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Grossest Incompetency: Horrors, Scandals, and Blunders of the War Depicted

Grossest Incompetency: Horrors, Scandals, and Blunders of the War Depicted image
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The Administration's Shame

The Sufferings of Our Soldiers Unparelleled -- Corrupt Partisan Motives at the Bottom -- An Honest Investigation Necessary for the Sake of Our Homes. 

So far as McKinley's administration had to do with the war in Cuba it blundered through a series of acts that can hardly be called mistakes, they have every apearance of being damnable crimes, conceived in partisanism and brought forth in corruption.
The delay in bringing on the war for months after the explosion of the Maine was in itself a blunder that is indefensible. Everyone knew the war was inevitable after the Maine was wrecked.
The appointment to staff positions of young men with a political pull, but no experience, was a crime against thi men who faced the enemy on the fir ing line. They had a right to expect effective service from the commissary, quartermaster and medical branches of the service, but they were cruelly betrayed by base partisan selections of incompetents. Sir Bryan Lighton, a captain of cavalry in the British army and who was an observer at Santiago, blames all the errors of the campaign on Shafter.
"One-third of the men who died might have been saved if there had been enough physicans,' says Capt. Lighton. "All Shafter saw of the battle was balloons. They were visible at a distance of four miles. Shafter came to the firing line in a buggy six days after it was all over. This is the same Shafter of whom this is related by Fitzgibbon, the highly reputable and intelligent war correspondent of the Detroit News:
"A brigade surgeon told me that one day an appeal was made to Gen. Shafter personally for relief for the sick men of a certain regiment, and that Shafter's reply was:
"God damn them, let them die. What did they enlist for, anyhow? I've got other things to attend to besides sick soldiers."
Another distinguished writer says of Shafter: "He is not only rude in manner but ignorant, and as to morals is unspeakable."
This is the man Secretary Alger selected to command the brave men sent to Santiago, including two heroic regiments from Michigan. It is an open secret that on the evening of July 2d he wanted to retire the American lines and would have done so had it not been for General Wheeler. The destruction of Gervera's fleet struek terror to the Spaniards and hastened a surrender in the nick of time for our gallant army.
The loss by disease in the army is a fearful testimony to the incompetency of the McKinley administration. The Chicago Tribune estimates the deaths from disease alone at 2,000. While deaths on the battlefield and from wounds number only about 350. The most of the blame for the deaths from disease and neglect is traced to the incompetent staff officers appointed for their father's sake. Out of 633 appointments from civil life 400 were men with a political backing.
"To-day the public reads with growing horror of the ghastly blunders committed by these officials at Santiago and Montauk Point, of soldiers starved on ships loaded with rotting provisions and of fever patients allowed to die of brutal neglect. Every shrunken form in blue from the pest camps of the south adds another chapter to this pitiful serial story of peace - not war - that has for its plot a combination of corruption, incompetence, petty jealousy, greed and red tape."
Think of the well established instance of a Michigan soldier, John Reardon, of Co. M, 33d Regiment, neglected in a hospital where he was suffering from throat disease until his swollen throat prevented him from closing his mouth, in consequence his mouth, throat and glands became fly blown and maggots ate away the root of his mouth and palate and so injured lis vocal chords that he can scarcely peak.
A very similar case was that of Private Nunn, of the ambulance corps, transferred from the Ninth New York and reported by Capt. O'Connor of Co. A. Ninth New York. He found this soldier's body lying naked in a hospital at Chickamauga two days after death, infested with maggots. Grave intimations are made against he officials who located the camps. The camps at Tampa, Miami and Fernandina in Florida are particularly condemned. Col. Studebaker, of the 157th Indiana Regiment, said his men, when he returned with them to Indianapolis, "had fever in their very bones, they are hungry and their strength is wasted. It is all due to the cesspool in which we lived in the south."
It is directly charged, to the shame of the administration, that these camps were located in the interests of transportation Iines whose millionaire owners contributed to Mark Hanna's campaign corruption fund.
The Chicago Record, a paper of high character, conservative in its statements and having a strong Republican leaning, published a cartoon representing Secretary Alger in the act of nailing a large poster to the door of the war department with the legend:
'Wanted, a scapegoat. One who will admit that he is responsible for unsanitary military camps; one who will say that he is to blame for lack of medicines, nurses, surgeons, hospital cots and food for sick and wounded soldiers. One who will announce that he arranged to have returning troops starved on transports. Wanted also, more red tape to tie up the mouths of army officers, including the commanding general. Wanted at once: Good reasons for court martialing generals and others who are offensive to the Secretary of War!"