Carl O. Saulie

Mr. Saulie served during the Spanish-American War.

He served in the U.S. Navy. He was a musician who could play guitar, mandolin, violin, harmonica, and piano.

He was from Duluth, Minnesota.

Mr. Saulie died in 1956 at the age of 74.

Source: Unedited journal of Carl Saulie, who kept it while a teenager serving as a Navy apprentice during the Spanish-American War (see below); information from granddaughter


Carl Saulie’s Wartime Journal

My family lived in Duluth for eleven years and I was never away from home over a week or two at a time before one day my mother went to town to do some shopping. It happened in the year of 1897, July 24th. She came across a recruiting office for the Navy. I happened to be out of work and could not get anything to do around the City. And my mother told me they were enlisting sailors or rather enlisting men and boys to become sailors. Men as landsmen [?] and boys as apprentices. My age would not premit me to enlist as a man so I had to enlist as an apprentice. Of coars I didn’t know anything about it anyway so it did not make any diffrence to me. So here I am in the Navy as an apprentice and will try and relate all my expierances as well as possable.

I have forgotten most all the dates when we arived in different places on our way to New York, but nothing happened on the trip that is worth speaking about.

There were a good many that came from Duluth with me, and we had quite a pleasant trip, but I felt kind of blue at first because I did not know any body. We had some music on the train, a fellow with a guitar, and I played on a harmonica. That helped to pass the time away somewhat. The trip was over in two days and when we got to New York, some sailors met us on the train and took us over to the receiving ship, Vermont. There we were lined up for inspection. When the inspection was over an Officer gave us all a ticket for the Puritan, one of the Fall River boats. We got on board her about five o clock in the evening. And the porter took us to our bunks and [illegible] he told us we could go any place we wanted to on the ship but not to make any disturbance. We were kind of jolly and he was afraid we would get in trouble if he did not warn us in the first place.

I have nothing more to say about the ship because every thing was slow onboard.

There was a band but we did not care to listen to that.

The boat arived in New Port R.I. about three o clock in the morning and every thing in the town was quite no stores or any thing else open so none of us could bye any thing to eat and we were mighty hungry too. We had a little money amongst us but not enough to get a supper aboard the boat. A man in a blue uniform and brass buttons met us at about four o clock while we were standing on the dock thinking of what we should do with ourselves. He said he was a petty Officer and was sent from the training station to conduct [us] over. We went with him to a little tugg they call the Annie. She took us to the training station.

I was kind of seedy looking after so long a trip and so was all the rest of them. Because there were not many convenances on the train, we had in the line of toilets. The boys in the station thought they were going to have all kinds of fun with us farmers, as they called us. They knew we came from the west and thought we didn’t know anything. But we fooled them on that. The second day we were there they challenged us to a game of bass ball. We excepted the chalange and beat them all to blazes. They changed their opinion of us after that and didn’t call us farmers any more.

The training station was not a very home-like place and I was so home sick I didn’t know what to do with my self. I was made boy Petty Officer right away and had to see that they did not do any fooling during the drills.

They always like a big fellow to do every thing like that you know.

The first day I was there one of the schoolmasters kicked me. Because I forgot to cover the rifles after we were through drilling with them. He did not hurt me any, so I did not care.

That schoolmaster that met us on the dock didn’t brought us to the regular training station right away. The first place we arived at was a building they call the old hospital. There’s where they serve out all the uniforms. We stayed there a few days till we were fixed out with cloths and then we went down to the jimnacum [gymnasium].

They have divisions there and the divission that is there first is the leading divission. When I go there the fourth divission was the leading one and they were inclined to be tugh. They were the rulers and we had to do what they said or take a licking. If one fellow was not enough to do it they would get the whole divission to give a hand. One lad asked me for my shoes and I wanted them my self so I would not give them up. He said he was going to get me in truble and I told him if he did I was going to get squar if it cost me a leg. So that did it [?]. I was afraid to move about for awhile. I was in the first divission, and when the fourth went away, we were the leading ones there. Then I could do any thing I wanted to without getting my head knocked off. The first divission was changed to the fourth after some time. There were boys coming every day, and they had three or four divissions.

The leading divission had charge of a dumbell locker and used to use it for a stage. When ever a new fellow would come in, he would have to get up on the locker and do a turn of some kind. Either dance, sing, whistle or speak a piece. We had the benches rigged in front of the locker every night. That kept us lively all the time we were there. When ever there was a fight during the day we would always stop it. Save it for the evening so all hands could see it.

After all our clothes were scrubed and the bath house and wash house was cleaned, we would go down to the lower floor, rig a ring with the benches and lett them go at it with the gloves. I had one fight and came out on top but my face hurt when I was through. Of coars we have all got to expect to get beaten up once in a while.

I had some jolly times at the training station and have often wished I could get such an easy thing again. We stayed at the Training station about six months, and then U.S.S. Vicksburg came in. She took seventy five of the boys that had been on the island the longest. I was in the draft and all were feeling good because we were going on our training cruse.

We had all our clothes fixed up and ready in mighty short order. They sent us over to the ship on the eighth, and we sailed out of New Port the fifteenth.

The first day out was very rough, and before we were out of sight of land I was seasick. The weather was cold so it made everything disagreeable. I got over my sickness in three days and was never sick after that. One of my shipmates didn’t get over it before we got to St. Thomas in the West Indies. That is the first port we got to. He looked like a shadow, you know nobody can eat when they are sea sick and the trip took us 22 days. That’s pretty long to go with out any thing to eat. What little he did eat he fed the fishes with. That means he threwgh it up as soon as it was eaten. We stayed in St. Thomas five days and had liberty for the first time since I went in the Navy.

I had a great time there too. Another apprentice boy and I hired two poneys and went out riding. Took in all the places of interest, such as the fort, Blue-beard’s Castle. I supose you have all heard of that great pirat, BlueBeard, in stories and other places. He used to live in St. Thomas a long time ago and has an Castle there that is known as Blue Beards Castle. It is a very pretty place and I carved my name with a knife in one of the soft stones in side of the castle. The harbor is full of ground sharks and we were not about to go in swiming.

They have a great deal of fruit there and us sailors nearly lived on fruit all together.

We left there very much satisfied with our first port in the West Indies. I forgot to tell you that the island belongs to Denmark.

The United Stats is trying to by it from them but they wont sel it. Nothing happened on the way to the net port, which was St. Kitts. That is not as good a place as the first one but we managed to enjoy ourselves there too. We had target practice, battlion drill and all kinds of drill there and then we spent George Washington’s birthday there too. The Officers got [illegible] some sports, like boat races potatoes race and some others. I don’t think it will intrest you if I mention them. Then I got the news that the Maine was blown up in Havana. We didn’t believe it at first and left there bound for St. Perris Martinique, that is a French port in the West Indies. We arived there about five days after we left St. Kitts and were ordered out the very next day to go home to the States and prepare for war with Spain. Every body gave three cheers when we heard the news. That was my training cruis.

We went right back to St. Thomas again for coal, stayed one day and then set sail and steam for Hampton Roads. We were caught in a storm when about two days run from our destination and had to heave too for two days. The navigater did not know where he was and we had all kinds of truble finding out. We arived safe and sound two days after and went up to the Portsmouth navy yard. The the ship was cleared for action. All the yards and topmasts were discarded that took us about a month. We painted her war coler and she was all ready for war April. We had liberty all we wanted when the ship was all ready and I had a good look at Norfolk, Virginia. That City is right across the River from Portsmouth you know and we all went to Norfolk when we were on liberty because it is a much better place than the other.

Chapter II: Off to the war in Cuba

The little gunboat Vicksburg set sail or rather steamed for Key West, Florida about the middle of April for the war in Cuba. She was all aboard for action and look a very favorable ship and she was just as good as she looked. The weather around Cape Hatteras is very stormy about that time of the year and there are some fearfull blows off the Cape.
We were caught in one of those [illegible] blowes and had to heave to for three days and I thought we were going to the bottom, but the Vicksburg was a very good sea boat and we had some good seamen aboard so every thing was handled carefully. One poor fellow went over board and was lost. The sea was so rough that we couldn’t lower a life boat for him. The jib got loos some way or another and he went out to stow it and the ship made a great dive. Of coars he could not hold on against a mighty big wave, so it washed him off the boom. I saw the poor man sinck and I never want to see any thing like it again.

Will after the storm was over it did not take us long to get to Key W.

We stayed there two days, got liberty and the mail.

Then we started for the blockade off Havana, Cuba.

That is only about 90 miles from Key West so we got there in the morning. The first few days we were there nothing happened and we were very monotonous. Then one day we sighted a scooner. She was flying the Spanish flag so we gave chase right away. She tried very hard to get away from us but we were to fast for her. A six pound shot was fired across her bow and that scared her and she hove to. We sent a priz crew aboard her and sent the thing to Key West. She had a cargo of fish on board I thing and was trying to get it to Havana for the Spanyards. I don’t know wheather we will get any priz money for them little things or not and I don’t care because it wouldn’t be more than enough to get a pack of cigaretts with anyway. That was all that happened the first trip we mad to Havana.

We stayed on the blockade 28 days the first time and I was never sick of anything in my life before. Then we went back to Key W. for coal and recieved mail from home. Mail is a very welcome thing when a sailor gets it from home, aspeashaly when he has been out to sea for a long time and has had no news for a month.

We only stayed in Key West for four or five days at a time and then go back to the blockade again. The next time we were there we had a quite an exciting time. There was a little sailing vessle trying to get into Havana and we after her. We ran a little too close to the beach and they let go at us from the forts. The Spanyard were not very good shots so we were not hit very little. One shot struck us on the top, that is, the masthead and the main Jacobs ladder. It cut the later and the thing fell down on one fellow’s head. We fired at the schooner but could not hit her on account of beeing to far away. She got away from us and went in. I will bet the captan received a great reception because the people in Havana were starving then and he most likly had provassions for them. After that, we were fired at from the forts every day. Although they came close to us a good many times, we were never hit after that first time. Well we were there for about three weeks and the Spanyards did not try anything when after that time they came out with about five ships, good-sized ones, too.

We only had three and they were all little gunboats like the Vicksburg and Anapolis [?]

Other Spaniards wouldn’t have come out there, I don’t think, only they were starving to death and had to make some kind of a bluff. They came out about two miles from the Fort Morro Castle and fired a few shots at us. Of course we returned the fier but were to foxy for them. They were too much of cowards to come out and have an open fight with us and turned in to the harbor again when they saw we would not come close enough for the forts to have a chance at us. I thought sure we were going to have a regular battle but was disapointed when they went in again. Every time we were any where near the shore they would let go at us from some sand batteries close to Havana but they could never hit us at all.

We captured a few little fishing [illegible] while we were down there and brought them to Key West, but I guess they won’t bring any prize money because they were so small.

I don’t need to tell any more about the war because everything was the same as usual only every once in a while we had to overhaul a ship that would be passing and see if every thing was all right in there.

We overhauled one and the captain had his wife aboard and his dauthers. We mad them heave two about midnight and of coars the captain woke all hands up to see what was the matter excluding his wife.

When we boarded her the ladies were crying and on their knees praying.

They thought we were going to make them prisoners.

Well you know how a woman is when she gets frightened. We told them we were not going to hurt any body only just look at their papers to see if every thing was alright. We saw papers were all right and was going to leave but they asked us down to have a drink for our truble and of course we couldn’t refuse any thing like that. So down below we goes and I tasted the best wine I ever had before or after.

We arived aboard the ship at about 1 o’clock that night and continued on our blockading duty as usual.

The other blockading vessels used to bring us mail every once in a while when they came back from Key West from coaling. I used to write three or four letters every day just to pass the time away and through them over board.

We had been on the blockade for a long time befor we went with the fleet at all but of coars they gave us our chance after a while and we did not [illegible], when there was a dispatch came and ordered us to proseed to the fleet with all possible speed. The fleet was gong to look around for the Spanish fleet and they wanted all the ships they could get. We were doing scout duty the same day we got with the fleet but then we ran out of coal and had to go to a little place of the Carelienes and there coal off the [illegible]. [illegible] that was the day befor the fleet went in to Santiago, so you see we missed all the fun. We were all disapointed as you can expect. We were hoping right along that we could be with the fleet when they mad the fight. Well about three days after that they lifted the blockade off the Cuban coast and we steamed for Key West against [illegible] for the last time. The war was over and we all gave three cheers for all the American ships that was concerned in the war at all. We stayed in Key West one day and received oers to go to New Port R.I. with all posable speed and made it in 4 days and ½. The people in New Port gave us quite a reception for there you know the people are dead against blue jackets the reason I don’t know.

They gave the officers a good time where but did not invite the men ashore at all but we went any way and had a good time to. Us men don’t ask nobody to help us along at all if they don’t do it from their own free will. I [illegible] enjoyed my self with out their help and can do it again.

Well we were transferred from the Vicksburg about a week after we came back from Permouth, W.H. We went up there a few days after we arived at the N.P and had a fine time. Us apprentices were all transfered from [illegible] to give other boys off the Island a chance. We went to New York on the Fall River line and had a great time on our way. There was no ships in New York just these [illegible] wanted navy boys so we stayed on the guard [illegible] for a good long while.

Then I was transfered to a gun boat called Topeka. I mad a cruise down around the West Indies on her and when we were half way through she broke down and had to be towed to Hampton Roads. From there we went to Boston and put her out a commission.

I went to the Massachusetts after a while and made another cruse around the Island on her and then I was transferred to this ship that ours truly is on now.

Yours with out a cent!


Part II

I have written down all the places that this ship has gone to since I have been on her, and now that I have some time to spare I will make you aquainted with some of the ecsperiences that most any sailor in the United States service has gone through.

The first trip was down to New Orleans. We went down there to get silver service for the ship. Any city that has a ship of the Navy named after it presents her with silver service, you know, and the people of New Orleans included a bell, a silver bell, a very nice one too. On the way down there the captain pushed the ship pretty hard and made a very quick trip. We were five days going from New York to New Orleans. It was the best ever known to be done by a man a war, and when the people heard it they were very pleased.

Well I am kind of getting off the track now and will have to find it some how.

Well, we arived at the mouth of the Mississippi about 4 o’clock in the afternoon of the fifth day and started up the river. When we were about 10 miles below the city we were met by a pilot and he informed us that the people would rather have us anchor down where we were until morning so they could see us better and give us a good reception.

Of coars we could do nothing but comply to their wish. On the way up next morning we did get a reception, too.

There were thousands of people cheering and firing muskets on the shore and waving flags, and all the steam boats turned out with whistles. We couldn’t hear ourselves think. I did not try very hard. I was only thinking of the time we were going to have when we got ashore.

[At this point, a page has been torn from the journal. Granddaughter Carol Tollefson thinks that’s because his experiences in New Orleans were too risqué.]

Well the people were very disappointed when they could no get aboard the ship the day she arived. You know being out at sea and running hard made her kind of dirty and the skipper didn’t like them to see her in that condition so he took a day to clean her up. And I don’t blame him for that it was about the only good thing I ever see him do.

The next day she full of visitors and we couldn’t ever get out of the way of them long enough to write a letter home to let our folks know we had arived there safe. I went away up in one of the fighting [illegible] to get out of the way of them but I had not been there but a few minutes when I heard a girl remark right close behind me to her mother, “O! look at the sailor writing a letter,” just as if that was some thing out of the comon every place.

In the morning I was pretty tired and [illegible].

“Have you any money, Nelson?”

“No, I am busted,” he said.

“We are in [illegible] fix now. I ain’t got a cent and either have you. How are we going to get our breakfast.”

“We will go down to the landing and bum some money from some of the fellows down there if we can.”

“All right,” I said. We got to the landing and there are [on?] some bales of cotton we saw [illegible] four of our shipmates stretched out.

“What in the name of God are you doing here,” said my friend.

“Well I tell you how it [illegible]. We blew in all the money we had and could[n’t] buy a bed so here we [are] with out a cent to get [any] thing to eat. Have you [got] money left?”

“No, say, we came down her to see if we could bum some from you fellows.”

“Well I guess we will all have to do with out. May be the cook aboard will have some grub saved for us. If he has not we will have to starve until dinner time. I am going to lay down here any way till the boat comes in for us,” and down I lays on a bale of cotton. I went to sleep quicker than it takes to say it and could hardly wake up again when the boat came in. You cannot guess how nasty you feel when you have been out on a time and then go to sleep about four in the morning, some body wakes you up about five to go aboard. I have been out many a time and did not turn in at all but that is better than turning in for a few minutes. New Orleans is a great place if you know where to look for fun but for a stranger it is dead slow. My slip mate knew a little about the place so we had…

[Another page is torn from the journal at this point and the narrative ends. Besides his service in the Caribbean, Saulie visited many ports in the Far East.]

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