Military History of Mississippi:
War with Spain, 1898
(Taken from “Military History of Mississippi 1803 – 1898” by Dunbar
1978 Reprint, The Reprint Company, Publishers, pp. 558-560.)
Submitted by Tim Harrison
The State of Mississippi was first involved in a Cuban revolution during the administration of Governor John A. Quitman. There was a Mississippian among the revolutionists executed at Santiago in 1848 with Lopez. The final revolution began in February, 1895, under the leadership of Maceo and Marti, who sailed to the island from Fernandina, Fla. In 1896, when the revolution was at its height, and General Weyler had not yet taken command, the Legislature of Mississippi adopted a resolution extending sympathy to the Cuban people in their struggle for liberty and independence, adding: “We call on the Congress and the President of these United States, and request them to grant belligerent rights to the Cuban Republic.” In January, 1898, upon information of the condition of the island under the Weyler administration, received from Maj. George L. Donald, the Legislature resolved that “we believe it to be the duty of the United States Government to at once intervene, peaceably if it can, but forcibly, if it must, to save the people of Cuba from the cruel fate of annihilation by the barbarous and inhuman methods of the Spanish Government.” The representatives of the United States Government in the first year of the McKinley administration led to the recall of Weyler, and the proposal of Cuban autonomy. But the revolution continued, and on February 15, 1898, the battleship Maine, sent to Havana harbor on the request of Consul Fitzhugh Lee, was destroyed by an explosion. This was followed by a popular demand for war, but the government restricted itself to proposals of intervention and demand for an armistice. Attempts to form an European coalition against the United States, and preparation in the United States for war, followed, until war was declared in April, upon which the President called upon the States, April 21, for 125,000 men.
The quota of Mississippi was two regiments, and Governor McLaurin, on April 29, 1898, called for volunteers. The state had no funds on hand, but as all expenses were to be borne by the United States, individual credit sufficed. Camp Port Henry was established near Jackson, under command of Col. George C. Haskins, May 10, and the Capitol Light Guards was the first company to go into camp there, rapidly followed by other companies of the National Guard, which furnished over half the men enlisted.
The First Regiment Mississippi Volunteer Infantry, was mustered in at the camp May 26, 1898, and left for the United States Army camp at Chickamauga Park, May 30. The principal officers of this regiment were as follows: Colonel, George M. Govan; Lieutenant-Colonel, H. O. Williams; Majors, George L. Donald, D. Price Porter; Surgeon, Robert L. Turner; Assistant Surgeons, H. L. Bauer, F. M. Sheppard; Adjutant, George S. Yerger; Quartermaster, William Henry, succeeded by R. H. Campbell; Chaplain, Frank M. Keene; Chief Musician, Carl Leake; Captains—Company A, Thomas H. Shields, Vicksburg; Company B, Edgar N. Coffey, Fayette; Company C, Frank L. Balin, Natchez; Company D, Edgar R. DuMont, Scranton; Company E, Henry E. Ramsey, Hazelhurst; Company F, James O. Fuller, Jackson; Company G, William F. Scales, Wesson; Company H, Daniel D. Ewing, Fernwood; Company I, Charles W. Schamber, Meridian; Company K, R. M. Dease, Hickory; Company L, Archie Fairly, Hattiesburg; Company M, Charles R. Shannon, Ellisville.
The Second Regiment was mustered in at the Jackson camp June 9, 1898, about the time the first army sailed from Tampa. The principal officers of this regiment were: Colonel, William A. Montgomery; Lieutenant-Colonel, Devereaux Shields; Majors, George C. Hoskins, John P. Mayo; Adjutant, Joseph M. Jayne, Jr.; Quartermaster, Hiram Cassedy, Jr.; Surgeon (Major) M. W. Hamilton; Surgeon (Captain) Henry C. Kent; Chief Muscian, Hiram K. Ford, succeeded by W. G. Leslie; Chaplain, E. D. Soloman; Captains—Company A, Elles Cromwell, West Point; Company B, Edgar H. Woods, Rosedale; Company C, Henry T. Ireys, Greenville; Company D, Cicero L. Lincoln, Columbus; Company E, John W. Henderson, Tunica; Company F, Louis M. Southworth, Carrollton; Company G, Harvey J. Jones, Water Valley; Company H, Eugene Montgomery, Natchez; Company I, James S. Butler, Yazoo City; Company K, Edmond F. Noel, Lexington; Company L, John B. McFarland, Aberdeen; Company M, James A. Glover, Friars’ Point. Company M was from Memphis, and there was a sprinkling of recruits from Western and other States in both regiments, but mainly in the Second.
Under the second call by the President, in which the quota of Mississippi was six companies, the Third Regiment was organized at Camp Henry, and mustered in August 4, with the following principal officers: Lieutenant-Colonel, Robert W. Banks; Majors, Robert L. Cook, Jr., Washington D. Gibbs, Jr.; Assistant Surgeons, P. A. Scale, R. A. Anderson, D. S. Humphreys; Chaplain, John A. Randolph; Captains—Company A, Samuel L. Gwin, Greenwood; Company B, W. E. Hopkins, Hickory; Company C, Charles G. McGhee, Columbus; Company D, Alden Trotten, Lexington; Company E, Robert L. Butler, Meadville; Company F, F. T. Raiford, Senatobia. Some of these companies were almost entirely enlisted in Chicago and New Orleans and in various States outside of Mississippi. The regiments included some of the finest young men of the State, and their Colonels were veterans of the Confederate Army. It was not the fortune of these commands to reach the field of battle. They were part of that “mighty army in camp, ready and eager for the field,” in the words of President McKinley, that “should be given equal credit with those who participated in the short but decisive campaigns in Cuba. It was their presence, ready at an hour’s notice, for any emergency, that taught the enemy that further resistance would be hopeless.” The First Regiment was mustered out at Columbia Tenn., December 20, 1898; the Second at the same place on the following day, and the Third at Albany, Ga., March 17, 1899. Colonel Govan died not long after the war.
Another command formed in the State was the Fifth Immune Regiment, U. S. Volunteers, mustered in at Columbus, composed of enlistments from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and commanded by Colonel H. D. Money, Jr., of Mississippi. James K. Vardaman, of Mississippi, was one of the Majors. This regiment was one of those that relieved the army of General Shafter at Santiago, when courage was required to face the danger of pestilence, and did garrison duty from August, 1898, to March, 1899.