The History of the 12th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry

Contributed by Gina Gage

For a roster of the 12th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, Click here!
To read the Commemorative Address of Col Bobleter, Click here!

General:

The following is the history of the 12th Minnesota as recounted in a pamphlet produced by the unit. The 12th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry served its term of service within the continental U.S.

The History:

On April 23rd, President McKinley issued a call for 125,000 volunteer. Under the quotes established, Minnesota was assigned to raise three infantry regiments.

"Under date of April 28th, Governor Clough, through Adjutant-General Muehlberg, ordered the First, Second, and Third Regiments of Infantry, Minn. National Guard to report at St. Paul, Friday morning, April 29th, 1898, and at 11:00 a.m. the troops marched to Camp Ramsey at the State Fair Grounds..."

"While awaiting the arrival of the mustering officers, the Regiment proceeded at once to perfect itself in the arduous duties of an Infantry Regiment in a big War.

On May 14th, in deference to the wishes of the Civil War Veterans, the regiments were renumbered in continuation of those of the Civil War. By reason of the priority date of Commission of Colonel Joseph Bobleter, the Second Regiment National Guard became the Twelfth Minnesota Volunteers; the First, Thirteenth, and the Third, the Fourteenth. The examinations and mustering of the 12th was completed on May the 6th, and Minnesota achieved the distinction of being the first State in the Union to have its full quota of regiments under the first call mustered with the volunteer army.

There was some uncertainty as to the destination of the regiments, finally resulting in the 12th and 14th being sent to Camp George H. Thomas, Chicamauga, National Park, Georgia, and the 13th to the Philippines by way of San Francisco. On May 16th all three regiments entrained for their respective destinations--the 12th arriving at theirs on the evening of the 19th of May.

The site of the camp, supposed to be eminently fitted for the purpose, proved exactly the opposite, owing to the character of the soil, a heavy clay, and also the poor water supply. Quartermaster John Lind was very active in obtaining equipment; the Regiment was actively engaged in drill under Lieutenant Colonel Frank B. McCoy, Colonel Bobleter having been detailed as provisional commander of the First Brigade, and later of the Third Division First Army Corps.

Surgeon Major Clark and assistant Surgeon Caine, were detailed to the Third Division Hospital, the former Surgeon-in-charge. Lieutenant Harry L. Bullis, Battalion Adjutant, was detailed to Corps Headquarters as A.D.C.

The Regiment was highly commended for its soldierly appearance and efficiency by General John A. Brooks, commanding the camp.

Owing to conditions before mentioned, combined with unsuitable food for the climate, and infected by cases brought with the troops, an epidemic of typhoid fever broke out, many thousands in the camp were stricken with it. The 12th lost nineteen men, chiefly by this disease and one by  accident.

Owing to unpreparedness of the country, --antiquated equipment-insufficient and unwholesome food and water in fever infested climates, under the strictest War Army discipline, the fortitude and military conduct of the 12th was most highly commendable; to the state which it represented, to the nation at large and to its own personal (sic).

The men of  the Spanish War were of the highest type of citizens of the nation, both mentally and physically, for, bear it in mind, these men were picked in proportion of about one in twenty answering the call.

Highly rated at the War Department, by all Foreign Military Attachés, we, members of the 12th Minnesota Infantry Volunteers can truthfully say: "We obeyed orders."

On August 23rd, the Twelfth was removed to Camp Hamilton, five miles north of Lexington, Kentucky, to a more sanitary and healthy location, where the health of the men rapidly improved. On September 10th, the sick were returned to Minnesota on a hospital train, and on the 15th, the Regiment entrained for New Ulm, Minnesota, where, after a thirty day regimental furlough, the Twelfth Minnesota Volunteers were mustered out on November 5th, 1898."

The unit consisted of 982 enlisted men and 50 officers initially, but was expanded to include a total of 1286 enlisted men and 55 officers. The 12th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry spent its term of service within the continental U.S. During its term of service, it lost one officer and 18 enlisted men through death from disease, one enlisted man to suicide, and 5 enlisted men to desertion. The unit was mustered out on November 5, 1898 at New Ulm, Minnesota.

A Reunion medal for members of the 12th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, Co. G


Bibliography:

Gustafson, Richard - Image of the 12th Minnesota, Co. G reunion medal.

Pamphlet entitled  "Roster, Veteran's Association, 12th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry 1898-1929." (editted by President and Secretary of the Veteran's Association of the 12th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, 1929). (Quoted above).

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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