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Detail of Mosher letter

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An "Incident of Battle" in the Spanish-American War

On July 1, 1898, Theodore Mosher, a captain in the 22nd U.S. Infantry during the Spanish-American War, commanded Company G as it entered the Battle of El Caney in Cuba. He was badly wounded in the fighting, and lost consciousness. He did not regain consciousness until a few days later, when he awoke in a field hospital close to the site of the conflict.

Mosher letterMosher soon realized that some army supplies he had taken with him into battle were missing. Specifically, he had lost a field glass and its case, which had been the property of the Signal Service. A field glass is a binocular device used to view distant objects. Mosher made a good faith effort to find the glass and case, but could not locate them.

The Americans won the Battle of El Caney against Spanish soldiers. On the same day, the first of July, the Americans also won a victory at the Battle of San Juan Hill, in which Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders made their famous charge. The Spanish troops in Cuba laid down their arms on July 17, 1898.

Mosher letterOn March 7, 1899, months after the war had ended, Mosher wrote a letter from the Portland Hotel in Washington, D.C. to E. O. C. Ord II, 1st Lieutenant and Acting Signal Officer of the 22nd U.S. Infantry at Ft. Crook, Nebraska. Ord had issued the glass and case to Mosher on April 12, 1898. Mosher attached a letter in triplicate claiming that neither he nor Ord should be held accountable for the loss of the items because they had been lost in the heat of combat. He called the loss “an incident of battle.” (Box 4, Folder 24, Ord Family Papers 2). Unfortunately, the outcome of Mosher's appeal is not documented in the Ord Family papers.

E.O.C. Ord II was the son of Edward Otho Cresap Ord (E.O.C. Ord I), a Union general in the American Civil War. The elder Ord won the battle of Dranesville, Virginia early in the war. He was also present with General Ulysses S. Grant at the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House. The younger Ord was a longtime soldier like his father.

The Booth Family Center houses the Ord Family papers: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

--Scott Taylor, Manuscripts Archivist

August 31, 2017