William Crouse, of the USS CONCORD

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Contributed by Randolph Flood; Transcribed by Jack L. McSherry, Jr.
Biography of William Crouse ||| Letter from William Crouse


The following letter is dated January 29, 1898, just over a month since the official end of the Spanish American War. The letter was written by William Crouse, a water tender aboard the USS CONCORD.

Biography of William Crouse:

The following article provides some background information on Mr. Crouse. This article appears in the same newspaper as the letter, below:

Was with Dewey on Board the Concord – William Crouse, His Name

Amid the excitement and rejoicing over Dewey’smagnificent victory at Manila, Franklin Countians will be interested to learn that a native of the county took part in the battle.  William Crouse left his home in Fannettsburg in 1886.  After working for four years in various parts of the west and south as a printer in Kansas City, and a miner in Mexico, and Colorado, he went to California and in November, 1890, enlisted in the United States navy, as a printer on board the “San Francisco”.  His first trip was to Chili during the Chilean war where he witnessed the battle of Placilla, which resulted in a victory for the Congressional forces.  His ship, the “San Francisco” returned to California in the fall of 1891.  After a winter (91-92) at Honolulu the “San Francisco” was ordered on a fifteen thousand mile trip to take part in the naval review at New York.  Crouse’s time being nearly expired about the time of the review, he was sent back to Mare’s Island, California, by way of Panama.  He re-enlisted in “93, on the Charleston,” and on that boat made his first trip to China, arriving there in the fall of ’94.  The “Charleston” remained in the Orient during the Chinese-Japanese war.  Mr. Crouse witnessed all the important naval battles of the struggle and on the “Charleston”  entered Wei-Hai-Wei the day it surrendered to the Japanese.  The “Charleston” was disabled about this time and lay at Nagasaki, Japan, for about ten months awaiting repairs.  Upon his return to California, in the Summer of “96, Crouse re-enlisted for a second time, was assigned to duty on board the “Concord”, and after a trip to Alaska, started the second time for China, in January, ’98.  The last letter received from him, at his home,  was written in March last, in which he says:  “They are preparing to fight the Spanish”, but seemed to think the war scare, rather a joke.

His friends are now anxiously awaiting definite news from Dewey, as it has been reported that the “Concord” was damaged in the fight.  Mr. Crouse’s mother, Mrs. Susan Baer, lives with her daughter, Mrs. Henderson, at 487 Broad Street, Chambersburg.  His brother, Amos, lives at Fannettsburg, and John at Willow Hill.  He is thirty-three years of age, and has served eight years continuously in the navy.

Amos Crouse has in his possession twenty pieces of money of as many different Oriental nations sent from time to time by his sailor brother."

The letter:

The following letter from Will Crouse who is serving his country with Dewey and is on the ship “Concord”, was received by his brother Amos, of Fannettsburg, a few days ago.

Manila,  Philippine Islands, Jan., 23, 1899.

Dear Bro:  Your letter was received a few days ago, always glad to hear from home and to learn that you are getting along all right.  I suppose you are having cold weather back in Penna. Now.  Wish we had some of it here.  We are almost roasted.  Another 10 months here will just about finish us, the heat is so great.

We are continually on the watch with steam up ready to move at a moments notice.  This is caused by the insurgents being unruly.  They want us to leave the Island.  Aguinaldo says they will fight.  He has about 30,000 troops around Manila and refuses to lay down their arms. It may not come to a fight, yet we have to be on the watch and ready to move to a good position in case they attack the city.

I don’t wonder much at the Filipinos making a kick.  They were promised reforms by our government; but instead they are getting worse treatment than they received from the Spanish.  The Spanish scale of taxation is still carried out by our people, and  Gen. Otis has introduced some reforms that are very offensive to the natives.  He has stopped cock fighting and gambling.  These being their principal pleasures they are very sore about it.  Five years from now might be long enough to bring about reforms on that line among this people.  Better commence such reforms at home among our enlightened folks first.

If this winds up in a fight.  I believe the U.S. troops will be fighting nations here for the next 20 years.  It will be a regular Indian warfare.

I have been to Ilo Ilo and Canton since I last wrote you.  Canton is second largest city in China,  it contains 1,600,000 in the city and 30,000 more live in sand pans, or small boats on the river.   The city is 90 miles up the river from Hong Kong and lies in a beautiful, level country.  Stopped there 15 days.  Ilo Ilo is on the island of Panay one of our group.  It is the next largest seaport in these islands, and is 360 miles south of Manila.  The Spanish were still in possession when we were there, but the Fillipinos  have taken it since.  The “Baltimore” and three transports with soldiers went down to take it.  They have not landed yet.

“Mr. Crouse closes his letter by making inquiry about his old associates around Fannettsburg.  And persons who are now grown into manhood and womanhood he seems to have still in his mind as little boys and girls as they were when he used to be among them”.

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Undated newspaper article

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