Spanish War Veterans
Soon after the Spanish-American War ended in early 1899, discharged veterans rushed to form fraternal societies. Among these were the Spanish War Veterans, the Spanish-American War Veterans, the Servicemen of the Spanish War, American Veterans of Foreign Service, the Army of the Philippines, the Veteran Army of the Philippines, the Legion of Spanish War Veterans and many other smaller organizations. At the turn of the century, many of these groups began to merge. In 1904, the three largest groups, the Spanish War Veterans, the Spanish American War Veterans and the Servicemen of the Spanish War amalgamated into the United Spanish War Veterans. They would become the largest and most influential of the Spanish-American War societies. In 1906, the Legion of Spanish War Veterans would merge with the United Spanish War Veterans. The Legion existed in the states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The President of the Rhode Island chapter of the USWV was Mrs Ellen V. Meehan during the 1930's, her husband was Cpl. James Arthur Meehan, who served in the Spanish war with the Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry.
In 1908 the Veteran Army of the Philippines also merged with the United Spanish War Veterans. The Veteran Army was made up of soldiers and sailors serving in the US Military in the Philippine Islands. The United Spanish War Veterans consisted of veterans of three distinct wars:
- Spanish-American War. April 1898 to February 1899. The fighting was pretty much over by July 1898, but the Treaty was not signed until February 6, 1899.
- Philippine–American War. February 1899 to July 1902. This was a war against Filipino rebels who resisted the conquest of the Islands by the Americans. Theodore Roosevelt declared the war over on July 4, 1902. A war against Moro tribesmen continued until 1913.
- Chinese Relief Expedition. 1900 to 1901. Commonly called "The Boxer Rebellion," veterans of this action were lumped together for benefits with the Span-Am and Philippine Insurrection veterans by the Government pension bills. The "Boxer Rebellion" veterans were granted membership into the USWV in the early 1920s.
The United Spanish War Veterans existed until 1992 when the last member, Nathan E. Cook, died at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Cook was exactly a month shy of his 107th birthday. He is almost always characterized, incorrectly, as the last surviving veteran of the Spanish-American War. Nathan was a naval veteran of the Philippine Insurrection of 1899-1902. He lied about his age to join the US Navy in 1901 at the age of sixteen.
The order had a 'fun'-degree: the Military Order of the Serpent, which was defunct in the 1950s.
Ritual of the Legion of Spanish War Veterans
Ritual of the Degree of Khatapunan of the Military Order of the Serpent
Initiation Ritual United Spanish War Veterans
Initiation Ritual of the National Auxiliary United Spanish War Veterans
Initiation Ritual of the Daughters of '98