The 1898 Spanish-American War made the United States a world power in just a few months. West Virginia initially supplied one regiment of infantry in the call-up of federal troops. The regiment consisted of 12 companies, organized into the 1st West Virginia Volunteer Infantry and mustered into service in Kanawha City in May 1898. The regiment was sent to Camp Thomas, Georgia, to join units from throughout the east. In June a second regiment, the 2nd West Virginia Volunteer Infantry, was formed.
Both of these regiments were composed of National Guardsmen from around the state. Two companies were also raised in the state for the regular army, one company from Parkersburg and one from Wheeling. They became part of the 4th U.S. Volunteer Infantry. In addition, two companies of black troops were raised for the 8th U.S. Volunteer Infantry, one from Charleston and one from Parkersburg.
A great percentage of troops raised for the Spanish-American War never got into action. The 1st West Virginia remained at camp in Georgia, and the 2nd West Virginia remained at camp in Pennsylvania. There is no record of deaths among the troops, but disease was a constant killer in the overcrowded camps in the United States and in the active campaign areas in Cuba. While no West Virginia troops actually saw combat, the state did supply one famous personality to the war, Andrew Rowan, a Monroe County native, who carried the famous ‘‘Message to Garcia’’ in early 1898.
This Article was written by Stan Cohen
Last Revised on October 29, 2010
Cohen, Stan. Images of the Spanish-American War. Missoula, MT: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1998.