The History of the 1st Kentucky Volunteer Infantry

By Patrick McSherry


The First Kentucky Volunteer Infantry saw service as part of the U.S. occupation forces serving in Puerto Rico.

The History:

The First Kentucky Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service between June 1 and June, 1898 at Lexington, Kentucky. The unit originally consisted of 48 officers and 1,251 enlisted men. On August 3, 1898, the regiment left the United States to join in the invasion of Puerto Rico, then already underway. The First Kentucky arrived in Puerto Rico on August 10, 1898. The fighting ended on August 13 by an armistice, too soon for the unit to find itself in action. The unit remained in Puerto Rico until December 5, 1898 as part of the island's occupation forces. While the regiment was enroute back to the United States, the Treaty of Paris was signed officially ending the war on December 10. The regiment landed in the U.S. two days later. The regiment remained in service until February 24, 1899, when it was mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky.

During its term of service, it lost 27 men to disease, one man suffered an accidental death and three men deserted.

The image at left is of Corporal William Hilyerd. It was taken in Puerto Rico on December 1, 1898, nine days before the official end of the war. Hilyerd, whose service included helping to maintain the island's telephone system, was born on April 26th, 1881. He enlisted in Company K of the First Kentucky Volunteer Infantry on May 13th, 1898, at Lexington, Kentucky. He was honorably discharged with the regiment in early 1899. Hilyerd, a blacksmith by trade, was 5 feet 8 1/4 inches tall with a light complexion, brown eyes, and red hair. After the war, he continued to live in Louisville, working as a clerk.


Statistical Exhibit of Strength of Volunteer Forces Called into Service During the War with Spain; with Losses from All Causes. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899).

Photo of, and information concerning William Hilyerd was provided by William and Barbara Hilyerd.

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