Soldier of the Philippine-American War
BY JIM HANSEN
Christian von Kaus, son of Johannis Christoph von der Kaus and Mathilda Schuett, was born April 17, 1875 in Burg, Fehmarn Island, Germany. He came directly to Walnut, Pottawattamie County, Iowa in 1889 with his mother and brothers. This young man decided to travel to Wyoming in about 1896 for employment, where, two years later, he enlisted in Company H, 1st Wyoming Infantry Battalion at Camp Richards, Cheyenne, Wyoming. The unit was sent to San Francisco, California in May 1898 for transport to the Philippines.
A letter from Chris Kaus arrived in Walnut, Iowa dated April 4, 1899, addressed to friend O. M. Bruce. It reads: “DEAR FRIEND, Thinking perhaps you would like to hear something from the front regarding the present campaign in these islands. I will try and write you a few lines from our present quarters on the firing line. We were brought up from Cavite on the evening of February 4, and went into camp on the outskirts of the city. Just as we were retiring that night, the call to arms was sounded, and the entire regiment was under arms and ready to proceed in a few minutes. We were marched to the front, but were held in reserve that night and did not get into the fight until the next morning. Then we got just what we had been wanting for many a day – a real fight, and we got it too. We were ordered to clear a large tract of country, which we did after a hard fight that lasted over four hours. We succeeded in capturing and destroying the large town of San Pedro Macati. We held that position during the next day, and were then ordered to the town of San Filipi, where we still are.
On the 7th of March, we were ordered to disperse a body of insurgents that were constantly shooting at our outposts, and we saw some hard fighting for about an hour before we dislodged them and occupied their trenches. Our loss in this fight was one killed and three wounded and the insurgents much heavier. We retired to our position in the afternoon and have not been troubled from that quarter since.
Since we have been fighting, our troops have taken Malabon and Malolos, the two strongest positions of the enemy. Whenever a town is evacuated by the enemy it is always burned, and everything that is possible destroyed.
I will be glad when this trouble is over, for it is unmerciful hot here and is getting more so every day. It often reaches 100 to 105 degrees in the middle of the day. None of us want to leave, however, until the job is done.
Hoping that this will reach you in due time and that I may hear from you in return. I will close for this time. From your friend, CHRIS KAUS. Co. H. 1st Wyoming Vol.” (Walnut Bureau, May 19, 1899)
Christian became sick with malaria in early July 1899, was put on board the U. S. Army hospital ship RELIEF with many others too ill to remain at the front and headed for America. His death occurred while the ship was anchored in the harbor of Yokohama, Japan. A soldier’s funeral was given him under the direction of John A. Dix Post in Walnut, Iowa on August 13, 1899. He was the first of the soldier boys of the war to be buried in the Layton Township Cemetery at Walnut. [Ed Note: Christian Kaus was an uncle to Dorothy Ferry.]