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Spanish American War Dog Tags

By Patrick McSherry

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At the time of the Spanish American War, official dog tags were not issued. Of course, the concern of identification if someone fell in battle was a concern to the soldiers and their families. Below are three of the many privately obtained dog tags, which came in many styles and varieties.

The dog tags:

The first (immediately below) is a dog tag that was used during the Spanish American War. This particular dog tag was used by Aubrey L. Whetton, of the 1st Missouri Volunteer Infantry, Company E. The dog tag is somewhat fancy, with a carved and decorative edge.

Spanish American War Dogtag - Aubrey Whetton

The second dog tag (below) belonged to Private John Kiely of the First Montana Volunteer Infantry. The front gives his unit and an identification number The back indicates that it was provided by the Red Cross. The San Francisco Red Cross Society attempted to provide all volunteers and U.S. regulars with such medals for identification. Needless to say, the Society could only provide these to units which came close to its area of work (i.e., this was not done for military units on the East Coast.

Front - Red Cross Provide Dogtag - 1st Montana Back - Red-cross-issued dog tag

The next examples are other privatelt purchased dogtags. The example at left belonged to Norman P. Tripp of the 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Co. F. The medal reads  "Co. F, 6th Ohio Vol. Inf., Spanish-American War." Around the left perimeter is "N. P. Tripp" and on the right perimeter is "June 1898." In June of 1898, the regiment was in Camp Thomas, Georgia (medal image contributed by Brad Lacey). The example at right belonged to James L. Powers from Concord, Massachusetts, who served with the 6th Massachusetts in Puerto Rico. The dogtag reads "Ja s. L. Powers   Co. I
 6th Mass. Inf. U.S.V.  Concord. Mass."(image courtest of Ricardo R. Medina).

6th Ohio Dog tag, Spanish American War 6th Ohio Dog tag, Spanish American War

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Durand, John - Information concerning the San Francisco Red Cross Society's dog tag system. (Data from Coats, Stephen D.,  Gathering at the Golden Gate: Mobilizing for War in the Philippines, 1898 (Ft. Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2006) page 160

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