Ashel E. Pipes was a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry and during the Phillipine Insurrection, which followed the Spanish American War, his unit was sent to the Phillipine Islands to assist the US effort to control the Phillipine people.


UPDATE: (10/17/04) I have just received the military records from NARA for Ashel and the following is the Updated file for his military service.

UPDATE: (06/28/05) I just received information about the actions of the 3rd Infantry on the day Ashel was KIA and have added that document to the others and also corrected some assumptions I had made here about his being in Cuba. Many thanks to my son, Jason for his relentless work on Ashel’s story.


Ashel Pipes was born near the town of Arthur, Pike Co., Indiana in 1858. A son of James Pipes and Mary Denton and a grandson of  William Pipes and Nancy Gray of Boyle Co., Kentucky. After William’s death in Kentucky in 1855, his wife Nancy and all but one of his children moved their families to Pike Co.. James Pipes was married more than once, but the census records show Ashel in his household until 1880.


About 1887 or 1888 Ashel joined the Army, volunteering at Evansville, Indiana and until his death in 1899 he had enlisted and reenlisted several times. He had service with the 23rd, 12th, 6th and 3rd Infantry. He was always a ‘Foot Soldier’ and was stationed at various locations in the Midwest. His records indicate that he was a good soldier with excellent and honorable ratings of his service. There is also mention of a brief marriage and divorce but the woman’s name is not given.


In early 1899 the 3rd Infantry was assigned to assist with the suppression of the Phillipine population as they rose up and demanded that the Americans leave the Islands after the Spanish had been politically and militarily defeated in the western hemisphere. I now have specific details of the actions that lead to his death, he was Killed in Action on May 23rd, 1899 near a place identified as Maasin, of a gunshot wound. Maasin is a small town on the Island of Leyte. The actions involving the 3rd Infantry on May 23rd were in an area about 20 miles north of Manila and occurred as they withdrew back towards the city from a northern outpost. He was interred at the military cemetery in Manila. His effects were sent to his sister, Anne Humphrey of Oakland City, Pike Co..


In March of 1900 Ashel’s body was transferred to the Presidio Cemetery in San Francisco either at the request of his family or by order of the US Military.


His records are fairly extensive and difficult to interpret with certainty regarding his enlistments. There are at least 6 enlistments, 2 transfers, 4 discharges and 1 reenlistment. The records give conflicting dates and mention many different units. Often it is confusing if the units mentioned are the unit joined or the unit of the enlisting officer. I will continue to work on the history of Ashel E. Pipes.


We originally thought that Ashel was in the Cuba Campaign, but his records do not indicate that. So until I have better clarification I will continue to work on that part of his story. The 3rd US Infantry participated in the Battle of El Caney on the island of Cuba with the Fifth Army Corps, so I have left the original Fifth Corp, 3rd US Infantry articles in place.


FIFTH CORPS, U.S. ARMY. Organized at Tampa, Florida, it was placed under the command of Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter on 16 May 1898. Composed mostly of regular infantry and cavalry, the Fifth Corps left Tampa on 29 transports on 14 June for Daiquirí, Cuba. After many soldiers had been left behind because of a lack of transports, the force only included 819 officers and 16,058 enlisted men, of which on 2,465 were volunteers. The Fifth Corps landed at Daiquiri and Siboney, Cuba, beginning 22 June, and subsequently fought in the Battles of Las Guásimas (24 June), El Caney (1 July), Kettle Hill (1 July), and San Juan Hill (1 July) and received the capitulation of Santiago, Cuba, on 17 July.

Beginning 7 August, because of the prevalence of disease, the corps was withdrawn to Camp Wikoff, Montauk Point, Long Island, New York. Numbering 1,109 officers and 20,761 enlisted in August, its regular units were quickly reassigned, so that by September it consisted of 218 officers and 5,136 enlisted. It was formally disbanded on 7 October 1898 at Camp Wikoff. During the war the corps sustained 243 killed in action, 1,445 wounded, and lost 771 men to disease.

FIFTH CORPS’S EXPEDITION TO SANTIAGO, CUBA. On 30 May 1898, Maj. Gen. William H. Shafter was ordered to proceed under convoy to Santiago, Cuba, and capture or destroy the garrison and with the aid of the navy to capture or destroy Adm. Pascual Cervera’s Squadron. By 6 June, the 29 transports and six support vessels had been loaded with ordnance. It was then discovered that the carrying capacity was 18,000—20,000 troops, not 27,000 as had been planned; therefore, many troops were left behind as they began to board the transports during the evening of 6 June. A mad scramble to get to the docks ensued. The Ninth U.S. Infantry stole a wagon train to get to the docks. The Seventy-First New York Infantry commandeered a train at bayonet point. Theodore Roosevelt stole both a train to get to the docks and a ship for his Rough Riders upon arriving at the docks. On 8 June, the Fifth Corps left Tampa, Florida, only to be ordered to halt by Secretary of War Russell A. Alger at 2:00 p.m. because of a report of a Spanish squadron in the Bahamas Channel. After the mystery of the “Ghost Squadron” was cleared up, the corps finally departed on 14 June escorted by 13 naval vessels.
In addition to the Fifth Corps, the expedition included 30 civilian clerks, 272 teamsters and packers, 107 stevedores, 89 correspondents, and 11 foreign military observers. No fewer than 2,295 animals accompanied the expedition: 959 horses, of which 381 were private, and 1,336 pack and draft mules. Along with 112 six-mule and 81 escort wagons, there were seven ambulances, and one observation balloon. Artillery was in short supply as only four batteries of light artillery, two batteries of siege guns, one Hotchkiss rapid-fire revolving cannon, one pneumatic dynamite gun, and four Gatling guns were carried in the expedition. The expedition steamed east along the northern Cuban coast, rounded the eastern end of the island, and began to land on 22 June at Daiquirí.


THIRD U.S. INFANTRY, U.S. ARMY. Commanded by Col. John H. Page, the regiment left Fort Snelling in Minnesota, went to Mobile, Alabama, and arrived at Tampa, Florida, where it was assigned to the Independent Brigade, under command of Brig. Gen. John C. Bates, in the Second Division of the Fifth Corps. It went to Daiquirí, Cuba, on the transport Breakwater. Consisting of 21 officers and 464 enlisted men, the regiment fought in the Battle of El Caney on 1 July 1898, sustaining casualties of two dead and three wounded. After sustaining 18 total casualties, the regiment left on the Yale on 19 August, for Camp Wikoff, Montauk Point, Long Island, New York.


EL CANEY, CUBA. A small village about six miles northeast of Santiago, Cuba, that was close to the reservoir that supplied water to Santiago, its main defenses, which were supported by trenches and rifle pits and surrounded by barbed wire, consisted of wooden blockhouses to the west and north, a stone church, and its strong point, a stone fort, El Viso, which was on a hill about 450 yards southeast of the hamlet. Three companies of the Constitution Regiment, one company of dismounted guerrillas, 40 soldiers of the Cuba Regiment, and 50 soldiers of the mobilized forces, totaling 521 men, were stationed here under the command of Brig. Gen. Joaquín Vara del Rey. As part of Santiago’s outer defensive line, it was attacked and taken after a ten-hour battle on 1 July 1898, by the Second Division of the Fifth Corps.

After a 3 July meeting between the foreign consuls in Santiago and U.S. officials, Santiago’s civilians were allowed to evacuate Santiago and move to El Caney. Subsequently, close to 20,000 civilians arrived. Horrible conditions soon developed, and Frederick W. Ramsden, British consul at Santiago, reported starvation at El Caney by 8 July. On 14 July, the refugees drew up a petition asking to return to Santiago. Their request was granted by American and Spanish authorities, and by 16 July they had returned to Santiago.

BATTLE OF EL CANEY, CUBA (1 JULY 1898). According to the plan of Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter, El Caney was to be attacked and taken within two hours by the 6,653-man Second Division under the command of Brig. Gen. Henry W. Lawton, and then Lawton’s force would join in the main attack on the San Juan Heights on 1 July 1898. However, the Spanish 521-man defending garrison, commanded by Brig. Gen. Joaquín Vara del Rey and armed only with Mauser rifles, held off the U.S. attack for ten hours before succumbing.
With Brig. Gen. William Ludlow’s brigade on the U.S. left, Brig. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee’s brigade on the right, and Col. Evan Miles’s brigade held in reserve in the center, the U.S. attack, which took the form of a gradually closing in semicircle, began at 6:35 a.m. when Capt. Allyn Capron’s battery of four light artillery pieces opened fire on the village. Even though Lawton’s force was reinforced with the arrival of Brig. Gen. John C. Bates’s Independent Brigade, the U.S. forces failed to carry the position; moreover, Lawton was ordered to break off the attack. His request to continue was granted, and at 2:00 p.m. Capron’s battery, which had been moved to within 1,000 yards of the Spanish positions, began to breach the walls of the stone fort. After the stone fort was taken by the Twelfth Infantry and Twenty-Fourth Infantry shortly after 3:00 p.m., fighting continued until 5:00 p.m.

Having run out of ammunition, the Spanish forces, reduced to 80 effectives, retreated. They had sustained 235 casualties, including the deaths of Brig. Gen. Vara del Rey and his two sons. About 100 men managed to get back to Santiago, and 126 were taken prisoner. U.S. casualties included 81 dead and 360 wounded. As Lawton’s division moved out for the San Juan Heights at 8:00 p.m., the battle had produced a feeling of mutual respect between Spanish and American soldiers.