2001 USAWS National Event

Jerseyville, Illinois

by Charles Casada




General:

This account of the 2001 Annual USAWS (United Spanish American War Society) event held in Jerseyville, Illinois on August 3-5, 2001. The USAWS is an organization that focusses its historical efforts on commemorating the war's Santiago, Cuba Campaign.  The author is a member of the 9th U. S. Infantry, Company C.

The Event:

The annual gathering of the members of the United Spanish American War Society was held August 3-4-5, 2001 at the Hazel Dell Farm just north of Jerseyville, Illinois. Robert Leinweber of Batallon de Cazadores No. 25 was in charge, with Steve Beaver of the 9th U.S. Infantry, Company C, USA aiding and assisting in making all the arrangements for this event. Units from all over the nation began to arrive as early as Thursday with members getting registered on  Friday.  A sharp military styled camp was created complete with camp colors, a quartermaster tent, and commissary.  The usual amenities were provided for participants in the way of wood, water, straw and latrines.  Friday evening participants enjoyed renewing old friendships and making new ones.

Saturday morning rose bright and early with the company bugler sounding "Reveille" at 6:30 A.M. Authentic Rations for the weekend were issued to the men from replica boxes which held tins complete with replica labels to the men. After breakfast the Troops made preparations for the morning drill.  The weather being very hot and humid, the conditions were, no doubt, similar to the conditions original troops faced in Cuba in 1898.  But in the tradition of the American Soldier, the USAWS members showed they had the mettle to carry on. The number of participants had grown to include about thirty-five members of various U.S. military organizations, eleven Spaniards and four Cubans.
 


The first action of the day was a scenario where US Forces were patrolling a section of jungle in search of the Spanish.  The setting was as close to Cuba or the Philippines as we could get here in the Midwest.  Thick overhead vegetation nearly blocked out the sun.  As soon as the US Troops crossed a small stream the Spanish fired upon them.  The fight seesawed back and forth with a running gun battle ensuing.  Here squad movement was stressed.  The second action of the day was after lunch.  In this scenario the attacking US forces, supported by 2 Gatling Guns, made a all out attack on a well defended Spanish position that consisted of rifle pits, barbed wire, and a strong blockhouse.  The advance on the hill was difficult going for the doughboys; the heat, blazing sun, and thick grass made the going tough, not to mention the high rate of fire the Spaniards were pouring down on the US Troops.  Ultimately the American Forces persevered and carried the day.


As the troops returned to camp several individuals began lying out blankets and displaying all types of wares for sale including books, equipment, clothing, weapons, etc.  This was a high point for many present.  Saturday Evening dinner was prepared and served up in the Spanish Camp.  This excellent meal consisted of Baked Chicken, corn, green beans, potatoes, fresh bread, and lemonade, and iced tea.  What a Feed!  The annual USAWS meeting was then held and the decision was made to have the 2002 event in Southern California.

Sunday morning broke bright and sunny as "Reveille" was sounded again at 6:30 A.M.  Fresh, hot coffee was served up with breakfast.  The morning skirmish would include Cuban Inserectos as the lead element for a patrol to locate Spanish positions.  In the early morning the rapid firing of the Spanish hornets on the Cuban and US Forces quickly broke the stillness.  The “Dons” were not up to the fight and their position was quickly overrun.


Sad was the time for the participants when it came time to begin to return to their homes and the 21st Century.  Good-byes were made as well as plans to attend future events.  It was a grand time indeed.  Many present stated that this was THE most authentic Spanish American War event they have ever attended.

This event was also filmed and copies of the video, entitled Santiago Meets St. Louis will be available for sale in Mid-October 2001. To obtain a copy, send a check or money order for $25.00 to

B&A
P.O. Box 2773
West Lafayette, IN. 47996-2773

(make the check or money order out to B&A)

If you have any questions, please contact Chuck Casada or call (765) 583-1411.


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