• The Spanish-American War was one of the first conflicts in which the military documented combat with still and motion pictures. In this image, six soldiers load artillery at the front lines with empty shells littered at their feet. Courtesy of Jacob Edwards Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Servicemen of the Spanish-American War Company K Southbridge Massachusetts shown with artillery
    • Date
    • 1855-1900
    • Creator
    • Pease, Aaron, H
    • Description
    • Six soldiers actively working with artillery with spent shells littering the surrounding area. The soldiers are wearing their hats and their lower legs are covered with laced gaiters. Is part of the photographic collection of the Jacob Edwards Librar... more
      Six soldiers actively working with artillery with spent shells littering the surrounding area. The soldiers are wearing their hats and their lower legs are covered with laced gaiters. Is part of the photographic collection of the Jacob Edwards Library, Southbridge, Massachusetts. http://www.jacobedwardslibrary.org. less
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    • Rights status not evaluated. Contact host institution for more information.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Jacob Edwards Library

  • Wherever Spain settled, US troops followed. This glass plate captures a scene from the Battle of Manila Bay. Commodore George Dewey famously led a squadron of ships in victory over a Spanish fleet and effectively ended Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. Courtesy of Highland Park Historical Society via Illinois Digital Heritage Hub.

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    Battle of Manila Bay, First Engagement
    • Date
    • Approximately 1898
    • Creator
    • Rice, George D., Chaplain, 1861-1936
    • Description
    • Glass slide image of the Battle of Manila Bay, near Manila, Philippines, part of the Spanish-American War.
    • Rights
    • This material is made available by the Highland Park Public Library. To request reproductions or inquire about permissions, contact: hppla@hplibrary.org
    • Partner
    • Illinois Digital Heritage Hub
    • Contributing Institution
    • Highland Park Historical Society

  • During the war, Spain captured less than a dozen Americans. The US, in contrast, imprisoned approximately 15,000 Spanish prisoners of war. In this photo, a group of Spanish POWs gather in Manila, Philippines. Courtesy of University of Wisconsin Digital Collections via Recollection Wisconsin.

     

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    Spanish prisoners at Manila, 1898-1899
    • Date
    • 1898/1899
    • Description
    • Group of Spanish prisoners at Manila
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/
    • Partner
    • Recollection Wisconsin
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Wisconsin Digital Collections

  • Naval officers meticulously planned for battles across the Pacific and Caribbean. This map outlines a confrontation off the coast of Santiago, Cuba. The lines follow the paths of vessels, with the US fleet in black and Spanish in red. Courtesy of UNT Libraries Government Documents Department via The Portal to Texas History.

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    Battle Off Santiago de Cuba, July 3. 1898
    • Date
    • 1898
    • Creator
    • United States. Navy Dept. Bureau of Navigation. Ward, H. H.
    • Description
    • Map of the battle off of the coast of Santiago. The paths of the naval vessels are shown along lines that display their positions in at 9:37 a.m. and 11:35 p.m. on July 3, 1898. Spanish vessels are denoted in red, while American vessels are black. 1 ... more
      Map of the battle off of the coast of Santiago. The paths of the naval vessels are shown along lines that display their positions in at 9:37 a.m. and 11:35 p.m. on July 3, 1898. Spanish vessels are denoted in red, while American vessels are black. 1 map : col. ; 25 x 33 cm. less
    • Rights
    • The contents of The Portal to Texas History (digital content including images, text, and sound and video recordings) are made publicly available by the collection-holding partners for use in research, teaching, and private study. For the full terms o... more
      The contents of The Portal to Texas History (digital content including images, text, and sound and video recordings) are made publicly available by the collection-holding partners for use in research, teaching, and private study. For the full terms of use, see https://texashistory.unt.edu/terms-of-use/ less
    • Partner
    • The Portal to Texas History
    • Contributing Institution
    • UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.

After weeks of public outcry and political debate, the US declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898. Troops set out for Cuba intent on freeing the island from Spanish rule. The US also sought to liberate Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines in order to targetand eventually destroySpain's global empire. African Americans enlisted, seeing the war as an opportunity to secure greater rights and freedoms in the US by proving their strength and loyalty overseas. Cuban and Filipino soldiers eager for independence also fought alongside American soldiers.

Back home, the war captivated the public. Hundreds took part in battle re-enactments and watched war films. In Omaha, Nebraska, more than one million people gathered to watch a replica of the USS Maine explode at the city’s world’s fair. Continuing the trend of the "yellow press," newspapers entertained readers daily with stories and images from the front lines.

Secretary of State John Hay described the Spanish-American War as the "splendid little war." It was brief, lasting only a few months, and relatively bloodless, as the US lost more men to disease than in combat. With aggressive campaigns over land and sea, the US defeated Spanish forces in Cuba and cornered them in Puerto Rico and the Philippines. By July, Spain sued for peace.