The Cordelia Hagen letters consist of four incoming letters to Cordelia, including 3 from her brother Wyatt and 1 from a friend, Will Bruck. The two men were serving in the 20th Kansas Infantry regiment near Manila just after the Spanish-American War.
Wyatt Hagen focused on his daily activities and military duties, including training and the anticipation of overseas service, during a posting in San Francisco (October 16, 1898). After his arrival in the Philippines, he described life in the field, including discussions of the impact of diseases on the troops and of the unconventional native methods for curing ailments (January 20, 1899). Hagen's correspondence also includes lengthy accounts of trench warfare, in which he participated for several weeks in early 1899, and other military engagements against native insurgents (February 20, 1899). Will Bruck, a friend of Cordelia, wrote the final letter (April 18, 1899). He echoed Wyatt Hagen's descriptions of life in Manila and expressed cynicism about what he saw as exaggerated newspaper reports. According to him, one particularly lauded California regiment "did less than any other [regiment] on the island."