The most recent conflict in which America had been involved was the Spanish-American War of 1898. Though the event was triggered by the mysterious sinking of an American battleship for which Cuba’s Spanish colonists were blamed, the underlying causes were economic. Cuba was at that time engaged in a violent revolt against Spanish misrule. As America had invested a great deal of money in Cuba, there was a vested interest in its bid to gain independence. After ten months of fighting, the Cuban, American and Philippine troops were victorious. December 10th 1898 saw the war formally ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris which ceded the remains of the Spanish Empire to American control.
As Caddy would have been roughly seven at the time of the war, Dalton Ames is clearly her senior. As Noel Polk points out, her love for him resembles that of Desdemona for Othello, with both women being seduced by tales of martial daring. See note below.