Spanish American War Website Banner

The Newspapers Report on Camp Wikoff

Please Visit our Home Page to learn more about the Spanish American War
Click here for a history of Camp Wikoff
Click here for the account of Dr. William Wallace Walker

Click here to read about the Rough Riders at Camp Wikoff


The following are newspaper accounts related to Camp Wickoff, located on Long Island at Montauk Point.

The Articles:

Article 1 (July 25, 1898):

American Troops Now in Cuba to Recuperate in Montauk Point for the Fall
Fevers and Other Diseases as Factors in the Selection of New Camp Sites
for Troops--Men Seek More Excitement

Washington July 25, The President who gives much attention to the health and comfort of the soldiers, and who feels that Gen. Shafters army has earned a season of rest in a latitude of which the troops are natives, has about determined that Shafters army shall prepare for Fall work in Cuba at Montauk Point, New York. The removal of the army from Cuba to Long Island will depend somewhat upon the ability of the Surgeons at Santiago to suppress the yellow fever, and to report, say, in four or five weeks, that most of the commands no longer develop cases. Investigation was made some time ago to learn what area could be made available at Montauk Point for a camp, and it was learned that 5,000 acres could be secured adjacent to Fort Pond Bay, where the largest transport could find harbor and unload without difficulty. The men could be encamped where it would be possible to cut them off completely from all but the few hundred persons who would be encroached upon, yet the camp ground would be accessible to every breeze that blows, to supplies of food and ice, to beef boats and vegetable boats, and even to a constant milk supply.

Gen. Corbin believes that the men at Santiago would be greatly benefited if they could be transferred to such a place until they are needed in another campaign in Cuba. At present they are exhausted from heat and badly affected by the malaria of the country in which they have been operating.

"They have won a rest" said he, "and if they can get by coming home for a few weeks, they should have it. Before it is decided to use Montauk Point, a further investigation to ascertain what the water supply will be must be made. The men cannot go where the water supply is short or impure."

The Adjutant General says the inquiries have been made about many possible sites for camps, but the inquiries do not mean that there is to be a general disturbance of camps. At Camp Alger, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Chickamauga there are large camps. At each one of them there is typhoid fever. There are also other fevers. Some of these cases are attributable to bad water, and in some to imperfect sanitary arrangements. But there are also cases of illness, and many of them may be attributed to the excesses of the men, some of whom have indulged in practices in which they would never have indulged if they had remained at home.

Much of the demand for new camps arises from restlessness. The first glow of enthusiasm is over; the picnic has subsided, and the men want to visit new scenes. They would like to go right into the fighting rather that be idle in camp.

The investigations into suggested camp sites was made as a precautionary measure, in case any of the large camps have to be abandoned because of the persistent appearance of typhoid fever or other disease attendant upon large aggregations of men. considerable areas may be secured Frederick, MD., and at other points if it is found to be desirable to move from sites now occupied.

There is much concerned manifested about the welfare of individual soldiers at the different camps, and that interest has been indicated particularly for the men at Santiago. Vast numbers of telegraphic dispatches have been received at the War Department, making inquiries for men names, and the department has been expected to inquire and report. This has been pronounced impracticable, for several reasons, and the department has made it a rule not to send such inquiries about sick soldiers.

Adjt. Gen. Corbin is feeling the force of this rule. His son is sick at Siboney, with yellow fever. He would like to hear whether he is doing well or otherwise. But he will not violate the rule he has made for others, and so, hearing nothing, he hopes for the best. 

Article 2 (August 6, 1898)
Arrangements Made for Establishing the Big Army Camp

AMAGANSETT, L.I., Aug. 4. The preliminary arrangements have been made for establishing the big army camp at Montauk Point. It will be located one mile from the Long Island Railroad station, on what is known as Great Plain, and will be on the ocean side of Montauk. Capt. Tappen of the Quartermaster General's Department, detailed by the Government to arrange the camp for the retirning soldiers, inspected the camp and decided it would be better to have the Santiago heros camped along the ocean than along the Long Island Sound side of the point, because there would be less bother from mosquitoes, and then the wounded and sick would get the benefit of ocean breezes.

President Willian H. Baldwin, Jr., Superintendent Potter, Chief Engineer Ford, and superintendent of Buildings J. H. cumming of the Long Island Railroad were here with Capt. Tappen to carry out any suggestions he might make as to the laying out of the camp. Before Capt. Tappen returned to New York to-day an aggrement had been reached between the Captain and the railroad officials.

Capt. Tappen said he would purchase supplies in New York for immediate shipment to Montauk Point. Superintendent Cumming also returned to New York to-day, and he did so to secure the necessary lumber to construct the buildings needed. There are to be five storehouses of wood, the largest of which will be 30 by 600 feet. The lumber is expected to-morrow, and a force of 100 carpenters from the near-by villages will be put to work at once constructing the buildings. The Long Island Railroad officals have guaranteed that they will promptly handle all business the Government will give them in the way of carrying supplies and troops. The big pier at Fort Pond Bay, the property of the railroad, was cleared to-day, in order that the transports can land at it. The pier was built by the late Austin Corbin, who had a plan for landing ocean travelers at Montauk and taking them to New York by rail, this saving several hours. There are eight side tracks under course of construction, and the road leading from the Montauk station to the camp is being widened and improved so that it will be east to travel over. Wells were driven to-day in order to afford a good water supply for the soldiers, and from the way work is progressing everything will be in readiness before the first soldiers arrive at Montauk.

Major Gen. S.B M. Young, who was to-day appointed to the command of the camp, is expected to-morrow.

Article 3 (August 6, 1898):

About 4,000 Men Will Reach Montauk Point Next Week
10,000 More Coming Soon
Several Transports Now on the Way from Santiago

Washington, Aug 6, - The War Department has received information that the transportation of troops from Santiago to Montauk Point is now well on the way. One shipload of cavalrymen left Santiago on Thursday and two or three more started yesterday.

These may be expected to arrive at quarantine, New York on next Thursday. Secretary Alger is authority for the statement that the department expects 4,000 men will have been started from santiago before the end of this week, and that 10,000 will be carried next week. By that time the transports which carried the first troops to Montauk Point will have returned to south-eastern Cuba and will be ready to make a second trip to the north.

Secretary Alger believes that the great bulk of Shafter's army [Fifth Army Corps] will have been sent to Montauk Point before September 1. The administration will probably be content to hold the minimum number of troops in Santiago for the purpose of guarding the Spanish prisoners, and the need of maintaining such a guard will disappear with the deportation of the prisoners, which is expected to proceed rapidly within a few days.

Article 4 (August 6, 1898):

Something about the Beautiful Camp Which will Welcome the Heroes of Santiago

Amagansett, L.I., Aug. 5, The work of arranging the Montauk Point camp for the men from Santiago progressed rapidly to-day. It was closely watched by Brig. Gen. Young, commander of the camp, who arrived at noon. There are 100 carpenters on the ground, and they expect to begin tomorrow the work of erecting necessary storehouses and other buildings. The sinking of wells is being continued. When the first troops arrive they will find everything prepared. There will be a model tented city big enough to accommodate 20,000 men. All available tents in different parts of the country are to be brought to Montauk.

The work of equipping the hospital is in charge of Col. William H. Forwood, Chief Surgeon of the Soldiers Home in Washington. Col. Forwood says that everything that medical science can suggest will be done for the care and comfort of the sick soldiers from Santiago. There will be at least 5,000 beds in 1,000 tents. Col. Forwood says he will have an ample number of nurses, surgeons, and physicians to car for the sick soldiers.

The selection by the government of Montauk Point as a camp will bring to public notice a territory which, although it lies within easy reach of New York, both by land and water, and is close to the fashionable summer resorts of Eastern Long Island, is unknown to the majority of New Yorkers. Artists who have visited the point in search of material have always been enthusiastic as to its natural beauties and is excepionaly fine and cool climate, while a few New York fisherman and sportsmen have been heard to dilate upon its advantages for fishing and shooting.

Until two years ago Montauk Point was reached by carriage or stage from Amagansett, a drive of ten miles along the low beach through deep sand and generally clouds of mosquitoes. A few visitors to the Point sailed or steamed to the little pier in Fort Pond Bay. Two years ago Austin Corbin, whose long-cherished project had to been to run a line of fast European steamers from Fort Pond Bay, which is a deep and safe harbor, completed, as the first step in the project, an extension of the Long Island Railroad from Amagansett to Fort Pond Bay. This brought Montauk Point into touch with the civilized world, but travel thither has not increased to any appreciable extent.

The formation of Montauk Point, which extends seven miles eastward from from the end of the railroad at Fort Pond Bay to the lighthouse, is one of clay and sand dunes, covered with turf and heather, the valleys between them filled with fresh-water streams and lakes and ponds and swamps covered with bayberry bushes. The bluffs, which are generally of clay, rise abruptly from the ocean on the south, and have narrow beaches at their base; but on the northern side the dunes slope gradually to the blue waters of the sound. The scenery is strikingly like that of the eastern cost of Scotland, and the downs, covered with sheep, make this resemblance all the more striking. In early Autumn the heather takes on a purplish hue, the fresh-water lakes and ponds become deep blue in color, and the air is winelike in quality. Thomas Moran, a landscape painter, painted three of four years ago one of the best canvases on Montauk Point. It gives a good idea of the wonderful colors and the splendid sweep of air and sea and sky which are there to be found. Up to the present the only dwellers on Montauk Point have been the few railroad hands who live in and around the station at Fort Pond Bay, the crew crew of the life-saving station on the south beach, directly across from the railroad station; Mr. Conkling and his family who own and occupy the only inn on the point, known as Third House, and the lighthouse keeper and his family and assistants, at the east end of the point. Some years ago the Montauk Association, which purchased a large part of the point from its original Indian owner, erected five or six handsome Summer cottages on one of the southern bluffs, but life was found too lonely there, and the cottages have been closed for two summers. They will now probably serve as quarters for the officers of the regiments to be quartered here.

There is a fair road, which winds in and out among the dunes and across the downs from the railroad station to the Third house-an old farmhouse-a distance of about four miles, but the road from there to the lighthouses hardly more than a wagon track. Bicyclists, who now come in goodly numbers to explore the point, find it best to leave their wheels in the Third House and walk the rest of the distance,. Ada Rehan, the actress, has recently purchased one of the highest bluffs on the south shore and has begun the erection of a large cottage there. The view from this bluff is a far-reaching and superb one. To the east lies Block Island, some ten or twelve miles distant, and beyond it again the Newport cliffs, studded with villas. To the south the open ocean rolls, and to the west the eye follows a line of glistening beach lashed by white breakers, almost to Southampton. To the north one looks over heather-clad downs to the blue waters of Long Island Sound and the far-off, misty outlines of the Connecticut hills.

Every breeze that blows is cool and every wind is laden with health and strength from the surrounding waters. The point should be an ideal one for sick and weary soldiers, exhausted by the fevers and burning heats of the tropics, and the public, or that favored portion of the public permitted to visit the camp, will find the scenery and climate of Montauk Point a revelation.

Article 5 (August 13, 1898):

Montauk Unprepared to Accommodate Rough Riders Properly Yet
Storm Hinders Work Again
Typhoid, Not Yellow Fever, Is the Disease Mose Feared

Montauk, Aug 13, The work of preparing Camp Wikoff for the soldiers on their way North, which has been progressing none too swiftly, received a severs set-back last night when a drenching rain fell for several hours. Much of the work of preparation will now have to be done over again. The previous rains, although they were driven by high winds, did not produce half of the misery that was caused by last night's downpour. In an hour the low lands, through which the greater part of the troop road lies, became rivers of muddy water. The banks along the edges of the road caved in in places, dumping tons of sticky clay upon the deeply rutted trail.

Traveling on foot or in wagons was rendered impossible for a time, and much work that would otherwise have boon done after dark had to be left unfinished. Camp fires were impossible except under cover, and as but few of the tents are large enough to hold a fire and a man at the same time with any degree of safety or comfort, most of the troopers had only cold hardtack and water to stay their hunger. In the hospital tents, which have extra protection against rain in the form of heavy flies, everybody was as snug as if a shingled roof, but that was the only place in camp where there was real comfort.

It was lucky that many of the latest arrivals of the Rough Riders stayed in the cars instead of attempting to bivouac, as it was proposed to do. Even they did not get warm suppers, for the temporary kitchen tent at the station collapsed early in the storm with a pot or two of half cooked victuals on the fire.

Teamsters who began to work at sunrise to-day made slow progress in carting loads of material, for the heavy wagons sunk hub deep in the sticky mud. To add to the difficulty, all the tents and materials for erecting them were soaking wet, and it was said early in the morning that unless the carpenters were in better humor than usual, which was unlikely, there would be far less progress made to-day than was made yesterday.

The greatest efforts are making toward getting the hospitals in shape to receive the hundreds of patients that are known to be on their way from Santiago. The general hospital is ready, and has ample accommodation for all of Col. Roosevelt's sick troopers, but it will be necessary to detain the Rough Riders in the quarantine hospital for a time. More work would have been done on the hospitals yesterday but for the lack of the kind of tent that was needed to complete the hospital on the plan first laid out. No one seems to know who is at fault in the matter of the delay.

The tents came, but too late to be put up yesterday, and this morning a force of fifty men was put at work erecting them. Assistant Surgeon-General Forwood is authority for the statement that there are now one hundred beds in the hospital for the reception of the sick from Santiago, but the physicians have to admit that they are unprepared to receive Col. Roosevelt's troops.

There are more than 100 sick on the first transport bringing the Rough Riders. They will have to remain on the ship until tents can be erected and beds prepared for them. It is evident here that Gen. Young and his aides consider this situation a serious one.

The preparations for quarantine go on uninterruptedly. The guards stationed at both the wooden and iron piers yesterday, and quarantine headquarters have been established at the wooden pier. The disinfecting barge Protector and the cutter Dexter have their station there. The troopers even are not allowed on the piers, and although they are allowed to wander pretty nearly where they please ocean ward, the regulations, which will be stringently enforced when the transports have come, are now in force in order that every one may have plenty of time to learn what the rules are and be able to obey them when there is a real need.

The order has been extended to the fisherman of Fort Pond Bay, and many of them complain that their means of livelihood has been taken away unnecessarily. All of the comfort that they have got from Gen. Young's aids so far has been the information that there are as many fish in the Sound as in the bay, and that they will have to fish in deeper water or not fish at all.

At the foot of the wooden pier there is a fisherman's house about which tents for some of the quarantine officers have already been pitched, and that spot will be known as Quarantine Camp No. 1. The five detention camps beyond the hills will also be designated by numbers and will be in direct communication with camp headquarters by telephone. Plans for receiving the Rough Riders from Cuba have been practically completed, even if the camp is not ready to accommodate their sick. As soon the transport is sighted by one of the observers at signal headquarters and on top of the Rocky Ridge the word will be signaled by wigwag to the quarantine pier, where a signalman has been stationed to receive messages. The fires on the Protector and the boarding tug,, which are necessary to run the disinfecting plants which both are equipped, will be lighted, and before the ship enters Fort Pond Bay she will be boarded by Dr. Magruder. If the ship can show a clean bill of health she will be allowed to land her passengers. If not, as as many of the well as possible will be placed on board the Protector, and they will have to undergo the medicated bath

After they have received an entirely new suit of underclothes and a uniform they will be marched along the quarantine road, which runs straight up from the wooden pier along the top of Rocky Ridge to the detention camps. They will spend five days there in the strictest sort of quarantine, and even then their release will be entirely at the option of the surgeons.

The sick will also be taken on board the barge, and if their condition is so serious as to make moving them in the ambulance dangerous they will be kept in the comfortable rooms on the barge as long as is practicable. The boarding tug will will have a sulphur furnace, by means of which sulphur vapor will be turned into every portion of the ship until all the disease germs on board have been killed. On the Protector, and on the shore where another disinfected plant will be erected, all baggage will be thoroughly steamed for several hours before it will be passed to shore. The surgeons here favor the plan of destroying by fire everything except arms which the soldiers have. To clothe the men 10,000 complete outfits have been ordered. A large part of these have already arrived., and word has come that the others are on the way here now.

The visit of Dr. Doty to the camp yesterday, and his conference with the physicians here, resulted in an important change of front toward the expected fever problem. The typhoid, not the yellow fever in the enemy now most anxiously considered. Yellow fever may come by the transports, but it can be dealt with without real danger to the camp by a simple system of quarantine, which will then, and only then, become necessary. It does not thrive in this latitude, and ordinary precaution should stop it out easily.

It is very different with typhoid fever. That would speedily become a peril of the gravest character to the army if any attempt were made to deal with the cases on the spot. Experience teaches that in a large crowd, particularly in a camp, the drinking water becomes sooner or later contaminated in spite of all precaution, generally very soon. No one can tell exactly how it happens, but the fact is that it does happen, and once the germ of it is in the drinking water the camp would speedily become a huge hospital.

Where there is no system of sewerage and a common water supply such a result is practically unavoidable. In a camp containing the thousands of men enfeebled by long, hard trips and poor food typhoid fever is bound to develop.

It is the most persistent camp follower of all. There are already cases here. Hence Dr. Doty's suggestion, that all typhoid fever cases be sent to New York, to be taken care of there as quickly as they develop, was listened to eagerly by the camp authorities.

It is the idea to make an ideal camp of Camp Wikoff, and if the plan to light the whole camp by electricity is carried out, Montauk in a month or two will rival Coney Island or Manhattan Beach in brilliant illumination. Some 2,000 lamps will be necessary to make the electric system of any practical use. In the event of the War Department permitting the plan to be developed, a dynamo and steam plant will be set up here as soon as possible and the telephone wires will be fed from that source.

The prospects of Camp Wikoff being well supplied with good water have brightened materially within the last twenty-four hours. Three of four large wells sunk have already produced abundant flows of good water free from salt. It will be a matter of a few days before the water becomes perfectly clear, but in the end, the contractor says, there will be fine water in abundance.

Gen. Young this morning issued a general order excluding all visitors from the camp. President Baldwin will cooperate with Gen. Young and no excursion trains will be run to Montauk for at least a week, when the camp will be in order. The work of the Commissary and Quartermasters Departments has been greatly hindered by sightseers who have already come in by train. An order of release will be issued as soon as it is found convenient.

Mrs. John A. Logan came to the camp on the work train at 7 o'clock this morning to meet her son, Major John A. Logan, who is in Gen. Bate's brigade and left Santiago on the transportLa Grande Duchesse, Major Logan's wife is expected here to-day.

Mrs. Logan was unable to find quarters when she came, but, nothing daunted, declared her intention to remain, and said; "I slept in a tent in '61 and can do so now."

Five hundred horses belonging to the Rough Riders arrived early this morning. They were unloaded from the cars, fed early and taken to camp.


Article 1:  July 26, 1898 newspaper article from the [New York?] Times from a scrapbook that was kept by the wife of an officer of the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry. Contributed by John LaBarre

Article 2:  August 6, 1898 newspaper article from the [New York?] Times from a scrapbook that was kept by the wife of an officer of the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry. Contributed by John LaBarre.

Article 3: August 6, 1898 newspaper article from the [New York] Evening Sun from a scrapbook that was kept by the wife of an officer of the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry. Contributed by John LaBarre.

Article 4: August 6, 1898 newspaper article from the New York Times from a scrapbook that was kept by the wife of an officer of the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry. Contributed by John LaBarre.

Article 5: August 13, 1898 newspaper article from the [New York] Evening Sun from a scrapbook that was kept by the wife of an officer of the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry. Contributed by John LaBarre.

Support this Site by Visiting the Website Store! (help us defray costs!)
We are providing the following service for our readers. If you are interested in books, videos, CD's etc. related to the Spanish American War, simply type in "Spanish American War" (or whatever you are interested in) as the keyword and click on "go" to get a list of titles available through

Visit Main Page for copyright data

Return to First-Hand Account Page

Return to Main Page