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That Splendid Little War
Schuylkill County And The Spanish American War
Standing alone on the east end of Garfield Square in Pottsville is a monument to the veterans of the Spanish American war. In April 1898 President McKinley called for 75,000 volunteers to enter the war which had been declared against Spain. During this time period Schylkill County had seven companies of National Guardsmen in the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment which responded to the call with the patriotism shown by Schuylkill countians in every war this country has been involved in. This statue, called the " Hiker " is dedicated to the veterans who served and fought in the Spanish American war and called themselves the Hikers.
On May 29, 1961 the Pottsville Republican printed a photograph of eight men who served in the military during the Spanish American war, William Warner 85, John F. Krater 82, Gomer Hughes 88, William Lindemuth 82, George Reichader 76, John Cantwell 81, George Steidel 83, and William Corby 82. As listed all the men were in their 80's and these few men were among the last of the Spanish American War veterans still alive.
Schuylkill County sent many young men off to that " Splendid Little War " in April of 1898, many seeing combat in Cuba and the Philippines, and others just spending months drilling in Georgia and Virginia.
The two primary units from the area were the 4th and 8th regiments of the Pennsylvania National Guard. The 4th sent over 240 men from the county and the 8th had the most with 880 men serving in the ranks. The 4th regiment would see limited action in the campaign in Porto Rico, and the 8th regiment would spend most of its time in camp at Chickamagua Georgia and camp Alger near Falls Church, Virginia. Possibly the most exciting time that the men of the 8th regiment had was in early July about 200 men of the 6th P.N.G. started out to celebrate the 4th of July and without proper orders made a mess of themselves, men from company H of Pottsville and company B from Tamagua were ordered out to arrest the men of the 6th. They captured over 300 of them and made them walk back to camp. Both regiments had no combat related casualties, but typhoid fever consumed many of the boys and took the lives of 9 men in the 4th regiment and two in the 8th.
Schuylkill county would also have men that served in the Regular U.S. Army and Navy, these men would see the majority of combat in the very short period of the war. William Ryan from Minersville a private in company K of the 16th U.S. Infantry saw action at the battle of Santiago, Cuba. The September 21, 1898 issue of the Miners Journal reported that Ryan a very modest young man arrived home from the war in Cuba. He related an account of the fighting he was in to the Journal's reporter. " During the fighting, when the Spanish artillery was belching forth a heavy fire, part of the 16th, including company K determined to fool the Spaniards. A wagon was uncoupled and the forward part arranged in position like a cannon, the tongue was wrapped with bags and then covered with a rubber poncho, which at a distance, gave the appearance of a cannon. The latest production of Yankee ingenuity was pushed forward into a conspicuous position and immediately the unsuspecting Dons directed their fire towards this formidable looking weapon. Taking advantage of this the Yankees pushed forward with their troops and drove the enemy from their trenches into the city.
The regular army recruited heavily in Schuylkill and the surrounding counties with 54 men enlisting in the 21st and 12th U.S. Infantry regiments on one week. July 13th also saw the enlistment of another 22 men for the 12th regiment.
One of the most interesting stories that came from the Spanish American war is the service and record of one of Pottsvilles native sons Major William Auman. Major Auman had a lucrative military career beginning with his service as a member of the Washington Artillerists one of the First Defender companies in 1861, and also serving with the famed 48th regiment first as a private and finally commanding company G as a captain. Auman was wounded severely in the mouth during the Petersburg campaign in 1864. After the Civil War he was commissioned as a captain in the 13th U.S. Infantry and served on the frontier fighting Indians and has been with the 13th up to the Spanish American War. He retired from the military in 1903 after reaching the rank of Brig. General.
When most people think of the Spanish American War the first thing that comes to mind is the gallant charge of Teddy Roosevelt and the famous Rough Riders up kettle hill, on the 1st of July 1898. But equally as important as the charge of the Rough Riders the assault made on the left flank by the men of the 13th , 9th and 24th infantry regiments was of a heroic nature. Leading the 13th regiment was Pottsville's Major Auman.
During the fight for Fort San Juan, Cuba the 3rd Brigade of the 5th Corps consisting of the 9th, 13th, and 24th U.S. infantry regiments were ordered to advance against the enemy held heights. In this assault the 13th regiment was at the head of the column of regiments. At the base of the hill was a small creek which the men crossed and went into line of battle. Advancing under intense Spanish fire the men had to hack down a fence that impeded their way. After cutting through the fence with the aid of their bayonets they advanced across open terrain for over 100 yards under a galling fire. Prior to crossing the creek the three senior officers of the regiment were shot down by rifle fire, leaving only Lt. Col. Worth of the 13th and Major Auman in command, Col. Worth took command of the brigade and the command of the 13th regiment fell to Major Auman.
Taking command Major Auman heroically directed the troops up the hill under intense fire, he was constantly moving from the left of the line to the right of the line the whole time exposed to enemy fire. Running and climbing their way up the hill, men were being wounded and killed the whole time. Major Auman was yelling and encouraging his men continually, during this point of the assault the enemy rifle fire was severe. When approaching the crest of the hill Major Auman was heard yelling, " The Spaniards are Running ". When the men of the 13th and the rest of the battalion heard his cry they surged forward with impetus and fired a terrific volley from their rifles upon the enemy. As the regiment reached the top of the hill still being lead by Major Auman, he would have the distinction of being the first American officer to reach the brow of the hill. Major Auman's old company would be the unit that captured the Spanish flag, block house and entrenchments. He then halted his command and ordered the men to fire at the fleeing Spanish soldiers. Major Auman stated " A bugler was shot down within a foot of where I was standing and for a time I was the target for the Spanish sharpshooters ". After the action the brigade was ordered to support the Rough Riders, who were being hard pressed.
Major Auman would receive numerous commendations for his actions on July 1, 1898 two of the commanding Generals personally commended him. Brig. General Adelbert Ames and Major General J. Ford Kent U.S.V. commanding.
The U.S.S. Texas was the first battleship commissioned in the U.S. Navy. She was commissioned on August 15, 1895 a month earlier than the famous battleship U.S.S. Maine. The Texas arrived off the coast of Cuba on February 21, 1898 and was at once put on patrol and blockade duty.
On board the Texas were two Schuylkill countians, Lieut. Louis Heilner the navigating officer from Tamaqua and Lieut. Frank Haesler in command of the starboard turret gun. Haesler was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and was noted as an expert electrician and engineer for his applications of compressed air and mechanics.
The Texas was known as the " Hoodoo " of the navy because of her slow firing and handling qualities. Lieut. Haesler was asked to give his recommendations for improving on the existing problems that were affecting the performance of the ship. He submitted his plans to the navy, the officers of the board were hesitant to accept them until Theodore Roosevelt, the Secretary of the Navy intervened and with his influence Lieut. Haesler's plans were accepted. He was then assigned to the crew of the Texas.
One of the main problems with the Texas was her slow rate of fire, caused by the need to bring the turrets to a neutral point before being reloaded. Haesler made the 12" guns rapid firers by improving on the method of loading. The charge was carried to the gun in any direction. He also made the guns safer to fire by altering the electric firing mechanism so that the gun could not be fired unless the breech was closed.
During the bombardment of the Spanish Fort Cago Del Tore in Guantanamo Bay Cuba on June 21, 1898 and again in the fierce Naval Battle of Santiago on July 3. Lieut. Haesler was in charge of the starboard turret. During the engagement on July 3, the Texas fought nine different Spanish vessels and Lieut. Haesler was highly praised for his heroic actions.
Lieut. Haesler's effective manner in which he handled the guns, made every projectile strike the lofty fort, causing sever damage. He soon became known among the bluejackets as the man who destroyed the " Hoodo " which had so long followed the Texas. The men were so pleased with his him that they presented to him an engraved gold watch. The inscription read " To Lieut. Haesler by the crew of the Battleship Texas converting the vessel from the "Old Hoodoo" to "The New Hero"
Lieut. Haesler's career was cut short while he was stationed in Washington. In November of 1900 he became sick with Typhoid fever, and two weeks after the illness began he died on November 20, 1900. He was buried in the Naval Academy Cemetery with full military honors.
Lieut. Louis Heilner would also continue on in his naval career and in 1936 while serving as a Captain in charge of the Navy Yards between Newport News and Boston, Heilner was promoted to Rear Admiral. Admiral Heilner retired from the Navy in 1938.
Spanish American War Soldiers
From Schuylkill County who served in the Regular Army, Marines and Navy.
This list is not complete.
1. David L Thomas, Trooper Gov. Pa. Cav. 2. Harry F. Kimmell Co. L 12th US Inf. Artificer. 3. Henry Fogarty Battery D 2nd US Artillery 4. William Murray Co. L 12th US Inf. Pvt. 5. Robert Masterson Co. K 18th US inf. 6. James Gordon Co. C 2nd Regiment US Inf. Pvt. 7. Leigh Jay Co. L 22d US Inf. Sgt. 8. George Beers Troop G 7th Regiment Pvt. Weatherly 9. Anthony Gergler 28th US Inf. Mah City. 10. William Mulenfskie 82 Coast Artillery Corp. Shenandoah. 11. John Brennan Co. D 21 US Inf. Minersville 12. Jacob Wilkaitis Co. F 21 US Inf. Shenandoah 13. Anthony Schuck Co. I 39th US Inf. Minersville 14. Fred Krebs 36th Coast Artillery Pvt. St. Clair.. 15. Patrick Byrne Co. L 21st US Inf. Shenandoah 16. John Kirkpatrick Troop L 3rd US Cav. Sgt. Schuylkill Haven 17. Edwin F Dewald Co. L12th US Inf. Orwigsburg 18. William Woon Co. D 21 Inf. Frackville. 19. Peter Dougherty Batt. F 6th Regiment Pvt. McAdoo 20. Daniel Schall Cook 4th US Coast Artillery, Minersville 21. William Prosser Co. G 28th Inf. Shenandoah 22. Terrence O'Boyle Battery H 6th Artillery Shenandoah 23. Tim McLain Co 21st Inf. Shenandoah 24. Mike Purcell Co F 7th Us Pvt. Minersville 25. Martin Navin Co. C 21st US Inf. Ashland 26. James Derrick Co. L 21st Inf Pvt. Shenandoah 27. William Coury Co. D 21 Inf. Shenandoah 28. Elias Reed Co. C 16th INf Pvt. Sch Haven 29. John Francis McIntyre Navy USS Minneapolis Gunner M Girardv 30. Joe Mitchel Co. K 21st Inf Pvt. Shenandoah 31. Owin McKernan Co. B 19th Pvt. St. Clair 32. Patrick Cantwell Co. K 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah 33. John Brecker Co A 19th Inf Pvt. Sch Haven 34. Joseph Goetz Co. L 9th Inf Pvt.Pottsville 35. Thomas Coon Battery E 7th Artillery, Ft. Springs 36. Daniel Fahnestock Co. G 22 Inf. Portor Township 37. Tom Durkin Co. L 21 Inf Pvt. Ashland 38. Charles McBride Naval USS Topeka Coal Passer Beaver Meadow 39. Fred Ginsburg Co. I 12 Inf Pottsville 40. Elmer Warnick Co. E 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah 41. Walter Cooney Co. E 21 Inf. Pvt. Shenandoah 42. Thomas Lee 28th Inf Div. Shenandoah 43. Thomas McAlister Coast Artillery Co.A 6th Shenandoah 44. Mike Ryan 2 Inf Co. K Pvt. Shenandoah 45. Terrance McLain Co. I 21 Pvt. Shenandoah 46. William J Simmons Co. I 21 Inf.Shenandoah 47. Mathias Schmidt Co. K 21 Inf Shenandoah 48. Nick Whalen Co. G 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah 49. Patrick Burns US Marines USS Michigan Shenandoah 50. John Tempest Co. L 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah 51. Joseph C Matthews Co B 3 Artillery 52. Ben Thomas Co. L 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah 53. William Young 21 Inf Shenandoah 54. Robert F. Shuman Co. L 28 Inf Shenandoah 55. Peter Becker 21 Inf Shenandoah 56. Thomas Hutton 6th Artillery Batt. F Shen 57. Henry Keen 21 Inf Co. I Shen 58. John J. Beisel Co. A 1st Cavalry Pvt. Shenandoah Rough R. 59. William Durham Co. E 21 Inf Shenandoah 60. Joseph Blacker 21 Inf Pvt Shenandoah 61. Isiah Woomer Co. L21 Inf Pvt. Shenanoah 62. John Prosser Co. I 21 Inf Pvt. Shen 63. Max Fedonshick Co. A 21 Pvt. Shen 64. Frank Jackoviak Co. E 21 Shenandoah 65. Matthew Mizinskie Co. A 21 Inf Pvt. Shen 66. William Seward 21 Inf Pvt. Shen 67. John Leahy Co. B 21 Inf Shen 68. Patrick Curran 66th Coast Artillery, McAdo 69. Samuel Unger 124th Co. Coast Artillery Mechanic Muir 70. John Stutzman Co. H 21 Inf Orwin 71. Hezekial Crawford US Navy Seaman Pottsville Black Sailor 72. Thomas Behney Battery A 104th Artillery Corp. Pottsville 73. Anthony McCormick US Marines Girardville 74. Curits Evans 21 Inf. Sgt. Butler T. 75. Ben Simpson Co. M 21 Ashland 76. John J. Lagus Co. I 11 U S Inf. Pottsville 77. Victor Marshall Co. I 47th US Vol Minersville 78. Thomas Cahill Co. D 19 Mahanoy City 79. Fred Swaaring US Hospital Corp. 80. Lewis Wilkes Co. D 12 Inf Minersville 81. Frank Dopkins Troop L 8th cavalry Sgt. Mah. City 82. Peter Becker 21 Co. M Shenandoah 83. William Yoder Co. G Us Inf 4th Schuylkill Haven 84. Harry Troutman 6th US Artilery Batt k Girardville 85. Thomas Hirst #rd Artillery Battery B Ashland 86. Robert John Barnes USS Navy USS Franklin Fireman 1st Girdv 87. Oscar Brobst Co. I 2 US Artillery Nuremberg 88. Charles Heyer Co. A 47th Reg. Barry Township 89. Cleaver Pinkerton Troop L Cavalry 2nd Pottsville 90. William Preston Co. K 6th US Artillery Frackville 91. Andrew Siemanis Co. K 21 Infantry Shenandoah 92. William Henry Toward Co. C 21 Inf Reiner Ciity 93. William Griffiths Co. L 20 th Inf Frackville 94. Henry Dewalt Servive Company Inf. 1st Sgt. Cressona 95. Edwin Dewalt Co. L 12 INf 2nd Cav. Orwigsburg 96. M.F.Duffy Co. B 21 Inf Sgt. Minersville 97. Victor Marshall 3rd US Infantry Branch Twp. 98. George Higgins USMC Tamagua 99. Horace Pullman troop Cavalry. 100. Charles Taylor Co. I 21 Inf. 101. Edmund Richardson Co. M21 Inf Mahanoy Twp 102. Samuel Detrick Co. L 15th US Inf. Pine Grove 103. John Grogan Co. I 21 Inf St Stephens 104. Curtis Evans Co. I 215 / Co. M 21 Inf.Lavelle 105. J.W.A. Donnel Co. F 47th St. Clair 106. Robert H. Ebner Co. D 7 Coast Artillery 107. John Lulsie US Navy, USS Yankee, Panther And Scorpion Branch Township. 108. James Hannon Co. L 21 Inf Pvt. Ashland 109. Harry Burger Co. L 21 Inf 110. H. E. Templin Co. L 47th Regt. Port Carbon 111. Thomas Riley US Marines 112. Charles F.W. Heyer Co. A 47 Inf.Barry Twp. 113. George Bernet US Navy Seaman Pottsville 114. Mike Donahue US Marines Minersville.
For additional Schuylkill County soldiers of the Spanish American War,
see Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Spanish American War
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