February 1957 | Volume 8, Issue 2
The Spanish-American War at first promised to be little more than a naval exercise. It began with an easy coiu|iiest of the Spanish Philippines when Commodore Dewy sank the Spanish Pacific Meet in Manila Day. Hut the hope that Admiral William T. Sampson’s North Atlantic Squadron could duplicate that triumph in the Caribbean and forte a quick and comparatively bloodless decision was short lived. The- Spanish fleet under Admiral Pasqual Cervera slipped away from Sampson and Commodore Winfield S. Schley to lind refuge under the shore batteries of Santiago Harbor. There it was blockaded, but it was apparent that the job of driving the Spanish from Cuba would fall to the work horse of the military, the combat infantryman.
For this task the Army was singularly unprepared. Congiess authorized a volunteer force of 200,000 to bolster a Regular Army then numbering some 30,000 but in matters of supply, equipment, and medical service, nothing was really ready for a tropical campaign. Nevertheless, after staggering difficulties and exasperating delay, an American expeditionary force of 17,000 men sailed for Cuba from Port Tampa. Florida, on June 14, 1898.
One of the two volunteer regiments in this force was the 71st New York National Guard. In Company F, Second Battalion. of the 71st there was a young private of 25, a former artist for both the New York World and Journal , who went to war with a rille and two sketch pads. Whenever he could, Gl Charles Johnson Post laid down his rifle and sketched furiously, and from these he later painted a unique “Willie and Toe” record of the war in Cuba.