Overview: The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

The North Dakota National Guard originated in the Dakota Military Militia of the 1860s. The Guard was and is a citizen-soldier army which enlists its members as volunteers. By 1885, the Dakota National Guard totaled 1,000 men in two infantry regiments, a cavalry battalion, and an artillery battery. The governor acted as “Commander in Chief” and directed the appointments and the affairs of the Guard. Because the nation’s regular standing army was small, in time of emergency the president would ask the governor to mobilize the state’s Guard for active federal duty.

Such was the case on April 25, 1898, when President William McKinley sent a telegram to Governor Briggs: “It is the wish of the President that the regiments of the National Guard shall be used.” Why? On February 5, 1898, the U.S.S. Maine mysteriously blew up in the harbor in Havana, Cuba. The United States blamed Spain, who owned Cuba. On April 24 war was declared against Spain to free Cuba from Spanish control. McKinley needed North Dakota’s and other states’ national guards.

The North Dakota National Guard went to the Philippines which was under Spanish control. There the Guard was involved in fierce fighting in 1898 and 1899.

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