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Bill Thayer

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[image ALT: A three-quarters photograph of a man in his early twenties, with an oval face and hair parted down the middle. He is wearing a plain high-collared military tunic with epaulets, the United States Army dress uniform of the early twentieth century. He still has some of the awkwardness of a teenager and wears a sad, curiously tracked expression. He is Lieutenant Walter Hatch Lee, a West Point graduate whose obituary is transcribed on this webpage.]

Lieutenant Walter Hatch Lee.

The preceding image, and the text that follows, are reproduced from (the report of the) Thirty-Third Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 9th, 1902.

 p43  Walter Hatch Lee
No. 3998. Class of 1901.
Killed in action, June 10, 1901, at Lipa, Batangas Province, P. I., aged 23.

"Another name has been added to the honored roll of the sons of North Carolina who have given up their lives for their country, and another son of West Point has yielded up the extreme measure of a soldier's devotion, and by the highest test proven his loyalty to the motto of his Alma Mater: 'Duty, Honor, Country.' "

Walter Hatch Lee, the son of James Hardy Lee and Sarah Allen Lee (Hatch), was born on August 31st, 1878, at Glencoe, North Carolina. Glencoe is a few miles west of Asheville, at which place his father was born on August 6th, 1850, and in which place, with the exception of a few years spent in Mobile and New Orleans, his father has always lived.

In September of 1888, young Lee entered the Ravenscroft School in Asheville, an exception having been made for him in the usual age limit of fifteen years. Though then only ten years old, his manly bearing soon won for him the respect of all his schoolmates, and his sweetness of disposition won alike the love of his schoolmates and teachers. In the fall of 1893 he entered, as a day scholar, the Bingham School, also in Asheville, from which institution he graduated on June 1st, 1897. Up to the time of Lee's entrance, no day scholar had been entitled to hold office in the military organization connected with the school, but in recognition of his military bearing and excellent record, an exception was made in the rank of corporal, which rank Lee held during the remainder of the course, the old rule being reinforced after his graduation.

In the spring of 1897 a competitive examination was held in Asheville for the appointment of a cadet to the Military  p44 Academy. Lee entered the competition and won the appointment. He entered the Academy on June 19th, one of the younger members of a very large class. From the very first he was a first section man, and throughout his whole career he stood near the top of the class, graduating five, one of the star members of his class.

In February, 1901, there being a great need for officers, it was decided that the first class, of which Lee was a member, should graduate immediately. On February 18th he received his diploma and was assigned to the Corps of Engineers. After twenty days' leave he sailed for Manila on the United States transport Hancock, arriving in Manila Bay on April the 19th, and joining the company to which he had been assigned, on April 26th. From Manila he was ordered to Lipa, Province of Batangas, on duty in connection with the repair and construction of roads and bridges. About one week after his arrival at Lipa he accompanied, as a volunteer, a detachment of the Twenty-first Infantry, about fifty strong, under the command of Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.W. H. Wilhelm of that regiment, which went in search of some rifles reported to be in the hands of the insurgents, under Malvar, in the vicinity of a barrio about six miles from Lipa. The detachment encountered the enemy in a strong position soon after daylight on the 10th instant, and an engagement followed early, in which Lieutenant Lee was wounded in the left hand. Although three fingers of his hand were carried away he declined the assistance of a soldier, who attempted to bandage his wound, and continued firing with a rifle obtained from a disabled man, resting it across his arm, his left hand being useless. Thus he fought, until at the end of nearly half an hour he received a severe wound in the abdomen from which he expired within thirty minutes. While directing the moving of Lieutenant Lee to the rear, Captain Wilhelm received a wound from which he died two days later.

Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Cheney, in his report of this disastrous expedition,  p45 in which every American officer engaged met his death, says: "I visited Lipa in person on the 12th instant. The commanding officer there, Colonel Kline, Twenty-first Infantry, spoke in the highest terms of the courage and gallant behavior of Lieutenant Lee in this his first and only engagement." Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Clinton B. Sears, in concluding his report of the death of Lieutenant Lee, says: "He died the death of a gallant soldier with his face to the enemy."

Among the recently built fortifications on the Pacific Coast, two batteries of the Fort Flagler Military Reservation perpetuate the names of two of the heroes of this fight in the far-away Philippines, of two men who have laid down their lives for their country and passed from this life to the next, giving as their last mortal countersign the immortal words: "Duty, honor, country." Battery Wilhelm, in honor of the gallant Captain of the expedition, and Battery Lee, in honor of the brave and gallant Lieutenant, Walter Hatch Lee.


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Page updated: 4 Jan 16