1898, April 19 – Letter from Rosalie Bauwens to Lewis Hesse (that is an exact copy of the letter sent to Rosalie Bauwens from George Hesse)

Rosalie copies another letter that George wrote her so that Lewis can read it.  George is shipping off to war on the USS Dupont with sealsed orders & is concerned he might not make it back.  He also details the piece-by-piece workings of 1-lb and 6-lb shells he sent home to various people back home that came from the USS Maine.  Read a transcript of the letter below (original misspellings & all) or click on the image links to view the actual letter. As you read the transcript of the letter click on the links to view information & images about what they are discussing.


Click on a link to view the image: (some images can be further enlarged by clicking on them once they open)

No Envelope     Letter Page 1      Letter Page 2      Letter Page 3     Letter Page 4


Transcript of letter:

Key West Fla. 4/19/98

Friend Rosalie: –

I received your letter of the 13, at 5:30 P.M. and your letter of of the 15 at 9:30 P.M and were delighted to hear that you (??) you.  I am so sorry that the letter which I sent was written in pencil for I wil have to write you another on the parts of the shell.  Well here go then: – when you received it, it was not just to-gether, properly, as it would be more (??); well first to see all of the shell and case, you may unscrew the part that has 4 little holes in it out of the shell proper, when this is done you will find the shell is hollow, well it was filled with gun-cotton, one of the mightiest explosions known; now let us turn to the small piece which you unscrewed from the shell;  you will see on the smaller end 2 screws, one inside of the other, well unscrew them both, and in the hollow tube of the larger pice you will find what is called the “firing plug” in the small part you will see that there is a small cavity, well that cavity had a fulminate of murcury cap in it, I took it out and threw it over-board for it was the only thing that was really about the shell:  Now as to how it is discharged – When you put it to-gether, note the way you do it, and you will see that the “firing plug” is in contact with the fulminate of murcury cap, well just as soon as the shell strikes anything, the “firing plug” takes up against the cap with fore and explodes it, and it in turn explodes the powder or rather gun-cotton in the interior of the shell.  This shell was taken from the “Maine” in Havana harber on or about the 15th of March ’98, by a diver in the employ of the U.S. and sent to Key West on the U.S. Light House Tender “Mangrove” were unloaded on the warf and on the night of the 26 of March, the captain gave us permission to get as many as we wanted of the 1lb. shells but not to touch any of the larger shells, but as it grew darker, I, with several of the othersmanaged to swipe a 6 pounder a piece which I sent to Martha Mildner at 2737 Howard St I sent Lewis one of the pounders but I have received no answer.  I do not as yet, know whether he got it or not.  It looks a little like war down here now, more so than a few days ago, for we have been ordered to put 4 days provisions a board, and still we do not know where we may be going.  Well it is close on to 10 P.M. and I will close for to-night.  so good night, and God bless you, and all you know, from

Your friend

George Hesse

USTB (??) Dupont Key West, Fla


Key West Fla 4/21/98

Miss Rosalie:

I think it is a case of war now and no mistake for the Admiral got order to proceed to sea with sealed orders, that is he goes to sea and does not open his orders until he is so long out, and everybody here expects he goes to Porto Rico to fight.  There are 16 men of war in Key West now besides 6 torpedo boats.  We, that is the torpedo boats follow the fleet to-morrow night.  We had orders to put in 4 days providions & that means at least 4 days at sea.  Well I will have to write all of the folks to-night, so I will have to close with best wishes for all of  you, I remain

Yours Truly

George H. Hesse

P.S. Write soon Rose & tell me good bye, for it might mean the last time.


Lewis dear excuse the scribbling for I am in a hurry.  Dody.


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