The Spanish American War’s Second Nebraska

A few months ago, I blogged about a Spanish American War uniform.   I thought you might enjoy seeing a few other Spanish American War objects associated with the Second Nebraska. 

In 1938, a group of Norfolk, Nebraska ,veterans that had served with the Second Nebraska’s Company L donated a collection of objects to the Nebraska State Historical Society.   

Company L was organized in Norfolk, Nebraska, on January 18, 1894. It was mustered into federal service in Lincoln on May 10, 1898 and was sent to Camp George H. Thomas at Chickamauga Park in Georgia.   The Company was led by Captain Frank H. Beels, First Lieutenant John M. McClary, and Second Lieutenant Alfred N. Gerecke. While at Camp Thomas, waiting to be called for foreign service, they practiced drill and guard mounts and had a lot of free time.  They were plagued by mosquitoes, contaminated water, and rotten food.  Typhoid fever was prevalent. After pleas to enter active duty or be mustered out, the Second Nebraska received orders to return to Lincoln, Nebraska at the end of August. 

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1895 pattern officer's sack coat worn by Captian Beels; 6002-1

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Notice the Second Nebraska insignia on the collar

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Sargeant's coat; 6022-2

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Notice the Nebraska State Seal on the buttons.

One can imagine that these dark wool uniforms would not have been comfortable to wear during the summer in Georgia, nor would they have been comfortable for soldiers who were sent to Cuba and the Philippines.   Thus, cotton uniforms were also issued during the War. They were modeled after the uniforms the British Army used in the 1880s.  There were only limited quantities of these khaki uniforms during the early part of the war and few troops received them before heading for combat.

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7136-345 United Spanish American War Veterans Collection

This cotton khaki jacket was part of the ”field service uniform” that was introduced in May of 1898.  Early patterns had the standing collar, cuffs, and shoulder loops trimmed in branch colors. Sometimes the pocket flaps were also colored.  Dark blue was typically for generals and staff corps.  The addition of branch colors to the uniform caused supply problems, because the colors in addition to different sizes needed to be considered when ordering.  The colors also could be used as a target in combat situations.  Thus, by August of 1898, there were new regulations and the branch colors were removed, although they sometimes appeared on the shoulder loops.  This khaki jacket is one of the early styles, and was worn by Captain Beels.

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Model 1881 enlisted man's helmet; 6022-17

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Socket bayonet; 6022-4-(1)

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Springfield Model 1873 Rifle; 6022-14

Although the Krag-Jorgensen rifle was predominately used by the regular Army troops during the War, the supply was limited at the beginning. Most National Guard units did not receive many Krag-Jorsensens until mid 1899, and many used black powder Springfield rifles.  This Springfield Model 1873 is a percussion rifle.

The Nebraska State Historical Society has many collections and resources related to Nebraska and the Spanish American War.  Post a comment or Contact us for more information.

Laura Mooney, Museum Registrar

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