The post office in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a monument to Lt. William Shipp who died on July 1, 1898, in the charge up San Juan Hill. Lt. Shipp was from nearby Lincolnton, North Carolina, and one of just two officers from North Carolina to die in the Spanish-American War.
His monument reads, “Amongst a grove the very straightest plant. William Ewen Shipp, First Lieutenant, Tenth Cavalry U. S. Army. Born: August 23, 1861. Killed at San Juan, battle of Santiago: July 1, 1898.”
A West Point graduate (Class of 1883) and veteran of the Indian Wars, Lt. Shipp had volunteered to join the 10th Cavalry, a negro regiment, as an officer. To a friend who could not understand his choice, he wrote, “I find associates, some older and some younger, who are more congenial to me than any other men I knew of and who represent the highest type of manhood… They are the noblest lot of men I have ever known… On the other hand, there are manifest disadvantages, the main one being the prejudice against the negroes, which makes it necessary for us to go around all the time with a chip on the shoulder. But we have men whose chips are very dangerous to knock off, and no one ever does it.”
Due to an injury, Lt. Shipp was not detailed for combat duty the day of the charge, but was carrying orders from regiment to regiment. While returning from that assignment, he saw his men of the Tenth, and, on his own, chose to join them. The support of the Tenth enabled Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders to take the hill, but Shipp died, shot in the heart, while leading his men.
On the day the monument was unveiled, in May of 1902, Shipp’s widow and two sons were present. The local newspaper noted, “The crowd between the square and the post office was so great that the procession moved slowly and was forced to pause twice. Around the monument, which is located on the green sward in front of the post office building, an immense concourse had gathered, while vast numbers of spectators blocked the road for a long distance, filled the premises of nearby houses and stood close together in the balconies of the post office and in the large area on the first floor of the building. The crowd, all told, must have numbered four or five thousand people.”
In October of 1902, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, received Shipp’s widow, Margaret, at the White House, and said of her husband, “He took breakfast with me on the morning he was killed. He was as true and brave a man as ever lived.”