ERLE C. TAYLOR, MARCH 2, 1899

LETTER FROM ERLE TAYLOR

The soldier Boy Receives the Sad Tidings of His Brother's Death.

Death of Chaplain Leland of the First Tennessee - Other Notes of the Regiment.

IN BARRACKS AT ILOILO,
March 2, 1899.

My Dear Mother and Homefolks:-

I hardly know how to begin this letter, and am afraid I shall make a failure in my attempt to comfort. I have been thinking all along that I would be the happiest boy in the world when I reached home, but since Sunday night at nine o'clock I I have not felt so. Mail was received that night, and in it three letters from sister, telling me of the sickness and then the death of my dear brother. I could hardly stand it; It was it terrible blow, and I knew how grieved you all were. I wish it had been your baby boy instead of your manly Burt. Since Burt has been taken from you I want to get out of this disease infected islands and return to you at home, for I know you need me. Then too I know you couldn't stand it if your other boy should die or be killed here. The only thing I think of when I march out to attack the insurgents is that I must return safely for mother's sake. I am not afraid of their bullets, nor am I afraid to die, but my love for you makes me want to live.

O, where will my brother be when I reach home? I will miss him when I get off the train. I will miss him always and every where. Who will take his placeóno one can fill Burt's place. Let us all try to so live that when we have lived our time on earth we can go to our Burt's new and beautiful home where he will welcome us with out-stretched arms. He will watch for papa, mama and all of us. So don't grieve dear ones, we'll see him again, and then there will be no more partings.

I read the HERALD just before dinner and read Burt's memorial service through eyes almost too dim to see; 'twas sweet and sad. Sister said she wanted us to spend part of the money that comes to us in beautifying Burt's grave, and erecting a nice monument. Yes, sister, if I don't get home in time you can use it all if you wish, and let the monument be a beautiful one. I will look after his grave when I get heme, for I am going to stay with you. You can raise, lots of pretty flowers and you, mama, can arrange them and you and I can take them and place them on his grave. I wish I was with you all now; I am glad I way not there when Burt was taken away. I don't miss him here like you do at home. I am not accustomed to seeing him here. Yet I will realize it when I get home and look in vain for his familiar face and form and listen for his voice. But I must write of something else, for I fear I only grieve you more.

Sunday afternoon was a sad time for us. Our Chaplain died of smallpox Saturday night in a small bamboo hut on the river bank in front of our barracks. His coffin was rudely constructed of planks, taken from one of the partially burnt buildings, and even the charcoal had not been planed off. Around his coffin was wrapped a piece of white domestic. His hearse was an old two-wheeled cart with a water buffalo hitched to it. His grave is in a forlorn place. Only about twenty of the boys were present, on account of the nature of the disease. Every one said it was the saddest funeral he ever witnessed.

The Insurgents still shoot at us. We were called out last night and marched to Jaro where the insurgents had made an attack on our outposts. To day Co. F was armed with axes instead of guns and attacked the bamboo in front of trenches and many of the enemy fell in the charge. Breastworks of sand and logs are now being built. We go on a three days march to-morrow, but I will send you some Manila papers with such news. We get wet through our clothes with perspiration and are as hungry as wolves after such marches. We have captured several brass cannon, and Col. Childress said he thought he would have one melted and made into medals for each of the boys.

Gen. Miller asked Gen. Otis for three regiments of infantry. Gen. Otis sent him the First Tennessee, with this letter: "I send you the Tennesseans. Each battallion is equal to any other volunteer regiment I have here. Turn them aloose and I am sure they well take the city." (Iloilo) A compliment, wasn't it?

We have no stamps here, so you will have to pay the postage on my letters for awhile.

My love to all my friends, especially those so kind to Burt. My tender love to Cousin Loutie.

Mother dear, be comforted with the knowledge that Burt is with God. Do not worry about me. I may be on my way home by the time this reaches you.

Know, that with you in prayer. love and sympathy is

Your loving boy,

ERLE C TAYLOR

The Columbia herald., April 14, 1899, Page 2
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