The Spanish-American War: Miss Annie's Story III
In a few days Miss Barton said for me & for the other two who had not come on same ship with me & had not gone to N.Y. & said, wringing her hands:
Well, young ladies, I know you came down here expecting to nurse the sick soldiers, & I have the only thing you could find to do has been the worst manual & trying sort of labor, extremely wearing & disagreeable, & you have kept at it faithfully working no complaint - now the English boat house, built out in the Bay has been taken for a Hospital & the soldiers are being brought there from different Camps & I have proffered your services to Gen Shafter which he has accepted & I want you to go down there & do the best you can for the suffering soldiers. I put Miss Wheeler in charge not that she can do any better than the rest of you perhaps, but we must have some one at the head, so I place her in command.
So we went down & found about sixty very sick soldiers lying on the floor in the uniforms they had worn for a month in sun & mud, getting wet & the sun baking them till the color of blue was about eliminated giving place to the color of mud. There was absolutely no Hospital supplies whatever. I went immediately to the Captain of the Head quarters & got wagons & to Miss Barton & got load after load of cots & sheets, blankets, mosquito netting, pajamas & rushed every thing necessary for the comfort of a Hospital - delivered at once.
All these things being rapidly placed in order, the Hospital Corps men got the delirious patients out of the muddy worn out uniforms & bathed & into the nice pajamas & between fresh cool sheets on the lovely cots & many of them said they thought it was Heaven, & many steps were gained in the battle toward recovery.
This dancing pavilion of an English Boat Club, was admirably adopted for the needs of a Hospital.
Built far out over the water - connected with the shore by a wooden bridge - it consisted of a large dancing hall - entirely surrounded by a Veranda. The walls of the room were made of Shutters, each one of which could be lifted from the p bottom & hooked to edge of roof, making all or any part entirely open according to the needs of sun or rain.
The days that followed were shall always be shrined in my heart as a blessed benediction. We only had such help as could be procured locally & no trained nurse, so during the time I was there.
We had the blessing of so many terribly ill soldiers being brought in & seeing them get well & go home. It was heart breaking when any Lad gave up the fight and died in a strange land.
The stiff muddy clothes were taken off when they entered & thrown over board, & they were given pajamas. When they left I would go down to Miss Barton & get complete out fits to send them back to their regiments where they had new uniforms issued.
Miss Barton would often come to the Hospital & say "Well you dear old woman who lived in a shoe, how are you getting along."
We were very hard at work from the time we hurried down from the houst on the hill with the first peep of dawn until night.
We had a good Doctor & the most devoted & picturesque old steward & tho what we did was crude, there was always plenty to do.
I was fairly glorified when Father could come & with his face alight with tenderness would tell me of the most kindly encomiums & words of praise from Col Vallery Harvard - the Chief Surgeon in the Islands.
I heard one day there were some sick soldiers in an old abandoned Theater. I got some Carriages & went there & found a number of desperately ill men lying on the dam ground in the dark, moldy old abandoned Theater We transferred them all to the Hospital & their immediate improvement was Marvelous.
So the days wore on filled to the brim & over flowing.
Came a day when I saw a Transport sail away carrying my Father and brother & Col Roosevelts Rough Riders & the little by Henry standing beside Father smiling & happy.
As the summer wore on Col Harvard assigned one of the o Miss Johnson & me to duty on the Hospital ship Alivette bound for Moutank.
That was a fearful experience - so many desperately sick & dying & so few to care for them.
Sometimes three times in one day I would stand by the Rail & read the burial service over some poor boy who had been so eager to reach home.
Landing at Montauk Pt. Long Island, I expected to take a good rest, but found my Father in command there & that there was need of nurses, so I went immediately to work there, and continued until my brother was drowned. Afterward the authorities at St Lukes Hospital N.Y. Kindly gave me a special course on training there in the surgical Wards until Father & I went with President & Mrs McKinley & Cabinet & Gen Shafter & Gen & Mrs Lawton - on a tour to Many Army Corps in the South - at Macon Ga & Savannah & Montgomery & Atlanta & visiting the Bookes.
Of course the Special train for the President was very palatial & each stop meant parades & flowers & honors of every kind for all the party.
Following spring I was visiting Miss Helen Gould at her beautiful country home at Lexington [?], when I had a telegram that Father was going to the Phillipines. I threw my things into my trunk wildly & rushed to Washington. I had known for some time this was imminent & also knowing when Gen Otis said he did not want any more women in Philippines. I could never get Father to make any request for me to go, and had already gotten my permit from War Department to go through friends in N.Y.
So on reaching Wash I went to War Department & had my papers all made out before Father knew I intended to go - and he was glad.
After hurried prepartions we had a pleasant trip across the continent & were much entertained in San Francisco & found our rooms on board the ship a solid bower of flowers in addition to being showered with more flowers than we could carry.
We had 30 days of lovely sailing over the blue waters watching the whit birds & with clouds out lined against blue sky. following the Following the glittering pathway made by the sun during the day & the soft silver pathway made by the moon at night - siting on deck surrounded by a coterie of pleasant Officers.
Stopping at Hololulu where we were met by bands of music & sweeps covered with "lais" or wreathes of flowers & entertained beautifully at different lovely houses on the shore at Wai Ki-Ki.
We stopped out in the Bay in Manila - a large white bird flew and lighted on my shoulder.
We went ashore by being swung over the side down into small boats.
We went to the old Orientl Hotel & then Father went up to the front & I went on duty at the 2nd Reserve Hospital - or Hospital Malate on the Sunetd [?]. It had been a girls convent & was an enormous building, the large grounds surrounded by a twelve foot thick brick wall the top covered by broken glass.
I lived in a regular Hipa hut - (Nipa resembles our fodder from corn stalks) about a mile away & went back & forth in the little native Keelis - or public carriage driven by a small native boy - drawn by a small native pony.
The only variance in the regular routine of daily Hospital work for six months was an occasional church service or a funeral.
The funeral of Gen Lawton was very impressive & elaborate - Mrs Lawton & Mrs Siscure [?] (whose husband was killed in China) lived in a wonderfully picturesque old palace. One side opening on large & beautiful grounds & the other presenting old softened grey stone walls to the river [?] - with old moss grown steps leading down to a boat landing & beautiful picturesque vines climbing up the wall.
The day finally came when Father came down from the front & I bade farewell to the Hospital & we set sail for home, This time being on board forty two days - Pres McKinley having cabled Father to go by & make an inspection of Guam, which we found to be a tiny island lying in the blue sunlit sea. It was a Naval Sta. Government House - residence of commanding Officer was quite imposing. Most of Houses little Nipa huts. Quantities of small brown naked cubans every where - playing in the white sand under the palm trees beside the blue sea.
Some parts of the Island was such a Morass & dense thicket of brambles & tangled vines - in order to make a thorough canvass & be familiar with the whole Island Father had to ride a Caraboa, except along a beaten road where horses could be used.
We were there for four or five days & then proceeded to San Francisco & on to Washington.
Soon afterward I went to visit Miss Gould in N.Y. & joined some friends going abroad to the Paris Exposition, where I was joined by my school girl sister in London where we were both presented at Queen Victoria's Court - & after ward attended the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, where an unusual number of the Royalty of Europe were gathered to gether- At both functions I closed my eyes & had visions of long rows of cots & Hospital wards in a far land - filled with suffering soldiers of our Country.
Then again back to my dear plantation house - where my sister & I have been alone for many years.
Big house - a hundred acres of grove of giant oaks in front - Large beautiful spring at edge of grove & the little P.O. in one corner (of grove not of spring) A mile & a half of flowers.
[note accompanying manuscript]
My darling Annie,
I have called upon you many times & I found you not.
Home is not home with out yo thee
It dearest tokens only make me mourn
With all my love.
Your devoted father,
Sept. 26 1905