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Regular Army Regiments - Spanish American War

Throughout the 19th century the size of the Regular Army was small, and the militia provided the bulk of the troops during the Mexican War, the early months of the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. The regiments of the regular army, with few exceptions, got their orders to proceed to southern points April 15th, and considering the situation of the army, the extent of territory over which the posts were scattered in small detachments, the movements of concentration were executed with remarkable swiftness, order and ease. It was an excellent lesson of mobilization, and the complete success of this initial step made practicable the stroke at Santiago which proved fatal to Spanish pretension, preventing a lingering schooling of volunteers in the several camps for a greater enterprise under the Major General Commanding, to resemble the important instruction imparted when for many months of "masterly inactivity" under McClelland all was "quiet on the Potomac."

The thinly stretch Regular Army was augmented heavily by the "Boys of 98" in Cuba and the Philippines. These units were almost exclusively state militia units that volunteered for temporary federal service. These units signed up to fight for the United States during the surge of patriotism that occurred at the beginning of the Spanish-American War. Unlike the Regulars, these units were raised, organized, officered and trained by their home state governments. The state regiments experienced a difficult call-up and most units proved to beless prepared than their pre-war bravado suggested. In Philippine combat operations, they performed acceptably.

By limiting the terms of the volunteers to two years, the anti-imperialist Congress avoided increasing the size of the standing army. Because this new force would be ready for deployment by October 1899, General Elwell S. Otis, Commander of US Forces in the Philippines, could begin plans for new units to replace the worn out "Boys of '98." In the fall of 1899, thirty-five thousand federal volunteers, the United States Volunteer (U.S.V.) regiments, arrived on the same ships that would take the state militia soldiers home. The military leaders hoped that these twenty-five newly formed regiments (Infantry numbered 26 through 49 and the 11th Cavalry) would give General Otis the operational strength and the fresh legs required to bring decisive strategic victory in the Philippines.

The history of the Civil War showed conclusively that it takes more than two years, even under the full stress and energy of warconditions, to convert raw levies into efficient armies, and it showed equally conclusively that until this conversion was complete, there could be no decisive military action.



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