Pennsylvania Volunteers
in the Spanish-American War


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Fourth Regiment PA History & Soldiers

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On April 28th, 1898, pursuant to General Orders No 7, Adjutant General's Office, the Fourth Regiment Infantry, National Guard of Pennsylvania, reported at Mount Gretna, Lebanon county, Pa., for the purpose of volunteering in the service of the United States in the War with Spain.

On May 9th, Company B was Mustered In to the United Stares service, being the first company of infantry mustered from Pennsylvania. Companies A and D were mustered the same date. The remaining companies, C, E, F, G and H, were Mustered in during the morning of May 10th, the entire eight companies making 24 officers and 600 enlisted men, the field and staff in the afternoon, and the entire work of muster-in of the regiment was completed before that of any other regiment of the State, the regiment thus haying the honor of being the first to enter the United States volunteer service from Pennsylvania.

On the night of Wednesday, May 11th, the regiment received instructions from the War Department through Governor Hastings to prepare for movement to New York City and there to take transport for Key West. On the evening of May 12th this order was countermanded by telegraphic instructions from the Secretary of War. On the evening of May 11th, the regiment was ordered to Chickamauga Park, Georgia, where it arrived during the morning of May 16th, reporting to Major General Brooke, and was assigned to the Second Brigade, First Division, First Army Corps, being brigaded with the Third Illinois and the Fourth Ohio regiments.

On the 23d of May the regiment participated in a review of the Division by Major General Wilson, commanding the Division, and Major General Breckenridge, Inspector General of the Army, and on the 25th participated with the brigade in a series of practice battle movements.

Governor Hastings visited the camp June 11th. Early in June, Captains Willits and Medlarwere detailed to recruit the eight companies to the maximum of 106 men to a company, and within ten days the recruitment was completed by recruits from the home stations of the several companies. Later the third battalion was determined upon, and the companies to compose it began to arrive. Company I, of Harrisburg, Captain Calder, being the first, July 2; Company K, of Columbia, Captain Smith, July 2; Company L, of Lancaster, Captain Whitson, July --, and Company M, of Pottstown, Captain Missimer, July 8.

Orders were received on July 4th directing the Second Brigade to proceed to Charleston,S. C., each man to take 50 rounds of ammunition and 150 rounds per man to be shipped there. The regiment broke camp at Chickamauga Park, and moved at 9.30 A. M., Friday, July 22d, 1898; arrived at Rossville, Georgia, at 12.00 noon; embarked on trains at 12.30 A. M., Saturday, July 23d; arrived at Newport News, Va., at 6.30 A. M., Monday, July 25th, and established a temporary camp, named Camp Brooke. Here the regiment remained until Wednesday, the 27th, when they embarked on board the "City of Washington" and "The Seneca". Friday afternoon at 1.45 P. M., the transports passed out of the harbor of Charleston, bound for Porto Rico. The transports arrived at Guanaco, Porto Rico. At 11:30 A. M., August 2d, anchored about five miles off shore, weighed anchor and sailed for Ponce, Porto Rico. At 2.30 P. M., arriving at Ponce at 5.00 P. M., and remained in the harbor all night. Next morning orders were received from General Brooke to proceed to Arroyo, a pOl't about fifty miles further east and there disembark. This disembarkation took place while the "St. Louis," the cruiser "Cincinnati" and the "Gloucester" were shelling the hills back of the town. It was near midnight before the entire regiment reached shore.

A temporary camp with shelter tents was pitched along the Guayama road about one mile northeast of Arroyo, and on August 4th a permanent camp was made one-half mile east of Arroyo. Ten companies of the regiment were placed on outpost duty, five companies alternating daily, commanded by field officers on the Patillo and Guayama roads, and on the road leading from Arroyo northward into the mountains. Company I, Captain Calder, was detached for provost duty at Arroyo, and remained there until relieved to join the regiment to proceed home for muster-out. During this camp the regiment was equipped with the Model 1896 Springfield .30 caliber magazine rifle.

The forward movement of the Brigade began on August 6th, the Fourth Ohio and the third Illinois advancing on the town of Guayama, and the Fourth Pennsylvania forming the reserve of this movement. The battle that followed and the capture of Guayama was accomplished, however, without the regiment being actively engaged.

General Brooke sent for Colonel Case on the night of August 12th and advised him that on the following day he proposed to move on the enemy in force and attack his strongly entrenched position on the mountain north of Guayama, using the military road to Oayey for the main attack, with a flank movement by the Fourth Ohio. Colonel Case was ordered to move two battalion of his regiment early on the morning of the 13th, with two days' rations and 100 rounds of ammunition for each man, one battalion to move at 4.00 o'clock A. M. to Guayama, and halt at the outskirts of the town on the military road until it received further instructions from the Major General commanding, the other battalion to move at 6.00 A. M. to the same point, where it was to halt and remain to cover the town. The Third Battalion was to remain at Arroyo to cover and protect that town. Saturday, August 13th, 1898, the First and Second Battalions broke camp at Arroyo at 4 A. M.

The First Battalion and wagon train, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel C. T. O'Neill, moved at 5.45 A. M., and marched to the iron bridge about one mile northwest of Guayama, where they lay as the support of the advancing force consisting of the Fourth Ohio, Third Illinois, four dynamite guns, Batteries A, of Missouri, A, of Illinois, B of Pennsylvania, and the Twenty-Seventh Indiana Battery. Half an hour later the Second Battalion, under the immediate command of Colonel Case, moved to the same point, the Third battalion remaining at Arroyo. Information was received that the enemy were executing a flank movement on the Fourth Ohio.

The Second Battalion of the Fourth Pennsylvania was placed on high ground commanding the entire country from the Cayey road to the road on which the Fourth Ohio was operating, and Company F, Captain Dyson, was sent forward in extended order to cover the front. Company B was detached and took possession of the barracks and public buildings in the town. While engaged in this work news came of the Peace Protocol, and General Brooke ordered the First and Second Battalions to withdraw to a point on the Ponce road just south of the edge of the town. Here the regiment remained on outpost duty until the order came, on August 28th, to break camp and march to Ponce.

The column of the regiment as they left camp consisted of nearly 1,200 men, ambulance wagons, 28 army wagons and 10 ox carts. The first afternoon the regiment marched 10 miles and the next two days about 20 miles each. On the night of the 30th, the regiment encamped within the limits of the city of Ponce, and the next day marched to the Porte de Playa. The loading of the transport "City of Chester" occupied all of the 31st of August and part of the next day. At 2.00 P. M. of the 1st of September the vessel weighed anchor and the regiment was homeward bound, the sick of the regiment being removed to the hospital at Ponce.

Captain Martin H. Smith, Company K, died within one day of New York, where the regiment arrived on the 6th of September. It was then learned for the first time that the regiment was to have sixty days; furlough preparatory to muster-out.

On the 27th of October the regiment, over a thousand strong, participated in the Peace Jubilee in Philadelphia, and was finally mustered out November 16th, 1898.

Source: Record of Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Spanish-American War, 1898, Thomas J. Stewart, Adjutant General, 1900.

Spanish-American War Pension Records

Spanish American War Pension Records typically have birth dates, addresses of next of kin, medical information, proof of marriage, proof of children's births, a summary of military service, and death certificates. To learn how to send away for pension records, go to Pension Records.

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