The pioneers of this area, themselves veterans of earlier conflicts, saw their sons and grandsons go off to fight in the Mexican War of 1846-48 and the Civil War of 1861-65. In some cases, they even lived to see their offspring rally to the cause at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898.
From the time that Cuba was blockaded in April 1898 until the peace was signed in Paris in December of the same year, there was great excitement among the young men of the area, for historians have written that this was primarily a "young man's war," with the exception of the veteran officers who had had a part in the Civil War of the 1860's.
When President McKinley made his first call for volunteers, many young men from south Lake County responded, enlisting at both Indianapolis and Chicago. Men of Hammond joined Company A of the 161st Ind. Volunteer Infantry, an outft organized in that Lake County city.
War was declared against Spain in April, principally to free Cuba from Spanish domination, and soon after, the United States Navy destroyed the Spanish fleet in the Philippines without the loss of a single sailor. American casualties for the four months of fighting were 279 killed and nearly 1,500 wounded. The Navy lost 16 sailors and had 68 wounded. Nearly 5,000 men died from disease, however.
By the time of the Treaty with Spain at the end of the war, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands were ceded to the United States in exchange for $20 million, and Spain's soverignity over Cuba was relinquished.
Historians of this area wrote very little about this conflict, even though many soldiers enlisted from the county. Rev. Timothy Ball, the pioneer historian who wrote many pages about the Mexican War and the Civil War, penned only a few lines about the 1898 activities. In his "Reports of the Historical Secretary of the Old Settlers Assn. of Lake County form 1896 to 1900," he wrote: "Commencing Thurs., Apr. 21, 1898, and closing Fri., Aug. 12, lasting 16 weeks, has been our Cuban War, or Spanish-American War," and in 1899: "Return of our few soldiers: Henry Spalding of Orchard Grove, member of Co. A 3rd Illinois Infantry, who was in active service on the battle fields of Porto Rico [sp] last year, returned in safety to his kindred and friends. Others may have gone, and have returned, but quite surely Lake County young men did little fighting in 1898."
The Three Creeks Memorial in downtown Lowell lists the following men who took part in the conflict of 1898: Howard M. Nichols, Co. K, 36th Infantry ---- W.L. Nehemiah, 31st U.S. Vol. ---- W.S. Latta, 1st U.S. Regular Army ---- W.A. Davis (1850-1925), 2nd U.S. Infantry ---- C.L. Cutler, 3rd U.S. Artillery --- Seymour Kanaar (1867-1943), Co. M 157th Ind. Inf..
Veterans known to be in this area after the monument was erected: ---- Thomas Grubb (1865-1934), Co. F 51st Iowa Inf. ---- Arthur Ross, died 1931 (Creston) ---- Lt. Geo. Smith, Co. B 107th Pa. Inf.
Seymour Kanarr's outfit, the 157th Indiana, trained at Camp Mount, Indianapolis, and left there in May 1898 for Camp Thomas in Chickamauga National Park (Tennessee and Georgia). On June 3 they loaded their equipment, including many covered wagons, on flat cars and headed for Port Tampa City, Fla., where they were on guard duty on the docks. On June 29 they moved to Fernandina, Fla., and Aug. 30, 1898, they traveled back to Camp Mount, were given 30 days' furlough, and were mustered out Nov. 1, 1898. The 2nd U.S. Infantry camped at Camp Shipp in Anniston, Ala.
General "Fighting Joe" Wheeler (1836-1906), Confederate cavalry officer during the Civil War, rejoined the United States Army as a Commmander of Cavalry during the Spanish-American War. He fought at Santiago and San Juan Hill in Cuba with the Rough Riders, was many times decorated, and became well-known for his military knowledge. He is said to have been a relative of Union Col. John Wheeler of Crown Point, who was killed at Gettysburg during the Civil War.
The large, 10-16 volume of "Wright's Official History of the Spanish-American War" by General Marcus Wright, 1900, has a unique dedication: "Dedicated to the memory of the heroic dead and to the renown of the living soldiers and sailors of our country as a memorial of their gallantry, fidelity and invincible patriotism and as a testimony of the grateful appreciation and imperishable remembrance in which they are held by the American people for their valorous deeds and glorious achievements in fighting the battles for humanity in foreign lands and on alien seas."
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