Spanish–American War

1898 conflict between Spain and the United States

The Spanish–American War was a war fought between Spain and the United States in 1898, partly because many people in Cuba, one of the last parts of the Spanish Empire, wanted to become independent. Many Americans also wanted their country to get a colonial empire.

Spanish–American War[b]
Part of the Philippine Revolution
and the Cuban War of Independence

(clockwise from top left)
DateApril 21[c] – August 13, 1898
(3 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)

American victory

Spain relinquishes sovereignty over Cuba; cedes Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands to the United States. $20 million paid to Spain by the United States for infrastructure owned by Spain.
United States United States
Cuban revolutionaries[a]
First Philippine Republic


Commanders and leaders
Total: 300,000[5]

Total: 339,783[9]
288,452 (Caribbean)

  • 278 447 in Cuba
  • 10,005 in Puerto Rico
51,331 (Philippines)
Casualties and losses



  • 700–800 killed[14]
  • 700–800 wounded[14]
  • 40,000+ prisoners[12][15]
  • 15,000 dead from disease[16]
  • 6 small ships sunk[12]
  • 11 cruisers sunk[12]
  • 2 destroyers sunk[12]

The higher naval losses may be attributed to the disastrous naval defeats inflicted on the Spanish at Manila Bay and Santiago de Cuba.[14]

Spain lost the sea war and so had to give up Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. All of those colonies, except for Cuba, became American colonies after the war, and Cuba became an independent country but with much US influence.



Following reports of Spain abusing and killing Cubans, the United States sent warships to Cuba. Spain was losing control of Cuba and so put Cubans into concentration camps. The US sent ships to Cuba to try to make Spain to give up Cuba. The USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, which killed about 260 people on board.

"Remember the Maine" became a common wartime saying. US newspapers blamed Spain for the explosion without proof. Spain tried to avoid going to war, but pressure from US newspapers, which had "yellow journalism," and from ordinary people persuaded the US government to go to war. Some Americans wanted Cuba to become independent, but others hoped that the US could build a colonial empire overseas since many European countries had already done so.

Course of war


Volunteers throughout the country signed up for the war. Future US President Theodore Roosevelt raised troops and became famous by leading the Rough Riders during the Battle of San Juan Hill.

In a large naval battle in Manila Bay, an American fleet, commanded by George Dewey, destroyed the Spanish fleet.

Ground battles took place in Cuba and Puerto Rico.



The US won the war and soon began to occupy and to take control of the colonies after Spain had surrendered. Almost 400 American soldiers had died during the fighting, but more than 4000 Americans died from diseases such as yellow fever, typhoid, and malaria.

The Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898 by the United States and Spain. The United States now controlled Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.[17] Later, it also got the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and Cuba became an independent country but with much US influence.

  1. 1.0 1.1 Unrecognized by the primary belligerents.
  2. Alternative names:
  3. The US declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898, but dated the beginning of the war retroactively to April 21
  4. Number is the total for all Cuban rebels active from 1895 to 1898.[7]


  1. Louis A. Pérez (1998), The war of 1898: the United States and Cuba in history and historiography, UNC Press Books, ISBN 978-0807847428, retrieved October 31, 2015
  2. Benjamin R. Beede (1994), The War of 1898, and US interventions, 1898–1934: an encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0824056247, retrieved October 31, 2015
  3. Virginia Marie Bouvier (2001), Whose America?: the war of 1898 and the battles to define the nation, Praeger, ISBN 978-0275967949, retrieved October 31, 2015
  4. Thomas David Schoonover; Walter LaFeber (2005), Uncle Sam's War of 1898 and the Origins of Globalization, University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 978-0813191225, retrieved October 31, 2015
  5. Dyal, Carpenter & Thomas 1996, p. 21-22.
  6. Clodfelter 2017, p. 256.
  7. Clodfelter 2017, p. 308.
  8. Karnow 1990, p. 115
  9. Dyal, Carpenter & Thomas 1996, p. 20.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "America's Wars: Factsheet." Archived July 20, 2017, at the Wayback Machine US Department of Veteran Affairs. Office of Public Affairs. Washington DC. Published April 2017.
  11. Marsh, Alan. "POWs in American History: A Synoposis" Archived August 6, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. National Park Service. 1998.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Clodfelter 2017, p. 255.
  13. See: USS Merrimac (1894).
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Keenan 2001, p. 70.
  15. Clodfelter describes the U.S. capturing 30,000 prisoners (plus 100 cannons, 19 machine guns, 25,114 rifles, and various other equipment) in the Oriente province and around Santiago. He also states that the 10,000-strong Puerto Rican garrison capitulated to the U.S. after only minor fighting.
  16. Tucker 2009, p. 105.
  17. "Military Map, Island of Puerto Rico". World Digital Library. 1898. Archived from the original on August 19, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.