About Quizzes

Preparations for the Spanish-American War

The U.S. Army in 1898 was small, about 25,000 soldiers, and scattered throughout the country. The bulk of the force was assigned to holding Native Americans in check in the West. This lack of manpower generated a heavy reliance on National Guard soldiers from the various states. Many commanders of the local forces were political appointees of dubious military value. Large numbers of black soldiers volunteered for service in the war. At the staging area in Tampa, Florida, tensions rose because of racial slights inflicted by white soldiers and residents. Recruitment goals were reached quickly, but the government lacked sufficient rifles and ammunition. Woolen winter uniforms were issued, inappropriate for summertime Tampa, let alone Cuba. The soldiers' health was imperiled by the issuance of spoiled canned beef on the ships bound for Cuba. Medical services there were stretched to the limit and malaria, dysentery and typhoid would take a far heavier toll than Spanish bullets.