The 160th Indiana Volunteer Infantry served as part of the post-war
Army of Occupation in Cuba, being in the vicinity of Matanzas from
January to March 1899.
The 160th Indiana Volunteer Infantry was formed around a core of men
from the 4th Regiment of the Indiana National Guard, and was composed of
companies from Marion, Decatur, Lafayette, Wabash, Bluffton, Ossian,
Columbia City, Warsaw, Tipton, Huntington, Anderson, and Logansport. In
numbering the regiments after being mustered into the federal service,
it was determined to begin the regiment numbering where the American
Civil War Indiana Volunteer regiments left off. The regiment formed
around the 4th regiment of the Indiana National Guard became the 160th
Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
The regiment arrived at Camp Mount, Indianapolis, on April 26, 1898
for the purpose of being mustered into federal service. After the
physical examination of officers and men, the regiment was mustered in
on May 12, 1898. The regiment was commanded by Col. George W. Gunder. A
native of Ohio, Gunder had served in the American Civil War as a private
in the 71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. During the war, he rose to the rank
of lieutenant. After the war he moved to Marion, Indiana to pursue his
mercantile business. He became active in the Indiana National Guard and
by 1895 he was the commander of the Indiana National Guard.
Four days after mustering in, the regiment departed Camp Mount and
proceeded by rail to Camp George H. Thomas, Georgia, located on the
Civil War battlefield of Chickamauga, arriving on May 18, and was
assigned to the First Brigade, Second Division of the First Army Corps.
Also serving in the brigade were the 31st Michigan Volunteer Infantry,
and the 1st Georgia Volunteer Infantry.
One account noted that the men fund that the old Civil War battlefield
was yet strewn with bullets and pieces of shell that were eagerly picked
up as souvenirs. Many of the men also had the opportunity to visit
Lookout Mountain, famous from the Civil War.
Arms and ammunition were not issued to the regiment until June 7th,
after the regiment had been in camp for over two weeks, and were issued
under the supervision of acting Ordnance officer Lt. Glasscock of
Company C. The regiment’s previous National Guard arms had been used to
equip the 157th Indiana Volunteer Infantry
which necessitated new arms being procured for the regiment. Each man
was issued a Springfield “trapdoor” rifle,
cartridge belt, canteen, haversack, knapsack, and shelter tent
half. Now fully equipped, the men conducted long marches to
prepare for what they expected in Cuba or Puerto Rico. The first death to occur in the
regiment was at Camp Thomas, and was that of Private Paul Bruce of
Company H, who died on June 14th. Private Frank Rosebaugh of
Company K accidentally struck his head while diving into Chickamauga
creek and died at the Division Hospital on July 24th.
A second call for volunteers was issued with authorization to recruit each company up to 106 men, and the 160th enlisted another 291 men in mid-June.
Under orders that were believed to call for the regiment to proceed to Puerto Rico, the regiment left Camp Thomas on July 28th and arrived at Newport News, Virginia two days later. The regiment went into temporary quarters at Camp Grant (named for Lieutenant General U.S. Grant, the father of the camp's commander, Brig. Gen. Fred Grant). . The conditions at Camp Grant were harsh – the sand and southern heat were hard for the men to endure, combined with poor food (bacon and canned meat, much of which was condemned, and hardtack), and unsanitary conditions. While stationed in Newport News, Private Alonzo Andrews of Company I was shot and killed by Sam Hall, a local saloon keeper, along with a comrade who was wounded in the foot. History records that “The entire regiment was infuriated, some suggested that the negro suffer death for his crime, and even attempted to carry out the suggestion by force of arms. Happily, better judgment prevailed, justice was assured, and so quiet was restored.” Hall was removed to Norfolk to prevent any attempts at lynching him.
The orders to proceed to Puerto Rico
were countermanded due to the armistice that was agreed to with Spain on
August 12th ending the war’s fighting. The regiment left Newport News on
August 21st and proceeded to Camp Hamilton, Lexington, Kentucky where it
arrived on August 23rd and went into Camp Miles on the Wiel farm. While
stationed in Lexington, dissatisfaction grew, with many desiring to be
mustered out with peace being evident. On September 15, the
regiment was ordered to move to Camp Hamilton, named in honor of Col.
Hamilton who fell at Santiago, with the men marching the eight miles to
the new camp.
On October 9th, Private Nygren of the 12th
New York Volunteer Infantry was shot and killed by a Private
Kitchen of the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry while the latter was on
duty as a Provost Guard. It was later determined that the incident was
in the line of duty, but some men of the 12th New York began a plot to
avenge what they considered a wrong, and on the night of the 10th
attempted to carry out their plan against Private Kitchen. Gen.
Wiley, hearing of the incident, sounded “To Arms” and the entire 160th
Indiana and a battalion of the 3rd Kentucky were ordered out with ten
rounds of ammunition per man and marched five miles to Lexington.
There they were ordered to patrol the streets and arrest every soldier
regardless of rank or pass. It was long after midnight when they
returned nearly 400 prisoners to camp. The incident generated ill will
between the men of the 12th New York and the men of the 160th Indiana
who certainly felt they were only doing their duty. It had been a
bloody night in Lexington. In addition to the death of Pvt. Nygren, the
Provost Guards of the 160th tasked to maintain order reportedly had two
other incidents – the killing of Sgt. Richard Green of the 7th U.S.
Volunteer Infantry (the “7th Immunes”), Co. A by Cpl. Edwards of the
same company. Five other men were wounded that evening while the 160th
Indiana and the 3rd Kentucky attempted to restore order.
Later in the month, the troops at Camp Hamilton were reviewed by Generals Breckinridge, Sanger and Wilson as Breckinridge turned over the command of the camp to Wilson. In the review, the Lexington Herald newspaper reported that the 2nd Missouri Volunteer Infantry, the 160th Indiana Volunteer Infantry and the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry “attracted much attention as is their habit.” Also of note is that on Halloween, the men of the 160th Indiana and the 3rd Kentucky raided a railcar that was filled with beer intended for the 12th New York Volunteer Infantry. Interestingly, the Pabst and Schlitz breweries held the 12th New York responsible for the loss. However after all of the free newspaper publicity gained for the breweries, the breweries withdrew their claims against the 12th New York Volunteer Infantry.
The regiment left Camp Hamilton November 9th, and arrived at Columbus, Georgia on November 11th, 1898, where the regiment went into camp at Camp Conrad. On December 10, 1898 the Spanish American War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, but the service if the 160th Indiana continued. On December 19th the men of the 160th Indiana turned in their Springfield “trapdoor” rifles which were replaced with the more modern Krag-Jorgensen rifles. Lastly, Major Miller was voted a presentation Sabre by the Hebrew Ladies Society of Columbus, voted most popular officer over several from the 3rd Kentucky!
In January 1899, the regiment was ordered to proceed in three sections to Matanzas, Cuba:
• First Battalion
(Companies C, D, G, and H) left Columbus, Georgia on January 6, 1899,
arriving at Charleston, South Carolina on January 8. The First Battalion
was ordered aboard the transport SARATOGA
on January 8 and arrived at Matanzas, Cuba, January 10.
• Second Battalion (Companies A, B, E. and F) left Columbus, Georgia on January 15, arriving at Charleston, South Carolina on January 16. The Second Battalion boarded the transport SARATOGA on January 17, arriving at Matanzas, Cuba, on January 19.
• Third Battalion (Headquarters and Companies I, K, L, and M) left Columbus, Georgia on January 24, arriving at Charleston, South Carolina on January 25. The Third battalion boarded the transport SARATOGA on January 25, arriving at Matanzas, Cuba, on January 28.
The regiment initially went into camp near the San Juan River, west of
Matanzas, later moving to a camp on the shore of the Bay, east of the
city. The District of Matanzas was occupied by troops of the 8th
Massachusetts, 12th New York, 3rd Kentucky, and 160th Indiana, all under
the command of Gen. Sanger.
The guard duty that the regiment was subjected to was described as
‘not arduous’, and most of the commentary focused on the beautiful
scenery of Matanzas bay. J. B. DeLawter of Co. M of the 160th
Indiana wrote home from Cuba. He briefly described what the men were
seeing and experiencing. DeLawter reported that the temperature
approached 100 degrees during the day, but at night the men needed a
blanket to be comfortable. As he roamed the countryside and approached
the bay, which he described in glowing terms, he found some old Spanish
batteries which were equipped with old muzzleloading cannon. There were
many old stone houses in the area which had gone into ruin.
The major issue was that the ground where the camp was located was apparently on coral rather than sand or soil. As a result, the ground had all sorts of sharp points sticking up, and many holes and crevices for scorpions and centipedes to hide. The troops were charged with filling the holes and removing the points to make the camp safer and more livable. The men commented on having to build roads, and that was a reference to this work.On March 11 the men of the 3rd Kentucky reported hearing yelling coming from the camp of the 160th Indiana. On checking into the cause of the commotion it was learned that the 160th Indiana had been ordered home. The men apparently realized that the order had been issued when the regimental band took up the tun of "Home Sweet Home." The regiment remained in Cuba until March 27th. On that day the regiment was ordered to proceed to Savannah, Georgia, to prepare for muster out. The regiment left Matanzas, Cuba, on transport THOMAS on March 28, arriving at quarantine the next day and went into camp at Savannah, on March 30.
The 160th Indiana Volunteer Infantry was mustered out of the service of the United States April 25th, 1899 with 50 Officers and 1,031 enlisted men, after almost exactly one year of US service.
As the men began their trek back to Indiana, by chance they were
joined by a newspaper reporter. He reported that “their conduct proved
them to be a set of gentlemen. There was none of that rowdyism in them
that we have seen in other regiments.”
During its term of service the regiment had twelve enlisted men die of disease. One enlisted man was murdered and fifteen men deserted. The dead were as follows:1. Cole, Eugene L. Sgt. Maj., Regiment Staff. Died September 3, 1898.
“Are Gentlemen,” Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Indiana). May 5, 1899, 19.
“Assumes Command,” Lexington Herald (Lexington, KY). October 21, 1898, 3.
“Be the Mecca’” Lexington Herald (Lexington, KY). March 25, 1899, 2.
“Bloody Day and Night,” Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, KY). October 10, 1898, 1.
Bowers, George B., History of the 160th Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the Spanish-American War, with Biographies of Officers and Enlisted Men and Rosters of the Companies. [Fort Wayne, Ind., Archer Printing 190, 1900] Pdf. Available in the public domain at: https://www.loc.gov/item/11014837/
Correspondence Relating to the War with Spain, Center for Military History, U.S. Army, Vol 1. Data Retrieved via http://www.fortwiki.com/160th_Indiana_Volunteer_Infantry
“Notes from Matanzas,” Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Indiana). February 23, 1899, 5.”
Record of Indiana Volunteers in the Spanish-American War 1898-1899. Issued by authority of the Sixty-first General Assembly of Indiana. Gen. James K. Gore, Adjutant General. W. B. Burford, Contractor for State Printing, Indianapolis, 1900. Available online in the public domain via the Library of Congress at https://lccn.loc.gov/01005459
“Reply to Col. Gunder,” Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Indiana). May 4, 1899, 21.
“Virginia News,” Daily Star (Fredericksburg, Virginia), August 29, 1898, 3.“Will be Tried Here,” Daily Press (Newport News, Virgiania), August 26, 1898, 1.