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Conditions on the

U.S.Army Transports 

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The following comes from the report of Lt. Col. B. F. Pope, Chief Surgeon of the Fifth Corps, U.S. Army. The report describes the conditions aboard several U.S. Army transports, which were to be used to carry troops for the invasion of Cuba. It is not known if the recommendations mentioned were acted upon.

The Report:


"...on the CHEROKEE, transport No. 4, there were 40 officers and 972 men, total 1,012, part Seventh Infantry and part Twelfth Infantry. On the lower deck there were 345 men; bunks in three tiers, closely packed; no ventilation or light when the ports were closed. No wind sails for the lower decks. On the main deck there were abut 430 bunks and men, two 15-inch openings for ventilators when the main hatch was closed. No wind sails for this deck. On the upper deck 200 men, without protection, and who in case of storm would have to be crowded below. Only two water-closets accommodating 5 men each for the whole outfit. There was about 8,000 gallons of water on hand. No condenser. There was about 9 day's supply in the casks, and in the tanks about 4,000 gallons. The board recommended that 200 men be taken from the ship, that water-closet accommodations be increased, and wind sails be supplied."


"...71 officers and 1,256 men, total 1,327. In the lowest deck, where it was so dark that one could not see 10 feet from the main hatch, it was intended to pack nearly 800 men, the Twenty-fifth Infantry and Second Massachusetts Volunteers. The bunks were in four tiers and crowded so closely that men could harldy pass between them. Ventilation by open hatches and open ports. If these were closed, ventilation would be impossible, as there were no other openings. On the second deck was the Fourth Infantry, 460 men. On the upper deck were the men stayed most of the time were medical officers; Maj. William Stevenson, surgeon United States Volunteers (who was relieved before the ship sailed), Maj. Paul R. Shillock, surgeon United States volunteers, of the Twenty-fifth, and Hitchcock of the Second Massachusetts Volunteers. Only one water-closet on board for use of the troops. This was a trough accommodating 10 men only. Additional closets recommended and that the volunteer troops be taken off, which relived the ship of 13 officers and 306 men. The water capacity was reported at 40,000 gallons, of which 30,000 was on hand. The water was brought from St. Petersburg, Fla, 3,000 gallons per day being used."


"...General Young's Cavalry headquarters, First and Tenth Cavalry, 57 officers, 1,026 enlisted men. The total bunkage said to be 1,046, which I very much doubted. On the lower deck were 230 men, main deck 496, and it was reported that nearly 300 men slept on the upper deck. The ventilation was by deadlights, open port and open hatches. There were two wind sails, six water closets. health of the men excellent. Water storage capacity, 50,000 gallons, but it was not all on hand. No condenser on board. The board found the transport overcrowded by 230 men."


"Command Ninth Cavalry and Sixth Infantry, Officers, 63; enlisted men, 902. On the lower deck there were no bunks. On the main deck 750, in which were accommodated 652 men. On the upper deck no bunks. There were 250 men camped out. The ventilation of the main deck was bad, the hold being a tight box without deadlights. There were two wind sails. Water-closets, 2 - not sufficient. Increase recommended."


"Command , Twenty-second Infantry, Siege Artillery, 2 companies heavy artillery, 1 battalion Second Massachusetts Volunteers and 125 mules. Total 43 officers and 927 men. Lower decks, 300 bunks and no men. Main deck, 300 bunks for 500 men. Upper decks, no bunks, 400 men. Water supply, 39,000 gallons. No condenser. Ventilation limted to one wind sail and open ports, all of which must be closed in bad weather. Board recommended battalion, Second Massachusetts, to be removed - 300 men."


"...Ship carrying 46 officers and 705 enlisted men. The bunks were three-tier, for 2 and 3 men each. On the lowest deck there were no bunks or men. On the main deck, bunks for 568 men. On the upper deck about one-fifth of the men were camped, as there was no room below. The water capacity was about 10,000 gallons; a condenser was on the ship for use if necessary. Ventilation was very bad. As the ship was a freight steamer only, there were no deadlights and but two wind sails where there should have been four. The ends of the main deck were dead spaces into which no air could be forced. The battalion of the Twenty-first Infantry was recommended to be taken off (235 men). There were 10 cases of fever on board and 2 of supposed measles. (These were removed to the OLIVETTE) Water-closets, 3; ample for command.


Clerk of the Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement: Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1899) Vol I,  670-671.

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