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Military Quotes

The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to have its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.

-- Sir William Francis Butler

War Stories: Spanish American

War Stories published under this topic are as follows:

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Spanish American FROM OUR OWN SOLDIER BOYS. Tampa, Florida, June 5th, 1898 Capt. T.W.Collier, Raton, New Mexico. My Dear Captain: To-day being Sunday and the ‘rough riders’ being religiously inclined, divine services were well attended. As a matter of course the officers were all present and a goodly number of the troopers. Promptly at nine o’clock Chaplain Brown ascended the pulpit, (a bale of hay in the shade of a large pine tree), and opened the service by singing that familiar hymn, “My Country ‘tis of Thee.” Taking for his text, “Put ye in the sickle for the harvest is ripe” the chaplain delivered an able and instructive sermon, after which the services were closed by singing the hymn, “God be with you ‘till we meet again.” Monday, June 6th This morning we had regimental drill, lasting over two hours. Many and difficult movements were successfully executed after which the Colonel complimented the boys on their rapid improvement. At two o’clock this afternoon, Colonel Wood announced that the seventy men out of each eight troops (there are eighty men in each troop) should break camp and pack up immediately and prepare to embark for Cuba. This news was received with great rejoicing by the troops that were ordered to go. The troops that were to be left behind could not help showing a feeling of sadness, but they cordially congratulated the lucky ones. Troop G, being made up of good material is, of course, one of the eight troops above mentioned. Our captain, (Captain Llewellen) selected the seventy men who are to go with us, and I am proud to say that not one of the Raton boys in the troop is to be left behind. All are to go. They have behaved remarkably well, have been obedient and attentive to their duties. They are indeed a credit to the “Gate City.” Tuesday, June 7th. Everything is quiet in camp this morning. We are patiently awaiting the order to march. We expect to go aboard the transports this afternoon. Wednesday, June 8th. We are on board the transport “Yucatan.” It is a beautiful day with a good breeze blowing. There are several vessels loaded with troops. In all there are about 25,000 soldiers. It is indeed a grand sight. As each vessel is loaded she is drawn out of the channel by a steam tug, amid the waving of flags, the blowing of whistles and the cheers of several thousands of people. The most hearty good will prevails. The men are wild with glee at the prospect of going to Cuba. I don’t know whether we will sail to-night or not. I hope we will, as all are very anxious to go. Thursday, June 9th. We are still in the bay, all of the transports are loaded and anchored here in the bay. It was reported that some Spanish war ships were seen last evening off the coast of Florida, within six hours sail of us. We will not sail until it is found whether or not the report is true. If the report is true it must be that only a small portion of the Spanish fleet is shut up in the harbor of Santiago. I will write you as often as possible and keep you posted as to our where-abouts. So long as we remain here mail can be sent ashore on dispatch boats. The boat is about to go now so I will have to quit. I am feeling fine. The boys all join me in sending kindest regards to the people of Ratonin general. P.S. Please mention in THE RANGE that mail for the regiment may be sent to Tampa. It will be forwarded from here to whatever place the regiment may be stationed. Mail for our boys should be sent to Troop G, 1st U.S.V. Cavalry. D.J.Leahy The Raton Range, July 21, 1898: San Juan Heights A Description of the Fight by One of Raton’s Soldiers who was There! By Lieut. DAVID J. LEAHY. To CAPTAIN T. W. COLLIER: At 3:30 o’clock, p.m., June 30th, the order to break camp was given. At about 4:30 the march was commenced toward Santiago with “G” Troop in the lead. After traversing many rough roads and crossing two streams, we went into camp at 9:30 p.m. Our camp was on the eastern slope of a ridge thickly overgrown with high grass and Spanish bayonets. The battery consisting of four field pieces being placed in our front about 70 yards distant. Coffee was made and supper eaten and the boys quietly turned in being somewhat tired after their long and tedious march. At 4:30 in the morning we were quietly awakened by Lieut. Woodbury Kane, who was officer of the guard, no reveille being sounded on account of our close proximity to the Spanish lines. Breakfast, consisting of coffee and hard tack was quickly prepared and eaten, after which the order was issued to roll up bedding preparatory to commencing the march. Just before sunrise the Grimes battery (the same that opened the fight at the Battle of Gettysburg at the same hour on the same day thirty five years ago) fired the first shot into the Spanish lines. After six shells had been fired by our batteries, suddenly, and without any warning, we heard the whirl of a Spanish shell. Their aim was true and the fuse had been well timed, for the shell burst immediately over us, and we began discussing the advisability of moving. Our time for consideration was brief, for in less than two minutes another shell landed among us, wounding several of our men, among whom were Ash and McSparron of Troop “G.” We were then ordered to march to the left a distance of 200 yards. This took us out of range of the artillery fire of the Spaniards and we quietly watched the battle between the big guns. After a few hours firing the Spanish batteries ceased replying and the supposition was that they were silenced. Almost simultaneously with the beginning of the battle by the Grimes battery, Gen. Lawton’s division on El Caney two and one half miles to our right. In a short time information came to us that Gen. Lawton was heavily engaged and we were ordered to march to his assistance. While marching toward the left to El Caney, we found that the Spaniards had taken up a strong position on San Juan Heights, two parallel ridges, one about 250 yards in the rear of and nearer Santiago than the other. We were about 400 yards distant from the first ridge and partially concealed by underbrush when we were fired upon by the Spaniards from the ridge. Orders were given to be down but not to return the Spanish fire, as their exact position was not yet known. Here we were compelled to remain for a period of three hours, the bullets whistling over our heads amongst the trees and some of them cutting the grass close beside us. It was indeed a trying position, but none of the boys murmured. It was while in this position that Capt. O’Neil of Troop “A” was killed and Lieut. Haskell of “F” Troop was mortally wounded. Finally the order to move forward was given and was indeed readily obeyed. Our next position was on the road leading to the left of the ridge. Here a halt was called while the field officers surveyed the ground and decided upon the movement to be made by each troop. In front of the Spanish works and between us and them was an open field 300 yards in width. Having but four pieces of artillery, it was decided that the ridges could be captured only by making a charge. The order to charge was given and with loud cheers the men leaped forward. We had no shelter and were in plain sight of the Spaniards, yet the men pressed eagerly forward, the main work of the officers being to keep the fastest runners back in the line. They ran forward, cheering wildly, and when within 80 yards of the trenches the Spaniards broke and ran. It was then the sharp reports of the Krag-Jorgesen Rifles could be heard and many a Spaniard fell backward and found his last resting-place in the trench he had so lately occupied. The coolness of our men was remarkable, and that their aim was true, the number of Spaniards that lie in close proximity to the trenches is the best evidence. After being driven from the first ridge, the Spaniards fled to the second ridge, there taking up a similar position to that occupied on the first one. On reaching the top of the ridge a halt was called to re-form our ranks which were somewhat broken during the charge. Some of our men were killed and many wounded, but we had gained the ridge and as soon as the Stars and Stripes were planted on the works on which the Spanish flag was flying a few minutes before a ringing cheer went up from thousands of throats. Our ranks having been re-formed, it was decided to drive the Spaniards from the second ridge. We started forward on double time. It was at this juncture that a Mauser bullet pierced my right arm, breaking the bone and turning me completely around. Serj. (Rol) Fullenwider, who was near me seeing that I was wounded, helped me over the crest of the hill and beyond the reach of the Spanish bullets. He then cut away my sleeve and helped to bind up the wound, then returning to the troop while I was taken to the hospital by one of the hospital stewards. About five minutes after being wounded, an exultant cheer reached my ears and I knew the second ridge had been taken and the Battle of San Juan Heights was ended. The Americans had again won and the Spaniards were again defeated. D. J. LEAHY
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Spanish American Once through the entrance, as I deemed it wise to keep moving in order not to be taken by surprise when the ships had no headway, and as, at the same time, I did not wish to reach our destination before we had sufficient daylight to show us the position of the Spanish ships, the speed of the squadron was reduced to four knots, while we headed toward the city of Manila.
Note: by Admiral George Dewey  9610 Reads  Printer-friendly page

Spanish American "The WINSLOW arrived off Cardenas from Matanza at 9 a.m. on the 11th, having left her station on the blockade to obtain an additional supply of coal, the amount of fuel in her bunkers being reduced to 5 tons. I was directed to apply to Captain Todd, commanding the U.S.S. WILMINGTON, for necessary supplies. On boarding the U.S.S. WILMINGTON I was informed by her commanding officer of his intention to enter Cardenas Harbor on the afternoon of that day. I was directed to receive on board a Cuban pilot, Santos, to take with me the revenue cutter HUDSON to sound this channel, and, in company with the HUDSON, to sweep the channel for torpedoes. This work I completed by noon, except for sweeping the channel which could not be done on account of the grounding of the HUDSON. That vessel touched lightly but managed to work off without injury. The WINSLOW, therefore, dragged the channel with grapnels and returned to the WILMINGTON, reporting to captain Todd upon the practicality of the entrance. The entrance was begun at 12.30, high tide, the HUDSON on the starboard side and the WINSLOW on the port side of the WILMINGTON. As it was thought possible that gunboats might attempt to escape, the HUDSON was sent along the western side and the WINSLOW along the eastern side of the bay to intercept them in event of such movement. Not finding them the three vessels met off the town at a distance of about 3,500 yards. When in this position the WINSLOW was signaled to approach the WILMINGTON within hail and I was directed by Captain Todd to go in and investigate a small gunboat then observed for the first time, painted gray with black smokestack, apparently not under steam and moored to a wharf, to the left of which arose a compact mass of buildings close to the water front. Torpedoes were set for surface runs, the fans upon the war-noses were run up so as to provide for explosion at short range for use alongside the gunboat, and all preparations were made for immediate action. At a distance of about 1,500 yards, at which time the WINSLOW was advancing at about 12 knots, which seems her maximum speed in quiet shoal water, the first gun of the engagement was fired from the bow of the Spanish gunboat, marked by a clear puff of white smoke. This shot, which passed over the WINSLOW, was at once replied to by that ship and was the signal for the commencement from the beach of a rapidly sustained fire, characterized primarily by a total absence of smoke. At the commencement of this firing I received a flesh wound in the left thigh. As the action advanced a cloud of haze collected on shore at the location of this battery and when closer I detected one or two gun flashes from among the buildings but at no time could I detect the exact position of the guns. My uncertainty as to the position of the enemy was attested to by the commanding officer of the HUDSON and by officers commanding gun divisions on the WILMINGTON who inquired of me shortly after the action what I made out to be the enemy's exact position. At this time the wind was blowing from the ships toward the shore. The first shot that pierced the WINSLOW rendered her steam and hand-steering gear inoperative and damaged them beyond repair. Efforts to work the hand-steering gear from aft were frustrated by the wrecking of that mechanism and the rupture of both wheel ropes; relieving tackles failed to operate the rudder. For a short time the vessel was held on her bows in position by use of her propellers. She then swung broadside to the enemy. A shell now pierced her engine room rendering one engine inoperative. I directed my attention to maintaining fire from her 1-pounder guns, to keep the vessel constantly in movement, so as to reduce the chances of her being hit, to endeavoring to withdraw from short range, and to keeping clear of the line of fire of the WILMINGTON and HUDSON. The use of the remaining engine, had the effect of throwing her stern toward the enemy upon backing, while going ahead, threw her bow in the same direction. Under the heavy fire of the WILMINGTON, the fire of the enemy slackened. The Spanish gunboat was silenced and put out of action early in the engagement. The WINSLOW now being practically disabled, I signaled to the HUDSON to tow us out of action. She very gallantly approached us, and we succeeded in getting a line to her. Previous to this, the alternate rapid backing and steaming ahead of the WINSLOW had had the effect of working her out from under the enemy's batteries, and in this way a distance of about 300 yards was gained. Finding that we were working our way out in this manner, I directed Ensign Bagley to concentrate his attention upon the movement of the ship, watching the vessel so as to keep her out of the WILMINGTON's way, and to direct the movements of the man at the reversing gear, mechanical communication from deck to engine room being impracticable. This necessitated Mr. Bagley making repeated short trips from the deck to the foot of the engine room ladder while directing the vessel's course, and at the moment of being on deck he stood abreast the starboard gun close to a group of men who had been stationed below, but who had been sent on deck from the disabled machinery. A shell hitting, I believe, a hose reel, exploded instantly, killing Ensign Bagley and two others and mortally wounding two. This accident, which occurred at the close of the action, was virtually its end; the enemy fired a few more shots, but was soon completely silenced by the heavy fire of the WILMINGTON. The conduct of Ensign Bagley and the men with him, as well as that of the crew who survived the fight, is beyond commendation. After seeing the dead and wounded removed from the WINSLOW and conveyed on board the WILMINGTON, I turned over the command of the ship to Gunner's Mate G. P. Brady, my own injury preventing me from performing active duty for the time being."
Note: by Lt. J. B. Bernadou, Commander, USS WINSLOW.  3503 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 "A regiment of the Second Brigade was jamming itself through the trail, and then came some of the Sixteenth Infantry's bandsmen. In battle, bandsmen followed a regiment and carried off the wounded. The band leader and the drum major were swearing earnestly. A soldier stumbled and dropped. His rifle fell from his hand. On the instant a bandsman darted forward, throwing his tenor horn into the brush. He grabbed the rifle and unbuckled the dead man's cartridge belt. It was this sort of thing that the drum major was swearing about - half the bandsmen had discarded their instruments and picked up rifles and cartridge belts. 'You hear me, pick up that goddamn horn! You hear me!' The bandsman paid no attention. 'You pick up that goddamn horn!' shrilled the drum major. ' An' that's an order!' The bandsman looked at him. 'Not by a goodamsite, Dan' he said. 'You think I'm agoin to get shot at an' not shoot back!' 'Goddam!' ejaculated the drum major. He darted at another bandsman, who was unbuckling a cartridge belt from a soldier who had been wounded - and who was helping him do it. The band had few instrumens left; but for every missing horn or fife there was a Krag rifle and a belt of cartridges. A fortnight later I saw some of those instruments; they had bullet holes in them, they were dented and battered and roughly straightened out."
Note: by Private Charles Johnson Post.  2749 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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This Day in History
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