Military History - Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars

Often grouped together and confused with each other, the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American War are two separate conflicts in which Wisconsin men served. The Spanish-American War lasted from April to August 1898 and took place primarily in the Caribbean (Cuba and Puerto Rico), with a brief naval battle against Spanish forces in the Philippines. The Philippine-American War, often called the Philippine Insurrection, spanned 1899 to 1902 and was fought entirely in the Philippines against Filipino forces.

Wisconsin’s burgeoning National Guard was called into federal service for the war against Spain, with four infantry regiments and one battery of light artillery (over 4,000 men) answering the call. Only two of those units, the 2nd and 3rd Wisconsin Infantry Regiments, made it overseas before the brief war ended; they saw action in Puerto Rico. Of the 134 Wisconsin men who died during the Spanish-American War, only two were killed in action. The remaining 132 died of disease, most often malaria or typhoid fever, as many of the Badgers were exposed to tropical climates for the first time.

Involvement in the Philippine-American War is harder to track as Wisconsin soldiers and sailors were scattered among many federal units rather than concentrated into state volunteer regiments. Still, Wisconsin men like Arthur MacArthur, Charles King, and Medal of Honor recipient Hugh McGrath made their marks in the conflict.

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum preserves the stories of Wisconsin’s role in these two conflicts. Our Spanish-American War Database allows you to search for individuals by name, unit, or hometown. Regimental histories provide a broad overview of a unit’s travels and assignments during the Spanish-American War. Other resources include a bibliography of published works that relate to Wisconsin’s role in these conflicts as well as an examination of the United Spanish War Veterans , an organization that included veterans of both wars. Remember to search the museum’s collections to find artifacts, books, oral history interviews, letters, photographs, and more from Wisconsin Civil War veterans. Contact us if you have any questions or comments.

Wisconsin in the Spanish-American War: An Annotated Bibliography

This bibliography lists publications that specifically focus on the involvement of Wisconsin men and women in the Spanish-American War. It was originally compiled by Andi Stoneman and has been maintained and updated by WVM Research Center staff. Similar bibliographies for other wars are available.

Spanish-American War Database

Roughly 5,000 men from Wisconsin served in the Spanish-American War, most from Wisconsin National Guard units that were federalized for the duration of the conflict. Wisconsin Veterans Museum is nearing the completion of an online database that will allow users to search the ranks of those units to find ancestors or men from specific communities.

Spanish-American War Regimental Histories

As war with Spain became more and more certain in April 1898, Wisconsin began preparing its National Guard for federal service. The peacetime Guard consisted of four infantry regiments, one cavalry troop, and one light artillery battery.

Wisconsin in the Spanish-American War: The United Spanish War Veterans (U.S.W.V.)

The United Spanish War Veterans (USWV) was a voluntary, fraternal organization of men who served in the United States military during the Spanish-American War (1898) and the subsequent Philippine-American War (1898-1902). Following the conclusion of the first phase of the war in 1898, returning veterans began forming fraternal organizations.
The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is an educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.