Knox College Library

Special Collections and Archives

Back to Knox County in the Military

Galesburg's Black Men in the Spanish-American War

This article appeared in the Galesburg Republican-Register 24 Oct 1898.


Col. John R. Marshall, of the Eighth Illinois Regiment to which a number of the Galesburg colored young men belong, has written home a letter regarding his regiment which will be read with deep interest here. He says:

"No regiment has done better and the men are doing their duty like regulars. I have no trouble whatever with officers or men. Everyone is trying to do his whole duty. We are trying to win the plaudits not only of the citizens of Illinois, but of the whole nation. The health of the regiment is a good deal better. This morning ninety-three reported at sick call. Only thirty-six are in the hospital. Very nearly every man has been down with the fever. I have just got out of bed, having had the malarial fever. I was laid up for two weeks. Our hospital service is very good and our three surgeons have done good work. Dr. Bluit of Quincy, Ill., is a contract surgeon. He has reported, and is quite a help to the regiment for the others were nearly worked down. I did not ask for assistance. The War department advertised for surgeons to go to Cuba, and Dr. Bluit answered. He was ordered to come to Washington, and was assigned to the Eighth Illinois.

I have no complaints to make. We are willing to endure the hardships of the army life without a murmur. I know everything is trying to be done by the departments at Washington to help the troops in the island. Our rations are better, for now we receive fresh beef on the hoof from America. Potatoes will not keep. They spoil before they reach here. All of our vegetables are canned goods, but of good quality. I hear of no complaints that the men have not enough to eat. They are becoming better satisfied, and are willing to remain here if their country needs their services.

From all reports the Eighth Illinois is the only volunteer regiment in this province that is able to govern itself and is expecting every day to take a station in another part of the province. The men are very proud of their records and the way the Illinois press speaks of them. The claim has been made by some that the colored soldier is riotous, undisciplined and insubordinate to civil and military law; that he has no respect for his colored superior officer, and that in many cases he is a menace to life and property. This I brand as false. Never have men in camp or battle given better support or have been more loyal to their superior officers than the men of the Eighth Illinois Infantry."

This is a splendid report. What have the yellow journals of the State to say to this? They have been denouncing the government for allowing 'American troops to remain in Cuba and rot.' Are there any evidences of anything of the kind in Col. Marshall's letter? It will afford the people of Illinois pleasure to know that their colored soldiers in Cuba are so well cared and provided for."