Upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898 two Nebraska National Guard regiments were ordered on April 23 to mobilize at Lincoln. The First and Second Nebraska regiments were mustered into federal service May 12, and the First, bound for the Philippines, left for San Francisco several days later. They embarked for Manila, Philippine Islands, June 15, 1898, on the steamship Senator. They arrived in the Philippines July 17, 1898, in time to help capture Manila, where they were then assigned to garrison duty until early December.
The war with Spain ended with the Treaty of Paris in December 1898, but the First Nebraska fought against the insurgent Filipinos through June of 1899. It suffered in all sixty-four deaths and several hundred wounded. However, as the guerrilla war with Emilio Aguinaldo and his Filipino followers escalated, all volunteer regiments were replaced with regular U.S. Army units. The First Nebraska sailed from Manila for San Francisco on July 1, 1899.
The August 1, 1899, Omaha World-Herald, on file at the Nebraska State Historical Society, reported the Nebraskans’ gala welcome in San Francisco. “The Nebraska regiment landed from the transport Hancock this morning and marched to the Presidio, where they went into camp preparatory to being mustered out. An immense crowd of people lined the streets and cheered the war-worn veterans.
“The disembarking of the first Nebraska infantry and the Utah light artillery from the transport Hancock today gave San Franciscans a second opportunity to welcome returning soldiers from the Philippines. Early in the day the streets in the lower part of the city and on the line of march to the Presidio, where the boys will go into camp, became crowded with people anxious to witness the passing of the troops and long before the order to march was given every available point from which a good view of the parade could be had was occupied . . . .
“In the reviewing stand . . . were General Shafter, Governor [William A.] Poynter of Nebraska and several members of his staff, Secretary of Agriculture Wilson and their friends and ladies.” After mustering out, the regiment left Oakland on August 25 on board special trains provided by the citizens of Nebraska. When they arrived at Lincoln on August 30 and at Omaha the following day, the men were treated to a royal welcome.