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Spanish-American War
Fiftieth Infantry
Historical Sketch

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This regiment - formerly the Second Regiment Iowa National Guard - was ordered into quarters at Camp McKinley, Des Moines, Iowa, on the 25th day of April, 1898, and was there mustered into the service of the United States, on the 17th day of May, 1898, by Captain J. A. Olmsted, of the Regular Army. On May 21, 1898, Colonel Jackson received orders from the War Department to proceed with his regiment by rail to Tampa, Fla. While enroute, however, the Colonel received a telegram from the Secretary of War, changing the destination of the regiment to Jacksonville, Fla. Upon its arrival at Jacksonville, May 24, 1898, the regiment went into camp on a flat tract of land near the city. The camp was later designated "Cuba Libre." When the rainy season began, notwithstanding its high sounding name, it proved to be a very poor location for an encampment of troops, a portion of the ground being flooded, compelling the men to construct temporary quarters, elevated above the ground. The inevitable result was a considerable amount of sickness among the men which, in a number of cases, proved fatal. It was not until the first of August: however, that the protests of the officers and men prevailed, and the camp was removed to higher ground. Nevertheless, the general climatic conditions were unfavorable, and, from August 10th to September 5th, the daily sick reports showed from one hundred to three hundred sick in hospital or relieved from duty by the Surgeon. There was no time, however, when the regiment did not have at least eight hundred enlisted men available for duty.

The regiment was assigned to the Second Brigade, Second Division, Seventh Army Corps. The brigade was constituted as follows: First Wisconsin, Ninth Illinois and Fiftieth Iowa Regiments of Infantry. General Bancroft of Massachusetts was in command of the brigade at that time, but there had been several previous changes, both in the make up of the brigade and its commanders. At an earlier period, Colonel Jackson had for a time (by virtue of his seniority in rank) had command of the division, Lieutenant Colonel Lambert, in the meantime, commanding the brigade, the command of the Fiftieth Iowa devolving upon Major Moffit. On August 9, 1898, Governor L. M. Shaw, accompanied by Adj utant General Byers and Colonel E. G. Pratt, made a visit of inspection to Camp Cuba Libre. The Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Iowa marched in review before the Governor, who subsequently made a careful inspection of the two regiments, with a view to ascertaining what could be done for the betterment of sanitary conditions.

On August 20, 1898, Colonel D. V. Jackson tendered his resignation and retired from the service. Lieutenant Colonel E. E. Lambert was then promoted to Colonel and assumed command of the regiment, which he retained until the close of its term of service. On September 12, 1898, orders were received from the War Department, directing the return of the regiment to Iowa. The sick were placed on board a Pullman car, and every arrangement was made for their comfort during the journey. Major John Tillie and Assistant Surgeon H. A. Boyle were detailed to make the necessary arrangements, and, to their untiring efforts, was due the return of the sick soldiers to their homes with the least possible discomfort. The regiment was transported by rail, and arrived at Des Moines, Iowa, on September 17, 1898. The men and officers were then granted a furlough of thirty days, with the exception of Lieutenant John S. Howard and a detail of sixty-four men who were left at Camp McKinley, to take care of the sick and guard the property. The furloughs were subsequently extended ten days, at the expiration of which time the regiment had reassembled in camp, and was mustered out of the service of the United States, November 30, 1898.

The foregoing sketch has been compiled from the official reports of Colonels Jackson and Lambert. Those reports describe many incidents connected with the service of the regiment, which - on account of limitation of space - are not included in this condensed history, which only contains the leading and most notable events which occurred during its term of service. The subjoined roster, which has been carefully transcribed from the official records, contains the names of all the men and officers of the regiment.

At the close of his offcial report, Colonel Lambert says: "I desire to take this opportunity to again express my gratitude to the officers and men of my command for their many courtesies and the willingness with which they co-operated with me in all the work for the betterment of the entire regiment. I can assure you that no regiment ever entered the service that was more loyal, energetic, enthusiastic, or more anxious to demonstrate to the world that they would fight unto death for the honor of the flag and their country."

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