The US Army Transport Sherman is docked at the coaling station at Gibraltar, Spain from February 15-17, 1899. The USAT Sherman departed New York City two weeks earlier carrying the men of the 3d Infantry Regiment for duty in the Philippine Islands. As the coal is being replenished, news reaches them that hostilities have broken out in Manila. and they are instructed to proceed without delay. They get under way the next day, headed to their next coaling stop in Port Said, Egypt.
On February 2, 1899, the soldiers of the 3d Infantry Regiment boarded the US Army Transport “Sherman” in New York City. They were en route to the Philippine Islands. They were to be support units deployed in putting down the Philippine Insurrection. Colonel John H. Page, who led the Regiment in Cuba the previous year, led it again to war.
The Philippine Insurrection was a direct outcome of the War with Spain. The United States controlled Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines after the quick victory against Spain in 1898. Many Filipinos believed their nation would be independent following the War with Spain. The United States had no intention of granting independence.
Once aboard the Sherman, the soldiers of the 3d Infantry steamed across the Atlantic Ocean. The Sherman stopped at coaling stations at Gibraltar, Spain (February 15-17); Port Said, Egypt (February 24); Colombo, Sri Lanka (March 9); Singapore (March 16). The Regiment arrived in Manila Harbor on March 22, 1899, around 1:30 PM. Over the course of 48 days, the Old Guard traveled over 16,000 miles. There was only one casualty on the voyage: Chief Musician Edward Matter died March 11.
The next day the Regiment disembarked from the Sherman and set up camp in the Luneta, a local park. Two days later, four companies of 2d Battalion moved to support the 22d US Infantry and the 2d Oregon Volunteers. Together they charged enemy trenches. The Old Guard stayed in the Philippines over three years, departing Manila on April 18, 1902.
See a collection of 31 photos of the voyage and the Philippines here:
The United States declared war against Spain in April 1898 and was a surprise after a chaotic series of events, to include the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana, Cuba. The country was not prepared. Troops were called to southern areas of the United States and held for training and later transport to Cuba, including the 3rd Infantry which left Fort Snelling in April. The 3rd Infantry Regiment encamped near Mobile, AL until orders came for Cuba. The Regiment disembarked in Cuba in June 1898.
The war was short and sharp, with serious ground combat limited to the American envelopment and siege of the Cuban city of Santiago. In July 1898, the Regiment played a significant part in the Santiago Campaign, enduring tropical heat in woolen uniforms while storming a fortified blockhouse at El Caney that controlled a part of the city’s water supply, followed by three days of more or less continuous shelling in trenches before the city until a ceasefire was signed. After redeploying from Cuba and arriving back in the United States in August, the Regiment was held in quarantine in a camp on Long Island, New York before being allowed to entrain for Minnesota in September 1898. The 3rd Infantry earned the SANTIAGO battle streamer for its role.
On December 10, 1898, negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Paris that ended the War with Spain. In the agreement, Spain ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States, and transferred the Philippines to the US for a payment of $20 million. The transfer of the Philippines brought about expectations from Filipino fighters that the US would instantly create an independent Philippine nation. When the US did not, uprisings would send the Old Guard on its next mission as part of the Philippine Insurrection.