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COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY THE STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF WISCONSIN
Paid for out of the George B. Burrows Fund Income
MEMORIES OF A BUSY LIFE
GENERAL CHARLES KING
THE WAR WITH SPAIN Major General Merritt, my old-time commander in the Fifth Cavalry, had been hurried to San Francisco to organize a corps of twenty thousand men, with two division and four brigade commanders, and he at once wired to the War Department, asking for me, his adjutant of the Indian war days. At the same time he wired to me at Milwaukee. I received his invitation with gladness, and when two days later there came a wire from the War Department asking if it would be "agreeable" to me to go with General Merritt to Manila, I replied at once, “With Merritt anywhere," and asked that my commission be sent to his care at San Francisco, expecting to start at once.
But the orders did not come. General Greene, for whom I knew Merritt had also applied, had passed through Chicago en route to join. General MacArthur was at the Plankinton in Milwaukee, daily expecting his orders, but not until the fourth day did they arrive. Mine was curiously worded: “This being an original appointment you must go to San Francisco at your own expense.” Blow the expense! I would have gone all the way to Manila at my own expense if that were all that kept me waiting and worrying over the delay. The papers announced that Gen. T. M. Anderson with the first brigade had started, and General Greene, Generals E. S. and H. G. Otis had arrived in camp before I got the word to go. Four days later I was with General Merritt in San Francisco, wearing my uniform as a general officer of the Wisconsin Guard, found General Greene just ready to start with the Second Brigade, and a raft of Regulars wondering how in blazes a retired captain could so suddenly blossom out into a brigadier. Few of them knew that I had been for over seventeen years the instructor of the Wisconsin troops that had been called into action, and that when Wisconsin was ordered to furnish a brigade, her two senators, Spooner and Mitchell, at once urged that Wisconsin be permitted to name the brigadier, and the only name they placed before the President was mine.
1 This article is a continuation of the author's reminiscences, parts appeared in the March and June issues of this magazine. Another installment is being prepared by General King.
Reporting for duty in camp, I was assigned by Maj. Gen. E. S. Otis to the command of the Second Provisional Brigade (First Idaho, Thirteenth Minnesota, Twentieth Kansas, and First Tennessee). An important meeting was held at the headquarters of General Otis on the morning of the thirteenth of June, at which were present General Merritt, the corps commander; General Otis, the division commander; Gen. Marcus P. Miller, commanding the First Provisional Brigade; General MacArthur, who had just arrived; General King, commanding the Second Provisional Brigade; and a few staff officers. Addressing the camp commander, General Merritt said: “And now, General Otis, we have started the first and second expeditions; I wish the third to be placed in readiness to leave about the twenty-fifth, General King to go in command.”
I regarded this announcement as confidential and said nothing about it to my little staff, and was surprised to see the announcement in big letters in the morning paper the following day. A very busy week followed. We were drilling hours each day and making preparation between times for the voyage. The transports were assembling, the stores going aboard, when there came a note from Colonel Babcock, Merritt's chief-of-staff (we had been brother captains in the Fifth Cavalry), asking me to come at once to San Francisco; he had something of importance to tell me. I went, and with no little embarrassment he informed me that General MacArthur had been to see General Merritt, had