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US Spanish-American War Enlisted Uniform


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Here is a great example of the US Infantryman in the Spanish-American war. This particular uniform grouping belonged to Corporal Alva Martin, of Kokomo, Indiana, Company "L", 158th Indiana Infantry. One of 125,000 soldiers called up during the short lived conflict he was called up to bolster the National Guard of the United States, however he never got overseas to see action as the war ended by the time he and his fellow soldiers were equipped and trained. 

The Spanish-American War started in April of 1898 and was over by July of 1898, officially it was over with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in December of 1898. The United States emerged as a World Power as Spain's Empire was fading. 

This uniform consists of the dark blue 5 button tunic, the sleeve linings are unbleached muslin with a gray flannel lining meeting the 1883 regulations. However those regulations called for two horizontal pockets. This coat only has one interior pocket conforming to the newer 1887 pattern. This combination of style indicates it was probably made somewhere between 1883 and 1887. On the sleeves are white (for infantry) chevrons indicating the rank of Corporal. 

The Model 1885 Trousers are made from a medium blue wool. As a mark of rank, the trousers had a wool stripe sewn on. The stripe's width was determined by rank or duty: all "Big Three" officers had a 1.5" wide stripe, while other officers had none; Sergeants 1.0" wide; Corporals 0.5" wide; and Musicians had two 0.5" wide stripe spaced 0.5" apart. For the "Big Three" branches, the color of the stripes were white for Infantry, red for Artillery and yellow for Cavalry. For other enlisted troops, the stripe's color varied depending on the assigned branch, and was often piped in a contrasting color, i.e. engineering troops had stripes of scarlet piped in white, et cetera. This one has the Corporals stripe down the trousers. 

The canteen is the US Model 1858 (already listed in the forum). The haversack is the M1878 type made of canvas material, which held the soldiers rations and eating utensils. In this pack, the following were found; M1878 condiment bags (x3), M1874 Utensil Scabbards, one for the knife and one for the fork (both were cast iron), the spoon (very thin tin plated steel) did not have one. The pack also had the mess kit, which was the M1874 type 3 meat can which was made in the 1880's. 

The ammo belt is the M1881 Mills woven blue canvas, 50 round belt holding the .45/70 cartridges, which were black powder type. Attached to the belt is the M1973/M1884 Bayonet and Scabbard for use with the M1884 Springfield Trapdoor Rifle (pictured with Uniform). This rifle was of .45/70 caliber, and used a hinged breech lock to load cartridges. This was the last black powder rifle to used by the United States. This weapon was used by US forces during operations in the Spanish-American war, although the Krag-Jorgensen was (smokeless powder) was available, the M1884 was used heavily by Guard troops versus regular Army units. 

On the back of the mannequin is the M1878 Blanket Bag, which had a quick disconnect at the bottom of the leather suspenders, allowing the pack to be dropped quickly. On the top is a standard issue Army wool blanket with leather tie down straps. On the bottom of the bag is a short canvas loop which held a tin plated drinking cup. 


















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