By fighting an old colonial nation on a world stage, America proved it was ready to be an international power in this short but impactful conflict.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the United States had ambitions to expand internationally and compete with European nations. Spain controlled Cuba, Guam, and the Philippines, but their power was declining and Americans saw an opportunity. The Cubans had been fighting for their independence for years, but after riots in Havana in January 1898 the United States sent the battleship USS Maine to the city’s harbor. It was portrayed as a precaution to protect U.S. citizens and property in Cuba. But once the Maine exploded under suspicious circumstances in February 1898, tensions with Spain rapidly escalated and war between the two nations was declared in April 1898. The Spanish-American War had begun.

Now a nation at war, the United States needed soldiers. President McKinley requested volunteers from each state to supplement the country’s small professional army and National Guard units. Minnesota sent four regiments, the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. Of those, only the Thirteenth saw combat overseas.

Below are names and faces of some of the Minnesotans who served in the Spanish-American War:

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