Alexander Louden Recalls his Service

with the

1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry

Contributed by Linda Miller; Unit history by Patrick McSherry

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The account below is that of Alexander H. Louden, who served with the 1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. The regiment arrived in the Philippines less than a week before the battle for Manila, and would remain there after the war ended on December 10, 1898. After the Philippine American War broke out on February 4, 1899, the 1st North Dakota took part in that conflict also.

Sgt. Louden of Bathgate, North Dakota was an officer in the State penitentiary and bill clerk in the state senate prior to enlisting.

The account refers to the province of Moron. Moron or Morong province is today within Rizal Province.

Unit History:

The regiment was mustered into the federal service at Fargo, North Dakota between May 13 and 16, 1898. At the time of mustering in, the regiment consisted of twenty-seven offices and 658 enlisted men. The regiment departed Fargo on may 26, bound for San Francisco, California, where it arrived four days later. On June 28, the regiment boarded the transport INDIANA (Co. H only) and VALENCIA (remainder of the regiment) bound for Manila, in the Philippine Islands.

After over a month at sea, stopping briefly at Hawaii, the regiment arrived in the Philippines on July 31, 1898, and was assigned to General Arthur MacArthur's 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division of the 8th Army Corps (interestingly, at that time there was only one division in the corps, and it was the second, not the first). After participating in the attack and capture of Manila on August 13, the First North Dakota performed garrison and outpost duty at Malate. An Armistice was reached with Spain on August 12, the same day Manila fell (since it is on the opposite side of the International date Line) ending the fighting. The regiment was transfered to the Second Brigade, First Division, 8th Army Corps on October 14, 1898. The Spanish American War officially ended on December 10, 1898 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

The Philippine American War broke out on February 4, 1899. After taking part in the actions around Manila on February 4 and 5, the regiment went on to fight in many skirmishes and battles including Paranque, San Pedro Road, Maibay, English Cemetery, Culi Culi, Kings Bluff, San Bartolome/Novaliches, Tabac/San Rafael, Titban, Bustos, San Isidro, San Fernando, Cabiao, Cainta, Taytay,, Angona, and Morong. The regiment was transfered to the First Brigade, First Division, 8th Army Corps on March 17, 1899. The regiment departed the Philippines on the transport U.S.A.T. GRANT (Formerly the MOHAWK) on July 30, 1899, after being in the Philippines for almost exactly one year, arriving in San Francisco on August 29, 1899.

The regiment was mustered out of service on September 25, 1899 at San Francisco. At the time of mustering out, the regiment consisted of thirty-one officers, and 507 enlisted men. The regiment 6 enlisted men killed in action, and one man who later died of his wounds. In addition, nine men died from disease, one man drowned and one man was killed in an accident. One officer was woudned in action as were thirteen enlisted men. Eighteen men were discharged on disability. The regiment suffered no desertions.

Louden's Account:


In April, 1898, when war was declared against Spain he was a member of the Governor’s Guards, Co. A., Bismark.  He resigned his office at the prison and enlisted in the volunteers for two years or for the duration of the war. North Dakota’s quota was two battalions of 670 men. They were moved westward to the Pacific coast where they embarked for the Philippine Islands. The outfit landed in Manila August 7th, after a 37 day voyage across the Pacific. They were taken as near the shore as possible in small boats on account of the shallow bay, and then waded ashore, and camped in a peanut patch six miles from Manila Aug. 11. On Aug. 13, they went into battle against the Spanish. At two o’clock the same afternoon the Spanish flag was pulled down and the Stars and Stripes put up where it has remained until this day,” says Mr. Louden.

He further says, “We surrounded the walled city on the night of August 13 to keep Aguinaldo and his insurgent army out so they would not kill foreigners and the Spanish remaining there.  From then until February 4, we did outpost duty. On February 4, the insurgent army attacked us. From that time until next August we campaigned in nine different provinces after the insurgent army. About half of us had intermittent malaria, dysentery, dolor itch, (a disease of the skin contracted from wading in the tropical jungles). The regiment was in 36 engagements; of this number I was in 23. We had no right to stay for the insurrection, but we volunteered to stay until President McKinley could organize an army to take our place.

During our campaign in the Philippines we never dug in. I was color sergeant, and I will swear that we never retreated one foot in all the battles. There was no rear to go to. We were front, rear, and everything else. In the Province... Moron was the only American town known in the Islands. We took it and never let a Philippino reenter. There was small pox and black plague, (bubonic plague). When the natives died we burned their houses and bodies. No American had bubonic plague, but some Chinamen that we had allowed in the commissary department died from the disease. We burnt their bodies and houses.

Food Is Poor

When we were relieved at Moron there were 27 out of 84 men that did not answer sick call; a good many should have done so, but did not want to take quinine. The doctors finally lined the men up in the company formation, and gave each man his dose off a spoon seeing that each man swallowed it. The food, part of the time, was very poor, especially on the trip over. Fresh water was short, due to inefficiency on the part of the government being poorly prepared for war.  Stories of the embalmed beef were not too highly exaggerated at the time. During the last part of the insurrection and on the journey home the men received the best of treatment. We returned on the transport Grant and received the best accommodations.

Upon our arrival at San Francisco we received a welcome a rousing welcome from both the citizens of California and the U.S. Government. We were mustered out; turned in our accoutrements; returned home on money sent to us by the State of North Dakota. Out of the 670 mustered, less than 100 of the old North Dakota regiment returned. We have a reunion on August 13, every year at Spiritwood Lake near Jamestown, ND. We eat, drink and be merry, and tell more lies than I am telling here. The boys are all good Americans, white headed, and a good many went to France as officers, and I believe are ready to go again if the call comes.”

 Mr. Louden has a numerous collection of Spanish-American, and Philippino war souvenirs and mementos including some of the personal possession of the late William G. Lamb of Hamilton who was Pembina County’s one soldier slain in the Philippino [Filipino] Insurrection. A large monument was erected to his memory in the Hamilton cemetery. His body also rests there.

Congressional Medal

Among Mr. Louden’s special keepsakes are:  Spanish American War Medal, Congressional Medal, known as the McKinley Medal, given for Loyalty, Fortitude and Patriotism.

Mr. Louden has a wonderful record as a rifle marksman. In the army rifle matches he shot down all regiments, regular and volunteer, at the presidio, near San Francisco, Calif. He was requested to join the National Rifle association, which he did and has competed with all teams at the association from Bangor, ME, to Pasedena, Calif. He says, “Our team, known as the Dickinson, N.Dak., team took second place. Individually, I was beaten once.”

Among other experiences of Mr. Louden were those of visiting the Hawaiian Islands on the voyage to and from the Philippines, where they were royally entertained. He also had the opportunity to visit a number of the leading cities in Japan where his outfit received excellent treatment. During his time in the Philippines he had the pleasure to be in the presence of Admiral George Dewey the hero of Manila bay He also has seen and been near the famous Philippino leader, Emilio Anginaldo, who immediately following the Spanish-American war led the Philippinoes against the American forces in the Islands, only to be finally defeated.

When one hears or reads of the experiences and adventures that some of our fellow citizens have during one short life time we sometimes wonder how they can lead the simple life again and seemingly enjoy it as our old friend Mr. Louden seems to be doing. May the coming years be full of peace and happiness for him and his family."


Louden Account source:

Cavalier Chronicle, Friday, November 30, 1934.

Unit history sources:

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) 609.

Spokesfield, The History of Wells Co., North Dakota and its Pioneers. (info. concerning the 1st North Dakota, contributed by Carolyn Upchurch).

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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