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When Co. H Volunteered to Fight for Cuba’s Freedom

Blog post by Randi Richardson

In 1898, Cuba was under the rule of the Spanish empire but had struggled a number of years for independence.  When the U. S. learned that Spain was abusing and killing Cubans, they sent warships to Cuba’s aid.  One of those warships, the USS Maine, mysteriously exploded on the evening of February 17 killing about 260 people on board.  It was speculated that Spain was responsible for the destruction.  In retaliation, President William McKinley declared war on Spain about two months later.  The war effort was led by Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders.

A call for troops was received on Monday, April 25, by Indiana’s governor from the U. S. Secretary of War.  Monroe County was well prepared when the call for volunteers came as a local company of fully equipped and well drilled militia had been organized since May 20, 1891 and was assigned as Company H, 1st Regiment, Indiana National Guard.

Capt. W. M. Louden received the marching orders for Company H at 9 AM on Tuesday, April 26.  The orders, according to the Bloomington Telephone dated April 29, were as follows:  “You will report with your company, armed and equipped for the field, bringing all military stores to the Monon railway station in time for train leaving at 11 AM, Friday, April 29…Officers will bring their commissions with them…”

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Co. H pictured on South College between Kirkwood and 4th streets as they prepared to depart for the train that would carry them to war.  Photo was hanging on the wall of the old Monroe County courthouse in 2020.

By 9 AM the business part of town was decorated with the national colors and not a few Cuban flags were displayed.  By 10 AM more than 3,000 citizens were on the streets to see the company make its march to the station.  School children had been dismissed from their classes so great was their desire to see the demonstration.  The Mechanic’s Band marched to the Armory where the company was waiting.  Headed by the band the company then marched around the square where Capt. Louden gave a short drill.

Two special coaches were on the side track ready for the company.  As the crowd waited for the train, the band played several patriotic airs, the vast number sang “Marching through Georgia,” but the train pulled out amidst a silence that told too plainly that all realized the seriousness of the situation. As noted in the Telephone, Company H was made up of the following men whose names were spelled variously in other places:  W. M. Louden, captain; William Hutchins, 1st lieutenant; W. E. Adkins, 2nd lieutenant; Thomas Griffey, 1st sergeant; Charles Godsey, 2nd sergeant; Newton Jeffries, 3rd sergeant; Sam Webb, 4th sergeant; corporals, Rhorer and Peterson.  The privates are:  Bruce Beatley, Edgar Binford, Mat Adams, Grant Cates, Mel Creech, Albert Denton, Walter Edmondson, Albert Funk, Bert Godsey, Will Hodges, Robert Lane, Reverdy (sic) Miller, Walter Norris, Watt Pool (difficult to read), Otto Rogers, Everett Sparks, Charles Strong, Winfred Sutphin, Cy Vaughan, Charles Alltop, Josh Badgely, Robert Berry, Joseph Brown, William Colegrove, James Cullen, Will Dickson, Luther Finley, William Gray, Clarence Hazel, Fred Hoover, Parley Miller, Clarence Pedigo, Joseph Neill, William Reynolds, Bert Sparks, Harry St. Clair, Wesley Stultz, Charles Umbarger, Ezra VanDyke. Charley Walker, Mason Webb, John White, John Miseneer (sic), Ellis East, George Anderson, George Shoemaker, Grant Sparks, Alfred Goodbody, Roy Mason, Lad Lanam, Nat U. Hill, Jr., Dr. Charles Weir, Fred Williams, William Crider, Fred Ferguson, Frank Ridge, Walter Lowder, Fleetwood Langley, Clint Hovious, Edward Pauley, Harry Feltus, W. G. Sparks, Oscar Moore, Raymond Eller, James Vint, Will Gillaspy, Charles Doffet (elswhere identified Douthitt) as , C. W. Miller, John McCabe, F. H. Masten (elsewhere identified as Frank H. Masters), William Dunn, Charles Wilson, William Shaw, Charles Hinson, Allen Pearson and Lewis Ward.

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The building in the above 1898 photo on the left is still standing and utilized as offices.  Here shown in 2020 looking north.

When these brave men were mustered into the service on May 12, 1898, they became part of Co. H of the 159th Regiment, Volunteer Infantry.  According to a story from Historic Treasures by Forest M. “Pop” Hall, they were never taken into actual battle against the enemy which in no way diminished their honor for their willingness to sacrifice their lives.

The war ended on August 12, 1898.  Over 5,000 American soldiers died; 379 of the deaths were battle casualties.  The rest died from diseases such as yellow fever, typhoid and malaria.

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