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At first, the garrison camp was near the race track in Kapiolani Park. The Volunteer Engineers were Companies I (Denver, Colorado), K (Salt Lake City, Utah), L (San Francisco) and M (Portland, Oregon). The New York Infantry Volunteers were Companies A, B, C and D (Albany), E (Utica), F (Walton), G (Oneonta), H (Binghamton), I (Middletown), K (Poughkeepsie), L (Newberg) and M (Kingston). By August 22, the garrison troops began moving farther back toward the slope of Diamond Head to a more permanent place named Camp McKinley.

A regimental mail bag was established at the camp, probably by mid-August, and letters brought to the main post office in the regimental letter bag were accepted without endorsement. By September 3, the Y.M.C.A. established a branch at Camp McKinley where writing paper and envelopes were furnished the troops.

Conditions at Camp McKinley were difficult from the start. Lack of water, proper food and proper sanitation, the result of incompetent Army management, soon took its toll on the garrison troops, many of whom became ill from typhoid fever, malaria, measles and dysentery. Deaths among the New York Volunteers increased until a decision was made in December to return them home and muster them out. The last left December 10, 1898.

With the departure of the New York Volunteers, the military population of Hawaii was substantially smaller. Troop and supply ships continued to stop at Honolulu en route to Manila. The Engineers remained after the New York Volunteers left and were replaced in April, 1899 by four batteries of the Sixth Artillery. A naval vessel remained on station most of the time. USS Bennington was there until January 7, 1899, replaced by the tugboat USS Iroquois. Convalescing soldiers and a few staff made up the small balance of military personnel. Garrison mail after December 10, 1898, is scarce owing to the small number of people eligible for the rate.

Hono 17Aug98

Postmarked August 17, 1898, and sent from a member of Company M, 1st Infantry, New York Volunteers. This cover, franked with a Hawaiian 2 brown (Scott No. 75), is the earliest date yet recorded for the 2 soldier rate. The printed regimental identification served as the requisite endorsement, although technically it failed to meet the standard because it lacked a signature by a staff officer, surgeon or chaplain.

Hono 20Aug98

Postmarked August 20, 1898, and franked with a United States 2 Trans-Mississippi Issue (US Scott No. 286). This cover is unendorsed but was accepted nonetheless from the regimental mail bag at Camp McKinley. Notices published later confirmed the existence of the regimental mail bag and the waiver of an endorsement for letters placed in it. Mail deposited at the post office still required a proper endorsement.

Hono 3Sep98

Postmarked September 3, 1898 and sent collect. Soldiers could send letters collect or underpaid and the recipient was charged only the exact amount of required postage. This cover bears a technically complete endorsement by Maj. Scott, 1st Inf., NY Vol.

Hono 25Oct98 engineers

Postmarked October 25, 1898, from a member of Co. M. 2d U.S. Vol. Engineers with the engineers' armory insignia.

Hono 9Nov98 full flag

Postmarked November 9, 1898, an underpaid soldier letter from a garrison soldier. Patriotic covers from the soldiers take a variety of forms. The most common is the USS Maine photo and flag. Full Hawaiian flag patriotics and full American flag patriotics are uncommon.

The Peet Letters

Artificer George L. Peet arrived aboard the Alliance on September 1, 1898, a member of the New York Infantry Volunteers, Company G, 1st Regiment. His letters home were auctioned by Herman Herst on February 16, 1961, who told a poignant story. Herst auctioned eleven Peet related covers, those from Peet himself handpainted by Peet's father. Two covers were from Honolulu, one postmarked September 12, 1898, and the other on September 22. Peet wrote of camp life, swimming in the ocean and his hope to be home for Christmas dinner. His second letter told he was sick and mentioned those in the hospital with measles or fever. Other letters in the correspondence auctioned by Herst tracked Peet to the Army Hospital at Fort Logan, Colorado and the last is from the Post Chaplain telling of Peet's death.

Hono 12Sep98 Peet
Hono 22Sep98 Peet

The Ballot

Hono 9Nov98 bal

Postmarked November 9, 1898 and franked with the United States 2 (US Scott No. 267) and 4 Trans-Mississippi (US Scott No. 287) for a triple weight ballot envelope.

Camp Otis

An expedition arrived aboard Arizona on August 27, 1898, but when Arizona proceeded to Manila, many soldiers were left in Honolulu to await Arizona's return. These soldiers encamped inside the racetrack at Kapiolani Park and it was dubbed Camp Otis. The camp consisted of parts of the Third Artillery, a Tenth Pennsylvania Regiment and detachments of volunteer recruits for the First Colorado, First Nebraska and other regiments whose main groups had proceeded to Manila. Arizona returned and Camp Otis was abandoned on November 7, when the troops went aboard. All of the mail I have seen from Camp Otis is carefully endorsed with proper signature.

Hono 8Sep98 Otis

Camp Otis letter from a member of the First Nebraska, postmarked September 8, 1898.

Camp Waiakea

Hilo invited the military to establish a camp near it on the Big Island. Companies K and M of the First New York went on what the local paper called "a pleasure trip . . . a sort of private enterprise with official endorsement as the Military authorities have authorized a portion of the expense." The two Companies left Honolulu on November 8, 1898. While in Hilo, they made a visit to nearby Kilauea Volcano and returned to Honolulu on November 25. Two covers from that expedition are listed.

Hono 20Nov98 waiakea

Sent from a soldier during the excursion to Kilauea Volcano from Camp Waiakea. Postmarked November 18, 1898 at Volcano House and on the back at Hilo on the same day and Honolulu on November 20. Treated as a soldier letter despite the inadequate endorsement.

Garrison Mail After December 10, 1898

Once the New York Infantry left on December 10, 1898, the volume of soldier mail decreased substantially. Mail can be found from the Engineers and from members of the Sixth Artillery once they replaced the Engineers.

Hono 17Mar99 dom

This cover was sent to rather than from a member of the Engineers on March 17, 1899. The Government Survey was a branch of the Republic of Hawaii. Very little domestic mail to or from the soldiers is known.

Hono 9Jun99

An underpaid soldier letter from a member of the Sixth Artillery, postmarked June 9, 1899.

Hono 25May00

Postmarked May 25, 1900 from a member of the Sixth Artillery. This cover is clipped to allow fumigation at the end of the bubonic plague epidemic in Hawaii. In fact the fumigation order was suspended April 30, but many people continued to clip their letters in the event a new case of the plague was discovered and fumigation was again ordered before the letter got away. This cover is the latest date recorded so far for soldier mail from Hawaii prior to the establishment of the Territory.

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