Slusser, James M, Pvt

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Service Years
1890 - 1898


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This Military Service Page was created/owned by SGT Rick Dunn to remember Slusser, James M, Pvt.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address
Not Specified

Casualty Date
Jul 02, 1898
Hostile, Died
Gun, Small Arms Fire
Spanish-American War/Battle of San Juan Hill
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
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Not Specified

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  1898-1898 Spanish-American War/Battle of San Juan Hill
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This remembrance profile is for PVT James Slusser who died for his country over a hundred and ten years ago.  Many will remember the battle of San Juan Hill and the Rough Riders, but who will remember  PVT James Slusser.  He was there.   His story is similar to if not exactly like those young volunteers of today.
Taking Oath
James was born in Ohio and on the enlistment records he was listed as a farmer.  No one today knows the reason why he joined, but pick any reason and it's probably just as true then as it is today.

James enlisted the first time at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansan  May 16, 1890 at the age of 25.  August 18th, a few months later he was discharge for an unknown disability.  November 12, 1891 he re-enlisted again where he was assigned to Company H 2nd Regiment US Infantry which was located at Fort Keogh, Montana.
Fort Keogh, Montana
Fort Keogh, Montana (May 2010) Officer's Quarters-Only original building still standing. 
Unit History:
As the war approached, the various companies comprising the 2nd U.S. Infantry were scattered over a large area, as was typical in the U.S. Army in its effort to defend the frontier. Specifically, Companies A, E, F, H and the regimental headquarters were located at Fort Keogh, Montana; Companies D and G were at Fort Yates, North Dakota, and Companies B and C at Fort Harrison, at Helena, Montana. From these posts the regiment was assembled and sent to Camp George H. Thomas, situated on the site of the Civil War Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia on April 26, 1898.

Company H 2nd Regiment US Infantry
By Patrick McSherry
In 1898 the Regiment was deployed to Cuba at the start of the Spanish-American War, sailing on the same ship with the Rough Riders. The Regiment fought in the battles of Santiago and San Juan Hill, where it fought on the extreme left of San Juan Heights. In August 1898, the Regiment returned to the United States only to return to Cuba in January 1899. The Regiment stayed in Cuba until September 1899 when it returned to the United States to prepare for deployment to the Philippines.

The USS Yucatan.  Private Slusser sailed on this vessel with the Rough Riders.

July 1 1898 was the day of the assault on the San Juan Heights, the pivotal land assault of the Cuban campaign. That morning the regiment was ordered to follow the 10th U.S. Infantry toward Santiago. By Noon, the regiment began to experience fire from the Spanish forces atop the ridge line known as the San Juan Heights. The regiment passed Grimes Battery, wound its way through the brush and then through the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry which was not advancing.

After crossing the San Juan River, the regiment was ordered to form on the left of the 10th U.S. Infantry, and then to mass on the rear of the heights, which had already been taken, as a reserve. From there the regiment was ordered to advance with the first battalion (Smith) being ordered to take a wooded hill on the left of the 10th U.S. Infantry's position, and the second battalion was put to the left of the first battalion. A sunken road was found and several companies of the second battalion were deployed in this naturally fortified position. The men of the 2nd U.S. Infantry faced the Spanish lines 800 to 1,150 yards away.

The position occupied by the regiment was the extreme end of the battle line, and its flank was dangerously exposed, requiring extra vigilance. The following day, the 20th U.S. Infantry was moved in on the regiment's left. At 9:30 PM on July 2, the Spanish advanced on the American line, but was repulsed.
On July 3, during a period of truce, the regiment tallied its losses finding it had SIX enlisted men killed, with four officers and 48 enlisted men wounded.
The dead were buried in Cuba and later interned in the United States.

The account of PVT Slusser's death would have been lost to the mist of time if it hadn't been recorded in a fellow soldier's diary (Robert Truly).  It reads as follows:

July 2nd Arrived at San Juan hill about three o clock P.M. A detachment of ten men of which I (Robert Truly)was one  was sent back for our equipments and blankets. By some mistake we started out between the lines and we had not gone far before we were greeted by a volley and the bullets came over our heads the same as if a gatlin gun was turned on us. A bluff was close to us and we laid down behind it and the bullets were whistling over our heads. After laying there for about five minutes we jumped up and ran. One man (Nichols of F Co.) was shot through the thigh.

After runing some distance we stoped and found that the men had ran different roads and that there was only three of us together. When we reached the place where the equipments had been left we found all the rest of the men there. We shouldered all the equipments and blankets and started back this time going along our lines and having no truble in getting back. We arrived at our camp (which was along a little crick among a lot of underbrush) and after cooking and eating supper laid to rest.

About nine oclock we were awoke by a heavy fire through the underbrush. We jumped up and one man (PVT Slusser) of H Co was shot through the heart while he was getting up. We ran up a small ravine road and were stationed along the head of the ravine untill the firing ceased. Then we found that the spaniards had tried to supprise us and retake San Juan hill. Our brigade although not on San Juan hill was still in a line with it. and that was the reason there was such a fire going through the underbrush. July 3rd Broke camp in the morning and started toward Santiago. About ten oclock was fired upon by the enemy. We deployed and marched about half a mile through under brush but did not see any thing. Went into camp and started to dig entrenchments.

Official hand written record of PVT James Slusser's death

The Spanish American War was a long time ago.  Much has changed since then except the type of men that fought these heroic battles.  They were good soldiers.  Look at the photos and you will see yourself in their faces.
The troops get hungry and must be fed.
  Objectives are taken and victories are won.
The Ultimate Price is paid.
Private James M. Slusser is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
(Site 1540D)
Monument to those who died in the Spanish American War.
Arlington National Cemetery

May they rest in peace with the warriors.

The majority of documentation was supplied by Marine TWS Member Cpl Randal Slusser (Subic 76)
Photos public domain Library of Congress.


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