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16th PA Inf Uniform grouping (1898 1st Khaki) Battle of Coamo, 'Porto Rico' Campaign

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Salvage Sailor

Aloha Everyone,


The following items all belonged to my Gr. Grandfather, Samuel Alfred Warren, a Private in Co. E, 16th Pennsylvania Infantry during the Spanish American War.


Sam Warren (yes, his initials really are S.A.W.) enlisted in Company E of the 16th PA in 1898, trained at Camp Alger, PA and the old Civil War battlefield at Chickamauga, GA. He shipped out for Porto Rico from Charleston NC on Transport No. 21, landing at Ponce, PR. His battalion was on the night flanking march which enveloped the Spanish defenders at Coamo, the last battle of the war with Spain.


His uniform was kept by my Grandmother (now 100 and still kicking) who told me he would wear this proudly at the U.S.W.V encampments in California.


The uniform is that of a US Army Private, blue infantry branch marking, first Khaki pattern 1898 - Tunic, Trousers, w/buttons & leggings. The leather belt and accoutrements have rotted away long ago, as did his blue US Army issue blanket. (My grandmother told me, "oh, those old things, I threw them away"). On the inside lapel of the tunic in black ink is - S.A.W. Co. E






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Salvage Sailor

The tunic is in good shape, but the blue flashes have faded, which is typical on this type of uniform




Here's a closer look at the interior of the buttons and seam work



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Salvage Sailor

Some of his U.S.W.V. items. Sam moved to California after the war, and mostly lived in the Glendale/La Crescenta area. He was very active in the Veterans organization, as was my Gr. Grandmother.




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Salvage Sailor

Among his remaining effects were U.S.W.V. Items, buttons, photos, a slug, and the original box from PA which had his Veterans ribbons in it. The repeating logos on the box say "keystone quality".




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Salvage Sailor

He was a member of the Glendale & Montrose chapter, U.S.W.V., and the ribbon is for the Los Angeles County Encampment in 1933




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Salvage Sailor

This is a photo of Sam Warren, taken just months prior to his service in the 16th PA, along with a photo of he and his wife in Kaweah CA, circa 1950's.




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Salvage Sailor

He also had a Stereoscopic view of his Regiment in Porto Rico, 1898


The caption reads - Squad Rally! 16th Penna. Volunteers - Porto Rican Army




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Salvage Sailor

Also among his effects were some souveniers.

From Left to Right

His U.S.W.V. ribbon & lapel pin (unfortunately, his numbered Spanish Campaign medal has gone missing for a decade or so, hopefully it will turn up someday in a drawer)

A Spanish Naval & Spanish Artillery tunic button - These are not "Bannermans". After the Battle of Coamo, there was a skirmish up the road at Aibonito where the Spanish had entrenched. As the battle was about to commence, word came that the war had ended. Sam Warren was later detailed to guard some of the prisoners and swapped for the buttons.




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Salvage Sailor

After returning to PA, he stayed in the PA National Guard for a bit, and became a musician in the 16th. There is also one of his PANG buttons.


I don't know the history of the large caliber slug, but it was in a jar with the rest of these items.


The Connecticut National Guard button in the upper right was also in the jar. Don't know where he got this. Perhaps at Chickamauga.


When he passed away his honor guard gave us a 49 star flag as he passed between the admission of Alaska & Hawaii to the Union.




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WOW! What a great historical artifact you have there, and a family member to boot. You don’t see these uniforms very often. Thanks for sharing this great piece of history and its story.




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I definately agree and thanks for sharing this great piece of your family history. You are correct that these first issue Spanish American War khakis are extremely hard to come by, especially in the shape your is in and complete at that. Only thing missing is a nice M889 campaign hat to complete the set. Great preservation!

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That's one fantastic grouping.


I would suggest the big lead slug is either 11mm Spanish (not all Spanish troops used Mausers) or .45-70 US.



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Salvage Sailor
DevilDan1900 said:
I definately agree and thanks for sharing this great piece of your family history. You are correct that these first issue Spanish American War khakis are extremely hard to come by, especially in the shape your is in and complete at that. Only thing missing is a nice M889 campaign hat to complete the set. Great preservation!


Thanks for the comments everyone,


I was looking at the batch that Ray has in his collection & I've been sorely tempted to find a snowflake hat, but the prices are always pretty steep.


Here's another photo of the 16th Pennsylvania in 1898




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Salvage Sailor

Aloha Everyone,


One of the truly overlooked campaigns in American military history is the 'Porto Rico' Campaign conducted by General Nelson Miles in 1898. General Miles, taking complete local initiative, landed his forces where he wanted, when he wanted and quickly routed the enemy forces in 'Porto Rico'.


This was the plan prior to departure


'As previously discussed with President McKinley and Secretary of War Alger, General Miles was to coordinate his personal arrival off Puerto Rico, with a few thousand volunteer troops, mainly the 6th Massachusetts and the 6th Illinois regiments, who accompanied him to Cuba to reinforce Shafter. The 11th and 19th Regular Infantry Regiments jumping off from Tampa, and more volunteers leaving from Charleston, South Carolina, and Newport News, Virginia would all land simultaneously at Cape San Juan, near the Fajardo Lighthouse, with Miles, on the northeastern point of Puerto Rico. From there, over 25,000 American troops would march west for sixty miles overland to capture the fortified city of San Juan with the assistance of the US Navy. This was the plan approved by the President and Secretary, before Miles left Washington for Cuba, on 26 June (Nofi 1996:232)........'



Caption:  Nelson Miles, William R. Shafter, and Joseph Wheeler
(Left to right) Joseph Wheeler, cavalry commander; William R. Shafter, commander of V Corps; and Nelson Miles, commanding general of the U.S. Army, during the siege of Santiago de Cuba, Spanish-American War, July 1898.


The Navy Department wanted him to wait for reinforcements, both Naval and Land drawn from Cuba and the US, but once unencumbered by Washington & the War Department, he conducted the campaign as he saw fit. Miles had seen the effects that poor shipping and coordination had had on the troops in Cuba. This had caused sickness and demoralization amongst the troops. Miles hastily departed Cuba to rendevous with Wilson's corps (including the 1st & 2nd Battalions of the 16th PA) now approaching Porto Rico.


'However, sometime between the 21st and 24th of July, General Miles did something for which he was well known in military circles - he changed his mind about landing at Fajardo.


Without consulting the President or the Secretary of War he ordered Captain Higginson to change course and sail for Guánica on the southwest side of the island, probably based to a large extent on the information supplied by newly promoted Captain Henry F. Whitney fresh from his espionage in Puerto Rico, who was now with Miles' expedition.  Miles determined that a landing on Guánica would have the benefits of surprise and a more welcoming population (Trask 1981:353). '




'Instead of marching upon San Juan by the short route from Cap Fajardo, the General had decided to sweep triumphantly through the island, beginning at the most distant point and spreading his conquering armies throughout its entire area.  The General later advanced a number of reasons for this change of plan.  One was that, since the press had of course announced the original destination to the world, he would probably find it easier to land somewhere else [Millis 1931:336-7].'




'In a serious breach of professional courtesy, Miles did not see fit to inform either of his civilian superiors -- the President of the United States or the Secretary of War Alger -- of the change in landing site.  On July 26th, a dumbfounded Secretary of War Alger learned of the change in the landing site from the Associated Press "that General Miles had suddenly changed his whole plan of campaign while in mid-passage" to Puerto Rico, landing at the small port of Guánica on the southwest coast of the island (Millis 1931:336).


Miles appears to have based his change of landing site on a variety of reasons

  1. The Spanish had prior knowledge of the intended landing at Fajardo from American newspaper articles;
  2. Whitney's spy mission and intelligence from Puerto Rican exile alerted Miles to strong anti-Spanish attitude among the people in the southern part of the island;
  3. A landing far from strong Spanish forces would provide Miles' volunteer forces time to organize and prepare themselves for combat; and
  4. Lighters to transport troops and supplies from the transports were readily available at Guánica (Picó 1987:56). '



Caption:  General Nelson Miles and other soldiers on horseback, Puerto Rico.  Date circa 8 July 1898 (LIC)


Then General Nelson Miles did something that flew in the face of contemporary strategic & tactical doctrine - he divided his small force into four separate colums and sent them headlong after the Spaniards.


One of the main thrusts was that of General Wilson's First Brigade towards Coamo of which I will cover in the next post.

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Salvage Sailor

The 16th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 1898


When Sam Warren and the 16th Pennsylvania Infantry (less the 3rd Battalion) came ashore in Porto Rico, they had only been soldiers for three short months, yet within weeks, they would fight the largest engagement in the Campaign after conducting a night march over the mountains and into the enemy's rear - just after receiving their Krag-Jorgensen rifles the day before! After defeating the Spaniards at Coamo, their Brigade came up to the entrenched positions at Aibonito and were skirmishing when the attack was halted within minutes of execution - The Spaniards had capitulated and the war was over.




The Governor Musters the National Guard


The Sixteenth Regiment, National Guard of Pennsylvania, was composed of eight companies, located in the counties of Erie, McKean, Venango, Elk, Warren and Crawford, as follows:

  • Company "A" at Erie,
  • Company "C" at Bradford,
  • Company "D" at Oil City,
  • Company "E" at Cooperstown, (including Pvt. Sam A. Warren)
  • Company "F" at Franklin,
  • Company "H" at Ridgway,
  • Company "1" at Warren, and
  • Company "K" at Titusville.


Pursuant to the orders of the Governor, the regiment proceeded to Mt. Gretna, Pa., arriving there on the morning of April 28, 1898.


On May 3rd, the regiment was reviewed by the Governor, and immediately thereafter the roll was called and officers and men given an opportunity to enlist.  Every officer and enlisted man present with the regiment responded affirmatively.  Each company was immediately recruited to seventy-five enlisted men, and on May 10th the regiment was mustered into the United States service as the Sixteenth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.


The Campaign in Porto Rico and the Battle of Coamo


On May 12th, this regiment and the Fourth Regiment were directed to proceed to New York City to embark on transports for Key West, Florida.  This order was eventually countermanded.  The regiment remained at Mt. Gretna until May 15th, when under orders from the War Department it proceeded to Chickamauga, Georgia, arriving there May 17th.  It was assigned to the Third Brigade, First Division, First Army Corps. The Brigade was commanded by Colonel W. J. Rulings from May 17th until the departure of the regiment for Porto Rico.  By June 26th, as per orders from the War Department, the several companies had been recruited to one hundred and six enlisted men to each company. 


The Third Battalion is Recruited


On July 2, 1898, in compliance with Special Order No. 43, Headquarters First Army Corps, dated June 30, 1898, Lieutenant Colonel Rickards was directed to proceed to Pennsylvania for the purpose of supervising the recruitment of four additional companies to form the third battalion of the regiment.  The companies were recruited as follows:

  • Company "B" at New Castle, Lawrence county;
  • Company "G" at Kittanning, Armstrong county;
  • Company "L" at Punxsutawney, Jefferson county, and
  • Company "M" at Jeannette, Westmoreland county.


The third battalion did not reach the regiment until October l1th; see history Third Battalion herewith.


The First of the First of the First, Porto Rico Expeditionary Command


On July 4, 1898, the regiment was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, First Army Corps, and made part of the command that was to proceed to Porto Rico.  The regiment left Chickamauga July 5, 1898, for Charleston, South Carolina, arriving there July 7th.  The regiment received marked courtesies and hospitality from the people of the city.




The 16th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry lands in Porto Rico (...but not at Fajardo as ordered by the War Department)


On July 20th, Colonel W. J. Rulings was directed by General Wilson to embark upon transport No. 21, and to proceed under orders not to be opened until at sea. The embarkation of troops and stores occupied the night of July 20th, and the day of July 21st. At eight o'clock P. M., July 21st, the transport weighed anchor, steamed into the bay and laid by until morning of July 22nd, the draught being too great to attempt to cross the bar that night. The transport put to sea on the morning of July 22nd.


The sealed orders directed the regiment to proceed to Fajardo, where it arrived on the morning of July 27th, but finding a fleet in the harbor, Colonel Rulings directed the navigator to proceed along the coast in search of General Wilson, who had left Charleston, S. C., on July 20th, on the U. S. Transport "Obdam"   General Wilson was found at Ponce on the morning of July 28th.  The Sixteenth Regiment disembarked at once and that evening marched through Ponce and bivouacked some two miles beyond the city. 


During the night, Captain Wheelock, of Company "I," and a detail of fifty men were ordered forward to El Coto, which place he entered about daylight, the Spanish rear guard retiring as he approached.  A number of prisoners and a quantity of arms and supplies were captured.




July 30th, the regiment moved from Ponce to El Coto and encamped, thence to Juana Diaz, August. 16th, and on August 4th encamped on the Rio Descalabro, seven miles east of Juana Diaz.  On July 31st, Companies "A" and "I" were sent forward some five miles to Juana Diaz, a town of some 6,000 population.  The next day this detachment was reinforced by Companies "C" and "B."


Captain Burns, of Company "C," assumed command of the battalion.  August 3rd, General Wilson commanding the Division, ordered the regiment to move forward and take possession of the Descalabro bridge, which it was deemed important to possess.  The regiment remained at this point, sending out reconnoitering parties daily until August 8th.




New Rifles and a Night March into the Rear of the Enemy


On August 7th, the Krag-Jorgensen rifles were issued to the command.  On August 8th, General Ernst, commanding the Brigade, informed Colonel Rulings that the Brigade would be up that afternoon for an advance in force, and that the Sixteenth should take the rear of the column.  Colonel Rulings remonstrated against such an assignment and was finally ordered to make a night march and turning movement round the Spanish post at Coamo, seize the military road beyond Coamo and intercept the Spanish retreat, or make an attack in rear, while the Brigade made a front attack against the enemy's position, some two and one-half miles in front of the town.




At five P. M., August 8th, having all baggage and sick men, the camp standing and a guard of fifty men, the two battalions of the 16th regiment proceeded in rear of the Brigade, out the military road for about two miles, where the Brigade went into camp for the night.  The Sixteenth Regiment, turning to the left, took a trail through the broken mountain country.  After marching single file for about five miles, bivouacked for the night.  Lieutenant Colonel Biddle and Captain Gardner, of General Wilson's staff were sent as guides.  On arriving at the top of the mountain overlooking the Coamo river, Lieutenant Colonel Riddle informed Colonel Rulings that the country ahead was new to him and he could no longer guide the regiment.


The regiment moved down the mountain side to the river.  While fording it, the artillery opened fire on the Spanish blockhouse in front of the town, some three and one-half miles to the right and rear.  Two distinct lines of battle were simultaneously engaged.


After much desultory fighting and a stubborn contest of an hour and five minutes, the enemy surrendered.  The enemy's loss was eleven killed, about seventy-one wounded and one hundred and sixty-seven prisoners.  The loss of the 16th PA regiment was six wounded and one killed.



Wisconsin troops waiting to advance on Coamo


On the 12th of August the 16th PA regiment was again ordered to make a flank march against the Spanish stronghold at Aybonita, and, with three days rations and 150 rounds of cartridges, were ready to move, when the Protocol caused orders to be countermanded.  The regiment then formed camp near the battlefield of Coamo, remaining there until October 1st, when orders were received to march to San Juan. 


After the day's march in almost incessant rain, the regiment arrived at Cayey, and after remaining there two days, were ordered to Playa de Ponce, at which point they arrived October 10th and were joined by Lieutenant Colonel Rickards and the Third Battalion, which had reached Porto Rico the 22nd of September, but were held at Ponce until October 11th.


On the 11th of October the regiment sailed for the United States. Arriving in New York on the 17th, Colonel George C. Rickards assumed command of the regiment, Colonel Willis J.. Rulings having been appointed Brigadier General U. S. Volunteers. By order of the Secretary of War, the regiment was furloughed for sixty days and the officers placed on waiting orders, and on December 28, 1898, the regiment was mustered out of the service.


Extracted from Record of Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Spanish-American War, 1898, Thomas J. Stewart, Adjutant General, 1900



Spanish POW's marching under guard in columns, Porto Rico 1898


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Salvage Sailor,


Thanks for posting this. Truly, this kind of complete SAW grouping is a collection centerpiece.


Unfortunately, you are correct, snoflake and star pattern campaign hats are both pricey and scarce. However, they are being reproduced and if you decide to put together a mannequin you can pick one up fairly cheap. Try Allan Crane of AEF SUPPLY He doesn't sell them in his catalog, but I am sure he could tell you where the reenactors get them. Until an original comes along.



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  • 5 months later...
Salvage Sailor



Salvage Sailor said:
When he passed away his honor guard gave us a 49 star flag as he passed between the admission of Alaska & Hawaii to the Union.


Aloha Everyone,


While looking for something else, I came across Sam Warren's burial flag - USA 49 star flag.


This was presented to my Grandmother (now 101 and still kicking! ) by the honor guard at the funeral, Sunland, CA.







The flag is cotton, 5 ft wide by 9.5 ft long







49 star field - seven rows of seven stars




Close up of the 49 star field pattern




It's quite fitting that the flag was made in Pennsylvania as Sam Warren fought in 'Porto Rico' with the 16th Pennsylvania Infantry.




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  • 1 year later...
Salvage Sailor

In April, we held a ceremony for my Grandmother who passed at 101 1/2 years old. We placed her ashes & her husbands beside her parents.


Sam Warren is now at rest with his family


Sam Warren 001.jpg



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  • 5 years later...
Elizabeth Carroll Nalls

Thanks everyone. This is a very interesting exchange - great history lesson and photos. My (maternal) great-grandfather - Guy Harrison Locke - was a member of the Bradford, PA unit (Co. C) of the 16th Pennsylvania. His cousin joined from TItusville (Co. K). Both deployed to "Porto" Rico and were involved in the Coamo battle. Only man in our family to go off to war and actually be "home by Christmas." Bradford has a nice Spanish-American war memorial - one plaque honoring those who died on the Maine - and one for all who fought in the war.

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