Texans in the Spanish-American War
JAMES M. MCCAFFREY*
TEXAS NEWSPAPERS, LIKE THOSE IN THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, WERE FULL OF
the news on that February day in 1898. The U.S.S. Maine, making a
standard port call to Havana, Cuba, had blown up at its mooring, costing
the lives of some 266 Americans. There is still no consensus as to the
cause of the blast. Was it an accidental internal explosion, as some be-
lieved? Or was it a perfidious act of sabotage by some unknown party?
Publications such as William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal and
Joseph Pulitzer's equally inflammatory New York World offered their read-
ers little room for uncertainty. The forces of Spain had treacherously
consigned the men of the Maine to a watery grave! How would Texans,
who twice had gone to war with a Spanish-speaking enemy, react to this
latest national emergency?1
Over the next two months the United States edged ever closer to war
with Spain, and members of state militias all across the country began to
increase the pace of their training and to seek new members, because if
war came they wanted to be ready to answer the inevitable call for volun-
teers. Within days of the Maine's destruction, young men in Waco organ-
ized themselves into company-sized groups with the intention of offering
their services to the government as soon as war came. Likewise in Belton,
the local members of the Knights of Pythias unanimously resolved to
come forward in case of war. Some Texans waxed poetic over the coming
war. The Houston Daily Post carried the following poem in its April 3rd
* James M. McCaffrey is an associate professor of history at the University of Houston-Down-
town. He is the author of many journal articles and four books, including Thzs Band of Heroes-
Granbury's Texas Brigade, C.S.A and Army ofManifiest Destiny The American Soldier in the Mexican War,
' With the exception ofJohn J. Leffler's "Paradox of Patriotism Texans in the Spanish-Ameri-
can War," Hayes Hstoncal Journal, 8 (Spring, 1989), 24-48, not much has been written about the
experiences of Texas soldiers in this war. Good general works on the Spanish-American War in-
clude: Graham A. Cosmas, An Army for Empire: The United States Army in the Spanish-American War,
x898-1899 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1971); Ivan Musicant, Empire By Default- The
Spanish-Amencan War and the Dawn of the American Century (New York. Henry Holt, 1998); G. J. A.
O'Toole, The Spanish War- An American Epic, 1898 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984); and David F.
Trask, The War Wth Spain in 1898 (New York: Macmillan, 1981).
VOL. CVI, NO. 2 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed April 27, 2015.