The Spanish American war was one of the first wars after the new fangled motion picture machine was invented by Edison with movies about the war by Edison Manufacturing Company and the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company. These movies are available at the Library of Congress website : The Spanish American reinvigorated the movie business . Films and reenactments played in vaudeville houses for months, generating great revenue . Reenactments proved much more popular than films of parades .The commercial cinema was roughly two years old when the United States declared war against Spain in April 1898. The Spanish American War was of great importance to the fledgling American film industry .
The first war films : Edison documentary
Beginning of the War
A file of Spanish soldiers line up the Cubans against a blank wall and fire a volley. Reenacted July 1898, probably in New Jersey. This film greatly inflamed American public opinion against Spain .
Reenacted ca. July 1898, probably in New Jersey.
Morro Castle, Havana Harbor 1898
Filmed ca. March 17 to April 1, 1898, in Havana Harbor, Cuba
Blanket-tossing a new recruit. Filmed ca.
May or June 1898 in Tampa, Florida.
Shows a phase of the war excitement as it affects newspaper men at Key West, Florida. About a dozen war correspondents of the different New York papers are running up the street in a bunch to get to the cable office to get copy of cablegrams to be in turn transmitted to their different papers. They rush directly toward the audience, turn a corner in the immediate foreground and disappear down a side street. A good-natured struggle occurs here, to see who will make the turn first. Curious natives watch the unusual scene. A horse and carriage follow at a seemingly slow pace, showing by comparison what a rapid head-on foot race has been witnessed. Filmed ca. March or April 1898 in Key West, Florida.
From Edison films "war extra" catalog: Taken at Key West, Fla., March 27, 1898. First comes a detachment of sailors and marines in the left foreground, while at the right is seen a crowd of small colored boys, which precedes any public procession in the South. Then follow the nine hearses, each coffin draped with THE FLAG. At the side of each wagon walk the pall bearers, surviving comrades, their heads bowed in attitudes of grief. Next come naval officers and marines, and lastly a procession of carriages, followed by a large crowd on foot. The scene is reproduced as it actually occurred. The figures are life size and well in the foreground.
Bears in camp
Roosevelt's Rough Riders .
Filmed April 1898 in Tampa, Florida.
From Edison films "war extra" catalog: Taken in Havana Harbor from a moving launch, and shows the wreck of the "Maine" surrounded by wrecking boats and other vessels. The warped and twisted remains show how thoroughly this immense mass of iron and steel was blown out of all semblance of a vessel. The background of this picture is formed by the shores of Havana Harbor, and as the yacht moves around, a panoramic view of the shores adds an interesting feature.
Military camp at Tampa, taken from train .
Filmed ca. May 1-13, 1898, in Tampa, Florida.
Roosevelt's Rough Riders embarking for Santiago
USA Army Troop Ships for the Philippines
Footage of the S.S. Australia leaving San Francisco on May 25th, 1898, carrying United States Army volunteers to the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Unfortunately, as the Philippines struggled for independence, two American privates on patrol killed three Filipino soldiers in Manila, sparking hostilities on February 4, 1899 and leading to the Philippine-American War. Some 126,000 American soldiers would be committed to the conflict; 4,234 Americans died, as did 16,000 Filipino soldiers who were part of a nationwide guerrilla movement of indeterminate numbers.
10th U.S. Infantry, 2nd Battalion, leaving cars in Tampa
Filmed May 1, 1898, in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida.
From Edison films "war extra" catalog: Taken at Washington, in front of the Navy Department, and shows Secretary of the Navy John Davis Long ( 1838 - 1915 ) and Captain Charles Dwight Sigsbee ( 1845 - 1923 ) of the ill-fated "Maine" coming down the steps. As they reach the bottom a waiting attaché approaches the Secretary and hands him a letter. In the meantime Capt. Sigsbee and his friend walk toward the immediate foreground, in earnest conversation. They are quickly joined by the Secretary and the attaché. Here they halt and apparently debate some important question. Additional action is lent to the scene by ladies and gentlemen descending the steps. The background is formed by the handsome building of the Navy Department. The figures are full life size, and are excellent portraits of the famous Captain and the Secretary. This picture excites the keenest interest whenever it is shown. 50 feet.
Transport "Whitney" leaving dock
This boat was the first one to leave for the South with troops. On board is a battalion of the 5th U.S. Infantry. She is a sidewheeler, and the churn of her wide paddles makes the white foam seethe and boil as she backs out of the dock.
Filmed May 7, 1898, in Tampa, Florida.
A panoramic view of the "Raleigh" as she lies at anchor off 27th Steet, North River, April 17, 1899. Captain Coghlan stands among a group of officers near the bridge. The "Raleigh" fired the first gun at Manila, and is the first boat of the Pacific Squadron visiting New York.
Films of the War
U.S. troops landing at Daiquirí, Cuba
U.S. troops in lifeboats are landing at a wooden pier in Daiquiri, Cuba; the men are part of Gen. William R. Shafter's expeditionary force sent to fight in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in June, 1898. The men alight from boats as earlier arrivals walk along the dock toward the camera; the soldiers are equipped with blanket rolls, haversacks, and rifles. One of the transport ships is visible in the background next to a high metal pier. Daiquiri was recommended to General Shafter as a landing site by Gen. Calixto Garcia because of the two piers built by an American mining company and the availability of fresh water. The actual landing proved to be disordered, but was fortunately unopposed by Spanish troops . Filmed ca. June 22-26, 1898, at Daiquirí, Cuba.
Trained cavalry horses . Troop F, 6th U.S. Cavalry .
Filmed ca. May or June 1898 in Tampa, Florida.
Wounded soldiers embarking in row boats
his picture was taken after the battle of Las Guaymas, and shows a large number of wounded soldiers embarking in a rowboat from an extemporized dock, on their way to the hospital ship "Olivette." A high sea was rolling in at the time, which made embarkation exceedingly difficult, and the pitiful condition of the wounded soldiers under such conditions can readily be imagined. This picture is remarkably fine photographically, and has made a marked sensation wherever it has been shown. Filmed in Siboney, Cuba.
Reenactment of the Battle of Manila Bay .
Cuban refugees waiting for rations
A group of escaped reconcentrados, saved from the fate of starvation imposed by the Butcher, Weyler. They stand in line waiting, each man with his tin dish and cup. Filmed ca. May 4-13, 1898, in Tampa, Florida.
Detail of the 34th Michigan Regiment engaged in road making. Under command of Captain Dodd of Troop E, 3rd Regular Cavalry, they are road making, that the siege guns may go to the front. The chaparral and thick underbrush has been cleared away, and the soldiers are working with picks and shovels, to make the way passable
U.S. Infantry supported by Rough Riders at El Caney
From Edison films catalog: Up the road comes a detachment of infantry, firing, advancing, kneeling and firing, again and again. The advance of the foot soldiers is followed by a troop of Rough Riders, riding like demons, yelling and firing revolvers as they pass out of sight. Other troops follow in quick succession, pressing on to front. Reenacted by the New Jersey National Guard. Reenacted May 1899 in the Orange Mountains near West Orange, New Jersey.
Major General William Shafter ( 1835 - 11906 ) in Cuba. The commander of the 5th Army Corps rides forward with a party of officers. Filmed ca. June 1898 in Daiquirí, Cuba.
Skirmish of Rough Riders . Shielded by a thick bit of timber at a turn of the road stands a company of mounted men, awaiting the order to advance. In the foreground, left as the flotsam of battle, is a dead horse from the shelter of which two marksmen are picking off the enemy. Suddenly comes the command, "Forward," and the riders dash up the road, out of sight, leaving behind them a great cloud of dust and smoke . Reenacted by the New Jersey National Guard . May 1899 in the Orange Mountains near West Orange, New Jersey .
Video of the armored crusier Vizcaya . The pride of the Spanish navy, taken on the occasion of her visit to New York Harbor, when her captain hinted at his ability to blow holes through New York's skyscrapers. In this picture the vessel makes a very beautiful appearance steaming out to sea under full headway. But what a contrast to a later Biograph picture when the vessel was a smoking hulk wrecked on the shore of Cuba, battered topieces by the guns of the Oregon. Filmed Feb. 28, 1898, in New York City, New York.
End of the War
Tearing down the Spanish flag. Considered one of the first propoganda films .
From The Phonoscope, January 1899 . Down goes the Spanish flag, and up floats the Stars and Stripes. Down falls the symbol of tyranny and oppression that has ruled in the new world for four hundred years, and up goes the Banner of Freedom. In the distance are the turrets and battlements of Morro, the last foothold of Spain in America.
General Wheeler and Secretary Alger
This picture was taken in front of Gen. Wheeler's headquarters at Camp Wikoff during Gen. Alger's tour of inspection of the camp.
Camp Wikoff, constructed on 5,000 acres (20 km2) of land, was used to quarantine 29,000 soldiers, including Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, at the conclusion of the Spanish–American War to prevent the spread of yellow fever and other tropical diseases. It was named for Col. Charles A. Wikoff of the 22nd U.S. Infantry, who was killed in the San Juan Heights assaults of the Spanish–American War.
The fleet steaming up Husdon River
Shows the "Brooklyn," flying Schley's twin-starred blue flag. Every detail brought out with wonderful clearness. Excursion craft in the distance. Bow of the "Indiana" appears toward end of film.Filmed August 20, 1898, on the Hudson River in New York City.Filmed August 20, 1898 .
Reviewing the "Texas" at Grant's Tomb
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. Filmed October 1, 1898 .
General Lee's procession, Havana
The great procession on Evacuation Day .
The procession is headed by a troop of horsemen. Prominent among them is General Fithugh Lee ( 1835 - 1905 ). Then come the soldiers, file after file and company after company; filling the broad avenue from curb to curb and as far as the eye can reach with marching men. It is the Seventh Army Corps. Great crowds of people fill the sidewalks; and through the trees that line the promenade in the middle of the Prado, are seen carriages and vehicles following the parade. Filmed January 1, 1899, in Havana, Cuba.
Taken during the land parade in honor of Admiral Dewey, just before the turn into 72nd Street, with Grant's tomb and decorated residences in the background. This entire series of pictures [of the Dewey land parade . Filmed Sept. 30, 1899, at the Dewey homecoming land parade in New York City.
Love and war
An illustrated song telling the story of a hero who leaves for the war as a private, is promoted to the rank of captain for bravery in service, meets the girl of his choice, who is a Red Cross nurse on the field, and finally returns home triumphantly as an officer to the father and mother to whom he bade good bye as a private.
Spanish-American War – 25th Infantry Regiment
egregation was still the order of the day in the Spanish American War as seen by this film of an all black 25th Infantry returning from Mt. Arayat Filmed by Thomas Edison's Company on March 23, 1900, in the Philippine Islands, following the 25th Infantry's participation at the battle of Mt. Arayat in January 1900.