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Spanish-American War
Fifty-Second Infantry
Historical Sketch

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The Fifty-second Regiment was organized from the Fourth Regiment Iowa National Guard. The twelve companies of which it was composed were ordered into quarters by Governor Shaw, on the 25th day of April, 1898. The designated rendezvous was Camp McKinley, near Des Moines, Iowa. The promptness with which the order was obeyed was evidenced by the fact that, at 10 P. M., April 26th, the last of the twelve companies had reported at the rendezvous. The regiment was engaged in the ordinary routine of camp duty until the 25th day of May, 1898, on which date it was mustered into the service of the United States, by Captain J. A. Olmsted, of the Regular Army. On May 28, 1898, Colonel Humphrey received an order, by telegraph, from the War Department, directing him to proceed with his regiment, by rail, to Chickamauga Park, Ga., and report to the General in command of the troops which were being concentrated there. The regiment left its rendezvous in Des Moines on the afternoon of the same day the order was received, and was conveyed by rail - in three sections - to Chattanooga, Tenn., where it arrived on the evening of May 30th, and moved thence on the next day to Camp Thomas, Chickamauga Park, where it was assigned to the Third Brigade, Second Division, Third Army Corps, Major General James F. Wade commanding. In this camp the patriotic young men of the North and South were commingled, all embued with the one thought and desire - to serve their reunited country in active warfare against the Spanish Monarchy. It was a war of humanity, entered into on the part of the United States, for the purpose of securing justice to an oppressed race, and not for the purpose of conquest.

It was the earnest desire of all the troops in camp at Chickamauga that their stay there would be brief, and that they would soon be called upon to embark and proceed to the Island of Cuba; but, in this, they were doomed to disappointment, The resources of Spain were so entirely inadequate that active hostilities soon came to an end, and the war was of short duration. But two of the splendidly equipped regiments from Iowa were given an opportunity for foreign service - as will be seen from the preceding historical sketches - the fortune of war having denied to the others the opportunity which they so much craved.

During the month of June, 1898, the Fifty-second Iowa was recruited to the maximum strength of a regiment of infantry - fifty officers and twelve hundred seventy-six enlisted men - an aggregate of thirteen hundred twenty-six, rank and file, On August 8, 1898, the regiment was selected as part of a provisional division, under the command of Major General James F. Wade with orders to proceed to the Island of Porto Rico; but, just as the troops were about to move, the order was revoked, and the regiment was obliged to settle back into the dull monotony of camp life. Up to this time, the regiment had been in a fairly healthy condition, but, in less than two weeks after the order to proceed to Porto Rico had been countermanded, it had as many men unfitted for duty as any regiment in its brigade or division. This decline in the health of the men was largely attributed to their disappointment in not having been given the opportunity for active service, even had that service only allowed them a change in environment. These high spirited young men, many of them the sons of veterans of the great Civil War, had entered the service with high hopes that they would have the chance to distinguish themselves in battle. Instead of realizing that hope, they had been. kept in camp in their own country, during their entire term of service. They had, however, performed their whole duty in the limited field to which they were assigned. The official report of Colonel Humphrey - from which the foregoing sketch has been condensed - closes with the following statement: "Had the opportunity presented, the regiment would have acquitted itself with honor and credit to the State."'

The regiment left Chickamauga August 29, 1898, under orders to proceed to Des Moines, Iowa, by rail, and, upon its arrival there, to report to the cornmanding General of the Department of the Missouri, at Omaha, for further orders. After reaching Des Moines, the regiment was granted a thirty day furlough, at the expiration of which the officers and men reassembled at Camp McKinley, and were there mustered out of the service of the United States on the 30th day of October, 1898.

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