1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry Come Home Heroes

Our Boys Return from the Philippines
Valley City
October 2, 1899

The city was gaily decorated, bands played rousing patriotic music, and townspeople by the thousands waved American flags.  That was Valley City last evening when Company G of the 1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry arrived home from a distinguished campaign in the Philippines.

When the Spanish-American War broke out in April 1898, the War Department asked the states to activate their National Guards for duty. By early May, 437 men and officers began training at Fargo. Their destination would be the Philippines which Spain owned.
During June the 1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry received more training near San Francisco and on June 27 shipped out to the Philippines. The North Dakotans arrived in Manila just as the war against Spain was ending.

Company G, Valley City, photographed in the Philippines. Courtesy of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

This did not mean that the 1st North Dakota turned around and came home — far from it!
The Filipinos had been fighting for independence from Spain for several years and had gained control of the country except for the city of Manila. When the United States took ownership of the Philippines after the peace was signed, the Filipinos began to wage their war for independence against the Americans.

For six months North Dakota’s “Boys in the Philippines” were in the thick of battle — jungle, guerrilla warfare. In that half-year the 1st North Dakota led the charge on several campaigns.

Of special note was the heroism displayed by several North Dakotans who were members of Young’s Scouts. These 25 men, 16 of whom were from North Dakota, were assigned the duty of preceding the army to gage enemy strength and positions. But they ended up doing much more than that!

Young’s Scouts.  Courtesy of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

In mid-May 1899 Young’s Scouts single-handedly drove 300 to 400 Filipinos out of the towns of San Ildefonso, San Miguel, and San Isidro — about 40 miles into rugged terrain north of Manila. Eight North Dakotans received the nation’s highest honor for their heroism during these assaults — the Congressional Medal of Honor. In all, ten NoDaks earned this coveted medal during the Philippine action.

When our boys left the Philippines on July 31, the conflict was far from over, but they had done their job well. Now all across the state, just like here in Valley City, the people are paying tribute to our boys with parades and banquets. Each returning soldier from here has received $26 in gold. This was a surprise the boys least expected.

By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton


Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

Grade Level


Subject Matter

Social Studies

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change