SPANISH AMERICAN WAR CHRONICLES
splendid little war"
Text and photos
by John Troesser
war came about at a time when America was flexing its muscles and looking with
envy at Europe with it's colonies. The Civil War, while not forgotten, had receded
into the past and former foes were once again united.Two former Confederate generals
served as generals in the Spanish American War.|
The flashpoint came when
the dreadnought battleship U.S.S. Maine was sunk in Havana harbor
in early 1898. Recent findings say that the explosion was probably the
result of an accidental coal dust explosion igniting the ship's powder magazine
- but at the time - it was thought that it was an intentional act of war by the
The mold for this statue was bought many years after its
first casting. 50 of the statues were cast - with 2 of them standing in Texas
(Capitol Grounds and Wichita Falls)
plaque at the base of the statue|
until recent years, the Spanish American war was the conflict that claimed the
fewest American lives. While figures vary somewhat, it is generally accepted that
there were fewer than 500 combat deaths. Fever claimed more lives than combat.|
Texas' involvement in the war was primarily providing men and a place to
train "The Rough Riders". Technically known as the First U. S. Volunteer
Cavalry Regiment - the group was composed of cowboys, adventurers and polo
playing aristocrats from New York. Volunteers swelled the ranks from the regulation
700 to closer to 1,000.
butter mold inscribed with "Remember the Maine!" |
Courtesy Flatonia Historical
was second in command under Col. Leonard Wood. The two men used the patio adjoining
the bar of the Menger
Hotel to sign up cowboys, adventurers and (according to some sources)
even a few outlaws. Several members of the Hole in-the-Wall gang reportedly served.
The polo players arrived by train. |
Their training lasted about one month
and had it gone on - the unit may have missed the war. Roosevelt arrived on May
16th and the unit left on a train May 28th.
Roosevelt Park in
San Antonio was named in honor
of Theodore Roosevelt - and the Menger bar is sometimes called the Roosevelt
Room. Ironically, the Rough Riders made their assault on San Juan Hill as dismounted
Cavalry - their horses having been delayed in Tampa.
The troop trains
leaving San Antonio for Galveston
stopped at towns along the way - where well-wishers would meet the train. In Gonzales,
the Inquirer reported that young women brought cakes to feed the soldiers.
While the soldiers reportedly gave the women a taste of their rations, unfortunately
no mention was made of their reactions.
sudden war caught the Army with no khaki. Troops wore blue flannel uniforms. |
Postcard courtesy of the Flatonia Historical Museum
embarked from Tampa and sailed to Cuba. Dewey's fleet sailed to Manila Bay to
win victory there.|
The War was declared in April and fighting was over
by October. An official end was declared in December.
to the Civil War, the Spanish American War was a footnote in Texas history. Little
remains from that brief period and even the tombstones of the participants are
not all that common. Fort
Sam Houston contains many Spanish American War graves - perhaps because of
the city's use as a training facility. The lengthy spelling of the conflict is
usually abbreviated on the stones as SP AM War.
A letter sent home to
Luling, Texas and now in the Caldwell
County historical society shows that one local volunteer never made it to Cuba.
His service, he complained was spent "draining the swampland of the (Henry)
- One of the survivors - later buried in the State
Center - Another SP AM War casualty with the inscription:
Died January 27, 1899 "erected by his comrades-in-arms"
Cemetery, Washington County
Right - A Spanish American War participant
in Houston's Glenwood
Cemetery is marked "killed in action near Angeles P.I." with the
date of death inscribed as 1899.
John Troesser |
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