Brief Unit History:
The state of Montana honored the sole regiment from that state to take part in the Spanish American War with the this medal. The unit was mustered in at Helena, Montana on May 5-10, 1898, leaving the U.S. for service in the Philippines on July 18, 1898, and arriving in Manila, Philippine Islands on August 24, 1898. While the unit was enroute, both the city of Manila surrendered to the Americans and an armistice was agreed to between the U.S. and Spain effectively ending the fighting. Both events occurred on August 13, 1898. The First Montana remained in the Philippines until August 23, 1899, fighting in the Philippine-American War, which began on February 4, 1899. The unit arrived back in the United States on September 22, 1899, and was mustered out at San Francisco, California on Octiber 17, 1899. During its term of service, the unit lost one officer and 20 men killed in action (in the Philippine American War), one officer and 14 men to disease, one man to a drowning, and 10 men to desertion. An additional 9 officers and 111 men were wounded.
This medal was awarded on October 23, 1899 at Butte, Montana.
The clip from which the medal is suspended reads: “FIRST MONTANA U.S.VOLUNTEERS.
The front has the inscription “FIRST TO RESPOND TO THEIR COUNTRY’S CALL 1898 CAMPANAS DE FILIPINO 1899” and shows Liberty sitting on a throne with the eagle and federal shield at her side as she places laurels on the brow of a returning soldier. The sun is setting across the sea with land and palm trees in the background.
The back has the inscription “FIRST MONTANA U.S. VOLS. SECOND DIVISION EIGHTH ARMY CORPS” and shows The text surrounds the seal of the state on Montana with a miner’s pick and plow in the foreground and the Great Falls on the Missouri River in the background. A ribbon at the bottom with “ORO PLATA”
The medal is very similar to the medal issued by the State of Montana to members of the 3rd U.S. Volunter Cavalry from the state.
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).