War (Spanish American)

The U. S. battleship Maine exploded in Havana harbor on the night of February 15, 1898. The exact cause of the explosion has never been determined, but the U. S. government believed it had been done by Spain. And on April 25, 1898 war was declared.

War fever was high in Lawrence County. Everyone was all steamed up and we school kids were parading around in groups singing, “The Maine, the Maine — remember the Maine.”

I can remember very distinctly the vast crowd of people who gathered around the Court House where the enlistments were being taken in the court room. There were several doctors, but I remember Dr. Pollock most easily. The jury rooms, etc were used for the examinations while the crowd hung around the corridors in the court rooms.

On July 9, 1898, Company B 16th Regiment, Pa. Volunteer Infantry was ready to go. Shortly after noon, the giant crowd assembled in and about the Court House. As the court bell rang, the fire bell and the whistles blew and the company marched down the court house hill to the old Union Depot (Clark’s Studio) where they loaded up and left on the old Pittsburgh & Western Railroad. As the train pulled out Joe Trax blazed away with his Custer cannon.

There was a huge crowd in New Castle that day. The Grand Army paraded (there were still lots of them in 1898). Cars of the troop train were lined up past the Excelsior Hotel (empty lot across from Clark’s) and I recall the engine which hauled the train was trimmed up in red, white and blue bunting.

– Clifford L. Vance, A History of Lawrence County