Marie Wendt, granddaughter of Carl Torguson, donated a collection of United Spanish War Veterans Badges. Carl Torguson was 19 years old when he enlisted in the 15th Minnesota. He had to lie about his age to volunteer since no one under 21 was allowed to serve at that time. While he entered eager and willing to serve, fate had other plans.
The short history of the 15th Minnesota is: they were mustered into service July 18, 1898, saw service at Fort Snelling, MN, Harrisburg, PA, and Augusta GA before being mustered out March 27th 1899.
The real story of their service was a pretty miserable experience. Armistice with Spain was reached within a month of them being mustered into service, but since a final peace had not been reached, they could not be sent home again. In the crowded conditions of the military camp, typhoid fever spread quickly though the ranks. The cause of the outbreak was eventually blamed on the “notoriously infected water” of the City of Minneapolis. Most of the soldiers were from rural areas and had not been exposed to the bacteria before.
Local hospitals were overwhelmed with fever victims, but eventually some of the basic hygiene measures such as banning ice, disinfecting bedding and ordering soldiers to wash their hands, began to slow the spread of the fever. On September 15th, the regiment was ordered to Camp Mead in Pennsylvania to get away from the fever in Minneapolis. There they were treated by Dr. Walter Reed, who was sent to investigate the origin and spread of typhoid fever.
Once the fever finished running its course, the 15th Minnesota was sent to Camp McKenzie in Georgia to finish their ill fated tour of duty. They were mustered out March 27, 1899.
After the war, Carl returned to Pope County where he worked for Rose hardware and Callaghan’s hardware in Glenwood, before buying a farm south of Glenwood. He joined the “United Spanish War Veterans” and was very active in the organization, its reunions and encampments. These badges are from those events.
We are grateful to Marie and the Torguson family for sharing these Badges with us.