‘well, the joke truly is on me. helping you win your freedom all those years ago; foolishly being the midwife to the birth of the empire that would end mine—indeed, i should have strangled you in your cradle.’

‘empire? i’m not like you.

‘call yourself whatever you like, my dear boy- shining city on a hill; special; exceptional; a grand experiment improving on the horrible Old World but no matter how much you pretend and dress it up, you and I aren’t so different.’

the spanish-american war

The Rough Riders by Mort Kunstler

“Teddy” Roosevelt leads the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry - “Rough Riders” - up Kettle Hill during the Spanish-American War. Limited logistical capacity meant that the Regiment left their horses behind, with only Col. Roosevelt mounted as the men charged the Spanish positions on July 1, 1898.

(National Guard)


Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th US Cavalry (USCT) in Philadelphia, 1898.

To celebrate the close of the Spanish American War, twenty-five thousand regular and volunteer troops of the Federal Army were reviewed by President William McKinley in Philadelphia on Thursday, October 17, 1898. This photo was taken at 13th and Market Streets.

The 10th Cavalry fought with distinction and honor in the Battle of Las Guasimas, the Battle of Tayacoba (where four members were awarded the Medal of Honor), with Colonel Theodore Roosevelt at the Battle of San Juan Hill and the Siege of Santiago de Cuba.

Photographic image made by Williams, Brown & Earle, dealers in stereoscopic views, 918 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia and is from our private collection.

White regiments, black regiments, regulars and Rough Riders, representing the young manhood of North and South, fought soldier to soldier, unmindful of race or color, unmindful of whether commanded by ex-Confederate or not, and mindful only of their common duty as Americans.

John J. Pershing


The Fake Battle of Manila

 The Battle of Manila is a forgotten part of history and rarely mentioned as part of the Spanish American War. On May 1st, 1898 the US Pacific Fleet under the command of Admiral Dewey trashed the Spanish Far East Fleet in Manila Bay.  The US Fleet blockaded Manila, preparing for a long siege and waiting for US ground forces to arrive. In July, around 40,000 US soldiers and Marines arrived, around 11,000 of which were devoted to capturing Manila itself.

The Spanish dug in with 13,000 troops of their own, but it was clear that they could not hold out.  Along with the American soldiers were 30,000 Filipino fighters of the Philippine Revolutionary Army. Spanish general Fermin Jaudenes saw the writing on the wall. Surrender was an inevitability, but the last thing he wanted to do was surrender to his former Filipino subjects.  Thus, he secretly began negotiations with Admiral Dewey to not only negotiate a surrender, but to stage a mock battle so that the Spanish could save face while the Americans could take all the glory.

Without informing their Filipino allies of the faux assault, the Americans began the battle on August 13th.  Although a peace accord had been signed the day before, neither side had yet received news that the war was over.  The Americans began by shelling Spanish forts, the gunners taking care to only hit abandoned buildings. Then US troops advanced, firing above the heads of the Spanish while the Spanish did likewise. For the most part the mock battle went off without a hitch. The shooting stopped when the Spanish raised the white flag of surrender, and US troops quickly occupied Manila before the Philippine Army could enter the city.  Only two thing went wrong. First, the gunners of one of the American ships had not been informed that the battle was staged, purposely shelling Spanish fortifications. Second, a group of Filipino fighters joined the battle thinking it was a genuine battle, causing a real firefight with Spanish troops leading to the death of 49 Spaniards, 1 American, and an unknown number of Filipino fighters.

After the Spanish American War, the Americans would claim possession of the country.  Enraged at the American’s unwillingness to grant them independence, the Filipinos rebelled.  What resulted was a long and bloody war which lasted decades.  Americans responded brutally, committing many atrocities, leading to the death of thousands.


“You may fire when you are ready, Gridley”

With this command, Commodore George Dewey opened the first major engagement of the Spanish American War in the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898.  Commanding from his flagship USS Olympia, Dewey’s American Asiatic Squadron would destroy the Spanish Pacific Fleet in little more than 7 hours.  The battle was the beginning of the end for Spain’s aspirations in the Pacific, and would allow the United States to emerge as a global power.

Months earlier Dewey had earlier received coded orders from then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt to seek out and engage the Spanish.

Spanish-American War Collection

This lot was consigned by the grandson of Harry H. Shank and includes his framed original discharge certificate from the Spanish-American War. The document states that he was a private of the Governor’s Troop of the Cavalry Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, that he served two years and mustered out. There is photocopy included showing him with his regiment in front of the Harrisburg National Bank. Included is his sword, an 1860 cavalry saber, the blade stamped “U.S. / G.W.C. / 1865” on one side, and “MANSFIELD / & / LAMB / FORESTDALE, R.I.” on the other. The blade is polished bright and has a large single fuller. Brass hilt with two branches and brown leather wrapped grip with roped brass wire. Complete with period brown leather hanger and steel scabbard. This sword is in excellent condition, better than most examples. The curved blade retains about 98% or better of its original polish with only a few dark speckles. Brass hilt is unpolished and shows almost no use. Leather grip is excellent with a few areas flaked off and some crazing. Scabbard excellent with no dents and retaining spotted brown patina. Overall the sword shows almost no use. Also included is a canvas wrapped Spanish-American War canteen with the original leather hanger in nearly mint condition. The front is stamped with a large “U.S. 44”. The back is stamped with a large “44” and his initials at the time of issue “H.H.S.”. Canvas cover has excellent markings but scattered areas of dark staining. Spout is marked “J.C. JOHNSON” and contains the original cork and chain. It is clear that these items were well-cared for.

U.S. Army “Jack Brutus” a fine soldier, (shown here in uniform) serving during the Spanish - American war became the official mascot for Company K, First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. “Old Jack” as he was known, and his unit, spent most of the war encamped at various places here in the states providing coastal defense from Maine to Virginia. Old Jack died of spinal troubles in 1898.