The "Sheridan's Troop" of Pennsylvania Cavalry served in Puerto
Rico in August of 1898.
The Sheridan Troop, named in honor of General Philip H. Sheridan, who was a cavalry commander of Civil War fame, was formed July 15, 1871 at Tyrone, Pennsylvania. In their early years all types of horses were used, from untrained broncos to Clydesdales. The men supplied most of their own uniforms, and their pay was slow in coming. Years of patient work improved the mounts and training of the men, and in 1898 they were obligated to enter the Spanish American War.
The troops’ send-off from Tyrone on April 27, 1898, had all the patriotic fervor that had gripped the entire nation. It is estimated that 8,000 people turned out to bid farewell to the Troop as it paraded from their armory to the train station. A local newspaper correspondent recorded that the “troop’s departure from the armory was heralded by the blowing of every whistle and ringing of every bell in town for the space of 20 minutes.” The Tyrone Band and Drum Corps performed, and a chorus of 960 school children serenaded the troops with the song “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” In addition, a cannon was fired along the Juniata River. Before leaving each trooper was given a New Testament Bible from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
The Sheridan Troop was the second unit to arrive at Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania, in April, 1898. On May 11, sixty officers and men took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and enlisted in the Army for a two years’ service or for the duration of the war. One month later the troop was recruited to a war footing of 100 men and three commissioned officers. Of the 40 men needed to raise the command to its war footing, 200 men came from Tyrone and surrounding areas to enlist.
The troop left Mt. Gretna and moved to Camp Alger, Virginia on July 7 and then to Newport News, Virginia, on July 23. On August 5 They embarked on the transport Manitoba bound for Puerto Rico.
Early on the morning of August 10, 1898, on approaching the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, the Manitoba ran aground on a sandbar approximately two miles off-shore. All of the men and animals were transferred to other boats to be brought ashore. By August 11 everyone was on shore where they set up a temporary camp on the cathedral grounds at Ponce. On August 12 Spain signed an armistice, ending the war. Horses made it to shore by August 13, but by August 18 all the supplies were still not unloaded. On August 20 the troop moved about two miles northeast to another camp. The troop was glad to leave the hot, uncomfortable conditions of Ponce. On August 28 the troop learned that they would be going home.
They left Ponce on September 3 aboard the transport ship Mississippi along with the Governor’s Troop, Battery A, the First City Troop, and New York Cavalry A and C. Also on board with the troops was a young Puerto Rican boy of 12 that Ernest Addleman of the Sheridan Troop had befriended and decided to adopt. The horses were left behind to come on a later ship.
The Mississippi arrived
at Jersey City, New Jersey at 12:00 Noon on September 10. From there
the Pennsylvania units traveled by train to Harrisburg. They reached
Harrisburg by 11:00 P.M. where the Sheridan Troop joined the Governor’s
Troop in a midnight welcome-home parade. Sheridan Troop left
Harrisburg at 3:00 A.M. and arrived in Tyrone around 8:00 A.M. where they
received a heroes’ welcome. Approximately four to five thousand people
greeted them at the station. After they enjoyed a breakfast at their
armory, the troopers went home to await their discharge from service in
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Sauers, Richard A., Pennsylvania in the Spanish-American War. (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee, 1998) 39 (image of guidon).