The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 275
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Texans in the Spanish-American War
conclusion as to 'what are we here for?"' Three days later he calculated
that "an overwhelming majority" wanted to go home. By that time, the
men of all the various Texas regiments had begun to pepper Governor
Culberson's office with requests that he use whatever influence he had to
get the men discharged and returned to Texas. They could see absolutely
no reason to spend another day in uniform now that the war was over.
Success finally attended the efforts of those in the Second Texas, as they
left Jacksonville for home on September 2o. Within a week of their return
to Texas they were furloughed to await their final discharge. Their "war"
Meanwhile, the First Texas remained on duty at Jacksonville through-
out the fall and into the early winter of 1898 amid rumors that it was des-
tined to do occupation duty in Cuba. There were still several thousand
Spanish troops in Cuba awaiting transportation home, and the McKinley
administration believed that a strong U.S. military presence there might
be necessary to preclude vengeful Cubans from visiting violence on their
recent colonial masters. Therefore, even though most of the volunteer
regiments were sent home by late 1898, enough remained on active serv-
ice to staff a fairly sizable occupation force, and one of these regiments
was the First Texas.
Therefore, on December 23 and 24, the First Texas bade farewell to its
Florida hosts and boarded the steamship Michigan at Savannah, Georgia,
bound for Havana. The ship was decidedly not a luxury liner. The men
slept in multiple tiers of hammocks that were so close to one another that
it was almost impossible for a man to roll over without disturbing the men
above and to either side of him. Compounding their discomfort, the men
found themselves berthed below two decks of horses and mules. Christ-
mas Day found the men at sea, and one diarist described their holiday
fare thus: "For breakfast: Bean soup and hard tack. For dinner: A hunk of
meat and a slice of bread. For supper: A little soup, black coffee, and hard
tack. How is that for a Christmas dinner?" And to make matter worse,
some men found maggots in their meat. The rest of the Texas troops left
the United States on December 28, aboard the Panama.44
The Texas occupation troops landed at Havana and paraded through
the liberated city to their campground in the suburbs. From the recep-
tion accorded them by the local populace one would have thought that it
was these very men who had stormed San Juan Ridge some months be-
fore. They were hailed as liberators with shouts of "iViva los Americanos!"
and "iViva los Americanos soldados!" One Texan declared: "With viva this
and bravo that, I never heard so much cheering in all of my by no means
prosaic life." In addition to the vocal welcomes, the residents of Cuba's
" Ibid., Aug. 24, 25 (1st quotation), 28 (2nd quotation), 1898.
" Gentzen Diary, Dec. 25, 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/m1/327/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.