This match was created to give our Krag owners a chance to compete against each other with them.
After the sinking of the Battleship Maine in February 1898, "Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain", became
a popular rallying cry for action which finally came with the Spanish-American War two months later in April.
The Spanish-American War ended Spanish colonial rule in the Americas and resulted in U.S. acquisition of
territories in the western Pacific and Latin America.
Pictured above is our group of Krag Owners who chose to come out and compete today.
The war originated in the Cuban struggle for independence from Spain, which began in 1895.
Spain's repressive measures to halt the rebellion were graphically portrayed for the U.S. public
by several sensational newspapers (Yellow Press), and American sympathy for the rebels rose. The
growing popular demand for U.S. intervention became more insistent after the unexplained sinking
of the Maine which had been sent to protect U.S. citizens and property after anti-Spanish rioting
Spain broke diplomatic relations with the United States on April 21st and declared war on
April 24, followed by a U.S. declaration of war on the 25th, which was made retroactive to
April 21. The ensuing 10 week war was pathetically one-sided, since Spain had readied neither
its army nor its navy for a distant war with the United States.
The U.S. Fifth Army Corps landed east of Santiago, and established an American base of
operations. The small contingent of Spanish troops facing them retired to their lightly
entrenched positions at Las Guasimas, where an advance guard of U.S. forces caught up with
and engaged them in the Battle of Las Guasimas on June 24. After the battle, Spanish forces
continued their retreat to Santiago and the American army pursued.
The Americans planned to capture the port of Santiago de Cuba to destroy the Spanish army and
fleet. To reach Santiago they had to pass through Spanish defenses in the San Juan Hills and
capture the small town of El Caney to prevent the Spanish from sending reinforcements.
On July 1st, American and rebel Cuban forces attacked entrenched Spanish troops in classic
Civil War-style frontal assaults at the Battle of El Caney and Battle of San Juan Hill outside
After the battles of San Juan Hill and El Caney, the American advance halted. Spanish troops
successfully defended Fort Canosa, allowing them to stabilize their line and bar the entry of
US forces to Santiago. U.S. Troops never captured the town itself by force of arms and only
entered after the Spanish surrender.
In the Pacific, Commodore George Dewey led a U.S. naval squadron into Manila Bay in the
Philippines on May 1, 1898, and destroyed the anchored Spanish fleet in a morning engagement.
Manila itself was not occupied by U.S. troops until August. American acquisition of Spain's
Pacific possessions led to its involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately in the
all but unknown Philippine-American War (1899-1902) that cost the lives of 4,200 Americans and
nearly 20,000 Filipino combatants. An estimated additional 200,000 and 250,000 Filipino
civilians also died as a result of violence, famine, and a cholera epidemic brought on by the
The 119th Anniversary of the start of Spanish American War was commemorated with a vintage
military rifle (VMR) marksmanship match on Saturday April 8th, sponsored by the Shongum
Sportsmen's Association (SSA).
A small but intrepid band of military match aficionados and collectors of American and
Spanish firearms braved the less than ideal early morning weather to gather at the Shongum
Sportsman's Association range at Oxford, New Jersey for the first ever annual Span Am match.
Although turnout was somewhat light compared to previous matches, this could be attributed to
the fact that it was also the first day of trout season in New Jersey. Although the day was
bright and sunny, the wind-chill made it seem more appropriate for a winter war match and less
than anything like the tropical conditions encountered by US troops in 1898 in Cuba and the
Philippines. Despite all that, it was still a day of friendly competition paired with a
hearty lunch prepared by the Commandante of the Grill Tom P. and Chef Barbara F.
who fed the participants gourmet Bubba Burgers, military style pork and beans, and wholesome nutritious potato chips, with apple pie deserts.
The course of fire for the match included fourteen (14) contests, three (3) of which were
handgun events. Contest rules for the rifle matches required shooters fire ten (10) rounds in
2 minutes at targets placed at 100 yards. Handgun matches required shooters fire 12 shots one
handed in two minutes at targets 50 feet away on the indoor range.
Fortunately, the rifle part of the match was not significantly hobbled by the less than
optimal range facilities resulting from a winter storm in February that delivered a knockout
punch to the new permanent overhead firing line cover causing it to collapse. No one was
injured in that collapse, but half the shooting benches were still under the ruble and have
yet to be recovered and examined for damage. Luckily enough benches had been recovered to
accommodate all entrants.
Participants brought collectible examples of firearms of the types used in the Spam-Am war to
compete for trophies and the ultimate glory of becoming world famous in New Jersey with their
name shown boldly in this write-up. A quick tour of the benches disclosed that competitors had
brought a fine variety of excellent condition U.S. Krag rifles and carbines and Trapdoor Springfields
like those used by the US Army and National Guard during the war. Two competitors also brought
Mauser rifles of the type used by Spanish forces. One shooter brought an exceptionally nice
original Sharps 1878 Borchardt rifle in 45-70 and another shooter brought a reproduction
Quigley Sharps 1874 also in 45-70.
In addition, two less common rifles from the Span Am war were also seen on the line and worthy
of note. These were a nifty Winchester 1895 carbine identical to the one carried by Teddy
Roosevelt* during the war, and a seldom seen Lee Navy rifle.
*Collector's note: Roosevelt's 1895 Carbine was the only one ever made that was marked "US".
After a brief sighting in period, the match got under way in earnest. Rifle competition
progressed smoothly under the watchful eye and expert guidance of the Shoot
Chairman Stan G. Stan did his usual fantastic solo job, not only running the events and
registering competitors, but providing all the other logistical support for the match at the s
These truly hard core VMR shooters vied for the highly sort after trophies awarded for the
highest score in each contest and turned in some outstanding scores despite the unfavorable
windy weather conditions. Top scores of the day (99-4X) went to Andy G. and Carl J. who tied
in the El Caney Contest using 1898 Krag rifles. They were followed by John M. with respectable
98-4X in the Kettle Hill Match using a handsome 1896 Krag Carbine.
Dave J. won the Guantanamo Contest firing his Lee straight pull Navy rifle and deserves the win for that alone.
The overall top winner of the day in the rifle contest category was Andy G. who took home trophies
for three (3) events. He was followed by John M. and Dave J with two wins each.
Target scoring was handled by Pete M. Reporting of results was handled by Tom P. the
the master match record keeper, Commandante of the Grill, and Stan's trusty sidekick.
All final scores were certified and witnessed by a match official and are available on the
The next vintage military rifle match to be held at the Shongum Range will be held on May 27, 2017.
The contest theme will be "Memorial Day" featuring various historical US military firearms.
Details and fliers for this and future vintage matches at Shongum can also be found on the NJACC
website at www.njacc.info.