Editor’s note: This is one of a series of articles that will run until Labor Day in advance of the Shelby County Historical Society’s Week of Valor, including the return to Sidney of the Vietnam Memorial replica wall and a Field of Valor featuring American flags in Custenborder Park. Flags for the Field of Valor can be purchased by calling 498-1653. The project commemorates 2015 as the anniversary of the beginning or end of several U.S. armed conflicts. This series has included stories about most of America’s wars. Today, a look at Sidney’s contribution to the Spanish-American War.
SIDNEY — There is a popular myth that the Spanish-American War, which began in 1898 with the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor in Cuba, was begun by journalists.
Supposedly, during one of Cuba’s many fights for independence from Spain, William Randolph Hearst, publisher of the New York Morning Journal and the Evening Journal, sent artist Frederick Remington to the island to create pictures of the conflict. Hearst felt that running headlines about battles would sell more newspapers. Remington wired back that the hostilities in Cuba were small and not particularly newsworthy. Hearst’s famous response: “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”
Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, who both controlled several newspapers across the U.S., had been printing sensational stories about Spain’s mistreatment of Cubans. Americans believed what came to be called the yellow journalism, half-truths and scandalous tales. In fact, U.S. President William McKinley and the Spanish government had tried to avoid war for several months. But within two weeks of Cuba’s wresting self-control from Spain, riots broke out in Havana.
McKinley sent the Maine and a fleet of other ships to Havana to protect Americans living there. The ship suffered a mysterious explosion, killing two-thirds of the sailors aboard. War became inevitable.
The most well-known battle in the war was fought by Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders for San Juan hill in Cuba. But there were bloody skirmishes throughout Cuba, as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
War had been declared by Congress on April 25, 1898. The Army issued a call for 50,000 additional troops; 220,000 responded. Among them was Company L of the 3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The regiment was organized in Columbus on April 26. Company L was formed in Sidney. It was led by Capt. William T. Amos.
“I didn’t know my grandfather,” Richard Amos, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, told the Sidney Daily News by phone recently. “He died in 1932 and I was born in 1946. My dad had written up a bio of him. I don’t have any personal knowledge of his time in the Spanish-American War. He was later made a lieutenant colonel and was in charge of National Guard units in Dayton during the 1913 flood.”
According to the biography, William Amos attended West Point Academy for a year and graduated from the College of Wooster.
“Following the completion of his education, he joined his father in the Sidney Printing and Publishing Co., predecessor of Amos Press. His principal responsibilies were in connection with the job printing operations, which were steadily expanded,” William T. Amos Jr. wrote. “W. T. was active in the local Ohio National Guard and served as captain of Company L, Third Ohio Regiment during the Spanish-American War.”
Company L mobilized at Camp Bushnell, Columbus, and was mustered into service on May 10, 1898. Along with the rest of the 3rd Regiment, its members then reported to camp at De Sota Park, near Tampa, Florida. A month later, they were sent to Hunstville, Alabama.
According to “History and Biography of Shelby County 1913,” published in Chicago in 1913, “The corps was prepared to embark on transports for Cuba, had excess baggage stored and some of the horses loaded, when word came that, owing to there not being sufficient transports, the Third Ohio would not be taken, greatly to the disappointment of the ambitious recruits and the relief of the mothers and sweethearts at home.” The Third Ohio did not see service abroad.
In both U.S. camps, however, a typhoid epidemic decimated forces. Combined with the yellow fever epidemic in Cuba, the diseases killed five times as many American serviceman as were killed in battle during the war. Many in Company L were fuloughed home because they became ill. But miraculously, no one in the company died. The Sidney company suffered no losses at all during its six months’ service.
“The company was mustered out at Columbus in October with their flag, a beautiful silk one presented by the young ladies of Sidney, unspotted with blood and unsullied with the marks of the battlefield,” reports “History and Biography of Shelby County 1913.” “At the reception given in the armory a few evenings after their return, Melvin Williams on behalf of the boys presented Lieut. Col. W.T. Amos with a beautiful sword.”
William’s son, William Jr., wrote, “Colonel Amos was active in the industrial and financial life of Sidney. He was a charter member of the board of directors of the First National Exchange Bank … of Sidney, serving 55 years on that board until his death in 1952, and also as a director of the former Sidney Home Telephone Co. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and the Masonic Lodge. Appointed a member of the board of trustees of the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphan’s Home in Xenia, he was serving as president of the board at the time of his death.”
“My dad also served on that board, in honor of his dad,” Richard said. “I went to the College of Wooster, where my granddad went.” Richard, now retired, graduated from Sidney High School in 1964 and from the College of Wooster in 1968. He was a chemist in the bio-tech industry and teaches at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The members of Sidney’s Company L, 3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who served under William T. were the following:
1st Lt. Henry M. Theurer, 2nd Lt. Emerson V. Moore, 1st. Sgt. Jesse C. Wilson, Sgts. Jesse L. Frazier, Frank M. Hussey, Arthur W. Kah, Benjamin McCullough, J. Cliff Wilson, Cpls. Ferd A. Amann, Louis P. Craft, Omer R. Dill, Robert W. Grinn, Eayre Haines, Weber A. Hussey, Elmer R. Kendall, Jesse C. Laughlin, James E. Orbison, Robert Van DeGrift, Dan B. Wikoff and Melvin T. Williams.
Also Musician Harland E. Kah, Artificer Asby G. Talbot, Wagoner William G. Sarver, Cook James A. Luckey and Pvts. George Ackerly, William Apgar, Rolla M. Barber, Henry W. Beck, Samuel Bower, Joseph A. Brandt, Marion L. Bulle, Daniel W. Burton, DeWitt S. Bush, Jason Carey, Edwin W. Cowman, William B. Deveny, William Dunnavant, Ferd S. Edgar, William Eherle, George H. Ehrhardt, Eayre D. Flinn, Oliver M. Foust, Christ Frey Jr., Benjamin F. Funk, William W. Gilfillan, Fredrick T. Given and Henry S. Griffin.
Also Pvts. George D. Haines, Charley W. Harbaugh, Fred W. Havescher, Ralph S. Heiges, William Hoff, Oliver F. Horner, Albert B. Huffman, Harry T. Humphreys, Clem L. Hussey, Clinton A. Keplinger, William Kress, William Kummer, George W. Lewis, Harry F. Lewis, William R. Leymaster, John Longanecker, Ruben H. Luckey, John J. Ludwig, John R. McHenry, John C. McKercher, Frank M. McVay and Harry J. Miller.
Also Pvts. Bayly M. Montross, George H. Morton, Roy B. Motsinger, Harry S. Neal, Edward T. Nicholson, Omer H. O’Dell Jr., Daniel P. O’Neil, Frank Ockenfels, Walter H. Parcher, Louis E. Pfaadt, Alvin D. Rhinehart, Harry W. Rhodifer, Joseph Rieger Jr., William R. Rostron, George P. Ruff, Emory C. Sarver, Joseph E. Schaub, Stephen S. Shannon, Philemon B. Snider, Jacob E. Staley, John Stang, Julius W. Stuckman, George F. Swob, John R. Toller Jr., Elmer E. Vogler, Albert Wagner, Todd Weaver, Ben C. Wiley, Adolphus Williams and Frank Willoughby, Freeman Wright, Adam M. Young, John R. Young and Karl F.Young.
Pvt. Roy G. Zimmerman transferred from Company L to the signal corps. Pvts. Charles J. Royon and Martin Bennett transferred to the band.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.