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February 15th, 1898 – On This Day in Sioux Falls History, word of the destruction of the USS Maine, reportedly at the hands of the Spanish Navy, in Havana Harbor reaches our ears!

Cries of “Remember the Maine!” echo all across the country in the short lead up to the Spanish American War.  Sioux Falls was no different, volunteer soldiers began pouring in to town ready for training! 

A temporary camp was set up at the corner of 10th and Cliff named Camp Dewey after Commodore George Dewey who was known as the hero of the Battle of Manila Bay, a recent battle recognized as a decisive victory for the US. 

Sioux Falls supplied over 60 men including a specialized Calvary unit made of up cowboys known as Grisby’s Cowboys – named after their organizer and commander Sioux Falls resident Colonel Melvin Grisby.  Both the specialized unit and the  volunteer infantry would be trained and ready to ship out by the end of May! 

The two regiments were sent to California and eventually to the Philippines as a part of a coordinated attack on Spanish forces in the Caribbean and the Pacific. 

Sioux Falls would lose two young men in the short lived fighting of this 4 month war.  Lt. Jonas Lien was killed in battle and Pvt. Charles Eschels died from diseases contracted in camp.  Lt. Lien is the first US Service Member from Sioux Falls to die in action.  Lt. Lien’s older brother and one time Sioux Falls Mayor Burre Lien donated land to the city to create Lien Park in memory of his little brother’s sacrifice.
Sioux Falls surely Thanks all of these men for their service and dedication to freedom, with a special thanks to these two young been for paying the ultimate price to preserve liberty!