1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry

Obituary contributed by Curt Pendergraft; Regimental History by Patrick McSherry

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The First Nebraska Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service on May 9 and 10, 1898 at Lincoln, Nebraska. At the time of muster-in, the unit consisted of fifty-one officers and 983 enlisted men. On May 16, the regiment left Lincoln for San Francisco, where it arrived three days later. The 1st Nebraska was assigned to the Third Independent Brigade or the Philippine Expeditionary Force

On June 15, parts of the regiment steamed for the Philippines in fragments in the Philippines, aboard  the transports ARIZONA, PENNSYLVANIA, MORGAN CITY and SENATOR. where it offically arrived on July 17. Here the regiment was assigned to the Second Independent Brigade of the 8th Army Corps. The Frist Nebraska Volunteer Infantry took its place in the trenches at Malate, and took part in the attack on Manila that resulted in its surrender on August 13, 1898. By coincidence, an armistice was reache with Spain on the same day, ending the fighting. On October 14m the regiment was reassigned to the First Brigade, Second Division of the 8th Corps, being transferred to the Second Brigade on December 11, the day after the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally ending the war.

The regiment remained in the vicinity of Manila and participated in the defense of the city when the Philippine American War began on February 4, 1899. The First Nebraska captured the Manila pumping station on February 6, and between that date and May 4 went on to be involved in engagements at Mariquina, San Francisco, Polo and Meycauayan, Marilao, Santa Maria and Bigaa, Guiguinto, Malolos, Quingua and Pulilan, Bagbag River, Calumpit, and Santo Tomas. From May 21 to June 22, the regiment was in the barrackes at Malate and the trenches San Pedro Macati.

On July 1, 1899, the First Nebraska left the Philippines for the United States aboard the transport HANCOCK (formerly the transports ARIZONA), arriving on July 29, 1899. The unit  was mustered out of service on August 23, 1899 at San Francisco, California. At the time of muster out, the unit consisted of forty-five officers and 842 enlisted men.

During its term of service, the 1st Nebraska lost two officers killed in battle with another officer dying from wounds received in battle. Ten other officers were wounded in battle. In addition nineteen enlisted men were killed in battle with thirteen additional men succumbing to wounds received in battle, and 153 others wounded. Twenty-eight enlisted men died of disease, one man drowned and two men deserted. In total, eleven officers and 166 enlisted men were wounded in battle.

A Photo:

W. S. Orr and friend of the 1st Nebraska, taken in San Francisco

This image is of W. S. Orr (on left), who was killed in the Philippines during the Philippine American War.

Below is his obituary. It is typical of that which would have been found in any American Hometown newspaper of the times.

"W. S. Orr's Body Brought Home

The government officials are sending all the bodies of the heroes who fell on the Manila battlefield to their respective homes, and the remains of W. S. Orr, the Only Clarke county boy who gave his life for his country in the Spanish and Philippine wars, arrived inOsceola Monday at 10:45 a. m. It was taken to Mr. Bailey's undertaking room,but afterwards to the home of his mother, Mrs. Catherine Orr, in South Osceola. The funeral services were held in the M. E. church Thursday at 20 o'clock. The G. A. R. and Knights of Pythias orders attended in a body. Rev. McCorkle, of the M. P. church, delivered a brief eulogy upon the deceased, recounting his exemplary life as a son,brother, citizen and hero. The interment took place in Maple Hill cemetery under auspicesof the Knights of Pythias, of which order the deceased was a member.

A few brief facts may be again given concerning Mr. Orr. He was a member of the 1st Nebraska, enlisting in Omaha, in June, 1898, after having worked on the exposition buildings a while as a carpenter. Nearly all know the severe service seen by this regiment. Mr. Orr wrote several letters to The Sentinel, describing his experiences, in the languageof a student and scholar. They revealed the spirit of a zealous and sincere patriot, not afraid to do his duty. His company, A, was in all the active battles from the precipitation of the war, February 4, 1899, until his death, near Manila, March 30, 1899. In that time hisregiment was on the firing line nearly all the time and saw much hardship. It was during the attack on Aguinaldo's capital, Malolos, and while within a mile or so of it, that he fell, pierced in the chest with a bullet. His company had advanced to the firing line at 11 a. m. The fatal bullet found its mark at an advance in the face of a severe fire three hours afterward. Mr. Orr met a hero's death unflinchingly. He did his duty bravely and well and holds a high place in the hearts of all who knew him. His father was a veteran in the civil war and received wounds from which he died some years ago, so the family maywell be proud of its heroes who have so faithfully served their country. The aged mother,Mrs. Catherine Orr, lives in Osceola. Five sisters and two brothers also survive the deceased."


The obituary newspaper clipping above was apparently from the Osceola, Iowa newspaper, but the article unfortanately did not include the newspaper's name or date.

The regiment's history is from the following:

Correspondence relating to the War with Spain And Conditions Growing Out of the Same Including the Insurrection in the Philippine Island and the China Relief Expedition. Vol. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902) , 603.

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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