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Narratives: 1898-1918

During the 1898 hostilities with Spain, Minnesota formed three new regiments. The 13th Minnesota Regiment was ordered to fight the Spanish in the Philippines while the 12th and 14th Regiments stayed in the United States. At the Battle of Manila, they suffered a greater number of casualties than all other regiments combined. After the hostilities ended with Spain, the 13th Minnesota Regiment fought against the Philippines in their fight for independence.
The Philippine American War, (Insurrection), was America’s first true colonial war as a world power. After defeating Spain in 1898, the United States purchased the Spanish Philippines, where rebels resisted U.S. control. Fighting broke out in February 1899. Although war was never declared, the United States President proclaimed it over on 4 July 1902, but fighting continued for many years. The war is said to have cost the lives of one million Filipino civilians, more than 4,000 American soldiers and 20,000 Filipino fighters. The United States finally granted the Philippines their independence 4 July 1946.

Cuba, which had been a Spanish colony since 1511, struggled for independence. Spain sent a military force to help the colonial government maintain control. On 15 February 1898, an explosion sank the battleship USS Maine in Havana Harbor. On 25 April 1898, the United States declared war on Spain, sent the U.S. Navy to the Spanish Philippines, and prepared to send troops to Cuba. The U.S. Navy destroyed the Spanish Pacific Fleet in Manila Bay. American troops were dispatched to Cuba in June and attained military victories on San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill. The next day the U.S. Navy destroyed the Spanish Atlantic Fleet as it was leaving Santiago Harbor. Hostilities ended 12 August 1898. The Treaty of Paris, 10 December 1898, formally ended the war between the United States and Spain.

During World War I Germany published a notice in the United States that any vessel in the waters around Britain flying the Flag of Great Britain was liable for destruction. The Lusitania, a British luxury liner, ignored the warnings and left New York. On 7 May 1915, a German submarine torpedoed and sank the Lusitania with the loss of 1,200 lives, including 128 Americans. The sinking threatened the neutrality of the United States and promoted anti-German sentiment. Investigation in later years revealed the Lusitania was carrying munitions.

The primary causes of World War I, also known as the Great War, were imperialism, territorial disputes and economic rivalries among the Great Powers. After the assassination of the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne, 28 June 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Soon every major power in Europe was involved in the war. Entangling alliances contributed to the spread of the war. For three years trench warfare kept battle lines stationary. Later in the war, poison gas was introduced. Unrestricted German submarine warfare caused the United States to enter the war in 1917. The Treaty of Versailles was signed on 11 November 1918. That day was designated Armistice Day now known as Veteran’s Day.

From 15 July to 4 August 1918, the Second Battle of the Marne, in France, marked the turning point of World War I. After a German attack, the Allied Forces counterattacked with a force that included several American divisions. Fierce combat occurred at Chateau-Thierry, where the Americans won their first decisive victory of the war.

From 26 September to 11 November 1918, the Meuse-Argonne, France, offensive was the greatest battle of World War I. In six weeks the American Expeditionary Forces lost over 26,000 killed and 96,000 wounded. This was the final battle of the war.

In June 1918, the battle for Belleau Wood, France, was the first battle where the American Expeditionary Forces experienced heavy casualties and showed the world that America was there to fight. The U.S. Marine Corps suffered the worst single day’s casualties in their history when more than 1,000 men were killed or wounded. Four Medals of Honor were awarded for battlefield heroism.

Black Americans were initially recruited to serve in the Revolutionary War. Post-war laws first denied Blacks access to military service, but they eventually fought and served valiantly in all of the wars since 1812. Initially denied freedoms, suffering rejection and segregation, they proved themselves capable and courageous in fulfilling escalating responsibilities in recognition of their abilities. Fully integrated at the start of the Korean conflict and since, Black Americans confirmed their ability to perform in battle and at high levels of responsibility.

Women have played important military roles since the Revolutionary War. Although unfairly treated in early wars, they distinguished themselves in teaching sanitation, nursing and spying. Disguised as men, they fought on battlefields. Although women were authorized to serve as nurses in 1861, they were not eligible for health care, salary and a uniform until 1899. During World War II, opposition to women in the military was strong. In May of 1942, the Women’s Auxiliary Corps was formed to serve with the Army but did not receive military status until August 1943. The Nurse Corps was denied rank until 1947 and veteran status until 1977. Women are now integrated into the military and serve in all capacities and levels of command.

Mayo’s commitment to the military began with the Civil War when William W. Mayo was named examining surgeon for the enrollment board for the First Minnesota District. He served from April 1863 until February 1865.

Charles and Will Mayo served on the Medical Board For National Defense. In 1916 the board, working through the Red Cross, organized 50 base hospitals. One was organized through the University of Minnesota with financial support and staff from the Mayo Clinic.

In 1928, the Mayo Clinic Plummer Building was dedicated with the 23-bell carillon dedicated to the American soldier.

In 1934, the American Legion recognized W. J. and C. H. Mayo for "distinguished service to our sick and disabled comrades and to suffering humanity." President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented a plaque to the brothers at Soldiers Field Memorial Park on 8 August 1934.

Mayo research on oxygen requirements in humans, the development of the oxygen mask and an antigravity suit enabled high altitude flying. President Roosevelt recognized Mayo's efforts by presenting them with the highest U.S. aviation award in 1940.

In 1944, two Mayo Medical Units served in the Pacific Theater until the end of World War II.

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