Spoils of War take their name from an instrument constructed by modern avant garde composer Harry Partch. The original band consisted of Cuomo, guitarist Al Ierardi (aka Ral-Eardi), bassist Roger Francisco (aka Ro-Fran), drummer Frank Garvey (aka Big City Frank) and James Stroud handling electronic and lighting effects. In 1968 Annie Williams (aka Annie Whitefish, and later Annie The Hat) joined on vocals with occasional contributions from cellist Paul Chouinard. In 1969, Francisco and Garvey were replaced by bassist Bob Witmer, drummer Charles Braugham and trombonist Lawrence Dwyer from the University of Illinois Jazz Band. Other contributing musicians from this brief period include Cal Drake, Steve Larner, Kathie Bennett and Elliott Delman.
After releasing two privately pressed EPs, Spoils of War disbanded in early 1970 when Cuomo relocated to France to become musical director of the LaMama Experimental Theatre Club and eventually formed the progressive acoustic folk band Mormos. Cuomo recorded a half dozen tracks in the mid 1970's which included mostly European session musicians, including ex Timebox and Patto (2) bassist Clive Griffiths. These recordings were retroactively credited as the Spoils Of War when the bulk of their 1967-1970 recordings (including unreleased demos and the two original EPs) were released in LP form in the late 1990's.