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Military Records at the Archives & Library of the Ohio History Connection

Ohio and the Spanish-American War

15,354 Ohioans served in volunteer and Ohio National Guard Units during the Spanish-American War. Many people in the U.S. objected Spain's treatment of their then colony Cuba. The United States declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898 by President William McKinley, an Ohioan, after the Maine, a U.S. battle ship, exploded near Cuba. The conflict lasted less than 3 months with Spain, and ended in a complete victory for the United States with the 1898 Treaty of Paris. Cuba technically gained independence and the U.S. acquired the Spanish colonies of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines as territories. The 4th, 6th, and 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry's served overseas during the conflict. 230 total deaths were recorded.

Collection Information and Access

Spanish-American War Battle Flags

Below is a an example of a Spanish-American War battle flag found in our museum collections.

Description:  This flag is a silk guidon of 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Battery H and Battery I. The gold appliques of crossed cannons are an "I" above and an "H” below against a red field. At one time it was likely a swallowtail shape but has since been torn. Both Battery H and I mustered out of Cincinnati. President McKinley, a fellow Ohioan, issued the first call for volunteers on April 23, 1898. They easily filled Ohio's initial quota of six infantry regiments and four batteries of light artillery. The term of enlistment for volunteer troops in 1898 was for two years or until discharged.​

The Guidon of 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Battery H and I flag is part of the Ohio Adjutant General's Battle Flag collection maintained and preserved by the Ohio History Connection. More images of the Ohio battle flags from the Spanish-American War era are available on Ohio Memory, a statewide digital library program.

Colonel Charles Young

Charles Young was the first African American to achieve the rank of colonel in the United States Army and, until his death in 1922, was the highest-ranking African American officer. In 1884, he reported to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He became its third African American graduate five years later. After graduating with a commission as a second lieutenant, he proceeded to serve 28 years with black troops in the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalries, also known as the Buffalo Soldiers. He had multiple military assignments both foreign and domestic, and it was after his service in Mexico, during the 1916 Punitive Expedition, that he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Young was placed on the U.S. Army's inactive list during World War I due to health concerns, later riding from Wilberforce, Ohio where he was a professor to Washington, D.C. to prove his fitness for duty. Young was reinstated as a full colonel in 1918.  He died in 1922 while on a reconnaissance mission in Nigeria. He received a full military funeral and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. 

Below is a photograph of Colonel Charles Young in uniform. More images of Colonel Young and collection finding aids pertaining to him are available on Ohio Memory, a statewide digital library program. 

The 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Battalion

The 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Battalion was an African American regiment formed in 1881 with companies in Springfield and Columbus. A company was added in Xenia in 1884, then in Cleveland in 1898. The battalion was commanded by Major Charles Young. The regiment did not see overseas service during the Spanish-American War, but spent duration of the war at several camps across the United States. This regiment, along with the 10th U.S. Cavalry, were also known as the Buffalo Soldiers.

Below is a photograph of Arthur Kelton Lawrence, who served as a hospital steward in the 9th Battalion during the Spanish-American War. More images related to the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Battalion from the Spanish-American War era are available on Ohio Memory, a statewide digital library program. 

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Can't Find What You're Looking For?

We do not hold military service or pension records.  That information can be obtained by contacting the National Archives and Records Administration.  Records prior to World War I are located at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. 

You may also wish to read the military records section of the National Archives Genealogy webpage.

If you have questions, please contact us at or 614.297.2510.