Posts Tagged ‘spanish american war’


Melvin Larimer’s stone identifies him as having been an artificer in the Spanish-American War. I might have seen other stones with the designation before, but I hadn’t noticed. On Fort Sumter’s website, I found “artificer” in their FAQ section. Paraphrasing, an artificer would have been an enlisted artillery man with a specialized skill that allowed him to supervise or organize that kind of work.

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One of the more challenging aspects of wrapping your head around how people lived and thought in a different time is dropping the sense of inevitability and to some extent, labels. We tend to label and organize and categorize things, but that’s much easier to do with hindsight. People living in the thick of things aren’t always conscious of what will be essential to remember or what it will someday be called. One of the best examples I’ve heard of is the Battle of Gettysburg. When the soldiers marched into the little Pennsylvania town in late June and early July, they had no idea that this battle was going to be on of the most remembered. Some might not have even known the name of the place where they fought, and historians note that letters and diary entries from Gettysburg have to be identified through context because the soldiers, rather than calling it the Battle of Gettysburg, just mention things like having fought in a wheatfield or in a peach orchard. And so this tombstone is labeled not with our modern naming for this war, but as the War with Spain. The appellation the Spanish-American war must not have become standard until after this veteran’s death.

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Hussey (2)

Hussey (3)


Eugene Hussey died in the Spanish-American War. His grave is both common and uncommon. Finding a marker for a Spanish-American War veteran isn’t that hard – as long as you are looking at cemeteries that were active at the turn of the 20th century, there were approximately 300,000 United States troops who served during war (although the short duration of the war, from April until December of 1898, meant that some saw little action). Of those, about 3500 died, but less than 400 were killed in action, making a marker that denotes a war death a rarity.  Unfortunately, the most common cause of death for U.S. soldiers and sailors in the Spanish-American War was disease, which is likely what killed young Hussey. The unit history of the 1st Illinois Volunteer Infantry notes no combat deaths, but 84 deaths from what they call tropical diseases.

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Calder Howard 2

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Seth Cogswell Baldwin

Timothy Doan

Veterans Day seems an appropriate time to share this information. Did you know that the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide, free of charge, a government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of a veteran of the United States Armed Forces? There are documentation requirements to be met of course, and possible costs involved in setting the stone if the veteran is in a non-military/veterans’ cemetery. So if your research has lead you to the conclusion that there is a veteran buried in your local cemetery whose resting place is not marked, you may want to review this information.

Thomas J. Hudson

Claude Edward Tucker

The fruits of this program can be viewed in many cemeteries, but I think the finest example is here is in East Cleveland Township Cemetery, where you can see graves of veterans of major American conflicts from the Revolution to World War I marked with crisp, clean markers that are clearly not original.

Carl Stewart Todd

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