Thursday, June 25, 2015

Spanish-American-Filipino wars

Remember the Maine? Once, everyone did.
Indiana's last war of the 19th century was one that produced the most results for the least effort, which is to greatly simplify the cause and cost of any conflict.

The three-month Spanish American war, fought in 1898, had marginal effect on Franklin County and Fairfield Township.

A bit about the war:

The Cubans, fed up with being controlled by Spanish rule, had been in a longstanding rebellion in quest of independence. The United States, imperialists at the time, were all in favor of that, sensing greater influence on the island.

Somewhere along the way, the American battleship Maine, which had been anchored in Havana harbor, blew up, killing 260 U.S. sailors.

War ensued, Teddy Roosevelt attacked San Juan Hill, and later, the Philippines became American property, as well as Cuba and Puerto Rico, and a few other islands in the Pacific, including Guam.

All within 90 days.

The war itself was historically important in that it effectively ended almost all European influence in the Western Hemisphere. concludes:

"The victorious United States, on the other hand, emerged from the war a world power with far-flung overseas possessions and a new stake in international politics that would soon lead it to play a determining role in the affairs of Europe."

For the men of Franklin County, it's unlikely any of them saw global conquest as a practical agenda, but there was perhaps some impact in Fairfield Township.

August Reifel's 1915 history lists the raw data on the county's military might in 1898.

Fairfield Township's census revealed 105 men of military age, though 24 were considered unfit for duty, leaving 81 of draft age.

The county didn't furnish a unique company for service in the Spanish-American war, that being a strategy that had fallen out of favor with the U.S. government. Most who had volunteered were simply members of the regular army who happened to be in service when the war began.

Reifel, in relating details of Franklin County participation in the war, relies on personal stories for most of his information.

"As far as is known, there were only six volunteers from Franklin County in the war. Three of these, John S. Francis, Alden Murray and William Woessner, were from Metamora."

The war itself was curious on a number of levels and proved that the power of the national news media could enrage the public sufficiently. William Randolph Heart, publisher of several giant newspapers, is credited with stirring public sentiment against the Spanish.

Spain was ill-equipped to engage in hostilities. Its only useful possession was Cuba and an American blockade of Havana rendered the island irrelevant for Spanish defenses.

For its own part, the American military perhaps underestimated the need for a fighting force. The Navy had been superior to Spain's, and the number of ground soldiers required to win the conflict proved sufficient, even in small numbers.

Two decades later, those notions would come four-square with a new set of rules.

For what it's worth, the "false flags" about the sinking of the Maine have endured, though an analysis of the explosion suggests a boiler blew up inside the vessel. Convenient? Perhaps.

After the U.S. was given control of the Philippines, American attempts to govern the islands met with resistance. It took several years for the Americans to subdue the rebels who wanted independence for the islands. U.S. control of the Philippines lasted until 1946.

U.S. losses (7,100 killed or wounded over about 15 years) in trying to manage the Philippines far exceeded their losses in acquiring access to the islands in the first place. The toll among the natives was enormous and war atrocities were considered commonplace.



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