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United Spanish War Veterans Membership Badges


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Hello, All,

 

Below are photos of my two United Spanish War Veterans (U.S.W.V.) membership badges. The first (smaller) one is identified as a Type 1 from "American Society Medals" by Bishop and Elliot. However, the one pictured in their book has a blank cross bar, whereas the one depicted has the letters "UNI" and "TED" on the crossbar. It is a subtle, but significant variation if you ask me. So, I would propose that this be considered either a Type "1a", or a Type 2 and renumber the rest.

 

The second (larger) is a Type 3 as identified by B&E (or Type 4 in my new scheme).

 

Kevin

 

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  • 1 year later...

Although I have posted these medals (badges) in the Uniforms Forum with a grouping that belonged to a "double" Span-Am War veteran (Span-Am War Veteran, S.C. Sessions, Grouping), I thought that I would post them here also. Here's hoping that they might generate some additional discussion.

 

I am very interested in any information that other members might be able to offer up on the significance of the various details, etc of these badges and the USWV.

 

All of these medals (badges) belonged to Samuel Claude (S.C.) Sessions of Columbia, SC. He was a member of Company B. 2nd SC Volunteer Infantry Regiment from 1898 to 1899 and served with the US Army's Cuban Occupation Forces. In 1901 he enlisted in the US Navy and served until 1905. The earlier part of this service period, The Phillipine Insurrection, was included as an extension of the original Spanish-American War for purposes of pensions and credit for military service. It was also included in the period of authorized service for membership in the United Spanish War Veterans organization.

 

Sam was very active in the membership of the USWV until his death in the early '60s. He was a member of the David Dubose Gaillard Camp #4, Columbia, SC. During the mid-50s, he was the camp's commander (adjutant?), and during the late 50s he was the Department of South Carolina's commander. I also believe that his service included periods as the Graves Registration Officer for both the camp and department (although at different times). However, I have not been able to document this position with anything in writing.

 

The first medal (badge) that I'd like to share is a Department Commander's badge. The department commander's rank is shown on the hanger. This one is a bit unusual. Instead of having the normal US Flag ribbon with red edges, it has a ribbon in the colors of the Spanish flag hand-sewn in its place. I had originally thought that this was just a personal affectation of Sam's, perhaps being a bit of an original flag captured in Cuba. However, after careful inspection, both long edges have been hemmed (although the gold edge has been turned under) which suggest that the ribbon was manufactured as a ribbon.

 

This might be more puzzeling, but in 1958, the 50th annaversery of the Span-Am War, the USWV appearently had made a series of special, suvenir badges for encampments. Since 1958 was one of the years when Sam served as the Department Commander, I now believe that he just replaced his normal US Flag ribbon with one of these comemerative badge ribbons.

 

Mike

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"Hope is not a course of action." Sean P. Kelly, SSG, 1st US Ranger Battalion

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The next medal (badge) was Sam's when he was the commander (adjutant) of the DD Gaillard Camp #4. The titles commander and adjutant seem to have been used interchangably in correspondence to and from him. However, as I said in my first post above, I would like to have more information on this subject and welcome any corrections for this interpretation.

 

I believe that the light blue edges on the sides of the ribbon indicate "Camp" level organization vice "Department" (red) or National (gold). Again, this may be incorrect, and I solicit any corrections.

 

The commander's rank insignia forms the hanger for this device.

 

Mike

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"Hope is not a course of action." Sean P. Kelly, SSG, 1st US Ranger Battalion

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This medal (badge) was Sam's when he served as the Graves Registration Officer for the Department of South Carolina after his service as the Department's Commander.

 

The red edged ribbon indicates department level duty, the Maj. Gen. rank insignia on the ribbon indicates former command, and the black wreath around the membership badge indicates duty as the Graves Registration Officer.

 

Some details that I'm not clear on are:

 

The gold color of the hanger and badge center- What is the significance of this change in color from bronze?

 

Also, in the four corners of the membership cross, between the cross and the wreath, are small Adjutant General's Corps shields with a single star in the center of each.- What is the significance of these?

 

Mike

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"Hope is not a course of action." Sean P. Kelly, SSG, 1st US Ranger Battalion

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This final medal (badge) was Sam's when he served as the DD Gaillard Camp #4 Graves Registration Officer after a period of duty as its commander.

 

My interpretation of the badge is:

 

The light blue edges on the ribbon indicate camp level service. The Colonel's rank insignia on the ribbon indicates former leadership position. And the black wreath indicates duty as the Graves Registration Officer. Again, I welcome any corrections for this interpretation.

 

Also, unanswered questions are:

 

What is the significance of the all bronze color of the badge and devices? (Compare to the gold colored parts on the previous post.)

 

Why does this badge have small Engineer Corps Castles in the four corners of the membership badge cross between the cross and the wreath?

 

Mike

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Finally, here's a picture showing all of the above medals (badges) displayed side by side so that you can get an appreciation of the sizes and other detail differences.

 

As I said earlier, there is much about this subject that I don't know, and my efforts to research these badges and the USWV in general has been hampered by a lack of readily available references.

 

In addtion to the questions I listed in the posts above, for example, does anyone know what all the various symbols on the obverse of the medals are? Some I recognize ( Engineer Corps, Calvery, Signal Corps, even the Navy's Machinist), but many of the others are unknown.

 

Also, why are the badges different sizes? Why are they colored differently? Were they just changed whenever a new batch was contracted according to whim, or was there a deliberate effort to ensure that various branches and corps receieved equal representation?

 

Finally, Kevin, I'm sorry, but I still don't know if Sam was a member of the Order of the Serpent. If, as some have speculated, the origin of the serpent symbol was VMI, then my guess is that a lowly enlisted swine (a private in the SC State Militia and a Yeoman in the Navy) might not have qualified to learn the secret handshake...

 

Mike

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SGM (Ret.)

 

You have some excellent, and difficult to find, USWV badges. The SUVW copied the format of the GAR with their badges. They used the flag ribbon on general membership badges; and added Blue, Red and Gold (or yellow) edges for Camp, Department and National officers. They also adopted the practice of a top bar rank strap for presiding officers and a badge with the rank strap centered on the ribbon for past officers. This is exactly what your four badges represent. The first two are presiding Dept. Commander and presiding Camp Commander. Cannot explain the ribbon on the Dept. Commander's badge. Think you are correct in assuming it is a replacement choice by the veteran. Your next two badges are Past Dept. Commander and Past Camp Commander (also know to the members as "jewels"). The Past Dept. Commander's badge does not have a black wreath; it is tarnished silver. These are often marked "sterling" on the back. The remaining portions of the badge are either gold plate or 10k-14k gold; hence, the difference in appearance.

 

The original SAWV membership badge was quite large. Perhaps the membership grew tired of the large size and weight of this badge so smaller badges were made. Do not know when this size change took place. There is even a mini-version of the general membership badge.

 

The best single source of information on the USWV and their badges is the book The History of the United Spanish War Veterans Through National Encampment Memorabilia by George G. Kane. George occasionally contributes to the Forum and can be found on line via Google.

 

The symbols on the badges are Corps Insignia adopted during the Civil War and used up to the First World War when shoulder patches were created to identify military units.

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SGM (Ret.)

 

You have some excellent, and difficult to find, USWV badges. ....

 

The best single source of information on the USWV and their badges is the book The History of the United Spanish War Veterans Through National Encampment Memorabilia by George G. Kane. George occasionally contributes to the Forum and can be found on line via Google.

 

Hi frederick:

 

Thanks for the kind words and answers to some of my questions.

 

I have tried to track down contact information for Mr. Kane to see if I could purchase the title that you mention. Unfortunately, the e-mail address for the George G. Kane that I found using Goggle returns as "un-deliverable," and the message sent to the address that Keven Beyer PM'ed me hasn't generated a response.

 

I'm still hopful that I can get in touch with Mr. Kane in the future, though.

 

(If any member reading this has a copy of the book that federick mentioned above, and is willing to sell it, please get in touch with me.)

 

Thanks,

Mike

"Hope is not a course of action." Sean P. Kelly, SSG, 1st US Ranger Battalion

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Mike,

 

Have some photos of USWV badges from their book. They illustrate the three Past Commanders Jewels and a typical present officer badge. Have also added the miniature badge and the Dept. Grave Registration officer bar. Hope these help.

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Hi frederick,

 

Thanks for posting the illustrations. I also received some information from hhbooker (aka "Sarge Booker") that answered the question that I had about the symbols in the corners of the cross arms on the "past commander's jewels." (These badges were refered to as "jewels," as you correctly pointed out in your earlier post.)

 

According to this information, for past camp commanders, the symbols in the cross arm corners were "Spanish-style castles." For past department commanders, the symbols were "shields with a star," and for past national commanders, the symbol were "eagles."

 

Although difficult to see because they're so small, the illustrations you posted show these different levels of past command symbols.

 

The laural wreath surrounding the membership cross on these past command "jewels" simply signified past command. It seems a bit redundent given the rank insignia also displayed on the ribbon, but there it is.

 

My assumption based on the badges that SC Sessions served as the Graves Registration Officer for the department and camp were incorrect. However, based on the correspondence and other paperwork that I received with the grouping, I still believe that he performed these duties while he was also the commander at each level. It may be that, as is the case in many civic and volunteer organizaitons, the guy at the top has to perform several duties that should otherwise be done by others simply because nobody else wants (or is available) to do them.

 

Thanks again for the additional info,

Mike

"Hope is not a course of action." Sean P. Kelly, SSG, 1st US Ranger Battalion

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  • 4 years later...

I understand this is an older thread but, thought by adding here I would reach my targeted audience better and add more to the topic than I would by starting a new thread.

 

On the Camp level medals, I am used to seeing certain rank straps but, what does a "flag" represent? Or, is this a case of someone replacing an attachment with something unofficial?

 

Tim

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According to his article, Observations on United Spanish War Veterans' Medals, in the Nov-Dec 2003 issue of the Journal of the Orders and Medals Society of America, Barry C. Weaver identifies this as being the Camp Patriotic Instructor's badge, having a flag centered on a black background with the ribbon having an American flag surrounded by blue stripes.

 

If you ever wanted to know more about the USWV badges and their variations, this issue is a great resource. It can be purchased from OMSA for a few dollars.

 

Kevin

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Hi Kevin,

 

Hey, many thanks for that! I am just touching the SpanAm area and though I have a few items already, I am approaching the area slowly. Let me look for that reference.

 

Thanks again,

 

Tim

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  • 3 weeks later...

Trying to spark some current interest. Here's some of mine:

 

1898-1902 SpanAm War Veterans Medal - Type 3 - 1902, in it's matching numbered box of issue.

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Here's my Spanish American War Veterans Medal - Past Post Commander Camp Level (full size). The light blue is somewhat faded but it's a really light blue.

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A bit different level from the rest posted but, still a membership medal.

 

Auxilary United Spanish War Veterans Medal - Whitehead & Hoag

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  • 3 months later...

Thought I would add a couple more items to the thread.

 

Here's a Type 1 SpanAm War Veterans Medal. This example is without the word UNITED on the suspension bar, which is the first type, prior to the various veterans organiztions consolidating. Ribbon's a bit fragile but still hanging on.

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Gotta love the workmanship and designs that went into medals back in the day!

 

Notice the bar without the word UNITED on both sides of the shield.

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Here's one that I'm not familiar with and I was curious if anyone could identify the hallmark above the letter G?

 

Tim

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Gotta love the workmanship and designs that went into medals back in the day!

 

Notice the bar without the word UNITED on both sides of the shield.

Hi Kevin, SGM and Tim. That is a nice collection of USWV badges you all have. I have a few that I have managed to hang on to from over the years and one of them is like the type 1 without the UNITED on the bar. Years ago I bought a display board/case of different kinds of Post membership badges/medals; there must have been 20 of them but alas, I have sold them all. Can't keep everything you know! Regards, keith

Check out my website of Military Relics and Collectibles: http://www.ourboysof98.com
I try to update it by adding several new items each month, so keep checking back.

Thanks,
keith

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It is my opinion that the version depicted in Post #19 by Tim B is the earliest version of the membership badge. Does it predate the merging of the various veterans organizations of Spanish American War veterans? I don't know. I think it would have to have come before the ones with the letters "UNI TED" on the suspension bar.

 

The photos you have posted are excellent.

 

Thank you for sharing them.

 

Kevin

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I have always wondered if the flag on my type 1 was installed backwards, meaning the field is on the left and all the other later ones I have the field is on the right. After viewing the photos in this thread I see other type 1's with the flag field on the left also. Must be correct.

Check out my website of Military Relics and Collectibles: http://www.ourboysof98.com
I try to update it by adding several new items each month, so keep checking back.

Thanks,
keith

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Kevin,

 

I'll try to find the reference that I read. I remember reading something about the differences where it was added to the front. It's possible that I mis-read the article, considering all the medals have "United" on the reverse.

 

If I find something, I'll try to post it or link it here. Thank you for the nice comments on the photos.

 

Tim

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  • 11 months later...

Thought I would bump this thread back up to generate any current interest.

 

Here's another Type 1 example with the word UNITED on the front suspension bar. This one is carries the H.E. Smith hallmark.

 

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A friendly reminder that my images and material posted here are not to be considered "fair use" or "public domain". If you want to legally use my material outside this forum, for any purpose, my express written permission is requested and required beforehand.

 

Thank you.

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