Pennsylvania Volunteers
in the Spanish-American War


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Spanish-American War
Berks County Pennsylvania Soldiers, 1898

The war of the United States with Spain grew out of the oppression of the people of Cuba by the Spanish government, which extended through a long period of time, and the repeated efforts of the people toward establishing a republican form of government elicited the earnest sympathy of our republic. The conduct of our own government was always reserved and guarded, but when our battleship "Maine" was blown up in the harbor of Havana on Feb. 15, 1898, causing the loss of 266 sailors, the feeling of our people, incited by the metropolitan newspapers, became so intense against Spain that it culminated in a proposed declaration of war in Congress on March 29th, and in the recognition of the independence of Cuba on April 19th. Two days after this recognition , our Minister to Spain was unceremoniously dismissed from Madrid; four days afterward President McKinley called for 125,000 volunteers; and six days afterward, a formal declaration of war was passed by Congress. When the signal was given, the military operations became immediately very active and determined, and within a week more the great naval battle in Manila harbor had taken place, with the unprecedented success of the American fleet of battleships under the command of Admiral Dewey, and the total destruction of the Spanish fleet.

While these events were transpiring, the patriotic spirit at Reading was aroused, and the "Reading Artillerists." under the command of Capt. Samuel Willits, responded to the President's call, and proceeded to Mt. Gretna, where it was mustered into service on May 9th, with the 4th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. The regiment was transferred to Chickamauga Park, in Georgia, arriving there on May 16th; and after having been quartered at several other places, it finally reached Guanica, in Porto Rico, on Aug. 2d, and thence it proceeded to Arroyo, the hills near by being shelled by the American troops while the di embarkment of the men took place. The regiment participated in the movements which led up to the battle and the capture of Guayama without becoming actually engaged; and shortly afterward it constituted part of the 1st Battalion and wagon-train which marched toward Guayama to support the advancing army. The enemy was endeavoring to execute a flank movement when the regiment was ordered to occupy a commanding position and while engaged in this important work the news of the "Peace Protocol" was circulated, which caused further operations to cease. Then the regiment was directed to withdraw to a point on the Ponce Road, near the town, and there it remained on outpost duty until August 28th, when it marched about fifty miles to the city of Ponce, and thence to toe Port de Playa. It then took passage on the transport "City of Chester" for New York City, where it arrived on Sept. 6th, and was then furloughed for sixty days. It was mustered out of service on Nov. 16th. The company reached Reading on Sept. 6th at 4 a.m., and many persons were at the railroad station to extend a cordial welcome to the men. A public reception was tendered to the company in the form of a large parade in four divisions, with one thousand men in line, and a banquet in Rajah Temple, on Wednesday evening, Sept. 15th. Penn street was crowded with many thousand enthusiastic people who witnessed the parade.

John C. Hintz, the First Lieutenant of Company A, died June 26th, in Leiter Hospital, in Chickamauga Park, while the company was lying there awaiting orders to march and his remains wee forwarded to Reading and buried with an imposing ceremony.

Company G, of the 9th Regiment , Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, recruited at Reading, was also enlisted in the service. This regiment was mustered in at Mt. Gretna on May 11, 1898, and encamped at Chickamauga Park, on May 20th. On May 25th, the President issued a second call for seventy-five thousand men, and four additional companies were added to the regime tn, one of these being Company G, commanded by Capt. Henry D. Green, of Reading.

On August 20th, the regiment as a part of the 3d Division, 1st Army Corps, was ordered to Lexington, Ky., and on the 25th it was encamped at Camp Hamilton, about five miles from Lexington. I remained at that place until Sept 18th, when it was ordered to Wilkes-Barre, Pa. There it was given an enthusiastic reception and then furloughed for thirty days. It arrived at Reading on Sept. 20th, and on the evening of the 22d, a public reception was extended to it similar to that extended to Company A, but the parade could not be made on account of a severe rain.

Both companies participated in the "Peace Jubilee" at Philadelphia on Oct. 27, 1898.

Company E of Hamburf, of the same regiment, was mustered in on May 10, 1898, at Mt. Gretna, and participated in the same services as Company A; and it was mustered out of service on Nov. 16, 1898. It was also in the Peace Jubilee at Philadelphia. It was commanded by Capt. William Kummerer.

Source: Montgomery, Morton Luther,. Historical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania : embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families. Chicago: J.H. Beers, 1909. Databases

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