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Tidbits from your editor-Jeanie Knudtson

SPANISH AMERICAN WAR PENSIONS--- Did your ancestor serve in the Spanish American War? Can you find his pension record? If not, maybe this is why. My husbands grandfather’s death certificate notes that he served in the Spanish American War but further research found that he did not qualify for a pension. Why???? .

   Guy Burr Knudtson enlisted in the 8th Cavalry stationed at Fort Robinson in 1905. He served in the Philippines from 1905 to 1907. While many veterans did collect a pension up until about 1906, the US Government declared that 1905-1907 was NOT a period of COMBAT and therefore, the men in the 8th Cavalry that served during this period in the Philippines did not qualify for Veteran benefits such as a pension. If it wasn’t a period of combat, then what was it?  

    In 1905, the 8th Cavalry was ordered to the Philippines with the assignment of defending the islands from Philippine guerrilla terrorist activities. In addition, they patrolled supply and communications lines and sources of water on the islands of Luzon and Jolo. .

In 1907, with the completion of their assignment to the Philippine Islands, the Regiment was ordered back to the United States. Headquarters, 1st and 3rd Squadrons took station at Ft. Robinson, Nebraska, Troops "E" and "H" were stationed at D.A. Russell, Wyoming, and Troops "F" and G" were stationed at Ft. Yellowstone, Wyoming. During 1907, 1908, 1909 and 1910 the regiment was split all over Arizona, Nebraska and Wyoming..

The Spanish American War Centennial Website below gives the following information about the period prior to 1906. .

One of the greatest points of confusion for those doing genealogical research concerning the 1898-1906 era is the difference between the Spanish American War, the Philippine American War, and the Philippine Insurrection. Also, there is great confusion as to why an official government document may state "Spanish American War" and you find that your relative's regiment did not exist during the Spanish American War. .

The Basic Differences between the Spanish American War and the Philippine American War: .

The Spanish American War lasted from late April to December 10, 1898 when it ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris between the U.S. and Spain. It only lasted eight months. The Spanish American War was a global war, being fought physically in the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico and Cuba. .

The Filipinos had been trying to gain their independence from Spain since 1896 and apparently due to the language mixup, they thought they would be granted their independence if they fought on the side of the Americans. However, that did not happen and the Philippine American War (also known as the Philippine Insurrection) began on February 4, 1899 (a month and a half after the Spanish American War ended). It was a conflict local to the Philippines, being fought between the U.S. and the Filipinos in the archipelago. Spain was not involved. It was a separate and different conflict from the Spanish American War. The war lasted officially until 1902, though fighting did occur as late as 1906. .

So...Why the Confusion? At the outbreak of the Philippine American War those forces who were present to fight were basically the same forces which had fought in the Spanish American War. Therefore it followed that when they were wounded or killed, pensions were issued from the Spanish American War pension fund. A new fund was never set up so when more troops were sent over, they were also listed under the Spanish American War Pension Fund. Of course, to collect a pension, the paperwork must be filed correctly. The pensions were paid out of the Spanish American War Pension Fund, so the pension records had to read “Spanish American War.” In fact, all related government documents – including gravestones – followed suit. .

It should be noted that the United Spanish War Veterans (U.S.W.V.), a private organization for veterans of the conflict, similar to the modern American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, followed the government’s lead. It accepted veterans who fought in these same conflicts. This served to help swell the ranks, creating a wider base with more income, more political power, etc. Interestingly, the Philippine American War veterans did create their own organization – the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) which still exists today. .

For more information and clues how to tell if a Veteran served in one war or the other go to this website.