The "G.A.R. Man" of Hawaii

October 24, 2013

After having served in the 18th New York Infantry and Cavalry, Urband Conklin (Co. C) eventually moved the furthest away from New York than any other 18th veteran when he settled in Hawaii. During the Revolution of 1895, in which a short-lived insurgent rebellion was staged to reinstate an ousted Kingdom of Hawaii against the U. S. backed Republic, five companies of the National Guard of Hawaii were called up to fight. One Civil War veteran to serve in its Company E was Urband Conklin, whom was then in his early fifties. The fighting only lasted a few days and since the revolution saw such little combat and casualties, this coup is largely forgotten by history. Conklin’s company was called up during the first day’s fighting on January 7, 1895, for what became known as the Battle of Diamond Head. Armed with repeating rifles, Company E was under a concentrated fire from insurgents hidden in the elevated ravines and both sides exchanged hundreds of shots.  Being what they called a “G. A. R. man,” Conklin had the respect of the younger soldiers of his company, and his experience in the Civil War hardly raised his adrenaline during the island firefight and was said to have looked like he “did not seem to mind it at all.” At one point, Conklin’s extractor on his Springfield rifle failed, so he had to jam a ramrod in to pry out the empty shells.  Conklin’s life was nearly ended when one bullet from an insurgent struck his ramrod right out of his hands, and merely under his breath someone heard Conklin say to himself rather coolly, “well, they are shooting close,” yet another heard him say, “you son of a gun, that was a [damn] good shot.” Without the loss of a single man, Conklin and his company were eventually forced to retire, but it would become the National Guards’ only defeat. The failed revolution ended two days later.

 

 

Sources

 

Ed Towse, The Rebellion of 1895: A Complete and Concise Account of the Insurrection in the Republic of Hawaii; Honolulu, Hi. Hawaiian Star, 1895, p. 1- 4, 74 & 79.

 

Evening Bulletin (Honolulu, Hi), May 31, 1895.

 

The Hawaiian Star (Honolulu, Hi), January 19, 1895 & May 29, 1895.

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