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.
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 gathered at teh
Sportsman's Association range at Oxford, New Jersey for the Second Annual Span Am Match.
This year's event was moved from April to June 30 due to inclement conditions on the range in April.
The heat from the Summer's First Event was welcomed by a small band of intrepid shooters wishing
to compete with the arms of the Span-Am War.
The match was run by Stan G. with help on the line from more club members. A new chef took over this
year, as our resident chef and chief scorekeeper was unavailable for this match.
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 Glenn K. who took home trophies
for three (3) events (2) Rifle Events and (1) Handgun Event He was followed by Andy G. and John M. with two wins each.
Details of target scoring and target images are not available due to Tom P. not being available to cover the event.
Stan G. had all the scores reported and sent out images of the scores to all competitors for verification.
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 August 18th.
The contest theme will be "V-J Day" Victory Over Japan featuring various historical US military firearms
of the Pacific Theater of Operatiions.
Details and fliers for this and future vintage matches at Shongum can also be found on the NJACC
website at www.njacc.info.