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Spanish-American War Flag

Spanish flag 
capture by Kansas troopsThe treaty which settled the Spanish-American War in 1899 ceded the Philippine Islands to the United States, which was disappointing to Filipino leaders who believed liberation from Spain would mean independence for the islands.

The 20th Kansas Infantry, sent to the Philippines as part of a force to maintain order, would find themselves in a revolution.

Even then it was not universally accepted that the United States should become a colonial power. At home and among the men of the 20th, there would be questions as to whether fighting the Filipinos was compatible to the reasons for which they had enlisted. Regardless of the political question, the boys from Kansas would distinguish themselves in 19 battles with three Medal of Honor winners. During the battle of Caloocan the commanding officer, trying to control his troops, telegraphed, "KANSAS A MILE ADVANCE OF THE LINE. WILL STOP THEM IF I CAN." When they returned home in the fall of 1899 they were received as heroes and would be remembered as the "Fighting 20th."

Signatures of Kansas soldiers on flag

Many items brought home by the regiment as souvenirs became part of the collections of the Kansas Historical Society. A Spanish banner taken by a member of the regiment bears the signatures of the men of Company E, which was recruited primarily from Anderson, Coffey, and Woodson counties. It also makes note of the members of the company who died in the Philippines or were discharged from the service. Attached are buttons from Spanish uniforms, as well as a bullet with the inscription, "Manila Aug. 13, 1898." Why this bullet bears a date from before the Twentieth's service is not known.

Photo of Funston brand cigar box

The colonel of the regiment, Frederick Funston of Iola, received the Medal of Honor for his service and was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers. The printers proof for a cigar brand bearing the name "General Funston" offers testimony to the fame he gained while in the Philippines. While the trademark of this label is for the Tepper Brothers of Chicago, it most likely was a private brand made for a Kansas cigar wholesaler or grocer.

The captured flag and the Funston cigar box are in the collections of the Kansas Museum of History

Did your ancestor serve in a Kansas regiment during the Spanish American War? Look them up in our online database, Kansas Adjutant General's Report, 1898-1899.

Entry: Spanish-American War Flag

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 1998

Date Modified: December 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.