The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 271
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Texans in the Spanish-American War
and rocks. These officers took notice of the scenic beaches and the warm
weather but remained skeptical. "If military necessity requires it," they re-
ported to Washington, "a camp of 5,000 men can be established here."55
The new camp soon acquired the nickname "Camp Hell." The 7,500
troops assigned to this camp outnumbered the civilian residents of Miami
by almost four to one and quickly overtaxed the local infrastructure. The
campsite still lacked a sufficient number of water wells, no one had con-
nected the camp to the city's waterworks, the sewer system was in desper-
ate need of expansion, and the site of the camp itself-just north of the
city-was still full of palmetto thickets and outcroppings of coral boul-
ders. Because Flagler's employees had not completed clearing the site by
the time the troops arrived, many of the soldiers found themselves
pressed into service. Only the men of the First Texas escaped the drudg-
ery by virtue of the fact that their assigned campsite, adjacent to Biscayne
Bay, was already free of obstructions.
It was particularly difficult for the men so recently removed from civilian
society to endure the drastic change in their living conditions. Within sight
of their camp was the elegant Royal Palm Hotel. Here the brigade officers
lived in what a Louisiana soldier described as "a most magnificent and gor-
geously appointed hotel right in the midst of a perfect paradise of tropical
trees and bushes." Less than a quarter of a mile away was the enlisted men's
campsite that was, according to the same witness, "such a waste wilderness
as can be conceived only in rare nightmares." An Alabama sergeant de-
scribed the ground on which the men had to camp and drill as "practical-
ly impassable. Field officers dismounted in order to pick their way through
the palm-covered knolls, so honey-combed with jagged stones that a fall or
a mis-step meant a serious accident. The walk of a half a mile from the rail-
road depot alone involved an extraordinary exertion. Sand and dust of the
fineness of pulverized borax cluttered the miserable paths to a depth
varying from four to ten inches. Every step raised a stifling cloud.""6
The nightmare continued when it came to food. The military ration to
begin with was not very imaginative-meat (fresh beef or salt pork),
bread (or hard crackers), coffee, beans, and potatoes. Unfortunately for
the residents of Camp Miami, their menu for the first ten days featured al-
most nothing but bacon. One Texan ate so much bacon, he later record-
ed, that he had nightmares of pigs seeking revenge by eating him. After a
time the men again received fresh beef, but potatoes and onions did not
appear for almost a month."
" Donna Thomas, "'Camp Hell': Miami During the Spanish-American War," Florida Hstoncal
Quarterly, 57 (Oct., 1978), 142-
36 H. R. Carson [Second Louisiana], Recollections of a Chaplain in the Volunteer Army (ca. 1899), 5,
quoted m Thomas, "Camp Hell," 146 (1st and 2nd quotations); Koenigsberg, Southern Martyrs,
178 (3rd quotation).
7 Gentzen Diary, Oct 12, 1898; Thomas, "Camp Hell," 147-148.
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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/m1/323/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.