William Henry Bisbee collection, 1898-1901
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- Bisbee, William Henry, 1840-
- The William Henry Bisbee collection is comprised of 20 letters, telegraphs, and memoranda dating between 1898 and 1901. The collection includes incoming and outgoing correspondence of Bisbee, relating to Bisbee's service in the United States Army during the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American War, notably with William Rufus Shafter, James Franklin Bell, and Loyd Wheaton. The collection also includes military orders, other military documents relating to Bisbee's career, and a copy of his military record.
- 20 items
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Garrett Morton, March 2018
- Scope and Content:
The William Henry Bisbee collection is comprised of 20 letters, telegraphs, and memoranda dating between 1898-1901. The collection includes correspondence written to and by Bisbee, relating to Bisbee's service in the United States Army during the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American War, notably with William Rufus Shafter, James Franklin Bell, and Loyd Wheaton. The collection also includes military orders, other military documents relating to Bisbee's career, and a copy of his military record. Notably, the papers include a confidential letter to the officers of Bisbee's regiment, handwritten after reading a telegram from General Douglas MacArthur. The letter describes in practical detail acceptable interrogation methods.
- Biographical / Historical:
The Spanish-American War, which began on April 14, 1898 and concluded on August 12, 1898, was a conflict between the United States and Spain that resulted in US acquisition of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico and Cuba's autonomy as a US protectorate. It had its origins in the Cuban independence movement that began in 1895 and growing domestic pressure inside the United States to intervene in the conflict to protect American business interests in Cuba.
Spain, unprepared for war with a major power, was faced by a US Navy that had been modernized, trained, and well-equipped by the enthusiastic Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt. In the Philippines, US forces worked alongside Filipino independence forces under Emilio Aguinaldo. The United States Navy held Manila through most of the war, but Aguinaldo's forces controlled practically the entire rest of the archipelago. With overwhelming US success in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, the war ended as a quick and decisive US victory.
Peace negotiations were held in Paris, and in the final treaty Spain relinquished rule of Cuba and ceded to the United States the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. As nominal payment for infrastructure in the Philippines, the United States agreed to pay Spain $20,000,000. This Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898. Though the treaty faced stiff opposition in the US Senate, it was ratified by a single vote on February 6, 1899.
The Philippine-American War was fought from 1899 to 1902 between the United States and Filipino independence forces. The conflict was essentially a continuation of the Filipino struggle for independence from Spain, with revolutionaries under Emilio Aguinaldo resisting US rule just as they had resisted the Spanish. Armed conflict between US and Filipino forces began on February 4, 1899, and by the end of that spring Filipino forces had ceased to engage US soldiers in conventional warfare, relying instead on guerilla tactics.
William Henry Bisbee
William Henry Bisbee was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, on January 28, 1840, to parents William Orson Bisbee and Harriet Miriam Ballou Bisbee. He grew up in Woonsocket and spent his adolescent years as an apprentice in mercantile businesses in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Delaware, Ohio; and Denver, Colorado (before Colorado's admission to statehood).
Bisbee first joined the United States Army as a private on September 2, 1861, after the outbreak of the American Civil War. Less than a year later, on June 9, 1862, he received his officer's commission at the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. William H. Bisbee continued his service through the Civil War, including the Atlanta campaign under William Tecumseh Sherman, and campaigns of the American Indian Wars. Rising through the ranks, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on May 4, 1897.
He commanded a regiment throughout the Santiago campaign of the Spanish-American War before returning the United States after peace was declared. Following some administrative duties, during which time he was promoted to full Colonel on June 16, 1899, he was transferred. On August 13, 1899, he joined a regiment in Manila, now fighting in the Philippine American War. On October 2, 1901, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
Upon his retirement in 1902, Bisbee settled in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he lived until his death. On the occasion of his 100th birthday in 1940, he was awarded the Purple Heart in recognition of his service during the Civil War. William H. Bisbee had three children: Raymond B. Bisbee, Katharine S. Fefel (nee Bisbee), and Eugene Shade Bisbee. Bisbee died at the age of 102 on June 11, 1942, at his home in Brookline.
- Acquisition Information:
- 2018. M-7040 .
The William Henry Bisbee Collection is arranged chronologically.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- Additional Descriptive Data:
"BRIG. GEN. BISBEE DIES AT AGE OF 102." New York Times (1923-Current File) , June 12, 1942. http://proxy.lib.umich.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/106406497?accountid=14667.
Britannica Academic, s.v. "Philippine-American War," accessed March 29, 2018, https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Philippine-American-War/59692.
Britannica Academic, s.v. "Spanish-American War," accessed March 29, 2018, https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Spanish-American-War/68989.
"GEN. BISBEE ENJOYS BIRTHDAY CAKE." Daily Boston Globe (1928-1960) , January 29, 1940. http://proxy.lib.umich.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/820661621?accountid=14667.
Raines, Edgar F. "Bell, James Franklin (1856-1919), army officer." American National Biography. 29 Mar. 2018. http://www.anb.org/view/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001/anb-9780198606697-e-0600038.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Santiago Campaign, 1898.
Spanish-American War, 1898.
Orders (military records)
Bell, James Franklin, 1856-1919.
Corbin, Henry Clark, 1842-1909.
Shafter, William Rufus, 1835-1906.
Wheaton, Loyd, 1838-1918.
- Philippines--History--Philippine American War, 1899-1902.
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright status is unknown
- PREFERRED CITATION:
William Henry Bisbee Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan