Stump the Genealogist: What about the Spanish American War?

 At a recent speaking engagement, I was asked a question that stumped me at first: Where do you find records of someone who fought in the Spanish American War of 1898? (Besides Teddy Roosevelt, she meant.)

Off the top of my head, my first thoughts were:

  1. The National Archives military records

  2. The University of Tampa, which was an upscale resort at that time, was good old T.R.’s hangout of choice while waiting to ship out. The University now has quite a little museum on the conflict.

 

Now a few months later, I decided to see if my spur of the moment response could have been of any help.

First I went to the National Archives site, www.archives.gov. Searching for Spanish American War got me a page from Prologue Magazine, Spring 1998, which lists some of the holdings: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1998/spring/spanish-american-war-3.html

 

That page references three other NARA pages:

All of them from the same issue. Now this is just a list of documents you can find at the archives. As far as searching online, the NARA site says:

http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/topics/spanish-american-war/#docs

  • Documents relating to the Spanish-American War
    15 documents relating to the Spanish-American War and the sinking of the USS Maine were digitized. These documents are maintained in a variety of series held by the Old Military and Civil Records (Washington, DC).

    Search Hint: To retrieve the 15 digitized documents:

    1. Go to http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/.

    2. Press the Yellow search button to go to the Archival Descriptions Search screen.

    3. To search only for archival descriptions that have digital copies, click the Digital Copies search button at the top of the ARC pages.

    4. Enter USS Maine in the Keywords box.

    5. Select the limit results radio button for 100.

    6. Select the box marked Descriptions of Archival Materials linked to digital copies

    7. Press the Go button.

    8. When hits are returned for your search, view the full result of your hit by selecting the Title link.

  • Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations: Spanish-American War, 1898
    Compiled military service records for 1,235 Rough Riders, including Teddy Roosevelt have been digitized. The records include individual jackets which give the name, organization, and rank of each soldier. They contain cards on which information from original records relating to the military service of the individual has been copied. Included in the main jacket are carded medical records, other documents which give personal information, and the description of the record from which the information was obtained. These materials are held by the Old Military and Civilian Records (Washington, DC).

    Search Hint: To retrieve the 1,235 digitized documents:

    1. Go to http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/.

    2. Press the Yellow search button to go to the Archival Descriptions Search screen.

    3. To search only for archival descriptions that have digital copies, click the Digital Copies search button at the top of the ARC pages.

    4. Enter Spanish American War and volunteer in the Keywords box. (To search for a specific person, add their first name and last name to the Keywords box. For example, enter Spanish American War and volunteer and Theodore Roosevelt in the Keywords box.)

    5. Select the limit results radio button for 2000.

    6. Press the Go button.

    7. When hits are returned for your search, view the full result of your hit by selecting the Title link.

So it does seem that my first guess was a good one!

My second guess was based on visiting the Henry Plant Museum on the Univeristy of Tampa campus when our son was a student there. The site, http://www.ut.edu/plantmuseum/ says:
Spanish-American War

Tampa and the Tampa Bay Hotel played an important role in the Spanish American War of 1898. Henry Plant convinced the Secretary of War to allow Tampa to be the official port of embarkation for troops going to Cuba. His railroad and steamships helped transport troops to Florida and eventually to Cuba. The Tampa Bay Hotel became the headquarters for the Army officers awaiting the order for embarkation.
The Generals planned the war campaigns from the Hotel. Officers and war correspondents stayed here in relative luxury, rocking on the veranda, sipping iced tea and planning and reporting strategies. Colonel Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders trained in the camps near the Hotel during the day. Clara Barton gathered supplies for the Red Cross and frequented the Hotel. The enlisted men camped in tents around Tampa and other Florida cities, fought off mosquitoes, endured stifling temperatures, wool uniforms and boredom while waiting for the signal to start the war
So that guess is good for context, but not so much for individual records.

I hope the audience member had some success!

About Libbi

Writer for 30 years. Genealogy a hobby for about 40 years. Yes, I'm in my 50's, I learned about genealogy at my mother's knee!
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