1st Battalion 22nd Infantry

 

Regimental History 1898 Part One

 

The battleship USS Maine

 

The following account of the 22nd Infantry in the Spanish American War
is from the Regimental history compiled in 1922
under the direction of the Regimental Adjutant, CPT C.G. Graham
,
with additional excerpts from the 1904 Regimental History.

 

THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR - El Caney and Santiago

The approach of the war with Spain in 1898 found the 22nd Infantry in ideal condition for taking the field against an enemy.
Like all other regular regiments of this period, the 22nd had been brought to a high state of efficiency
both in respect to organization and equipment. Its effective strength at the beginning of the war was thirty-five officers and five hundred and nine enlisted men.
Most of the non-commissioned officers and many of the privates were men of long service—the regular troops,
organized into the 5th army corps and constituting almost entirely the force sent against the Spanish forces at Santiago, Cuba,
formed the finest and the most effective army of its size ever organized into one command.
With the news, on February 23, 1898, of the destruction of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor,
came the settled belief that war with Spain was inevitable. Preparations were quietly begun and on Saturday evening, April 15,
definite instructions were received relative to the movement of the regiment closer to the field of active operations.
April 18, in compliance with orders from Headquarters, Department of the Missouri, dated April 15, the regiment entrained at Fort Crook
for Mobile, Alabama. Twenty-nine officers * and four hundred and eighty enlisted men constituted the command.
That the people were solidly behind the approaching war was continuously evidenced during the journey to Mobile.
At every stop enthusiastic citizens greeted the regiment with brass bands and cheers. The entry into the Southern States
was like a triumphal procession. The train was loaded with flowers and the engine was almost hidden under banks of blossoms.

* Colonel C. A. Wikoff, commanding regiment; Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Patterson, Major W. M. Van Home,
1st Lieutenant Herman Hall, adjutant; 1st Lieutenant J. F. Kreps, quartermaster; Chaplain E. H. FitzGerald. regimental chaplain;
Captains B. C. Lockwood, W. H. Kell, Theodore Mosher A. C. Sharpe, J. J. Crittenden, R. N. Getty, and F. B. Jones;
1st Lieutenants E. O. C. Ord, H. C. Hodges, Jr., G. H. Patten, T. W. Moore, W. M. Swaine, G. J. Godfrey, W. L. Taylor, and H. L. Jackson;
2nd Lieutenants A. C. Dalton, W. H. Wassell, P. W. Davison, O. R. Wolfe, Harry Clement, D. S. Stanley, Jr., Isaac Newell, and F. W. Lewis.

A Soldier saying goodbye to his wife as he leaves for war.
Such staged, emotional, patriotic themes in photos were very popular in 1898.

 

The regiment went into camp near Mobile April 20.
April 23, 2nd Lieutenant C. H. Bridges, recently graduated from West Point, joined the regiment.
April 27, 2nd Lieutenant D. S. Stanley, Jr., left the regiment on detached service on General Coppinger's staff.
Drills, reviews and inspections occupied the troops until April 28, when camp was broken
under instructions from Headquarters U. S. Troops, Mobile, Alabama,
and the regiment began its journey to Tampa, Florida.
The order to move was received with great enthusiasm.
The entire camp took the order as an indication that there would soon be field service
for everybody, and as the regiment marched away from camp the troops remaining
gave cheer after cheer speeding the men on their way to the front.
The regiment arrived at Tampa, May 2, and went into camp at Tampa heights,
where it remained until its departure for Cuba, spending the intervening time in company,
battalion and regimental drill.
Assignment to the 2nd Brigade, Infantry Division, came on May 2.

 

From a stereoview entitled:
"Where the food is cooked,
Co. H, 22nd Infantry,
Tampa, Florida"

 

May 4, 1st Lieutenant Wilson Chase joined the regiment from detached service on college duty.
On May 6, the regiment was transferred to the 1st Brigade, Infantry Division.
May 14, 1st Lieutenant H. C. Hodges, Jr., left the regiment on special recruiting duty at Fort McPherson, Ga.
May 23, 2nd Lieutenant D. L. Stone, recently graduated from West Point, joined the regiment.
On May 25, the regiment was finally assigned to the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 5th Army Corps.
May 26, Captain A. C. Sharpe left the regiment on detached service as adjutant general, 1st division, 5th army corps.

June 1st, Captain W. H. Kell left the regiment on detached service as adjutant general, 1st brigade, 2nd division, 5th army corps.
June 3, 2nd Lieutenant P. W. Davison was detailed brigade commissary, 1st brigade, 2nd division, 5th army corps.
Lieut. Davison remained on duty with troops throughout the campaign.

June 7, the regiment broke camp and proceeded by rail to Port Tampa, Florida, arriving there at 1 p. m.
The same night it went aboard the transport Orizaba, No. 24. The Orizaba dropped anchor in the bay and remained there until 8 A. M.,
June 14, when the 5th Army Corps started on its expedition against Santiago de Cuba. At this period the enlisted strength of the regiment
had been reduced to four hundred and sixty-nine, by reason of discharges and details of various nature.
Santiago had been made the objective of the expedition because of the fact that the Spanish fleet had been blockaded in the harbor there,
and its capture or destruction necessitated the assistance of an army.

 

The Transport Orizaba which brought the 22nd Infantry to Cuba
The ship was 336 ft long and had a displacement of 3496 gross tons.
For the invasion of Cuba, she carried the following consisting of 35 officers and 622 enlisted men:
2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (one battalion)
22nd U.S. Infantry from Tampa to Cuba.
4th U.S. Artillery, Batteries G and H (Siege Artillery battalion)

Photo from the Stillwater Woods webpage

 

 

June 20, Colonel Wikoff was placed in command of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps,
and Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson took command of the regiment. 1st Lieutenant Wilson Chase was detached from the Regiment
and accompanied Colonel Wikoff as his aide. (Ed., Colonel Wikoff, in his capacity as Brigade Commander, was, however,
still a Colonel of the 22nd Infantry, and still officially the 22nd Infantry Regimental Commander.)

The expedition arrived off Morro Castle, at the harbor entrance to Santiago, about noon June 20. The 2nd Division, 5th Army Corps,
was ordered to disembark first, accompanied by the Gatling gun detachment.

The steep and rocky coast of Cuba in the vicinity of Santiago bay offers no good landing place.
An iron pier used for unloading ore at Daquiri, the point selected for disembarkation, offered but slight aid in the way of a landing place.
This pier the Spaniards had unsuccessfully attempted to destroy by fire.
Early in the morning of the 22nd, the regiment was transferred to small boats and towed toward the smoldering dock.
Then men showed characteristic American dash and desire for action. As the men were unloaded from the Orizaba,
cheers burst from the decks of the nearby transports awaiting orders to debark. Regimental bands played and shells screeched overhead,
bursting far up on the heights as the fleet out at sea bombarded the wooded mountains that rise from the beach.
Tugging launches puffed and whistled their way toward shore. Near the ore pier a wall of surf roared an angry welcome
and broke into swamping torrents. Boat bumped boat as they crowded toward the dock and were swept against the piles,
bobbing here and there until caught by a line from the land. Out scrambled the regiment, tossing blanket rolls ahead of them,
but carefully handing rifles to helping comrades—a surf-drenched, panting regiment, that caught its breath again
and cheered as their colors unfurled—the first on Cuban shore.

The iron ore pier at Daiquiri, the 2nd day of the landings,
when the sea had calmed and the troops coming ashore had an easier time.

After a brief rest the regiment marched inland about four miles on the road to Siboney and camped on Daquiri creek.
June 23, the regiment was placed in advance and by noon had taken possession of Siboney,
the Spanish force of six hundred retiring and offering no resistance. Here the first Spanish colors taken in the campaign
were captured by men from Company B (Crittenden's) after the town had been entered.

In Siboney the next day, Orrin R. Wolfe of the Twenty-second Infantry found about half a dozen locomotives in a roundhouse.
The Spanish had tried to sabotage them by destroying a vital part, such as a driving rod, from each of them. "I knew I had
a number of men in the company who had been railroad men," Wolfe reminisced. "We worked for some time, taking a part from one engine
and putting it in the place of a part that was missing. One was ready to go about 3:00 P.M. We only had a little water, but a water tank
was about 200 yards down the road, so we had up steam. I was in the cab with three or four soldiers, one acting as engineer.
I got hold of the whistle cord and proceeded to toot. We ran out of round-house and down the track, soldiers cheering."

The regiment was ordered in from outpost on June 24, and sent to reinforce Young's brigade engaged at Las Guasimas, four miles distant,
but did not arrive until after the action. It camped that night near Sevilla in advance of the morning's battlefield.
The regiment moved to Sevilla on the 25th and remained in camp there until the morning of the 27th, when it moved forward
four miles on the road to Santiago. It remained in this position until June 30, parts of the companies on outpost at all times. '
The march toward Santiago was resumed at 4 P. M., June 30, and that night the regiment bivouacked along the Caney road,
east of the town and in sight of the Spanish outposts.
The general plan of the Santiago campaign was to send one division (Lawton's) against Caney; after taking the town
the division to swing to the southwest and take position on the right of the line (two divisions) in front of Santiago.
As part of the 1st Brigade of Lawton's division the 22nd Infantry was to occupy the roads leading from Caney to Santiago,
and cut off the Caney garrison should it attempt to escape,
At 4:30 A. M., July 1, the twenty-four officers and four hundred and thirty-six enlisted men comprising the 22nd Infantry
marched down a trail overgrown with brush and vines until it reached the main Santiago-Caney road near the Ducoureaux house—
covering this road was a part of the regiment's assigned position. The 2nd Battalion was then deployed and skirmished northward
through the jungle to see if there were any other roads over which the Spaniards could retreat to Santiago.

A Spanish infantry unit assumes a defensive formation
as it moves down a Cuban road.

Meanwhile, the 1st Battalion moved rapidly northward along the main road, until at about 1,200 yards the advance guard, Company A,
received a sharp Mauser fire from the town. The battalion then deployed east and west of the road. Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson,
who accompanied the 1st Battalion was severely wounded here and Major Van Horne took command of the regiment.
For half an hour the advance was through dense undergrowth and tangled vegetation
that prevented the battalion from seeing more than ten feet to the front.
To keep the line the men were obliged to continually call to the skirmishers on either side of them.
The Spanish fire, coming from a chain of intrenched blockhouses and almost invisible rifle pits, swept the ground.
At 800 yards a clearing was reached, beyond which the battalion caught its first glimpse of the enemy's position.
The men were ordered to lie down and take such cover as the ground afforded.
Volleys by company and platoon were fired during the brief moments when the enemy exposed themselves.
To husband ammunition, sharpshooters determined the range by actual firing before volleys were fired.
General Ludlow, Brigade Commander, took position with Company A at this period of the fighting
and from this point issued his orders during the remainder of the day.
The battalion was advanced to 700 yards with severe losses. For three hours it had been under heavy fire from an intrenched
and skillful enemy that had made elaborate plans to beat back an attack from this very direction.

Meanwhile, the second battalion, the extreme left of the line, slowly forced its way through the underbrush for half a mile,
swung to the east, and under heavy fire from the then concealed positions, laboriously hacked its way through the chaparral
until it found the Cuabietas road leading westward from the fated village. Part of the regiment's assigned position was the covering of this road.
So difficult was the advance that it was impossible to keep the line together. Company F (Getty's) became separated
from the rest of the battalion. This company reconnoitered the ground west of the battalion's position and after receiving the enemy's fire
from the San Miguel blockhouse without replying to it, rejoined the battalion at the edge of a fire-swept clearing
500 yards from the enemy's main position. As a result of this reconnoitering, Captain Getty succeeded in cutting the Caney telephone line
along the Cuabietas road. From noon until one o'clock there was a lull in the firing.
Taking advantage of it, General Ludlow moved the second battalion still farther to the west and north, advanced the first battalion
to within 500 yards of the enemy, and placed the 8th Infantry between the first and second battalions of the 22nd Infantry.
After one o'clock the enemy renewed its fire with increased vigor and the men of the command were compelled to hug the ground
at the edge of the clearing and watch for the scarce moments when the enemy would expose themselves.
The heat was almost insufferable, water was almost impossible to obtain. Any movement along the line was sure to bring a well-directed volley
from soldiers who were veterans in bush warfare. Men lay sweltering on the ground waiting for something to shoot at;
bullets ploughed the ground in front and threw dirt over their sweaty faces. The regiment prayed for something more
than momentary shots at the enemy. Finally the regiment located the intrenched blockhouses and rifle pits south of the village.
These defenses had been constructed and placed by a master hand; they afforded the defenders almost perfect protection
and the enemy was able to sweep with their fire all parts of the regiment's position.
Loopholes in the blockhouses and parapets of the trenches were so sloped that unaimed fire covered the field.
From these loopholes, at short intervals came puffs of smoke and then a hail of bullets. Occasionally the defenders stood upright in the trenches
to fire volleys and for a brief interval the parapet appeared dotted with straw hats. A moment later the enemy was once more invisible.
At times a Spaniard would dart from trench to blockhouse.

Spanish soldier of the 29th Regular Infantry Battalion.
514 soldiers of the 29th fought a tenacious defense at El Caney,
and only retreated when their ammunition ran out.

 

Late in the afternoon when the town was captured, the enemy trenches were found filled with dead and wounded.
Despite difficulties of target, the regiment shot accurately.
From due south of the town came enemy fire that remained unanswered. Tall trees in this direction concealed the main buildings
of the town and field glasses could discover no enemy. To return this fire by infantry would have been a waste of ammunition.
The artillery seemed to have no effect on this position so far as stopping the enemy's fire from this direction.
Capron's battery changed position about 2:30 o'clock and fired a few shots at the defenses south of the town
but produced not the slightest diminution in the fire coming from the works there.
Heat, thirst, inability to see the enemy, absolute ignorance in regard to the damage inflicted on the Spaniards
and visible evidence of our own losses produced some discouragement and an intense desire to meet the enemy at close quarters.
Orders to charge the town would have met with enthusiastic response, but the plan of battle required the regiment
to hold its exposed position covering the two roads to Santiago.
Suddenly from the stone fort east of the village came the sound of American cheers.
The stone fort, its intrenchments cut in solid rock, had fallen. Gallant troops, gallantly led, had cut through wire entanglements,
charged up the hill and stormed the fort. The flag of the United States now appeared where all morning had waved the Spanish colors.
It was then three o'clock in the afternoon.
The larger garrison stubbornly remained in the village for an hour and a half longer and held some of the other defensive works,
but finally, under the destructive fire of Ludlow's brigade, was forced to evacuate its position.
The Spaniards attempted a retreat to Santiago, choosing the Cuabietas road. But this road was barred by the 2nd battalion of the 22nd—
a battalion that with patience and persistence had lain all day under heavy fire waiting for this moment.
The retreating Spaniards were met with company volleys. Quickly the retreat was changed to a rout and the rout to a surrender.
Sixty-five prisoners and a quantity of arms and ammunition were taken by Companies D and F.
Few, if any, of the retreating force escaped. Along the line of their march were 186 dead and wounded,
among them the former gallant defender of Caney, General Vera del Rey.


-----------------------------------

General Joaquin Vara del Rey Y Rubio, Commander of the Spanish at El Caney ---------------------------COL Charles Wikoff-----------------

 

The battle was won—but the victors had suffered severe losses. Of the twenty-four officers of the regiment who participated in the battle,
six had been wounded ** ; of four hundred and thirty-six enlisted men, forty-four had been killed and wounded.*** The total loss was nearly eleven per cent.
San Juan, too, was marked with the regiment's blood: Colonel Wikoff was killed early in the day, while gallantly superintending the deployment of his brigade.

** Lieutenant Colonel John H. Patterson, Captain Theodore Mosher, Captain John J. Crittenden, Captain Frank B. Jones,
1st Lieutenant George J. Godfrey, 2nd Lieutenant William H. Wassell.

*** Killed:

Private Samuel Bennet, company A;
Privates Michael Gibney and Michael Werner, company B;
Private James W. Bampton, company C;
Private Gustav V. Sutter, company E;
Corporal Gebhard Young and Private Willie Brooks, company G;
Privates William L. Forrester and Peter Johnson, company H.

Wounded:

Corporal Laurence Graebing and Privates Robert W. F. Ellingham, Henry J. Pohl, Charles A. Pound,
William Mendel, Michael Sheehy, and Gottfried Wruck, company A;
Corporal Hannan E. Newman, Musician David Olson, Wagoner Frank Kohlert, Privates John H. Grotness and Joseph Smith, company B;
Sergeant Henry Janz and Private John C. F. Hill, company C;
Privates James Connaghan and George Hoover, company D;
Privates Lyndall C. Jamison, Frank W. Nelson, and George Winters, company E;
Sergeant William Parnell, Privates Albert Field, Fred W. Lynch, and Alet B. Strock, company F;
Sergeant John B. Senecal, Corporal Christian P. Nielsen, Wagoner Fred Miller, Privates Elmer E. Sedam,
Casper Meitber, Charles A. Osgood, and Delbert E. Hartzell, company G;
Privates Michael A. Donohoe, James Harris, Leonard Kupper, and Richard Shepard, company H.

Care of the dead and wounded—our own and those of the enemy—next demanded attention. Our dead were buried on the field.
The wounded were carried back to a partially sheltered spot beneath the trees where the brigade hospital had been located.
In the enemy's positions were ample proofs of the stubbornness of their defense and the accuracy of our fire.
In one small trench were counted thirty-seven dead Spaniards.
At six o'clock in the evening, orders were received to march back to the Ducoureaux house and thence to Santiago.
The regiment slept along the road, many without blanket rolls, all without rations.

 

 

The Splendid Little War by Frank Freidel
Burford Books, Inc. NJ 1958

 

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