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1899 to 1999 -- Documenting the American Century

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 1999 – Comparing America in 1899 to the country in 1999 may not have much validity, but it is fun. And it shows how far the country has come in 100 years.

Here are some facts about the United States and its military, then and now.

The United States had 46 states in 1899. It has 50 today.

Today, the United States has a population of 272.5 million people. In 1900, the population was 76.2 million.

The largest cities in the United States in 1899 were New York, with 3.4 million people; Chicago, with 1.6 million; Philadelphia with 1.2 million; St. Louis with 575,000 and Boston with 560,000.

Today, the largest cities are New York, with 7.3 million people, Los Angeles with 3.4 million; Chicago with 2.7 million, Houston with 1.6 million and Philadelphia with 1.5 million.

In 1899, Los Angeles was the 36th largest city in the United States with a population of 102,000. Houston didn't even crack the top 100 largest cities. In 1999, Boston -- once the fifth largest city -- ranks 20th, and St. Louis -- once the fourth largest -- ranks 34th.

In 1899, the U.S. Army had 300,000 soldiers. In 1999, there were 469,899. In 1899, there were 16,354 sailors. In 1999, there were 366,427. In 1899, there were 3,142 Marines. Today there are 171,046. There was no Air Force in 1899, because no one had yet flown. Today, the service has 362,546 airmen.

A typical light infantry company today (about 300 soldiers) has the firepower of an infantry brigade of 1899 (about 5,000). This does not take into account mortars, anti-tank rockets or hand grenades that today's soldiers have.

The typical cavalry brigade of 1899 rode horses and fired Krag-Jorgenson bolt-action rifles. Today's cavalry trooper rides to battle in a Bradley fighting vehicle, M-1A1 Abrams tank or Apache helicopter.

Typical 1899 artillery rounds could travel about 3.2 miles and but were accurate at only half that range. A Multiple Launch Rocket System artillery piece can fire up to 130 miles with fine accuracy.

The Navy's ability to strike targets on land was limited to the range of a 13.5-inch shell fired from the main guns of battleships. Today, with aerial refueling and Tomahawk cruise missiles, the Navy's reach inland can be thousands of miles.

In 1899, the military was segregated. In 1999, the military is one of the most integrated institutions in the country.

In 1899, two-cent first-class mail reached $19-a-month privates and seamen slowly. In 1999, stamps are 33 cents, but E-2s make $1,075 a month and e-mail can reach them nearly anywhere in the world almost instantly.

In 1899, the Army-Navy football rivalry restarted. The entire Corps of Cadets -- some 300 of them -- received permission to travel to Philadelphia to watch Army beat a highly favored Navy team, 17-5. In 1999, the Corps of Cadets -- now numbering 4,000 -- traveled to Philly to see the Black Knights of the Hudson lose, 19-9.

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Related Sites:
At the Dawn of the American Century
U.S. Army Center for Military History
U.S. Navy Historical Center
Library of Congress 'American Memory' Historical Collections for the National Digital Library

Click photo for screen-resolution imageCrewmen on board the USS Iowa at the turn of the century, peeling potatoes. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress/Detroit Publishing Company "American Memory Collection."   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCrewmen in the galley of the USS Iowa at the turn of the century. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress/Detroit Publishing Company "American Memory Collection."   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA Navy mess specialist and a Marine Corps cook roll dough in the bakery of the USS Enterprise to prepare the next morning's meal the crew. DoD Photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Apprentice Darryl I Wood, USN.   
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Click photo for screen-resolution image An operating room at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital, circa 1900. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress/Detroit Publishing Company "American Memory Collection."   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSurgeons and hospital corpsmen aboard the USS Constellation perform hernia repair surgery on a crewmember in September 1999 during the carrier's recent deployment to the Arabian Gulf. DoD photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Timothy C. Ward, USN.   
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Click photo for screen-resolution image Transportation of Army supplies by "Caraboo" (Water ox cart) in Manila, circa 1899. U.S. Army Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.   
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Click photo for screen-resolution image Transportation of Army supplies by "Caraboo" (Water ox cart) in Manila, circa 1899. U.S. Army Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAirmen unload an Army Blackhawk helicopter from an Air Force C-5 Galaxy at Cairo West Air Base, Egypt, for Exercise Bright Star, Oct. 2, 1999. DoD Photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Varhegyi, USAF.   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe USS Brooklyn steams in the New York naval parade, August 1898, following action in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center.   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageWith an SH-60 "Seahawk" helicopter, the U.S. Navy's guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts and nuclear powered Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Baltimore pull alongside the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington during a 1996 battle group formation exercise. DoD Photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Greg Pinkley, USN.  
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