Texas Military Forces Historical Sketch

Spanish American War

In 1897, before a state of war was declared to exist between the United States and Spain, only two incidents of importance occurred in the Texas Volunteer Guard. An encampment of colored troops was scheduled, but a report of yellow fever in the State caused the encampment to be cancelled. The other incident was when the San Antonio Interstate Drill Association offered to pay the expenses of an encampment of the Texas Volunteer Guard on the occasion of an interstate drill for prizes, providing the State would assume such part of the expenses as the Adjutant General's department could set aside for the purpose. This was just another case of when the legislature failed to provide for the proper training of the Guard which was to render such valuable service before the year had ended.

The spirit and patriotism of Texas was excellently demonstrated when the Spanish-American War opened. Notwithstanding the fact that the volunteers expected to be sent to the yellow-fever-ridden districts of Cuba, and encounter both bullets and pestilence during the heated period of the year, out of 48 organizations of infantry and cavalry of the Texas Volunteer Guard, 38 volunteered their services on the first call of the President.

No artillery was called for from Texas during the war but all the artillery organizations signified their desire to serve the country and used their influence to its fullest extent in efforts to get into the service. Three regiments of infantry and one of cavalry were organized and recruited. Four additional companies of infantry and seven troops of cavalry were also organized to fill the quota called for from Texas. These troops were mustered into the service of the United States at Camp Mabry, Austin, by May 14, 1898.

The First Regiment, Texas Volunteer Infantry (United States Volunteers), was commanded by Colonel W. H. Mabry (who was the Adjutant General of Texas when war was declared); the Second Regiment, Texas Volunteer Infantry (United States Volunteers), was commanded by Colonel L. M. Openheimer; the Third Regiment, Texas Volunteer Infantry (United States Volunteers), was commanded by Colonel R. P. Smyth.

The First Regiment, Texas Volunteer Cavalry (United States Volunteers), was commanded by Colonel J. R. Waites. One of the majors of this regiment was John A. Hulen, who, a few days later was made Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment. The same John A. Hulen, much beloved by all who served under him, who later became Adjutant General of Texas, who commanded the 72nd Infantry Brigade of the 36th Division during its training and during all its fighting in France during World War I and until its final muster-out, and who, after the World War, reorganized the 36th Division and served as its commander for 15 years until his retirement upon reaching the age of 64, on September 9, 1935.

In July, on the second call of the President for troops, Texas was required to furnish one regiment of infantry. The only company of the Texas Volunteer Guard which enlisted in the United States Volunteers under this call was the Tom Hamilton Guards of Huntsville, which could not get ready in time to enter the first call. The companies composing the Fourth Regiment of Infantry under this call were selected from localities that did not have a chance to enter the volunteers under the first call. This regiment, called the Fourth Regiment, Texas Volunteer Infantry (United States Volunteers), commanded by Colonel John C. Edmonds, was mobilized and mustered into service at Houston, Texas.

The Second Texas Volunteer Infantry was mustered out at Dallas on November 9, 1898, and the First Texas Volunteer Cavalry at San Antonio on November 15, 1898. Besides the Second Texas Volunteer Infantry and First Regiment Texas Volunteer Cavalry (which had just been mustered out), the only organizations ready for duty at the time in Texas were the artillery battalion and the battalion of colored infantry.

The Third Texas Volunteer Infantry was mustered out at Ft. Clarke on February 22, 1899, while the Fourth Texas Volunteer Infantry was mustered out at San Antonio on March 7, 1899. The Second, Third and Fourth Texas Volunteer Infantry Regiments and the First Texas Volunteer Cavalry did not see service outside of the United States during the war, but the First Texas Volunteer Infantry served in the army of occupation in Cuba from December 26, 1898, to March 25, 1899, when it returned to Galveston where it was mustered out.

Texas was also represented in the service in the Philippine Islands by the 33rd United States Volunteer Infantry, which was organized at San Antonio, Texas, under Colonel Luther R. Hare, a native Texan of the regular army, afterwards promoted to Brigadier General of volunteers for gallantry. This regiment was recruited almost entirely from Texas and did gallant service in the Philippines. Besides being in several battles and skirmishes, they rescued Lieutenant Gilmore and his party after one of the most trying and severe marches on record. The "Captain and Quartermaster" of this regiment was none other than Brevet-Lieutenant General John A. Hulen, later commanding general of the 36th Division.

The readiness of the Texas troops to serve their country and their excellent conduct while in Federal service proved once again the quality of the militia and its value to both state and nation. It was to be more than 15 years before the Texas Guard was to be called on for service by the Federal government, for service against a foreign foe, but in the meantime, the Guard was to develop into the highly efficient machine that formed the nucleus of the famous 36th Division in World War I.

Previous Article | History Menu | Next Article