The 13th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry

By Kyle Ward

Kyle Ward's book on the 13th Minnesota, entitled In the Shadow of Glory : The Story of the Thirteenth Minnesota in the Spanish American War and Philippine American War, 1898-1899 is available through (Simply click on the title - in red - to go to the book's page on

Click here to read the 13th's William Burdette Smith's letter, as he writes home from California
Click here to read the 13th's William Burdette Smith, as he writes home from the Philippines
Click here for a list of battles and skirmishes in which the 13th was engaged

Rosters of the 13th Minnesota (large files...they will take time to appear)
Click here for the roster of members with names beginning with A through L
Click here for the roster of members with names beginning with M through Z
     With the onset of hostilities between the United States and Spain in April 1898, President McKinley requested volunteer troops from every state in the union.  In response to the President's call for soldiers, Minnesota mobilized its volunteer troops on April 29, 1898.  With the large numbers of young men wanting to serve their country, Minnesota had no problem filling its quota of troops by May 7th.

     Minnesota had enough volunteers to form three regiments, the 12th, 13th, and 14th.  Each consisting of twelve companies coming from different cities within the state.  Minneapolis contributed companies A, B, F, I, and L; St. Paul sent companies C, D, E, and H; while Red Wing, Stillwater, and St. Cloud sent companies G, K, and M, respectively.  At the time of mustering in the 13th consisted of 50 officers and 979 men.

     On May 12, the 13th Minnesota Regiment received the news they had been waiting for.  While the 12th and 14th were sent to camps in the south, the 13th was ordered to join the expedition to fight the Spanish in the Philippines.  By May 16, the troops boarded trains bound for San Francisco, where they were to finish their training before going over seas.

     After a brief training period at Camp Merritt the 13th, on June 26th, boarded the City of Para  as part of the third expedition to Manila.  For most, if not all of these Minnesotans, this was the first time they had seen the ocean.  This trans-oceanic voyage would also then be the first time they would encounter sea travel.  Not only did they have to suffer from bad food and a serious lack of water, but a great many of them found themselves terriblyseasick.

     To the relief of the Minnesotans the City of Para  was able to reach Manila Harbor one month after leaving San Francisco.  Anchoring seven miles south of Manila off Cavite the 13th had to weather out its first monsoon before finally going ashore on August 7.

     After setting up camp the 13th waited for their orders to advance on Manila, which would come on the morning of August 13.  Under the command of Major General Arthur MacArthur, the Minnesotans were to take the right flank during the battle of Manila.

The 13th Minnesota in the trenches     When it came time to advance on Manila, it was a battalion from the 13th which led the way.  Of all the fighting that day, the most intense combat took place on the right flank with the Minnesotans in the worst of it.  That the 13th saw the heaviest fighting during the battle can be confirmed by the fact that they had a greater number of casualties than all other regiments combined.

     With the cessation of hostilities between Spain and the United States the Minnesotans were placed on police duty in Manila.   Even though a necessary job, it was an unwanted one by the Minnesotans, who viewed it with disdain and felt it to be monotonous.

    With the ceasing of hostilities between Spain and the United States (which actually took place the day before the attack on Manila), the Spanish-American War was over.  Unfortunately the fighting in the Philippines was no where near its conclusion.  Due to problems between the American military and the Filipino leader Aquinaldo, tensions continued to run high in the islands.  A skirmish between Filipino's and troops from a Nebraska unit, on February 4, 1899, led to America's second war in the Philippines.  While other units found themselves fighting Filipinos, the 13th continued its policing duty in Manila.  Tired of their orders, many Minnesotans began to request to be moved into front-line duty.

     Any boredom the 13th might have felt due to being stationed in Manila quickly vanished on February 22, 1899.  With Filipinos attacking the city from the outside and an uprising developing within the city, the Minnesotans quickly found their hands full.  The hardest hit region in this attack was the northern suburb of Manila, called Tondo.  There companies C and M were attacked by a large group of Filipinos, while much of the district was set on fire.  Both companies C and M held their ground and were able to drive the Filipinos out ofthe city.

     It would be almost another month of policing before the 13th would be relieved of its duty.  On March 20 they were given the orders to join in the drive to Malolos, which at that time served as the "insurgents" capital.  After that campaign the 13th was then assigned to join General Lawton and his campaign into northern Luzon.

     From April 22 until May 26, 1899, the 13th was to be split up into three battalions.  With one battalion remaining on guard duty, the other two (consisting of companies C, D, H, K, L, M, and G) joined Major General Lawton and his expedition through Luzon.  Their orders were to attempt to capture all the important towns and to clear the Filipinos out of that area.  This expedition lasted thirty-three days, covered over one hundred miles, with the Americans capturing twenty-eight towns and seizing or destroying large quantities of Filipino supplies.

     With a desire to keep themselves and the honor of their regiment intact many Minnesotans began to request that the unit be sent home.  On August 10, their wishes came true when they boarded the Sheridan  and began their voyage back to the United States.

     Although they were mustered out on October 3, the 13th decided to stay together until they reached St. Paul, Minnesota, where they would formally re-enter civilian life.  On October 12th they reached the Minnesota state capital, where they were greeted by thousands of families, friends and well-wishers.  Of whom included President McKinley, who also wanted to pay his respects to the Minnesotans who had served their nation.


Regiment Muster out with: 51 officers and 952 men

6 officers and 68 men were  wounded in action
2 officers and 42 men died (4 Killed in Action, 1 officer and 2 men died of wounds,1 officer and 33 men died of disease, 1 drowned)

To visit the website bibliography, click here. To visit the website video bibliography, click here

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