The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 265
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
2002 Texans in the Spanish-American War 265
a significant percentage of men unfit for service, and not because they
smoked or had corns. Some men who failed their exams, desperate to
take part in the great adventure before them, simply offered themselves
up as recruits in companies that had not yet presented themselves for
examination and hoped they would somehow pass a second time
through. In one instance, a recruit with an obviously deformed foot had
another man take his place at the doctor's examination. Then, when the
stand-in proved healthy, they switched places again and the unqualified
man was soon entitled to wear the blue uniform of one of Uncle Sam's
The disqualification rate nationally was about 25 percent. Within the
Texas companies it varied from company to company, with only 5 percent
of the Galveston Rifles and less than to percent of Houston's Emmett Ri-
fles failing to pass. The failure rate among the members of the LaGrange
Light Guard and the Houston Light Guard were marginally above the na-
tional average. The Cleburne Rifles hoped to head off a similar reduction
in their ranks by asking to be mustered in without being subjected to
these exams. "The boys pointed out," reported a Houston newspaper,
"that they volunteered as a body to do service for the United States with-
out any strings attached to their place of operations; they say they are
ready at a moment's notice to go to the Philippines, Cuba, Hades or any-
where the government wants to send them, and they object to their best
soldiers being kept out of service on account of slight physical defects,
which could not possibly prevent them from doing good work." They
were just as unsuccessful in their attempt to skirt the rules, however, as
had been the Sealy Rifles in their quest to serve without being subject to
regular army rules and regulations.2"
Of even greater concern to the citizen-soldiers than the rate of failure
among their peers was the number of company officers found to be be-
low minimum physical standards. After all, being able to choose their
own officers was one of the main enticements held out to guardsmen to
enlist. If their chosen leaders were now found unqualified to serve, who
knew who would fill their slots? Complete strangers? Regular army offi-
cers? When doctors found the captains of both the Belknap Rifles and
the Governor's Guard to be below acceptable physical standards, the men
in these companies threatened to resign en masse in protest. This time
the army backed down and decided that, upon Governor Culberson's in-
sistence, it would accept officers who otherwise would have been reject-
ed. Dr. Charles Wilcox, the army doctor in charge of administering the
physical exams was incensed. "It's all a farce," he stated. "Altogether, I am
"2 Ibid., May 14, 1898.
* U.S. Senate, Report of the Commission Appointed by the Preszdent to Investzgate the Conduct of the War
Department in the War with Spain, 56th Cong., 1st Sess., S. Doc. No 221 (8 vols.; Washington, D. C.:
1900), I, 118; Houston Dazly Post, May 9, 1898 (quotation)
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/317/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.