Pennsylvania Volunteers
in the Spanish-American War

1898-1899

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SixteenthRegiment PA History & Soldiers

Spanish-American War - PA 9th Regiment Soldiers by Surname:
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The Sixteenth Regiment, National Guard of Pennsylvania, was composed of eight companies, located in the counties of Erie, McKean, Venango, Elk, Warren and Crawford, as follows: Company "A" at Erie, Company "C" at Bradford, Company "D" at Oil City, Company "E" at Cooperstown, Company "F" at Franklin, Company "H" at Ridgway, Company "1" at Warren, and Company "K" at Titusville.

Pursuant to the orders of the Governor, the regiment proceeded to Mt. Gretna, Pa., arriving there on the morning of April 28, 1898. On May 3rd, the regiment was reviewed by the Governor, and immediately thereafter the roll was called and officers and men given an opportunity to enlist. Every officer and enlisted man present with the regiment responded affirmatively. Each company was immediately recruited to seventy-five enlisted men, and on May lOth the regiment was mustered into the United States service as the Sixteenth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

On May 12th, this regiment and the Fourth Regiment were directed to proceed to New York city to embark on transports for Key West, Florida. This order was eventually countermanded. The regiment remained at Mt. Gretna until May 15th, when under orders from the War Department it proceeded to Chickamauga, Georgia, arriving there May 17th. It was assigned to the Third Brigade, First Division, First Army Corps. The Brigade was commanded by Colonel W. J. Rulings from May 17th until the departure of the regiment for Porto Rico. By June 26th, as per orders from the War Department, the several companies had been recruited to one hundred and six enlisted men to each company. On July 2, 1898, in compliance with Special Order No. 43, Headquarters First Army Corps, dated June 30, 1898, Lieutenant Colonel Rickards was directed to proceed to Pennsylvania for the purpose of supervising the recruitment of four additional companies to form the third battalion of the regiment. The companies were recruited as follows: Company "B" at New Castle, Lawrence county; Company "G" at Kittanning, Armstrong county; Company "L" at Punxsutawney, Jefferson county, and Company "M" at Jeannette, Westmoreland county. The third battalion did not reach the regiment until October l1th; see history Third Battalion herewith.

On July 4, 1898, the regiment was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, First Army Corps, and made part of the command . that was to proceed to Porto RiCo. The regiment left Chickamauga July 5, 1898, for Charleston, South Carolina, arriving there July 7th. The regiment received marked courtesies and hospitality from the people of the city.

On July 20th, Colonel W. J. Rulings was directed by General Wilson to embark upon transport No. 21, and to proceed under orders not to be opened until at sea. The embarkation of troops and stores occupied the night of July 20th, and the day of July 21st. At eight o'clock P. M., July 21st, the transport weighed anchor, steamed into the bay and laid by until morning of. July 216th, the draught being too. great to attempt to cross the bar that night. The transport put to sea on the morning of July 216th. The sealed orders directed the regiment to proceed to Fajardo, where it arrived on the morning of July 27th, but finding a fleet in the harbor, Colonel Rulings directed the navigator to proceed along the coast in search of General Wilson, who had left Charleston, S. C., on July 20th, on the U. S. Transport "Obdam" General Wilson was found at Ponce on the morning of July 28th. The Sixteenth Regiment disembarked at once and that. evening marched through Police and bivouacked some two miles beyond the city. During the night, Captain Wheelock, of Company "I," and a detail of fifty men were ordered forward to El Coto, which place he entered about daylight, the Spanish rear guard retiring as he approached. A number of prisoners and a quantity of arms and supplies were captured.

July 30th, the regiment moved from Ponce to El Coto and encamped, thence to Juana Diaz, August. 16th, and on August 4th encamped on the Rio Desealabro, seven miles east of Juana Diaz. On July 31st, Companies " A " and "I" were sent forward some five miles to Juana Diaz, a town of some 6,000 population. The next day this detachment was reinforced by Companies "C" and "B." Captain Burns of Company "C," assumed command of the battalion. August 3rd, General Wilson commanding the Division, ordered the regiment to move forward and take possesion of the Desealabro bridge, which it was deemed important to possess. The regiment remained at this point, sending out reconnoitering parties daily until August 8th.

On August 7th, the Krag-Jorgensen rifles were-issued to the command. On August 8th, General Ernst, commanding the Brigade, informed Colonel Rulings that the Brigade would be up that afternoon for an advance in force, and that the Sixteenth should take the rear of the column. Colonel Rulings remonstrated against such an assignment and was finally ordered to make a night march and turning movement round the Spanish post. at Coamo., seize the military road beyond Coamo and intercept the Spanish retreat, or make an attack in rear, while the Brigade made a front attack against the enemy's position, some two and one-half miles in front of the town.

At five P. M., August 8th., having all baggage and sick men, the camp standing and a guard of fifty men, the regiment proceeded in rear of the Brigade, out the military road for about two miles, where the Brigade went into camp for the night. The Sixteenth Regiment, turning to the left, took a trail through the broken mountain country. After marching single file for about five miles, bivouacked for the night. Lieutenant Colonel Biddle and Captain Gardner, of General Wilson's staff were sent as guides. On arriving at the top of the mountain overlooking the Coamo river, Lieutenant Colonel Riddle informed Colonel Rulings that the country ahead was new to him and he could no longer guide the regiment. The regiment moved down the mountain side to the river. While fording it, the artillery opened fire on the Spanish blockhouse in front of the town, some three and one-half miles to the right and rear. Two distinct lines of battle were simultaneously engaged. After much desultory fighting and a stubborn contest of an hour and five minutes, the enemy surrendered. The enemy's loss was eleven killed, about seventy-one wounded and one hundred and sixty-seven prisoners. The loss of the regiment was six wounded and one killed.

On the 12th of August the regiment was again ordered to make a flank march against the Spanish stronghold at Aybonita, and, with three days rations and 150 rounds of cartridges, were ready to move, when the Protocol caused orders to be countermanded. The regiment then formed camp near the battlefield of Coamo, remaining there until October 1st, when orders were received to march to San Juan. After the day's march in almost incessant rain, the regiment arrived at Cayey, and after remaining there two days, were ordered ,to Playa de Ponce, at which point they arrived October 10th and were joined by Lieutenant Colonel Rickards and the Third Battalion, which had reached Porto Rico the 216th of September, but were held at Ponce until October 11th. On the 11th of October the regiment sailed for the United States. Arriving in New York on the 17th, Colonel George C. Rickards assumed command of the regiment, Colonel Willis J.. Rulings having been appointed Brigadier General U. S. Volunteers. By order of the Secretary of War, the regiment was furloughed for sixty days and the officers placed on waiting orders, and on December 28, 1898, the regiment was mustered out of the service.

Record of Organization and Movements of Third Battalion. In compliance with General Order, No. 43, Headquarters, First Army Corps, Department of the Gulf, Chickamauga Park, Georgia, June 30, 1898, Lieutenant Colonel George C. Rickards, Sixteenth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, proceeded to Pennsylvania, and recruited one company of three officers and one hundred and six enlisted men in each of the following places: Kittanning, New Castle Punxsutawney and Jeannette; and while at Punxsutawney received further orders from Major General J. H. Wilson, commanding First Division, First Army Corps to recruit fifty-two men for original companies of the Sixteenth Regiment, at Oil City, Pa., But forty-seven were obtainable at Oil City and the battalion and extra men went forward on the 21st day of July to Chickamauga, Georgia. By order of General Brooker to whom Lieutenant Colonel Rickards reported on July 23rd, he was assigned to the command of this battalion. On July 26th orders were received to prepare battalions for embarkation to Porto Rico. On July 25th received orders to report at railway station at Rossville, eight miles distant, at 6 o'clock A. M., July 26th. Embarked on train at Rossville at 1.30 P. M. and arrived at Newport News at 4 o'clock A, M., July 27th. By order of Brigadier General Grant the detachment was ordered to embark on the steamship "Rio Grande". Orders were subsequently received delaying the movement, during which time General Grant embarked leaving orders that the detachment of the Sixteenth was to embark on the following day. Colonel Culver of the Fifth Illinois, assumed command of the Brigade. Orders received from the Adjutant General of the Army through Colonel Culver commanding Brigader directed that no men of the Sixteenth be forwarded to Porto Rico and ordered the detachment to Camp Meade, Pa., where it moved August 18th. On September lOth received telegraphic instructions from the Adjutant General of the Army to prepare battalion for embarkation to Porto Rico. On September 13th the battalion left Camp Meade for New York City, embarked on Steam ship Obdam on the evening of September 14th at 9 o'clock. Arrived at Ponce at 8 o'clock A. M. September 216th. The battalion was kept on board until Sunday morning September 25th when it disembarked and went into camp on a Bite selected by General Henry r about six miles from the Port of Ponce. On October lOth received orders to prepare the battalion for embarkation to proceed to the United States with the Sixteenth Regiment. The following day the battalion joined the regiment.


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



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