|#1 Letter with Signature of Chat H. Fletcher.|
From Company E
Pablo Beach, Fla, Sept. 17, 1898 – Courier – Last week I wrote just as we arrived at this ocean retreat. The night of our arrival we camped in shelter tents on the beach just in front of the sand draws. The wind and tide was low and the water did not bother the men. I slept beneath the shed at the depot where our stores were piled. The next forenoon we got all our baggage out to camp and in the afternoon we began cutting the Palmetto and burr oak brush out of our company street. It was a small task since each man helped his tentmates to clear a place for their tent and also in front for the street. In some tents only one well man was left to do the work, but we got it done somehow. Some of the boys slept in camp that night and some stayed on the beach. It was the last night they could have done so for a strong northeast wind has driven the breakers clear up to the sand draws every night since.
We did not get lumber for floors for a day or two and it was very disagreeable pulling one’s feet out of the sand, fighting monstrous ants, having the sand blow into one’s face all night and knowing all the while that rattle snakes were perfectly familiar with the location. All previous records of snake stories have easily been eclipsed since our arrival. I have not seen a snake in camp myself thus far, but the monsters that are being caught and killed daily by somebody somewhere would make one shudder. I have heard that a rattler in the 2nd Virginia camp, on our south, was killed that was nine feet long and had twenty-six rattlers and a button on its tail. Also that same morning the beach was fairly alive with writhing rattlers returning from their bath. Another says you can walk through the jungles and when you are about to sit down on a dead tree charred by the annual fires that sweep this section, you will be surprised that it is a rattle snake as it moves off. These are only samples and if you think you would like some of the goods I may be able to deliver them.
There is no question about there being game here. Fish are abundant and of a good quality. Several wild hogs have been killed and many more are marked for destruction. There are jungles here that compete with any African jungle ever discovered. Black looking water, tall trees, a heavy undergrowth making it almost dark in broad daylight, and absolutely impenetrable except where clearances have been made. In here are deer, black bear, wild hogs, wild turkeys, squirrel, etc. A formidable place you will allow, and against these all a party of us set out today. We had four of our Springfield rifles, one Colts revolver caliber 45 and one caliber 38, one machete, one boy (or boa) knife and plenty of ammunition and grub. Two men proceeded us to a mound situated about five miles down the antedeluvism or Indians used as a burying ground. When we arrived they had unearthed complete skeletons, piec ? recover and return to us. Lieutenant W. H. Underwood has not been relieved as quartermaster of the 2nd division hospital but is to be. Colonel Bryan told me he was going to have him take the place of Chaplain Jordan and should the latter’s health not be recovered Lieutenant Underwood will get the appointment permanently. It means rank of captain and $2,000 a year. It also means promotions all along the line.
The health of the company has not been of the best, but I believe the cool air and water here is driving the fever out quickly on many of the boys. We now have 18 men in the division hospital, all having fever but many only slight. We have several such in quarters and several ailing, but to the most of the company I think the change has been very agreeable. They like it much better, anyhow, for we have fewer guards and we can only drill when the tide is low enough to permit.
Two more men have died, making ten in all from the regiment.
Sergeant C. C. Van Deusen returned to duty on Tuesday feeling fairly well. He was held up by quarantine in Memphes, Tenn., one day.
Sept. 23. Another week has rolled away with the ocean. We are still at Pablo by the sea, that is all of us who are well. There are seventeen of our men in the division hospital, six men in the Pablo hospital and two men sick in quarters. The number ailing has materially decreased since arrival at this place. Several cases of fever have developed since our coming, but I think the cool air and water has simply brought down those infected with it at Panama Park. The majority of the men are in excellent health and spirits now.
I have this week to record the first death in Co. E, that of private Henry H. Clarkson. Typhoid fever caused his death at 7 o’clock Thursday morning. He had been in the division hospital since our coming here. His parents live in Arlington and there his body was sent today. I need not even express the sorrow that fills all our hearts over the loss of the first member of our company.
On the same day that Clarkson died Co. I lost their fourth man and Co. L. their second man. The saddest of all was the death of Lieutenant W. O. Thompson Co. F. He was taken from his tent, on the second street from mine at about 10 o’clock in the morning and his death occurred at about 10:30 that evening at the hospital in Pablo. Typhoid fever was the cause of the death of all these men. The death list for the regiment now numbers thirteen enlisted men and one commissioned officer. Our regiment has about 160 patients in hospitals at the present time.
It was reported in some of the Nebraska papers and especially the state Journal published at Lincoln, that the ill health of our regiment was occasioned by unsanitary conditions and that the 3rd Nebraska camp was the dirtiest one in Jacksonville. Nothing could be further from the truth than this as you have only to look up the report of In ??(rest missing)
#2) Blair Courier 29 Sept 1898
A telegram was received Thursday by Mr. Clarkson, from Camp Cuba Libre, Fla, conveying the sad intelligence that his nephew, Harry Clarkson, who enlisted int eh 3rd Reg. Neb Vols. In June had died on that morning. The particulars of his death have not been received, but he had been in the hospital at that place about two weeks. Harry had made his home with his uncle since childhood, having lost his parents when very young, and they feel deeply his death. Mr. Clarkson and family have the heartfelt sympathy of the people of Arlington. – Arlington Times.
#3) Blair Courier 29 Sept 1898
Gus Warrick went over to Arlington Tuesday to attend the funeral of his comrade, Harry Clarkson, who died at Pablo Beach.
#4) Pilot 29 Sept., 1898 - Harry Clarkson
We regret that it falls our lot to report the sad news of the death of Harry Clarkson, a member of Co. E 3rd Neb., Reg. of Vol. He died at Panama Park near Jacksonville, Florida, September 21st, from diseases contracted in camp, being sick only two weeks. The remains were sent to Arlington, and the funeral and patriotic services were held at the Congregational church Monday afternoon at four o'clock. The church was fittingly decorated with draped flags and flowers. Before the pulpit was a large wreath with the name "Harry” across the center in white flowers. There were many other handsome floral pieces given by the sympathetic and patriotic citizens. As Rev. Beaver said in his excellent sermon, "Arlington has but one heart today and that heart is sad indeed." The dead soldier wrapped in his country's flag was followed to the grave by a very large number of citizens. The Arlington boys of the 2nd Nebraska marched beside the hearse and the pupils of the public schools formed a part of the procession. The services at the grave closed with the singing of "America." "Greater love hath no mån than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Note: He is buried in the Arlington Cemetery, Section M Lot 4. He was in Co. 2 3NE Infantry
~~~ Obituaries courtesy of the Washington County Genealogical Society. Newspaper clippings on file in the Blair Public Library at Blair, Nebraska.~~~
FindaGrave # 44785488