The Little War of Private Post: The Spanish-American War Seen up Close

The Little War of Private Post: The Spanish-American War Seen up Close

The Little War of Private Post: The Spanish-American War Seen up Close

The Little War of Private Post: The Spanish-American War Seen up Close

Synopsis

Charles Johnson Post (1873-1956) received not one but two handmade red flannel bellybands for protection against tropical fevers when he enlisted as a private in 1898 with the 71st New York Infantry. He was paid a monthly wage of $13.00, with an additional $1.30 combat pay per month. Setting off for what he later termed "the little wars that are the mere trivia of history", he came back to write "a mild chronicle of many little men who were painting on a big canvas, and of their little epic routines of life, with a common death at their elbow. It is only the little, but keen, tribulations that made the epic routine of an old-fashioned war".

Excerpt

The Spanish-American War of 1898 has received many nicknames, including "the splendid little war" and "the gentlemen's war." Perhaps it was a splendid little war to the correspondents who covered it from converted yachts and the commanders who directed it from hilltop observation posts. Charles Johnson Post, a private in the Seventy-first New York U.S. Volunteers who participated in the war's principal campaign, the attack on Santiago de Cuba, tells a very different story about that "splendid little war."

Post was born in New York City in 1873. He worked as a cartoonist in Philadelphia and New York and was with the Journal, a paper owned by William Randolph Hearst, when the USS Maine blew up. When the United States declared war on Spain, he enlisted eagerly in the Seventy-first New York and set out for adventure. Fortunately he took his sketchbooks and imagination along, and they never left him. After his return from Cuba, even years later, after he retired from government service, he recorded in images and in words what he had experienced. The resulting unique collection of approximately eighty pieces of combat art tells the story of the Santiago campaign from the viewpoint of a rifleman, an ordinary soldier. Sixteen of his paintings served as illustrations for The Little War of Private Post when it was originally published in 1960.

Post's regiment, the Seventy-first New York, was typical of the state units that constituted the vast majority of the three hundred thousand troops the United States mobilized for the war with Spain. An established New York National Guard regiment, it was mustered into U.S. service under President McKinley's first call for troops of April 23, 1898, to serve for two years or the duration of . . .

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