Frank T. Turcotte served in Co. D, and fought at the Battle of El Caney; this medal was given by friends on his 20th birthday, November 1, 1898.
This wonderful Spanish American War soldier’s badge was given to Frank F. Turcotte, of Holyoke, Massachusetts, presented by his friends on Turcotte’s 20th birthday, 20 November, 1898.
After returning from combat service in Cuba, the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry arrived at Springfield, Mass. on November 3rd. Obviously, thinking highly of their fellow comrade, they gave him this badge made of gold which is 3.5 inches high, containing military and patriotic themes.
A spread-winged American eagle with federal shield on its breast, has chain links holding a rifle cartridge with Turcotte’s full name engraved on it. A star is suspended from there, with unit and battle information on the front, and the presentation on the reverse.
Front side reads, “Battle July 1st -El Caney – 1898.” In the center, “2nd MASS. Co. D.” On the reverse, the presentation reads, “PRESENTED BY HIS FRIENDS IN HOLYOKE / ON HIS 20 BIRTHDAY ‘ NOVEMBER 1st 1898.” There are no jewelers name, so I don’t know if this was given after the return to Springfield, or something that was made near Camp Wickoff, near Montauk, New York, where the regiment was on furlough for 60 days after moving to the mainland from Cuba.
The eagle shows high relief work, with applied shield and lower legs (and claws gripping olive branches and arrows). The engraving work is first class; both lettering and accent scroll and detailed edging. The “T” bar pin and open catch are iron.
The 2nd Mass. Infantry was made up of men from the western part of the State, and they mustered into federal service between the 8 and 10 of May, 1898. They were temporarily assigned to the 5th Corps’ 2nd Cavalry brigade (along with the 1st U.S. Volunteers (Rough Riders), 10th U.S. Cavalry, 71st New York Volunteer Infantry), then again reassigned in the 2nd Division (5th Corps) along side the 8th * 22nd U.S. Infantry Regiments The regiment fought at El Caney on July 1st, with the 9th Mass Vols. and the 71st New York. one of the three volunteer infantry regiments to fight in combat during the Santiago Campaign.
During the engagement, the 2nd Mass was placed in positioned southwest near the Village of El Caney, and well into the attack, black powder smoke from the cartridges being used in their .45/70 Springfield “Trapdoor” rifles gave away their position to the Spain troops. The regiments advance was halted at that point, but not after taking casualties. They then moved toward San Juan Hill and Santiago, and once near El Pozo, they began to take heavy sniper fire from the Spaniards. They dug in on a hill nearby that position and repulsed an attack by Spanish infantry, taking on more casualties. On the third of July, news came about Admiral Dewey’s victory at Santiago, and the 2nd Mass then began to dig into trenches along with other units, and encircled Santiago until the surrender around July 16.
While encircling Santiago for several weeks following the surrender, and having to deal with disease simultaneously, the 2nd Mass was loaded on transports in mid August, where they were shipped to Montauk, on Long Island.
During their time in service the regiment lost officers,1 killed in action, 3 died of wounds, and 2 died of disease; Enlisted: 4 KIA, 41 wounded in action, 4 died of disease. Total 86 casualties.