north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The sinking of the USS Maine on February 15, 1898, led to a declaration of war on Spain by the United States and a call for troops by President William McKinley. North Carolina met President McKinley’s call for troops by establishing three regiments. Adjutant General Andrew D. Cowles of the North Carolina State Guard organized the recruits, with the 1st Regiment establishing itself in Raleigh at Camp Bryan Grimes. The camp, named for the North Carolina Civil War General Bryan Grimes, was home to the 1st Regiment until the troops were ordered to Florida and then to Cuba in December 1898.

     Camp Bryan Grimes was organized following the call for volunteers and mustering of North Carolina troops in May 1898. Wilmington was first considered as a site. But, in light of rumors of a potential Spanish coastal attack, the capitol city was selected. The Raleigh Chamber of Commerce donated land along present-day Hillsborough Street, then on the western outskirts of the city. The camp consisted of 294 tents, laid out in rows. It was located near the State Fairgrounds and the Southern and Seaboard railroad lines. Eventually, as the camp took in more volunteers, Camp Dan Russell was established on the fairgrounds to accommodate the 2nd Regiment.

     The 1st Regiment remained at Camp Bryan Grimes until May 22, 1898, when they were dispatched to Camp Cuba Libre in Jacksonville, Florida. The troops stayed in Florida throughout the war and were subjected to poor conditions, mass desertions, and a lack of supplies. After the American victory, the 1st Regiment was sent on December 7, 1898 to Cuba, where they performed guard duty for four months. During this time, the 2nd Regiment and 3rd Regiment, an all-black regiment, were plagued by outbreaks of disease and dismal conditions. They were sent throughout the southern U.S. but not to Cuba.

     Camp Bryan Grimes remained active throughout the Spanish-American War as a gathering point for volunteer troops. Although North Carolina troops played a fairly insignificant role in the war, two Tar Heels became heroes of the war effort. Ensign Worth Bagley of Raleigh was the first naval officer and first North Carolinian killed during the war, on May 11, 1898, in battle at Cardenas, Cuba. Lieutenant William E. Shipp, from Lincolnton, was killed on July 1, 1898, while leading troops for the 10th U.S. Cavalry Regiment in the charge on San Juan Hill. Shipp’s men are credited with providing Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders with the opportunity for victory. In honor of North Carolina’s two fallen heroes, Camp Bryan Grimes was renamed Camp Shipp-Bagley following the U.S. victory.

William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)—sketch by Wiley J Williams
Joseph F. Steelman, North Carolina’s Role in the Spanish American War (1975)
J. Merrick Frere, Historical and Biographical Souvenir of the Hispano-American War, 1898-1899: First North Carolina Volunteer Infantry (1900)
Edward A. Johnson, A History of Negro Soldiers in the Spanish-American War, and other Items of Interest (1899)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources