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Spanish - American War Newspaper Clippings

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EIGHTH ILLINOIS REGIMENT RETURNS FROM CUBA - JOHN A COOMBS NOT AMONG THEM
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 16, 1899
The Eighth Illinois regiment, colored, arrived yesterday from Santiago at Newport News, on the transport Cheater. The regiment is now on its way to Chicago where it will be mustered out of service. There are about a dozen young colored men in the regiment from Alton, North Alton and Upper Alton. In the death report from Cuba yesterday, the name of John Combs, of Alton, a member of the regiment, appeared as having died of dysentery at Santiago. Comb's mother lives on Upper Belle street. She has not heard from her son since he left for the war. Combs probably took sick at Santiago and was unable to leave for home with the regiment.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 18, 1899
The relatives of John A. Coombs, the colored soldier who died at Santiago, have as yet heard nothing from the authorities as to the young soldier's death. They have written to Washington to get the particulars. The dispatch from Havana published in the daily papers simply stated that Private John A. Coombs, of the Eighth Illinois Regiment, had died at Santiago from dysentery. The relatives cling to the hope that there was another John Coombs in the regiment but this is not probable. A half-brother of Coombs called at the Telegraph office last evening to obtain further particulars, but nothing could be given him. He said the young man's folks had not heard from him since he left for Cuba last July. He was only eighteen years of age. Of at least one hundred soldiers and sailors who left their homes in Alton to go to the war, this is the first death among the entire number.

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EIGHTH ILLINOIS COLORED REGIMENT ARRIVES HOME
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 4, 1899
About a dozen members of the Eighth Illinois colored regiment arrived home this morning, after an absence of ten months in the service of the U. S. Government. The regiment was organized in Springfield last summer, and in the neighborhood of fifteen young, colored men from Alton and vicinity joined the regiment, and were scattered throughout the different companies. The entire organization consisted of colored men, from Colonel down, the first time in the history of the United States of a regiment being officered by colored men. Among those who returned this morning were John Hunter, Alex Johnson, John Crawford, Ed Adams, William Wilson, Henry Long, Olem Pain, Gus Smith, Tony Pear, Wilson Miller and Henry Miles. They were met at the depot and welcomed by a large number of relatives and friends. A reception and banquet in their honor will be given on Friday night. The regiment has a good, clean record and the members received much commendation for their excellent behavior on their journey through the south, in contrast with the boisterous conduct of other regiments. The soldiers went to Santiago to perform garrison duty after the surrender of the city, and to relieve the worn out soldiers who had gone through the Santiago campaign. They have been in Chicago two weeks, and, like all other soldiers who return, are glad they are home well again. One member of the regiment from Alton, John A. Coombs, died at Santiago. He was the only Alton soldier or sailor, out of over one hundred who took part in the late war, who died while in the service of his country.

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ALTON BOYS IN NINETEENTH INFANTRY RETURNING FROM PENCE, PUERTO RICO WITH DISCHARGES

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 16, 1899

The Alton boys who have been in service in the 19th regiment of regulars are on their way home from Ponce, Puerto Rico, bringing their discharges with them. The names of the discharged soldiers are: Bartley Hellrung, August Eckhard, James Robertson, Jacob Tremble, Percy Able, Albert Gollmer.  Bartley Hellrung, who was discharged from the army at the same time the other members of the regiment were discharged, arrived home Sunday morning and says the remaining Alton boys will be home Thursday. The war department has been granting discharges to the war recruits of the regiment for several months. It is the intention to reduce the regiment by discharging all who desire to leave the service, and the regiment is destined to serve in the Philippine Island. It is to be brought to this country first, and will go into camp at Camp Meade, Pennsylvania, and will then be sent on its long journey to Manila via the Suez Canal. The 19th Regiment had more Alton boys in it than any other regiment in the service. Herman Horneyer, of North Alton, was a member, but was granted a discharge several months ago, as was Joseph Walters, also of North Alton. John Cousley was the first to be released from the service and returned home last September. The regiment was among the first to invade Puerto Rico, and was stationed at Ponce on garrison duty. The Alton boys receive their discharges at one time, but sailed for New York on separate steamers, and Hellrung arrived home first. All the boys are in good health and suffered no evil consequences from their army experiences.

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LETTER FROM A SOLDIER - WILLIAM BRUBACH

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, Monday, June 26, 1899

William Brubach, one of the Alton boys who served on the Harvard during the war, and subsequently enlisted in the 18th U. S. Infantry for service in the Philippine Islands, wrote from Honolulu to his friend, Mr. Henry Ulrich, through whose courtesy the following is published:

 

Honolulu, June 7, 1899.   Dear Friend, I thought I would write to you and let you know we arrived here last night to stay about three days. We had a fine time coming across the States. The scenery was something great. We passed through Royal Gorge, the finest thing I have ever seen. We stopped at Colorado Springs one hour and we had a nice time there. We stopped at Pueblo and at Salt Lake City, and I visited the Mormon temple at Salt Lake City. One of the attendants took me through and showed me the statue of Brigham Young. The city has fine wide streets, with big trees on both sides, and fine flower gardens in the center. San Francisco is a fine place. I was off a whole night there and visited Chinatown. I met some of the Harvard crew and they took me around the town. I am going to stay there when I am out of the army. I did not see an ugly girl in the city. The Harvard boys I met were Tush and McMurry. Peter Goldin is boatswain of the Sheridan. We had a fine trip on the water so far. I am going ashore tomorrow night at Honolulu. Honolulu is not as big as Alton. There are lots of Americans here and many of the people speak English. It is a pretty place and most of the people in the city are rich. They look like Spaniards to me. When we came into the harbor a crowd of boys swam out to the ship and some of the soldiers threw money to them to dive for, and they got it every time. They stay in the water for hours at a time. They are like a lot of fish. The ship is coaling here and the coal is hauled up in baskets and it takes a long time to coal. The U. S. training ship Alliance and U. S. S. Philadelphia are here. I am feeling fine and never was in better health in my life. None of the soldiers have been sick so far on the trip, and I think we are a pretty healthy gang. We get plenty to eat and have a nice time. It will take us three weeks to go from here to Manila. I hope this finds you well and having a good time, but I know you are. I would like to be with you July 4th but that is impossible. I have learned more in this trip than I would have learned in Alton in 50 years. The trip is worth $1,000 to me. I can eat five times a day. There are almost 2,000 men here on board and you can imagine how we are fixed. It is pretty hot here, hotter by four degrees than the hot place. We have church services on ship on Sunday and while the services were going on in one part of the ship, a poker and crap game was going on in another part. We all have plenty of money but it is all in gold and silver. We don't see any paper money. Hoping to hear from you soon, I bid you all goodbye.               W. Brubach [name also spelled Brubacer], Co. M., 10th U. S. Infantry

 

[Note:  The Spanish-American War ended after victories for the United States in the Philippine Islands and Cuba. On December 10, 1898, the signing of the Treaty of Paris gave the United States control of Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam.]

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