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Homecoming ‘99


No matter how humble, there’s no place like home. Seeing a familiar face or even just going where “everybody knows your name”—it can be a blessing, for the world-weary traveler.

At the tail end of August in 1899, the Bismarck Daily Tribune proudly announced the return of North Dakota’s celebrities: 516 men of the First North Dakota infantry. These men, as well as detachments of other regiments, were returning from Manila, from fighting in the Philippine Insurrection. The reports of their return came from San Francisco, where they had to wait to go through quarantine inspection. Afterward, they would be allowed to land on the good old terra firma. They would not make it back to North Dakota for many days, and even by this date, they were still stuck in California, waiting to come home—but being back in the States was sure to be a help.

The boys came across on the transport Grant, having left an entire month before, on July 31. The men onboard were reported to be in good health—except for one man, Harold Davis of Company K, who was the only man to die over the journey. His body was still on the transport when the infantry got to San Francisco. Little else of interest was reported on board, except for a brief scurry of smallpox, which was taken care of when the ship reached Yokahama. There, the boys were quarantined and the ship was fumigated, taking care of the problem. Within three days, they were out and on their way home, again.

A little delegation from North Dakota set out to San Francisco, and they, with North Dakota Sen. Hansbrough, went out to meet their soldiers as soon as their quarantine check was done.

Hansbrough said that he was proud of the boys; he said he had wondered if they would come home “to complain about their treatment in general…you do not know how glad I was when the boys told me they had no complaints whatever to make,” he said. He praised them for not condemning “their superior officers and … pour into the ears of listeners tales of hardship in the Phillippines.” Moreover, he said, though it was at times depressing, “doubtless, everything possible was done for them.”

But they weren’t home free yet. Listen on September 18 for more on these men and their travels.


Bismarck Daily Tribune, Wednesdsay, August 30, 1899, p.1

Bismarck Daily Tribune, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 1899, p.3