Lot 359: ALS, twelve pages in pencil on six sheets, 5.5 x 8.75, no date [circa July 1898]. Letter from Edwin Cole to his wife describing in detail the Battle of San Juan Hill, in part: "It is with devout thankfulness that I am able to write to you for my time had certainly very nearly come the other day. It was simply frightful, and we were sacrificed by trying to do against modern effective small arms what was formerly considered only a last resort. Take the famous Lookout Mountain and the enemy had rifles that could be fired but twice a minute. Our enemy had long range rifles which were fired but twice a minute. Yet we were ordered without any attempt at flanking or maneuvering to go up and take it. We started at three in the morning and about seven came up with two of our guns in position and saw the first of it. They were firing and the enemy was answering them and the shells were bursting right over them. We halted about fifty yards away and saw several men knocked over and then we marched across their line of fire right under the bursting shells.…In trying to get through the fence I was caught by my sword belt and for thirty seconds was the only man in sight of the Spaniards and it is a miracle that I was not hit twenty times. A soldier reached up and unbuckled my belt and I got through. About ten minutes afterward we went through the fence and after them. Capt. Wetherill went through our opening and I followed him. Some of the men did not come and I turned back and yelled at them and swore at them and stayed at that fence holding apart the wires for several minutes. When I turned to the fence I saw Wetherill and 30 seconds afterward I missed him and we never got a chance to look for him until 24 hrs. afterward Atkinson found his body. He was shot through the forehead and did not go a yard after he got through the fence. I ran on up to the top of the hill. When I got there the enemy was in full retreat.…The next morning bright and early it started and kept up till dark and we had to hug the ground all day while a stream of bullets never ceasing screamed over and every once in a while a big shell would scream and shriek along and twice they burst directly over our heads throwing fragments all among us, fortunately hitting no one. Just before sundown it rained very hard and we had to lay flat and take it. At sundown it stopped only to be renewed by an hour of terrific firing, about nine o' clock and then it ceased and wet through with no cover but a piece of wet canvas and lying in the mud cold and raw I went to sleep and slept soundly onto be awakened at daybreak by the same firing.…I have been through one of the most, if not the most terrible battle in history and I never want to hear another shot. The courage displayed by all was simply sublime, but the position is a terribly difficult one to take and anyone who says the Spaniards will not fight is a terrible liar.…Poor Truman was shot through the spine and died today. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think of Wetherill. Col. Egbert though shot right over the heart, through the lung will in all probability recover. All the others will get well with the possible exception of Robertson. Walter Gros, Purphy, Torrey were all shot in the leg. Walker through bone which was not shattered and Simons flesh wound in arm. Chas. Byrne and Hunt were shot through clothing but were not touched." Also included is an original red and yellow 30.5 x 26.5 flag from the Philippine theater retrieved by an American officer stationed in Bataan. In very good condition, with intersecting folds, light soiling, wrinkling, and handling wear, and some of the writing light. Accompanied by an early typescript and several letters written to Cole, circa 1912–1919, in his capacity as chairman of the Department of Military Science at MIT. The Battle of San Juan Hill was fought on July 1, 1898, near Santiago, Cuba. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt led his Rough Riders on the charge up the hill, and although the regiment took many casualties, they managed to capture the Spanish stronghold at the top.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 466
Wednesday, 9th December 2015
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