Spanish-American War
2nd Regiment West Virginia Infantry

Charleston Daily Gazette
August 20, 1898

Regiment Has Gone.

Will Arrive At Middletown This Morning.

Camp Broken Yesterday Morning At Seven O'Clock in Rain and Mud. Four Sections of Trains Necessary. Incidents of the Departure.

The Second regiment has gone. At seven o'clock yesterday morning, in the midst of a rain that would have dampened the spirits of any men except American soldiers eager to go to the front, the village of tents at Camp Atkinson dropped to the ground; and four hours later the officers and men of the Second West Virginia volunteer, happy and expectant, were on their way to Middletown, Pa., to see soldier life in a larger camp.

For six days - from the time the order to move was received last Saturday - this event had been the thought and the wish uppermost in the minds of every one of those thirteen hundred men. They had talked of it; they had longed for it; they had hoped and they had doubted; like so many children who had been promised an outing but were fearing that at the last minute it would be denied them. Not until general - the order for breaking camp - was sounded yesterday morning, did they begin to feel a definite assurance; and not until the engine went puffing out with the first section did their hearts beat with absolute certainty.

Camp Atkinson was no place for sluggards yesterday morning. At four o'clock the bugle blew the most welcome reveille ever sounded in the ears of the men of the Second, and they sprang from their soldier beds, hard and damp from rain and mud, half hour later, before the cocks had begun to crow in Charleston, these men were at their breakfast; and then the final preparations were begun.

At seven o'clock all that had to be done, so far as breaking camp was concerned, was to strike the tents. For this purpose the men had taken positions; the signal was given; there was a crash; and the village of tents that had for weeks sheltered over a thousand men, had vanished. On the ground lay the remains of it, mud-bespattered and seeming almost ghastly in the cloudy dawn. Unfortunately, the rain that fell during the night had soaked the tents, and in this condition they had to be packed up and carried to the baggage train.

The tents and other baggage having been removed, all that remained for the men to do was to strap on their knapsacks, shoulder their guns, and wait for the blessed moment when the loading of them on the train would begin.

The loading and embarking of the regiment was remarkably devoid of the proverbial hitches. Though two hours elapsed from the time when the first section arrived until the last section pulled out, nothing occurred or was omitted that might have caused any unnecessary delay. Everybody had been assigned his particular duty and station and knew just what to do and where to go.

Each of the passenger sections consisted of fourteen cars - twelve day coaches, one sleeper and a baggage car. Three cars were devoted to the use of each company, and the sleepers were occupied by the commissioned officers. With the officers on the third section were the following ladies, wives of officers: Mrs. Casteel, Mrs. Elliott, Mrs. Henshaw, Mrs. Archer, Mrs. O'Brien, Mrs. Hutson, Mrs. Willis, Mrs. Foster, and Mrs. Kelly, wife of the chaplain.

Each company took with it in its cars a day's rations; and the officers' cars were similarly supplied. In each company car was placed a guard consisting of a corporal and two enlisted men to prevent the ingress or egress of any of the men.

The regiment will, unless some accident should occur, arrive at its destination some time this morning. Each section, on arriving, will bivouac at some convenient place until the arrival of the succeeding sections, and will thus remain until Colonel Casteel has reported to the commanding general of the second corps, now encamped at Middletown. The regiment will then go into camp and be brigaded with regiments from other States.

That the presence of the regiment will be missed by the people of Charleston and that its continued presence here would have meant a great deal, not only for the financial but for the social interests of Charleston, there is no doubt; and it was only natural that the people of Charleston should desire to have it kept here. But on the other hand, there is no doubt that its departure from Camp Atkinson was for the good of the regiment. For, while the location of the camp was an ideal one, while the men were being fed at less expense than is required at nearly all of the other camps in the country, and while they were being well treated by the people of Charleston; still, with all these advantages, they lacked opportunities which were necessary to the making of a good regiment and which can only be secured in a large camp. Moreover, in a large camp, they stand more chance of being called out for garrison duty. "The people of Charleston have treated us well," said one of the officers just before leaving; "they have, in fact, treated us with unusual consideration. We feel grateful to them for their kindness. But we think it is for our interest to go."

This expresses the sentiment of the officers generally, and of the men as a whole. They were not ungrateful, but they wanted to go. They have gone, and they will be missed. They were orderly and well behaved; they were superbly disciplined; they were gentlemen. They may never have an opportunity to face an enemy; but if they do, they will face it nobly to the end.

Camp Atkinson is now part of the history of Charleston, and one of the prides of its past. No stigma attaches to its name. No lady was ever afraid to visit it; no lady, and no man, ever had cause to regret the visit. Always clean, orderly and quiet, it afforded a pleasant evening retreat alike for the summer girl, the tired matron, and the weary business man. From the time that it was established here, on the 27th day of last June, scarcely an evening passed, unless rain interfered, that it was not visited by hundreds of people, in carriages, on foot and on bicycles.

On those who, no doubt out of habit, drove to Glenwood yesterday evening, the scene that met them at the end of their drive must have produced a strange impression. Where, twenty hours before, had been visible the bustle of a thousand men, lay only a wreck - a field of mud strewn with rubbish - a deserted village - the remains of what had been pretty Camp Atkinson.

Military and Wartime