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The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States. It ultimately ended with the Americans defeating the Spaniards. Revolts against Spanish rule had been endemic for decades in Cuba and were closely watched by Americans; there had been war scares before, as in the Virginius Affair in 1873. By 1897–98, American public opinion grew angrier at reports of Spanish atrocities. After the mysterious sinking of the American battleship Maine in Havana harbor, political pressures from the Democratic Party pushed the government of President William McKinley, a Republican, into a war McKinley had wished to avoid. Compromise proved impossible, resulting in an ultimatum sent to Madrid demanding it relinquish control of Cuba immediately, which was not accepted. First Madrid, then Washington, formally declared war.

Although the main issue was Cuban independence, the ten-week war was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific. A series of one-sided American naval and military victories followed on all fronts, owing to their numerical superiority in most of the battles and despite the good performance of some of the Spanish infantry units. The outcome was the 1898 Treaty of Paris — which was favorable to the U.S. — followed by temporary American control of Cuba and indefinite colonial authority over Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. The defeat and subsequent end of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock for Spain's national psyche. The victor gained several island possessions spanning the globe and a rancorous new debate over the wisdom of imperialism.

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There were 28 soldiers from Washington County, Georgia, in the Spanish-American War. However, several others from the County enrolled from other places. Only one man saw service in Cuba, Forrest English of Sandersville, because he had been transferred to the Third Georgia Regiment. (See Washington County, Georgia).

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