Army-Navy joint operations in the Spanish-American War are usuallyrecalled in terms of conflict and confusion. The strident arguments between Major General William R. Shafter and Rear Admiral William T. Sampson at Santiago dominate the picture. Generations of undergraduates have been amused or appalled by the spectacle of the Army swimming its horses and mules ashore at Daiquiri and Siboney for lack of landing craft. In fact, the story is more complex. While interservice disputes occurred, as they have in every American war, in the field cooperation predominated over conflict. In spite of prewar unpreparedness and doctrinal and technological limitations, the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, in the main, worked together effectively to project American power and achieve the nation’s military and political objectives.1


Joint Operation Army Officer Landing Place Direct Fire Naval Officer 


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  1. 1.
    Unless otherwise noted, this paper is based on the author’s more extended essay, “Joint Operations in the Spanish-American War,” in James C. Bradford, ed., Crucible of Empire: The Spanish-American War and Its Aftermath (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993), 102–26.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Ronald Spector, Professors of War: The Naval War College and the Development of the Naval Profession (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 1977), 28–29;Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    A typical Army view of service roles and missions in future war is in Lieutenant General John M. Schofield, Forty-Six Years in the Army (New York: The Century Company, 1897), 527–28.Google Scholar
  4. Planning for the war with Spain is covered in David E. Trask, The War with Spain in 1898 (New York: Macmillan, 1981), 72–78, 88–91;Google Scholar
  5. Graham A. Cosmas, An Army for Empire: The United States Army in the Spanish-American War (2nd ed.) (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing Co., Inc., 1994), 68–76.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    The American command tradition is summarized in Rowena Reed, Combined Operations in the Civil War (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1978), xiv–xv.Google Scholar
  7. The British system is discussed in Brigadier General G. G. Aston, CB, Letters on Amphibious Wars (London: John Murray, 1911), 143–45;Google Scholar
  8. Ensign Charles G. Rogers, USN, et al., “Operations in the British Navy and Transport Service during the Egyptian Campaign of 1882,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 8 (Jan 1883): 523–635.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    A detailed contemporary account of Army-Navy cooperation at Manila can be found in Lieutenant Carlos G. Calkins, USN, “Historical and Professional Notes on the Naval Campaign of Manila Bay in 1898,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 25, no. 2 (Jun 1899): 267–321;Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    The lack of indirect fire doctrine in the Army is recounted in Boyd L. Dastrup, King of Battle: A Branch History of the U.S. Army’s Field Artillery (Washington: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1993), 140–41.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    The basic orders for the landing can be found in U.S. War Department, Annual Report of the Major General Commanding the Army to the Secretary of War, 1898 (Washington: 1898), 150;Google Scholar
  12. U.S. Navy Department, Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898 vol. 2, Appendix to the Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation (Washington: 1898), 497–98;Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    Elihu Root, Five Years of the War Department (Washington: 1904), 334–35 describes creation of the Army-Navy Board.Google Scholar
  14. Early-twentieth-century command doctrine is discussed in Captain Wyatt I. Selkirk, “The Cooperation of Land and Sea Forces,” Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States 46 (Mar-Apr 1910): 317–19.Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    General George S. Eckhardt, Command and Control, 1950–1969. Vietnam Studies (Washington: Department of the Army, 1974), 78–80.Google Scholar

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© Edward J. Marolda 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham A. Cosmas

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