The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 267
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Texans in the Spanish-American War
change engines he discouraged them from flocking all around the train
as "it might disorganize the men." Houstonians refused to be denied what
some feared might be the very last time they would see their soldier loved
ones, and they crowded into the depot awaiting the arrival of the trains.
The movement was delayed leaving Austin so the first train did not arrive
in Houston until 11:30 P.M. As the engineer carefully eased the locomo-
tive into the depot "the crowd gave way, as the waters do to a steamship
plowing her way to port." And even though no Houston companies were
aboard, the welcome was delirious. As a local artillery company fired re-
sounding salutes, happy Houstonians pushed their way up to the cars so
they could pass picnic baskets full of food in through the windows to ap-
preciative soldiers. The baskets were each filled with enough fried chick-
en, biscuits, sandwiches, boiled eggs, pickles, and cake to feed six men.
There was apparently such a wealth of eatables that they were not con-
fined just to the soldiers from Houston. A San Antonio soldier in this reg-
iment commented to his diary that every soldier on board had received at
least one basket of food, some had two, and he called Houston "the kind-
est and most patriotic city in Texas." It is not recorded how quickly these
goodies disappeared, but it was undoubtedly in short order. The second
train arrived at 12:30 A.M., and the next at 1:45 A.M. When the final train,
carrying the Houston Light Guard, arrived at 2:30 A.M. there were still a
thousand cheering citizens to welcome them.27
The Second Texas Regiment followed the next day over a different
route but to the same boisterous receptions all along the way. Pretty girls
took advantage of every opportunity to kiss the gallant soldiers. A San An-
tonio volunteer was certain that "some of the old boys who more than
likely had not spoken to a female outside of their immediate family and
relatives for 20 years and more, became gay and charming. They set dig-
nity, diffidence and everything else in the background; they became sud-
denly young again, and submitted to the torture of sweet smiles and lin-
gering pressures of dainty hands." By May 23, both Texas units had
arrived in Mobile, Alabama, where they formed part of the Third Brigade
of the First Division of the Fourth Army Corps.28
Less than two weeks later, the men of the Third Texas received the un-
welcome news that they would be going to Fort Clark, in West Texas, in-
stead of to Cuba or Puerto Rico. Fort Clark was situated, according to one
observer, "in one of the most barren spots in Texas. It is an alkali desert,
with a temperature as hot as the inferno during the heated term-a vast
waste of sand. . . . About the only thing that grows profusely in the im-
mediate section is cactus and prickly pears." The Third was only together
there for a couple of weeks before some of the companies began to be
"7 Ibid., May 19 (1st quotation), 21 (2nd quotation), 1898; Houston Dazly Post, May 19, 1898;
Gentzen Diary, May 23, 1898 (3rd quotation).
28 San Antonzo Dazly Express, May 28, 1898.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/319/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.