Berrien Men Prepared for Spanish-American War at Camp Northen, GA

In the Spanish-American War, nowhere was there greater fervor than in Georgia.  “When the United States became involved in war with Spain, Georgia furnished according to population more volunteers than any other State of the Union.”

Among Berrien County, GA men who volunteered for service in the U.S. Army were Walter A. Griner, Carl R. O’Quinn, Pythias D. Yapp,, Zachary T. Hester, W. Dutchman Stephens, Samuel Z.T. Lipham, James M. Bridges, Charles A. Courson, Love Culbreath, George C. Flowers, James L. Jordan and George A. Martin.  All enlisted in Company D, 3rd Georgia Regiment, U.S. Volunteers.

Spanish-American War enlistment record of Walter A. Griner, Nashville, GA

Spanish-American War enlistment record of Walter A. Griner, Nashville, GA

The enlistments came as Georgia responded to the destruction of the battleship USS Maine in the harbor at Havana, Cuba.

“The federal government requested that Georgia supply 3,000 troops in the form of two regiments of infantry and two batteries of light artillery for the upcoming military campaigns in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Five days later Governor William Y. Atkinson issued a call for men by setting various quotas for Georgia’s major cities. The first state induction camp [Camp Northen] was established at Griffin (the seat of Spalding County, GA) on May 4. Volunteer enlistments from the state were slow in coming, but Governor Atkinson eventually mobilized three infantry regiments and two light artillery batteries of the state militia…Only the Third Georgia Infantry would see any overseas duty and that was as an occupation force in Cuba during the first three months of 1899.” -New Georgia Encyclopedia

Want ad dated July 12, 1898 advertising for recruits for the 3rd Georgia Regiment US Volunteers

Want ad dated July 12, 1898 advertising for recruits for the 3rd Georgia Regiment US Volunteers

The 3rd Georgia Regiment U.S. Volunteers mustered in at Camp Northen (frequently and incorrectly called Camp Northern).  The camp was named for William J. Northen, two-term governor of Georgia from 1890-1894. The assembly of the Third Georgia Regiment, U.S. Volunteers was under the command of Colonel John Slaughter Candler.

Colonel John Slaughter Candler, commanding, 3rd Georgia Regiment, U. S. Volunteers, Camp Northen, Griffin, GA

Colonel John Slaughter Candler, commanding, 3rd Georgia Regiment, U. S. Volunteers, Camp Northen, Griffin, GA

 

The men of Company D, 3rd GA Regt, US Vols began arriving at Camp Northen in July 1898.

1898 sketch of soldiers at Camp Northen, near Griffin, GA

1898 sketch of soldiers at Camp Northen, near Griffin, GA

A visitor at Camp Northen observed,

“The men in camp here are a queer lot – a composite collection from all walks of life. Social, educational, commercial lines have been obliterated by a common unity, the foundation of which is patriotism. Patrician lies in the same tent, on the same straw bed, with plebeian without a thought of the distinction. There are lawyers, bankers, doctors, preachers, clerks, carpenters, farmers and blacksmiths in one company. Some of the very best and some of the humblest families in the state are represented in the ranks. A finer lot of fellows has never been got together, however, and they long for the day when they may splice Spanish hides with American bullets. There is fight in the old land yet.”

Camp Northen had been established about 1892 as the location of the annual encampment of the Georgia National Guard, the land being contributed by the people of Griffin. Prior to the assembly of the 3rd Georgia Regiment at Camp Northen, the camp had been occupied by the 1st Georgia Regiment U.S. Volunteers (Rays Immunes). The First Regiment moved to Chickamauga Park by mid-June 1898.

A street car line ran from Griffin to Camp Northen.  The Atlanta Constitution reported,

“Camp Northen is acknowledged by army officials to be one of the best sites for an encampment in the United States. It is situated on the side of a gently sloping hill in a dense grove of oaks. On top of the hill commanding a view of the entire camp is the Colonel’s tent with the tents of the adjutant, quartermaster, commissary and surgeons near by.

Just over the brow of the hill is a spring, the water of which is as pure as crystal and almost as cold as ice. The Grounds are lighted with electricity from the Griffin power house and ever company street is supplied with a water hydrant and shower bathhouse from Griffin’s waterworks system. All the company’s quarters are supplied with kitchens, mess halls, bath-houses, tents for privates and officers, the latter being situated at the head of the streets. “

Assistant Surgeon Joseph G. Jarrell, 1st Georgia Volunteer Infantry, said of the camp, in 1898 “every convenience in the way of bath houses, kitchens, and privies were at the disposal of the troops.

The camp facilities also included a hospital, Y.M.C.A. tent, an armory, rifle range and stables. The Atlanta Constitution observed, “Some of the prettiest horses ever seen in this part of the state belong to the officers stationed here. The colonels and their staffs and the majors ride, and all have purchased fine animals for use during the war.

There was a post office on the grounds and mail was delivered to the camp several times a day. As in all wars and times, the soldiers looked forward to mail call with great anticipation. The Southern Bell Telephone Company placed a phone booth near the colonel’s quarters with a long-distance telephone. Soldiers could telephone to and be telephoned from any part of the state. A large bulletin board near the telephone booth displayed the latest war bulletins from the office of the Atlanta Constitution.

In the summer of 1898, the 3rd Georgia Regiment was ill equipped.  There weren’t enough guns for all the men, and the guns they did have were older equipment from the state guard. It would be late September 1898 before “the long-looked-for new guns, canteens, knapsacks, etc arrived and were issued to the troops. They were the latest patent Springfield rifles, and each company was furnished with a gun for every man.”  The Krag-Jorgensen was the same rifle that would be used to kill a rampaging elephant in Valdosta, GA in 1902.

U.S. Model 1898 Springfield Krag-Jorgensen rifle

U.S. Model 1898 Springfield Krag-Jorgensen rifle

Guns or no guns, the men drilled. The daily routine of the camp was:

        At 5 a.m. one gun and a bugle call summoned the soldiers from their slumbers; fifteen minutes were allowed for dressing, followed by a cup of coffee and hardtack in the mess halls; one hour was then devoted to drilling on the parade grounds, after which the men marched back to their quarters for breakfast at 7 o’clock.
       Guard mount took place soon after breakfast, when the guard for the day was selected and the colonel chose the man making the best appearance from the ranks to be his orderly during the subsequent twelve hours.
       This was followed by regimental or company drills, after which the camps were policed and the streets cleaned up.  -Atlanta Constitution, May 9, 1898

1898 sketch of soldiers' life at Camp Northen, Georgia preparing for deployment in the Spanish-American War

1898 sketch of soldiers’ life at Camp Northen, Georgia preparing for deployment in the Spanish-American War

      “….the location of the tents and ..the tented homes of the soldiers are laid off in the same way as a town is laid off, except that it is more regular. Between the tents are streets and these streets need cleaning every day, just as the streets of Atlanta are cleaned by a hired force at night. The parade grounds, too, are known as the prettiest in the south, and it is known, too, that from that same large spacious lawn trash which accumulates every day must be removed.
       But, unlike a city, the work of cleaning the streets or walks in the camp and of removing the debris from the drill ground is not done by hired men. It is done by the boys of Georgia, the pride and bone of the state…To see some of the pets of Atlanta’s society, to say nothing about the society boys of other cities of the state sweeping the street, clouds of dust coming around them, while others handled wheelbarrows into which the dirt was thrown by still others, and over all an officer standing, whose social position was away down in the grade, comparatively speaking, would convince even the loving mothers of the boys that, in the army at least, there was no distinction. -Atlanta Constitution, June, 1894

By order of the camp commander company streets, ground about tents, the kitchens, bathrooms and sinks were placed in thorough police every morning at police call under the supervision of company commanders. The regimental camp was inspected daily by the colonel or field officers.

1898 sketch of soldier on detail cleaning company streets at Camp Northen, near Griffin, GA

1898 sketch of soldier on detail cleaning company streets at Camp Northen, near Griffin, GA

Dinner occurred at 12 o’clock, after which the men were given a rest, while the officers held a conference on matters of moment, usually at the colonel’s headquarters, during which an officer usually delivered a dissertation on the matter up for discussion; another drill occurred at 4 o’clock, and dress parade and review at 6 o’clock; supper was served at about 7 o’clock and the men are given another rest until 10 o’clock, when the bugle ordered them to retire.

Beds were made out of clean straw covered with a blanket, of which each man had two. The ground inside the tents was covered with a low wooden platform and a small ditch was dug on the outside to prevent the water from coming in contact with the sleeper.

For the recruits at Camp Northen the arrival of the paymaster was a joyous occasion.  By noon on payday every man had received the months pay and that evening a large number of them were in the city parting with it.  An unfortunate fifty men, under the command of a company captain, were detailed to the city in the afternoon to keep down the disturbances among the men. Perhaps only second in significance to payday were the days that young lady visitors were entertained at the camp, under appropriate escort, of course.  On these days, the men confined to the hospital were cheered by the visitors. “The young ladies were entertained at lunch by the officers of the regiment. In the afternoon occurred the review and drill, which at the hour of sunset presented a most picturesque appearance. The men were splendidly drilled...”

A camp inspection by Lieutenant Colonel Peter J. A. Cleary, Deputy Surgeon General of the Department of the Gulf, reported in the October 31, 1898 Atlanta Constitution, that there was a shortage of bedsacks and straw at the camp. Some of the men had mattresses, but they were their own private property.

The Hospital

Lt Col. Cleary also inspected the hospital:

The hospital consists of a number of tents and one frame building, used partly as a hospital and partly as a dispensary. The sick were all provided with cots, with wire springs and mattresses. They seemed to have plenty of blankets. There were no serious cases in the hospital, though there were several convalescing from typhoid and other fevers. The men appear to be contented and the surgeon stated that he had ample supplies on hand in the way of food and medicines. I found, however, that the cots they used were rented and directed him to make requisition for any number of cots he needed, which will be supplied him at once. A large portion of the blankets in the hospital belong to the men. This also will be remedied, as he will be supplied with enough blankets without having to use those belonging to the men. He will need stoves for his tents, and was directed to make a request on the quartermaster for as many as he required, which, I presume, will be supplied him without delay. On the whole I find that the men were properly cared for and really were not suffering from anything.

Hospital Volunteers

1898 engraving of Mrs. DeForest Allgood, of Griffin GA

1898 engraving of Mrs. DeForest Allgood, of Griffin GA. Mrs. Allgood was a leading supporter of the hospital at Camp Northen during the Spanish-American War

Atlanta Constitution
November 20, 1898

Atlanta, Savannah, Macon, Augusta, Americus, Albany and Rome have all given to patriotic work representative women, and probably no city in the state proportional to its size has done more than Griffin, the little city that has for so long been the scene of the state encampments and near which is the present encampment of the Third Georgia Regiment.
The women of Griffin were among the first in the state to organize a relief association, and they have in their treasury at present over $1,200, which has been raised through their individual efforts in various ways.
Among the women of this association – which is like the Atlanta Relief Association, individual and distinctive – who have distinguished themselves for noble and unselfish work is Mrs. de Forrest Algood, the vice president.
Not only has she given money in generous contributions, but she has gone into the hospital and administered to the soldier as only a noble woman can. She has soothed many a suffering soldier into a quiet sleep by the tenderness of her solicitude and attentions; she has prepared with her own hand delicious delicacies that have been relished by the convalescing, and no soldier of the Third regiment who has known the discomfitures of a camp hospital will fail to murmur a blessing when the name of queenly and womanly Mrs. Algood is mentioned.
All the time when the hospital was crowded with men during September and early in October and when the practical assistance of the relief associations was given Mrs. Algood saw further necessity of trained assistance and offered to send two male nurses at her own expense, but the offer was refused.
An incident relative to her womanly consideration is told by a young officer who witnessed her devotion to an aged mother who had come to the deathbed of her son in the camp hospital.
When she reached there she was informed that he was dying. The anguish seemed insupportable till the strong arm of Mrs. Allgood came to her assistance, and with consoling, sympathetic words, she accompanied her to the camp. There lay the young soldier apparently cold in death, only a gasping breath now and then to tell the story of a struggling atom of life. But sobs from a mother’s aching heart, the warmth of the mother love and the tender words of the woman with her seemed to quiet the struggling life into more peacefulness. Warmth returned to the body and continued ministrations restored a consciousness that enabled the young soldier to once more recognize his mother.
Then for three days and three nights there was the agony of suspense, each hour seeming to be the one that would separate the young soldier forever from his mother. She sat patiently with him during this dreary period, but not alone, for by her side, whispering words of comfort, was Mrs. Algood. She had known sorrow and the sorrow of losing a child, and for every sigh that the elder mother drew the younger was in sympathy with her, and when the last did come and the young soldier sank back cold in death, the head of his grief-stricken mother was pillowed upon the shoulder of the beautiful and sympathetic young mother, who had watched with her, and not until the body of the soldier, borne by six comrades, was placed upon the train did Mrs. Algood return to her home from the camp where she had performed her work of womanly sympathy and comfort.

The Regimental Band

As was the typical practice, the Third Georgia Regiment had a regimental band. But unlike the national guard regiments, which usually hired musicians to form the band, the regular US Army refused to hire bands unless they were enlisted. At Camp Northen, a regimental band was one of the attractions of the camp. Prof. C. O. Pollard was the chief musician, H. P. Dane principal musician, and Edward Griggs of Dawson was appointed second principal musician. Josephus N. Slater was drum major. Other musicians included Eustice Hilliard, Burress Hall, Morris Stein, Arnold Stovall, Joseph J. Thompson, Walter C. Wilkerson, Frank H. Wilkie, and Ralph E. Wright.

Regimental Band of the 3rd Georgia Regiment U.S. Volunteers, Spanish American War. Image source: http://www.spanamwar.com/3rdGeorgiaband.htm

Regimental Band of the 3rd Georgia Regiment U.S. Volunteers, Spanish American War. Image source: http://www.spanamwar.com/3rdGeorgiaband.htm

The US flag was raised early every morning at Camp Northen, and the state flag was displayed in front of the Colonel’s headquarters. Every man was required to remove his hat when passing the flag.  The ceremony of lowering of the flag  which occurred every afternoon while the regimental band played the Star Spangled Banner attracted many visitors from Griffin.

YMCA

A Y.M.C.A. tent was established at Camp Northen prior to the assembly of the Third Georgia Regiment, which was to accompany the regiment wherever it was sent. The YMCA tent was opened under the direction of Frank K. Boland, of Atlanta, a graduate of the University of Georgia and a student in the Southern Medical College. The staff were issued army passes to travel with the troops and receive the same salary and rations apportioned to enlisted men.

“In the hardships of camp life through which the Georgia volunteers [experienced] while waiting for the order to march on Cuba they [were] cheered and strengthened, physically and spiritually, by the branch associations of the state Young Men’s Christian Association…” The Atlanta Constitution reported, “The army tent is circular in shape and forty feet in diameter, offering ample room for all the men of the regiment who desire to attend meetings. Papers and magazines will be kept on file in the tent and games, such as crokinole and checkers will be kept for those who care for the pastime. Hymn books and bibles have been furnished… and religious services will be held regularly in the tent.” Reading materials and writing facilities were provided. The men of the camp who were so inclined attended prayer meetings, Bible classes and other religious activities at the Y.M.C.A. tent.

1898 sketch of YMCA tent at Camp Northen near Griffin, GA.

The YMCA also added a commissary department to the army tent “used to furnish those of the Georgia troops who are indisposed and not sick enough to be sent to the hospital with nourishing food and careful treatment.” The YMCA anticipated, “Many of the experienced soldiers will be subject to despondency and home sickness, to whom the Young Men’s Christian Association will reach out a helping hand.” Former Governor W. J. Northen was chairman of the fundraising to support the YMCA tents at Camp Northen and other Georgia encampments.

The 3rd Georgia Regiment, under the command of Colonel John S. Candler, completed its organization August 24, 1898 at Camp Northen, where the regiment remained until November 21, when it boarded the train to Savannah, GA in preparation for embarkation to Cuba. In 1899 the 3rd Georgia Regiment returned to Georgia and was mustered out at Augusta, GA.

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Spanish-American War Vet Rests at Ray City, GA

Spanish American War

Does anyone remember the final resting place of Ben Howard?  When the young Spanish-American War veteran died at Ray’s Mill Pond in 1900, the citizens of Ray’s Mill, GA paid their respects.

Other Spanish-American War veterans of Berrien County, GA included Aaron Cook, Luther L. Hallman, William A. Knight, Samuel Z. T. Lipham, Walter A. Griner, Carl R. O’Quinn, Pythias D. Yapp, Henry C. McLendon, Charles A. Courson, George C. Flowers, Zachary T. Hester, Jr., W. Dutchman Stephens, and James L. Jordan.

Tifton Gazette
April 27, 1900

Found Dead Is His Boat.
The body of Ben Howard, a young white man, was found in a boat in the bottom of Ray’s mill pond last Saturday. The body had been there for two days or more, but the tragedy was kept a secret by the fact that the boat was a leaky vessel and had sunk to the bottom of the pond, carrying the body down with it. It is not known whether the young man was dead when the boat sunk or not, though it is thought that he had wounded himself by the accidental discharge of his gun while coming out of a tree, from which be had been shooting at fish in the water. The weapon was found at the foot of the tree and one barrel of it had been discharged. The boat was tied to the tree and the body either fell in it, or the wounded man managed to get to it.
Then the boat drifted out in the pond probably fifty yards and sunk to the bottom, the supposition being that Howard’s death was instantaneous, or else he was too badly wounded to manage the boat. A search for him lasted two days.
The burial services were conducted at Beaver Dam on Sunday and a large crowd attended them. Young Howard was a soldier in the war with Spain and did service in Cuba. —Valdosta Times.

 

Tifton Gazette, April 27, 1900 clipping of the death of Ben Howard at Ray's Mill Pond.

Tifton Gazette, April 27, 1900 clipping of the death of Ben Howard at Ray’s Mill Pond.

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