US Navy Spanish Campaign Medal to Capt. Louis A. Kaiser
US Navy Spanish Campaign Medal # 4244, issued to Commander (later Captain) Louis A. Kaiser in 1912, for service aboard the gunboat USS Concord during the Spanish American War. The medal is an original Bailey, Banks and Biddle strike, and has been recently re-ribboned with the second pattern ribbon that was adopted in 1913. The brooch is the correct split wrap type with open catch. The medal is in overall good condition but shows some spots of verdigris and discoloration. It is attributed to Commander Kaiser by a copy of the transmittal letter from the Bureau of Navigation, which is shown below.

The Spanish Campaign medal was established by Navy Department Special Order No. 81, of June 27, 1908. It was awarded to Navy personnel who served aboard ships in Philippine waters between May 1 and August 16, 1898. Many of the recipients also received the Dewey Medal for the Battle of Manila Bay. (The West Indies version of this medal was awarded to those who served in Cuban waters during the war.)

I previously sold this medal on eBay in 2007 for $925 and have recently reacquired it.

Price $875









The transmittal letter shown below was a pre-printed form letter that was filled in with the medal number and the ship of qualifying service. The lower portion of the letter was to be detached by the recipient and returned to the bureau to acknowledge receipt of the medal. (In the early 1900s the Bureau of Navigation also handled all personnel matters, including the distribution of medals. Also note that campaign medals were referred to as “badges” until WWI.) This letter to Commander Kaiser is in the US Navy correspondence files at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The image shown below is a computer scan of the letter. The original letter is NOT included with the medal, but a color copy will be provided.




Shown below is a contemporary photo of then Ensign Kaiser, which comes from a book on the Battle of Manila Bay that was published by William W. Galt in 1900. It contains photos of all officers of the fleet who took part in the battle.






The following photo was also taken from the Battle of Manila Bay book described above. It shows Ensign Kaiser (marked by the white arrow) and his gun crew immediately after the battle. It’s very rare to find an attributed campaign medal with a photo of the recipient taken at the time of the battle in which he earned the medal. A copy of this picture is included in the research file that will be provided with the medal.






The gunboat USS Concord during the Spanish American War era:




Click here to see additional photos of the USS Concord during the Spanish American War.


The recipient of this Spanish Campaign Medal, Captain Louis Anthony Kaiser, was born in Kirkwood, Illinois on April 1, 1870. He was appointed to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1885 and graduated in 1889. Following graduation he was assigned to the USS Mohican, where he served for two years. Between 1891 and 1896 he also served on the ships “Chicago”, “Yantic”, “Alliance”, “Detroit”, “Michigan”, and “Monadnock”. In May of 1897 he was ordered to the gunboat USS Concord, as watch and duty officer.

While serving on the Concord, Ensign Kaiser participated in the Battle of Mania Bay on May 1st, 1898, and the subsequent operations in the Philippine Islands during the Spanish American War.

Click here for a history of the USS Concord during the Spanish American War era.

Click here for the after action reports of the Commander and the Executive Officer of the USS Concord, following the Battle of Manila Bay. The first report mentions Ens. Kaiser by name.

Click here for the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships entry on the USS Concord.

In December of 1898, Kaiser was promoted to Lieutenant, junior grade and several months later he was assigned to command the collier USS Nanshan. During this time he also served briefly as acting-Governor of Guam, in preparation for the arrival of Governor Richard Phillips Leary. In the fall of 1899 Kaiser was transferred to the gunboat USS Wheeling and participated in the Philippine Insurrection aboard that vessel before returning to the United States. (See my other auction for Kaiser’s Philippine Campaign Medal.)

In 1904, he was transferred to the Bureau of Equipment. In this role, Kaiser was a pioneer in early wireless transmissions and conducted many of the early tests of wireless telegraphy. In 1905, he demonstrated a 1100+ mile range while testing it aboard the USS Brooklyn. Following promotion to Lieutenant Commander in 1905, he was invited to speak on these innovations to the Washington Society of Engineers in Washington, DC.

In 1912, he served aboard the cruiser USS Montgomery. The following year, he transferred to the USS Tennessee before being promoted to Commander. He served in the Boston Naval Yard and Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island in 1915, before commanding the battleship USS New Jersey and receiving a promotion to Captain.

During WWI he served at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia. Following the war he commanded of a number of different shore stations. In 1926 Captain Kaiser retired from the US Navy after more than 40 years of active duty.

Below is an outline of Kaiser’s service from 1885 until his promotion to Captain in 1917.




Captain Kaiser died on August 12, 1939 at Jamestown, Rhode Island, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A photo of his grave is shown below.






The research file that accompanies this medal includes:
- A color copy of the 1912 transmittal letter for Spanish Campaign Medal. :
- A brief “Who’s Who” entry. :
- A detailed listing of duty stations from 1889 to 1904. :
- An outline of naval service from 1889 to 1926, listing all promotions. :
- 1918 and 1925 Navy Register entries. :
- Two newspaper obituaries on Captain Kaiser’s death. :
- A photo of Kaiser’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. :
- Other miscellaneous research related to Captain Kaiser and his family.

This is a very nice example of an officer’s campaign medal, awarded for service that included participation in the Battle of Manila Bay, one of the most famous engagements in US Navy history.
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