The Spanish-American War of 1898 was one of the shortest wars in which the United States has ever been involved. From declaration of war to termination of hostilities, the war lasted a little less than four months, although the chief fighting only occupied about ten weeks. Cuba’s independence was the war’s major catalyst, but the U.S.’s impetus for entering the fray was the mysterious sinking of the armored cruiser U.S.S. Maine in February 1898 and the subsequent deaths of 250 sailors on board. The Treaty of Paris that formally ended the war called for Spain to relinquish sovereignty over Cuba and to cede Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands to the United States for $20 million. The defeat led to the loss of the last remnants of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and heightened the debate over expansionism in the United States.

A little over 280,000 U.S. sailors, marines and soldiers served in the Spanish-American War with approximately 2,061 casualties, many of whom died from yellow fever. On record 6,065 Kentuckians participated in various campaigns in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, suffering 89 casualties. Material related to veterans of this war can be found below, including letters, military records, books, photographs, and pamphlets. These materials are housed in the Department of Library Special Collections at WKU and have been made available in conjunction with the WKU International Year of Cuba and in observation of the 120th anniversary of the Spanish-American War.

Primary Sources for Spanish-American War.

Eating utensils issued to a Kentucky solider during Spanish-American War (1975.65.2)

Eating utensils issued to a Kentucky solider during Spanish-American War (1975.65.2)

Regimental flag of 3rd Kentucky Infantry U.S.V. during Spanish-American War (KM2265)

Regimental flag of 3rd Kentucky Infantry U.S.V. during Spanish-American War (KM2265)

Blanket issued to William Haiden Holman during the Spanish-Amercian War (1974.65.7)

Blanket issued to William Haiden Holman during the Spanish-Amercian War (1974.65.7)

Jacket from the Spanish-American War uniform of William Haiden Holman (1974.65.6)

Jacket from the Spanish-American War uniform of William Haiden Holman (1974.65.6)

Admirals Dewey, Schley and Sampson

Admirals Dewey, Schley and Sampson

Thomas Jefferson Smith in his Spanish-American War uniform (1979.54.10)

Thomas Jefferson Smith in his Spanish-American War uniform (1979.54.10)

Third Kentucky Infantry U.S.V. on parade at the Warren County Fairgrounds (1977.51.180)

Third Kentucky Infantry U.S.V. on parade at the Warren County Fairgrounds (1977.51.180)

Interior photograph of an exquisite Cuban drawing room (MSS31 B3 F8 #4)

Interior photograph of an exquisite Cuban drawing room (MSS31 B3 F8 #4)

History of the Spanish American War Embracing a Complete Review of Our Relations With Spain by Henry Watterson (E715 .W342)

History of the Spanish American War Embracing a Complete Review of Our Relations With Spain by Henry Watterson (E715 .W342)

The Martial Spirit by Walter Millis (E715 .M76 1931)

The Martial Spirit by Walter Millis (E715 .M76 1931)

Souvenir Sketch and Roster of the Third Kentucky U.S.V.I. (E726 .K37 R8)

Souvenir Sketch and Roster of the Third Kentucky U.S.V.I. (E726 .K37 R8)

Admiral Dewey's Grand Triumphal March by P. Marcel (SM00575)

Admiral Dewey's Grand Triumphal March by P. Marcel (SM00575)

"Break the News to Mother" by Charles K. Harris (SM04397)

"Break the News to Mother" by Charles K. Harris (SM04397)

I Am Proud to be a Spanish-American War Veteran by Hugh L. Stephenson (Broadside 70)

I Am Proud to be a Spanish-American War Veteran by Hugh L. Stephenson (Broadside 70)

Blue Bell:  March Song and Chorus by Edward Madden and Theodore F. Morse (SM03156)

Blue Bell: March Song and Chorus by Edward Madden and Theodore F. Morse (SM03156)