The following letter was written by Nicholas J. Johannes of the 203rd New York Volunteer Infantry. Johannes was twenty-one years of age when he enlisted in the 203rd on July 14, 1898 at Syracuse. He initially served as a corporal in Company C but was promoted to the rank of sergeant on January 11, 1899. He was mustered out with his regiment on March 25, 1899 at Greenville, South Carolina.
The letter was written at Camp Meade. Camp Meade, located at Middletown, Pennsylvania, was set up to house soldiers who had been inthe southern training camps. As disease rose to frightening levels and cleanliness declined in the southern camps in the mid to late summer of 1898, the regiments were transferred to new camps like Camp Meade.
The letterhead is a "Home Sweet Home" type, having an image of a soldier, in full uniform, kissing a girl. the couple is standing along a picket fence.
When Johannes wrote the letter, the U.S. and Spain had already agreed to an armistice on August 12. The war itself would not end until December 10, 1898 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. His regiment never left the continental U.S.
Co C 203rd Reg NYV
Camp Meade PA
Camp Meade PA
Sept 14, 1898
We are now in Camp Meade and it is a nice place. It seems more like
home here. The camps are all scattered around for 15 miles. We are near
the mountains and on the banks of the Susquahanna [Susquehanna] River. The air is great deal better here. I dont think I will come home this payday we expect to get paid any day now. It will cost a months wages to come home so when I get my pay I will send you all a picture of me in heavy marching order the same as the picture of the soldier on this sheet, but I will not be kissing a girl because ther isnt any around here. Harrisburg is only 8 miles from our camp it costs 10 cents to ride down in the electric cars. I thonk we will go to Porto Rico or Cuba to do garrison duty. I will have my pictures taken without fail this time because theris a photograph gallery on the grounds. If I can get reduced rates low enough I may come home but I think the money will do you more good than to have me come home. I will close now hoping you all feel as good as I do. Love to all from your affectionate son.
Corp N J Johannes
Co C 203 Reg NYV
Camp Meade, Pa."
(As a service to our readers, clicking on title in red will take you to that book on Amazon.com)
LaBarre, John - The text of the letter.
New York in the Spanish American War, 1898, Part of the Report of the Adjutant-General of the State for 1900" (Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer) - info. on Cpl. Johannes (contributed by John LaBarre).
Sauers, Richard A., Pennsylvania in the Spanish-American War. (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee, 1998). 5-11 (Main Source, and source for image).
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).