Marine Corps 1898

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U.S. Marines form up in their camp in Cuba in 1898. (Marine Corps Research Center)

JANUARY 1–12 Throughout the Gulf of Mexico, various marine detachments begin coalescing for possible use in a war against Spain.

FEBRUARY 7 At San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, sailors and marines come ashore from the gunboat Alert to protect American lives during a period of revolutionary turmoil.

FEBRUARY 15 In Havana Harbor, Cuba, 28 marines are killed in the explosion on board the battleship Maine, along with 232 sailors. Private William Anthony is widely praised for his calm demeanor as the captain’s orderly.

APRIL 17 In Washington, D.C., Commandant Charles Heywood instructs Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Huntington to prepare a unit for overseas service. He is to draw up marines from stations along East Coast barracks.

APRIL 21 In Washington, D.C., Congress declares war against Spain and the Spanish- American War begins in earnest.

APRIL 22 In New York, Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Huntington assembles the 1st Marine Expeditionary Battalion on board the transport Panther. This unit consists of 14 officers and 623 enlisted men.

MAY 1 In Manila Bay, the Philippines, marines crew secondary batteries on Admiral George Dewey’s fleet; the Spanish squadron opposing them is completely sunk.

MAY 2–3 At Cavite, the Philippines, a marine detachment from the cruiser Baltimore has the honor of raising the Stars and Stripes in these islands for the first time.

MAY 4 In Washington, D.C., Congress authorizes a wartime increase in Marine Corps manpower by adding 473 men to the standing establishment, supplemented by an additional 43 officers and 1,580 enlisted men for the duration of the war. The commandant’s rank is also fixed again at brigadier general.

MAY 11 Outside Cienfuegos, Cuba, marines and sailors from the Marblehead begin cutting the transoceanic cable to silence Spanish communications.

MAY 12 At San Juan, Puerto Rico, marines man secondary batteries of the North Atlantic Squadron as it bombards Spanish positions ashore.

MAY 24 At Key West, Florida, Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Huntington’s 1st Marine Battalion lands and awaits further orders.

MAY 31 Outside Santiago, Cuba, marines help man secondary batteries as Admiral William P. Sampson’s fleet bombards Spanish positions ashore.

JUNE 6 The cruisers Marblehead and Yankee are dispatched with marine detachments to secure Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a naval base. Off Santiago, Cuba, marines on the fleet of Admiral William P. Sampson assist in a second round of bombardments.

JUNE 7 At Key West, Florida, Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Huntington and his marine battalion embark on the transport Panther and sail for Cuba. Outside Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a force of 80 marines culled from the battleships New York and Oregon, and the cruiser Marblehead, goes ashore to conduct an armed reconnaissance.

JUNE 9 In Cuba, the American cruisers Marblehead and Yankee under Commander Bowman H. McCalla anchor off Playa del Este, Guantanamo Bay, while 647 marines under Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Huntington disembark from the transport Panther.

JUNE 10 At Guantanamo, Cuba, Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Huntington’s marine battalion is deployed on a hill in advance of other forces. Within hours it is reinforced by the marine detachment from the battleship Texas.

JUNE 11 At Guantanamo, Cuba, Spanish snipers begin peppering the marine garrison and Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Huntington instructs 75 Cuban guerillas under Captain George F. Elliott to destroy Spanish water supplies two miles distant in the Cuzco Valley.

JUNE 12 At Guantanamo, Cuba, Spanish forces counterattack the American beachhead and are handily repulsed by the marines; two Americans die and seven more are wounded.

JUNE 14 At Cuzco Well, Guantanamo, two companies of marines under Captain George F. Elliott, assisted by Cuban guerillas, drive off a Spanish detachment killing 60 and taking 18 prisoners. Sergeant John H. Quick also wins a Congressional Medal of Honor by signaling for fi re support while under heavy fire.

JUNE 16 Outside Santiago, Cuba, marine detachments participate in the third round of bombardment against Spanish positions.

JUNE 22 At Guam, marines and sailors from the cruiser Charleston come ashore to claim that island for the United States.

JUNE 30 At this date, Marine Corps manpower stands at 98 officers and 3,481 enlisted men.

JULY 3 Off Santiago, Cuba, during the decisive naval engagement there, marines man several secondary batteries in the North Atlantic Fleet; the Spanish fleet is completely annihilated.

JULY 7 At Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a company of marines is tasked with manning a camp constructed for housing Spanish prisoners of war.

JULY 11 In Washington, D.C., the Secretary of the Navy conducts observances marking the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps in 1798.

JULY 27 At Playa del Ponce, Puerto Rico, marines from the cruiser Dixie come ashore and plant the U.S. flag for the first time.

AUGUST 5 At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Lieutenant Robert W. Huntington’s marine battalion embarks on the transport Resolute.

AUGUST 12 At Honolulu, Hawaii, marines from the steamship Mohican and cruiser Philadelphia are on hand during ceremonies marking the formal annexation of the islands by the United States. The treaty had been signed on July 7.

AUGUST 13 Outside of Manzanillo, Cuba, the marine battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Huntington is preparing to attack the town when word of an armistice arrives, which officially ends the Spanish-American War.

AUGUST 26 At Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Battalion arrives following its successful deployment in Cuba.

SEPTEMBER 22 In Washington, D.C., several components of the disbanded 1st Marine Expeditionary Battalion parade through the capital before President McKinley.

OCTOBER 2 At Port Royal, South Carolina, the Marine Barracks begins repairing damage from a severe hurricane there.

OCTOBER 26 At San Juan, Puerto Rico, the navy yard there establishes its own Marine Barracks.

NOVEMBER 4 In China, a marine detachment drawn from the cruisers Baltimore, Raleigh, and Boston land and march overland to Beijing to guard the American consulate.

NOVEMBER 12 At Taku, China, the Baltimore, Boston, and Raleigh land additional marines ashore, who proceed overland to Tientsin to reinforce the U.S. Consulate.

Forschungsmitarbeiter Mitch Williamson is a technical writer with an interest in military and naval affairs. He has published articles in Cross & Cockade International and Wartime magazines. He was research associate for the Bio-history Cross in the Sky, a book about Charles ‘Moth’ Eaton’s career, in collaboration with the flier’s son, Dr Charles S. Eaton. He also assisted in picture research for John Burton’s Fortnight of Infamy. Mitch is now publishing on the WWW various specialist websites combined with custom website design work. He enjoys working and supporting his local C3 Church. “Curate and Compile“
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