“Kangarooing” at Camp Chickamauga

When war broke out with Spain in 1898, the United States had a very small professional military.  As a result, many of the units which eventually sailed to Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines were made up of volunteers.  They first assembled at camps in different parts of the country for training and other preparations.  Photographers found opportunities to document some of the activities at these camps.  After hostilities ended and soldiers returned, many had their portraits made, in uniform, by commercial photographers.

This small cabinet card probably belonged to Walter H. Kleckner, a private in the Fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, who was 27 when he enlisted.  The Fourth assembled at Camp Chickamauga, in Georgia, before shipping out to Puerto Rico from Charleston, South Carolina.  The men in the photo are tossing one of their comrades in a blanket, also called “kangarooing” at the time.

The photo contains 11 men, including the one being kangarooed.  On the back, written in pencil, are 11 names.

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They are:

George E. Longaker, Lansdale

Ed McIntyer, Lansdale

Willard Wood, Lansdale

Tho. Drake, Lansdale

Frank Heins, Philadelphia

Elmer Refsnider, Colmar

Clayton Boorse, Lansdale

Rue Spacke, Lansdale

Milton Boorse, Lansdale

John Ford, Fort Washington

Harry Spacke, Lansdale

According to a handwritten note, Walter Kleckner lost 38 pounds during his service in Puerto Rico, probably from dysentery or other illness.  Here he is in October 1898, after his return, in an unidentified photographer’s studio.  He married two months later, eventually had seven children, and died in 1951.

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