Thursday, December 31, 2009














Tuesday, December 29, 2009



I Recieved this great story from Mr. George Knight. A fabulous story of another Schuylkill County World War 2 hero.

Hello "Stu,"

Just found your blog. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the entries. As you mentioned that you would like stories, thought I might share another one from Schuylkill County. My wife's father John Arthur Walker was born in Mahanoy City in 1913. His father William L. Walker was coal miner and a Spanish American War vet; his grandfather, Daniel Walker was a Civil War vet and a miner who story has in had a run-in with the Molly Maguires, although we have been unable to find much historical detail. William and Daniel are buried in the German Protestant cemetery above Mahanoy City. John Walker's aunt, Edith DeFrehn was a long-time resident of Mahanoy City, who operated a Flower Shop on East Center Street.

Back to John A. Walker. He enlisted in Philadelphia in January of 1942. Sailed with his division (Big Red One) to England aboard the Queen Mary in July of that year and prepared for the amphibious assault in Oran (Operation Torch). After winning the Bronze Star in November during the North Africa invasion, he was given a battlefield commission and became the S2 (intelligence officer) for the 3rd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. Lots of action throughout North Africa, including Kasserine Pass and the battle of El Guetar (made famous in the movie, "Patton"). The 16th regiment became very famous during the war, Eisenhower calling this unit his "Praetorian Guard" who goes along with him and gives him luck.

His unit invaded Sicily and while there John Walker was the subject of a piece by famous war correspondent Don Whitehead. It appeared in papers across the U.S. and on the front page of the Court and County news of the Pottsville Republican, July 22, 1943. After Sicily his unit went back to England, and he spent most of his time in a large manor house in Beaminster planning his unit's D-Day assault.

The 1st Infantry Division was the only combat-experienced unit to land on D-Day. John Walker and his 3rd Battalion (companies I and L) were part of the first wave to land on the eastern end (Fox Green) of Omaha Beach. Many casualties, as you know. By the way, most of the surviving pictures shot of action on D-Day were of the 3rd Battalion, as Capra, the famous Life photographer landed with the 3rd Battalion on Omaha. John won the Silver Star for heroism that day. One of his friends, a Lt. in the 3rd Battalion, won the medal of honor that day and is buried in the American cemetery - Jimmie Montieth.

The rest of the war was spent moving through France, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia where his battalion was a part of the St Lo "Breakout," and the Battle of the Bulge. The 3rd Battalion liberated a Nazi labor camp at Falkenau. If you want to see an interesting movie clip, go to You tube and search for "Samuel Fuller - Falkenau the Impossible." There you will find four, 10-minute narratives by Samuel Fuller describing the horrible scenes at Falkenau that he shot with his 8 mm camera. Fuller was a rifleman in the 3rd Battalion Fuller and later became famous as a movie director. He made the film, "The Big Red One" starring Lee Marvin. My father in law is seen briefly in one of the four segments Fuller shot at Falkenau. It is a fascinating story.


As the intelligence officer, John Walker had access to many data sources, and he was an excellent writer. We are fortunate to have a number of his essays including a letter he wrote to "Jim" - a friend of his in Mahanoy City - although we don't know who that "Jim" is. In the letter he described the preparations right up to the landing on D-Day.

John was one of the lucky ones to survive the entire war with only small wounds from shrapnel on three occasions. He returned to Mahanoy City in September of 1945 then enrolled at the U of Penn, eventually receiving his degree in Medicine and becoming an oral surgeon. He died of Luekemia in Florida in 1966.

Keep up the nice work!

I have attached a picture relating to the John Walker story. He is the man in the middle. He is flanked on his right by Major Eston White, Lancaster, PA. Eston graduated from Gettysburg College and he was assigned to the 16th Regimental Staff. The gentleman on John's left is Lt. Col Charles Horner, CO of the 3rd Battalion. All three of these men landed on Omaha Beach the morning of June 6th, 1944.

Also, I am attaching the text of a hand-written note that we found among John Walker's books, pictures and medals after he died. It was written after D-Day while in France, sometime in the summer or fall of 1944.

Beach Impressions
By John Walker

The agony in the cry of the wounded and the fear in their face as they watched the tide come in on their all too narrow beach and their muttered prayer that someone would come and take them away before the tide carried them out to sea and certain death by drowning.

The questioning look on the pale faces of the dying as they wondered about death drawing near—whether it was necessary that they die and if it would help stop all the hell and hate that was still raging around them and the choked back sob in their throat as they looked about them—saw the bright sunshine and the ocean that separated them from their homes and loved ones and safety and realized it was not for them—that soon they would cease to be a part of the struggling group still fighting to establish a blood drenched beachhead and the dead with all the hopelessness of the world expressed in their half closed stiffening outstretched hands that seemed to be reaching for a grip on this enemy held strip of land mirrored in their staring unseeing eyes.

The broken shattered hulks of burned out assault boats with their unfeeling burned human cargo, the bits of machines blown apart, the burning of vehicles, the exploding of the burning ammunition, the whine of still more incoming shells with their nerve shattering crash and the zing of the rifle and machine gun bullet, the shouted orders, the whispered oaths, the drifting smoke and the almost overpowering stench of war odors all mingled together to make the Normandy Beachhead.

It is impossible to describe all the individual acts of heroism on this hero filled beach. Every man still able to move about was doing his job and as much of anyone else’s job as he could with complete disregard of his own safety, moving about as though he thought he lived a charmed life and that all the enemy fire coming his way was intended for someone else and when finally he too was added to the list of casualties someone else would figuratively roll up his sleeves and try to work and fight a little harder.

Finally when night came and everyone felt that at last there was to be a let up and tired bodies and minds could relax and organize for a continuance of the hell of war that was certain to come with the next day. They had this dream of momentary peace shattered by attacking planes, the sharp staccato crack of anti-aircraft fire and finally the whistle of falling bombs followed by the ear-splitting, shattering explosions that seemed to shake all of the beach as though it was suffering from some great internal upheaval and it all lighted by the fire of a burning ship that told its own story of pain and death.

At home people made great sacrifices too—Some of the bars, saloons, and taverns closed for the day.

Maybe the reason for the last sentence had something to do with John's life in Mahanoy City. His father, William, was a foreman in one of the mines or coleries. In 1918, John's two older sisters, Muriel (8) and Dorothy (12) both died during the Spanish Flu Pandemic. William never recovered from their death. He stopped working and started drinking, and the support for the family shifted to John's mother, Lizzie, his older brother William, Jr., and his older brother, George (later to serve as Sec of Labor for the State of Pennsylvania).

This pattern continued for the rest of Willam Sr's life. According to John's wife, Betty Walker, John said on more than one occasion, someone would come to the Walker house at night saying that William Sr. was in one of the many bars in Mahanoy City and needed help to get home. So John and his brothers, including younger brother Bob, would "go to town, finish his fights, pay his bill and bring William home."

All the best,


Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Very Blessed Merry Christmas to all and A Happy New Year

I got this Poem from a friend..Pat Killian ....Well the poem says it all.

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear..
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.."

" So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people
stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

God Bless those who protect us!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Private George Ellis, Prisoner of War of the Nazis For Twenty-Seven Months

George Ellis, Private 6th Armored Infantry 1st Armored Division Was a prisoner of war of the Nazis for twenty seven months having been captured by the German Africa Corps in an attempt to break through the Fiad Pass, Tunisia. Pvt. Ellis was imprisoned in Tunisia, Italy, Northern and Southern Germany and Poland and was released in May of 1945.

This is his story from the Pottsville Journal and in his own words.
On February 17, 1943 the Pottsville Journal ran an article entitled Pottsville Soldier Reported missing a Prvt. George Ellis, Jr. lost in Northwest Africa.
Attorney and Mrs. George Ellis of 221 Mahantongo St., Pottsville, received a telegram this morning stating their son; Private George Ellis Jr. is “Missing in action in Northwest Africa since February 3rd.

Private Ellis, 24, is a member of an armored infantry outfit. He enlisted in the armed services at Wilkes Barre on June 6, 1942 and was sworn in on June 10th after he graduated from Wyoming Seminary.

Private Ellis received basic training at Fort Meade, Md. He was transferred to Camp Kilmer N.J. and to Camp Picket, Va. For advanced training. On December 5th his parents received word that he was being shipped abroad. No word was heard from him until January 20th 1943 when a letter arrived announcing his safe arrival in North Africa.
Later official notification from the War Department, Adjutant General in Washington D.C. announcing that George Ellis is a prisoner of the Italian Government. Private Ellis was reported missing on February 3rd in Northwest Africa. On the 17th the family received news that he was missing, this was the time of the big drive on Tunisia. Today’s message indicates that he is alive but a prisoner.

Mr. and Mrs. Gorge Ellis have heard from their son, Private George Ellis who is a prisoner in the hands of the Italian Government. The form card reads:
My Dear:
I am alright. I have not been wounded. I am a prisoner of the Italians and I am being treated well, shortly I shall be transferred to a prisoner of war camp and I will let you have my new address. Only then will I be able to receive letters from you and to reply. With Love,
Signed Private George Ellis, Jr.
U.S. Army.
This card was signed in Private Elli’s handwriting.
With the card was enclosed this letter from the Prisoners of War Information Bureau, Office of the Provost Marshall General, Army Services Forces, Washington D.C. dated May 8th 1943
The Provost Marshall General directs me to forward the enclosed card received by this office from the International Red Cross at Geneva, Switzerland. Rest assured that when further information is received it will be promptly communicated to you.
Sincerely yours,
Howard Bresee, Col. M.P. Chief Information Branch.

In 1945 Ellis returned home. The Pottsville Journal reported

A Pottsville soldier arrived back home yesterday after being liberated from a Nazi prison camp to find his father was stricken seriously ill the day before.
Pfc. George Ellis Jr., is home after spending 27 months in a prison camp. Pfc. Ellis will be home for 60 days and then will report to Lake Placid, Country Club, New York, for assignment and new duty, He entered the service in June 1942 and went overseas in December 1942. He was taken prisoner at Faid Pass, Tunisia in February, 1943, and was liberated on May 3rd, 1945. He returned to the states in a convoy, last Sunday. He served in the 6th Infantry regiment, 1st Armored Division.

Note: Faid Pass, directly east of Ferriana, had intrigued the leaders of the Tunisian Task Force for sometime. This was one of the few gateways through the eastern Dorsale mountain range to the coastal plain. Control of this pass would provide protection to the British First Army flank to the north, as well as posing a threat to the Axis lines of communication with Rommel to the south. The estimated strength of the enemy guarding the pass at this time was between two hundred fifty and six hundred men.

The following interesting narrative was written as an editorial musing on the dates of January 18, 1946 and January 21, 1946 by George Ellis Jr.
The Germans continually violated the Geneva Convention, their excuse being that through translation into German, the regulations took on a different meaning. When we were transported by rail, the Germans saw to it that tanks, armored cars, cavalry, big guns and troops were sent along with us, making us a beautiful target from the air. On one occasion we were locked into the forty and eight box cars during a late nite air rid. We were in a freight yard and the high explosives dropping nearby rocked the cars on the rails.
“At one time, a punishment and to serve as an example to other prisoners of war who might be tempted to misbehave, the Germans sent 600 Americans to work at Camp Oberdack, near Fredericshaven. The camp was in a peat swamp, where a hydroelectric plant was being constructed. The laborers included, Russian, Poles, French and Americans. The small area in which we were confined, housed two billets one latrine and a wash house. The only water we had for drinking or bathing turned on for an hour each night. Our one and only daily meal was a watery soup made of potato skins and grass. We were there for five weeks before the Red Cross food packages reached us.
“At night our shoes and trousers were taken from us and were locked up in a barracks. The only toilet facilities in our billet was a large pot at one end of the building and the stench at night was so terrible that we could only sleep if we were near a window or if we pulled the covers over our heads. Our working hours were from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. with one hour for lunch although we had no food. One group of prisoners, laying a pipeline from Lake Constance, left for work at 4:30 in the morning, returning at 6:30 p.m. In this particular camp medical treatment was unheard of and disease and infection prevailed.
“Prisoners of the Nazis who were sick received prompt care if they could bribe the guards to take them to a doctor. Many prisoners never saw a doctor and many died from pneumonia, acute appendicitis and other aliments. Many were allowed to suffer until there was no hope for a cure before they were given medical aid. Frequently the hospitals discharged patients before they were cured unless the sick man had smokes, coffee, chocolate, soap or other articles from his Red Cross box to give to the Nazi doctors.
“With the International Red Cross to look after them, the American and British prisoners received much better treatment than the Russians. In the spring of 1953, while a prisoner at Stalag 7-A near Munich, it was my job to work, along with others, in a prisoner of war cemetery. At the stalag, the Russians were dying in great numbers from typhus and other causes. The Nazis stripped them of their clothing and tied them into burlap bags before burial. I saw many of these bags and it was nothing uncommon to see some of them move or hear groans coming from the bags. OCCASIONALLY, the Nazi officer in charge would notice movement or hear groans and would order the bag and its contents taken back to the camp. There were no single graves for the Russians, four or five bodies were dropped into each grave which was afterwards marked as the grave of only one man.
“At the same camp, British and Russian prisoners said that when a Russian prisoner died and there were many of these deaths his death would not be reported until the odor of the decomposing body became offensive. Instead two prisoners would take the body between them to roll call, hold it up and until the officer answered to roll call, so that section would get extra rations.
“Often the Russians went on hunger strikes and this so enraged the Nazis that they turned fierce and half starved wolfhounds into the billets. The men were hungrier and fiercer than the dogs, however. The prisoners caught the animals, tore them to pieces, ate the flesh and tossed the bones out the window.”
“At Stalag ll-B, near the Polish frontier, the Germans sent the Americans out to farms to replace the men taken into the army. Some of the Komandos in charge of the prisoners were fair, and others were bad. It all depended upon the Germans. The living condition of the prisoners who were not sent to the farms for punishment was somewhat better than that of hose who were being punished.

Editors note Info from web site……..Stalag ll-B ….1943 the Stalag was reported as newly opened to privates of the US ground forces with a strength of 451. The Hammerstein installation acted as a headquarters for work detachments in the region and seldom housed more than 1/5 of the POWs credited to it. Thus at the end of May 1944, although the strength was listed as 4807, only 1000 of these were in the enclosure. At its peak in January 1945, the camp strength was put at 7200 Americans, with some 5315 of these out on 9 major Kommando Compaany. Fences formed compounds and sub-compounds. Ten thousand Russians lived in the East Command, while the other nationalities - 16,000 French, 1600 Serbs, 900 Belgians - and the Americans were segregated by Nationalities in the North Compound. Within the American enclosure were the playing field, workshops and dispensary, showers & delouser. At times more than 600 men were quartered in each of the 3 single-story barracks. 15 yards wide and 60 yards long, made available to the Americans. Although this resulted in extremely crowded conditions, it contrasted well with the Russian barracks which held as many as 1000 POW apiece. Barracks were divided in two by a center washroom which has 20 taps. Water fit for drinking was available at all hours except during POWs last 2 months when it was turned off for part of the day. Bunks were the regulation POW triple-decker types with excelsior mattresses and one German blanket (plus 2 from the Red Cross) for each (man). In the front and rear of each barracks was a urinal to be used only at night. Three stoves furnished what heat there was for the front half of each barrack, and 2 for the rear half. The fuel ration was always insufficient, and in December 1944 was cut to its all-time low of 12 kilos of coal per stove per day. On warm days the Germans withheld part of the fuel ration. TreatmentTreatment was worse at Stalag IIB than at any other camp in Germany established for American POW before the Battle of the Bulge. Harshness at the base Stalag degenerated into brutality and outright murder on some of the Kommandos. Beatings of Americans on Kommandos by their German overseers were too numerous to list, but records that 10 Americans in work detachments where shot to death by their captors.
Food From the Germans, POW received daily 300 grams of coarse bread and 500 grams of potatoes; twice weekly they received 300 grams of meat and 20 grams of margarine; once a week they drew 50 grams of cheese; marmalade was issued sporadically. All these rations were found in the midday meal, which was always in the form of soup. The breakfast consisted of ersatz coffee. There was no supper.

“ Although there was room for much improvement. During the summer months and at harvest time, we worked about 14 hours a day. In the winter, pour time was cut to eight hours or less. Our rations consisted of all the potatoes we wanted and two and a half “kils” of brot per week, also a pound of margarine divided weekly among twelve or more men. The sugar and jam allotment was a tablespoon full per week. Together with our Red Cross parcels, we fared pretty well. But we could never work enough or fast enough for the Germans on these farms. In an attempt to get more work from the prisoners of war, the civilians and the guards would beat and kick the men without mercy.
“Less than a year ago, on a cold and windy, bitter February morning, several thousand allied prisoners were massed near the Polish frontier in Northern Germany for what was to be a forced march across Europe. We had all of our processions with us, 3 or 4 Red Cross packages, clothing etc. We were forced to almost trot for the first 9 kilometers. Our loads were to heavy and we discarded precious articles of food and clothing which the Germans confiscated greedily.
“Many nights were spent locked in filthy barns, so closely packed that many men were unable to lie down and rest. There were many days that we had only a crust of bread to eat. It is amazing what the human body can endure when put to the test. The weather was damp and bitterly cold with a freezing wind sweeping across the plains from the Baltic Sea. Many men, insufficiently shod, and with no socks and no gloves suffered frozen feet and hands.
“ The reason for this hectic dash across northern Germany was to get the prisoner clear of the Soviet spearhead which was closing in on that area. We marched from Laurenburg on the Polish frontier through Stolp, Kolberg and Swinenmunde, down to Domitz on the river Elbe and then across to Lunsberg to within 24 kilometers of Hanover. It was here that the Germans realized that their game was up and they marched us back to Domitz, then north to Lubeck where we were liberated in May 1945, actually we covered on foot about 1500 miles.
“Many days were spent going in circles or just walking with no particular destination. The object was to keep us so worn out that at night we would not make any attempt to escape. This didn’t dampen our spirits, as many men did escape. In the last few weeks on the road, our progress was slowed down by the continuous danger of being strafed and dived bombed by our own air forces. The Germans often moved their own troops along with us. During the air attacks we lost a few of our men, either by the planes or by the Nazis shooting as we dashed off the road to avoid being targets for the planes. Our marches covered from 9 to 56 or more kilometers in a day.
“There were many other instances of the Nazis forcing prisoners of war to long and rigorous marches in North Africa, when the enemy captured a thousand and more men on their break through to Tebassia, the prisoners were forced at bayonet point to march across the hot sands without water or rest, they fell out to perish.
“Much credit is due the American red Cross and the Y.M.C.A., through whose tireless efforts food, clothing, literature, sports equipment and medical supplies reached us at regular intervals.
“Although the Nazis were capable of starving, torturing and beating prisoners of war, they were unable to break the American morale which carried the men through a living hell.”

Friday, December 18, 2009

That Splendid Little War

Schuylkill County And The Spanish American War


Standing alone on the east end of Garfield Square in Pottsville is a monument to the veterans of the Spanish American war. In April 1898 President McKinley called for 75,000 volunteers to enter the war which had been declared against Spain. During this time period Schuylkill County had seven companies of National Guardsmen in the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment which responded to the call with the patriotism shown by Schuylkill countians in every war this country has been involved in. This statue, called the " Hiker " is dedicated to the veterans who served and fought in the Spanish American war and called themselves the Hikers.

On May 29, 1961 the Pottsville Republican printed a photograph of eight men who served in the military during the Spanish American war, William Warner 85, John F. Krater 82, Gomer Hughes 88, William Lindemuth 82, George Reichader 76, John Cantwell 81, George Steidel 83, and William Corby 82. As listed all the men were in their 80's and these few men were among the last of the Spanish American War veterans still alive.

Schuylkill County sent many young men off to that " Splendid Little War " in April of 1898, many seeing combat in Cuba and the Philippines, and others just spending months drilling in Georgia and Virginia.

The two primary units from the area were the 4th and 8th regiments of the Pennsylvania National Guard. The 4th sent over 240 men from the county and the 8th had the most with 880 men serving in the ranks. The 4th regiment would see limited action in the campaign in Porto Rico, and the 8th regiment would spend most of its time in camp at Chickamagua Georgia and camp Alger near Falls Church, Virginia. Possibly the most exciting time that the men of the 8th regiment had was in early July about 200 men of the 6th P.N.G. started out to celebrate the 4th of July and without proper orders made a mess of themselves, men from company H of Pottsville and company B from Tamagua were ordered out to arrest the men of the 6th. They captured over 300 of them and made them walk back to camp. Both regiments had no combat related casualties, but typhoid fever consumed many of the boys and took the lives of 9 men in the 4th regiment and two in the 8th.

Schuylkill county would also have men that served in the Regular U.S. Army and Navy, these men would see the majority of combat in the very short period of the war. William Ryan from Minersville a private in company K of the 16th U.S. Infantry saw action at the battle of Santiago, Cuba. The September 21, 1898 issue of the Miners Journal reported that Ryan a very modest young man arrived home from the war in Cuba. He related an account of the fighting he was in to the Journal's reporter. " During the fighting, when the Spanish artillery was belching forth a heavy fire, part of the 16th, including company K determined to fool the Spaniards. A wagon was uncoupled and the forward part arranged in position like a cannon, the tongue was wrapped with bags and then covered with a rubber poncho, which at a distance, gave the appearance of a cannon. The latest production of Yankee ingenuity was pushed forward into a conspicuous position and immediately the unsuspecting Dons directed their fire towards this formidable looking weapon. Taking advantage of this the Yankees pushed forward with their troops and drove the enemy from their trenches into the city.

The regular army recruited heavily in Schuylkill and the surrounding counties with 54 men enlisting in the 21st and 12th U.S. Infantry regiments on one week. July 13th also saw the enlistment of another 22 men for the 12th regiment.

The U.S.S. Texas was the first battleship commissioned in the U.S. Navy. She was commissioned on August 15, 1895 a month earlier than the famous battleship U.S.S. Maine. The Texas arrived off the coast of Cuba on February 21, 1898 and was at once put on patrol and blockade duty.

On board the Texas were two Schuylkill countians, Lieut. Louis Heilner the navigating officer from Tamaqua and Lieut. Frank Haesler in command of the starboard turret gun. Haesler was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and was noted as an expert electrician and engineer for his applications of compressed air and mechanics.

The Texas was known as the " Hoodoo " of the navy because of her slow firing and handling qualities. Lieut. Haesler was asked to give his recommendations for improving on the existing problems that were affecting the performance of the ship. He submitted his plans to the navy, the officers of the board were hesitant to accept them until Theodore Roosevelt, the Secretary of the Navy intervened and with his influence Lieut. Haesler's plans were accepted. He was then assigned to the crew of the Texas.

One of the main problems with the Texas was her slow rate of fire, caused by the need to bring the turrets to a neutral point before being reloaded. Haesler made the 12" guns rapid firers by improving on the method of loading. The charge was carried to the gun in any direction. He also made the guns safer to fire by altering the electric firing mechanism so that the gun could not be fired unless the breech was closed.

During the bombardment of the Spanish Fort Cago Del Tore in Guantanamo Bay Cuba on June 21, 1898 and again in the fierce Naval Battle of Santiago on July 3. Lieut. Haesler was in charge of the starboard turret. During the engagement on July 3, the Texas fought nine different Spanish vessels and Lieut. Haesler was highly praised for his heroic actions.

Lieut. Haesler's effective manner in which he handled the guns, made every projectile strike the lofty fort, causing sever damage. He soon became known among the blue jackets as the man who destroyed the " Hoodo " which had so long followed the Texas. The men were so pleased with his him that they presented to him an engraved gold watch. The inscription read " To Lieut. Haesler by the crew of the Battleship Texas converting the vessel from the "Old Hoodoo" to "The New Hero"

Lieut. Haesler's career was cut short while he was stationed in Washington. In November of 1900 he became sick with Typhoid fever, and two weeks after the illness began he died on November 20, 1900. He was buried in the Naval Academy Cemetery with full military honors.

Lieut. Louis Heilner would also continue on in his naval career and in 1936 while serving as a Captain in charge of the Navy Yards between Newport News and Boston, Heilner was promoted to Rear Admiral. Admiral Heilner retired from the Navy in 1938.

Spanish American War Soldiers
From Schuylkill County who served in the Regular Army, Marines and Navy.
This list is not complete.

1. David L Thomas, Trooper Gov. Pa. Cav.
2. Harry F. Kimmell Co. L 12th US Inf. Artificer.
3. Henry Fogarty Battery D 2nd US Artillery
4. William Murray Co. L 12th US Inf. Pvt.
5. Robert Masterson Co. K 18th US inf.
6. James Gordon Co. C 2nd Regiment US Inf. Pvt.
7. Leigh Jay Co. L 22d US Inf. Sgt.
8. George Beers Troop G 7th Regiment Pvt. Weatherly
9. Anthony Gergler 28th US Inf. Mah City.
10. William Mulenfskie 82 Coast Artillery Corp. Shenandoah.
11. John Brennan Co. D 21 US Inf. Minersville
12. Jacob Wilkaitis Co. F 21 US Inf. Shenandoah
13. Anthony Schuck Co. I 39th US Inf. Minersville
14. Fred Krebs 36th Coast Artillery Pvt. St. Clair..
15. Patrick Byrne Co. L 21st US Inf. Shenandoah
16. John Kirkpatrick Troop L 3rd US Cav. Sgt. Schuylkill Haven
17. Edwin F Dewald Co. L 12th US Inf. Orwigsburg
18. William Woon Co. D 21 Inf. Frackville.
19. Peter Dougherty Batt. F 6th Regiment Pvt. McAdoo
20. Daniel Schall Cook 4th US Coast Artillery, Minersville
21. William Prosser Co. G 28th Inf. Shenandoah
22. Terrence O'Boyle Battery H 6th Artillery Shenandoah
23. Tim McLain Co 21st Inf. Shenandoah
24. Mike Purcell Co F 7th Us Pvt. Minersville
25. Martin Navin Co. C 21st US Inf. Ashland
26. James Derrick Co. L 21st Inf Pvt. Shenandoah
27. William Coury Co. D 21 Inf. Shenandoah
28. Elias Reed Co. C 16th INf Pvt. Sch Haven
29. John Francis McIntyre Navy USS Minneapolis Gunner M Girardville
30. Joe Mitchel Co. K 21st Inf Pvt. Shenandoah
31. Owin McKernan Co. B 19th Pvt. St. Clair
32. Patrick Cantwell Co. K 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah
33. John Brecker Co A 19th Inf Pvt. Sch Haven
34. Joseph Goetz Co. L 9th Inf Pvt.Pottsville
35. Thomas Coon Battery E 7th Artillery, Ft. Springs
36. Daniel Fahnestock Co. G 22 Inf. Portor Township
37. Tom Durkin Co. L 21 Inf Pvt. Ashland
38. Charles McBride Naval USS Topeka Coal Passer Beaver Meadow
39. Fred Ginsburg Co. I 12 Inf Pottsville
40. Elmer Warnick Co. E 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah
41. Walter Cooney Co. E 21 Inf. Pvt. Shenandoah
42. Thomas Lee 28th Inf Div. Shenandoah
43. Thomas McAlister Coast Artillery Co.A 6th Shenandoah
44. Mike Ryan 2 Inf Co. K Pvt. Shenandoah
45. Terrance McLain Co. I 21 Pvt. Shenandoah
46. William J Simmons Co. I 21 Inf.Shenandoah
47. Mathias Schmidt Co. K 21 Inf Shenandoah
48. Nick Whalen Co. G 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah
49. Patrick Burns US Marines USS Michigan Shenandoah
50. John Tempest Co. L 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah
51. Joseph C Matthews Co B 3 Artillery
52. Ben Thomas Co. L 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah
53. William Young 21 Inf Shenandoah
54. Robert F. Shuman Co. L 28 Inf Shenandoah
55. Peter Becker 21 Inf Shenandoah
56. Thomas Hutton 6th Artillery Batt. F Shenandoah
57. Henry Keen 21 Inf Co. I Shen
58. John J. Beisel Co. A 1st Cavalry Pvt. Shenandoah Rough R.
59. William Durham Co. E 21 Inf Shenandoah
60. Joseph Blacker 21 Inf Pvt Shenandoah
61. Isiah Woomer Co. L21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah
62. John Prosser Co. I 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah
63. Max Fedonshick Co. A 21 Pvt. Shenandoah
64. Frank Jackoviak Co. E 21 Shenandoah
65. Matthew Mizinskie Co. A 21 Inf Pvt. Shenandoah
66. William Seward 21 Inf Pvt. Shen
67. John Leahy Co. B 21 Inf Shen
68. Patrick Curran 66th Coast Artillery, McAdo
69. Samuel Unger 124th Co. Coast Artillery Mechanic Muir
70. John Stutzman Co. H 21 Inf Orwin
71. Hezekial Crawford US Navy Seaman Pottsville Black Sailor
72. Thomas Behney Battery A 104th Artillery Corp. Pottsville
73. Anthony McCormick US Marines Girardville
74. Curits Evans 21 Inf. Sgt. Butler T.
75. Ben Simpson Co. M 21 Ashland
76. John J. Lagus Co. I 11 U S Inf. Pottsville
77. Victor Marshall Co. I 47th US Vol Minersville
78. Thomas Cahill Co. D 19 Mahanoy City
79. Fred Swaaring US Hospital Corp.
80. Lewis Wilkes Co. D 12 Inf Minersville
81. Frank Dopkins Troop L 8th cavalry Sgt. Mah. City
82. Peter Becker 21 Co. M Shenandoah
83. William Yoder Co. G Us Inf 4th Schuylkill Haven
84. Harry Troutman 6th US Artilery Batt k Girardville
85. Thomas Hirst #rd Artillery Battery B Ashland
86. Robert John Barnes USS Navy USS Franklin Fireman 1st Girdv
87. Oscar Brobst Co. I 2 US Artillery Nuremberg
88. Charles Heyer Co. A 47th Reg. Barry Township
89. Cleaver Pinkerton Troop L Cavalry 2nd Pottsville
90. William Preston Co. K 6th US Artillery Frackville
91. Andrew Siemanis Co. K 21 Infantry Shenandoah
92. William Henry Toward Co. C 21 Inf Reiner Ciity
93. William Griffiths Co. L 20 th Inf Frackville
94. Henry Dewalt Servive Company Inf. 1st Sgt. Cressona
95. Edwin Dewalt Co. L 12 INf 2nd Cav. Orwigsburg
96. M.F.Duffy Co. B 21 Inf Sgt. Minersville
97. Victor Marshall 3rd US Infantry Branch Twp.
98. George Higgins USMC Tamagua
99. Horace Pullman troop Cavalry.
100. Charles Taylor Co. I 21 Inf.
101. Edmund Richardson Co. M21 Inf Mahanoy Twp
102. Samuel Detrick Co. L 15th US Inf. Pine Grove
103. John Grogan Co. I 21 Inf St Stephens
104. Curtis Evans Co. I 215 / Co. M 21 Inf.Lavelle
105. J.W.A. Donnel Co. F 47th St. Clair
106. Robert H. Ebner Co. D 7 Coast Artillery
107. John Lulsie US Navy, USS Yankee, Panther And Scorpion Branch Township.
108. James Hannon Co. L 21 Inf Pvt. Ashland
109. Harry Burger Co. L 21 Inf
110. H. E. Templin Co. L 47th Regt. Port Carbon
111. Thomas Riley US Marines
112. Charles F.W. Heyer Co. A 47 Inf.Barry Twp.
113. George Bernet US Navy Seaman Pottsville
114. Mike Donahue US Marines Minersville.


One of the most interesting stories that came from the Spanish American war is the service and record of one of Pottsvilles native sons Major William Auman. Major Auman had a lucrative military career beginning with his service as a member of the Washington Artillerists one of the First Defender companies in 1861, and also serving with the famed 48th regiment first as a private and finally commanding company G as a captain. Auman was wounded severely in the mouth during the Petersburg campaign in 1864. After the Civil War he was commissioned as a captain in the 13th U.S. Infantry and served on the frontier fighting Indians and has been with the 13th up to the Spanish American War. He retired from the military in 1903 after reaching the rank of Brig. General.

When most people think of the Spanish American War the first thing that comes to mind is the gallant charge of Teddy Roosevelt and the famous Rough Riders up kettle hill, on the 1st of July 1898. But equally as important as the charge of the Rough Riders the assault made on the left flank by the men of the 13th , 9th and 24th infantry regiments was of a heroic nature. Leading the 13th regiment was Pottsville's Major Auman.
In a newspaper article dated July 15th, 1898 to the Buffalo Times, Major Auman wrote a letter to the editor concerning who the glory of the capture of San Juan Hill should go.
The Times has generously sent daily to a number of the officers of the 13th Infantry, including myself, copies of your interesting paper, for which we are duly grateful. “The last received today are dated the 2d inst. And give some of the details of the battle here on the 1st inst. We also received papers from other parts of the country of a later date and all give credit to Wheeler’s Division for the capture of Fort “San Juan”, while Kent’s Division (1st) is scarcely mentioned. I enclose a copy of my official report, made to the brigade commander on the 5th inst. And it would appear from this that the 13th Infantry, and in fact the whole of Kent’s Division, was hotly engaged, if not more so, than Wheeler’s. The 71st New York are reported as having charged through the Spanish lines. As that regiment was in the second line and in our rear during the battle, and did not get on the heights of San Juan until sometime after it had been captured, we cannot understand how it could have made the reported charge.

Rough Riders

The Rough Riders are credited with having captured San Juan Heights. This is not correct. The 6th and 16th attacked on the right, the 13th immediately in front and the 24th on our left. The Rough Riders are in Wheeler’s Division which was on the right of Kent’s, and while they fought splendidly, and captured the works in their front, they DID NOT TAKE SAN JUAN. The fact that the 13th were the first to surmount the top of the heights and capture the few Spaniards that remained and their were two regiments of our division to our right is sufficient proof Kent’s Division took the fort and are entitled to all the credit.
I cannot close this without testifying to the devotion and patient endurance of the officers and men of the 13th under many trials and privations. Some idea may be formed of our hardships from the fact that there are now but eleven officers on duty with the regiment. All the field officers, except myself, all the captains and many of the lieutenants have succumbed to wounds of battle and to disease, and there are now but four first and second lieutenants on duty with me. This small, but noble band have been tried by the severest tests and are loyal and true. None could have done better, Respectfully
William Auman
Major 13th Infantry , Commanding Regiemnt.

From the book.. Reminiscences and thrilling stories of the war by returned heroes ...
By James Rankin Young, J. H. Moore
This is Major Auman Story about the charge up San Juan Hill.
Major William Auman, at the head of the Thirteenth United States Regulars, was the first commissioned officer to reach the top of San Juan hill, after the three senior officers of the command had been shot down. He seized the Spanish flag as the prize of the regiment. Of the 420 men who went into that action, two officers were killed and five wounded and sixteen men were killed and eighty-five wounded.
"We were the last of General Shafter's division," said Major Auman, "to land at Siboney, on June 25th. We were ordered to proceed to Santiago and encamped on the main road four miles from the city. The Rough Riders had already engaged the enemy at Quasina. We formed part of General Kent's brigade, and were immediately ordered to support the cavalry division under General Wheeler, taking the left flank. Early on the morning of July 1st we came under fire before we had time to deploy. Owing to the dense woods we had to march in column along the road, and for one hour were under continuous fire in this position.
" It was on this road we came upon the Seventy first New York. This regiment was in confusion, owing to the difficult position which it occupied, as it was being shot at and hit without being able to locate the enemy, owing to the smokeless powder used by the Spaniards. After we passed it, we marched to the left, over the San Juan creek and into action.
" While marching along the road Senior Major Ellis was wounded, and had to retire. We had no sooner formed into line than Lieutenant-Colonel Worth was severely wounded, and about the same time Brigade Commander Wykoff was killed, which left me in command of the regiment. Ours was the first regiment to come out into the open, and as we did so, the Spanish artillery and infantry opened a heavy fire from the crest of San Juan Hill. Men fell on every side. About 100 yards ahead of us was a gentle rising. I ordered'the battalion to advance to shelter. The Spanish lines were only 600
yards away. Here we remained until the other regiments of the brigade had formed on our left. As soon as the four regiments had got into line, I gave the command to my regiment to make the assault. We advanced up the hill under a galling fire.
" Time and again the enemy tried to repulse us, but, seeing that we kept straight on, they ran. I immediately sent the message along the line, ' The Spaniards are running.' This encouraged the men, and between running and climbing, we reached the summit; but not until we had cut our way through two wire fences. Then we seized the Spanish flag, entrenchments and block house, while the Spaniards were running down the other side of the hill with their artillery.
" I was the first commanding officer to reach the brow of the hill, and when the men of the different regiments asked if they should follow, seeing a second line of intrenchments beyond, I ordered them to hold what they had and fire at the fleeing enemy. We realized, however, that the Spaniards in the trenches beyond were firing at us. The smokeless powder kept us in ignorance of this for some time. Then I ordered the men to lie down and open fire.
A Target for Sharpshooters.
" A bugler was shot down within a foot of where I was standing, and for a time I was the target of the Spanish sharpshooters. Later we were ordered by General Hawkins to support the Rough Riders, who were being hard pressed, and while engaged in this we were under fire all night, where more of our men fell. The following day our brigade was replaced by a brigade of the Second Division under General Chaffee, and we returned to the trenches on San Juan Hill, where we remained until July 17, when the city surrendered. In taking San Juan Hill twenty-five per cent, of my men were shot down. It was a close call for every man in the engagement.
" All prisoners, numbering 7,000, were received by my regiment. With one battalion I entered the city, while I stationed the other battalion out in the field to receive them. After the surrender I was stricken down with fever and sent to the fever hospital. On August 8 I left Cuba for Montauk Point, where I was given sick leave, and returned home to Buffalo."
The experience of the Sixth Regulars was thus told by one of them: " We had a hot time in Cuba, any way you look at it. We landed in Cuba over 800 strong, but there are only about 425 of us here to-day. Some men lie dead in the trenches at Santiago, over 200 were wounded, about 30 killed; IO of our officers were badly wounded. The rest of us are sick, I00 in the hospitals of New York alone.
" Thev were mighty plucky fellows, those Rough Riders, but a little too reckless, and if it wasn't for us and the Twenty-fourth it would have been all up for them that day. We were on the left of them and the Twenty-fourth on the right. Those colored fellows were the lions, afraid of nothing; the hotter the fire the greater the sport for them.
"Well, the toughest day of the lot was on the third day of July. All night long we slept in the open, rains falling and drenching us to the skin. Up we got to march. It was five o'clock in the morning when we started. That march up San Juan Hill was awful, but those were our orders, and up we went. There they were, the Spaniards, intrenched behind a line of trenches, another line of blockhouses, and another line of barbed wire. Up we went; some of us fell down worn out, dead tired; but our orders were to take that hill and we took it, somehow,—God only knows how!"
Brave Colored Troops.
The two colored cavalry regiments, the Ninth and Tenth Regulars, were among the most popular soldiers in Cuba. They are quiet, well-mannered, cheerful fellows, these negro troopers, and far sooner than any of the other Cuban veterans they recovered their spirits and vitality after the campaign. In an encampment made up chiefly of the sick and half sick, it was inspiring to meet on the road a group of these soldiers jogging along in lively conversation, their white teeth gleaming in smiles. As to their abilities in battle but one opinion was expressed, and almost invariably in the same words:
" Those colored chaps fought like devils."
Many are the stories of their prowess, told by the men of the other regiments. A company of the Tenth went into action singing. Two men 01 another company enlivened their comrades during a very trying halt under fire by executing a double-flop dance, to which the whole company began presently to clap out the time; their officers, meanwhile, being wisely blind and deaf to these rather unusual tactics, The Rough Riders were enthusiastic over the Ninth regiment. When Roosevelt's men had made their rush up San Juan Hill they found themselves in a very bad position, pressed by a superior force of the enemy on both flanks and in front. It is generally admitted that they could not have held their position but for the splendid charge of the black men to their support. After the worst of the fighting was over, a Rough Rider, finding himself near one of the colored troopers, walked up and grasped his hand, saying :
" We've got you fellows to thank for getting us out of a bad hole."
" Dat's all right, boss," said the negro, with a broad grin. " Bat's all right. It's all in de fam'ly. We call ouahselves de Colored Rough Riders."
" It was a matter of considerable doubt," an officer of the regular infantry says, "whether the colored troops would acquit themselves well. We of the army knew them to be good Indian fighters, but this Cuban business was no more like Indian fighting than a game of marbles is like billiards. Probably it was because I am from the South that I didn't think much of the colored regiments, but having seen those fellows in action I've changed my mind completely. They were the best, the readiest, the most cheerful, and, I believe, the deadliest fighters in the war. In the charge up the hill a volunteer who had got separated from his company, who looked pretty badly rattled, got caught in the rush and carried along. A big fellow behind him kept spurring him on and trying to encourage him, but the man was badly rattled and tried to get away. That settled him with the troopers, who began to guy him, asking his name and address for purposes of identification, and assuring him that he would be readily distinguished among the other dead on account of his color. Presently a Mauser bullet clipped the sleeve of the man next to him. The trooper turned to the volunteer:
"' Honey, dat bullet was a-callin' youah name, shuah,' he said.
No Shrinking Under Fire.
" They tell me that the volunteer finally plucked up his spirits and fought so well that the negroes assured him that in the next battle he'd be an honor to any regiment. One thing I noticed about the negro troopers was that they evinced less inclination to duck when the bullets whistled over them than the other soldiers showed. A sergeant explained it to me this way:
" ' Wen de bullet go along it say, " Pi yi-yi! Pi-yi-yi!" Nobody ain' goin' to min' dat. But de shrapnel, dat's different. Dat say, " Oo-oo oo-oo; I want yeh, I want yeh, I want yeh, mah honey!" Dat's w'at makes a man's head kindah shrink like between his shouldahs.'
" However, I didn't see any shrinking that could be identified as such among those men. There wasn't an instant during the fighting that they didn't look as if they were in the very place of all places on earth where they most wished to be."
At Camp Montauk the colored men assiduously cultivated the gentle arts of peace. Every night they sat outdoors and sang. The Ninth men staked out a baseball diamond on the flat near the Life-saving Station and played a most tumultuous game of ball, which would have resulted more definitely if in the third inning the runs hadn't piled up so high that the scorer collapsed with exhaustion and fell asleep. As no tv/o of the players agreed on the score, the game was declared " no contest." The Tenth Cavalryman who had his guitar with him was the centre of a large audience every afternoon, and he was hustling around trying to persuade some of the banjo and mandolin players to beg or borrow instruments which could be sent to them, so that he could get up a string orchestra. Certain sportsmen of the Ninth organized cross-country hunts after the frog, which abounds in the marshes. They stalked him to his lair, and then swathed him with the unpoetic but substantial club, whereupon he croaked his last croak and rendered up his muscular legs to make a dainty feast. Two hunters who beat along the little stream flowing back of the Signal Corps bagged no less than forty-seven batrachians, not counting six toads which they killed by mistake. On the whole, the colored soldiers got more out of camp life than any one else inthe place.

During the fight for Fort San Juan, Cuba the 3rd Brigade of the 5th Corps consisting of the 9th, 13th, and 24th U.S. infantry regiments were ordered to advance against the enemy held heights. In this assault the 13th regiment was at the head of the column of regiments. At the base of the hill was a small creek which the men crossed and went into line of battle. Advancing under intense Spanish fire the men had to hack down a fence that impeded their way. After cutting through the fence with the aid of their bayonets they advanced across open terrain for over 100 yards under a galling fire. Prior to crossing the creek the three senior officers of the regiment were shot down by rifle fire, leaving only Lt. Col. Worth of the 13th and Major Auman in command, Col. Worth took command of the brigade and the command of the 13th regiment fell to Major Auman.

Taking command Major Auman heroically directed the troops up the hill under intense fire, he was constantly moving from the left of the line to the right of the line the whole time exposed to enemy fire. Running and climbing their way up the hill, men were being wounded and killed the whole time. Major Auman was yelling and encouraging his men continually, during this point of the assault the enemy rifle fire was severe. When approaching the crest of the hill Major Auman was heard yelling, " The Spaniards are Running ". When the men of the 13th and the rest of the battalion heard his cry they surged forward with impetus and fired a terrific volley from their rifles upon the enemy. As the regiment reached the top of the hill still being lead by Major Auman, he would have the distinction of being the first American officer to reach the brow of the hill. Major Auman's old company would be the unit that captured the Spanish flag, block house and entrenchments. He then halted his command and ordered the men to fire at the fleeing Spanish soldiers. Major Auman stated " A bugler was shot down within a foot of where I was standing and for a time I was the target for the Spanish sharpshooters ". After the action the brigade was ordered to support the Rough Riders, who were being hard pressed.

Major Auman would receive numerous commendations for his actions on July 1, 1898 two of the commanding Generals personally commended him. Brig. General Adelbert Ames and Major General J. Ford Kent U.S.V. commanding.

Majo Auman is Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
From the Arlington Cemetery web site.

William Auman of Pennsylvania

Appointed from Pennsylvania, Private, Company B, 25th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 18 April to 29 July1862
Corporal and Sergeant, Company G, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 29 September 1862to 23 July 1864
Second Lieutenant, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry,24 July 1864
First Lieutenant, 12 September 1864
Captain, 4 June 1865
Breveted Captain of Volunteers, 2 April 1865, for gallant and meritorious services before Petersburg, Virginia
Honorably mustered out 17 July 1865
Second Lieutenant, 13th U. S. Infantry, 11 May 1866
First Lieuenant, 5 October 1867
Regimental Quartermaster, 1 January 1870 to 1 August 1871
Captain, 26 march 1879
Major, 26April 1898
Lieutenant Colonel, 21st U. S. Infantry, 7 September 1900
Transferred to the 13th U. S. Infantry, 11 March 1901
Colonel, 29th U. S. Infantry, 16 October 1901
Brigadier General, 16 April 1902
Retired 10 May 1902
Henry Auman came to this country as a British soldier, for the British crown. He was taken prisoner by General Washington at Trenton, New Jersey, and after the Revolutionary War settled in Amity Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was a great grandfather of the late Samuel and Lieutenant William Auman, of Pottsville, the latter of the United States army, retired and living in New York.
May 17, 1868: Captain Wm. Auman (then a 1st lieutenant), in addition to being in command of B Company was the post quartermaster, and when the Indians appeared his first thought was to secure the government animals which were grazing a quarter of a mile from the post.
Armed with a rifle he proceeded to the corral, mounted a horse, and accompanied by one of the teamsters rode out and secured the animals while the hostile Indians were within two hundred yards of the herd.
After the animals had been put in the corral he went where one of the field pieces had opened fire, and finding that the piece was loaded with shell the fuse of which was uncut, he cut one fuse with his pocket knife and started for the magazine for a fuse knife. At this juncture he received a bullet wound in the left foot, the ball passing through the instep and causing a most painful and serious wound.
Brigadier General, United States Army
DATE OF DEATH: 05/21/1920
DATE OF DEATH: 02/19/1875
DATE OF DEATH: 02/21/1919
DATE OF DEATH: 03/28/1888

DATE OF DEATH: 03/12/1888

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Donald C. Boyd's World War II Story...

32nd Division

This story of an American Hero was given to me by his son Matthew Boyd. And I want to share it with everyone.

My Father, Staff Sergeant Donald C. Boyd, served with the 32nd "Red Arrow" Division, 128th Infantry Regiment, Cannon Company. He fought on Leyte, Luzon, the Druiniumor River, and the Villa Verde Trail where he drove an M7 Priest, carried an M1 Garand, and was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism. He is currently recovering nicely at home in Swanton, Ohio from recent triple bypass surgery.

Donald C. Boyd

32nd "Red Arrow" Division 128th Infantry Regiment, Cannon Company

Donald C. Boyd's World War II Story...

I was a soldier in the Cannon Co., 128th Infantry. I joined the company as a replacement at Aitape after most of the fighting was over. Our company area was on the beach near the Driniumor River. At that time, we had 81mm mortars as our main support weapon. We went to Hollandia to train for landing on Leyte and to our surprise, Cn. Co. was given 6 new M-7's to replace our mortars. Of course, no one knew anything about them. A Major from the tank battalion came to teach us driving, shooting, maintenance, etc.

The M-7 has a 105mm Howitzer and a .50 cal. machine gun on an M-4 Sherman tank chassis. It's powered by a 9 cylinder radial air-cooled 380hp engine. Our mortar men adapted to the Howitzer sights easily, but we had no drivers. A notice was posted on the company bulletin board saying "Anyone interested in driving, sign up for a tryout." I signed up with little hope of getting the job. At 18, I was the youngest and newest man in the company. Several of us met with the Major the next morning and since only one driver and one backup were needed per M-7, I thought my chances were poor to say the least.

The Major explained that the engines were governed so you couldn't over-rev them, but you must drive full-throttle in every gear. Never lag the engine. The 5-speed transmission had to be double-clutched to shift gears. Some of the guys stalled, some couldn't shift right which lagged the engine which can foul the plugs. When it was my turn, I thought "I'll give this thing a ride" because I might not get another chance. The major must have been impressed, for I was picked to drive. After much gunnery and driving practice, we were ready for Leyte. We went ashore on Leyte with no problems, as the 24th Division secured our landing area earlier. We eliminated a Jap machine gunner that had been harassing this beach area for our 1st kill.

I was surprised that you didn't mention in your book of the slaughter of Jap reinforcements at Ormac Bay. Some of us were on a high hill overlooking the bay when flight after flight of our planes caught some Jap troop ships in the harbor. Were some miles away but with binoculars and spotting scopes we had an excellent view. Our planes bombed and strafed those bastards and were credited for killing 7000!

Your book brought back memories of actions that now seem incredible. A group of us we were standing around in front of our position overlooking a valley of waist-high grasses. "Harper," our B.A.R. man, said, "Isn't that a Goddamned Jap out there?" It was, and as we watched in amazement as he stumbled his way toward us. He appeared to be unarmed. As the Jap was about 100 yards away, we saw he was oblivious to everything. I said, "I'm gonna blast that son-of-a-bitch." Someone else said he was. Harper said "I saw him first," raised his B.A.R. and fired the whole clip. The 1st round hit him in his left foot and some of the following rounds tore through his body, killing him instantly. Among his effects, was a pack of Chesterfield cigarettes. When I think back that I would have killed this man without hesitation, in fact, pleasure it's scary.

On to Luzon and the Villa Verde. Our landing at Lingayen was uneventful, but that changed when the 1st Platoon's M-7's were to drive up the Villa Verde. "Preston" drove the #1 M-7 and I drove #2. As you stated in your great book, the engineers had made a narrow road out of that goat path. The road was fine for an Army 2-1/2 ton truck, but my M-7 is considerably wider and in many places we scraped the side of the mountain going up. I made a mental note that 2 turns would be really tough coming down if we survived to come down. The engineers had scraped out a firing position for us and it worked out well. We could fire across this valley at Jap positions as close as 600 yards and any range beyond. I don't know how many rounds we fired from there, but it was a lot.

One day, the engineer's bulldozer slid off the trail and down the side of the mountain and was stuck. Our Lieutenant to me to "Fire it up -- we're going to get the 'dozer back on the trail." The bulldozer operator was working several hundred yards, and around several curves from where we were. We took off and found the bulldozer close enough to hook a cable on, which we did.

By now, we were drawing rifle fire. They hooked the cable to my front so we would pull him up in reverse. We couldn't do it. The M-7 crawlers just dug in the soft dirt. It was decided to start the bulldozer and with it running and backing up, and me pulling also, we might get him out. While the bulldozer was being started, I had to turn around so we could hook on the back of my M-7. I could hear an occasional bullet hit us. I put my M-7 in first gear, and with the bulldozer in reverse, we yanked him back on the trail. We unhooked and started back and WHAM! At least a 75mm round hit the side of the mountain about 100 feet in front of us. The shell blew the foot off a Filipino bearer in front of us. Sgt. Weimer yelled "Stop! We'll pick him up!" I yelled, "Are you crazy?" But, I stopped and the crew pulled him aboard. We took off and immediately another round hit were we would have been, had we NOT stopped.

This shell put a 6" x 3/4" piece of shrapnel in a G.I.'s thigh. We picked him up and again, WHAM! This round hit behind us where we'd just left. We made it to a curve, out of sight from the gunner. If we hadn't stopped to pick up that Filipino, I know we would have been hit. To this day, I don't know why that Jap didn't clobber that bulldozer but as far as I could tell, they never did.

I was never wounded, but besides the bulldozer episode, a Jap machine-gunner nearly got me on Leyte. And driving out of the Villa Verde Trail, the whole crew, including Sgt. Weimer jumped off leaving me strapped in the driver's seat when it appeared we were sliding off the road. I had the tracks locked up but we were like a sled on the wet clay. We stopped just before plunging hundreds of feet down. The Sgt. climbed back on and I was able to back up enough to make the turn and get safely down.

I was on my way home, in late Dec. 1945 and like you, had quit taking Atabrine. Malaria hit me and I was really sick. I couldn't answer formations, but fortunately, Clinton Beamer answered for me, brought me soup from the mess hall and looked out for me as best he could. I didn't want to miss my boat back to the states. Beamer was a farm boy from Attica, Ohio. We went through basic together and both ended up in Cn. Co. in the 1st Platoon. He, in the #1 M-7 and me in the #2 M-7.

One other thing, there was a scumbag from Maryland in our out fit that collected gold fillings from Jap corpses. I once saw him urinate on the face and mouth of a dead Jap who was covered with mud to see if there was gold fillings in there. He always carried pliers with him.

----- Donald C. Boyd




Pottsville has the proud distinction of having two famous men, graduates of West Point Military Academy and the Naval Academy.
Lt. Col. Francis Ulric Farquhar
Was born in Pottsville on October 31st, 1838 and died in Detroit, Michigan on July 3rd , 1883.
Col. Farquhar entered the Military Academy at West Point in 1857, and was graduated June 24,1861, second in his class, was appointed 2nd Lt. of the Corps of Engineers, June 29, 1861. It Is Interesting to note that Col. Farquhar was a classmate of the famous George Armstrong Custer who graduated last in the class of 1861, but made his mark on history.


He served for a short time at Washington, D. C. and took an active part in the Civil war, was first on the staff of Gen. Heintzelman, and was in the Manassas campaign. He also took part in the Virginia Peninsular campaign, and was in the siege of Yorktown: Following the battle of Williamsburg, he was, as chief engineer of the department of North Carolina, in the expedition which destroyed the railroad bridge over the Tar river. After the battle of Cold Harbor he participated in the siege of Petersburg. He was assistant Professor of Engineering at West Point from Aug. 1864 to June 1865. He served as Assistant Engineer on the survey of the northern lakes from Mar. 1867 to Nov. 1868, and as superintending
engineer of harbor improvements on the eastern shore of lake Michigan from Nov. 1868 to June 1872. He was from then, until Aug. 1873, chief astronomer of the survey of the 49th parallel of latitude to fix the northern boundary of the United States. He was a member of the Board of Engineers in various works, including the improvement of the low-water navigation of the Mississippi river, and the preservation of the Falls of St. Anthony;1 his work in connection with the preservation of these Falls was regarded as one of the most notable feats of engineering of the times.
He was brevetted at different times during his service in the Civil war; 1st Lt., Major, and Lt. Col. for gallant and meritorious services; At the time of his death, he was stationed at Detroit in charge of the Gov't improvements of the lakes and rivers of Michigan.
Col. Farquhar is mentioned in many books and periodicals of the era. What a great part in history this soldier from Schuylkill County contributed. We can be very proud of him and his service. He was a son of George W. Farquhar.

Rear Admiral Norman H. Farquhar

Admiral Farquhar

Admiral Farquhar was one of the oldest sailors in the Navy, being older than Admiral’s Dewey, Sampson and Schley. He was among the foremost of the ranking officers in the service and had seen a great amount of active fighting.
graduated from the Naval Academy in 1859, at the age of 19, soon after, he was made second in command of a captured slave-ship, sailing from Africa to Charleston S. C. and later brought another captured slave-ship, the "Triton," from Africa to Norfolk Va.; having full command of this vessel, being the only
officer on it, he was the first midshipman to have entire command of a vessel on a voyage across the ocean.
He was a midshipman on the breaking out of the Civil war, was made Lieut. in 1861, he served on several steamships and gunboats of the North Atlantic Squadron, was Executive Officer on the U. S. S. "Mystic," in the battle at Hampton Roads, between the "Monitor" & "Merrimac;" was also in both attacks on Ft. Fisher.
He served at the Naval Academy. as Lt. Com. in 1865, and in 1868-9 was on the "Swatara" on the European station, and at the Boston Navy yard in 1870, was later an officer of the "Severn," then had command of the "Kansas" in the Tehuantepec Canal Survey, one of the three routes surveyed for the purpose of constructing the Panama Canal, and of the U. S. S. "Powhatan." He was made Commander, and was stationed at Annapolis in command of the "Santee" in Dec. 1872, having also supervision of the buildings and grounds at Annapolis till 1878.
After commanding in the European Squadron till 1881, he was made Commandant of cadets at Naval Academy. commanded "Constitution" on practice cruise in 1883-4, was made Capt. in 1886, ordered to command of Flag-ship "Trenton" in the Pacific; the ship being wrecked at Apia Samoa, during a hurricane, Capt. Farquhar, by good seamanship, saved the lives of all the officers and men; the Humane Society of Mass. presented to him a gold medal, for saving life, with a complimentary letter
Admiral Farquhar was in command of the Ship “Trenton” in the Pacific station when it was wrecked by the great hurricane at Apia, Samoa, on March 16th, 1889. In this memorable disaster American and German war vessels were wrecked, but Admiral Farquhar succeeded in running his ship aground and saved the lives of the entire crew. He also assisted in saving men from other ships and for the service rendered in this trying time he was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Docks and Yards, with the rank of Commodore.
He was a member of the Lighthouse Board, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, 1890 to 1894: Commandant of the Navy-yard League Island, Philadelphia. Pa. in command of U. S. S. "Newark,"1 President of the Naval Examining Board, Commandant of Norfolk Va. Navy-yard; was made Commodore in 1897, Rear Admiral in 1898, and Commander in Chief of the North Atlantic Squadron till 1901, when he was appointed chairman of the Lighthouse Board: he retired Apr. 11, 1902. He was a Mason, a member of the Loyal Legion and of the Army & Navy Union.
Rear Admiral Farquhar was one of the most progressive of the officers of the Navy; he was presented with a gold medal, in 1885, by the Naval Institute, for an essay on "Inducements for Obtaining Seamen for the Navy" many of the suggestions being adopted by the Department; he
1. "The old cruiser 'Newark' is to be sold by the Navy Department; it was built in Phila. Pa. in 1888, and for many years was on duty as station ship, at Guantanamo, Cuba."—From Newark Evening News, May 17, 1913.
is said to have had command of more vessels than any other officer; he was in command of the Norfolk Navy Yard, when the Spanish war broke out, and applied for sea duty, but the Navy Dept. felt that his experience and executive ability were needed at the Navy Yard, where he was kept in command and where he accomplished almost impossible tasks, to enable our fleet to be in condition to meet the enemy successfully. Tho' a strict disciplinarian, he was also most considerate toward those over whom he had command and held their affection and respect.
Admiral Farquhar has visited Pottsville, his native home town, quite frequently of late years and was always glad to get back among his friends of younger days.
Admiral Farquhar died on July 3rd, 1907, from the effects of a stroke of apoplexy at the Hotel Throndyke, Jamestown, Rhode Island, where he made his summer home. He was the son of the late George W. Farquhar.

Destroyer named after the Admiral