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February 21, 2012

"A Splendid Little War"

    On 15th of February 1898 the battleship Maine exploded in Havana harbor. Some thought it was an accident, some thought it was sabotage, some thought an act of war, history was never sure about the incident. Lapel pins of the era had a picture of the Battleship Maine and the words "Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain." Your phone bill STILL includes approximately three cents per month tax to pay for that incident, an incident which triggered the Spanish-American War which was also fought over what was going on in Cuba: 60% of the sugar, 30% of all coffee and a big percentage of all tobacco imported to the US in 1898 came from Cuba, and, the Spanish were continuously pillaging the land. The US was at that time not even in the top five military powers in the world, in fact, the US was tied for tenth with two other countries, on the other hand, Spain had the third most powerful military in the world. World powers considered the non-modernized US military a joke.

    The Spanish-American War only lasted four and a half months during which time the US seized Cuba, Puerto Rico, San Juan, St Croix, St John San Thomas, Wake Island, Guam and the Philippines. Also, this was the first war in which we used the 3040 Krag Jorgensen rifle which had an increased range. The US not only fought in Cuba (San Juan Hill) but also in Ponce, Puerto Rico, a naval battle in and around Guam and Manila Bay and inland battles in Manila. Since 1989, Puerto Rico has been and is still under US control and the Philippines were until WWII. All the governors in the Philippines were American appointed, for example, Author Me Author (father of Douglas MacArthur), President Taft also served as a governor. General MacArthur was the longest appointed governor and was so loved by the Filipinos that they wanted him to come back after WWII and run for president, however, Marcos ran instead.

    Spain, the third most powerful military in the world also had Germany as an ally, and Germany was the fifth most powerful military in the world, so the US not only fought the Spanish, but also the highly mechanized Germans who had better artillery. During the Philippines insurrection, 1899 to 1903, the Hucapinos (Hucs) had to be defeated, Hucs are still there today. Krag rifles given to the Filipino constabulary were used against the US, however the US took Samoa from the Germans in WWI.

    Land the US gained from the Spanish-American War were important to the US. The US printed stamps and coin money for Cuba until WWII and for the Philippines until 1962. Coins in the Philippines were printed "Filippines" and it was not until 1907 when the spelling was changed to "Philippines." Money ties that went with land masses the US captured were a boon to the US. Castro was becoming a person on interest in 1954 and 1959. And in the Philippines there was "Tar Paper Town, now known as "Gobbler's Alley.

    Persons of note from the Spanish-American War include General Leonard Wood won the Congressional Medal of Honor, visit the army base named after him in Missouri. President Theodore Roosevelt also won the Medal of Honor. Theodore Roosevelt called the Spanish-American War a "splendid little war," his Rough Riders and Leonard Wood fought three battles, and, the only horse that made it up the hill was "Little Texas" owned by Theodore Roosevelt. Walter Reed served as a medical officer and became important in Panama with the canal. Admiral Dewey's "you may fire when ready Gridley" quote has been repeated in movies.

    The US had help from the British; "God save the Queen" was the battle cry of the San Francisco militia. The British kept the Spanish fleet bottled up and out of the Caribbean, otherwise, the outcome may have been different, but is was a "splendid little war."

Reported by,

Brother Don "Peanut Butter" Breeland, well known Historian Extraordinaire