[Collection of Letters and Photographs Documenting the Military Experiences of Henry D. Wilson, an American Navy Passed Assistant Surgeon, Including a Collection of Photographs Taken During the Spanish-American War]
[Various locations onboard ship, and in Cuba and Puerto Rico: 1896-1900]. Nineteen autograph letters, signed, with original transmittal envelopes, plus thirty-one photographs and three real photo postcards. Letters with original mailing folds and light wear. Photographs and real photo postcards with minor edge wear and few lightly chipped, a handful of images with minor fading. Very good. Item #1575
A collection of letters and photographs memorializing the military experiences of Henry D. Wilson, an American Navy surgeon serving before, during, and after the Spanish-American War. Military records indicate that Wilson entered the U.S. Navy as an Assistant Surgeon in 1892 and in 1895 became a Passed Assistant Surgeon, a title that indicated Wilson would become a ship's Surgeon as soon as a post became available. Most of the letters here were written home to Wilson's wife, Nellie in New Jersey, with two letters from his wife back to him. Wilson writes from various Navy ships docked at locations such as New Bedford, Massachusetts; Norfolk, Virginia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Havana, Cuba; Chicago, Illinois; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Mackinac Island and Harbor Springs, Michigan. He covers his activities as a stamp collector, medical issues onboard ship, duck hunting in Argentina, the couple's personal finances, playing golf, getting new glasses, the movements of his fellow military colleagues, and much more. At one point, he writes that he does not particularly care for most of the men under his care. One of Wilson's more interesting letters contains a description of a day spent in Chicago. Towards the end of his service time, upon arriving in Kenosha, Wilson and his ship are given the "freedom of the city" by the mayor. His wife's two letters to him, signed simply, "Wife" and both from December of 1896, contain mostly generic news of home activities and her health status. She writes briefly that she cannot go to New York because of the busy holiday crowds.
Even more interesting than Wilson's letters is the small but informative collection of photographs that accompany them. Most of the photographs capture scenes in Cuba and Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War. Several of the photographs are captioned in the negative, and provide a flavor of the subjects and settings in Cuba and Puerto Rico. The captions read, "Red barn Caminera, Cuba," "Bluejackets ashore in Caminera, Cuba," "Water front Caminera, Cuba," "Street scene Guantanamo City, Cuba," "Venus Hotel Guantanamo Cuba," "Flat canteen & Vicinity Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," "Suburbs of Guantanamo City, Cuba," "Show time at rifle range Guantanamo Bay," "U.S.S. Utah coaling at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," "Cuban Police," "Camp Robison, U.S.N. Camp Cale U.S.M.C. Culebra, P.R.," "Culebra P.R. & Vicinity," "Warf & Seine Bay Culebra, P.R.," and "Battle Fleet at Culebra, P.R." There are also several shipboard shots, some of which are captioned, such as "Wrestlers of the U.S.S. Utah," "Boxers of U.S.S. Utah," "Bag inspection Eng. Force," "Giving honors to the Admiral," and "Admiral inspecting 3rd Div." Three of the pictures depict shipwrecks of the Honda in California. The three real photo postcards feature the U.S.S. Utah at Miraflores Locks (two copies of the same image) and a "Barber Shop Culebra Island."