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Hull, Joseph E. (Spanish-American War correspondence)
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Content Description
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Contributing Institution: Center for American War Letters Archives
    Title: Joseph E. Hull Spanish-American War correspondence
    source: Gordon, Bruce
    Creator: Hull, Joseph Evan, Private, b. 1879
    Identifier/Call Number: 2017.106.w.r
    Physical Description: .08 Linear feet (1 folder)
    Date (inclusive): 1898 June 30 - 1905 June 30
    Abstract: This collection contains six correspondence written by Pvt. Joseph E. Hull, USA to Laura B. Felter during the Spanish-American War. Also included are two correspondence written to Laura from friends.
    Language of Material: English .
    Container: Spanish American War 1
    Container: 5
    Container: 1

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Bruce Gordon.


    This collection is arranged chronologically.

    Biographical / Historical

    Private Joseph Evan Hull, United States Army (b. 1/6/1879) was born in Clay County, Missouri. He served with Company A, 3rd Missouri Volunteers in 1898 and was discharged on November 7. He was then enlisted into the United States Army on December 20 in Kansas City, Missouri and served as a private for three years, with overseas service in the Philippines, until his discharge on December 19, 1901.
    Laura B. Felter was 19 years old in 1898, according to one letter, and lived in a town called Smithton, West Virginia which no longer exists. Information about the town's location is scarce, but it may be on or near the site of the current town of Smithville (conjecture, according to some online sources). How Pvt. Hull and Miss Felter came to know each other is unclear, as it is made clear through the correspondence that the two had never met in person. Hull passed away in Mexico on August 12, 1944 (Ancestry.com).

    Preferred Citation

    [Item title / description; Box "n" / Folder "n"], Joseph E. Hull Spanish-American War correspondence (2017.106.w.r), Center for American War Letters Archives, Chapman University, CA.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Content Description

    This collection contains six correspondence written by Pvt. Joseph E. Hull, USA to Laura B. Felter during the Spanish-American War. Also included are two correspondence written to Laura from friends. It is clear in one of the early letters that at least one letter is missing from the collection, and there are two empty envelopes, arranged chronologically, as well as letters without envelopes.
    Pvt. Hull, or "Evan" first wrote to Laura while serving with the Missouri Volunteers and stationed at Camp Alger in Falls Church, Virginia. He told her about force marches and listed everything they carried with them, including their "dog tents" and how two men would button theirs together to make one sleeping area for the both of them. They marched with the 3rd Missouri Regiment (his own), the 2nd Tennessee and a Rhode Island regiment. He expected the president to visit given their proximity to Washington, DC and said that another regiment had already left for Cuba. His unit had received orders to go to Cuba, and later to Puerto Rico, both of which were false and they ended up marching back north through Burke Station, Clifton Station, Manassas, Camp Meade, and Thoroughfare Gap before heading to Middleton, Pennsylvania where he expected to be discharged.
    At this time, one of his letters was written on paper with a letterhead, matching the envelope, with a drawing that said "Remember the Maine," fighting for Cuba and the text of the April 19, 1898 congressional resolution demanding that Spain withdraw from Cuba. He also began his first letter calling Laura friend, later calling her darling and signing "true love," though they had never seen each other. He had sent a photo but had yet to receive one from her, and in his letter dated December 8, 1898 he mentions hoping to get one and hoping that Santa Claus visits her at Christmas.
    The next letter was not written until September 19, 1900, now with the US Army in Manila, Philippines. His unit, Company I, 20th US Infantry, landed on February 23, 1899 and arrived in Manila on March 19. Because it has been a long time, he reverted back to calling her friend instead of darling, and Miss Felter instead of Laura. He describes Manila and his job as a policeman, dealing with "robbers and thieves" though he has not seen much actual fighting with the Spanish. He did, however, mention that 42 Americans were killed or wounded at Santa Cruz the other day, just 30 miles up the bay.
    On February 19, 1901, Pvt. Hull had moved to San Nicolas on February 5 and is no longer a policeman. He gives details of where his regiment has spread and how many men are at each location across the island of Luzon, with the rest of his company at Laoag just north of his location. In San Nicolas, there are only 20 men with him, plus 40 native police, to secure the village of ten thousand people, though he says these "Ilocanos" are more loyal and have superior customs to the "Tagalos." In response to Laura's letter, he says that he is not interested in the women there, saying he "never had love for an American nigger and much less for these." He also briefly mentions the election, though he did not pay attention which is interesting for a soldier in overseas war conditions.
    The last two letters were written from Folsom, West Virginia and Smithton to Laura (the second while she was in Burg City) in 1904 and 1905 respectively. They were written by friends of hers asking how she is doing.

    Conditions Governing Use

    There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Gordon, Bruce