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A Brief History of the 3rd United States Volunteer Infantry

By Patrick McSherry

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Click here to read a letter written by Charles Reynolds of the 3rd U.S. Volunteer Infantry, Co. H

The 3rd United States Volunteer Infantry served as part of the occupation force in Cuba

The History:

The 3rd U.S. Volunteer Infantry was formed between June 11 and July 9, 1898 and was mustered into service at Macon, Georgia. The regiment was raised as an “immune regiment” in that it men were from the south or survived various illnesses and this was mistakenly thought to make them immune to tropical diseases. The troops who were serving in Cuba had suffered greatly from tropical diseases, and the immune regiments were raised to be sent to replace the other regiments. Also, as the name implies, this was a national volunteer regiment raised for service in the war, and was not part of the standing army (in other words, not to be confused with the 3rd U.S. Infantry).

At the time of muster-in, the regiment consisted of forty-three officers and 984 enlisted men.

The regiment left the U.S. for Cuba on August 13, 1898, ironically the day following the declaration of an armistice between the U.S. and Spain, ending the war’s fighting. The regiment arrived in Cuba on August 17.  While the regiment was in Cuba, the Spanish American War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. The regiment served in Cuba until March 30, 1899 when it steamed for the U.S., arriving on April 2.

The regiment was mustered out of service on May 2, 1899 at Macon, Georgia. At the time of muster out, the regiment had shrunk to forty-six officers and 828 enlisted men.

During its term of service, the regiment lost one officer who was dismissed, and one who died from disease.  In addition, thirty-nine enlisted men died of disease, one was killed in an accident, seventy-one were discharged on disability and two were court-martialed. Lastly, six men deserted.

The belief that the men were immune to tropical diseases was based on faulty medical understanding, as indicated by the losses listed above.


Novak, Greg, Remember the Maine and to Hell with Spain; Being a Wargamer's Guide to the Spanish American War 1898. (Champagne: Ulster Imports, 1990) 35.

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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