Spanish American War, 1898

New York State in the Spanish-American War

On April 25th, 1898 the United States of America declared war on Spain. On the 23rd of April, two days before the official declaration of war, President William McKinley issued a call for 125,000 volunteers to bolster the ranks of the regular U.S. Army for the coming conflict in the Philippines and the Caribbean. New York State was asked to furnish twelve full regiments of infantry and two troops of cavalry to the war effort. President McKinley expressed the desire that as large a portion of the volunteers as possible should be composed of troops from the National Guard, as they are already armed, equipped, and drilled. As the National Guard was technically the New York State militia, it was illegal to simply muster the units into the army. The commanders of all of the state’s infantry organizations were ordered to assemble their units in full uniform and obtain by actual count, the number of officers and men who wished to be relegated to active service for a two-year tour of duty. Under this first call for volunteers New York State furnished in full their quota, composed entirely of units from the National Guard.

The twelve regiments chosen for service in the Spanish-American War were the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 47th, 65th, 69th, and 71st New York Volunteer Infantry Regiments. All of these regiments were formerly National Guard units and most of them retained their original organizations. Only the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd regiments were different as they had been assembled from a collection of independent companies and battalions. Squadron A and Troop C, of the National Guard cavalry provided the two required troops for the war effort. Each regiment was composed of twelve companies, each with an effective strength of 84 officers and men. This gave each regiment a total strength of 1,008 men on paper. In actuality the numbers at the onset of the war were slightly higher, with each regiment fielding 1,019 officers and men. The cavalry troops were the same size as an infantry company and had an equivalent strength. New York State supplied a total of 12,460 officers and men in its volunteer regiments in response to the president’s first call for troops.

New York Units that served in the Spanish-American War