Geez. I think I’m in over my head with this one. I have no idea how to discuss this topic, it’s boring to me, I know nothing about it, and it’s not particularly pleasant or exciting.
Today I pulled this book…
Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898. By Harvey Rosenfeld.
Wow. War. The first thing that comes to that mind is that song, something along the lines of… What is it good for? Absolutely nothing… (Say it again!) But that’s only a tip of the iceberg I suppose. Here’s the passage I randomly opened up to:
Monday, May 30: At long last, the military invasion of Cuba had begun, or at least it appeared so. Troops in the Gulf ports began breaking camp and boarding transports. Some 25 ships stood ready to receive some 30,000 men. It was reported that the men would depart from Mobile and Tampa, with the transports converging at Key West. The belief that departure was near was strengthened by the order that troops at Chickamauga leave for Tampa. The safety of the troops would be ensured by convoys of warships provided by Admiral Sampson (Rosenfeld, 2000, p. 88)
If I have to be honest here I don’t really even know what the Spanish American War was all about. I love history, but certain parts of it that aren’t of particular interest to me aren’t held in my memory very long. Maybe I learned about this war at some point in high school, or college? The only thing I can think of to do is you guessed it… Research! Let’s get the backdrop:
The war began with Cuba struggling for its independence from Spain in 1895 and Spain was pretty brutal in its attempts to stop that from happening. The U.S. caught wind of the brutalities and pretty much demanded that Spain withdraw its troops and give it up. Spain decided then that it was time to wage war on the U.S. in return for that demand. Long story short Spain loses and they end up signing the treaty of Paris in 1898 where Spain gave up any claim to Cuba and ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the US, along with the Philippines for a cool 20 mill. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2017).
I wonder how many people died in this war. Let’s see if I can get some numbers. According to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs the US totals were as follows:
Spanish-American War (1898-1902)
Total U.S. Servicemembers (Worldwide): 306,760
Battle Deaths: 385
Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater): 2,061
Non-mortal Woundings: 1,662
From what I can tell from a quick google (Non-Theater) means these deaths did not happen on the battlefield or in combat, and could be non-related to combat. According to the Library of Congress the reason for the non-theater deaths was much higher, stating that almost 90% of the US military losses were due to infectious diseases. Yikes. (Library of Congress, 2011)
I’m having a hard time finding the Spanish stats. I couldn’t track down a trustworthy source.
This whole lot is just rather depressing really. The thought of war, death and violent conflict. Let’s hope that a lesson was learned here. I don’t know what that is, but the purpose of history and knowledge of history I think is to understand how things became the way they are, to get an insight into human nature (which let’s face it is pretty much timeless) and to keep from repeating mistakes. However boring or depressing this random roulette has turned into nothing but a short and shallow history on the Spanish-American War. So at least I learned something today. Always a good day to learn something new. Cue that star streaming across the screen…
Yep that’s the one.
Department of Veteran’s Affairs. (2016). Fact Sheet: America’s Wars. Retrieved from: https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/fs_americas_wars.pdf
Library of Congress. (2011). The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War. Retrieved from: https://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/intro.html
Rosenfeld, H. (2000). Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.
Spanish-American War. (2017). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://0-academic.eb.com.leopac.ulv.edu/levels/collegiate/article/68989