Saturday, March 2, 2013

"I want no commission."

In April 1898 the United States went to war, and Ima’s father, J. S. Hogg, wanted to be in it. Cuba’s rebellion against Spanish control had finally brought the U.S. to a declaration of war against Spain. In February the United States battleship Maine, on a visit to Cuba, had sunk after a mysterious explosion in Havana Harbor. Two hundred sixty-six American sailors were killed, and many Americans were furious. President McKinley signed a document demanding Spain’s disengagement in Cuba on April 20. Spain refused, and the Spanish-American War was on.
Three days later,  J. S. Hogg age 47,  wrote a letter to his friend, Texas Governor Charles Culberson:                 

                                                                        April 23, 1898
Dear Governor:
         My services are at the command of my country for and during the war with Spain.
         Further discussion of the policy of the unfortunate measure is now out of place. The conflict is on and every self-respecting available man must, from impulses of pride, of honor, of patriotism, stand ready to place his business, his property, his life, at his country’s disposal, to the end that our flag shall not suffer dishonor. For the want of a military education I know my unfitness in any other capacity than that of a private soldier whose duty is to obey orders from those who may have the authority to give them.
         I want no commission. I aspire to no office. With those who are to carry the muskets to do execution I stand ready to go in line, shoulder to shoulder, and to share their fate whenever and wherever you or the recruiting officer you may name shall see fit to assign me.
         At command, Your Obt. Srv’t.,
                                                      J. S. Hogg.

But some weeks later the portly ex-Governor wrote to a friend, J. F. Banks in Kingsland, Texas, who was evidently of a similar age and girth: “Men of our sort and weight are excluded under the army rules and regulations from participating in the present war with Spain. . . . It seems that vigorous fat men over forty-five are not wanted by the government.”

         Will Hogg, age 23, hoped to get a commission to serve in the U.S. Navy, but he did not get it.

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