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About William Herman Wilhelm

About the author: William Herman Wilhelm (1867 — 1901), American officer. Captain, Company B, 21st U.S. Infantry. As the University of Pennsylvania puts it,

[He was] born in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, the son of James Henry and Martha Weaver Wilhelm. He was educated at Ulrich’s Preparatory School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and then went on to Lehigh University in 1883. Wilhelm left Lehigh for the U.S. Military Academy and graduated from there in 1888. When war was declared against Spain, he became aide-de-camp to Brigadier-General Simon Snyder and accompanied him with the Army of Occupation to Cuba. In 1899 Wilhelm was promoted to Captain with orders to proceed to the Philippines and was assigned to the 21st Regiment of Infantry as Captain in Company B. The material in the diary details Wilhelm’s experiences fighting in the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). According to Weaver, Wilhelm was mortally wounded in action near Lipa, Batangas Province, Philippines on June 10, 1901. Captain Wilhelm died June 12, 1901. His body was returned to Mauch Chunk via Manila for burial…

Bill Thayer of the University of Chicago reproduced an article and photograph from the Thirty-Third Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 9th, 1902, about William Herman Wilhelm. It chronicles his military career as follows:

He graduated June 11, 1888, thirty-fifth in a class of forty-four, and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Tenth Infantry.

He was on graduating leave at Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, to September 28, 1888, when he joined his company at Fort Crawford, Colorado, and served at that post to April, 1889; with his regiment (Battalion Adjutant, April to September, 1889, and Acting Quartermaster and Commissary, September 5 to November, 1889) in the field in Oklahoma to April, 1890; Fort Reno, Indian Territory, to May, 1890; with company in Oklahoma to August, 1890, being in command of company July 23 to August 14, 1890; on duty with Indian scouts at Fort Reno, Oklahoma, from August 16, 1890, to December 31, 1890, and commanding Indian scouts at Fort Reno and in the field January 1 to March 25, 1891; on duty at Fort Lewis, Colorado, to September 16, 1891; on leave at Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, September 17, 1891, to January 14, 1892; with his company at Fort Stanton, New Mexico, from January, 1892, to September, 1893, being Post Quartermaster and Commissary from June, 1892, to July, 1893; at Rio Rindoso, New Mexico, to October, 1893; on leave at Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, October 23 to December 12, 1893; with company at Fort Stanton, New Mexico, to October, 1894, being in command of company July to November 15, 1894; with company at Fort Sill, O. T., to March, 1895; undergoing examination for promotion at Fort Leavenworth, Kas., March 16 to April 6, 1895; with company at Fort Sill, O. T., to August 10, 1895; promoted First Lieutenant July 31, 1895, and joined Fourteenth Infantry August 15, 1895, p52 and served with it at Vancouver Barracks, Washington, to October, 1897, commanding company from November 28, 1896, to March 19, 1897; on detached service in Indian Territory, November 1 to 22, 1896, and on detached service at Warm Spring Indian reservation, July 20 to August 3, 1897; at Willets Point, New York,º under instructions at the Torpedo School, from October 21, 1897, to April, 1898; whilst here, war with Spain was declared. Eager to engage in active service, he was permitted to join his former regiment (Tenth Infantry) then (April 23, 1898) at Mobile, Ala., on its way to Cuba. Soon after reaching Tampa, Fla., (May 1) he was appointed an Aide-de‑Camp to Brigadier General Simon Snyder, United States Volunteers, commanding the Second Division, Fourth Army Corps, under whom he had served in the Tenth Infantry ten years previous. He remained at Tampa until September, 1898, when he received a month’s leave to recuperate from the arduous duties of the summer’s campaign. On October 24th he joined General Snyder at Huntsville, Ala., and on December 1st accompanied him with the Army of Occupation to Cuba (sailing from Savannah, Ga., on the “Manitoba”) and spent the winter in Sancti-Spiritus, in the Province of Santa Clara, of which General Snyder had been made the Military Governor. He returned to the United States from Havana, where he was examined for promotion, reaching New York April 5, 1899. On March 31, 1899,a he was promoted to Captain, with orders to proceed to the Philippines. He left Philadelphia on April 11, 1899, and arrived at San Francisco April 15th, and on the 26th sailed on the United States transport “Morgan City,” reaching Honolulu on May 4th, where he remained until May 6th. He arrived at Manila May 27th, and on the 31st joined his regiment (Fourteenth Infantry) in the trenches at Pasay, where they were continuously under fire for about a month.

On June 26th, with his company, he reached Bacoor, where they did outpost duty, and incidentally guarded a rather p53 important bridge. Their arrival there was a termination of a very hot campaign, begun on the 9th of June, against the Insurgents; the regiment lost heavily, and of four engagements had during that time, that at Zapote River was the most important. Here his regiment lost two officers and nine enlisted men and thirteen wounded; sixty‑two Insurgents were buried in front of their position, and others were known to have been killed.

Early in August Captain Wilhelm was assigned to the Twenty-first Regiment of Infantry, and placed in command of one hundred and fifty selected men from the Twenty-first, which, with a like number from the Fourth Cavalry and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Regiments of Infantry, began a movement against the Insurgents, which, after continuous hard fighting, led up to the battle of San Mateo (where General Lawton lost his life in December following) on August 12th. In this engagement he displayed such conspicuous bravery as to merit a recommendation from the commanding officer, Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.James Parker, Fourth Cavalry, and endorsed by Brigadier General Samuel B. M. Young, who was an eye‑witness to the engagement, for the “brevet of Major for gallant and meritorious services, brave action and cool and deliberate judgment while commanding his company in action under a galling fire from a superior force of the enemy protected behind strong breast-works.” He was also recommended for a medal of honor for bravery in action.

Following his engagement his company lay for five weeks in the trenches near Calamba, where, on October 3rd and 23rd, they engaged the enemy with considerable loss to the Insurgents, that of the American forces being slight; in the latter engagement a rifle ball passed through his hat carrying with it a lock of his hair.

On December 26th, with the troops, he left Calamba, and the following day reached Culi Culi, there to recuperate, as the regiment was badly broken in health; upon their departure p54 from Calamba, a complimentary concert, by the Thirty-ninth Infantry Military Band, under the command of F. Mortimer Howe, Chief Musician, was tendered him on the evening of December 24th.

After four months of quiet rest at Culi Culi, the troops, early in May, took up quarters at Pasay, and by the end of the month all the troops had been removed from there, excepting Captain Wilhelm’s company (B).

Early in July, 1900, the Fourteenth Infantry, which had charge of the Binando District, San Fernando, Manila, was sent to China, and Captain Wilhelm, with troops of the Twenty-first Infantry, was placed in charge of this, the most lawless district in Manila, a perilous duty which he performed with signal ability.

Upon the return of the Fourteenth Regiment from China, in November, the Twenty-first was assigned to various points, Captain Wilhelm’s Company (B) and Company “D” being ordered to Batangas Province, with headquarters at Lipa, the second largest city in the Island of Luzon.

On December 7 he was placed in command of a detachment from Companies “B” and “D,” consisting of one hundred men, and fifty of Troop “M,” First Cavalry, and ordered to clear out a certain section of country on Laguna de Taal; here they struck the enemy about dawn of the 7th, killing and capturing a number of Insurgents with rifle and ammunition. In this engagement Captain Wilhelm lost two men killed and one wounded, and at 5 P.M. of that day was back in Lipa, having marched twenty-eight miles, up to this time he had taken part in eight distinct actions, and during his residence here scarcely a day passed that the enemy was not encountered.

On January 22, 1901, with a detachment of his company, he left Lipa for Guinayangan, Tayabas Province, and arrived there February 2nd, on which day he again engaged the enemy, p55 the mountains thereabouts being infested with band of native robbers.

On April 24, 1901, he was appointed Regimental Commissary and was ordered to headquarters at Lipa. This position he occupied until the day of his death. On his return to Lipa, in addition to his duties as Commissary Officer, he became active in searching for the men of Malvar’s command (the most important Insurgent force yet at large), and succeeded in gathering in several prisoners, arms and ammunition. He was keen for these “hikes,” which were frequently made by him into the surrounding country.

It was destined that Captain Wilhelm should fight his last fight on anniversary days of more than ordinary interest to him — that of his birth, and of his graduation from the Military Academy. At 1 A.M., June 10, 1901, Captain Wilhelm, and Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Anton Springer, and Lieutenant Charles R. Ramsey,b of the Twenty-first Infantry, and Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Walter H. Lee, of the Engineers, with a command of forty-five men, composed of sixteen men of the regimental band, five native scouts, and the remainder from Company “D,” proceeded towards the foot-hills •about six miles northeast of Lipa. Here a body of Insurgents were found intrenched with an abundance of ammunition and a force which probably outnumbered Captain Wilhelm’s five to one. When within easy range the enemy opened fire, and early in the fight a bullet passed through his hat, and Lieutenant Springer was the first officer to fall, dying instantly. Lieutenant Lee was wounded, losing two fingers. Not waiting to have these dressed, he, with rifle in hand and firing as he pressed forward, received the fatal wound resulting in his death half an hour later. Lieutenant Ramsey was the next officer to fall, receiving a wound in the left breast from which he died a month later.

At this juncture Wilhelm withdrew his forces a short distance from its advanced position to get better cover, and it p56 was then that he received his fatal wound — just as the enemy was dispersing and before the arrival of Troop “M,” First Cavalry, and a detachment of the Sixth Cavalry, which had been sent to reinforce him.

He was wounded in the right breast, the ball, after piercing the lung and fracturing the shoulder blade, lodged in his back.

One non‑commissioned officer (Corporal Rogers, Company “D”) and a native scout, were killed, and two non‑commissioned officers (Sergeants Stearns and Gregory, of Company “D”) and one private (Cork, of the band) were wounded. Gregory’s wound proved fatal. The Insurgent’s casualties were quite considerable.

Captain Wilhelm was immediately removed to the United States hospital at Lipa, where he died about 2 P.M. of June 12th.

On June 17th the funeral services were held at minister. The last sad rites for the burial of the dead, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, were read by Chaplain Charles S. Walkley. Governor Taft, with the Civil Commission (which adjourned an important meeting) and a large number of officers, with some ladies and civilians, were in attendance. The floral offerings were profuse and beautiful.

The honorary pall bearers were Captains Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Herman Hall and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Almon L. Parmerter,º of the Twenty-first Infantry; Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Charles H. Martin and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Henry G. Learnard, of the Fourteenth Infantry, and his classmates, Captains Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William R. Sample, Third Infantry, and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Guy H. Preston, Ninth Cavalry. The bearers were six Sergeants of the Fourteenth Infantry — Captain Wilhelm’s former regiment; Company H, commanded by Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Joseph Frazier, acted as escort, and the band of the Fourteenth headed the procession, playing a solemn funeral march. On reaching the Mortuary Chapel, where the remains lay awaiting shipment, “taps” were sounded. On June 20th, all p57 that was mortal of this gallant soldier was forwarded from Manila on the transport “Indiana,” and reached San Francisco on July 17th, and his old home at Mauch Chunk, Pa., where his parents reside (he having been unmarried) on the 26th.

On July 30th, Captain Wilhelm’s body — its features natural as if in sleep — was laid to rest. The citizens of his native place, desirous of attesting their appreciation of his noble life and achievements, and their sorrow at his death, were privileged to take charge of the funeral arrangements. The services in his old home, and at St. Paul’s M. E. Church, were in charge of the Rev. Wm. Quigley Bennett, S. T. D., Ph. D., other local clergymen participating. The military escort consisted of men of the Forty-ninth Coast Artillery from Fort Columbus, New York, under command of Captain John Conklin — Sergeants therefrom acting as bearers. The local escort consisted of the citizens’ committee, Grand Army of the Republic, Sons of Veterans, Soldiers of the Spanish-American War, and various organizations and the citizens generally. At the cemetery a dirge was played by the Trombone Choir of the Moravian Church of Bethlehem, taps were sounded by a bugler of the Artillery in attendance, and re‑echoed by the adjacent hills and mountains overlooking the beautiful Lehigh Valley, over which Captain Wilhelm as a boy loved to roam.

About the diary: The diary was published online in the University of Pennsylvania OPENN website, providing “primary digital resources available to everyone.” Part of the Bethlehem, Special Collections, Lehigh University Libraries, the diary entitled “Captain William Herman Wilhelm Journal, 1898-1902.”  The online version consists of scanned pages from the original manuscript as described below, with the declaration, “Images are ©2015 Special Collections, Lehigh University Libraries and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License version 4.0.”

The title page of the manuscript says,

Copy of Journal


Captain William Herman Wilhelm

Co. B. 21st U.S. Infantry.

Mortally wounded in action with the

Filipino insurrectos, at the foothills 

six miles from Lipa, Batangas Province

P.I. June 10, 1901. Died at Lipa June 12, 1901.

Buried at Mauch Chunk Pa. July 30, 1901

Copied by his cousin

Ethan Allen Weaver

The summary on the page states that,

The diary is a copy of the original, and was created by Wilhelm’s cousin, Ethan Allan Weaver. The diary begins November 28th, 1898 when Wilhelm leaves Knoxville, Tennessee by train for Savannah, Georgia to board his transport ship the “Manitoba” bound for Cuba. His notes during his time in Cuba with General Snyder are written in Spanish. Upon his arrival in New York, April 5, 1899 he returns to the use of English for the remainder of his diary which ends June 7, 1901. …presumably his journal accompanied his body where it came into the possession of [the author’s cousin,] Weaver.

The Philippine Diary Project does not include the first part of the diary, leading up to, and including, the author’s service in Cuba. The entries reproduced in The Philippine Diary Project starts with the author’s April 5, 1899 entry, which seems to be a summary of his embarking on his assignment to the Philippines. Upon arrival in Manila, the diary becomes a series of daily entries.

In the diary as copied by Ethan Allan Weaver, there are some annotations by him. There are also marginal comments identifying battles and locations in red ink. Both Weaver’s comments, whether in brackets or marked by an asterisk, as well as her marginal comments, are reproduced in the text in blue font. When necessary, the Philippine Diary Project has added clarifications or alternative spellings [in underlined italics] within the text.

The Philippine Diary Project is grateful to Emily Mauricio who very kindly encoded the diary.