Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Calvin Mixter Papers, 1897-1903

Finding aid created by
Manuscript Division Staff

Summary Information
Title: Calvin Mixter papers
Creator: Campbell family
Inclusive dates: 1897-1903
Extent: 106 items (0.25 linear feet)
Abstract:
The Calvin Mixter papers are primarily comprised of seventy-five letters written from stateside military camps during the Spanish-American War. Mr. Mixter served as a drummer in the Fifth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1986. M-2264.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Calvin Mixter Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

In 1898, Calvin Mixter enlisted in the Fifth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment to serve his country in the Spanish-American War. A drummer in the regimental band, Mixter and his fellow volunteers were stationed at four locations between May 1898 and late March 1899, mustering in at Camp Wolcott in Gloucester, Mass., and then being transferred successively to Camp Dalton in South Framingham, Camp Meade in Middletown, Pa., and Camp Wetherill in Greenville, S.C. Assigned to the 1st Division, 2nd Army Corps throughout their enlistment, the regiment never made it to the theaters of action.

The soldiers of the Fifth Massachusetts Infantry were determined to serve their country honorably. Although most hoped to see action in the Caribbean, they were more than willing to fulfill their daily routines in the safer environs of camps in the United States, and according to Mixter, the regiment carried out its duties as well as any in the army. Accounts in the local newspapers chimed in, praising the Fifth for its efficiency. Their single moment of glory occurred in October, 1898, when they participated in the elaborate Peace Jubilee held in Philadelphia, a three-day celebration and parade featuring dozens of returning regiments and a small flotilla of warships. Mixter was elated to have been called on to play his drum before President McKinley and a crowd of several thousands.

While the fight eluded the Fifth, disease did not. Suffering from typhoid, malaria, or pneumonia, many soldiers seemed to spend more time recuperating in hospital or resting on furlough than they did in the ranks. The alarming rate of mortality in the camps caused not only grief but, in some cases, anger, particularly since some of the deaths appeared to be avoidable. Mixter was incensed when Nat Kieley, a private in Company E, died of typhus after the physician, Dr. Pearl, delayed admitting him to the hospital. According to Mixter, the doctor seemed more interested in riding horses and socializing with women than caring for the sick. After this incident, several soldiers requested that the doctor be brought up on charges.

Mixter, however, remained in fairly good health throughout his enlistment, allowing him to spend his free time visiting nearby cities. While stationed at Camp Meade, he often visited friends in Harrisburg, where he marveled at the electric trolleys, and at Camp Wetherill, he ventured into Greenville, which he considered "behind the time."

Interesting sights and small honors like marching in the Peace Jubilee did little to prevent the frustration of inactivity from creeping up on the soldiers of the Fifth, and in January, 1899, several petitioned for either foreign service or discharge. The military command objected to this initiative, and reduced the ranks of a few noncommissioned officers, including Mixter's friend, Will Mann. According to Mann, three or four other corporals denied signing the petition and were allowed to keep their stripes. The dissatisfaction they expressed stemmed mainly from their assignment to an apparently useless, behind-the-lines position, but it was certainly exacerbated by the spate of rumors about where the regiment would be sent. At some points, it seemed likely that they would be ordered to Puerto Rico or Cuba, but at other times, they appeared headed for more inactivity in Savannah or Augusta, Ga. The Boston Globe even reported that the Fifth would be discharged and sent home to Massachusetts. In the end, the Globe's report proved the most accurate, and in February, 1899, Colonel J. H. Whitney received a telegram ordering the discharge of the Fifth Regiment soldiers.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Calvin Mixter papers are primarily comprised of seventy-five letters written from stateside military camps during the Spanish-American War. Most were addressed to members of the family of William H. Campbell at his home in Massachusetts. These letters provide interesting accounts of routine military activities, such as dress parades, monthly inspections, and band rehearsals and marches. The collection also contains newspaper clippings, photographs, and miscellaneous items (including 2 military passes).

The collection documents not only the various rumors circulating at the military camps, but also how the regiment dealt with death and sickness. The high mortality from disease, much of it preventable, was a hot topic with Mixter and his fellow soldiers, and runs throughout the collection. Having remained healthy himself, Mixter was able to take several small trips in the vicinity of the camps, and in one letter, gives a fine description of Gettysburg and the battle that took place there during the Civil War.

The collection also contains numerous references to African-Americans, with whose culture Mixter seems to have had little direct experience. Mixter considered their church services "amusing," though he felt at least that they were "earnest." He and his friends easily fell into disparaging comments, such as Will Mann's comments of September, 1898, Frank B. Harmon's of November, 1898, or Mixter's own notice of a cook at Camp Meade who had been dismissed for stealing (October, 1898).

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • African Americans.
    • Greenville (S.C.)--Description and travel.
    • International Order of Oddfellows.
    • McKinley, William, 1843-1901.
    • Military camps--Pennsylvania.
    • Military camps--South Carolina.
    • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Description and travel.
    • Soldiers--Religious life.
    • Spanish-American War, 1898.
    • Spanish-American War, 1898--Health aspects.
    • Spanish-American War, 1898--Medical care.
    • Spanish-American War, 1898--Peace.
    • Spanish-American War, 1898--Songs and music.
    • Spartanburg (S.C.)--Description and travel.
    • Storms.
    • Typhus fever.
    • United States. Army--Bands.
    • United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 5th (1898-1899)
    • Women.
    Genre Terms:
    • Clippings (informational artifacts)
    • Military passes.
    • Photographs.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1 Folders   1-25
    Correspondence,  1897 May 18-1903 September 14 [series] (75 items)
    Box   1 Folder   26
    Miscellanea [series] (6 items)
    Box   1 Folder   27
    Newspaper clippings [series] (22 items)
    Box   1 Folder   28
    Photographs [series] (4 items)
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    Absence without leave
    • 23 August 1898; 28 August 1898; 20 September 1898
    African Americans
    • 25 September 1898; 30 September 1898; 13 October 1898; 16 October 1898; 29 October 1898; 9 November 1898; 28 November 1898; 15 January 1899
    Baseball
    • 23 May 1898
    Camps (Military)--Pennsylvania
    • passim
    Camps (Military)--South Carolina
    • passim
    Christmas
    • 22 December 1898; 1 January 1899
    Courts martial and courts of inquiry
    • 22 July 1898; 20 September 1898
    Drinking of alcoholic beverages
    • 27 July 1898; 20 September 1898
    Evangelistic work
    • 4 October 1898; 7 October 1898; 8 October 1898; 13 October 1898
    Fishing
    • 23 May 1898
    Football
    • 9 November 1898
    Fourth of July celebrations
    • 4 July 1898; 6 July 1898
    Funeral rites and ceremonies
    • 17 February 1899; 12 March 1899
    Gettysburg, Battle of, 1863
    • 5 October 1898
    Gloucester (Mass.)--Description and travel
    • 23 May 1898
    Greenville (S.C.)--Description and travel
    • 3 November 1898; 9 November 1898; 9 November 1898; 10 November 1898; 15 November 1898; 28 November 1898; 2 December 1898; 22 December 1898; 1 January 1899
    Harrisburg (Pa.)--Description and travel
    • 20 September 1898; 30 September 1898; 1 November 1898
    Hartford--(Conn.)--Description and travel
    • 7 April 1901
    International Order of Oddfellows
    • 25 October 1898; 29 October 1898; 9 November 1898; 25 January 1899; 11 February 1899; 12 March 1898; 15 March 1899
    Lincoln, James Rush
    • 28 November 1898
    Malaria
    • 25 September 1898; 13 October 1898
    McKinley, William, 1843-1901
    • 13 July 1898; 16 October 1898; 29 October 1898; 25 January 1899; 17 February 1899
    New Year
    • 1 January 1899
    Peace Jubilee (1898: Philadelphia, Pa.)
    • 13 October 1898; 19 October 1898; 20 October 1898; [October 1898]; 25 October 1898; 27 October 1898; 29 October 1898; 3 November 1898
    Philadelphia (Pa.)--Description and travel
    • 13 Ocotober 1898; 19 October 1898; 20 October 1898; [October 1898]; 25 October 1898; 27 October 1898; 29 October 1898; 3 November 1898
    Pneumonia
    • 3 November 1898; 7 March 1899
    Smith, Frank W.
    • 4 October 1898; 7 October 1898; 8 October 1898; 13 October 1898
    Soldiers--Recreation
    • passim
    Soldiers--Religious life
    • 6 July 1898; 28 August 1898; 8 October 1898; 13 October 1898; 16 October 1898; 3 November 1898; 9 November 1898; 15 January 1899
    Sons of Liberty
    • 20 October 1898; 15 March 1899
    Spartanburg (S.C.)--Description and travel
    • 20 October 1898; [October 1898]; 29 October 1898; 1 November 1898; 11 December 1898
    Storms
    • 6 July 1898; 18 August 1898; 23 August 1898; 19 October 1898; 17 February 1899; 7 March 1899
    Thanksgiving day
    • 23 November 1898; 28 November 1898; 2 December 1898
    Typhus fever
    • 20 September 1898; 25 November 1898; 7 October 1898; [Ocotber 1898]; 3 November 1898; 9 November 1898; 11 December 1898
    United States--History--Civil War--1861-1865--Veterans
    • 25 September 1898; 30 September 1898; 7 October 1898
    United States--History--War of 1898
    • passim
    United States--History--War of 1898--Health aspects
    • passim
    United States--History--War of 1898--Medical care
    • passim
    United States--History--War of 1898--Peace
    • 13 October 1898; 19 October 1898; 20 October 1898; [October 1898]; 25 Ocotober 1898; 27 October 1898; 29 October 1898; 3 November 1898
    United States--History--War of 1898--Songs and music
    • 18 May 1897; 13 July 1898; 18 July 1898; 3 August 1898; 10 August 1898; 18 August 1898; 28 August 1898; 3 November 1898; 28 November 1898; 2 December 1898; 11 December 1898; 16 December 1898; 22 December 1898; 1 January 1899; 25 January 1899; 5 February 1899; 12 March 1899; 22 March 1899; 5 August 1899
    United States. Army--Bands
    • passim
    United States. Army--Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 5th (1898-1899)
    • passim
    Vaccination
    • 18 July 1898
    Women
    • 28 August 1898; 9 November 1898; 20 November 1898; 21 November 1898; 28 November 1898