The Paradox of Patriotism: Texans in the Spanish-American War


Volume VIII, Number 3
Spring, 1989

"It Looks Like Gory War," predicted the Austin Daily Statesman on March 29, 1898. President McKinley's court of inquiry had concluded that the U.S.S. Maine had been sunk by an underwater mine, and the editor of the Statesman, like many other Americans, believed the wily Spanish should be taught a lesson. In Texas, as elsewhere, the war spirit had been building for months, but had particularly intensified after the destruction of the Maine on February 15th. Citizens across the state organized into rifle companies and showered Governor Charles Culberson with letters and telegrams offering their services against the Spanish. In late February, at "one of the largest mass meetings ever held in Dallas," the crowd, "intensely warlike in spirit," responded enthusiastically to patriotic appeals, and "nearly a thousand men rose to their feet" when asked to demonstrate their willingness to fight. Texans displayed their martial spirit in other ways, too. On the day before Washington's birthday, five thousand "Patriotic Americans" flocked to Galveston to visit the U.S.S. Texas, a record-breaking turnout so large that many of the pilgrims were unable to board the battleship. By the middle of March, there was "war activity everywhere." Soon Austin's Hancock Opera House was advertising its next attraction, "The Girl I Left Behind Me," and the local chapter of the United Confederate Veterans resolved to volunteer en masse to defend the Union flag. When McKinley issued his first call for volunteers in April, Texas quickly filled its quota by organizing three regiments of infantry and a regiment of calvary.1 The crusading sentiments of the war's early weeks were encapsulated in "Vox Populi," a poem published in the Houston Daily Post on April 3rd:

   To arms, to arms, ye freemen,
   And redress our country's wrongs!
   Let no faint heart dissuade you -
     Up! Dissever Cuba's thongs!
   For three long years her pleading
     Has wafted o'er the sea
   While her sons lie starving, bleeding
   On the shrine of liberty!2


This remarkable outburst of patriotic spirit in Texas fits into the general pattern of American behavior in 1898 described by many historians. Emotional expressions of war spirit observed nationwide in the months leading up to the war with Spain were so dramatic, in fact, that most historians of the war with Spain have agreed that overheated public opinion was itself an important cause of the war. Often, the patriotic enthusiasm of 1898 has been depicted as an irrational, even manic mentality. "Across the country," wrote Ernest May, "thousands gave themselves up to emotional excesses like those of tent-meeting revivals."3 This "fervor," or "frenzy," according to May, led directly to the war when President McKinley finally "succumbed" as "public emotion reached the point of hysteria."4 H. Wayne Morgan described the war spirit in somewhat more measured terms, but still implied the presence of mass mindlessness. "The country went to war in a holiday mood that reflected its ignorance of the realities of either combat or world responsibilities," he wrote. "Young men eagerly stood in line to volunteer, joking and smiling... Many young American men were already imbued with the desire to kill a Spaniard; the press and events had done their work well."5 Gerald Linderman's account similarly promotes the impression that enthusiasm for the war was both widespread and intense, and that, in the words of Illinois' Governor John Tanner, "everybody want[ed] to go."6

Attempts to explain the roots of the enthusiasm have focused upon possible determinants of mass psychology. While the once-popular notion that the yellow journals were largely to blame has been discredited, other theories remain influential.7 Several historians have argued that the war fever was essentially a release of pent-up frustrations or anxieties. Walter Millis, for example, believed that Americans were "spoiling for a fight" in the late 1890s. At the heart of their "Martial Spirit," Millis believed, was an underlying deficiency in the American mind that compelled Americans to seek "large constructive opportunities" in war and overseas expansion rather than commit themselves to peaceful industriousness at home. With a certain scorn he quoted Walter Hines Page, who wrote rather despairingly in 1898, "Is it true that, a thousand years of adventure behind us, we are unable to endure a life of occupations that do not feed the imagination?"8Similarly, in a highly influential essay, Richard Hofstadter explained the volatile public mood as a mass response to what he termed "the psychic crisis of the 1890s:" traumatized by an economic depression, the disappearance of the frontier, massive immigration, and by the specter of "drastic social revolution," Americans sought psychological relief in a crusade for humanity and national power.9 Others have followed Millis and Hofstrader in arguing that the disappointments of recently defeated Populists and Silverites need to be taken into account.10

The historian's fascination with the war enthusiasm of 1898 in understandable, and the theories that have been devised to explain it have often been useful. The war was unquestionably popular; but as the discussion of the phenomenon has become increasingly abstract or anecdotal, there is the danger of creating a cycle of understanding in which the totality of the original event is blurred or obscured. Was the "war spirit" as widespread and as deep as most accounts suggest? Public reaction to the Spanish-American War in Texas did not always conform to the patterns described or implied above; citizens were actually more rational and calculating in their actions than most later treatments of the war suggest. Texans often approached the war with a certain ambivalence, sometimes because of still-vivid memories of the horrors of the Civil War. There is evidence that some Texans saw the war as a chance to revitalize a moribund American culture, as the "psychic crisis" theories predict. But many of those who actively supported the war seem to have done so for reasons not much different from the motive that spurred other generations into combat. Enthusiastic group behaviors were shaped at least in part by well-established cultural patterns and expectations. And even for those most committed to the cause, the very concept of patriotism sometimes conflicted with an equally strong belief in individual freedom.

Texans did not embrace the opportunity to go to war simply to avenge the Maine or liberate the oppressed people of Cuba. Their actions and ideas were shaped by deeper, more subtle considerations rooted in the values, assumptions, and expectations common to their culture. For those who volunteered to fight, and for many of those who stayed behind to promote the war effort in other ways, the war represented both a challenge and an opportunity. It was a call to rededicate themselves to the abiding principles of their political culture. It was a chance to prove themselves in the eyes of their fellow citizens and the heroic generations that had preceded them. Not incidentally, the war also offered a unique opportunity for personal advancement, self-improvement, and excitement.

Under even ideal circumstances these goals would be difficult to reconcile, because they embodied conflicting ends and ideals, pitting the demands of duty to the community against personal freedom and individualistic ambition. True patriotism entailed self-sacrifice and discipline, the selfless acceptance of inconvenience, hardship and, for some, great personal risk, to promote the general welfare. But, paradoxically, calls for patriotic self-sacrifice were most effective when reinforced by the lure of self-interest. Appeals to personal pride played an important motivating role. Volunteers could justifiably take immediate satisfaction from their community's recognition of the sacrifice made on its behalf, and they could enjoy the confident assurance that they were fulfilling an important obligation in the service of a great cause. Folded into the expected pleasures of patriotic rectitude also lay individual ambitions. Those who risked most, the citizen-soldiers, looked forward to the vague but nonetheless real possibilities of higher rank, enhanced social status, and perhaps fame and glory. For some the war offered steady pay or even, as one Texan put it, "a chance to make a big haul."11 In April, while volunteers poured into recruiting offices, Secretary of the Navy John D. Long commented in his diary on this curious but characteristically American dichotomy: "It is interesting to note how every section of the country, though all are patriotic, has an eye on the main chance."12 Patriotic behavior was more likely to occur when private and public interests converged. But the possibility for conflict between the two always threatened to break this delicate balance, and sometimes did.

In the Spring of 1898, Texans often focused on the idealistic aspects of the war and the necessity for sacrifice. A war against Spain, rhapsodized one editor, will be "impelled not only by humane and philanthropic motives, but with a larger patriotism and devotion to republican institutions and indignation against an absolute tyranny than was ever manifested before by any nation."13Another, after noting that "Never before in the history of the world has there been such a rush to get into the . . . military service of a nation as now," suggested several reasons for the phenomenon, including "a just war," "confidence in the outcome," "faith in our government," and "a determination to extend the blessings of a free government to others who need and desire it."14 Yet, there was a certain ambivalence in most discussions of the upcoming conflict with Spain, as Texans weighed the horrors of war against its worthy results. The headlines of the Austin Daily Statesman alternately predicted "Grim Visaged War" and "Glorious War." Similarly, the editor of the Houston Daily Post contended that "war is in many respects to be avoided and dreaded," but also wrote that it would be "a mistake to regard it as an unmixed evil." War, he believed, "is, in the majority of instances, a great step forward," although it does require "sacrifices of life and money."15

A lengthy sermon delivered by Austin's Reverend E. B. White on April 24th displayed carefully articulated hatred for war as he knew it, but concluded with an argument legitimizing the upcoming clash with Spain. Dr. White began with a discussion of the evils of war, leaning heavily on his Civil War experience for his insights and examples. He did not feel it necessary to describe war's "terrible," "forbidding," and "devastating" horrors: "Your own remembrances or those of your parents are too sensitive and the wounds are not yet nearly healed to make it best to say much on that subject." Instead he concentrated on the "degrading passions and habits" that war engenders. The first of these was exaggerated self-righteousness, the growing tendency to denounce "how very wicked Spain was and is." "[H]ow innocent are we?" he asked. "Have we no sins, as a nation, to mourn before God?" The United States, White asserted, had become proud, boastful, and corrupt; so much so that "I regard our being involved in war as a just punishment for our sins."16

Another "great evil" of war White continued, was its devaluation of human life: "War as much as says 'life is cheap, mow them down,' and despises humanity as 'cattle and food for gunpowder'." White went on to rail against the "gluttony and licentiousness and intemperance" which accompany war and pull down "the common courtesies of life, the refinements of civilization." "I know perfectly of what I am speaking, and that I speak the truth." White stated flatly. "Over and above our fears for the lives of our young men should be an intense fear of the baneful effect of war upon their manhood." Finally, he predicted, war could help to undermine "our most scared institutions." "What," he asked, "becomes of family life? What of the Sabbath Day? What of the church of God and its beneficient influence?"17

Up to this point, the sermon had been a relentless denunciation of war and its consequences. But halfway through the sermon it suddenly became clear that in White's view these arguments counted for less than his conviction that "There are some things worse than war." There was, he now argued, a "bright side" to the upcoming conflict with Spain: notwithstanding the risks and evils discussed earlier, a war could help to reinvigorate an America grown lax and self-satisfied.

          In the mad rush for fortune, in the selfish race for pleasure, in the monotonous treadmill grind of seeking daily bread, men are in danger of forgetting they           have a country - a sacred heritage whose foundations were laid in prayer and self-sacrifice, in tears and blood. They forget the God of nations, who has           made and kept us a people, and given us place and honor among the great nations of the world. . . War comes, our nationality imperiled, it may be, we           begin to realize what a government of the people, by the people, for the people, is worth. . . horrible as war is, it is better than apathy, better than           dishonor, better than a deaf ear and hardened heart toward the woes of humanity.18

Despite his sincere reservations, White saw the war not only as an opportunity to do the work of God ("His purposes are worked out through war, and the end shall be glorious") but also as a means to cultural revitalization. In this, in its message of American uniqueness, and in its urgent sense of moral mission, the sermon reflected the convictions of many. To display its spirit, the Houston Daily Post reprinted Bret Harte's "The Reveille," in which the American people answer a call to war: "Better there in death united than in life a recreant."

   Thus they answered - hoping fearing
      Some in faith and doubting some
   Till a trumpet voice proclaiming,
       Said, "My chosen people, come!"
             Then the drum
             Lo, was dumb
   For the great heart of the
   nation, throbbing,
         Answered, "Lord, we come!"19

Similar themes were explored by the editor of the La Grange Journal, who, noting "the expression of varied sentiment, in different quarters, in regard to war and its attendant evils," concluded that

          [war's] horrors are pretty well understood, and are comprehended in the expression of General Sherman when he
           said "War is hell"[;] at the same time, the compensations of a just war are too frequently overlooked . . .[Christ]
           is the Prince of Peace, but the peace he contemplates will be achieved with the sword . . .The unwarlike nations
           of the world are the weak nations, intellectually, morally, and physically . . . it is better to lose life than character.20

Closely linked to the idea that war could reinvigorate the nation's culture was the belief that war could build individual character and produce good citizens. Just as society should submit to God's will and accept his grand design, so individuals should learn to bow to legitimate authority to promote the goals of society. As the editor of the Austin Daily Statesman explained,

          war must bring many lessons of right living that will, if improved, result in incalculable good in after life . . . And
          the first great lesson is that of self-restraint. Under our boasted American institutions the great idea is personal and
          individual liberty. That is exceedingly right and proper when not carried to the limit of license. But the danger is the
          preponderating growth of absolute independence of restraint. It is this theory that is subdued if not crushed out by the
          strict discipline of the regular army . . . this will prove the first serious hardship of which the boys will complain. But it
          will also prove one of the most advantageous studies of their army course. For in self-restraint and absolute obedience in
          unquestioning form are two of the hardest lessons in life to learn.21

According to the Statesman's editor, the sense of comradeship built through the "intimate and constant contact" of wartime service also helped to develop good character and create better citizens. Thanks to the "great lessons" learned in the service, many men "who are not worth the powder that would blow them up in civil life" could become "heroic and valiant." War would thus prove to be a "blessing is disguise" to those men who thus acquired the habits of "absolute self-restraint," "humility," "kindness," and "tender regard for the feelings of others." Service would give them "a basis of character that war strengthens into the sublime."22 True manhood could grow out of such lessons; and the notion that manhood, patriotism, and the selfless acceptance of duty were closely linked could be reduced to aphorisms: "No man can be a good soldier who is not a good man," "The best citizen always makes the best soldier," "It is the sense of duty which will make you men."23 The entire society could benefit from the war's creation of a more mature, responsible, and selfless citizenry. Evidence the results of the last war: "The four years of civil war taught us much and advanced us more in the standard of manhood than years of peace would have done."24

This was held to be true for women as well as men. "The late [Civil] war," wrote the editor of the La Grange Journal, "developed womanhood on both sides of the Masons' and Dixons' line; and that developed womanhood has produced a race of men now inhabiting the country who are peers of any which history can boast." The upcoming war would do the same, for a "just war has its compensations."25 Again, the willing acceptance of suffering was the key to self-improvement and true patriotism. Writing in the Houston Daily Post, Leila Fisher Woodward asserted that "woman fights a harder battle at home, a battle of suspense, of dread, of grief, of hunger; a battle robbed of the glamor of war and the fame of history." But she believed that a woman should "uncomplainingly bear the horrors of war" and "willingly furnish her sons for the defense of her country." Then, "when the great eagle soars, American women will soar with him . . . to make the whole civilized world look on with wonder and admiration."26 Indeed the principle applied more generally to all those intimately connected to the war effort, according to the Statesman editor:

          To the mothers, sisters and fathers who stay at home it [the war] must bring a steadfast faith in an all-seeing
          providence, a stern resolve to accept the inevitable in a spirit of perfect submission, and a prayerful patience that can
          but build up manhood and womanhood into the statue of nobleness intended for mankind since the world began.27

These writers were not simply rehearsing platitudes, but expressing convictions and values deeply rooted in their culture and in their experience. The perceived connections between patriotism, self-sacrifice, and self-worth had survived - weakened, in some minds, but perhaps reinforced in others - the terrible trials of the Civil War and still wielded power over the thoughts and actions of the citizenry. The Galveston Tribune, for example, reported the case of a woman whose son had enlisted to fight the Spanish. Having lost her husband in the Civil War, she had an "experienced heart" when it came to the meaning of war, and, upset and angry, she "seriously reproached" one of the prominent organizers of the local war movement. In reply, he asked her whether she would have been ashamed of her son if he had not enlisted: "she bravely acknowledged she would." In another case, a Galveston family man, the father of small children, reluctantly decided to enlist. When his wife asked him why he wanted to go, he "firmly, but gently" answered, "if I did not want to go, I would be ashamed of my manhood."28

There can be no question that Houstonian J. R. Griffen subscribed to these ideas or that he fully understood some of their implications. Griffen, an ex-Confederate with a son "who may choose to volunteer" wrote to defend the character and capabilities of West Point officers and to encourage volunteers to serve under them. His service in the Civil War had not been pleasant, and unlike many veterans in 1898, he refused to romanticize his experiences: "The lesson I learned in four years' service was a hard one - bitterly hard." Many of the officers elected by the Confederate volunteers, he wrote, had been "consummate, brutal little tyrants," whose "brief little authority" had been "rank with the instincts of the overseers of a chain gang. . . our men then went to the other extreme and elected officers on account of their good-for-nothing easy dispositions." Griffen thus entertained no illusions about what military service might entail:

          "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" must each and all be devoted as sacrifice on our country's altar . . . liberty of person to be yielded to the           demands of discipline and organization; the pursuit of happiness to be exchanged to hunger, want of sleep, sickness, wounds, or prison life. General           Sherman tersely defined it: "War is hell."29

Nevertheless, he retained faith in the purpose and meaning of service:

          I believe that the ruling authorities will do what is right and proper . . . to the mutual and best interests of the volunteer service and the land they serve.           The sentiment of the German motto: "Ich Dien" - I serve - should, right now, be the one and only one of patriotic inspiration.30

Griffen's letter brought into sharp focus the conflict between the entrenched belief in the virtues of sacrifice and the stubborn American demand for individual liberty. The Austin editor quoted earlier, also recognizing the dichotomy, had attempted to resolve it by forming a distinction between "liberty" and "license." Griffen went much further, and argues that, during wartime, the volunteer's claim to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" must be temporarily abandoned and replaced by Prussian-like submission to the power of the state, with the key assumption, of course, that "the ruling authorities [an interesting phrase in itself] will do what is right and proper." Perhaps Griffen had purposely exaggerated his argument to make a point. It is even possible that, anticipating David Donald, Griffen had concluded that the Confederacy "died of democracy," and that a successful war effort demanded more discipline than he had experienced as a soldier for the South.31

In any case, few Texans in 1898 would have been comfortable with the more extreme implications of Giffen's argument. Some, as Southerners or as populists, were more suspicious than he of the Republican "ruling authorities" and the regular army; many clung more tenaciously to their "pursuit of happiness"; and others, like the Galveston woman mentioned above, had developed "experienced hearts" less susceptible to call for sacrifice.

One of these experienced hearts belonged to Josua C. Wright, who was, like Griffen, an ex-Confederate soldier. He had drawn different conclusions from his Civil War experience, however, and chose to express his views in doggerel verse which he submitted to the Houston Daily Post:

      I know that public sentiment is growing
       very rife
      You can hear the way the people talk, you
       can hear the drum and fife.
      But I'll tell you how I feel about the
       going off to war
      I'd a little rather stay right here and
       stand and shoot from taw.
      Brass buttons, plumes and soldier clothes
       are very fine, I know
      But when they march you off to fight,
       no telling where you'll go.
      I've "done and seen" our own folks fight
       a-during of the war
      And you bet your life if the Spanish come
      I'll stay and shoot from taw.
      You'll never catch this chick again-a-going
       to the front
      I'll let the younger soldier boys go out and
       bear the brunt.
      I've reached the interesting age beyond
       the conscript law
      And rather than enlist again I'd go straight
       to Ark-an-sas!32

While Wright was not ready to abandon his patriotic responsibilities entirely - he would, he said, fight the Spanish if they invaded - he was clearly more cynical about wartime service than was Griffen. Others shared Wright's viewpoint to some extent, as we shall see. But in early 1898, after the destruction of the Maine, even this sort of good-humored skepticism rarely appeared in public print unless derisively attributed to supposedly simple-minded women and Blacks. Under the subhead "He could play soldier but the real thing was not wanted," for example, the Austin Daily Statesman condescendingly reported the reactions of a potential Black recruit when he was informed the United States would soon be at war with Spain:

"What's dat?" said the darkey, as the whites of his eyes grew perceptibly larger . . . "Boss, den lets me out. If de white folks go mussin round wid Spain and gitting themselves shot and killed sum, den de white folks can do it, but as fur this nigger, he ain't dar by no means, shure. I'm powerfully ob de opinion dat a whole nigger a 'ho 'in' cotton is more 'portant dan a dead nigger. . . I very much spects dis chile doan wanter be a soldier," and he grabbed his hat and lit out.33

In the poisoned racial atmosphere of late nineteenth century Texas, such an anecdote passed for humorous filler. One suspects that even someone like Josua Wright would have laughed at the Black's "antics," though their views were not all that different. But like many of the social vignettes published at the time, the story also served a didactic purpose; it was an example of how not to behave, as if to say: No self-respecting white man would think like that! It was a tool employed to alert "respectable" citizens to their duties.

Other stories prescribed behavior for women. One depicted a young woman who stood on a train platform, plucking flowers from her hat as presents to departing volunteer soldiers. "Boys," she said at last, "I wish there were more. I hope you come back again, and that these flowers will remind you of the pleasant scenes of home, and guide you as your dear old mother would have taught you to go." Other "girls" standing in the crowd whispered among themselves "I wouldn't ruin my hat that way," but, according to the reporter, "wiser heads" knew better, and said "There's a loyal woman - God bless her."34

The names of the principals involved in these news stories were often left unmentioned, and it is possible, even probable, that some of them were apocryphal or entirely invented. But like the speeches, poems, editorials, and letters already cited, these stories were both expressions of belief and means of persuasion. They served to educate the young, to rally the faithful, and to encourage the doubtful. They also helped to bring social pressures to bear on those citizens reluctant to make sacrifices for the cause.

Perhaps anticipating a problem, the editor of the Austin Daily Statesman lectured for weeks on the duties of militiamen. "We do not believe there will be a laggard in war in all the militia in the state," he optimistically predicted in early April, but carefully reminded his readers that "obedience to that call by the militia is a test both of patriotism and of courage." Playing on the militiaman's sense of shame, he implied that this was a test taken in full view of the public, and that there would be more at stake than a simple display of patriotism: "The sons of confederate veterans who largely compose the militia of Texas have high models before them as soldiers, and we can be quite sure they will never shame their gallant sires either in camp or on the field of battle."35 Of course, a man's membership in the militia did not make it "absolutely necessary" that he should volunteer to fight against Spain. But, he blandly insinuated, unless there were "preponderating reasons" for staying at home, "it would be much better for his reputation that he should volunteer."36

There was some need for encouragement and even gentle coercion. Texas, like other states, was required by the federal government to mobilize existing units of the state militia to meet its first volunteer quota. According to the compromise mobilization plan approved by Congress, members of these militia companies would be sworn into federal service for two years or the duration of the war. While theoretically these companies could enter federal service intact with their own elected officers, the law provided for efficiency boards to examine the competence of volunteer officers, and the state governors were empowered to decide who in fact those officers would be.37 The prospects of military service under these stipulations did not appeal to many members of the Texas Volunteer Guard, and in late April and early May, ironically just as the war fever was becoming most intense, many of these "citizen-soldiers" were refusing to volunteer.

Some entire companies voted to stay home unless they could be guaranteed that they would be led by their own elected officers, an assurance that Governor Culberson refused to provide; he would support the appointment of the companies' present officers, he said, "unless the good of the service imperatively demanded a different course." All companies were required to volunteer unconditionally, or return their rifles and uniforms to the state.38 This was unacceptable to many militiamen. "Is it not too true that some soldiers of the regular army may be assigned to lord it over a regiment of gentlemen?" wrote C. C. Beavers, of Houston, who complained "I can imagine nothing more galling and humiliating than a gentleman serving under such conditions. It is all very well to gush over "Old Glory," etc. etc. . . . Are there not enough idle men, with no ties, to attend to this soldier business?"39 Several companies, including the Rudd Rifles of Marshall, the Loyd Rifles of Ft. Worth, and the Ft. Worth Fencibles refused service over the officer question.40

Others objected to the possibility of long terms of enlistment away from families, jobs, and businesses. Such was the feeling amongst the Sealy Rifles, for instance, where there was "very strong" opposition in the ranks to the requirement of two years' service.41 The Houston Light Guard took a similar stand, and informed the governor that, while they promised to respond to orders as a state organization, they refused to join the U. S. Army for two years.42 One of the company's officers defended the decision, explaining that "the majority of our company are not in a position to make the sacrifice that would be entailed . . . particularly when no emergency seems to present itself."

The Light Guard is composed for the most part of young men, nearly all of whom are in business, many of whom have families, and they take a philosophical view of the situation; that is, that their services are not actually needed, and that there are hundreds of idle men in the State, with no obligations attaching to them, and who are only too glad to fill [our] places.43

Declarations such as these may have been met with private sympathy. The Houston Daily Post reported that the Light Guard's decision was highly unpopular with the people of Houston: "Much adverse criticism on the resolution was indulged in on the street yesterday and it was the generally and freely expressed opinion that the famous old Light Guard, which at one time stood second to none in the country, had been dimmed by this action."44 Members of the Houston Light Guard and other militiamen who refused to serve had to pay a price for their decision, but clearly, it was a price that they were willing to pay. The twenty-one members of the Guard who did not want to serve quickly reorganized the outfit as Company A, 1st Texas Infantry" and elected new officers.45

Other companies were decimated by dropouts, the ranks often refilled with unmarried men of lower status than the militiamen they replaced. Fifty-one of the original fifty-nine members of the La Grange Light Guard did not volunteer, for example, leaving the company's captain, George Willrich, with a dilemma: should he disband the company or recruit a new one? With a determined recruitment effort in La Grange and in Austin, where he apparently picked up many of the "idle" with "no ties," Willrich saved his command. In the process, the social compostion of the company was dramatically altered.

The original Light Guard had been composed largely of young white-collar men and skilled craftsmen. Clerks, lawyers, merchants, and students were the best-represented occupations among the enlisted men, with a scattering of others - such as bookkeepers, electricians, a physician, a justice of peace, a gunsmith, a cook, a manager of an ice factory - mixed in. Only two farmers belonged to the original company, and only one laborer.46

The group that mustered into federal service with Willrich as Company H, 1st Texas Volunteer Infantry was quite different. Almost a quarter of the eighty-four men who enlisted on May 10 were laborers or farmers, most of them twenty-two years old or younger. Clerks, bookkeepers, and printers were still well-represented, comprising about thirty percent of the company. But almost all of the professional men who had served in the ranks as privates in the Light Guard dropped out, and no new physicians, lawyers, or managers stood forward to replace them. Most of those who did, aside from the farmers and laborers already mentioned, were skilled workers such as butchers, bakers, and dentists. All but two of the new recruits were single. The higher ranks (captain, lieutenants, and sergeants) were still predominately filled with lawyers and clerks.47 The company had become markedly more socially stratified, and, as the unit continued to recruit to its full complement of 106 men, it would become even more so. Clearly most of those Texans who patriotically volunteered to serve in the ranks in 1898 were young, unmarried, and often had less to lose (and perhaps more to gain) than those who stayed behind.

The militia's rather disappointing response to their call to duty, however, did little to dampen others' enthusiasm for the war. There were plenty of young Texans willing to join up. Citizens often organized banquets to praise and fete the local "heroes" who volunteered, and then gathered in crowds to cheer and cry as they watched the "gallant warriors" depart. In La Grange, for example, the townspeople held a giant farewell meeting in the opera house. After listening to a large choir sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and other "appropriate" hymns, the gathering was treated to "ringing" patriotic speeches and a sermon, all for the benefit of "the brave and patriotic young men who go forth with the 'God Bless You' of a grateful people following them." The next day, as the "boys" left for Austin, "Many eyes were red with weeping, and many hearts beat fast with love and anxiety. . . flags waved, shouts rent the air, and strains of music from the band rang out like bugle-blasts, stirring the blood with that enthusiasm which only the patriot freeman can feel."48

In Austin, designated the mobilization center for both the 1st Texas Volunteer Infantry and the 1st Texas Volunteer Cavalry regiments, the war was "the talk of the town." Austinites buzzed eagerly around billboards to read the most recent news, and looked forward to getting "a glimpse of actual warriors, and warfare." Nor were they deterred when, one Friday night, a few "miscreants" tore down "quite a number" of flags and patriotic decorations displayed around the city.49 As the volunteer companies began to arrive, the townspeople swarmed over Camp Mabry to pay their respects to have the brave "boys" and to make them feel welcome and comfortable. Photograph studios provided free portraits, churchwomen distributed Bibles, society belles threw parties, and the local paper printed camp gossip and poems from the "boys'" home towns:50

      Have you seen the Greenville Rifles?
      Brave and gallant boys are they
      Who are soon to leave our city
      And return, they never may.

      They are young, but patriotic
      And they hear the country's call
      Oh, they think not of the danger
      That overhangs them all.51

The volunteers themselves basked in the attention and projected an air of ebullient confidence; the La Grange Light Guard, it was reported, were "Crazy for the Bout with the Treacherous Dons."52 When a false rumor of a big American naval victory at Santiago filtered into Camp Mabry, the "boys" went wild, with "yells coming from all over the camp." "The boys keep hollering and running around shaking hands,"one officer's wife rather tiredly observed.53 Their youthful exuberance and love for friendly competition were expressed in the "company yells" devised by the various units to announce their enthusiasm:

      Ta ra ra ra boom de aye
      Joe Bailey Rifles all O.K.
      Live fat, die game,
      Hot stuff! Remember the Maine!54

Beneath all of the hoopla, a crucial relationship between the citizenry and the volunteers was being ritualistically acknowledged and cemented. Whatever their original motives for volunteering, the "boys" were living, reassuring evidence that yet another generation had come forth to affirm, through self-sacrifice, the enduring legitimacy of their political culture. This tie between the volunteers and the citizenry was more felt than understood, more emotional than rational, but it was on occasion clearly and openly expressed. The symbolic dimensions of this relationship can be observed, for example, within the rhetoric of a stirring - but not unusual - ceremony (or ritual), in which the citizens of Austin presented a "beautiful silk troop flag" to their hometown company, the Capital City Cavalry.

The Hon. Taylor Moore began his dedication speech to the assembled volunteers and citizens with a general assessment of the war's aims and meaning. "With no enemy in Texas, nor a single armed foe anywhere in the United States, yet grim-visaged war has beckoned the flower of our youth to partake of the bloody feast, an they are unhesitatingly responding to the call . . . to do battle in behalf of humanity in other lands . . . for the homes and rights of other people." He then turned to elaborate upon the significance of the volunteers' role in the great undertaking: "If our country was being invaded by armed hostility . . . these soldiers could make no greater offering in [our] behalf than they propose in response to the call already made."

          They have enlisted in behalf of humanity, and have laid upon its altar, for the time being, all that they are or ever hope
          to be . . . they are citizens of the grandest country the world ever saw, and yet they have voluntarily surrendered their
          liberty and become subject to orders of their government without any restrictions or limitations whatsoever.

Then Moore, representing the citizens of Austin, presented the volunteers with "this beautiful flag, the emblem of liberty," with the "earnest hope" that it would be carried to victory "amidst the huzzas of a glad people." The ceremony served to consecrate a sacred pact between the citizenry, the volunteers, and God: "We invoke His benediction upon you, and He being with you we expect to see you emerge from the smoke of battle clothed with honor and glory, holding aloft your banner until 'Freedom from her mountain heights/ Shall unfurl it to the air/ And call the Monarch of the clouds/ To guard it safely there."55

At the close of Moore's speech the "boys cheered lustily," and then a response was delivered by Chaplin Carroll on behalf of the volunteers. "My heart would be stone and my lips ice," he began, "did they fail to respond to such a theme, on such an occasion, to such an audience."

          On one side are seen the brave hearts that in battle's magnificently stern array go forth to do and die for God and
          home and native land. On the other the equally brave wives and mothers and sisters and sweethearts who have so loved
          their country that they have given their nearest and dearest to go to defend it, reserving to themselves the sadder task to eat
          their bread of bitterness in secret and let their tears flow concealed by midnight's friendly darkness. And these who stay
          have presented to those who go a flag, a guidon, an emblem, a token.

The flag's red and white bands, symbolizing blood and the "promise of peace," he said, were an eloquent statement that "blood is ever the price of liberty." "Realizing this truth, we are prepared to pay the price and go forth . . . wherever we go this flag shall be our 'guidon' to victory, and those of us who return will bring it back, not unstained, for it may be necessary to dye its silken purity with a baptism of our heart's blood . . . our bright sabres shall have rusted to an eternal dust ere we bring it back dishonored." He concluded with a statement interesting for its elementary imagery: "Citizens of Austin, again we thank you, and will strive to carry this, your battle flag, until our country shall be bounded on the north by the aurora borealis . . . on the south, by the southern cross; on the east, by the spirit of God brooding over primeval chaos, and on the west by the judgement day."56

In this flag presentation ceremony, the citizens of Austin thus recognized that, like their real or archetypal forefathers, the volunteers had stood forward to sacrifice, if need be, their lives and well-being to protect and promote the honor and ideals of their society. The citizens' seemingly overweening praise of the volunteers - they were called "brave," "noble,""gallant,""heroic" - was thus not as naive or overblown as it may sound to the modern ear. To some extent the volunteers were being rewarded in advance for hardships to come, but in a deeper sense these men were already heroes - not military heroes, of course; many of them had not even been issued rifles yet - they were symbolic heroes of their culture, men who through the sacrificial act of volunteering reconsecrated the abiding beliefs of the community. The flag presented to the troop symbolized the volunteers' blood sacrifice, but it was also "an emblem, a token" of the special bond between the volunteers and the citizenry. By presenting it to the volunteers' to carry with them into battle, the townspeople acknowledged and honored the volunteers willing acceptance of the blood sacrifice, and anointed the boys as their chosen representatives in the great cause.

The volunteers, on their part, were aware that their special status could be tarnished by dishonorable behavior, and that their actions would be closely watched and compared to those who had served in earlier wars. There was a familiar warning as well as encouragement in the words of the editor of the Austin Daily Statesman as the troops left for Mobile, Alabama, in late May: the volunteers, he said, "will soon rise to a knowledge of what their friends and country expect of them . . . it may be taken that the hopes upon them will not be disappointed, but that . . . they will show themselves worthy of their fathers, who, in the Civil War, made the southern soldier illustrious for courage and unfaltering intrepidity."57

Although supplies, uniforms, and even guns were in short supply in the volunteer units, morale remained high in late May and early June as the men enjoyed the new sights and experiences that service had promised. Frank Edwards of the 2nd Texas described the regiment's exciting train trip eastward, which seemed to be an almost continuous celebration as the troops were welcomed by cheering crowds and band music all along the route. It was an unforgettable experience that "would require volumes" to describe, according to Edwards, who was particularly moved by the "vast panorama" of New Orleans: "It impressed us as a place of wonderful and strange sights, sounds, and smells."58

At camp Coppinger, Alabama, the "boys" of the 1st and 2nd Texas regiments settled into the increasingly familiar routines of a soldier's life and drilled to prepare themselves for action against the Spanish. By mid-June the Army's plans for the invasion of Cuba had not yet been finalized, and the Texans still hoped that they would be among the troops selected for the operation.59 Captain George Willrich worried that "the marine boys won't leave us any work to do," but expressed volunteers' willingness to fight in a letter to his mother: "I hope we will be given a chance at the Spaniards," he wrote, "it would be hard to come home without having been in a great fight. I hope Blanco [the Spanish general] won't surrender without a fight, we will all chip in and make him a present of a gold walking stick if he will give us a fight."60 Possibly he looked forward to battle less than the anticipated status of hero, because his wife wrote that Willrich was saving his dress pants "for the big reception they are going to give us when we come back from capturing Blanco."61

The volunteers' ambitions surfaced in other forms, too, as men angled for promotions. Augustine de Zavala, a well-connected Texan with a distinguished ancestry, was dissatisfied with his private's rank, and pulled every wire he could to find a better position. He even wrote his sister for help, suggesting "You might go and see Capn. McAdoo, he is in S.A. [San Antonio] now sick, you could go and see him and talk to him and what he says goes in this company. . . .See him and if you can get him to write to the Lieut. here and tell them to promote me, they will do it quick."62 Politics amongst the promotion-sniffing officers also began to pick up; there are hints in George Willrich's correspondence that the captain was already marshalling support among his friends in Texas and Washington in case of a future promotion squabble.63

For those in the ranks, the glitter of military service had already begun to lose its luster. Private Miller of Company H, 1st Texas Infantry confessed he was already homesick;64 others objected to the increasingly strict discipline imposed by their officers. A volunteer in Company A, 1st Texas Infantry, publicly complained about the punishment inflicted upon an insubordinate private, the son of a wealthy Dallas merchant, who had been "imprisoned in the guardhouse some two weeks, and finally was stripped to the waist and tied to a tree in front of everybody. He was gagged, and I saw the marks of the wood upon his jaws afterward. . . .Of course, his offense was serious, but the punishment seemed inhuman to me."65

The troops in Mobile were also beginning to get impatient with the army's inefficient supply system and disgusted with the paymaster's disappearing act. Money was "nearly an unknown quantity" in the camp, and some soldiers had been reduced to doing others' laundry for incidental expenses. Virtually everybody had a case of diarrhea, and on top of it all the food was bad. "I can't see any excuse for not feeding the men like fighting cocks," a captain complained. "My lieutenants have good food, but the food the men have is not the best, nor in sufficient quantity." His wife felt sorry for the troops: "The volunteers have neither money nor friends, you know."66

These problems were alleviated to some extent by moral and material support from the folks back home, who sent letters and organized to provide food, money, and equipment for their "boys." The people of Austin, for example, created a "sick fund" for Company L of the 1st Texas to buy much-needed medical supplies; the La Grange boys of Company H gave "three cheers" for the folks at home when they opened a shipment of mosquito bars sent from their hometown.67 And as long as the volunteers could look forward to the thrill and glory of war, and could believe that their sacrifices were meaningful, camp conditions could be tolerated, even accepted with a certain stoic self-discipline. As one private wrote, "A soldier must expect hardships and should school himself to take things as they come."68

But their hopes to see action grew dimmer week by week as it gradually became clear that the Texas troops would not be needed. By the end of July, after a quick succession of American victories in Cuba and Puerto Rico, the war with Spain was all but over, and none of the Texas regiments had ever been close to combat.69 After August 12th, when the United States signed an armistice agreement with Spain, many of the volunteers were "just as crazy to get out as they were to get in."70 As the volunteers' sense of purpose evaporated, the sacrifice of service seemed increasingly meaningless, and its rewards ever more remote. Military service, which had once seemed to be a grand cooperative adventure, now seemed to many of the volunteers to offer little more than unnecessary and involuntary servitude.

For officers, the problem was relatively easy to solve: those who desired could resign their commissions, and several quickly did so. One of the first was Lt. Colonel W. H. Stacy of the 1st Texas Infantry, who wrote Governor Culberson August 13th to ask for his release, citing family obligations and business considerations. He had volunteered "solely out of patriotic duty to my country in time of war," he wrote, but now that there was "an assurance of peace," he no longer felt obliged to serve.71 For the enlisted men who had signed up for two years' service, however, there was no easy escape. Unable to simply walk away from their obligation, they and their hometown supporters pressured their officers and their government for discharges and demobilization orders. In a letter dated September 4th, Captain George Willrich reported that his company had come to him as a group to complain that "they had volunteered to fight not to do garison[sic] duty in Cuba, & that they wanted me to use every honorable and soldierly means to get them out." "My two lieutenants," he added, "do not want to resign they want to go to Cuba."72

While citizens at home drew up petitions, held mass meetings, and wrote letters to the governor pleading the case for their boys in the camps, the lack of a unifying purpose for service disintegrated morale, and the conflicting individual ambitions of officers and the men broke down the solidarity of companies. Willrich's wife noted that "All the talk now is about which regiments are to be mustered out and which returned. The majority of the officers are more anxious than ever to be patriotic but the men want to go home," she wrote. "The difference in salaries accounts for this. . . . the various regiments are so demoralized they are no longer good soldiers. It is a fight between the high-salaried officers and the low-pay privates." One of the officers bluntly told her in confidence that "he was patriotic for the money that was in it."73 Mrs. Willrich was disgusted. "The money question," she bitterly contended, "explains a great deal of patriotism or what has been taken for patriotism."74

There was some truth to her assertion, and good reason for her anger, but in fact the distinction between selfless "patriotism" and the ambitious promotion of self-interest (or, in Secretary Long's words, the search for the "main chance") was never clear in the minds of the volunteers. Olivia Willrich's own husband, who, she believed, was "very likely the only one to be found" to "espouse the cause of the men," struggled to come to terms with his own motives for continued service. On the one hand, he wanted to do "what is honorable and soldierly," and muster his men out according to their wishes, but this certainly ran against his other inclinations. "George says he is anxious to go to Cuba," his wife once wrote, "because he knows there is a lot of money to be made." In light of this information, Willrich's "proper" explanation to his mother a week later sounds rather disingenuous: he could resign his commission, he said, "but I can't leave my men, many came out because I came out, I will stick to them, in other words, I will do what is right." Accepting the part of the patriotic soldier, he could write, "I will do as I am told [remain in service and go to Cuba] without complaint," but other motives were never far beneath the surface. "I know you depend entirely upon my remitting money to you," he wrote his mother in December. "I have been stingy because I thought I might get a chance to make a big haul in Cuba."75 And there were other, less tangible, possibilities to consider:

          There is no telling what good fortune awaits me there [in Cuba]. Perhaps a name. Just think. . . . You see if I go I will have
          a glamor of glory around my name . . . and verify my friends great hopes and my dreams. I wish to God I could have been in
          the glorious battle of Santiago. . . . I felt the blood of my long line of ancestors and know I would have gone up the hill at
          Santiago like my ancestors have gone up against an enemy. . . . I must stay with my boys, I just can't let them go and I stay
          behind. Just think what my enemies will say, that I was afraid not of yellow fever but of some little fight with a guerilla band.
          They would say I showed the white feather . . .76

For Willrich, and no doubt for most of the volunteers, the tug of duty was easiest to follow when it led down the path of self-interest. His commanding officer, Col. William H. Mabry, seems to have understood this as he encouraged his men in the 1st Texas to look forward to service in Cuba. No longer able to promise them marital glory, he put the best light on the situation. Cuba, he said, was destined to become a vacation resort, "a Mecca for excursionists," and a stint there would give "the young men who are in the army" an opportunity "to look around and see for themselves the possibilities the country will then afford." Those who remained in the army and went to Cuba would have, he said, "a better chance to get on the inside, and being in the 1st Texas will be a passport anywhere."77

Arguments such as these apparently carried more weight with the regiment's officers, who lived more comfortably and were generally more wealthy and better-educated than the rank-and-file soldier. The enlisted men knew that extended service would probably mean months of living under close supervision, in uncomfortable conditions, with a fairly good likelihood of contracting a disease - all for $16.50 per month. Calling for a vote on the question, Colonel Mabry declared that a "fair majority" favored going to Cuba, but this assessment can be questioned. In H Company, only fifty-six enlisted men were present for the vote, and of these only six stood forward to announce their willingness to go. When the lieutenant in charge praised his six volunteers, saying "That shows what kind of mettle you men are made of," a sarcastic wisecracker jeered, "Yes, these men will be heroes."78 The issue was eventually resolved in Washington. The 2nd Texas Infantry was discharged because the "Pressure from the friends of [its] enlisted men . . .was so great."79 The 1st Texas would go to Cuba in December, though many of the men no longer felt like volunteers.

The 1st Texas was the state's only regiment to leave the United States, but there was to be no glory in the unit's fourteen weeks of occupation duty. While the officers could enjoy occasional sightseeing excursions and shopping trips to Havana, the enlisted men spent most of their time confined to Camp Columbia, outside the city. "Panicked" by their fears of contracting dread tropical diseases, the men refused to volunteer for burial duty; a false rumor that the troops would leave Cuba could transform the camp into "a scene of wild joy." Not until mid-April 1899, almost a year after enlistment, were the Texans allowed to go home.80

Crowds of well-wishers gathered to greet the returning soldiers. In San Antonio, about four thousand citizens turned out to welcome their "boys" and to decorate them with flowers. Feasts were organized and speeches prepared to thank the volunteers and reaffirm the significance of their sacrifice. A Houston banquet for the hometown companies drew an assemblage so huge that "it seemed as if half the people of Houston were there." After eating , the crowd moved to the armory to hear William A. Hunter praise the local heroes:

          All our fair state is proud of you . . . while you were not permitted the privilege of engaging in actual battle, you
          nevertheless did your duty to your country and yourselves. . . . You have done none the less for your cause: you
          have suffered sickness, privation, and death, and all honor to you . . . [Your letters home] will be treasured as priceless
          heirlooms, commemorating the brave deeds of their loved ones and will inspire chivalry, bravery, and manhood. . . .
          War creates a martial spirit, causes more men to be born and desire for deeds of bravery and renown, without which the
          Nation would be pitiable indeed. You, representing the American army, victorious as you are, have done a nobler deed,
          emancipated men and women that they may know for the first time the God-given blessings of freedom . . .

          Remember the high privilege of being an American freeman and may your record ever be such as to continue to shed luster
          on your country, your people, and yourselves.81

After everything they had experienced, it would not be surprising if some of the men took these words with a grain of salt. Some of the volunteers, for whatever reasons, did not show up for the banquet, and others did not wear their uniforms. Still, the ceremonies helped to provide a sense of closure and meaning to the volunteers' experiences, and reminded the gathering that these men symbolized the community's commitment to its highest ideals. Despite their disappointments, the volunteers could walk away from the war with a sense of dignity and purpose.

"What a vast volunteer force this country could quickly put in the field if only colonels and majors were wanted," remarked an editor in April 1898, at the height of the "war fever" that led the country into battle with Spain.82 The comment was only half in jest. Texans knew that a variety of motives animated the volunteers of 1898, and that patriotic commitment was often a matter of the perceived confluence of public and private interests. Not everybody "wanted to go" for ideological or even emotional reasons; some had to be persuaded, others subtly coerced or rewarded, to accept risk and hardship in pursuit of collective goals. Some simply refused to go along. There was nothing necessarily cynical in all this, especially since self-sacrifice was a highly regarded virtue in this individualistic society. Still, Texans do seem to have been more calculating, more rational, and less single-minded in their approach to the war than general accounts had predicted. Memories of the Civil War served to inflame the imaginations and ambitions of some, but dampened the enthusiasm of others. Monetary considerations played a part in many decisions to serve - or not to serve - the cause. Some were swept up by the "martial spirit" because of their desire for public approval or because they wanted to follow in the footsteps of their "glorious" forebears. For many Texans, duty and desire converged in April 1898, but conflicts between the two never entirely disappeared.



1Austin Daily Statesman, March 29, 1898, 5; Charles A. Culberson Correspondence, January-April 1898, Records of Governor, Texas State Archives; A. P. Wozencroft Correspondence, January-April 1898, Records of the Adjutant General, Texas State Archives, Austin; A.P. Wozencroft, Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Texas for 1897-1898, (Austin, 1899), 9, 31; Austin Daily Statesman, Feb. 28, 1898, 8, March 11, 1898, 1, March 29, 1898, 8; March 25, 1898, 2. go back


2Excerpted from Alva Clay Bravo, "Vox Populi," printed in Houston Daily Post, April 3, 1898, 27. go back

3Ernest May, Imperial Democracy: The Emergence of American as a Great Power (New York: 1973 [1961]), 142. go back

4Ibid, 142, 145, 268. go back

5H. Wayne Morgan, America's Road to Empire: The War with Spain and Overseas Expansion (New York: 1965), 65. go back

6Gerald Linderman, The Mirror of War: American Society and the Spanish-American War (Ann Arbor: 1974), 63-64. go back

7For various views on the "yellow press" question, see Joseph E. Wisan, The Cuban Crisis as Reflected in the New York Press, 1895-1898 (New York, 1934); Marcus Wilkerson, Public Opinion and the Spanish-American War (New York, 1932); George Auxier, "Middle Western Newspapers and the Spanish-American War, 1895-1898," Mississippi Valley Historical Society Review 26 (1940), 523-524; Harold J. Sylwester, "The Kansas Press and the Coming of the Spanish-American War," Historian 31:1 (1969), 251-267; Peter Michelson, "Nationalism in Minnesota During the Spanish-American War," Minnesota History 41:1 (1968), 3; J. Stanley Lemons, "The Cuban Crisis of 1895-1898: Newspapers and Nativism," Missouri Historical Review 60: 1 (1965), 64-65. go back

8Walter Millis, The Marital Spirit (Cambridge, 1931), 28-29, 107, 250-251. go back

9Richard Hofstadter, "Manifest Destiny and the Phillippines," in Daniel Aaron, ed., America in Crisis (New York: 1952), 173-175. go back

10Paul S. Holbo, "The Convergence of Moods and the Cuban-Bond 'Conspiracy' of 1898," Journal of American History 55:1 (1968), 55-71; H. Stanley Lemons, "The Cuban Crisis of 1895-1898: Newspapers and Nativism," Missouri Historical Review 60:1 (1965), 63-71; Joseph A. Fry, "Silver and Sentiment: The Nevada Press and the Coming of the Spanish-American War," Nevada Historical Society Quarterly 20:4 (1977), 222-39. go back

11Letter from Captain George Willrich to Mrs. Olivia Tuttle, December 19, 1898, in George Willrich Papers, Barker History Center, University of Texas, Austin. go back

12John Davis Long, America of Yesterday, as Reflected in the Journal of John Davis Long (Boston: 1932), 184. go back

13Austin Daily Statesman, April 12, 1898, 4. go back

14La Grange Journal, June 2, 1898, 4. go back

15Austin Daily Statesman, April 30, 1898, 1; April 27, 1898, 1. go back

16Austin Daily Statesman, May 1, 1898, 9, 11. go back

17Ibid. go back

18Ibid. go back

19Excerpted from Bret Harte, "The Reveille," in The Complete Poetical Works of Bret Harte, (Wm. Briggs, Toronto: No date), published as "What the Drums Say" in Houston Daily Post, April 22, 1898. For the thoughts of Theodore Roosevelt, Henry James, and others on America's need for "war's transforming power," see Linderman, The Mirror of War, 94, 97-98. For an interesting suggestion that the war was part of an American "revitalization movement," see J. Stanley Lemons, "The Cuban Crisis of 1895-1989,' 74; Anthony F. C. Wallace, "Revitalization Movements," American Anthropologist 53 (1956), 264-281, discusses the concept itself. go back

20La Grange Journal, April 28, 1898, 2. go back

21Austin Daily Statesman, June 3, 1898, 4. go back

22Ibid. go back

23Henry Watterson speech to Tennessee volunteers, quoted in Austin Daily Statesman, May 27, 1898, 2: E.B. White in Austin Daily Statesman,
May 1, 1898, 9, 11. go back

24Austin Daily Statesman, February 28, 1898, 4. go back

25La Grange Journal, April 28, 1898, 2. go back

26Leila Fisher Woodward, "What a Woman Will Do," Houston Daily Post, May 1, 1898, 9, 11, 17. go back

27Austin Daily Statesman, June 3, 1898, 4. go back

28Reported in Galveston Tribune, reprinted in Austin Daily Statesman, May 5, 1898, 4. go back

29Letter from J.R. Griffen to editor, Houston Daily Post, May 3, 1898, 5. go back

30Ibid. go back

31David Donald, "Died of Democracy," in David Donald, ed., Why the North Won the Civil War (New York: 1962), 79-90. go back

32Excerpted from Josua C. Wright, "I'll Stand and Shoot from Taw," Houston Daily Post, May 9, 1898, 4. go back

33Austin Daily Statesman, February 25, 1898, 3. Blacks in Texas seem to have generally supported the war, and raised volunteer companies to fight the Spanish; none of these, however, were accepted for service in Texas. go back

34Reported in Denver Post, reprinted in Austin Daily Statesman, August 19, 1898, 6. go back

35Austin Daily Statesman, April 9, 1898. 4. go back

36Austin Daily Statesman, April 28, 1898, 4. go back

37David Trask, The War with Spain in 1898 (New York and London, 1981), 151-152. go back

38Houston Daily Post, May 2, 1898, 3. go back

39Letter from C. C. Beavers, Sr., to Houston Daily Post, April 30, 1898, 6. go back

40Austin Daily Tribune, April 28, 1898, 4; Austin Daily Statesman, April 27, 1898, 4; Houston Daily Post, April 28, 1898, 7. go back

41Houston Daily Post, May 2, 1898, 3. go back

42Austin Daily Statesman, May 2, 1898, 5. go back

43Houston Daily Post, May 2, 1898, 8. A story in Austin Daily Statesman, April 28, 1898, 5, describes young men arriving in Dallas to enlist "without food or a place to sleep . . . many are reduced to the necessity of begging." go back

44Houston Daily Post, May 3, 1898, 9. For evidence of other companies similarly reorganized, see letters in Records of the Texas Adjutant General's Office, A.P. Wozencraft General Correspondence, e.g. C.G. Barret to Wozencraft, July 29, 1898; W.A. Leigh to Wozencraft, July 29, 1898. go back

45Ibid. go back

46Muster roll of the La Grange Light Guard, September 1897, Records of the Texas Adjutant General, Texas State Archives, Austin, Texas. go back

47Muster roll of Company H, 1st Texas Volunteer Infantry, May 10, 1898, Records of the Adjutant General, Texas State Archives, Austin, Texas. go back

48La Grange Journal, May 5, 1898, 3. go back

49Austin Daily Statesman, April 27, 1898, 3-4; May 8, 1898, 3. go back

50Austin Daily Statesman, May 3, 1898, 2, 3, 4; May 5, 1898, 2; May 19, 1898, 2. go back

51Excerpted from untitled poem by Mabel Battle, printed in Austin Daily Statesman, May 3, 1989, 2. go back

52Austin Daily Statesman, May 6, 1898, 2. go back

53Olivia Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttel, May 14, 1898. Willrich Papers, Barker History Center, University of Texas, Austin. go back

54Austin Daily Statesman, May 6, 1898, 2. Another example: "Click, Click, Click/ Rah for Captain Dick/ He's the man to lead this band/ To death or victory./ Captain Dick of Company A, Captain Dick Levy!" Austin Daily Statesman, May 10, 1898, 2. go back

55Taylor Moore's speech was printed in the Austin Daily Statesman, May 27, 1898, 2. go back

56Emphasis added. Chaplain Carroll's speech in Austin Daily Statesman, May 27, 1898, 2. go back

57Austin Daily Statesman, May 20, 1898, 4. go back

58Frank Edwards to [Waco?] Tribune, dated May 26, 1898, in Spanish-American War Scrapbook, 4m528, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas, Austin. go back

59George Willrich to editor, La Grange Journal, June 16, 1898, 5. go back

60George Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttle, June 11, 1898, Willrich Papers, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas, Austin. go back

61Olivia Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttle, June 11, 1898, Willrich Papers. go back

62Augustine de Zavala to Adina de Zavala, June 11, 1898, De Zavala Family Papers, Barker History Center, University of Texas, Austin. go back

63Willrich to Joseph Sayers, June 4, 1898, Willrich Papers. go back

64Private H. Miller to Mrs. G. A. Tuttle, June 4, 1898, Willrich Papers. go back

65Letter to Austin Daily Statesman, published May 30, 1898, 2. go back

66George Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttle, June 11, June 21, 1898; Olivia Willrich to Mrs. Tuttle, June 7 and June 9, 1898, Willrich Papers. go back

67Letter from Leslie A. Wright to his mother, June 11, 1898, published in unidentified [Dallas?] newspaper, Spanish-American War scrapbook 4m528, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas, Austin; Austin Daily Statesman, June 1, 1898, 2; George Willrich to Delphine Byrnes, Minetta Teichmulier, and Julia Schuhmacher, published in La Grange Journal, published June, 1898. go back

68Leslie A. Wright to his mother, June 11, 1898, clipping in Spanish-American War scrapbook 4m528, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas, Austin. go back

69The 1st Texas Calvary and the 4th Texas Infantry never left Texas; the 3rd Texas Infantry was divided and scattered in various posts across the South from South Carolina to Texas; and the lst and 2nd Texas Infantry regiments spent most of the war in Florida. The 1st Texas was sent to Cuba for garrison duty in late December 1898, months after the fighting was over. go back

70Olivia Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttle, Sept. 12, 1898, Willrich Papers; La Grange Journal, September 1, 1898, 4. go back

71Lt. Colonel Stacy to Culberson, August 13, 1898, in Wozencraft Correspondence, Records of the Adjunct General's Office, Texas State Archives, Austin. go back

72George Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttle, September 4, 1898, Willrich Papers, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas, Austin. go back

73Olivia Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttle, September 15, 8, and 6, 1898, Willrich Papers, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas, Austin. Conflicts between officers and enlisted men in volunteer camps were common during this time. Austin Daily Statesman, September 9,1898, 3: Graham Cosmas, An Army for Empire: The United States Army in the Spanish-American War(Columbia: 1971), 267; Franklin F. Holbrook, Minnesota in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection (St. Paul, 1923), 41-42. go back

74Olivia Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttle, September 12, 1898, Willrich Papers. go back

75Olivia Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttle, September 6, August 15, 1898; George Willrich to Mrs. Tuttle, August 21, August 27, December 19, 1898, Willrich Papers. go back

76George Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttle, December 12, 1898, Willrich Papers. go back

77Letter from C.D. Tobin to Austin Daily Tribune, August 14, 1898, 2. go back

78Austin Daily Tribune, September 1, 1898, 1; Sworn relation of H Company vote, September 7, 1898, Willrich Papers. go back

79Telegram from Secretary of War Russell Alger to Governor Culberson, September 5, 1898, Culberson Correspondence, Records of the Governor, Texas State Archives, Austin,Texas State Archives, Austin, Texas. The 2nd Texas Infantry was officially mustered out Nov. 9, 1898. go back

80George Willrich to Mrs. G.A. Tuttle, January 5, March 10, 1899; Olivia Willrich To Mrs. Tuttle, January 17, March 21, 1899, Willrich Papers, Barker Texas History Center; Houston Daily Post, January 20, 1899, 10; January 28, 1899, 6; January 19, 1899, 1. go back

81LaGrange Journal, April 20, 1899, 5; Houston Daily Post, April 17, 1899, 5; April 19, 1899, 6. go back

82Houston Daily Post, April 25, 1898, 4. This sort of joke was common. Another "quoted" a "mild-mannered man . . . who disliked work" who suddenly decided to join the army - thinking about a pension: "I repeat it, let war come. I'm ready to do or die, that is to die or do the government, as the case may be." Austin Daily Statesman, April 29, 1898, 6. go back

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