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Champaign County
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Champaign County
Spanish American War

"Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois"
Chicago: Munsell Pub. Co., 1905

The late war with Spain, entered into on account of the cruel oppressions and misgovernment of the Island of Cuba, near the American coast, while not in defense of the integrity of American territory, was truly in defense of American honor. No call to arms ever met a heartier response from the people at large, than did this call; and, while the occasion at the time seemed of not great importance in the national history, its ultimate results have been and are likely to be of the greatest importance. The only trouble that most of our patriotic young men encountered during the progress of this war, was that there was not enough of the war to "go round" and give all a chance.

At the time of the Presidential Proclamation which called to arms, there was, and had been for many years, at Champaign, a company of militia, organized under the Militia Law of Illinois, known as "Company M, of the Illinois National Guard," made up mostly from the young men of the two cities. Naturally and promptly the appeal of the President was answered by this organization of young Americans, by an offer to volunteer as a body, for the service of the country against oppression and misrule. This offer was made on April 22, 1898, and three days thereafter an order came from Adjutant-General Reece to report at Springfield. This done, with the entire regiment (the Fourth), the company was, on May 20th, mustered into the service of the United States, by Captain Roberts, of the Seventeenth Infantry, the regiment being under command of Col. Casimer Andel, of Belleville.

The roster of Company M at the time of muster-in consisted of Captain William R. Courtney, of Urbana; First Lieutenant Arthur W. Smith, of Urbana; Second Lieutenant Fred E. Thompson, of Urbana; First Sergeant George E. Doty, of Champaign; Quarter Master Sergeant Sidney G. Choate, Champaign;
Sergeants-Wallace D. Teeple, Champaign; Albert M. Courtney, Urbana; John W. Frazee, Champaign; Charles W. Neville, Urbana; Corporals-Fred H. Hays, Urbana; Albert R. Ekbom, Champaign; Willis I. Myers, Cham-paign; Andrew J. Hendricks, Urbana; and Louis L. Williskey, Champaign.

The Fourth, as a part of the Second Brigade, started immediately after the date of muster-in for Tampa, Fla., but en route its destination was changed to Jacksonville in the same State, where it arrived May 29th, being stationed at Camp Cuba Libre under command of Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. While at Jacksonville, Colonel Andel tendered his resignation, the vacancy being filled by the appointment of Col. Eben Swift, of the Ninth. Here the regiment remained on provost duty until October 26th, when it was transferred to Savannah, Ga., remaining there until about January first, meanwhile devoting time to drill and practice marches. On January 3, 1899, it embarked on the United States Transport "Mobile" for Havana, arriving on January 5th, and during its stay of three months upon the island being stationed at Camp Columbia, near Havana.

Peace having already been established between the contending powers, and the Spanish rule forever banished from the island, there remained only police, camp and march duties to occupy the time of the Fourth Regiment during its stay on the island, and in this it was engaged until April 4th, when it embarked for home upon the steamers "Whitney" and "Yarmouth." The muster-out occurred at Camp Mackenzie, Augusta, Ga., on May 2, 1899, soon after which Company M returned home and was disbanded.

The duties our men were called upon to perform in this service were not as active as they could have wished, owing to the comparative smallness of the field and brevity of the contest, but were honestly and patiently per-ormed.

Good health generally prevailed in the regiment during the service, but three of the men - Herman McFarland and George E. Turner, both of Urbana, and Percy H. Tittle, of Champaign - died before leaving the United States for Cuba.

Honorable mention is made of the Fourth Regiment in the report of the Adjutant-General of Illinois.

Transcribed by K. Torp


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