(1898-1900). Five manuscript letters, a total of 20 pp., approximately 3500 words, accompanied by 4 envelopes addressed to family members in Marshalltown, Iowa. Three of the letters in this group are from the Cuban campaign (en route to Santiago, May 31, 1898; Key West, Florida, July 2, 1898; Guantanamo, Cuba, July 11, 1898), one from New Orleans, Louisiana (May 29, 1899), and one from Manila, Philippine Islands (May 31, 1900). Also included is a one page description of the first day of the bombardment of Santiago de Cuba, approximately 260 words. Gregg participated in the bombardment of Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, and the landing of troops at Daiquiri. The letters in this collection describe in detail these actions as well as transporting supplies, and chasing after Spanish ships. In addition, Gregg sent three detailed, very accomplished drawings back to his family. One pen & ink on an 8 x 10 1/2 in. sheet of paper, lightly creased from folding, shows three different scenes: "Guantanamo, Cuba June 27/98" (caption title, 3 1/4 x 4 3/4 in.) showing two ships in the harbor, the hilly coastline with flags waving in the background; "Daiquiri Cuba June 23/98 Landing U.S. Troops" (caption title, 3 1/4 x 4 3/4 in.) depicting the small boatloads of troops headed into the harbor, with the New Orleans and the Detroit (labeled) guarding the approach, a town and the hillsides alive with smoke clouds, presumably from exploding shells; "Bombardment Santiago de Cuba June 6th/98" (caption title, 4 x 9 1/2 in.) with well delineated outlines of the US Navy ships in the harbor including the Brooklyn, Marblehead, Texas, Massachusetts, Iowa, Oregon, New Orleans, Yankee, New York, and Dolphin (all labeled), with clouds of smoke coming from their guns, and explosions on the nearby hillsides. The second of Gregg's pen & ink drawings is of the harbor at Key West on July 2, 1898, (3 x 10 in.) with a hand-done key to the images shown incuding the New Orleans and the San Francisco in the harbor, and the Old Fort on the shore. His third sketch, in pencil, is done on the verso of his account of the first day of the bombardment depicting the harbor, with ships identified by a numbered key at the bottom of the page, and fortifications, batteries, a Spanish ship and the distant town identified by a symbols key. Item #61431
Harry Gregg, a young man from Marshalltown, Iowa, served in the Navy during the Spanish American War, seeing action in both Cuba and the Philippines. In the Census of 1900 he is listed as a hospital apprentice aboard the USS New Orleans. His letters home mention some of his medical duties in addition to giving much detail of the military actions the New Orleans was engaged in. In his letter of May 31, he reports: "We have gotten a landing party off of each ship of about 250 men and also a troop ship full of soldiers, which are to be landed down the coast and attack the city from behind while the boats storm from in front. We expect the Dynamite cruiser Vesuvius and three monitors tonight and we will go for them tomorrow…. The men on this boat all shipped in since the war broke out, that is, most of them, but they stood fire very bravely. I have not been able to take this thing seriously yet. It seems like target-practice to me. I am on the first deck below and after the operating table is up I have nothing to do at all unless someone is hurt and I stand out on deck so I can see everything…." He says he has volunteered to go with the volunteer party on the collier Merrimac to sink her in the mouth of the harbor. [The first attempt to sink the Merrimac on June 1 was delayed due to bad weather, and Gregg does not mention volunteering again]. In his next letter from Key West, dated July 2, he says the New Orleans had left Guantanamo a few days before, to coal and pick up troops. Gregg mentions receiving letters and newspapers from home in which his account of the actions in Cuba appeared: "Seems funny to see your own letter and sketch in paper so I will send three more sketches…. " [A fragment of a newspaper article, printing his sketch of the landing of troops at Baiquiri [Daiquiri], and parts of his letters home is included with this archive]. The letter also describes Guantanamo to his relatives at home: "Guantanamo is situated about 50 miles east of Santiago and like every other city in Cuba I guess is situated on a natural harbor. You will see by the sketch where the Marine's camp is located. Talk about pretty scenery! It is magnificent. The river runs back into the hills and the city is 4 miles up. The woods are full of Spaniards and the men are kept busy dodging bullets from ambush. The Spaniards fight like Indians, some times tying brush around their waists and creeping across the bare spaces, and it is then impossible to tell them from brush at night. So you see it is hard work to fight them. Our boys would have a poor show if it was not for the Cubans who are great wood craftsmen and are superior to them in cunning [?]. There are about 5000 Spanish troops in Guantanamo. Every day some of them give themselves up and tell sad tales of hunger and suffering...." He also mentions that the doctor on board is named Cudjaro, "a Brazilian, we also have an assistant-surgeon named Coats and he is fine. The other dr. keeps us on the jump all the time." Gregg's last letter from Cuba, on July 11 reports that the Spanish flag has been hauled down and Cervera run out of Santiago. The New Orleans was alongside the Oregon all day and Gregg got to go on board for a celebration: "They have a band on board made up of the crew and they all went on to the coal schooner and we had a fine concert. Several fellows sang, I danced and done Hypnotism and made a hit with the officers and crew.... Our captain says that if we are not in the flying squadron that goes to Spain he will resign his commission and every man will desert just as quick as the war is over if he leaves this ship. I don't believe 2 out of ten of the men will ever stay 24 hrs after we get to port. I’ll never desert if I have to stay here fifteen years. The Iowa has a very hard name I am sorry to say on account of Evans. He has made a very poor showing always in action being behind some other ship. The Oregon sank the Vizcayo and Cristobal Colon and the Gloucester sank the two torpedo boats. I will make a sketch of each boat when we go down and you can see how they were blown up and how they lay. We expect to go to Porto Rico (sic) as soon as we are done coaling if we are not put into the flying squadron.... I was struck by a piece of bursting shell on left hand on first finger making quite a wound, will leave large scar.” Gregg's next letter is written from New Orleans, Louisiana on May 29, 1899. His ship is headed for Pensacola, and then on to join Sampson's fleet. He mentions attending an African American church service in New Orleans where the preacher exhorted the congregation to shout and "get on an inspiration and when they got one they nearly raised the roof... [and] tried to see how bad they could tear up their clothes." He felt he had gotten well acquainted with the city and liked its people, but that the city itself "is very bad [with] poor drainage and dirty streets." The last letter in the group is written from Manila on May 31, 1900: “Nothing new has happened since I last wrote you except the death of Lieut. Elliott. He died on the – and was buried from the ship with military burial. I worked with the embalmers on fixing him up and had quite a lesson in anatomy. It was the first burial of the kind I have ever seen and it was most beautiful." He also mentions some of the difficulties in waging war in tropical conditions: "We are in quite a serious fix at present. Manufacturers of cordite powder do not guarantee safety at a temperature above 100°F but at present our magazines register from 140 to 150°F. A board of survey has been aboard and can find no way of ventilating them…. There will be a second Maine disaster if they don't get her away before it gets any warmer…. If all goes well I will be home next spring."
According to the records of the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Gregg enlisted in the navy in Brooklyn, NY on March 31, 1898 and was discharged from duty on May 16, 1901. He contracted malarial fever and other ailments that caused him to seek treatment at the disabled veterans hospitals in the midwest. According to the 1910 Census he was also a nurse at the National Military Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers at Leavenworth, Kansas.