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War Stories: Spanish American

War Stories published under this topic are as follows:

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Spanish American I am not quite sure where Major Eskridge’s wound is so do not guess at it. V.

Shrewsbury N.J.
July 14, 98
My dear Mrs. Helmick,
I have been sent home with a broken leg to get ready for Puerto Rico. I am not writing this to tell you about myself, but about the rest of the reg’t, which I know will be good news to most of you.
Note: The 10th U.S. Infantry took part in the action at San Juan Hill, on the far west end of the line.  6612 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American On board the steamer Orizaba June 14th 1898 Today at 9 o’clock, our boat left her moorings at the dock (at Tampa) and cast anchor at the mouth of the bay till 3:30, when she weighed anchor as our fleet of 32 transports carrying 2,300 men were ready to start on our long and perilous journey of 900 miles to Santiago de Cuba. It was a magnificent sight to see the fleet as it put to sea. The transports were arranged in columns of fours at 400 yards interval flanked on either side with the small gunboats and the deadly torpedo boats while the heavy gunboats took up the advance guard. Our boat is one of the largest and fastest in the fleet. Being six hundred tons lading it carries immense stores of dynamite and gun cotton for Sampsons’ fleet. The evening of the 15th we sighted a lighthouse of Dry Tortugas Island. Half an hour later, we are joined by the battleship, Indiania and the firing of the necessary salutes at this hour of the night brings everybody on deck expecting to see a naval engagement. It was also rumored on board that it was a Spanish man o war and the dispatch boat Hornet passed us giving the Captain orders to go full speed for 8 knots then await orders. It was generally believed the the rumor was true and much excitement prevailed for the next hour. When all retired for the night in the hold when some fellow had an attack of the night mare. He jumped from his bunk yelling at the top of his voice "We are lost, lost, lost!" Men jumped from their bunks with rifle in hand and a general stampede for the hatchway followed, but it was soon learned that it was a false alarm and the men again retired after much growling at the poor fellow. The time has passed until now without any incident worth notice. The sea has been very calm. It is amusing to see so many strange fish. Among them are the flying fish, which rise at the boat’s bow like birds on land. At the approach of an intruder we have also seen several man-eating sharks. Our course is south through the Gulf of Mexico to Dry Tortugas, east from there through the Florida straights to the great Bahama Channel, thence south through the windward passage east of Cuba in the Atlantic Ocean then westward through the Carribean Sea to Santiago. Today June 17 we sight land for the first time since we left the U.S. It being a small island on the north of Cuba, we are now between the Isle of Cuba and the Bahama Islands. Friday the 18th, we are now in the windward passage, the sea is very rough and many a poor fellow is hanging his head over the rail looking seaward. At 2 o’clock the Indiania sighted two Spanish boats headed for us and a race for life ensued but as they were light boats they pulled into shallow water and our vessels were unable to follow. Struck through: Sunday 19th nothing of any importance. Monday 20th our boat is now headed westward on the south of Cuba and we are nearing our journeys end. We are now possibly 5 miles from the Island and a great mountain system is to be seen rising majestically above the water with peaks pointing heavenward. It has been a marvelous trip throughout. Could we realize the danger we are in, any wave could conceal a torpedo boat which would shoot a deadly torpedo under us and hurl us into eternity without a moments notice, but no one gives it a single thought. We are crowded very closely in the boat not unlike sardines and some of our officers treat us very mean, especially those who joined the regiment lately from West Point and have never seen service before. One in particular mentioning that enlisted men were like a pack of curs and any place was good enough for them. We occupy less than half of the vessel and the few officers occupy the rest We also feed very poorly and it is wonderful that men can keep up asthey do on such poor diet and crowed so closely in the hold of the vessel, but there is very little sickness except sea sickness. Today the 22nd and we land in an hour. On the evening of the 20th we saw our first sea action. It was our batteries along the shore. It was a magnificent sight to see. The cannon belching forth long streams of fire every tick of the watch. Struck through: Yesterday 21st there was a battle The mouth of the bay is not more than 100 feet wide and just back of it is very large mountains with peaks towering high above the clouds and 14 miles away up this bay is Santiago. Just back of these mountains a fierce fight took place yesterday, 150 Spaniards were killed, 18 captured and 6 of our Marines were lost. Many of our men cried when they learned of the fight that they could not take part. Our boat is the second to land. Well, we ready to Disembark and I will mail this on the boat. Good bye and Regards to all Your son and Brother, Morg
Note: by Morgan James Lewis.  3928 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American U. S. S. POTOMAC,

Caimanera, Cuba, August 23, 1898.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the work done on the wreck of the Maria Teresa since the last inspection made by Lieutenant-Commander Pillsbury, on August 15, 1898.
  6020 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American "On June 15, 1898, the dynamite cruiser VESUVIUS, of which so much had been expected, was at last tested, with what result it remained for the Spaniards cooped up in Santiago harbor to report. The swift craft crept unobserved to within 600 yards of the mouth of the harbor, and, after discharging 1,500 pounds of ammunition at the Spanish ships and the fortification within, escaped unharmed. A Cuban pilot and Ensign L. C. Palmer, who had made the trip ashore and were acquainted with the location of the ships of Admiral Cervera's squadron and the batteries, went aboard the vessel, and she was ordered to the mouth of the harbor. The last order issued to her from the flagship was to be very deliberate. The VESUVIUS took up her position and fired three shots in as many minutes, one from each of her aerial dynamite tubes. The report was a peculiar one, sounding like a cough. There was no recoil perceptible. The first shot struck near the ridge of the hills, and exploded with a tremendous roar, not unlike the thunder of a shell. There was, however, very little flame. The light emitted was rather in the nature of a glow. An immense volume of red earth was blown straight up into the air to a height of 200 feet. The effect of the second shot, which struck higher up on the cliff, was similar to that of the first. The third shot went over the hill, and probably reached the supposed location of the torpedo boats in the harbor. Only two shots were fired in answer by the forts, and these were apparently delivered at random. The VESUVIUS backed out at a high rate of speed, although she was moving with her engines reversed. She swept by the lighthouse tender that was lying to seaward, which was getting away from the fire of the forts, passing her as though she was lying at anchor. The men on the VESUVIUS were delighted with their work and anxious to try their guns again. They expected and were eager to go straight into the harbor, but the effect of the shots were not such as justified an attempt to pass the lower batteries, and VESUVIUS did not repeat her attack."
Note: by General Marcus J. Wright.  3624 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American IN THE TRENCHES IN FRONT OF SANTIAGO DE CUBA. July 8, 1898 To the REGIMENTAL ADJUTANT TWELFTH UNITED STATES INFANTRY. SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of operations of Company F in the combat at Caney, near this place, July 1 last: Company arrived in vicinity of stone blockhouse as part of Second Battalion (Haskell's). After some maneuvering it reached a position behind a hedge, about 450 yards east of blockhouse about 11 a. in. It remained there firing on blockhouse during the right. Between 3 and 4 p.m. the company, one by one, sneaked into the dead space in a ravine immediately in front of its position behind the hedge. About 4 p.m., at the suggestion of General Chaffee, brigade commander, the company advanced up the southeast slope to the blockhouse supported by Company A, Twelfth Infantry. No resistance was met during the advance. Three armed Spaniards were found in the trench in front of blockhouse. They surrendered. Nine men and one officer (Second Lieutenant Canalda) were captured inside the blockhouse. Soon after other troops followed and a vigorous fire was received from the town, which was duly returned. The firing finally ceased about 4.30, I judge, and the battle was ended. Casualties in Company F: Behind the hedge - First Sergeant Miller and Private Scott, killed; Corporal Schendelmeyer, wounded. At the blockhouse – Sergeant Wilson and Private Gering, killed. In the ravine (fire from town) – Private Moore, wounded. I Respectfully submitted. WALLIS O. CLARK, Captain, Twelfth Infantry, Commanding Company F.
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Spanish American When we got to the bay's mouth, we saw our squadron, and decided, that if we went to west, we could gain the protection of our squadron. But there was some distance between us and squadron. One shell hit on our hatch, where our boiler's ventilators were located, so our steam pressure reduced considerably, and our speed slowed. At this time we had suffered a great quantity of hits. One shell cut up the boatswain in half and the part of his body fell into the steering control line. As a result of this, the ship lost partial rudder control. We needed to clear the body from the steering control line. Next, a shell destroyed the steam governor. A third exploded on the poop deck magazine and destroyed it. We had torpedoes cleared for action. Fuses were screwed in place, but we were unable to fire because, the distance was too great during the battle. As a result of these circumstances the commander of both destroyers, Capitan de Navio Villamil ordered us to abandon ship. Myself and part of the crew leaped overboard about 3 miles off the coast. In the water I saw one of my comrades was killed by a bullet to the head. At this time our destroyer, after a series of explosions, sank. When we got to the coast, we went on foot east toward Santiago. Shortly afterwards, we met the men of Lt Caballero and together proceeded to Santiago.
Note: by Lt. Bustamente, executive offficer, Spanish Torpedoboat Destroyer FUROR.  2815 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American U.S.S. "Oregon" San Francisco Cal. March 19th 1898 Weighed anchor at 4.45 .m. and got under way passing between Angel island and Alcatraz. Almost every whistle in the city and every ship on the bay saluted us as we headed for the Golden Gate at a 14 knot clip, even the little government tug "Gen McDowell" added her mite from the wharf at Alcatraz while the military prisoners on the "Rock" waved their hats and we could feel that they were cheering although too far off to be heard.
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Spanish American I was just closing a letter to my family when I felt the crash of the explosion. It was a bursting, rending, and crashing sound, or roar of immense volume, largely metallic in character. It was succeeed by a metallic sound - probably of falling debris - a trembling and lurching motion of the vessel, then an impression of subsidence, attended by an eclipse of the electirc lights and intense darkness within the cabin.
Note: recounted by Captain Charles D. Sigsbee, USS MAINE, Commanding Officer.  11294 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American “Naturally the destination of the expedition had not been made known to the command. So, as we sat in groups under the ship’s awning, or strolled around deck, gazing at the ships ahead and to the rear of us, we were free to suggest ports we might be headed for and to discuss the advantages and defects of each. There were three of these ports that had their champions in this irresponsible discussion; namely, Havana, San Juan, or some other port on Porto Rico, and Santiago. As the fleet only moved from five to seven knots an hour there was ample time for these and endless other discussions concerning our great adventure. For the first day or two there were only four or five gun boats to guard the fleet, and we wondered what would be the result should a daring Spanish torpedo boat charge in on us; but in a day or two other naval crafts joined the convoy and we concluded that an attempt on the fleet might give us some relief from the monotony that was beginning to pall on us. We trusted our convoy. The ALAMO, on which we were billeted, had a number of pontoon boats on deck; therefore we reasoned that we would be among the first to disembark and have a go at the Spaniards. I little dreamed the that these same pontoons were to be used to keep the bare feet of Garcia’s ragged soldiers from getting wet embarking for the battlefield, and that they would be instrumental in my being among the very last to get ashore. On the 15th we turned east through the Nicholas Channel and we knew we were not going to Havana. On the 19th we rounded Cape Maysi, ending all uncertainty as to our destination. On the 20th we arrived in front of Santiago, just two months from the day we left our station. (Fort Reno, Oklahoma) From one of my letters, dated June 20, 8 o’clock, P.M. I take the following: “We are lying in front of Santiago. The Headquarters ship Sehuranca, with General Shafter aboard, visited the American fleet in front of Santiago Bay about 10 o’clock, A.M. to consult with Admiral Sampson, and has not yet returned. In the meantime, the transports have been lying off shore all day rolling about in the heavy swell of the Caribbean sea.” Again on June 21st, “We have done nothing all day but float about in front of Santiago, just within sight of land. You can imagine the growling and complaining and restlessness on board.” Then June 23rd, “Still floundering on the Caribbean swells; never the less, it has been a day of exciting incidents. I went on deck about 5 o’clock A.M. and found we were near land. Between us and the coast were several gunboats and cruisers. We soon reached the general rendezvous and all ships began to move shore – ward toward a small mining village with no harbor, but with a steel dock leading out to ore chutes for loading iron ore into steamers. The name of the village is Daiquiri (pronounced Di – ki – ree).” The disembarkation commenced at once; the men being discharged into ship’s boats, to be towed in strings of half a dozen or so by steam launches. We hoped to be among the first to land, but were disappointed.”
Note: by Lt. Eli Al. Helmick.  2820 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American HEADQUARTERS THIRTY-FOURTH MICHIGAN VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, In Camp near Santiago de Cuba, August 15,1898. The ADJUTANT-GENERAL, Washington, D. C. SIR: In compliance with General Orders, No. 72, I have the honor to make the following report: We arrived at Siboney on the morning of July 1. Owing to the want of proper facilities for unloading it was late in the afternoon before the entire command was disembarked, our baggage and tentage being left on board of the HARVARD. At 9.30 o'clock in the evening I received orders to move with my regiment and the Ninth Massachusetts with all possible haste and report to General Shafter. At 10 o'clock we left Siboney in heavy marching order, the men carrying 100 rounds of ammunition and three days' rations. Owing to the mud and the horrible condition of the roads, and the blockade caused by supply trains going to the front and ambulance trains carrying wounded to Siboney meeting in narrow passes, it was 3 o'clock on the morning of July 2 before I reached General Shafter's headquarters. Reporting to him, I received orders to continue with my command to the front to support General Wheeler. The worn-out condition of my command and the blockages of the path made it impossible for me to reach General Wheeler until 8 a. m. On reporting to General Wheeler, we were ordered to support General Bates on the extreme left of our line. While in this position 7 of my men were wounded. At 3 o'clock p. m. the Thirty-fourth Michigan was ordered back to support General Kent in our center. The Ninth Massachusetts remained with General Bates's brigade. At 10 o'clock on the night of the 2d of July the Spanish forces assaulted our lines, but were repulsed with great loss. The stubbornness and gallantry displayed by the forces in the trenches made it unnecessary for us to take any part in the firing, but the men showed their willingness and eagerness to do their share. On the 5th Major Latimer and his battalion (Companies H, E, D. G) were ordered to report to engineer corps to repair bridges and road to Siboney, and also to do outpost duty. On the 8th Lieutenant Colonel Bennett, with two companies (A and C), was ordered to El Caney to protect life and property of refugees from Santiago. He returned to the regiment the following day. Major Hodskin, with two companies (B and M), was stationed at El Poso as an outpost. The balance of the regiment were ordered Shafter's headquarters, where they were employed in helping commissary department, and did guard duty. On July 10, I was ordered to take six companies (F, K, A, B, C, M) of my command and to guard the left flank of the army against any flank movement that might be made by the enemy. From then until the surrender of General Toral these six companies were on outpost. On July 15 Major Latimer, with Companies H, D, E, G, I, L, received orders to report with my command to General Bates's provisional division. This order was carried out on the next day, the regiment then being together again for the first time since July 5. Very respectfully, JOHN P. PETERMANN, Colonel, Commanding.
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Spanish American SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of that part of the squadron under your command which came under my observation during the engagement with the Spanish fleet on July 3, 1898. At 9.35 a. m. Admiral Cervera, with the Infanta Maria Teresa, Viscaya, Oquendo, Cristobal Colon, and two torpedo boat destroyers, came out of the harbor of Santiago de Cuba in column at distance and attempted to escape to the westward.
Note: account written July 6, 1898.  6280 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American We are out today on the scout on the mountain, about thirty miles from Guantanamo, and probably will not see camp again for about ten days. I have eight men with me, and have made a report of our position and that of the enemy and have sent the same to our captain at Guantanamo.
At present I am under orders of the noted Cuban, General Garcia, and he will give me a guide of ten or twelve Cubans when I return to our camp.
Note: by Marine Sergeant Bloomfield W. Riddle.  7515 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American The day first of July, at six o'clock in the morning, the enemy army main force commanded by General Shafter, composed at least of 15,000 men, with plenty of modern artillery, without counting the insurrects groups, attacked the lines of the city towards the East and Northeast, that is, El Caney, defended by General Vara de Rey with 520 men and two Plasencia type guns and the position of San Juan, occupied by two companies of 250 soldiers.
Note: by Spanish Navy Officer Josť Muller Tejeira, 1898.  7143 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American

Manila, June 8, 1899
Messers Horton, Bassett, Bell and Roberson:
Dear Friends and Comrades:
Your kind combination favor, after having been badly mutilated and miscarried, reached us late last month at San Fernando; a most welcome missive we assure you; and if we could receive more such evidences of good will and friendship from our Anthoney friends, the terrors of war would lose much of its terror.

  6283 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American USS New York, 3 July 1898 Sir-I have the honor to make the following report upon the battle with and the destruction of the Spanish squadron, commanded by Admiral Cervera, off Santiago de Cuba, on Sunday, July 3, 1898. The enemy's vessels came out of the harbor between 9.35 and 10 AM, the head of the column appearing around Cay Smith at 9.31, and emerging from the channel five or six minutes later.
Note: by Admiral Sampson, USN  7311 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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