Originally organized as a National Guard unit on April 30, 1833, the unit volunteered for service in the Spanish American War almost exactly 65 years later, on April 28, 1898. The various companies met at their home town stations in Winnebago County before heading for Camp Harvey in Milwaukee. Here they were mustered into service on May 11, 1898 for a period of two years unless discharged sooner.
The unit was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division of the First Army Corps, and was stationed at Camp Thomas, Georgia, located on the old Civil War battlefield of Chickamauga.
The unit was transferred to take part in the invasion of Puerto Rico. The Brigade, also known as "Ernst's Brigade, consisted of the 16th Pennsylvania Volunteers, 2nd and 3rd Wisconsin, and portions of the 6th Illinois. The brigade departed Charleston, South Carolina, on 20th of July, for Cape Fajardo, Puerto Rico. After a change in plan by General Miles, the unit actually headed for Guanica, on the opposite side of Puerto Rico, arriving on July 27, 1898. Without disembarking, the unit was sent to Ponce, where the unit disembarked.
In Puerto Rico, the 3rd Wisconsin took part in the action at Coamo, 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, the 3rd Wisconsin, 788 men strong, was sent to the right with orders to cross the Coamo River and advance. Some enemy fire was directed on the unit by the Spanish from a blockhouse, but the fire was quickly silenced by infantry and artillery fire. This left the 3rd unopposed. When the American forces entered the town, they found it deserted and that its population had already surrendered to reporter Richard Harding Davis!
The 3rd Wisconsin awaits orders to charge the Spanish at Coamo
On August 12, the 3rd Wisconsin moved into position to aid in the assault at the next point of opposition on its march - Aibonito. As the forces were forming for this assault the following morning, word arrived of that an armistice had been declared and the fighting had ended.
The 3rd Wisconsin returned home on September 18th, 1898. The Spanish American War ended on December 10, 1898 with the Treaty of Paris.
Total Strength of regiment -------1353
Killed in Action------------------2
Died of disease-------------------41
Wounded in Action---------------2
Coamo, Puerto Rico-----------------Aug. 9,
Arbonith Pass, Puerto Rico----------Aug. 12, 1898
The Battle Flags and Wisconsin Troops in the Civil War and War with Spain. Compiled by J. Stanley Dietz 1943.