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C. F. Smitch


Writes Home to his Lady

Contributed by  Stephanie Carignan

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The following letter was written by C. F. Smitch of the USS VULCAN to his girlfriend back in the U.S. The letter speaks of a funeral, death and love. Obviously Smitch was very depressed when he wrote this letter.

The envelope is marked "From C. F. Smitch, Guantanamo Cuba, U.S.S. Vulcan" and is addressed to "Miss Jessier Mckenzie of Bellows Falls, Vermont, U.S.A." On the far edge of the envelope it say "sailor's letter." In the envelope, possibly from a later date was a cap tally reading  "U.S.S. VULCAN"

The Letter:

"Same Place

Aug. 13th 1898

Dear friend Jessie:

As I have no other occupation I will try to tell you what occured today. I just came in from a funeral. One of the Vulcan's crew paid off his coil this morning just as eight bells struck and we laid him the hill beside Surgeon Gibbs and the marines that were killed in the first battle on Cuban soil. It was just at sunset. We filled five boats. There were about 200 men in the funeral party all from the Vulcan. The carpenters made a fine coffin and covered it with the american colors. A bottle was buried at the foot of the grave with the following data on parchment  Rutledge, native of Lowell, copper smith, A.E.24, Died Aug. 13th 1898. Fever.

No we did not know he was very sick he was not in the Sick Bay but 12 hours and we hardly know when he died. We cabled his mother she in Lowell and I am sorry for her. It was a sad sight to see him buried on that barren hill so far away from home and friends. Well such are the "fortunes of War". We did not come here expecting to all get back. We know that some would be left on cuban soil or cuban waters and there are many men buried in the vicinty of Santiago that will never be taken up and sent home. It is only the rich that can afford to have thier dead sent to them. If any thing should happen to me I know that I would be laid beside Ruthledge. But it don't make much difference, they fire a volly, say a prayer- sound taps-cover you up-that is a sailor's or soldiers death-soon forgotten. I guess you will think I have the blues, well maybe I have.

Any way Jessie, I would give anything to be with the girl I love tonight and to have her say " I will love you just a little" could you say that Jessie?
Please tell me. Beg Pardon I was not to talk that way anymore. But I can hardly help it for I love you more that I can tell and I hope you can return some of my love if not all.

Don't call me or this letter silly for I am sincere and write this in all sincerity and demand a reply Jessie it is due and I have asked for it often before but you disregard me enough I guess to evoke any mention of it but I hope you will give me some sort of reply one way or the other. I remain yours,

C.M.- U.S.V.

P.S. The little vine enclosed I took beside Surgeon Gibbs grave. The first american shot on Cuban Soil. It was at the battle of Guantanamo Hill. C.S."


Letter provided by Jay Lee, descendant of John Blandin.

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