Historik Orders, Ltd.

British Campaign Medals and Orders Singles and Groups, Russian Badges and Medal Gallery


"The war of the United States with Spain was very brief. Its results were many, startling, and of world-wide meaning."
Henry Cabot Lodge
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The Battleship Maine 1898.

Written by Lt. George Blow of the USS MAINE, written the day after the USS MAINE was lost.

Letterhead: New York and Cuba Mail Steamship Company]
On Board: S.S. City of Washington
[Havana], February 16, 1898

I sent you two cablegrams last night telling you of my safety, and before they both reached you before the morning papers, and that you were spared the agony of suspense and uncertainty.
It seems almost selfish to speak of ourselves even when so many hundreds are mourning lost dear ones. Still I could only give you the brief statement that I was safe and unhurt.
I can not tell you now of my miraculous escape, as the scene is still too terrible to recall, even had I the time. I will only say that I was in my room, writing to you when the ship blew up, and that when I rushed for the ladder leading on deck I found the door closed. In pitch darkness, with explosion following explosion, and expecting each second to be blown into the air, or drowned by the inrushing water, I found the other door and reached the ladder - probably the last.
The whole ship was blown into the air, except the officer’s quarters - which explains why so many of them were saved. In fact we only lost two, and only our [unreadable] was slightly wounded. Among the men all [underlined] were blown up, but we saved about 50, leaving about 250 dead. I can not write of the horrors now. Each man lived a lifetime of horror in a few seconds and all would like to forget it if possible.
Whether we were torpedoed by the Spanish, blown up by a mine, or whither the Cubans did it to bring on a war - or whether it was one of these spontaneous explosions, we do not know. I hate to suspect the Spanish, and their actions, sympathy and [unreadable] seems to indicate that they [underlined] are ignorant of the cause. For the present we must withhold our .... [part missing]
It is almost certain that Congress will declare war today, without waiting -and it is possible that we may be prisoners before night. If so you must not worry, as we are sure to relieve good treatment on account of the sympathy of the people.
I escaped in my trousers, undershirt and [unreadable]. Of course lost my glasses and haven’t a cent in the world. [unreadable] will look out for us when he gets time. At present we have other and sadder duties to our lost shipmates.
do not worry about me darling, for I am strong and able to stand whatever may come - be it what it may. If we were destroyed by treachery, we must avenge our dead when the opportunity occurs.
In my struggle in the darkness and water, you and the babies were in my mind, dearest. I found time to help our poor devil to climb to a place of safety. Whether he escaped or who he was I do not know. Nearly all the saved among the crew were people who had blown overboard and afterwards picked up. One man was picked up a hundred yards away.
The mail steamer has arrived and brought me your two dear letters of the 9th and 10th. As the mail goes out again immediately I must stop and read them and see if they require immediate answer.
Well, dearest, I have read the letters and find they contain good news so I will not attempt to answer them now.
God bless you dearest. He has been very good to us. Love and kisses for the dear little ones and a heart full to bursting of love
and longing for you my darling.
I must go to work, love to all, Preston
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This medal grouping belonged to a Spanish American Era War veteran who also served in the Philippines and WWI. The group consists of a National Level commanders membership medal, #10996 . The rank bar insignia has a broken wing . The next medal is a Philippine Insurrection campaign, #10996 traces to Corp William J.A.Rieker - Ord.Sect., and comes with the ribbon bar and lapel stud; a WWI Victory Medal with 5 campaign bars, it appears the broach has been placed on backwards assuming an attempt of repairing the piece; the last medal is a Military Order of the Serpent, a Span Am vets society; and last is a silver "Marksman's" badge. The WWI medal has classic battle bars. The Flag on the Spanish American War medal is the original.

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These Sharpshooter's medal's are U.S. and late 19th Century. The men who earned them most likely participated in the Spanish American War. Both medals are hallmarked on the reverse TIFFANY & CO. The three bar medal is for "small arms".

Condition: NEF.
Following its declaration of war against Spain issued on April 25, 1898, the United States added the Teller Amendment asserting that it would not attempt to exercise hegemony over Cuba. Two days later Commodore George Dewey sailed (George Dewey was born on December 26, 1837 in Montpelier, Vermont. Upon his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1857, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1861. During the Civil War he served with Admiral Farragut during the Battle of New Orleans and as part of the Atlantic blockade. From 1871 until 1896, Dewey held a variety of positions in the Navy. In 1897 he was named commander of the Asiatic Squadron, thanks to the help of strong political allies, including Assistant Secretary of the Navy), from Hong Kong with Emilio Aguinaldo on board. Fighting began in the Philippine Islands at the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1 where Commodore George Dewey reportedly exclaimed, "You may fire when ready, Gridley," destroyed the Spanish fleet under Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo. However, he did not have enough manpower to capture Manila and so Aguinaldo's guerrillas maintained their operations until 15,000 U.S. troops arrived at the end of July. On the way, the cruiser Charleston stopped at Guam and accepted its surrender from its Spanish governor who was unaware his nation was at war. Although a peace protocol was signed by the two belligerents on August 12, Commodore Dewey and Maj. Gen. Wesley Merritt, leader of the army troops, assaulted Manila the very next day, unaware that peace had broken out.

News of the victory in the Battle of Manila Bay reached Present McKinley on May 7 and soon Dewey became a national hero. Congress awarded him a promotion to real admiral and handed out citations to members of his fleet. Although he thought about running for president, he settled for writing accounts of his famous victory and publishing his autobiography in 1913.

In late April, Andrew Summers Rowan made contact with Cuban General Calixto García who supplied him with maps, intelligence, and a core of rebel officers to coordinate U.S. efforts on the island. The U.S. North Atlantic Squadron left Key West for Cuba on April 22 following the frightening news that the Spanish home fleet commanded by Admiral Pascual Cervera had left Cadiz and entered Santiago, having slipped by U.S. ships commanded by William T. Sampson and Winfield Scott Schley. They arrived in Cuba in late May.

Pascual Cervera y Topete was born in Medina Sidonia, Cádiz, Spain, in 1839. His naval career began in 1852, when he attended the Naval Academy of San Fernando. During his career, Cervera showed outstanding dedication and courage which resulted in several promotions of rank. Among others, Cervera served in the Moroccan campaign of 1859 and the Spanish-American War of 1898.

During the War of 1898, he commanded of the squadron sent to protect the colonies in the New World from the United States. He entered Santiago Bay, Cuba, May 19, 1898 where he was immediately blockaded by Admiral W.T. Sampson's fleet. On July 3, Cervera followed orders and tried an heroic but unsuccessful escape from the enemy's blockade. As a result, he lost all his ships and became a prisoner of war. However, his daring won him the respect and admiration of the enemy forces. He was released and returned to Spain that September. He continued working for the Spanish Crown for several years before retiring to Puerto Real where he died in 1909.

War actually began for the U.S. in Cuba in June when the Marines captured Guantánamo Bay and 17,000 troops landed at Siboney and Daiquirí, (this small village, 14 miles east of Santiago de Cuba, became a focal point of the U.S. invasion of Cuba), east of Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city on the island. At that time Spanish troops stationed on the island included 150,000 regulars and 40,000 irregulars and volunteers while rebels inside Cuba numbered as many as 50,000. Total U.S. army strength at the time totaled 26,000, requiring the passage of the Mobilization Act of April 22 that allowed for an army of at first 125,000 volunteers (later increased to 200,000) and a regular army of 65,000. On June 22, U.S. troops landed at Daiquiri where they were joined by Calixto García and about 5,000 revolutionaries.

U.S. troops attacked the San Juan heights on July 1, 1898. Dismounted troopers, including the African-American Ninth and Tenth cavalries and the Rough Riders commanded by Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt went up against Kettle Hill while the forces led by Brigadier General Jacob Kent charged up San Juan Hill and pushed Spanish troops further inland while inflicting 1,700 casualties. While U.S. commanders were deciding on a further course of action, Admiral Cervera left port only to be defeated by Schley. On July 16, the Spaniards agreed to the unconditional surrender of the 23,500 troops around the city. A few days later, Major General Nelson Miles sailed from Guantánamo to Puerto Rico. His forces landed near Ponce and marched to San Juan with virtually no opposition.

Representatives of Spain and the United States signed a peace treaty in Paris on December 10, 1898 established the independence of Cuba, ceded Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States, and allowed the victorious power to purchase the Philippines Islands from Spain for $20 million. The war had cost the United States $250 million and 3,000 lives, of whom 90% had perished from infectious diseases.

Guam, the largest island of the Marianas island chain, was under Spanish control since 1668, when a Spanish mission was founded on the island. As the Spanish American War approached, Spain apparently made no effort to reinforce this outlying post of its empire. As a matter of fact, the last communication that the governor of the island had with Spain was dated April 14, 1898, before war was declared between the two countries.
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The most famous of all the units fighting in Cuba, the "Rough Riders" was the name given to the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry under the leadership of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt resigned his position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in May 1898 to join the volunteer cavalry. The original plan for this unit called for filling it with men from the Indian Territory, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma. However, once Roosevelt joined the group, it quickly became the place for a mix of troops ranging from Ivy League athletes to glee-club singers to Texas Rangers and Indians.
Roosevelt and the commander of the unit Colonel Leonard Wood trained and supplied the men so well at their camp in San Antonio, Texas, that the Rough Riders was allowed into the action, unlike many other volunteer companies. They went to Tampa at the end of May and sailed for Santiago de Cuba on June 13. There they joined the Fifth Corps, another highly trained, well supplied, and enthusiastic group consisting of excellent soldiers from the regular army and volunteers. The Rough Riders saw battle at Las Guásimas when General Samuel B. M. Young was ordered to attack at this village, three miles north of Siboney on the way to Santiago. Although it was not important to the outcome of the war, news of the action quickly made the papers. They also made headlines for their role in the Battle of San Juan Hill, which became the stuff of legend thanks to Roosevelt's writing ability and reenactments filmed long after.

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David Leahy

of the 1st U. S. Volunteer Cavalry ("Rough Riders")

Writes Home

General: The following letters were written by David G. Leahy, a thirty-one year old 2nd lieutenant serving with the 1st U. S. Volunteer Cavalry (better known as the "Rough Riders"), Troop G. Leahy was an attorney by profession and was a native of Illinois. A single man, he joined the unit at Santa Fe, New Mexico on May 5, 1898. He was a tall, five feet, eleven inches tall, with a light complexion, blue eyes and light hair. Leahy was wounded on July 1, 1898, in the action at San Juan Heights. The first letter appeared in The Raton Range of Raton, New Mexico. Capt. Collier was apparently a friend and newspaperman back home in Raton, and Collier apparently turned the letter over for publication. The letter was written concerning the departure for service in Cuba The second letter also appeared in The Raton Range and describes the attack on San Juan Hill.

The first letter: 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 second letter: 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

The Philippine-American War is certainly the most forgotten war in US Military history. At best it is perceived as a mere theatre of the Spanish American War, at worst it is seen as America's first Vietnam.Filipinos had been fighting for their independence from Spain since 1896, under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo, who was in his late 20s at the time. In Late 1897, lacking weapons, ammunition and food - though not popular support, the Philippine Independence movement was forced into a treaty with the Spanish Authorities. During the negotiations, in a last ditch attempt to maintain the revolution, an appeal was made to the State Department. The State department declined, forcefully, to have any dealings with Aguinaldo. Aguinaldo and his government went into exile in Hong Kong with a payment of 400,000 pesos from the Spanish government, which the revolutionaries intended to use to buy arms and revivify the revolt. In the run up to the Spanish-American War, several American Consuls - in Hong Kong, Singapore anmd Manila - sought Aguinaldo's support. None of them spoke Tagalog, Aguinaldo's own language, and Aguinaldo himself spoke poor Spanish. A British businessman, H.W. Bray agreed to act as interpreter. Aguinaldo, and his British interpreter maintained later that the Philippines had been promised independence in return for helping the US defeat the Spanish. Aguinaldo was asked to go to Manila by George Dewey. Although they spoke, no-one knows the substance of the discussions - Dewey only spoke Spanish, Aguinaldo spoke it poorly and there was no intermediary. It s clear that the Filipinos expected independence and believed that the history of the United States, as a former colony of Britain, made independence inevitable. Dewey landed Aguinaldo on the mainland of Luzon, the large Northern island of the Philippine group, and within two weeks, with no arms supplied by Dewey and following refusals by Dewey to provide support, Aguinaldo's forces controlled the Philippines. Meanwhile, Dewey blockaded Manila from seawards. Spanish forces were forced into Manila and from the landward side blockaded Manila. Several of Aguinaldo's generals urged him to march into Manila. However, Aguinaldo, and others, were aware that several European powers were interested in the Philippines. Only America promised protection against them. Thus, Dewey only held the Bay of Manila, but no soil had been occupied by American forces. In late July, American soldiers, largely volunteers who had actually joined to fight the Spanish, arrived. A series of negotiations began which resulted in a mock battle on August 13, to salve Spanish honor, which resulted in the surrender of Manila. However, the surrender was given by the governor of Manila, not the Spanish governor of the Philippines, who had already left the country. Negotiations then proceeded between the US government and the Spanish government. Aguinaldo declared independence, created a government and secured control of the Philippines, except Manila. Neither the Spanish, not the American negotiators considered it important to speak to the Filipinos and conspicuously kept them out of the negotiations. As negotiations continued, US forces expanded their positions in Manila. Aguinaldo urged his men not to be hostile, even though he was being urged to attack American
forces. The US administration refused to communicate with Aguinaldo And, for the Filipinos even more worryingly, refused to mention the word independence - a word that was not to become an issue until 1935. On February 4, two days before the US Congress was due to vote on the Spanish-American Peace Treaty, and while Aguinaldo's staff were on vacation, an American Priovate, Willy Grayson, shot and killed a Filipino soldier who was apparently making fun of him. Within hours, fighting had broken out along the demarkation line between US and Filipino forces. In the years that followed, fifteen US soldiers died for every man dead in Cuba, at a cost of $600m, and 200,000 Filipinos died, of whom 20,000 were combatants. Ironically, America had, in part gone to war because of the re-concentration camps introduced by the Spanish General, Weyler. The US finally won the Philippine American War by introducing the same technique in the Philippines. By mid-1901, the US won had won the Philippine war of independence, at the cost of its innocence.