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Record 106/160
Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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Admin/Biog History Corporal John Streich, Company F, 2nd Wisconsin National Guard
Collection Spanish American War Small Collections
Dates of Accumulation July 25, 1898
Abstract Letter to wife from Corporal John Streich, Company F, 2nd Wisconsin National Guard. He discusses: departure and fanfare at Charlston harbor; spotting sharks and flying fish on the voyage; seasickness; battleships; rations (corned beef, hardtack, beans and coffee); bad drinking water; and a request for his Christmas dinner.

Near Porto Rico Tuesday July 25, 1898

Dear sweetheart & wife
I must write you a few lines and tell you about our trip. We left Charlston last week Wednesday at 4 PM. There was about half the city there to see us leave. They cheered us as long as we could hear them and they were shooting and the band played. We sailed outside of the harbor and anchored there all night. We thought we would have some battle ships to go with us but they were not there, so we had to go with out them. The 3[rd] Regiment of Wisconsin [National Guard] is with us. They are half a mile to the side of our boat. When we sailed Thursday morning, we passed Fort Sumpter and then we did not see a thing but sky and water. We saw some sharks and flying fish. We sailed 4 days and 4 nights, then we saw a ship, but we did not know what it was. Next day and night we had a little storm. At night we could not sleep, so Jim Kelsch [Private James P. Kelsch] came out of his bunk and holding his head and swearing sat down beside Reinhold Bathke [Musician Reinhold Bathke] and me. I could not sleep, for the ship was rocking so. We were rolling all over the bunk, so Jim, Reinhold, and I told stories nearly all night. Lots of the boys are sick. I was sick one day and I ate 2 lemons and I felt better. Today I feel good.
Last night we came in sight of land. It was the east shore of Porto Rico. We thought we could see some of our war boats, but we did not see a thing of them, so we sailed out in the ocean and sailed around all night looking for our war boats. Next morning we saw one of the battle ships. It was the Colombia. It was painted gray. They gave us some orders and then sailed away. We were sailing in sight of land all day. We expect to land pretty soon. I got your last letter 3 days before we left and I answered it the same day we left. The water is poor on this boat. It is warm and the boys can not drink it. We have no more ice. All I can drink is coffee. All we get to eat is corned beef, hardtack, beans and coffee. When we land the band will play, "There Will be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight", and I think it will dear. The land is only 5 miles from our boat. Most of the boys are writing letters, the rest fooling with each other saying they can see Spaniards walking on the shore and that they are winking at us and so on. It is 4 o'clock now and the wind is blowing a little, but the waves are not so big. The officers expect to see a battleship, which is to guard our ships tonight. Will Papke [Sergeant William F. Papke] and Will and Bert and Jim are feeling good. Sam Sutton [Sergeant Samuel H. Sutton] is not with us. I do not know where he is. The last I heard of him he was in Camp Thomas, he was sergeant of General Brooks' orderlies. We did not have no light on our ship last night [and] everything was dark. Last night I took Reinhold to the hospital on the boat, for he was sick and I had a drink of ice water. It tasted like Honey to me.
How are all the folks getting along? Send them my regards. Julius Ruchl sends regards to Will and wife and tell him that he is feeling good. The first night I slept on the spring cot in my cabin. I thought I was at home, it felt so good, for I am so used to sleeping on the soft side of the board. It is rainy now, but it will not last long. When I come home Christmas I want a good dinner: a goose or something like that. Can I have it dear? Maybe I will be home before that, if the fighting at Porto Rico does not last long. The Spaniards there are so scared that when they see a ship they try to run away, so I do not think we will have much fighting to do. I forgot to buy some stamps before we left Charlston. This is my last stamp on this letter. Try to send me some. Why don't Thresa and Mary write? The last letter I got of them was in Camp Thomas and I answered them when I had a lame arm. I sent all my old letters to you. Did you get them? You can read them if you want to, but do not say anything to those that wrote them. Will you, sweetheart, save them for me if you can? We can get all the coconuts, oranges lemons and such in Porto Rico. I will bring some lemons home for you. They will keep. Do not forget about that dinner sweetheart. We got a song. The name of it is, "How I Long to be with Mother in the Pantry". You remember that letter you wrote me, that German letter you gave me before I left home? I carry it in my pocket in my shirt on the left side. You said I will not get shot and I will have good luck. I have not been sick but once. I was sick a little when I had that bad arm and one day on this boat, but it was not much. I feel all right now. I do not swear either. Once in a great while I say a little thing when I do not think of it. I will close for tonight and write some more tomorrow.

[Written on side of letter:] Good night sweetheart. Do not answer this letter I will write soon again.
Corporal John Streich
Co. F. 2 Wis Vol. I
Send my regards to all
A thousand kisses to you and a good hug
Good bye

We landed in Porto Rica
This morning
July 27, 1898
Event Spanish American War
Category 8: Communication Artifact
Legal Status Oshkosh Public Museum
Object ID SC411.7.6
Object Name Letter
People Apel, Edward W.
Bathke, Reinhold
Sutton, Samuel
Kelsch, James
Papke, William F.
Streich, John
Subjects Spanish American War
2nd Wisconsin National Guard
Ocean travel
Military rations
Title Letter
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009