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
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
Know, that with you in prayer. love and sympathy is
Your loving boy,
ERLE C TAYLOR
The Columbia herald., April 14, 1899, Page 2