Prologue Magazine

“New Glory to Its Already Gallant Record”

The First Marine Battalion in the Spanish-American War

Spring 1998, Vol. 30, No. 1

By Trevor K. Plante

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Guantanamo Marine Corps officers 1st Lt. Herbert L. Draper, Lt. Col. Robert W. Huntington (commander of the First Marine Battalion), and Capt. Charles L. McCawley. (NARA, 20M-514827)

On April 16, 1898, five days before war began between the United States and Spain, in preparation for what he believed was an inevitable conflict, Secretary of the Navy John D. Long ordered the commandant of the Marine Corps, Charles Heywood, to organize one battalion of marines for expeditionary duty with the North Atlantic Squadron. By war's end, the First Marine Battalion could boast they had fought in the first land battle in Cuba and had been the first to raise the American flag on the island. They could also claim that of the six marines killed in action in the Spanish-American War, five were from their unit. The battalion yielded one Medal of Honor recipient, and two of the unit's officers would later serve as commandants of the Marine Corps.1 The First Marine Battalion's action in the Caribbean and its favorable press coverage gave the American public and the U.S. Navy a glimpse of the Marine Corps of the future.

At approximately 9:40 p.m. on the evening of February 15, 1898, an explosion sank the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, Cuba. The ship was manned by 290 sailors, 39 marines, and 26 officers. Of these officers and men, 253 were killed either by the explosion or drowning; seven more died later of wounds. Included in this number of killed were twenty-eight enlisted men from the Maine's marine detachment.2

The cause of the explosion was a source of contention between the United States and Spain. On March 21 a U.S. naval court of inquiry called to investigate the Maine incident concluded that a mine in the harbor had caused the explosion. A Spanish naval court of inquiry reported the next day that the explosion had been due to internal causes.3 Although the cause was never established to either side's satisfaction, the event eventually led Congress to declare on April 25 that a state of war existed starting April 21, 1898.

The job of organizing the First Marine Battalion was assigned to Lt. Col. Robert W. Huntington, who had just recently taken command of the Marine Barracks in Brooklyn, New York. Huntington was approaching almost forty years of service in the Marine Corps, having been commissioned soon after the start of the Civil War.4

On April 17, Lt. Colonel Huntington began organizing the battalion, initially formed into four companies. A proposed second battalion was never formed because a number of marines were still needed to protect navy yards and installations in the United States. Instead, the First Marine Battalion was enlarged to six companies—five companies of infantry and one artillery. Each company had a complement of 103 men: 1 first sergeant, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, 1 drummer, 1 fifer, and 92 privates. The battalion was also accorded a quartermaster, adjutant, and surgeon. The color guard comprised 1 sergeant and 2 corporals.5

Commandant Charles Heywood made mobilizing the battalion his highest priority. For this reason, both he and the Marine Corps quartermaster made sure that Charles McCawley, the battalion's quartermaster, had the supplies he needed or the funds to get them. On April 18 the commandant went to New York to personally observe preparations, staying until the twenty-third.6 The battalion quartermaster supplied the unit with ammunition, camp equipment, mosquito netting, woolen and linen clothing, wheelbarrows, pushcarts, pickaxes, shelter tents, and medical stores.7

On April 22 the marines were ready to sail. The men marched down the main street of the navy yard to the dock and at 5 p.m. boarded the recently purchased USS Panther. Lt. Colonel Huntington noted the "intense excitement manifested by people along the line of march, Navy Yard, docks, harbor front and shipping."8 At eight o'clock, as the ship pulled away from the dock, the naval band played "The Girl I Left Behind Me" to send off the marines.9

The men were overcrowded on the Panther because the vessel was too small to hold such a large unit. The ship's dining room accommodated only two hundred men, requiring three mess calls per meal.10 The ship, originally the Venezuela, had been recently purchased and converted to carry about 400 men, but after the additional companies were added, the battalion numbered close to 650 officers and men. The marines expected these crowded conditions to be temporary. At Key West, Florida, they were supposed to transfer to the Resolute, which was capable of carrying one thousand men and officers.11 Unfortunately, the marine battalion would not see the Resolute until after it arrived in Cuba in June. The battalion reached Fort Monroe off Hampton Roads, Virginia, on the evening of April 23 and waited for their convoy vessel to arrive. An escort was necessary, for the Panther was ill-equipped to defend itself should it encounter an enemy vessel. While at Hampton Roads, Maj. Percival C. Pope and 1st Lt. James E. Mahoney joined the battalion.12 On April 26 the Panther left Virginia accompanied by the cruiser Montgomery.

It was not long before tension developed on the Panther between the officers of the navy and the Marine Corps. Much of this strain was due to overcrowding, but some stemmed from questions regarding the men's required duty and who was responsible for discipline.13 Despite these problems, Huntington made the most of precious time. On the twenty-sixth the battalion began its first drills on board ship. The marine infantry companies were armed with Lee straight-pull 6mm rifles. The artillery company was equipped with four three-inch rapid-fire guns. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Companies A, B, C, D, and E (the infantry companies) drilled in volley and mass firing; each man using ten rounds each. Next, the artillery company fired one round from each of the four artillery pieces and then, like the infantry companies, drilled in volley and mass firing of the Lee rifles using ten rounds each.14

The Panther arrived at Key West, on April 29.15 On May 24 Comdr. George C. Reiter, commanding the Panther, ordered the battalion to disembark and set up camp. This action prompted the commandant of the Marine Corps to telegraph Key West inquiring why the battalion was unloaded when the Panther was the sole transport of the marine battalion and had no other duties.16 While the battalion remained in camp for two weeks, monotony was eased by the arrival of supplies that were more suited for tropical weather. The marines exchanged their heavier blue uniforms for new brown linen campaign suits. With the lighter, cooler uniforms came new-style shoes and lightweight underwear, all very popular items with the officers and men. Huntington continued drilling while at Key West, and the battalion received daily instruction and target practice with their rifles.17

The officers were watching the men's health very closely. Huntington was keenly aware of health dangers caused by bad water and exposure to disease. Orders outlined procedures pertaining to water, cooking, and clothing. Water was prepared on board ship and brought to the marines on shore. No one was to drink unboiled water. Cooks were told how to prepare food and water for cooking, and any marine struck by diarrhea was to report it immediately to the medical officer. The men were also ordered to change their clothing whenever it got wet.18

While in Key West the battalion sent small detachments to participate in several funeral services held for navy personnel. Colonel Huntington also detailed men to patrol the streets of Key West to guard against men causing trouble while on liberty. The unit received a number of Colt machine guns, and navy Assistant Surgeon John Blair Gibbs also joined the battalion.19 On June 7 the naval base at Key West received a telegram from the acting secretary of the navy stressing, "Send the Marine Battalion at once to Sampson without waiting for the Army send Yosemite as convoy."20 The long wait was over, and that day the battalion finally sailed for Cuba, leaving behind Major Pope sick in the hospital.

On the voyage south, during the night of the ninth, the marines' transport collided with the Scorpion, causing damage to the converted yacht's stern rail.21 The Panther arrived off Santiago, Cuba, at 7 a.m. on June 10. Huntington reported to Adm. William T. Sampson, the commander in chief of the North Atlantic Fleet, on board the flagship New York and received orders to report to Comdr. Bowman H. McCalla of the Marblehead, commanding at Guantanamo Bay.22

Shortly after the war began, Admiral Sampson established a blockade of major Cuban ports. Guantanamo Bay was chosen as a good site for coaling navy vessels. Guantanamo has both an inner and outer bay, and the outer bay offered a good anchorage site for ships because of its depth. Sampson sent the marine battalion to protect any ships in the bay from being harassed from Spanish troops ashore.

McCalla had entered Guantanamo Bay on June 7 to clear the outer harbor. A battery near the telegraph station at Cayo del Toro on the western side of the bay fired on the U.S. vessels Marblehead and Yankee. The Spanish gunboat Sandoval soon came down the channel from Caimanera. The two U.S. Navy ships opened fire, silencing the gun battery and forcing the Sandoval to return back up the channel. On the morning of June 10, McCalla ordered marines from the Marblehead and Oregon to conduct a reconnaissance of an area just inside Guantanamo Bay. Capt. M. D. Goodrell led forty marines from the Oregon and twenty marines from the Marblehead. Goodrell selected a site for the marine battalion to establish their camp, and McCalla then sent him to brief Huntington on his intended position.23

The scene outside Guantanamo Bay was an awesome sight on June 10, for the outer bay was dominated by ships. The U.S. Navy vessels present were the cruisers Marblehead, Yankee, and Yosemite; the battleship Oregon; the torpedo boat Porter; the gunboat Dolphin; the collier Abarenda; the Vixen and Panther; and several private vessels carrying newspaper reporters. The battalion began landing at two o'clock. Four companies disembarked while the other two remained on board to help unload supplies.24 The marines were ordered to stack their rifles and begin unloading supplies from the Panther. Men from Company C, the first company ashore, were deployed up the top of the hill as skirmishers to protect the landing against enemy attack.25 Sgt. Richard Silvey, Company C, First Marine Battalion, planted the American flag for the first time on Cuban soil. One hundred and fifty feet below the hill where the American flag now flew, houses and huts were in flames, and smoke rose from the small fishing village. McCalla had ordered the marines to burn the village on Fisherman's Point for health reasons, and no one was allowed to enter into any buildings. The remaining two companies disembarked on June 11.26

Huntington believed the hill chosen for his camp to be a "faulty position." He did not want his men on top of a hill where "the ridge slopes downward and to the rear from the bay" and was "commanded by a mountain, the ridge of which is about 1,200 yards to the rear."27 The battalion's position was partially protected by the navy vessels in the bay. Several times the battalion commander requested McCalla's permission to move the marines from this site to a more defensible position, but these requests were repeatedly denied.28 Despite this difference, Huntington named the marines' position Camp McCalla. Lt. Herbert Draper raised the American flag on a flagpole for the first time in Cuba at Camp McCalla.29 Eleven days later, Huntington sent this same flag to the commandant of the Marine Corps:

Guantanamo Bay
June 22', 1898

My Dear Colonel:

I sent you by this mail in a starch box the first US flag hoisted in Cuba. This flag was hoisted on the 11th June and during the various attacks on our camp floated serene above us. At times, during the darkness, for a moment, it has been illumined by the search light from the ships. When bullets were flying, and the sight of the flag upon the midnight sky has thrilled our hearts.

I trust you may consider it worthy of preservation, with suitable inscription, at Headquarters. It was first lowered at sunset last evening.

I am very respectfully
R.W. Huntington
Lt Col Commd'g Bat'n

In an attack on the marine outposts, Privates Dumphy and McColgan of Company D were both killed.30 The bodies were first mistakenly reported mutilated. It was hard to tell the two apart, for both men had received a number of bullet wounds to the face; McColgan suffered twenty-one shots to the head and Dumphy fifteen.31 Soon the enemy made five small separate attacks on the marines' camp. All of these were repulsed. At about 1 a.m. a superior number of Spanish forces made a more combined attack. In this assault Assistant Surgeon Gibbs was killed by a bullet to the head.32 Sporadic firing back and forth continued throughout the night. Using a lesson learned from the Cubans, the enemy was making good use of camouflage by covering their bodies with leaves and foliage from the jungle.33 The smokeless powder of the Spanish Mauser rifles also made the enemy harder to detect.

On the morning of the twelfth, Sgt. Charles H. Smith was killed. Colonel Huntington moved much of the camp down the hill closer to the beach to a place known as Playa del Este. Huntington had the marines entrench their positions on the crest of the hill. Eventually earthworks were constructed in the shape of a square, with the blockhouse in its center. The artillery pieces were placed in the corners of the square, and the Colt machine guns were along the sides. Several newspaper reporters came ashore at the lower camp and offered assistance. They helped the marines bring the artillery pieces and Colt machine guns up the hill. The earthworks were constructed about chest high. On the outside of the dirt walls, trenches were dug measuring about five feet deep and ten feet wide. Later on June 12, Pvt. Goode Taurman died during an engagement.34

Harry Jones, the chaplain from the USS Texas, conducted a funeral service for the slain marines. He had heard about the marine deaths, and after receiving permission from his ship's captain, offered his services to the battalion commander. A lieutenant and marine guards from the Texas provided the funeral escort. Colonel Huntington, the battalion's surgeon, and as many officers and men who could be spared from the trenches attended the ceremony. The camp was still being harassed by the enemy, and at one point Jones dove into a trench to escape enemy fire. When he got back to his feet, the chaplain found that the marines were still standing at parade rest awaiting the ceremony. The service was conducted almost entirely under enemy fire. The marines' Lee rifles and Colt machine guns returned fire. The chaplain was still being fired on when he returned to his launch with two reporters.35

McCalla ordered the captain of the Panther to unload fifty thousand rounds of 6mm ammunition. McCalla also cleared up some of the confusion regarding duties by stating in the same order, "In the future do not require Col. Huntington to break out and land his stores or ammo. Use your own officers and crew."36

On the night of the twelfth, Sgt. Maj. Henry Good was killed. Another attack was made on the camp the next morning. After almost three days of constant harassment from the enemy either by attack or sniper fire, Huntington decided to take action. He issued an order to destroy a well used by Spanish troops. On the fourteenth, Capt. George F. Elliott set out with Companies C and D and approximately fifty Cubans to destroy the well at Cuzco, which was the only water supply for the enemy within twelve miles. The well, about six miles from the camp, was close to shore, and the USS Dolphin was sent to support the mission from sea.37

Upon leaving camp, Huntington asked Elliott if he would like to take an officer to act as adjutant. The captain declined, citing the shortage of officers present for duty as the reason. Instead, upon learning that a reporter was accompanying his force, Elliott requested Stephen Crane to act as an aide if needed. Crane's Red Badge of Courage had been published in 1895. The marine officer later reported that Crane carried messages to the company commanders while on this mission.38

The marines soon engaged in a terrific fight. Near the well they encountered great resistance from superior enemy forces. Lt. Louis Magill was sent with fifty marines and ten Cubans to reinforce Elliott. He was to cut off the enemy's line of retreat but was blocked by the Dolphin's gunfire. To help direct the naval gunfire, Sgt. John Quick volunteered to signal the ship. Using a blue flag obtained from the Cubans, the sergeant began to signal the ship with his back to the enemy and bullets flying all around him.

Later, two lieutenants with fifty men each were also sent to help Elliott, but neither participated in the fight. The Spanish escaped, but not before the marines inflicted a crippling blow. Elliott's force had a remarkably low casualty rate. Only two Cubans had been killed, and two Cubans and three marine privates had been wounded. Lt. Wendell C. Neville had also been injured descending a mountainside during the engagement. Twenty-three marines suffered from heat exhaustion and had to be brought back to the Dolphin.39 McCalla offered his opinion stating, "I need hardly call attention to the fact that the marines would have suffered much less had their campaign hats not been on the Resolute" (the ship had not yet arrived at Guantanamo Bay).40 Overall, the mission was considered a success because the well had been destroyed. McCalla stated, "the expedition was most successful; and I can not say too much in praise of the officers and men who took part in it."41 In fact, after the action, enemy attacks and sniper fire on the marine camp became almost nonexistent.

The following day, naval gunfire from the Texas, Marblehead, and Suwanee destroyed the Spanish fort at Caimanera on the eastern side of the bay. The three ships were accompanied by two press boats.42 Three days later, Huntington received orders that no reporters or civilians were to be allowed to land near his camp or enter his lines without a pass from McCalla. Those who disobeyed this order were to be arrested and taken on board the Marblehead as prisoners.43

At 4:30 p.m. on June 20 the USS Resolute arrived and unloaded stores for the battalion. The next day the captain of the Panther received orders from Admiral Sampson to transfer all stores including ammunition and quartermaster stores to the Resolute.44 The marines had finally received their larger transport. On June 24 the battalion placed headstones over the graves of Gibbs, Good, McColgan, Dumphy, and Taurman. A detail was sent out to place a headstone over the remains of Sergeant Smith, whose body could not be brought back to camp.45

McCalla ordered a reconnaissance to determine if Spanish forces still occupied the extremities of Punta del Jicacal on the eastern side of Guantanamo Bay. The enemy had been firing on American vessels from this point. At about 3 a.m. on the twenty-fifth, Huntington led a detail of 240 men encompassing Companies C and E of the First Marine Battalion and 60 Cubans under Colonel Thomas. The force used fifteen boats from the Helena, Annapolis, and Bancroft to travel to the other side of the bay. The landing was supported by the Marblehead and Helena, which took positions close to the beach south and west of the point. The landing force went ashore but made no contact with the enemy. They did, however, find signs that approximately one hundred men had been in the area and had left the previous day. The landing party withdrew at about 7:30 a.m.46

On July 3 the Spanish fleet was virtually annihilated during the naval battle of Santiago de Cuba, and the U.S. Navy became responsible for a very large number of Spanish prisoners. It was decided to send the prisoners north to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, along with marines to guard them. On July 4 and 5, McCalla detached sixty marines from the battalion, including Capt. Allen Kelton and 1st Lt. Franklin Moses to join the Harvard. Prisoners on the St. Louis would be guarded by Capt. Benjamin Russell commanding twenty-one marines from the Marblehead and twenty-nine marines and a lieutenant from the Brooklyn.47 On July 10 the Harvard sailed north for New Hampshire, arriving with the Spanish prisoners at Camp Long just outside Portsmouth.

On the twelfth, McCalla ordered the harbor at Guantanamo under quarantine, with Huntington in charge of enforcing this order. On July 23 a letter from the commandant was read at parade acknowledging receipt of the first flag raised over Camp McCalla and praising the officers and men of the battalion for their conduct. Three days later, a large force of about eighty Cubans left camp. These men had fought and patrolled with the marines since June 12.48

The inactivity of the battalion soon led some marines to create their own diversions. On June 29, two privates from Company E left camp without permission and boarded a schooner in the harbor. They remained on board for several hours and later were reported displaying "improper conduct." Both were disciplined with ten days at double irons. Another private was caught buying liquor using a Spanish dollar.49

Pvt. Robert Burns supplied some of the men with a good story to tell. One night while on guard duty, the private heard something moving in the bushes approximately one hundred yards ahead. Having orders to shoot anything that moved, the private gave three verbal warnings to halt. There being no response, and still hearing movement in the bushes, Burns fired his weapon into the bushes. In the morning, a sergeant took six men to investigate the situation and found that Burns had not fired on the enemy but rather had downed a very large black pig.50

On August 5 the battalion broke camp and embarked on the Resolute. The transport left Guantanamo Bay four days later for Manzanillo under convoy of USS Newark to assist in the capture of the town.51 The Resolute, Suwanee, Hist, Osceola, Alvarado, and Newark all approached Manzanillo and anchored three miles outside town on the twelfth. The Alvarado was sent under a flag of truce to demand a surrender from the military commander. The commander replied that Spanish military code would not allow him to surrender without being forced by a siege or military operation. Captain Goodrich allowed time for noncombatants to vacate the town before beginning the naval bombardment. Naval gunfire started at 3:40 and lasted until 4:15, when it appeared that flags of truce were flying over some of the town's buildings. Goodrich ordered a cease-fire, and the navy vessels flying flags of truce approached. The vessels were soon fired upon, and the Newark returned fire. The action was soon broken off, and all ships anchored for the night at 5:30 p.m. Naval gunfire resumed at 5:20 a.m. the next morning, and when daylight came, white flags were flying over many buildings in town. A small boat from Manzanillo approached the navy ships and brought word to Captain Goodrich that an armistice had been proclaimed: the war was over. The captain of the Newark, observing the disappointment of the battalion commander, reported, "As part of the contemplated plan of operations was the landing of some or all of the marines of Colonel Huntington's command. This officer's regret at the loss of an opportunity to win additional distinction for his corps and himself was only equaled by his careful study of the necessities of the case and his zealous entrance into the spirit of the enterprise."52

On the eighteenth, the Resolute took on board 275 men from four U.S. Army light artillery battery detachments for transport to Montauk Point, Long Island. The next day, the ship encountered rough seas, and most of the army detachment and marines were sick.53 After leaving Long Island, Resolute headed for New Hampshire, arriving at Portsmouth on August 26. The commandant had personally chosen this location for the battalion to recover from the tropical heat of the Caribbean. Huntington named their new site Camp Heywood in honor of the commandant of the Marine Corps. Six of the battalion's officers received promotions for gallantry, and the commandant commended all the battalion's officers and men and noted the favorable press coverage of the battalion's first few days in Cuba. On September 19, Huntington received orders to disband the battalion.54

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First Marine Battalion officers with Colonel Huntington seated front and center and Captain Elliott standing at his right. (NARA, 20M-521218)

On reporting that he had dispatched marines to their new duty stations, Huntington concluded his report by stating, "I believe this encampment has been of great benefit to the health of the battalion."55 The adjutant and inspector of the Marine Corps also found the men at Camp Heywood in good health. In his inspection report the adjutant concluded, "It is worthy of note that during the entire service of this battalion of 25 commissioned officers and 623 enlisted men, from April 22, when they embarked on board their transport at New York to the present time, there has not been a single case of yellow fever nor death from disease of any kind and but few cases of serious illness; a remarkable fact, when it is considered that these men were the first United States troops to land in Cuba, and during their entire service they were subject to the same climatic influences as other troops, among whom fever, diarrhea, dysentery, etc., caused so many casualties."56

The quartermaster of the battalion reported to the commandant that because of the use of distilled water for drinking and cooking and the sanitary conditions aided by sufficient food and clothing, 98 percent of the battalion was brought home fit for duty, and "not a single man of the command died from disease."57 The men had used only distilled water obtained daily from the Panther, Resolute, or Vulcan. McCawley also had had the foresight to purchase empty wine casks in Key West for use as water containers, increasing the amount of water that could be kept on hand at camp. The excellent health of the battalion can be attributed to this careful preparation of water.

On September 18 a parade was held in the streets of Portsmouth.58 After the battalion was disbanded, detachments headed for New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Washington, and Annapolis left Portsmouth together and passed through the city of Boston. The Washington detachment consisted of 3 officers and 164 men who arrived in Washington on September 22. That morning President McKinley informed the commandant of the Marine Corps that he wanted to review the detachment. Remnants of the battalion were led by the U.S. Marine Band from the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. The parade proceeded despite heavy rains while President McKinley and several officers reviewed the troops.59

Individual honors were bestowed upon Sergeant Quick and Assistant Surgeon Gibbs. Sgt. John Quick was awarded the Medal of Honor for "cool and gallant conduct" in signaling the Dolphin on June 14, 1898, at Cuzco, Cuba.60 The secretary of war honored John Gibbs, the assistant surgeon killed at Guantanamo, four months after his death by naming an army hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, after him.61

Although the majority of marines during the Spanish-American War served aboard ship fulfilling various duties from ship guards to gunners mates, the First Marine Battalion received such wide newspaper attention that it dominated the public view of the marines' role in the war. They received favorable press coverage not only because they were among the first to see action, but because they always encountered an enemy that had superior numbers. The battalion enhanced the reputation of the Marine Corps and showed the American public their usefulness as an American fighting force. Newspapers also reported on the low rate of disease and sickness in the battalion as opposed to the high rate found in army units.

The Spanish-American War showed the navy that the Marine Corps had a role in their future war plans. With the postwar acquisitions of the Philippines and Guam, the navy was now responsible for actively operating in the Pacific Ocean. The navy would need advanced bases and coaling stations if their ships were to successfully operate in this area. The marines would play a vital role, for these bases and coaling stations would need to be captured and held if necessary.62

During the Spanish-American War, the First Marine Battalion demonstrated the fast mobilization of the Marine Corps. The battalion was prepared and displayed something future marines would take pride in—the ability to be called and respond at a moment's notice. Marine Corps historian Alan Millett observed that for this era the First Marine Battalion "made the greatest contribution to the Marine Corps's reputation for combat valor and readiness."63 The battalion could be proud of its accomplishments. The unit dominated what was seen as the Marine Corps role in the war. In his general order acknowledging the one-hundredth anniversary of the Marine Corps in 1898, the secretary of the navy proclaimed that in the war with Spain the Marine Corps added "new glory to its already gallant record."64


1 Sgt. John Henry Quick received the Medal of Honor on June 14, 1898. Capt. George F. Elliott rose quickly through the ranks and went on to become the tenth commandant of the Marine Corps serving from October 3, 1903, to November 30, 1910. First Lt. Wendell C. Neville went on to serve as commandant of the Marine Corps from March 5, 1929, to July 8, 1930.

2 "Casualties Occurring on the U.S.S. Maine," Statistical Report, Special Appendix, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Year 1898: Report of the Secretary of the Navy. Miscellaneous Reports (1898), p. 793 (hereinafter cited as Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898).

3 Appendix to Report of Chief of Bureau of Navigation, 1898 (1898), pp. 17–18.

4 Huntington served under Maj. John G. Reynolds as a platoon leader at First Bull Run on July 21, 1861. See entry 196, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Record Group 24, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC (hereinafter, records in the National Archives will be cited as RG ___, NARA); Bernard C. Nalty, The United States Marines in the War with Spain (rev. 1967), p. 7.

5 "Report of the Commandant of United States Marine Corps," Charles Heywood, colonel commandant, to the secretary of the navy, Sept. 24, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 822 (hereinafter cited as Commandant's Report).

6 Commandant of the Marine Corps to the secretary of the navy, April 23, 1898, letter #73, book 7, box 2, entry 6, Press Copies of Letters, Endorsements, and Annual Reports to the Secretary of the Navy, Feb. 1884–Jan. 1904, Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, RG 127, NARA.

7 Commandant's Report, p. 823, and Charles L. McCawley to the quartermaster, U.S. Marine Corps, Sept. 27, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 884.

8 Entry for April 22, "Journal of the Marine Battalion Under LT COL Robert W. Huntington, Apr.–Sept. 1898," p. 2, entry 153, RG 127, NARA (hereinafter cited as Huntington Journal).

9 John H. Clifford, History of The First Battalion of U.S. Marines (1930), pp. 9–10, box 15, Cochrane Collection (PC# 1), Marine Corps Historical Center (MCHC), Washington, DC. Note: The Panther was purchased as the Venezuela on April 19, 1898, from Red D. Line S.S. Co. See Vessels Purchased, Bureau of Construction and Repair, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 516. McCawley to quartermaster, Sept. 27, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 885.

10 Battalion Order No. 8, USS Panther, entry for Apr. 24, Huntington Journal, p. 53; Clifford, History of the First Battalion, p. 11.

11 Chief of Bureau of Navigation to colonel commandant, Apr. 22, 1898, April 1898 folder, box 46, Historical Division Letters Received, 1818–1915, entry 42, RG 127, NARA.

12 Commandant's Report, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 824.

13 McCawley to commandant, Jan. 8, 1900, Jan.–June 1900 file, and Huntington to commandant, Nov. 3, 1899, July–Dec. File, box 48, entry 42, RG 127, NARA.

14 Commandant's Report, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 824; entry for Apr. 26, Huntington Journal, p. 2.

15 Pvt. Edward A. Donahue, Company E, was sent to the U.S. Army Hospital in Key West after fracturing his arm from falling off of a Jacob's ladder, hitting the boat, and falling overboard. See entry for Apr. 29, Huntington Journal, p. 3.

16 Telegram #33, box 1, North Atlantic Station—Naval Base, Key West, Telegrams Recvd May 7–Aug. 15, 1898, Records of Naval Operating Forces, RG 313, NARA.

17 McCawley to the quartermaster, Sept. 27, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, pp. 885–887.

18 Battalion Order No. 13, USS Panther, entry for Apr. 28, Huntington Journal, p. 58.

19 Entries for May 12, 13, and 15, Huntington Journal, pp. 5–6; Clifford, History of the First Battalion, p. 12.

20 Telegram #107, box 1, North Atlantic Station—Naval Base, Key West, Telegrams Recvd May 7–Aug 15, 1898, RG 313, NARA.

21 Charles L. McCawley, "The Marines at Guantanamo," (ms., n.d.), p. 11, Folder 2, McCawley Papers (PC #360), MCHC.

22 Entry for June 10, Journal, p. 8.

23 "Extracts from the Autobiography of Admiral B.H. McCalla," pp. 1–2, box 381, OH (Shore Operations), Subject File, Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library, RG 45, NARA; First Indorsement by B. H. McCalla, June 19, 1898, of Colonel Huntington's report of June 17, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 839.

24 Entry for June 10, Huntington Journal, p. 8; McCawley, "Marines at Guantanamo," pp. 12–13; McCalla Report No. 85, June 11, 1898, June 11–12 folder, box 29, Area 8 File, RG 45, NARA.

25 Clifford, History of the First Battalion, p. 12; Huntington to Heywood, June 17, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 838; McCawley, "Marines at Guantanamo," p. 13.

26 Chief signal officer, War Department, to the secretary of the navy, June 11, 1898, and McCalla Report No. 86, June 12, 1898, June 11–12 folder, box 29, Area 8 File, RG 45, NARA; McCalla, "Marines at Guantanamo," p. 11.

27 Huntington to Heywood, June 17, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, pp. 838–839.

28 McCalla, "Marines at Guantanamo," p. 5.

29 McCawley to Huntington, June 10, 1902, and Huntington to McCawley, June 14, 1902, 1898—June Folder, box 47, entry 42, RG 127, NARA. These two letters identify Lieutenant Draper as raising the first flag over Camp McCalla.

30 James McGolgan and William Dumphy, entry for June 11, Huntington Journal, p. 9; Huntington to Heywood, June 17, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, pp. 838–839. Note: In several sources Dumphy's name appears as Dunphy.

31 Clifford, History of the First Battalion, p. 13; "Engagements at Guantanamo, Cuba, Marine Battalion, North Atlantic Fleet, June 11 to 20, 1898," Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 798; Spanish-American War volume, entry 36A, Medical Certificates and Casualty Lists, 1828–1939, Records of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, RG 52, NARA. On June 12 McCalla states in report no. 86 that two privates and one sergeant were killed and that their bodies were mutilated.

32 Commandant's Report, p. 824, and Huntington to Heywood, June 17, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, pp. 838–839.

33 John R. Spears, Our Navy in the War with Spain (1898), pp. 265–266; Clifford, History of the First Battalion, p. 15.

34 Huntington to Heywood, June 17, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, pp. 838–839; Clifford, History of the First Battalion, p. 15; McCawley, "Marines at Guantanamo," p. 28; "First American Fortifications in Cuba, Playa del Este, Guantanamo Bay, July 9," The New York Times Illustrated Magazine, July 21, 1898, p. 4, clippings file, box 2, Huntington Collection, PC #276, MCHC.

35 Chaplain's letter of Aug. 29, 1898, from USS Texas, copied into Huntington Journal, pp. 294–296; Spears, Our Navy in the War with Spain, p. 267. Chaplain Jones returned to his launch accompanied by two reporters, George Coffin of the Journal and T. M. Dieuaide of the New York Sun. An account was published in the New York Evening Sun on July 18.

36 McCalla to commanding officer of Panther, June 12, 1898, Marblehead, box 3, North Atlantic Station, Correspondence with Commanders of Vessels, Dec. 1897–Dec. 1899, RG 313, NARA.

37 Commandant's Report, p. 824, and Huntington to Heywood, June 17, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, pp. 838–839.

38 Elliott to Huntington, June 15, 1898, ibid., p. 845.

39 McCalla to Sampson, June 16, 1898, p. 846, and Huntington to Heywood, June 17, 1898, ibid., pp. 838–839.

40 McCalla to Sampson, June 16, 1898, ibid., p. 846.

41 First Indorsement by McCalla of Elliott's Report of June 18, 1898, ibid., p. 845.

42 Squadron Bulletin No. 4, Thursday, June 16, 1898, and Squadron Bulletin No. 8, Monday, June 20, 1989, box 461, OO, Subject File, RG 45, NARA; Spears, Our Navy in the War with Spain, pp. 270–271; McCalla, "Marines at Guantanamo," p. 13.

43 McCalla to Huntington, June 18, 1898, Marblehead, box 3, North Atlantic Station, Correspondence with Commanders of Vessels, Dec. 1897–Dec. 1899, RG 313, NARA.

44 Entry for June 20, Huntington Journal, p. 17; Sampson to Comdr. George C. Reiter, June 21, 1898, 1898—June 20–21 folder, Area 8 File, RG 45, NARA.

45 Entry for June 24, Huntington Journal, p. 18. Almost a year later the bodies were disinterred and buried in the United States. On April 29, 1899, the remains were buried in the following locations: Dumphy and Good buried at Naval Cemetery, New York; McColgan buried at Stoneham, Mass.; Smith buried in Smallwood, Md.; and Taurman buried at Richmond, Va. See 1898—April folder, box 46, entry 42, Historical Division Letters Received, 1818–1915, RG 127, NARA.

46 Entry for June 25, Huntington Journal, p. 18; Squadron Bulletin No. 13, Saturday, June 25, 1898, box 461, OO, Subject File, RG 45, NARA. On June 28 William F. Arnold, U.S. Navy, joined the battalion as P. Asst. Surgeon; see p. 278, June, 1898 Muster Rolls, RG 127, NARA.

47 Memos (three of July 4 and one of July 5) from New York to McCalla, Marblehead, and memo for Chief of Staff from McCalla, July 7, 1898, box 3, North Atlantic Station, Correspondence with Commanders of Vessels, Dec. 1897–Dec. 1899, RG 313, NARA.

48 General Order from McCalla, July 12, 1898, Marblehead, box 3, North Atlantic Station, Correspondence with Commanders of Vessels, Dec. 1897–Dec. 1899, RG 313, NARA; entries for July 23, 26–27, Huntington Journal, pp. 23–24.

49 Pages 24–25, July, 1898 Muster Rolls, RG 127, NARA.

50 Clifford, History of the First Battalion, p. 24.

51 Entries for Aug. 5 and Aug. 9, Huntington Journal, pp. 25–26.

52 Goodrich to McCalla, Aug. 13, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, pp. 842–843.

53 Entries for Aug. 18–19, Huntington Journal pp. 28–29; Correspondence Relating to Cuba, April 15 to September 1, 1898, vol. 1, Correspondence Relating to the War with Spain (1902), pp. 234 and 240.

54 Commandant's Report, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 825; Huntington was promoted to colonel, Elliott advanced three numbers, Lucas to brevet captain, Neville to brevet captain, Magill to first lieutenant and brevet captain, and Bannon to brevet first lieutenant. See Huntington Journal, entry for Aug. 29, p. 28; entry for Aug. 30, copy of letter received from the commandant, pp. 31–32; and entry for Sept. 19, p. 33. Order dated Sept. 17, 1898, Order Book No. 40, pp. 898–900, box 13, Letters and Telegrams Sent to Officers Conveying Orders ("Order Books"), entry 24, RG 127, NARA.

55 Huntington to commandant, Sept. 21, 1898, 1898–September folder, box 47, entry 42, RG 127, NARA.

56 "Report of Inspection of the Marine Battalion at Camp Heywood, Seaveys Island, Portsmouth, N.H., September 14, 1898," Maj. George C. Reid, Sept. 18, 1898, Navy Dept. Annual Report, p. 849.

57 McCawley to quartermaster, Sept. 27, 1898, ibid., pp. 884–888.

58 Clifford, History of the First Battalion, p. 26.

59 Commandant's Report, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, pp. 825–826.

60 General Order 504, Navy Department, acting secretary, Dec. 13, 1898.

61 Special Order No. 254, U.S. Army Adjutant-General, Oct. 27, 1898, Extract, Appendix to Report of Chief of Bureau of Navigation, 1898, pp. 441–442.

62 Alan R. Millett, Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps (1991), pp. 134–135; Jack Shulimson, "Marines in the Spanish American War," in Crucible of Empire, ed. James C. Bradford (1993), pp. 150–151; Nalty, United States Marines in the War with Spain, p. 17.

63 Millett, Semper Fidelis, p. 131.

64 General Order No. 494, Secretary of the Navy John D. Long, July 30, 1898, Commandant's Report, Navy Dept. Annual Report, 1898, p. 834.


Trevor K. Plante is an archivist in the Old Military and Civil Records unit, National Archives and Records Administration. He specializes in military records prior to World War II.


Articles published in Prologue do not necessarily represent the views of NARA or of any other agency of the United States Government.