 [written on Camp George H. Thomas letterhead]

Dear Minerva & Clifton,

I let you know I am with my company again we got here on the 9th of Aug and I am glad to see the boys it was almost 4 weeks that I was away from them I seen some hard times since I was away from the company I didít have much to eat since left Chickamauga but I get since here we have  roast beef for that is something new for me down in Ponce the drivers did steal our meat all and sold it for whiskey the we had to suffer on account of them. Some of them were in the guard house over aweek for drunkiness. I was glade when the orders came to get ready to start for our Reg. we were three days on the road from Ponce it is thirty-eight miles from our Reg we had to have troops for guard the City troop from Phil [adelphia] and H Troop 6th Cav from Newbridge I enjoyed the trip coming up the natives used to say me Puerto Rico Merican. We didít see any Spaniards on the way. They are nearly all on the mountains but the 8th Ill. Reg captured two Spaniards on the 10th. One Corp[oral] and a Priv[ate] they camp three miles from our Reg away. They fetched one prisoner in when I was there. We hauled provisions for them from the worf [wharf] where out camp is. I was the first one. I had charge of the wahon train. We didít have any guard with us they could captured every team if they wanted to but they are afraid to come out of the hills. I didít think that I was in danger at all but I hurried to get back before dark that was my last trip that I made I am back to the company again. I feel at home now Ė he anted to put Lepold on the Team this morning and he was afraid to go on them. Cap Medlar hit him ad kicked him because he refused to go on the Team now he is crippled so that he canít do anything but tomorrow another feller got on. They didít want to leave me off but I told them that I hadít com down here to drive mules. I told them that I came to fight. A feller is more in danger on the Team then in the company. He getís out more and you donít who you get a shoot out of the bushes. the wagon master wanted to give me five dollars a month more if I would drive the team but I wouldnít do it. a feller donít know when the take him away from the Reg when we were on the march from Ponce we got up at four oclock and to breakfast then started out and marched till three in the afternoon we missed our dinner for three days. I tell you that I was pretty hungry some Times. I hope we donít stay long down here. There are too many getting sick. They have the hospitals all full. They had to send some of them off today. They have some lying on the wagons. There are only two of our company in so far. One is in Chickamauga    yet Corp[oral] Rex and Price Bartholomew is in down here we didnít drill here. Nothing but picket duty. We are 24 ours on and 24 off. It makes afeller pretty lazy but as long as I stay well I donít care how it goes. They sent Dr. Cawly home. He is sick too. He said that we would follow him in abought three weeks but I guess that is Too soon but I wish we would I am axious to see you and Clifton but donít forget to send that picture. I wrote a letter from ponce but I donít know if you got it or not. Let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you all the same I guess Clifton donít know me any more. when I get home of he calls the old man papa. This is all. I must go for water. Answer soon goo by

Many kisses for you and Clifton,

I must write a few lines more. Let you know that we left Carroyo and marched to Gualama in abought four miles and there they formed a battle line. Four batterys [of artillery] and two Cavelaries [cavalry regiments?] and three Reg of inf [infantry] 4th Penn 4th Ohio and 3th Il and just as they were ready to shoot on the Spaniards the order came that peace was declared. Then you would see a happy set of boys. We are camping in Guayama and I guess it wonít be long till we can come home.

I donít wanted to stay down here if peace is declared. There are too many getting sick of boone fever

Yours Truly
Peter J Hertzog
Co B 4th Reg Penn Vol
Guayama Porto Rico


(As a service to our readers, clicking on title in red will take you to that book on

Gonzalez, Luis - July 31 letter and image.

Knauss, Pierce - June 12 and August 15 letters

Stewart, Thomas J., Adj. Gen., Record of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. (Harrisburg: William Stanley Ray, 1901). 160, 166, 179, 189, 196.

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