A Brief History of the 2nd U.S. Artillery, Battery A

By Patrick McSherry

Grimes Battery (2nd U.S. Artillery, Battery A) going into action by Frederic Remington


Battery A, 2nd U.S. Artillery was one of the few artillery units to see action during the war, serving in Cuba and being involved in the San Juan Heights events. The unit was also known as "Grimes' Battery," being commanded by Captain G. S. Grimes.

The History:

The unit arrived at Port Tampa, Florida on May 1,1898. On June 6th, the unit and its four guns were loaded aboard the transport BERKSHIRE for the trip to Cuba. The unit had 3 officers, 80 men and 75 horses. Putting to sea on June 13, the transport arrived off Siboney, Cuba on June 20. The unit marched from Siboney to Daiquari and was then ordered to a small hill called "El Poso," arriving there on June 30, at about 4:00 P.M.

At dawn, gun pits were dug. At about 8:00 A.M., orders were received to open fire on the Spanish blockhouse on San Juan Hill at a range of about 2,600 yards. The spanish returned fire using shrapnel. The duel continued on and off until about 2:00 P.M when the American infantry and cavalry began the San Juan Heights assault. In the action, the Americans were at a disadvantage. Their guns, which did not use smokeless powder left a large cloud of smoke which enabled the Spanish to more easily locate the American guns. The Spanish used smokeless powder, making their guns more difficult to locate. In the engagement, the Battery lost two men killed and four non-commissioned officers and one private wounded. During the fight, the battery fired about 160 projectiles.

In the evening, at about 7:00 P.M., the battery was ordered to advance, and arrived near San Juan Hill by about 10:00 P.M. On July 2, the battery was placed in position on the San Juan Hill ridgeline, near the Spanish blockhouse. Spanish small arms fire began about dawn, and the battery was ordered to return fire, which it did, even though nothing could be seen through the darkness and mist. After about thirty rounds were fired, orders were issued to withdraw, which was done under heavy fire. The battery returned to El Poso, where it would remain until July 5.

On July 5, the battery again returned to the front line, and was actively engaged on July 10 and 11. A truce was placed in effect, with the surrender of Santiago ocurring on July 17. An armistice was agreed to, effectively ending the fighting on August 12, though the war would officially continue until the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.

The Battery remained in Cuba until 1899, and was stationed in Havana.

Aiming the guns on El Poso


Clerk of Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899). Vol. 3  407-408.

Discharge Papers of Edward H. Hopson (courtesy of Edward H. Hopson, Jr.).

Freidel, Frank, The Splendid Little War. (New York: Bramhall House, 1958) 145 (Remington's painting of Grimes Battery).

McIntosh, Burr, The Little I Saw of Cuba (New York: F. Tennyson Neely, 1899) 149 (image of artillery on El Poso)

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