A Brief History  of the 12th New York Volunteer Infantry

By Patrick McSherry

Click Here to read the letters of Corporal John Kiernan of the 12th New York Volunteer Infantry


The 12th New York Volunteer Infantry served stateside during the Spanish American War, but was sent to Cuba after the war as part of the occupation forces for the island.

The History:

The 12th New York Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service on May 13, 1898 at Peekskill, New York. At the time of muster in, the unit consisted of 43 officers and 978 enlisted men. Initially, the unit was first sent to Camp Thomas at Chickamauga, Georgia. Conditions in this camp were terrible. It was overcrowded, unsanitary, and disease-ridden. To stem the losses, the camp was eventually broken up and the troops relocated. The 12th New York became part of the Third Brigade of the Third Division of the Second Army Corps in September, 1898. Eventually, it was sent to Lexington, Kentucky, which is where the unit appears in October, 1898. Santiago had fallen on July 17, and all fighting had ended on August 12, 1898, so the unit did not see action. The war formally ended on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

The unit may have been sent back to Americus, Georgia before being sent to Cuba as part of the occupation force on December 30, 1898. The 12th New York arrived in Cuba on New Year's Day, 1899. It served in Cuba until March 22, when it returned to the United States, arriving on March 26, 1899.

The unit was mustered out of service on April 20, 1899 at New York City. At the time of muster out, it consisted of 46 officers and 945 men. During its term of service, the unit suffered from high losses. Twnety-three enlisted men died of disease, one man died as the result of an accident, and one man committed suicide. Forty-seven additional men were discharged on disability. Ninety-one men deserted!


Clerk of Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899). Vol. 3, 461, 494

Statistical Exhibit of Strength of Volunteer Forces Called into Service During the War with Spain; with Losses from All Causes. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899).

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