Indiana in the Spanish-American War - Focus

This year [1998] marks the centennial of the Spanish-American War. It lasted barely four months, from April to August 1898. The major focus of this issue is on the home front experience.

An overview of the war is on pages 3-4. The timeline throughout provides greater detail.

On pages 5-6 is an overview of the official Indiana response to the call for volunteers to fight the war. The chart on page 6 summarizes the organization and service of Indiana volunteers.

A diary on pages 7-10 provides an extensive record of service in the words of one volunteer. That view is expanded by photographs and boxed items.

On page 11, there is a brief explanation of the dilemma of black citizens and soldiers in the war.

Disease was the biggest killer in this war. The role of nurses and development of the U.S. Army Medical Department is summarized on page 12. The experience of one Indiana soldier in the Hospital Corps is provided on pages 13-14.

Resources are provided on page 15.

The front and back cover images demonstrate the pride of Indiana volunteers.

U.S.S. Indiana

The U.S.S. Indiana, built 1891-1895, was the first state-of-the-art battleship of the new U.S. Navy. It played an important role in the blockade of Cuba and the battle off Santiago on July 3, 1898. The ship chaplain, William G. Cassard, edited a book for the crew: Battleship Indiana and Her Part in the Spanish-American War (New York: privately published, 1899). The ship also served in World War I. The U.S. sank it in 1920 in tests of aerial bombs. The citizens of Indiana demonstrated their pride in the ship by presenting a Tiffany and Co. silver service on September 21, 1896; the story is in Indiana's Gift to the Battleship Indiana (Indianapolis: privately published, 1896). Pieces of this silver set are presently on loan to the Indiana Governor's Residence from the Naval Supply Systems Command, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Photograph: Cassard, [vi].

You Be the Historian

Explore in more depth some of the topics on the Spanish-American War in this issue. There are extensive resources on the Internet as well as in library collections.

Explore the resources in your community about the role its people played in the war. The official Record of Indiana Volunteers (see Bibliography) provides the town of each volunteer. Your community or county seat also might have a war memorial which lists war volunteers. Be sure, for example, to work with your public library, historical society or museum, local newspaper, local national guard armory, and local historians. Are there descendants still in the area who might have stories or artifacts from the war that they would share?

What has happened to the countries on the map on page 3 of this issue? What is their status today?

 Newspapers played a large role in forming public opinion about the war. How has the media influenced wars that were fought after this one. What role does the media play in forming public opinion in the present?