John F. McMillan of Wolf Creek, Illinois
I just received a large packet of documents from the National Archives that document the military service of John F. McMillan, a little over 100 years ago.
John F. McMillan was the son of Hiram McMillan of Wolf Creek, Illinois in Williamson County, and the grandson of Hamilton W. McMillan, the brother of my ancestor, John Harrison McMillan. I requested these records because the nature of his military service was unusual and because I was interested in seeing where he ended up after he finished his service. From the US Census of 1900, I had learned that John F. McMillan was then in Manila, Philippines, serving with the US Army. That means he served with the US Army in the Philippine Insurrection, a low intensity war much like the current war in Iraq, complete with insurgents and suicide attacks.
The military records reveal nothing startling. Still, it is an interesting snapshot of life in the US Army during the Philippine Insurrection.
John F. McMillan, residence Carbondale, Ill., enlisted as a private in July 26, 1899 in Mount Vernon, Illinois. He had earlier served in the Spanish-American War in Cuba, but the records I received covered only the Philippine Insurrection. This record did indicate that his earlier service was in the 4th Illinois in Cuba. On re-enlistment that July, John was 25 years old, stood 5'11'', weight 157 lbs. with a dark complexion, brown eyes and hair, occupation "lineman". He was healthy and had no wounds from his service in Cuba. The army vaccinated him 9/28/1899.
He served with Company E, 30 U.S. volunteer Infantry and was sent to the Philippines. His record shows that he served in Gen. Schwan's Expeditionary Campaign, Jan 4 - Feb 8, 1900. This campaign was a US Army action in the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Tayabas provinces of the Philippines. Gen. John Bates, Commander of the U.S. Volunteers wrote a letter to Gen. Theo. Schwan commending him for this "good work":
"You fully and promptly carried out the instructions...overcame the difficulties incident to moving considerable bodies of troops long distances over bad roads ...skillfully maneuvered the enemy out of his strongly entrenched positions so that you were able to rout him, while your loss was slight, and you maintained excellent discipline in your command"
Then, on May 1, 1900 John F. McMillan's officer, Lt. Kaolin Whitson was ordered to lead 25 men including Private McMillan (the only enlisted man identified by name) and a Hospital Corpsman on a detail to repair a telegraph line from Pagbilno to Atimonan. The order came from Headquarters 30th Infantry, Tayabas, Luzon, P.I. He was assigned to lead the 5 other privates of Company E. The privates of the other companies were led by corporals. We can guess that John was selected as the only private to lead one of the details because of his civilian occupation, "lineman". The men were ordered to leave the post with Lt. Whitson at 6:00 a.m. with four days' rations. Nothing is mentioned in the orders about why the telegraph line was out or the outcome of their detail.
In July 1900 John shot off his rifle for no good reason, and he was fined $5.00 by his officer. The fine was deducted from his pay, and he remained in service with his unit.
In early September John reported sick with malaria and chronic gastritis to the Regimental Hospital Tiaon (First Division Care Hospital). He was transferred 9/5/1900 to the Calamba Military Hospital, Luzon, P.I. then 9/23/1900 to the Santa Mesa Army Hospital, Manila. The reasons for the transfers were not given, but his diagnosis was the same in each case, so he had a bad case of malaria. In November he was placed on the U.S.Army Transport Hancock to be sent back to the U.S. On his return he spent some time recuperating in the Presideo Army Hospital in San Francisco.
The Presideo Hospital recorded that he had tattoos on both his forearms, "on right crucifixion, on left monument". He was in good health at discharge, "Teeth good." After he recuperated in the Presideo Hospital, he was discharged from the Army December 15, 1900 at the Presideo, "Services no longer required. Services honest and faithful, character excellent. D. and F.S. given." The record ends with his discharge in San Francisco. We do not know if he returned to Illinois.
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