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[Detail] General view of harbor at San Juan, Porto Rico looking South.

Writing: Letters Home from the Spanish-American War

Soldiers writing home often make efforts to convey their situations positively so that their loved ones do not worry. Read the following letters by George King, written during the Spanish-American War:

Compare what King said in his letters with what he said in the annotations added to the letters before publication.

  • What examples can you find of King downplaying the danger he and his compatriots faced? Why do you think he did so?
  • How did King use humor in his letters home?
  • Find instances when King acknowledged danger some time after it occurred. Why do you think he did this? (Remember that, at the time, military regiments were made up of men recruited from the same state or part of a state.)
  • What insights can you glean from King's letters regarding the life of a soldier during the Spanish-American War?

Find letters written by soldiers in other wars. How are their accounts similar to or different from King's letters? Write a paragraph describing the art of writing letters home from a war.