Spanish-American War.For four centuries after the discovery of America, the island of Cuba was a dependency of Spain. The first attempt to free Cuba by means of a revolution was the Narcisso Lopez expedition which left New Orleans in April, 1850. One detachment of Lopez's little army was commanded by Maj. Theodore O'Hara, who wrote the well known poem entitled "The Bivouac of the Dead." The expedition resulted in failure, but in 1854 the Cuban junta in New York began preparations for a revolution on a more elaborate scale. News of the movement reached the Spanish government at Madrid, the military forces on the island were increased, and the junta abandoned its plans until a more favorable opportunity offered.
An uprising in 1868 resulted in the establishment of a republican form of government, at the head of which were Betancourt, marquis of Santa Lucia, and Eduardo and Ignacio Agramonte. This was followed by a ten years' war, during which time over 100,000 Spanish troops were sent to Cuba to suppress the rebellion. At the close of the conflict, Spain fastened a debt of some $200,000,000 on the people of Cubaabout $125 for every person on the islandand this started preparations for another revolution, In these preparations Gen. Maximo Gomez, who had been commander in chief of the insurgent forces during the latter part of the ten years' war, was a conspicuous figure.
On Feb. 24, 1895, insurrection broke out in the provinces of Santiago, Santa Clara and Matanzas. The other three provincesHavana, Puerto Principe and Pinar del Riodid not join in the uprising against Spanish tyranny and oppression. Within 60 days over 50,000 Spanish troops, under command of Gen. Campos, were in Cuba. In Feb., 1896, Campos was superseded by Gen. Weyler, whose cruelties aroused the indignation of the civilized world, and in Oct., 1897, he was succeeded by Gen. Blanco. By that time the war had cost Spain over $200,000,000, and still the insurrection was not suppressed.
In the meantime, legislative bodies and political conventions in the United States passed resolutions urging the recognition of Cuba's belligerent rights, if not of her independence, and the press of the country was almost unanimous in denouncing the methods Spain was pursuing to conquer the islanders. But it was not until Feb. 15, 1898, that an incident occurred that led the United States to declare war against Spain. About 10 o'clock on the evening of that day the United States battleship Maine was blown up while lying at anchor in Havana harbor, and 266 gallant marines met an untimely death.
On March 29 a resolution was introduced in the United States senate recommending the recognition of Cuba's independence, and on April 11 President McKinley sent a special message to Congress asking for authority to intervene in behalf of the Cubans. In summing up the situation near the close of his message, he said: "In view of these facts and these considerations, I ask Congress to authorize and empower the president to take measures to secure a termination of hostilities between the government of Spain and the people of Cuba, and to secure in the island the establishment of a stable government capable of maintaining order and observing its international obligations, insuring peace and tranquility and the security of its citizens as well as our own, and to use the military and naval forces of the United States as may be necessary for these purposes."
Nine days later the president approved the resolutions "for the recognition of the independence of Cuba, demanding that the government of Spain relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba, and to withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters, and directing the president of the United States to use the land and naval forces of the United States to carry these resolutions into effect."
President McKinley immediately communicated with the Spanish minister at Washington, acquainting him with the spirit of the resolutions, but the minister asked for his passports and withdrew. About the same time the Spanish government sent passports to Minister Woodford, thus closing diplomatic relations between the two countries. On the 22nd the president proclaimed a blockade of certain Cuban ports, and the next day called for 125,000 volunteers to enforce the resolutions of the 20th, though as yet there had been no formal declaration of war. On the 25th the president sent to Congress another special message, in which he recounted the events of the last few days, and concluded by saying: "In view of the measures so taken, and with a view to the adoption of such other measures as may be necessary to enable me to carry out the expressed will of the Congress of the United States in the premises. I now recommend to your honorable body the adoption of a joint resolution declaring that a state of war exists between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain."
Congress was prompt to respond, and the same day an act was passed declaring that a state of war had existed since the 21st, though as a matter of fact the war department had been mobilizing troops for nearly two weeks prior to that date. When the news that war had been declared reached Kansas, enthusiastic demonstrations were made in a number of the leading cities and towns. At Leavenworth salutes were fired at the fort and the National Soldiers' Home, and 2,000 veterans in the home marched up and down the main parade in the rain, singing war songs and cheering. A company of the National Guard at Fort Scott quickly assembled at the armory, ready to move at a moment's notice, and a number of Spanish flags were either burned or rammed into the cannon used in firing a salute, and blown to shreds. The daily papers of Ottawa published a call for a meeting at the skating rink for the purpose of organizing a company, and at the meeting about 50 men signed the roll. Similar demonstrations were made at Olathe, Pittsburg, Independence, Salina and other towns, and at Erie there were patriotic speeches and a salute from "Old Abe," the cannon belonging to the Republican club. The Sunflower State was ready.
In accordance with the action of the war department, Gov. Leedy issued his call on April 26 for three regiments of infantry. As Kansas had furnished nineteen regiments in the Civil and Indian wars, it was decided to number the first regiment raised for the war with Spain the Twentieth, the others to follow in order. The first company to report for duty was one recruited at Kansas City, Kan., by Frederick Funston, who was commissioned colonel of the Twentieth regiment, which was mustered into the United States service at Topeka, from May 9 to 13, with the following officers: Frederick Funston, colonel; Edward C. Little, lieutenant-colonel; Frank H. Whitman and Wilder S. Metcalf, majors; William A. Deford, adjutant; Walter P. Hull, quartermaster; Charles A. Hoffman, surgeon; Henry D. Smith, assistant surgeon; John G. Schlieman, chaplain. At the time of muster in the strength of the regiment was 46 officers and 964 enlisted men.
Of the companies composing the regiment, Company A was recruited at Topeka; B at Kansas City, Kan.; C at Leavenworth; D in Crawford county; E in Anderson and Woodson counties; F in Bourbon and adjoining counties; G at Independence; H at Lawrence; I at Iola, Topeka, Paola and Osawatomie; K at Ottawa and Pleasanton; L at Abilene and Junction City; M at Salina and Minneapolis.
Almost immediately after the regimental organization was completed, the Twentieth was ordered to San Francisco, where it arrived on May 20, 1898. Here it remained until Oct. 27, when the first detachment embarked for the Philippine islands. The remainder of the regiment followed on Nov. 8, and by the first week in December the entire command was in the Philippines ready for duty. While at San Francisco the time was spent in drilling and maneuvering, so that few volunteer regiments were better disciplined or better drilled than the Twentieth Kansas.
The regiment's first appearance on the firing line was on Feb. 4, 1899, when the outposts were attacked about 10 o'clock in the evening, the firing continuing all night and until noon of the 5th, when an advance was ordered and the enemy was driven back to his trenches about 2 miles from Manila. There was some skirmishing on the 7th, and on the 10th the regiment took part in the capture of Caloocan. In addition to these engagements, the following list of actions in which the Twentieth participated is taken from the report of the adjutant-general: Marilao, March 27; Malolos, March 30; Bagbag river, April 25; Calumpit, April 26-27; Santo Tomas river, May ; occupation of San Fernando, May 6; and the defense of San Fernando, May 25. The regiment was also in skirmishes at Tulijan, March 25; Malinta, March 26; Poli, March 27; Bigoa and Guiginto, March 29; Grand river, April 27; Bacolor, May 13; and Santa Rita, May 15.
Col. Funston was promoted brigadier-general on May 4, 1899, and on the 9th Maj. Wilder S. Metcalf was made colonel. On the 25th of the same month Companies D and H, and one platoon of Company I, accompanied Gen. Funston on a skirmishing and reconnoitering party to Santa Rosa. On June 25 the three battalions of the regiment were United at Manila, but on July 12 the third battalion (Companies C, D, H and I) was ordered to report to Gen. Lawton at Paranaque, to relieve a detachment of the Fourteenth U. S. Infantry. This battalion rejoined the regiment at Manila on Aug. 9, and on Sept. 3 the "Fighting Twentieth" sailed for Hongkong, China, where it arrived on the 6th. The homeward voyage was begun on the 14th, and on Oct. 10 the regiment again went into camp at the Presidio, San Francisco, where it was mustered out on Oct. 28, with 46 officers and 720 enlisted men. On Nov. 3 "the boys" reached Topeka, where they were given a cordial reception and banquet, after which they returned to their homes.
All together, 92 officers and 1,364 enlisted men were accounted for on the muster rolls of the Twentieth infantry. Of these 3 officers and 19 men were killed in action; 11 men died of wounds; 10 officers and 120 men were wounded, but recovered; 35 died of disease, and 4 deserted.
Shortly after the regiment was mustered out, the Grand Army posts over the state started a movement to raise a fund for the purpose of giving a medal to every member of it. The fund was raised and some 1,200 medals were deposited with the department commander of the Grand Army for distribution. The Topeka Capital of April 20, 1904, published a list of those who had not yet received their medals, and whose location was unknown. This list contained about 125 names.
The Twenty-first regiment was mustered at Topeka on May 12 and 14, 1898, with the following officers: Thomas G. Fitch, colonel; Charles McCrum, lieutenant-colonel; Harry A. Smith and Willis L. Brown, majors; John B. Nicholson, adjutant; John C. Little, quartermaster; Frank C. Armstrong, surgeon; Thomas C. Biddle and Fred W. Turner, assistant surgeons; William E. Woodward, chaplain.
Company A was recruited at Great Bend; B, at Garden City; C, at Wichita; D, at Smith Center; E, at Hutchinson; F, at Winfield; G, at Osage City; H, at Eldorado; I, at Hays City; K, at Kingman; L, at Wellington; M, at Marion and McPherson, the strength at time of muster in being 46 officers and 958 enlisted men.
The regiment left Topeka on May 17 for Lysle, Ga., where it remained in Camp George H. Thomas, drilling and doing camp duty, until Aug. 25. During that time the regiment suffered an epidemic of typhoid fever which carried off 20 of its members. On Aug. 25 the Twenty-first was ordered to Camp Hamilton, Ky., and just a month later left that place for Fort Leavenworth, where it arrived on Sept. 27. The men were given a furlough for 30 days to visit their homes. This furlough was extended to Nov. 10, and on Dec. 10 the regiment was mustered out with 46 officers and 1,184 enlisted men. Concerning the Twenty-first, the adjutant-general's report says: "This regiment was made up of sturdy material, well officered, and it is a source of regret to officers and men that they were not given an opportunity to demonstrate their efficiency in the field."
The Twenty-second infantry was mustered in at Topeka, May 11 to 17, 1898, with 46 officers and 963 enlisted men. Of this regiment, Henry C. Lindsey was colonel; James Graham, lieutenant-colonel; Alexander M. Harvey and Chase Doster, majors; Clay Allen, adjutant; Henry A. Lamb (and later Charles Lindsey), quartermaster; Josephus P. Stewart, surgeon; Louis C. Duncan, Wladimir F. de Niedman and Frank H. Martin, assistant surgeons; Valeda H. Biddison, chaplain.
Company A was recruited at Parsons; B, at Concordia; C, at Beloit; D, at Holton; E, at Emporia; F, at Columbus; G, at Norton; H, at Emporia; I, at Clay Center; K, at Seneca; L, at Atchison; M, at Blue Rapids, though a large number of the members of this last named company were from Manhattan. Company H, while credited to Emporia, was called the "College Company," being made up of students of the State University, Agricultural College and State Normal School.
The regiment remained at Camp Leedy, Topeka, until May 25, when it was ordered to Camp Alger, Va. Soon after reaching there, the war department ordered each of the twelve companies to be recruited to a maximum of 106 enlisted men. Officers were detailed to return to Kansas to scure the necessary additional recruits, and in a short time the regiment's muster rolls showed 1,272 names. Early in August the regiment moved to Thoroughfare, Va., and on Aug. 29 to Camp Meade, near Middletown, Pa., where it remained until Sept. 9 when orders were received to proceed at once to Fort Leavenworth. Here a furlough of 30 days was granted to the men, and on Nov. 3, 1898, the regiment was mustered out, with 46 officers and 1,230 enlisted men. The Twenty-second was composed mainly of farmers' sons and students from the state's higher educational institutions. Consequently the personnel of the regiment was of a high order, and had opportunity offered it would no doubt have added to the state's laurels by its conduct on the field.
On May 3, 1898, while the three regiments were in process of formation, the Topeka Women's Relief Corps, No. 94, held a meeting and decided to present each regiment with a stand of colors, consisting of the Stars and Stripes and the blue state flag of Kansas. A committee was appointed to solicit contributions to purchase the flags, and in three days reported $200. Within a week the entire amount was ready, and on May 10 the ceremony of presentation took place at Topeka, though all the flags were not ready at the time. Those that were delayed were forwarded to the regiments after they left the state.
The Twenty-third infantry, an organization of two battalions, was composed entirely of colored men from the towns in the eastern part of the state. Company A was recruited at Topeka, and reported for duty on July 2, 1898; Company B, from Lawrence, reported on July 5; Companies C and D reported on the 9th, the former from Kansas City, Kan., and the latter from Fort Scott; Company E, from Wichita, reported on the 14th; Company F, from Parsons, Coffeyville and Fort Scott, on the 16th; Company G, from Kansas City, Kan., on the same date; and Company H, from Atchison, reported on the 19th, when the regiment was mustered into the U. S. service with 29 officers and 850 enlisted men.
The officers of the regiment were as follows: James Beck, lieutenant-colonel; John M. Brown and George W. Ford, majors; Samuel T. Jones, adjutant; Frederick M. Stone, quartermaster; Charles S. Sunday and Frederick D. G. Harvey, assistant surgeons.
On Aug. 22 the regiment broke camp at Topeka and proceeded by rail to New York, where it sailed on the 25th for Santiago, Cuba, arriving there on the 31st. The next day it moved to San Luis, where it remained until Feb. 28, 1899. It then returned to Santiago, and on March 1 embarked for Newport News, Va. From Newport News it returned to Kansas and on April 10 was mustered out at Fort Leavenworth. The peace protocol between the United States and Spain was signed on Aug. 12, 1898, ten days before the Twenty-third left Topeka. By the armistice thus declared hostilities had ceased before it reached Cuba, but it won the reputation of a well drilled and well disciplined regiment, and, like so many volunteer regiments, it only lacked the opportunity to demonstrate its valor and efficiency as a military organization.
In addition to the foregoing volunteer organizations, there were 31 Kansans held commissions in the regular army in the Philippines; Joseph K. Hudson was commissioned brigadier-general on May 27, 1898, and served until Oct. 3, 1899; Dr. Wladimir F. de Niedman became a brigade surgeon; Capt. Ralph Ingalls was made assistant commissary of subsistence, and near the close of the war the rank of brevet brigadier-general was awarded to Col. Wilder S. Metcalf. Taken all in all, no citizen of Kansas need to feel ashamed of the record of his state in the Spanish-American war.
On March 7, 1899, the legislature passed an act appropriating $20,000, or so much thereof as might be necessary, "for the purpose of paying the claims of persons for services rendered and expenses incurred by them in the active service, and in raising, recruiting, transporting, subsisting, equipping and medical examination of Kansas volunteers in the Spanish-American war," etc. (See Stanley's Administration.)
Hon. John C. Nicholson, who succeeded ex-Gov. Crawford as state agent, in the Kansas Magazine for July, 1909, says: "The State of Kansas expended in equipping the Twentieth, Twenty-first, Twenty-second and Twenty-third Kansas regiments for the Spanish-American war, the sum of $37,787.84, of which amount the United States has reimbursed the state in the sum of $37,200.19."
The final treaty of peace was concluded in Dec., 1899. During and immediately after the war, several societies of soldiers and marines were organized to perpetuate the friendships and associations formed while the war was in progress. On April 18, 1904, the national encampment of the United Spanish War Veterans was organized by the consolidation of the National Army and Navy Spanish War Veterans, the National Association of Spanish-American War Veterans, and the Society of the Service Men of the Spanish War, with Edward J. Gihon, of Wakefield, Mass., commander-in-chief. The society is conducted on a plan similar to that of the Grand Army of the Republic, by being divided into state departments, all soldiers and sailors of the regular and volunteer army, navy and marine corps who served honorably in the war with Spain or the insurrection in the Philippines being eligible to membership. The annual encampment of the Kansas department in 1910 was held at Kansas City, Kan., in June, when Maj. A. M. Harvey of Topeka was elected department commander, and Fred Barrett of Blue Rapids, vice-commander.Pages 720-726 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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