The Spanish Army
Three years of Cuban propaganda had created a profound contempt for the Spanish troops in Cuba . On his return from Cuba, Consul-General Lee, who had been a military man himself for thirty years had assured the foreign relations Committee that the Spanish Army was ' not drilled', not organized' and 'not officered well'. The common expectation was that the Spanish Army would surrender in the presence of a superior force .
Uniforms of the Spanish army
The information in possession of the War Department showed that Spain had in Cuba more than 80,000 effective regular troops the remnant of the 214,000 reputed to have been sent to suppress the insurrection. There were, moreover, 20,000 to 30,000 volunteers in Havana, and several thousands of the " Civil Guards " and guerillas, the latter being chiefly blacks. The Spanish were equipped with Spanish Mausers, which fired smokeless powder, which made it superior to the American Springfield and Krag-Jorgensen rifles .
It was also reported that the Spaniards had 183 guns, for the most part concentrated at Havana. The entire regular army of the US only numbered 28,183 men.
Soldiers of the Spanish Army
The American Army
Volunteer reading a recruiting poster
Before the war The entire regular army of the US only numbered 28,183 men. Here was the nucleus about which America had to gather the great army of 1898; and this was the organization with which the Americans were to muster in, equip, organize, and mobilize not only the 125,000 volunteers called for on April 23d, but the subsequent levies, aggregating, with the regular army, approximately 275,000 men.
Weapons expert Rick Pohlers shares some Spanish American War
rifles on the "Live" Haunted Saloon show October 9, 2007
Spanish-American War Uniforms and
Equipment of the US Army
The governmental machinery was altogether inadequate to immediately meet the emergency. There were many scandals with regards to corruption and providing shoddy goods to the army . It had, during thirty years, been called upon only to plan for and meet the requirements of the regular army in time of peace Individually, the regulars were at a fair standard of efficiency as a result of the long Indian wars, but were without experience in anything except the most minor type of maneuver .There was no plan of mobilization, no training in combined operations, no provisions for assembling or transportation for an overseas expedition. There had been no brigade formation of troops for 30 years except for the ageing veterans of the Civil war, there were no officers in the Army who had ever seen a force larger than a regiment together in one place
This New York homecoming (Peace Jubilee) opens with a view of the Marine Band of the USS Brooklyn along with their goat mascot. The march is followed by the 300 marines that manned the ship. This battalion of marines was known as the Flying Squadron.
In addition to the regular army there was the National Guard in various states, numbering about 100,000 men and was weak in artillery, cavalry and many other deficiencies. It was armed with black powder cartridges, which were regarded as useless in warfare. The National Guard was not under the control of the Federal Government, but under the Governors of the states, so it was a baffling picture of some forty separate armies.
30-caliber Krag-Jorgensen rifle
The Ordnance Department had only 67,000 rifles and carbines, the National Guardsmen had to use old-fashioned black-powder Springfields. Efforts were made to supply smokeless powder, but the capacity for making it in America was limited . In one respect alone was the War Department able to make immediate response to at least a part of the sudden demands upon it. Including those already in the hands of the regular soldiers, there were 53.508 .30-caliber Krag-Jorgensen rifles, and 14,895 . 30-caliber Krag-Jorgensen carbines. This supply, however, was barely sufficient to meet the requirements of the increased regular army. Nothing was left for the volunteers except 45-caliber Springield rifles, of which there were 265,895.The majority of his 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry and regular cavalry units carried carbine versions of the Army's first general-issue bolt-action repeating rifle, the .30-40 Krag-Jorgensen. Though this well-made, reliable arm was somewhat outclassed by the Spanish Mausers,
General Miles, commanding the Army, recommended a mobilization, and the war department wrestled with the problem of devising some method to incorporate the Guard into the national army. In the end, remembering the disasters produced by state militias in the civil war, the Department decided against the employment of state troops and drafted a bill creating a federal force .There was opposition to creating a large 'standing army' and being under command of 'west Point martinets', many who volunteers wanted officers who had lived among them .
On April 22, McKinley issued his call for 125,000 men under arms and the bill provided they would be under federal control, the guard retained its organization and the Governors their appointive powers and there would be no ' martinets.'
" Fighting Joe' Wheeler
The whole country it seemed, was flocking to recruiting stations. The war seemed to help bury the bitterness which had festered between north and south for 30 years and even a former Confederate general " Fighting Joe' Wheeler (1836 - 1906 )was commissioned as major-generals in the new army . The governor of Texas placed his entire force of rangers on the border to repel any invasion from Mexico from ' Spanish sympathizers . '
Manufacturers of American flags were unable to keep up with demand. On Wall street a complete regiment was organized among brokers and clerks .
The surgeon-General of the Army, an expert on tropical disease, issued a disconcerting opinion that an invasion taken any sooner than October would result in a mortality from Yellow fever of 35 to 50 percent . General Miles agreed, but the nation was demanding action .
There were no modern rifles for the volunteers, nor tropical uniforms. There was no time staff organization and the regulars were already pouring into the mobilization points, the overworked War department found itself trying to prepare plans in appalling confusion .