A brief history of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

by  Mike Phillips and Patrick McSherry 

Click here to read about the 2nd Wisconsin on a forced march!
Click here to read about the 2nd Wisconsin's departure for Puerto Rico!
Click here for the roster of the 2nd Wisconsin
Click here for an account by the family the 2nd Wisconsin's left behind
Click here for information on the Battle of Coamo
The unit was Organized as a National Guard regiment on April 26, 1882. During the Spanish American War, the unit enlisted en masse as volunteers  on April 28, 1898 at Camp Harvey, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry was mustered into the United  States service May 12, 1898 at Camp Harvey, and  was assigned to the Third Brigade, First Division, of the First Army corps. on May 17 the unit was sent to Camp Thomas. This camp was located on the old Civil War Battlefield of Chickamauga, Ga.

On July 5, 1898, the 2nd Wisconsin was transferred To the First Brigade, First Division, First Army Corps, and went on to serve in Puerto Rico. The unit arrived at first at Guanica, Puerto Rico but was immediately redirected to Ponce, with their transport entering the harbor on July 27.

The 2nd Wisconsin marches past General Miles on his balcony in Ponce.

The unit's assigned line of march was along the road leading from Ponce to San Juan, the capital. This route led past the small town of Coamo. Here, it was found that the Spanish had entrenched. On August 9, while other units were sent to attack on the flank, the 2nd Wisconsin, now only 824 men strong,  was directed to advance on the main road into the rown. Before the unit could get into position, firing was heard on the flanks, indicating that the other units were already engaged. A battalion of the regiment was ordered forward quickly, only to find the bridge leading into the town burned. Another route had to be found. The 2nd Wisconsin finally entered the town, only to find it deserted. The town has already surrendered to reporter Richard Harding Davis!

On August 10, the 2nd Wisconsin continued to exchange fire with the Spanish troops.

On the night of August 12 at Aibonito, the 2nd and 3rd Wisconsin made a flanking in march to get behind the Spanish troops in preparation for an attack on August 13. Before the attack could occur, it was learned that the armistice was signed and the fighting was over. The expected attack was called off.

The unit was mustered out of service between November 9 and November 21, 1898.

Total Strength of Regiment------------1349
Died of disease------------------------38


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. p 242-243.

Dietz, J. Stanley, "The Battleflags and Wisconsin Troops in the Civil War and the War with Spain, " 1943.

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