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A Brief History of the Maine Volunteer Heavy Artillery

By Patrick McSherry

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The Maine Volunteer Heavy Artillery served in the occupation forces of Cuba.

Unit History:

The Maine Volunteer Heavy Artillery was an artillery battalion consisting of Batteries A, B, C and D. The battalion was mustered in the federal service between May 17 and July 20 at Augusta, Maine. At the time of mustering in, the battalion consisted of fifteen officers and 465 enlisted men. The battalion was commanded by Maj. Everard Newcomb.

Initially, the battalion continued to serve within the state of Maine, with Battery A, for instance serving at Fort Popham, on the Maine coast. The battalion was still in Maine when an armistice was reached between the U.S. and Spain on August 13, 1898. The Army soon began to muster out regiments, though the war was not officially over. It was initially expected that the Maine Volunteer Heavy Artillery would be among those to be mustered out, but these reports proved to be incorrect.

The battalion remained in Augusta until October 29, 1898, when it was ordered to Boston, the beginning of the battalion’s trip south. From Boston, the battalion boarded the transport MISSISSIPPI for New York City. At New York it boarded the transport MICHIGAN on November 1, bound for Savannah, Georgia and arriving three days later. At Savannah, the battalion joined the Seventh Army Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. The battalion was initially accorded the honor of being selected as Lee’s bodyguard at his headquarters, and was under his direct command. The battalion would remain a part of the Seventh Corps’ Second Division for the remainder of its service.

The battalion remained in Savannah until January 17, 1899, when it boarded the transport OBDAM bound for Havana, Cuba, arriving on January 20. In Cuba, the Maine Volunteer Heavy Artillery was encamped at Camp Columbia, located on a high hill, about nine miles from Havana. Men from the battalion were detailed to do police duty in the city of Havana.

The health of the unit, as well as all others in Cuba after the debacle that had faced the Fifth Army Corps in late July, 1898, was a concern from the moment it arrived. The men were vaccinated for small pox, placed in large tents, and each man provided with a cot.

On February 15, 1899, a small ceremony was planned to honor the victims lost in the explosion of the MAINE a year before. The only army unit to take part was the First Maine Heavy Artillery. Maj. Gen. Brooke and Brig. Gen. Ernest were present, along with men and officers from the U.S.S. RESOLUTE.

On March 9, the battalion departed Havana aboard the transport MICHIGAN, arriving at Savannah two days later. The battalion was mustered out of service at Savannah on March 31, 1899. At the time of muster out, the battalion had fifteen officers and 457 enlisted men. During its term of service, the battalion lost ten enlisted men to disease, and six more were discharged on disability. In addition, sixteen enlisted men deserted.


“All Volunteers,” Daily Kennebec Journal. (Kennebec, Maine) August 17, 1898, 1.

“At Camp Columbia,” Daily Kennebec Journal. (Kennebec, Maine) February 2, 1899, 5.

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) 553-555, 596.

“First Maine Artillery to Move,” Evening Democrat. (Warren, Pennsylvania) October 24, 1898, 3.

“Lee’s Bodyguard,” Daily Kennebec Journal. (Kennebec, Maine) November 12, 1898, 1.

“Maine Troops at New York,” Portsmouth Herald. (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) November 1, 1898, 2.

“Station of  Troop” The Daily Northwestern. (Oshkosh, Wisconsin), July 9, 1898, 3

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).

“Tribute to Heroes,” The Freeborn County Standard. (Albert Lea, Minnesota) February 22, 1899, 12.

“With the Batteries,” Daily Kennebec Journal. (Kennebec, Maine) November 19, 1898, 5.

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