California State Military Department
The California Military Museum
Preserving California's Military Heritage
California and the Spanish American War
California's Volunteer Forces during the Spanish-American War
By WO1 Mark J. Denger
California Center for Military History
 
 
A little more than a hundred years ago the United States was fighting the Spanish-American War. The Spanish-American War marked a turning point in American history. Within a few years of the war's end, the United States was a world power, exercising control or influence over islands in the Caribbean Sea, the mid-Pacific Ocean and close to the Asian mainland. The victory over Spain also made the United States a colonial power. The former Spanish colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, as well as the formerly independent nation of Hawaii, became American possessions.

On April 21, 1898, the war with Spain was commenced, and on April 23, 1898, the President issued a call for 125,000 troops, of which California's pro rata was 3,238 officers and men. California furnished, under this call (between May 6 and May 11) two twelve-company regiments (First and Seventh California Volunteer Infantry), one regiment of eight companies (Sixth California Volunteers), and the First Battalion of Heavy Artillery (four batteries), aggregating 3,343 officers and men; and a Signal detachment of 3 officers and 20 men, or 128 more men than her pro rata; all of the above first call being furnished from the National Guard of California, excepting three batteries of heavy artillery, of which arm of the service California had none among her National Guard. (1)

The National Guard of California gave freely of her young men for the war between the United States and Spain. In fact, California was the first state to meet her quota, and even volunteered additional regiments if needed. It took only a couple of weeks from the President's call for troops for the National Guard to fill their ranks and be ready to move overseas.

Unlike many of the other states, the several units of the National Guard of California became a part of the United States Volunteers. This was a special category, being raised exclusively under Federal sponsorship as a temporary wartime augmentation to the Regular Army.

Most volunteer infantry regiments in the Spanish-American War contained twelve companies, although a few of those mustered into Federal service relatively late in the war were allowed to contain fewer companies (normally eight). Every volunteer regiment, by law, contained at least one Regular Army officer who normally held a volunteer commission one or more grades above his lineal rank in the Regular Army. Such officers normally were selected either because they were native sons of the specific state or because they were serving as Regular Army advisors with the state or teaching in a state's college or university system when war broke out.

Constitutional requirements mandated that units of the National Guard, or state militia units, once recruited to wartime strength levels, be formally transferred to Federal control. In essence, this process took place by having Regular Army and state officials, individually brought into active Federal duty, assemble each unit, inspect them to ensure that all men met Federal standards, and administer a Federal oath to each officer or enlisted man. This process was called "mustering in."

Mustering entries frequently indicate a range of dates for any individual regiment. This reflects the fact that the rural reality of peacetime service for the National Guard--the local company rather than the battalion or regiment formed the essential organizational element. In most cases, companies mustered individually and only assembled in regimental organizations at the designated state rendezvous camp which served as the logistical and training center prior to the regiments departing for larger Federal camps for assignment to brigades, divisions and corps.

Upon completion of their tour of duty, a similar procedure took place when each unit was released from Federal service. This process was called "mustering out." After mustering out, most of the units were allowed a period of leave and then reorganized back into the National Guard.
 
 
The California Volunteers Monument located at Delores and Mission Streets in San Francisco

The following data relating to California's Volunteer Forces was compiled and excerpted from the records of the U.S. Army Center of Military History, Historical Resources Branch, and replicates the Adjutant General's Office, Statistical Exhibit of Strength of Volunteer Forces Called Into Service During the War With Spain; with Losses From All Causes (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899). The original document was compiled after the conclusion of the war by the Adjutant General's Office from official muster rolls. (2)

California U.S. Volunteers (Total)
Mustered In:
Officers: 186
Enlisted Men: 4,441
Mustered Out:
Officers: 196
Enlisted Men: 4,587
Total Number Accounted for on Muster Out Roll:
Officers: 232
Enlisted Men: 5,587
Losses While in Service:
Officers:

Promoted or Transferred: 0
Resigned or Discharged: 35
Dismissed: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds: 1
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered: 0
TOTAL OFFICER LOSSES: 36
Enlisted Men:
Transferred: 104
Discharged for Disability: 145
Discharged by General Court Martial: 7
Discharged by Order: 615
Killed in Action: 8
Died of Wounds Received in Action: 1
Died of Disease: 60
Died of Accident: 2
Drowned: 1
Suicide: 2
Murdered or Homicide: 1
Deserted: 54
TOTAL ENLISTED LOSSES: 1,000


1st California Volunteer Infantry
 
Mustered In: 6 May 1898 at San Francisco, California
Mustered Out: 21 September 1899 at San Francisco, California
Service Beyond the United States: Philippine Islands
Leaving the United States: 25 May 1898
Arrival in Foreign Country: 30 June 1898
Leaving Foreign Country: 26 July 1899
Returned to United States: 24 August 1899
Mustered In:
Officers: 51
Enlisted Men: 986
Mustered Out:
Officers: 50
Enlisted Men: 999
Total Number Accounted for on Muster Out Roll:
Officers: 71
Enlisted Men: 1,317
Losses While in Service:
Officers:

Promoted or Transferred: 0
Resigned or Discharged: 20
Dismissed: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds: 1
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered: 0
TOTAL OFFICER LOSSES: 21
Enlisted Men:
Transferred: 61
Discharged for Disability: 43
Discharged by General Court Martial: 1
Discharged by Order: 170
Killed in Action: 8
Died of Wounds Received in Action: 1
Died of Disease: 24
Died of Accident: 2
Drowned: 1
Suicide: 0
Murdered or Homicide: 0
Deserted: 7
TOTAL ENLISTED LOSSES: 318
Wounded:
Officers:
3
Enlisted Men: 45
6th California Volunteer Infantry
 
Mustered In: 11 May 1898 at San Francisco, California
Mustered Out: 15 December 1898 at Fort Point, California
Service Beyond the United States: NONE
Mustered In:
Officers: 31
Enlisted Men: 641
Mustered Out:
Officers: 31
Enlisted Men: 591
Total Number Accounted for on Muster Out Roll:
Officers: 34
Enlisted Men: 858
Losses While in Service:
Officers:

Promoted or Transferred: 0
Resigned or Discharged: 3
Dismissed: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds: 0
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered: 0
TOTAL OFFICER LOSSES: 3
Enlisted Men:
Transferred: 7
Discharged for Disability: 23
Discharged by General Court Martial: 0
Discharged by Order: 230
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds Received in Action: 0
Died of Disease: 3
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 1
Murdered or Homicide: 0
Deserted: 3
TOTAL ENLISTED LOSSES: 267


7th California Volunteer Infantry
 
Mustered In: 9 May 1898 at San Francisco, California
Mustered Out: 2 December 1898 at Los Angeles, California
Service Beyond the United States: NONE
Mustered In:
Officers: 50
Enlisted Men: 979
Mustered Out:
Officers:
50
Enlisted Men: 1,169
Total Number Accounted for on Muster Out Roll:
Officers:
52
Enlisted Men: 1,304
Losses While in Service:
Officers:

Promoted or Transferred: 0
Resigned or Discharged: 2
Dismissed: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds: 0
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered: 0
TOTAL OFFICER LOSSES: 2
Enlisted Men:
Transferred: 10
Discharged for Disability: 9
Discharged by General Court Martial: 0
Discharged by Order: 91
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds Received in Action: 0
Died of Disease: 20
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered or Homicide: 0
Deserted: 5
TOTAL ENLISTED LOSSES: 135


8th California Volunteer Infantry
 
Mustered In: 6-9 July 1898 at Fruitvale, California
Mustered Out: 6 February 1899 in California and Washington
Service Beyond the United States: NONE
Mustered In:
Officers:
35
Enlisted Men: 1,250
Mustered Out:
Officers:
46
Enlisted Men: 1,211
Total Number Accounted for on Muster Out Roll:
Officers
: 49
Enlisted Men: 1,300
Losses While in Service:
Officers:

Promoted or Transferred: 0
Resigned or Discharged: 3
Dismissed: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds: 0
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered: 0
TOTAL OFFICER LOSSES: 3
Enlisted Men:
Transferred: 16
Discharged for Disability: 36
Discharged by General Court Martial: 0
Discharged by Order: 21
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds Received in Action: 0
Died of Disease: 7
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 1
Murdered or Homicide: 1
Deserted: 7
TOTAL ENLISTED LOSSES: 89


First Battalion of Heavy Artillery
Field and Staff
 
Mustered In: 9 May 1898 at San Francisco, California
Mustered Out: 21 September 1899 at San Francisco, California
Service Beyond the United States: Philippine Islands
Leaving the United States: 19 October 1898
Arrival in Foreign Country: 22 November 1898
Leaving Foreign Country: 26 July 1899
Returned to United States: 24 August 1899
Mustered In:
Officers: 3
Enlisted Men: 1
Mustered Out:
Officers: 3
Enlisted Men: 1
Total Number Accounted for on Muster Out Roll:
Officers: 4
Enlisted Men: 1
Losses While in Service:
Officers:

Promoted or Transferred: 0
Resigned or Discharged: 1
Dismissed: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds: 0
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered: 0
TOTAL OFFICER LOSSES: 1
Enlisted Men:
Transferred: 0
Discharged for Disability: 0
Discharged by General Court Martial: 0
Discharged by Order: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds Received in Action: 0
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered or Homicide: 0
Deserted: 0
TOTAL ENLISTED LOSSES: 0
Wounded:
Officers: 0
Enlisted Men: 0

Battery A
 
Mustered In: 9 May 1898 at San Francisco, California
Mustered Out: 21 September 1899 at San Francisco, California
Service Beyond the United States: Philippine Islands
Leaving the United States: 19 October 1898
Arrival in Foreign Country: 22 November 1898
Leaving Foreign Country: 26 July 1899
Returned to United States: 24 August 1899
Mustered In:
Officers: 4
Enlisted Men: 146
Mustered Out:
Officers: 4
Enlisted Men: 137
Total Number Accounted for on Muster Out Roll:
Officers: 6
Enlisted Men: 207
Losses While in Service:
Officers:

Promoted or Transferred: 0
Resigned or Discharged: 2
Dismissed: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds: 0
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered: 0
TOTAL OFFICER LOSSES: 2
Enlisted Men:
Transferred: 4
Discharged for Disability: 8
Discharged by General Court Martial: 3
Discharged by Order: 45
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds Received in Action: 0
Died of Disease: 3
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered or Homicide: 0
Deserted: 7
TOTAL ENLISTED LOSSES: 70
Wounded:
Officers: 0
Enlisted Men: 0

Battery B
 
Mustered In: 9 May 1898 at San Francisco, California
Mustered Out: 30 January 1899 at Angel Island, California
Service Beyond the United States: NONE
Mustered In:
Officers: 4
Enlisted Men: 146
Mustered Out:
Officers: 4
Enlisted Men: 168
Total Number Accounted for on Muster Out Roll:
Officers: 6
Enlisted Men: 200
Losses While in Service:
Officers:

Promoted or Transferred: 0
Resigned or Discharged: 2
Dismissed: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds: 0
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered: 0
TOTAL OFFICER LOSSES: 2
Enlisted Men:
Transferred: 2
Discharged for Disability: 8
Discharged by General Court Martial: 0
Discharged by Order: 8
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds Received in Action: 0
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered or Homicide: 0
Deserted: 14
TOTAL ENLISTED LOSSES: 32

Battery C
 
Mustered In: 10 May 1898 at San Francisco, California
Mustered Out: 3 February 1899 at Fort Canby, Washington
Service Beyond the United States: NONE
Mustered In:
Officers: 4
Enlisted Men: 146
Mustered Out:
Officers: 4
Enlisted Men: 176
Total Number Accounted for on Muster Out Roll:
Officers: 4
Enlisted Men: 200
Losses While in Service:
Officers:

Promoted or Transferred: 0
Resigned or Discharged: 0
Dismissed: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds: 0
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered: 0
TOTAL OFFICER LOSSES: 0
Enlisted Men:
Transferred: 2
Discharged for Disability: 9
Discharged by General Court Martial: 3
Discharged by Order: 1
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds Received in Action: 0
Died of Disease: 1
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered or Homicide: 0
Deserted: 8
TOTAL ENLISTED LOSSES: 24

Battery D
 
Mustered In: 10 May 1898 at San Francisco, California
Mustered Out: 21 September 1899 at San Francisco, California
Service Beyond the United States: Philippine Islands
Leaving the United States: 17 October 1898
Arrival in Foreign Country: 21 November 1898
Leaving Foreign Country: 26 July 1899
Returned to United States: 24 August 1899
Mustered In:
Officers: 4
Enlisted Men: 146
Mustered Out:
Officers: 4
Enlisted Men: 135
Total Number Accounted for on Muster Out Roll:
Officers: 6
Enlisted Men: 200
Losses While in Service:
Officers:

Promoted or Transferred: 0
Resigned or Discharged: 2
Dismissed: 0
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds: 0
Died of Disease: 0
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered: 0
TOTAL OFFICER LOSSES: 2
Enlisted Men:
Transferred: 2
Discharged for Disability: 9
Discharged by General Court Martial: 0
Discharged by Order: 49
Killed in Action: 0
Died of Wounds Received in Action: 0
Died of Disease: 2
Died of Accident: 0
Drowned: 0
Suicide: 0
Murdered or Homicide: 0
Deserted: 3
TOTAL ENLISTED LOSSES: 65
Wounded:
Officers: 0
Enlisted Men: 2

According to the records above, California furnished 5,587 officers and enlisted men during the Spanish-American War.

In all fairness, California also raised a large portion of the First, 14th, 18th and 23d Infantry Regiments; and the Fourth Cavalry Regiment, U.S. Army, in addition to recruits for almost every regiment of volunteers that passed through San Francisco; not to forget the officers and sailors from the Naval Militia of California and U.S. Navy aboard the OLYMPIA, OREGON and other ships of the American Navy.

Furthermore, these figures do not include those Californian's who were General Officers, staff officers, or officers assigned to the departments of the Adjutant General, Inspector General, Judge Advocate, Quartermaster General, Subsistence, Medical, Pay, Engineer, Ordnance or Signal Corps, where California's native sons also served.

The State of California can take pride in the record of her native sons in each of these different organizations.


Footnotes
 
(1) According to state records, the second call for 75,000 troops (of which California's pro rata to be furnished was 1,943 officers and men) was issued by the President on May 25, 1898, and under this call California furnished 1,016 recruits to fill up to the maximum number allowed by law the companies already in the field (under the first call), and one complete regiment (the Eighth California Volunteers) of twelve companies, and 1,294 officers and men, aggregating 2,310 officers and enlisted men, or 367 more officers and men than her pro rata under the second call, or a total of 495 more officers and men under the first and second calls than the pro rata required of this State. In addition to the above troops furnished to the United States Volunteers, California furnished 12 officers and 80 men to the United States Auxiliary Naval Forces, for the protection of the Pacific Coast. This makes a total of 48 companies furnished by California to the General Government, of which 44 companies were taken from the National Guard of this State.
 
(2) Original muster rolls and all official documents generated during active Federal service remain the property of the United States Army and are now in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration. However, the published Annual Reports issued by the state's Adjutant General in 1898 and 1899 contain essential information on the various units' peacetime stations and status, the changes and expansion procedures which followed to bring those organizations into active military service.


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