Bloomington Goes to War

The undated article on this page was found among many clippings in my grandmother's scrapbook. I'm transcribing it and adding it to our Carey family album as our country prepares to go to war with Iraq in March 2003.

According to the Library of Congress' Spanish American war chronology, war was formally declared between the United States and Spain 25 Apr 1898, following a period of escalating tension which began with the explosion of U.S.S. Maine in Habana harbor on 15 Feb.

Old Bloomington . . .

It Was a Big Day in Bloomington in 1898 When Company H. Boys Left for Camp Mount at Indianapolis to Help Defend Our Country Against Spain. City Schools Were Dismissed, the Mechanic's Band Paraded About the Square and Patriotic Songs Were Sung at the Train as the Boys Departed. Business Part of the City was Gaily Decorated With Flags and Bunting as Captain William M. Louden and His Boys Made Their Appearance in Marching Formation. List of Officers and Members of the Company are Herewith Given.


Bloomington During Last Half of
the 90s as Taken from
The Telephone Files

Part Four Hundred Eighty-Eight
Company H. Ordered To Camp

Bloomington's military unit - Company H., has been ordered to camp on account of the Spanish-American war. At 9 a.m. Tuesday Captain W. M. Louden received the marching orders for the boys. The orders were as follows:

"You will report with your company, armed and equipped for the field, bringing all military stores to the Monon railway station in time for train leaving at 11 a.m., Tuesday, April 29, to Greencastle; thence via Vandalia to Indianapolis at 12:15 for the purpose of being mustered into the U. S. Volunteer Service. Officers will bring their commissions with them. By command of Brigadier-General McKee, F. W. Frank, A. A. G."

By 9 a.m. the business part of town was decorated with the national colors, and not a few Cuban flags were displayed. By 10 o'clock citizens were on the streets to see the company make its march to the station. W. H. Fertich dismissed the children from school, so great was their desire to see the demonstration. The Mechanic's Band marched to the Armory where the company was waiting. Headed by the band the company then marched around the square where Captain Louden gave a short drill. An interesting and pathetic incident was the formation of fifty old war veterans, all members of Paul E. Slocomb Post, G. A. R. who marched with the boys to the station. Two special coaches were on the side-track ready for the company. As the crowd waited for the train, the band played several patriotic airs, the vast number sang "Marching Through Georgia." The train pulled out amidst a silence that told too plainly that all realized the seriousness of the situation.

Company H. is made up as follows: W. M. Louden, captain; William Hutchins, 1st lieutenant; W. E. Adkins, 2nd lieutenant; Thomas Griffey, 1st sergeant; Charles Godsey, 2nd sergeant; Newton Jeffries, 3rd sergeant; Sam Webb, 4th sergeant; corporals Rhorer and Peterson. The privates are:

... Charles Strong ...1

... Charley Walker ...2

I. U. Boys Ready for Spanish War

A telegram has been sent to Governor J. A. Mount informing him that Indiana University has a company ready for service in the Spanish war. A second meeting was held on the campus this week attended by more than 300 young men, and most of them signed enlistment papers.

Local Musicians for the Army

Seventeen Bloomington boys, all members of the Bloomington Mechanics band, went to Indianapolis today to enlist as musicians in the 1st regiment of the Indiana National Guard. The following is a list of those who went with the intention of remaining if their services are accepted:

... Charley Wylie ...3

... Paul Seward ...4

I sort of remember being told by my grandfather, a long time ago, something about going to Florida with the Army. According to the history of the 159th Volunteer Infantry Regiment at the Spanish American War Centennial web site, the 159th was sent to Camp Thomas, Georgia, then on to Tampa, Florida, where it was preparing to embark for Cuba when the war ended. But it's possible my grandfather and his comrades were in Virginia when the Spanish accepted U. S. peace proposals, according to this excerpt from pp. 358-359 of the History of Lawrence and Monroe Counties, Indiana, Indianapolis, Ind., B.F. Bowen & Co., 1914:

Indiana's quota under this call [by President McKinley] for one hundred and twenty-five thousand men was four regiments of infantry and two batteries. Late on the evening of April 25th James A. Mount, governor of Indiana, received the proclamation, and he then issued orders for the Indiana National Guard to rendezvous at Indianapolis. Before night of the 26th the companies and all four regiments had arrived at Camp Mount, in Indianapolis. The regiments were the One Hundred and Fifty-seventh, One Hundred and Fifty-eighth, One Hundred and Fifty-ninth and One Hundred and Sixtieth. These regiments were given the numbers commencing where the regiments of the Civil War ceased. Thus the Third Regiment, the first to be mustered, took the name of One Hundred and Fifty-seventh Volunteer Infantry.

Bloomington, and Monroe county, were represented by Company H, of the One Hundred and Fifty-ninth Regiment, which organization was formed of the First Regiment, Indiana National Guard, and was composed of companies from Vincennes (two), Terre Haute, New Albany, Washington, Evansville (two), Roachdale, Madison, Brownstown, Bloomington, Greencastle and Princeton. The company which became H of the One Hundred and Fifty-ninth had been organized on May 20, 1891. The regiment, at the opening of the war, was under the command of Col. John T. Barrett, and Company H was officered by William M. Louden, captain; William Hutchings, first lieutenant, and Edgar A. Binford, second lieutenant. The enlisted men, of whom a detailed list is unnecessary, numbered eighty-one. In the roll of the regiment, in prominent rank, were other Monroe county men, among them being Theodore J. Louden, major of the regiment, and Charles Rawles, a battalion adjutant and first lieutenant.

Company H arrived at Camp Mount, Indianapolis, on April 26, 1898, and on May 12th was mustered into the volunteer service of the United States. On the 22nd the [159th] regiment entrained at the Hoosier capital and were transported to Camp R. A. Alger, at Dunn Loring, Virginia, arriving there on May 24th. In this location the troops remained until August 3d, when they undertook a forty-mile march, by easy stages, to Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia. Their encampment at this place lasted until August 28th, thence by rail to Camp Meade, near Middletown, Pennsylvania. The men were taken from Camp Meade back to Camp Mount, Indianapolis, on September 11th, and on the 18th were furloughed for a period of thirty days, which was extended by order of the war department to November 10th. On the 23d day of November, 1898, the One Hundred and Fifty-Ninth was mustered from the service.

Of all the troops which assembled at Camp Mount in the spring of 1898, none of the Indiana troops were sent to the scene of action but the Twenty-seventh Battery, which went to Porto Rico. The One Hundred and Fifty-seventh was sent to Chicamauga Park, also the One Hundred and Fifty-eighth and One Hundred and Sixtieth. The second call of President McKinley, for seventy-five thousand men, on May 25, 1898, gave the quota of Indiana as one regiment of infantry, two companies of colored troops, one company of engineers, and one company of signal corps. Monroe county was not represented in this enlistment.

The brevity of the war with Spain, and the consequent adequacy of the United States regulars and the navy, prevented the men from Indiana from seeing the actual smoke of battle, but nevertheless, their patriotism was unquestioned. During the tiresome wait at Camp Thomas, Chickamauga, and other places, the men were kept active by the expectation of a call for the front at any moment. Had they been called upon they would not have hesitated to offer their lives for the country, and as willingly as their fathers had done in the dark days of '61 to '65.

Aside from the confusion as to just where the 159th went, there is a question as to whether or not Charley Walker actually served. Some family members say he was turned down by the Army because he was under age. The article quoted above has him mustering and marching off with Company H, but a roster of the company on the world wide web doesn't include his name. The roster is part of a book, Record of Indiana Volunteers in the Spanish American War, 1898-1899, published by the state printing office in 1900.

Which story of the 159th is correct? Did Grandpa actually serve in the war? Does somebody who is visiting this page also have an ancestor who served in one of these Indiana units? I welcome any information you may be able to provide.

1 These two names were the only familiar ones among the hundred or so privates. This is possibly grandpa's second cousin, who was about 24 years old at the time and was related via grandpa's mother's Voss family.
2 My grandfather, who was not quite 18 years old.
3 Possibly another second cousin, who was about 23 years old and also related through the Voss family.
4 My great-grandfather's younger brother Paul was already 30 years old at the time of war's outbreak. He was an uncle of Charley Walker's future wife.

This page was last updated 30 Oct 2005.