The Cuba history collections Part four

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Cuba History Collections

Part Four

Spanish-Cuban-American War

 

Created By

Dr iwan suwandy,MHA

Copyright@2012

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War

 

 

 

 

 

 

1895

February 24 –

Second Cuban Insurrection begins.

1895

April –

 

 General Gomez,

 

 General Antonio Maceo,

 

 Jose Maceo,

 Cebreco, Crombet, Guerra,

 

 Jose Marti

 

and Borrero land in Cuba

May 19 – 

 

Cuban Jose Marti killed in encounter at Dos Rios Oriente Province.

June 13 –

 

Spanish General Fidel de Santoclides killed in

 

 the battle of Peralejo Oriente Province.  He died, killed by sharpshooter Andres Fernandez of

 

Antonio Maceo’s escort, while protecting

 

Arsenio Martinez Campos Spanish Governor of Cuba. 

 

Martinez Campos takes refuge in Bayamo and is soon removed from his position and returned to Spain.

September 17 –

 Battleship MAINE commissioned.

 

 

October 1895-January 1896. 

 

Antonio Maceo and

 

Maximo Gomez take their forces on

 

 the “La Invasion” fighting almost every day from Mangos de Baragua Oriente Province eastern Cuba to

 

Mantua, in Pinar del Rio Province in extreme western Cuba.

November 30, 1895

 

 Battle at Iguara. 

It is in  this “La Invasion” encounter that

 

Winston Churchill is given a medal “Red Cross” by the Spanish.  Spanish claim  victory but numerically inferior Cubans continue to advance.

1896

 

EL BANCO DE ESPANA EN LA ISLA DE CUBA!!! 1896

 

 

1896 Cuba 5 Pesos EL BANCO ESPANOL VF

ISSUED in 1896 BY SPAIN AND PRINTED BY THE AMERICAN BANK NOTE CO. N.Y.THE WORD “PLATA” IS STAMPED ON THE BACK OF THE BILL IN RED LETTERS. A BEAUTIFUL BILL IN GOOD CONDITIONS, 4.5 X 2.75 INCHES

 

1896 CUBA 50 PESOS BANK NOTE KP #50a BANCO ESPANOL

January, 1896 –

 

 

Antonio Maceo and

 

Maximo Gomez end their “La Invasion.”

February 16 –

 

 

General Weyler issues first of reconcentrado orders.

 

February, 1896: Reconcentration Policy

In 1896, General Weyler of Spain implemented the first wave of the Spanish “Reconcentracion Policy” that sent thousands of Cubans into concentration camps. Under Weyler’s policy, the rural population had eight days to move into designated camps located in fortified towns; any person who failed to obey was shot. The housing in these areas was typically abandoned, decaying, roofless, and virtually unihabitable. Food was scarce and famine and disease quickly swept through the camps. By 1898, one third of Cuba’s population had been forcibly sent into the concentration camps. Over 400,000 Cubans died as a result of the Spanish Reconcentration Policy.

Bibliography:

Dyal, Donald H.. Historical Dictionary of the Spanish American War. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT, 1996.

O’Toole, G.J.A., The Spanish War: An American Epic-1898. W.W. Norton & Company: New York, 1984

 

March 24 – 

 

Calixto Garcia, escaped from Spain, arrives in Cuba with well armed expedition.

August 26 –

 Philippine Revolution begins.

December, 7 –

 

Antonio Maceo

 

killed in encounter at

 

 

Punta Brava,

 

 Havana Province.

December 30:

Filipino national hero Dr. Jose Rizal is executed by Spanish troops.

1897

March 4 –

 

William McKinley inaugurated as president of the United States.

March 13 –

 

Calixto Garcia now using cannon

 

enters the fortified town of Jiguani Oriente Province.

June 19 –

 

Stewart Woodford appointed U.S. Minister to Spain

August 8 –

 

One hundred and fourteen years ago today, in the tiny Spanish spa town of Santa Agueda, Spain’s autocratic and much-hated

prime minister Cánovas del Castillo was assassinated:

gunned down as a final act of revenge by an Italian anarchist who could no longer tolerate this Spaniard’s decade-long policies of Neo Inquisition-style repression.

For the brutal Medieval-style torture of Castillo’s enemies – from mainland Spain to its American colonies – had long included the burning of victims’ flesh, the breaking of their bones, even the removal of their tongues. 

 To the insufferable autocrat Cánovas del Castillo, such modern concepts as Universal Suffrage and Freedom of Religion could be met with only one response: brute force.

But while the extreme sufferings of his Cuban colonists had long been the subject of international debate, it was right here on the Spanish mainland itself that Cánovas would perpetrate his worst crimes, concentrated acts of such bloodlust and bitterness that they would only drive ‘his’ people away from such pro-royal, pro-church nationalism towards those concepts of Catalan and Basque Separatism that still resound even today.

But the infamous incident which precipitated Cánovas del Castillo’s assassination – his singlemost controversial and most pivotal action yet perpetrated against the Spanish people – occurred in Barcelona, during the Corpus Christi Day processions of June 7th 1896, when a bomb – thrown by an unknown, and apparently randomly – succeeded in killing five Spanish workmen and a policemen.

 Using this as an excuse for more extraordinary brute force, Cánovas del Castillo had over 400 arrested and incarcerated inside the hilltop fortress of Montjuic (‘the hill of the Jews’), where torture, squalid conditions and the insufferable Mediterranean summer heat killed many as they awaited trial.

On hearing the accounts of Cánovas’ policies directly from the mouths of fleeing Spaniards who had suffered under his dreadful policies, the London-based Italian anarchist

 

Michele Angiolillo

decided that extreme action must be taken immediately. And so, traveling to Spain with just a small suitcase containing a few sticks of dynamite and two revolvers, Angiolillo followed his target to the spa town of Santa Agueda, where – on the afternoon of August 8th – he shot and killed Cánovas del Castillo just as the prime minister sat enjoying the spa waters. The assassin was at once apprehended but offered no resistance. Angiolillo was put before a summary court martial and confessed to the assassination, insisting that he had acted alone as a reprisal for the institutional murder of his comrades at Montjuic.

 He was sentenced to death on 20th August 1897. To the spectators who had come to view his execution, Angiolillo’s final word was “Germinal” – being the seventh month of the French Republic calendar.

Having at no time during his trial nor during the days leading up to his execution shown any sign of remorse, Angiolillo then walked calmly to his execution by strangulation at the garrote.

Several days later, at a New York celebration of Michele Angiolillo’s heroic actions, the Italian anarchist Salvatore Pallavencini emphatically declared the anarchist position thus: “The man who killed Cánovas was a martyr to the cause of humanity and progress.” He concluded: “Anarchists think it is better to kill a ruler who is a tyrant than to have a revolution in which thousands have to die because of his acts.”

 

Spanish Prime Minister

 

 Canovas assassinated.

 

August 30 –

 

The Spanish forts

 at Tunas, north western Oriente Province fall to

 

Calixto Garcia.

 

 

October 4 –

 

Prime Minister Sagasta takes office in Spain.

October 31-

 

 Prime Minister Sagasta recalls

 

 General Weyler from Cuba.

 

November 28 –

 

The Spanish forts at Guisa, Northern foothills of Sierra Maestra Oriente Province,  fall to Calixto Garcia

Read more Info

 

1895:

1895 COLOMBIA. U.S. troops invade the Colombian state of Panama to “protect American interests”.

1895: UNITED STATES. Josiah Strong, minister of the Christian religion, publishes Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis, in which he contends that the United States, as the home of the “superior” Anglo-Saxon race, has an obligation to spread political “liberty”, “Christianity” and “civilization”. Strong’s book was enormously popular and the first edition sold 158,000 copies. The delusions of racial, moral and societal superiority promulgated by Strong were an important factor in encouraging Americans of the day to rationalize U.S. aggression against other nations.

1895: COLOMBIA. U.S. Marines invade the Colombian state of Panama. Again.

1895: UNITED STATES. Whites attack black workers in New Orleans killing six.

1896: UNITED STATES. Once again in the forefront of freedom and liberty, the United States Supreme Court puts its stamp of approval on apartheid in the land of the free. In Plessy v. Ferguson the Court rules that “separate but equal” facilities satisfy guarantees under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

1895-98: UNITED STATES. Yellow media mogul and Nazi mouthpiece-to-be William Randolph Hearst and yellow media tycoon Joseph Pulizter engage in a contest to see which man can reduce American journalistic standards to the lowest possible level. A mixture of exaggeration, outright lies and fabrications, jingoistic nonsense, xenophobia and sensationalism, so-called “yellow journalism”, apparently sells newspapers in the U.S. and Hearst and Pulitzer strive to outdo each other in their race to the sewers. The two newspaper barons play the major role in “manufacturing consent” by manipulating the U.S. public before and during the long-planned war which led to the U.S. invasions of Cuba, the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico.

In fantasyland America, Pulitzer, who plumbed the depths of sleazy and dishonest publishing, will ultimately be remembered only for the Pulitzer Prize, ironically intended as a recognition of quality journalism.

1896: UNITED STATES. Vivisection gets a boost when Dr. Arthur Wentworth performs spinal taps on twenty nine children at Children’s Hospital in Boston to determine if the procedure is harmful.

1896: NICARAGUA. U.S. Marines invade the port of Corinto.

1896: UNITED STATES. Corporations directly buy their first presidential election. William McKinley is elected with $6 million in cash from from corporations. His opponent, populist William Jennings Bryan, has only $600,000 to spend on the campaign. The six mil buys McKinley’s campaign hundreds of trained speakers, millions of posters, buttons, and billboards, and three hundred million campaign flyers printed in nine languages.

McKinley was peculiarly susceptible to the boys with the money. In 1893, he had been rescued from bankruptcy with $100,000, a pretty big chunk of change in 1893, by a conspiracy, sorry, consortium, of John D. Rockefeller, his friend Mark Hanna and similar types. Hanna duly became McKinley’s top political adviser and chairman of the Republican National Committee. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust kicked in a cool quarter million to McKinley’s election campaign. And, to keep Rockefeller’s rival, J.P. Morgan, happy, his minion Garret A. Hobart, the director of various Morgan enterprises including the Liberty National Bank of New York, was made Vice-president, nicely rounding out the robber baron ticket.

A grateful McKinley will soon, on behalf of the same corporate interests who bought his election, preside over the illegal annexation of the nation of Hawaii and a war of empire against Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

All questions in a democracy
are questions of money.

Mark Hanna

McKinley’s Campaign Manager


1896: UNITED STATES. State militia are used to break a miners’ strike in Leadville, Colorado.

1897-ongoing: UNITED STATES. America’s leading merchants of death, the Dupont family, enter into a conspiracy with their European competitors to monopolize the world gunpowder market. Better killing through chemistry.

1897: UNITED STATES. Theodore Roosevelt, tightly allied to the J.P. Morgan banking interests, is made Assistant Secretary of the Navy. During a speech at the U.S. Naval War College where plans for a war of empire against Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines have been under development since 1894, Roosevelt says, “diplomacy is utterly useless where there is no force behind it; the diplomat is the servant, not the master, of the soldier…No triumph of peace is quite so great as the supreme triumphs of war.”

1896: NICARAGUA. U.S. forces invade the Nicaraguan port of Corinto to “protect American interests”.

1897: UNITED STATES. At the Lattimer Mine in Pennsylvania, a sheriff and his deputies open fire on striking mineworkers, killing nineteen. Most of the victims are shot in the back.

I897: UNITED STATES. Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, sends a cable to Admiral George Dewey advising him to prepare for an attack on the Spanish fleet in the Philippines pending “developments” in Cuba. Whoa there Teddy, we haven’t blown the Maine up yet. And six weeks before the Maine does blow up, Roosevelt writes a letter to his very good friend, gun runner William Astor Chanler, saying, “I earnestly hope that events will so shape themselves that we must interfere (in Cuba) some time not in the distant future

 

Chronology of the Spanish American War

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Maps

 

1898

 January 8 –

 

A second appeal by President McKinley for contributions to aid suffering Cubans
                      announced the co-operation of

 

 the American Red Cross Society.
         

 January 12 –


                      Rioters instigated by volunteers in Havana made a demonstration against newspaper
                      offices of
El Reconcentrado.
         

 

 

January 17 –


                      General Lee,

 

in communications to the State Department, suggested that a ship to protect Americans in Havana

in the event of another riot
         

January 21 –


                      General Castellanos

with 1,600 troops raided Esperanza, the seat of the insurgent
                      government in the Cubitas Mountains. Government officials escaped.
         

January 24 –


                      Battleship
Maine ordered to Havana.
         

January 25 –


                      Battleship
Maine arrived at Havana and moored at the govermnent anchorage.
         

January 25 –


                      Filibuster steamer
Tillie foundered in Long Island Sound, four men drowned.
     
   

  January 27 –
                      Brigadier-General Aranguren was surprised and killed

 

in his camp near Tapaste, Havana
                      province, by

 

 Lieutenant-Colonel Benedicto with the Spanish Reina Battalion.

He  recently put to death Lieutenant-Colonel Ruiz, who had brought him an offer of money from

 

Captain-General Blanco

to accept autonomy.

February 9 –
                      Copy of a letter written by

 Dupuy de Lome attacking President McKinlev printed.

 

Señor Dupuy de Lome

admitted writing the letter, and his recall was demanded  Department.
      

   February 15 –

Feb. 15 — USS Maine explodes, sinks; 266 crewmen lost. The Maine’s captain urges suspension of judgment on the cause of the explosion.


         USS MAINE blowned up            

264 men and two officers killed

 

 spanish  Minister De Lome

sailed for Spain.
        

February 16 –


                      General Lee

asked for a court of inquiry on the Maine disaster.
        

February 17 –
                      Captains W. T. Samps and F. E. Chadwick, and Lieutenant-Commanders W. P. Potter
                      and Adolph Marix, detailed as

 

 

 

Naval Board of Inquiry.
        

February 18 –


                      Spanish warship
Vizcaya arrived at New York harbor.


         February 21 –


                      Naval court of inquiry arrived at Havana and began investigation
        

I897: UNITED STATES. Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, sends a cable to Admiral George Dewey advising him to prepare for an attack on the Spanish fleet in the Philippines pending “developments” in Cuba. Whoa there Teddy, we haven’t blown the Maine up yet. And six weeks before the Maine does blow up, Roosevelt writes a letter to his very good friend, gun runner William Astor Chanler, saying, “I earnestly hope that events will so shape themselves that we must interfere (in Cuba) some time not in the distant future.”

 February 25 –


                  
Vizcaya sailed from New York for Havana.
          

   March 6 –
                      Spain unofficially asks for

 

Fitzhugh Lee’s recall.

 

Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee

(1835 – 1905)


General:

Former Confederate Major-General Fitzhugh Lee was the consul-general of the United States to Havana, Cuba at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War.  During the war he commanded the VII Army Corps.

Biography:

The son of a U.S. (and later Confederate) naval officer, Lee was born in Virginia in 1835.  He attended the West Point Military Academy from 1852-1856, flirting with expulsion for pranks before graduating 45 out of a class of 49.

Following graduation, Lee served as a cavalry officer in Texas for two and a half years before being appointed an assistant instructor of tactics at West Point in late 1860.  While in Texas, Lee saw his first combat in battles against Indians.  He was seriously wounded in a skirmish on May 19, 1859.

Lee’s tenure as an instructor at his alma mater would last only 6 months. Like many Southern officers (including Lee’s famous uncle, Robert E. Lee) he resigned his commission in May, 1861 and was named a first lieutenant in the regular Confederate army shortly after.

Promotion in the Confederate army was fast for young Lee (far faster than it would have been in a peacetime US Army!); he rose to lieutenant-colonel in August, then to brigadier-general the following July.  His highest rank, major-general, would be attained in September, 1863; after achieving his greatest notoriety in the Battle of  Chancellorsville where, leading the only full brigade of Confederate cavalry, he guarded the Confederate’s flanking march around Union General Hooker’s exposed right wing.

Lee saw much more action throughout the war.  In September, 1864 he was wounded again and out of action for four months.  By the time of his return, however, the Southern fate was all but certain. Lee surrendered on April 11, 1865.

Following a short stint as a Union prisoner, Lee turned his efforts to farming, taking pride in his success in the endeavor.  In addition to farming Lee wrote several books in this period.  He also began improving his political skills.  Lacking any boastfulness and quick-witted, with an excellent sense of humor, the above-average soldier was an even better politician.  The unusual mix of abilities would serve him well.

The public arena beckoned a return in 1885, as Lee’s famous name and popular personality gained him election as governor of Virginia.  Though his single term was relatively uneventful, it served to cast him in the political arena.  In 1893 he was defeated for the Democratic nomination to the United States Senate.  The following year hewrote his finest book, a biography of Uncle Robert E. Lee.

Democratic President Grover Cleveland, battling the continued economic woes of the 1890’s, diplomatic troubles with Spain and England, and harsh congressional critics such as conservative Henry Cabot Lodge, appointed Lee consul-general to Havana in 1896.

Lee arrived in June to an island torn by civil war and mass poverty. Three weeks after his arrival he informed the State Department that Cuban rebels did not have the strength to drive the Spanish out, but that the Spanish were equally unable to subdue the rebellion.  He railed against the Spanish tactics to suppress the rebels and fought for the rights of American citizens in Cuba (including some suspected by the Spanish of aiding the rebels and held captive in Cuba, such as crewmen of the filibustering vessel COMPETITOR, and Dr. Ricardo Ruiz de Ugarrio y Salvador, a naturalized American citizen).

Ironically, Lee won the praise of Cleveland’s staunchest critics, who used Lee’s strong stance against Spain as further fuel against the more benevolent President.  Lodge wrote of Lee’s “good sense and firm courage,” while lamenting that Lee “was not sustained by the (Cleveland) Administration as he should have been.”

December, 1897 saw more unrest in Havana.  While much of the violence wasactually caused by the Cuban rebels (often directed toward American-owned sugar plantations), Lee’s concern was chiefly the safety of Americans in Cuba, thus causing him to exaggerate the threat he feared from Cubans loyal to Spain. Lee requested a warship be ready in Key West in case violence erupted.  The MAINE was ordered to Florida in January, and Captain Sigsbee maintained steady communication with the consul-general’s office. Early that month, the situation appeared to Lee to have taken aturn for the worse.  He sent a preliminary signal to Sigsbee, prompting him to ready hisship.  Whether Lee felt he had over-estimated the danger or the situation calmed, he never sent a further call for the MAINE. President McKinley and Navy Secretary John Long, however, did order MAINE to Havana.

 

Though Lee was unnerved by the MAINE‘s sudden arrival when he had specifically advised against it’s visit at that time, months later he would recall the arrival as “a beautiful sight and one long to be remembered.”  Perhaps this underscored his ownuncertainty of the situation.  Adding to the uncertainty was the prospect of growingGerman influence in the Caribbean (which, some speculate, was McKinley‘s motivationin sending the MAINE to Cuba).  Whatever the reasoning, late 1897-early-1898 saw Lee take a step back from his earlier blatant criticism of the Spanish. Proponents of Leein 1896-8 saw his actions as decisive and pro-American, leading nicely to the “splendid little war,” while later critics would charge that his misreading of theCuban situation(which, some would believe was intentional) moved both sides closer to war.

 

 

In spite of Lee’s misgivings, MAINE arrived in Havana on January 25.  Lee and Sigsbee were treated to a bullfight by hosting Spanish officers as part of the “good will” visit.  Underneath it all, however, was an undeniable tension.  Washington soon began to realize that the presence of the MAINE would only serve temporary goals, and many wondered how long she should remain in Havana.

One of those who worried about overstaying his welcome was Secretary of Navy Long.  Nearly the opposite of his fiery assistant, Theodore Roosevelt, Long openly considered pulling the MAINE out of Cuba.  Upon that suggestion, Lee threw away earlier  objections to  the ships visit, and both he and Sigsbee strongly opposed withdrawing the MAINE, unless it was relieved by another warship. “Many will claimSpain demanded it should go,” Lee wrote Washington,” we are master of the situationhere and I would not disturb or alter it.”

The explosion of the MAINE on February 15 suddenly changed everything. While McKinley and Washington moved closer to war by the day, Lee’s chief concern was the safety and evacuation of Americans in Cuba.  As threats and ultimatums grew more intense, Lee cabled the President for more time, stating that he could not assure the safety of all Americans by Tuesday, April 5, a deadline previously set for Spanish agreement to terms set forth by the White House.  He requested McKinley delay any statements until at least Saturday the 9th.  Under intense pressure McKinley stalled, delaying the message that would lead to war until Monday, April 11, a day after Lee’s arrival in Florida.

Following his return to a hero’s welcome in the U.S., Lee was commissioned major-general of volunteers and assigned the VII Army Corps.  The appointment was largely political, as McKinley had made it a point to place a few well known former Confederate officers in key commands to unite the nation (Joe Wheeler was another).  VII Corps trained in preparation of a major role in a fall offensive, though the war’s quick end (quicker than many thought, that is) kept VII Corps from any action. Lee’s logistical and planning abilities and previous military experience exhibited itself through the VII Corp’s few health and administrative problems; problems which plagued many of the other army corps.  After the war he commanded what amounted to an army of occupation in Havana and was charged with the restoration of order on the island.

Fitzhugh Lee retired a brigadier-general on March 2, 1901.  He died four years later. Lee was buried in his U.S. Army uniform, which caused one ex-Confederate to say “What’ll [deceased Confederate general] Stonewall think when Fitz turns up in heaven wearing that!”

 


            

 March 8 –


                      $50,000,000 war fund

voted unanimously by the House of Representatives.
            

5 Silver US Dollars 1896

 

 

 

US $2 1896

 
 
 
Silver Certificate
1 Dollar – Series of 1886
Signs: Rosecrans/ Nebeker
Condition: VF
 
Martha Washington
 
 
 
Price: $ 499.00  
 

 

 
Silver Certificate
1 Dollar – Series of 1896
Signs: Tillman/ Morgan
Condition: Ch CU/ Gem
 
Educational Note
One of the most beautiful US banknote.
 
 
Price: $ 2590.00

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

 

 

 
Silver Certificate
1 Dollar – Series of 1899
Signs: Teehee/ burke
Condition: Ch CU/ Gem
 
Eagle, Lincoln & Grant
 
 
 
Price: $ 479.00

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

 

 

 
Silver Certificate
1 Dollar – Series of 1923
Signs: Speelman/ White
Condition: CU
 
 
 
 
 
Price: $ 159.00

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

 

 

 
Silver Certificate
2 Dollar – Series of 1899
Signs: Vernon/ McClung
Condition: F
 
 
 
 
 
Price: $ 249.00

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

 

 

 
Silver Certificate
5 Dollar – Series of 1891
Signs: Rosecrans/ Nebeker
Condition: VG
 
Ulysses S. Grant-18th president
 
 
 
Price: $ 299.00

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

 

 

 
Silver Certificate
5 Dollar – Series of 1899
Signs: Speelman/ White
Condition: VG
 
Indian head(Oncpapa tribe of Sioux Indian
 
 
 
Price: $ 479.00  

 

 March 9 –
                      War fund of $50,000,000 passed unanimously by the Senate.
           

March 12 –
                      Government purchased

 

Brazilian cruiser Amazonas

and other ships abroad
           

 March 14 –


                      Spain’s torpedo flotilla

sailed for

 

Cape Verde Islands.

NOW


           

 March 17 –


                      Senator Redfield Proctor,

in a speech to the Senate, told of the starvation and ruin  observed in Cuba.
           

 March 21 –
                  
Maine Court of Inquiry finished

its report and delivered it to

 

Admiral Sicard

 at

 

 

Key West.
          

  March 22 –


                  
Maine report sent to Washington.
           

March 25 –
                  
Maine report delivered to the President, and officially announced that

 

The  MEINE was blown up by a mine.
           

 March 26 –
                      President McKinley sent two notes to Spain one on the
Maine report, and the other
                      calling for the cessation of the war in Cuba.
          

  March 28 –
                      President McKinley sent the
Maine report to Congress, with a brief message stating
                      that Spain had been informed of the court’s findings.
           

March 28 –
                      Report of the Spanish Court of Inquiry, declaring the
Maine was destroyed by an
                      interior explosion, was received in Washington.
           

 March 30 –
                      President McKinley,

 through

 

Minister Woodford,

 asked Spain for a cessation of hostilities
                      in Cuba and negotiations for ultimate independence.
          

  March 31 –
                      Spain refused to accede to any of President McKinley’s propositions.
             

 April 1 –
                      House of Representatives appropriated $22,648,000 to build war vessels.
             

April 6 –


                      Pope

cabled President McKinley

to suspend extreme measures pending

 the Vatican’s
negotiations with Spain.
             

April 7 –
                      Ambassadors of England, Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Russia appealed to the
                      President for peace.
             

April 9 –
                      Spain ordered

 

Captain-General Blanco to proclaim an armistice in Cuba


              April 9 –


                      Consul Fitzhugh Lee

and American citizens left Havana.
            

 April 11 –
                      President sent consular reports and message to Congress, asking authority to stop the war
                      in Cuba.
            

April 16 –
                      United States Army began moving to the coast.
            

 April 19 –
                      Both Houses of Congress adopted resolutions declaring Cuba free and empowering the
                      President to compel Spain to withdraw her army and navy.
            

April 20 –


                      President McKinley

 signed the resolutions and sent his ultimatum to Spain, and the Queen
                      Regent sent a warlike message to the Cortes.
            

 April 21 –
             
        

 Minister Woodford

was given his passport.
            

April 22 –
                      The President issued his proclamation

to the neutral powers, announcing that Spain

and
                      the United States

were at war.

 

 Commodore Sampson’s fleet sailed from Key West to be in
                      a blockade of Havana.

 

Gunboat Nashville captured

 

 the Spanish ship Buena Ventura.
            

April 23 –
                      President issued a call

for 125,000 volunteers.
            

April 24 –
                      Spain formally declared

that war existed with the United States.
            

April 25 –


                      Commodore George Dewey’s fleet ordered to sail from Hong Kong for the Philippines.
            

April 27 –


                      Matanzas bombarded

 by

the New York, Cincinnati and Puritan.
            

 April 30 –


 Spanish Admiral

 Pascual Cervera

and his squadron left the Cape Verde Islands for the West Indies.
               

May 1


                      Commodore Dewey defeated

 

Admiral Montojo in Manila Bay,

destroying eleven ships
                      and killing and wounding more than five hundred of the enemy. American casualities, seven
                      men slightly wounded.
             

May 11 –


                      Commodore Dewey

promoted to be a rear-admiral.

 

Attacks made on

 Cienfuegos

and
  Cárdenas,

at which Ensign Worth Bagley and five of the Winslow‘s crew killed.
             

 May 11 –

 

Admiral Cervera’s

 

 squadron sighted off Martinique.
             

 May 12 –


                      Commodore Sampson bombarded

San Juan, Puerto Rico, but caused little damage.
             

 May 13 –
                      The F]ying Squadron,

Under

 

 Commodore Schley,

left Hampton Roads for Cuban
                      waters.
             

May 17 –

 
                      Cervera’s fleet, after coaling

at Curaçao, put into

 

the harbor of Santiago de Cuba.
             

 May 22 –


 Cruiser
Charleston

sailed from San Francisco for Manila.
             

 May 24 –


    Battleship
Oregon arrived off

 

Jupiter Inlet, Fla.,

 from her great trip from San Francisco,
                      which she left March.
             

 May 25 –
                      The President issued his second call for volunteers, 75,000. First Manila expedition

 

left
   San Francisco.

.
             

May 27 –


  Commodore Schley

 discovered that

 

Cervera’s fleet

 

 was in Santiago harbor and
                      blockaded him.
             

May 30 –


                      Commodore Sampson’s fleet

 joined

 

Commodore Schley’s.
             

May 31 –
                      Forts commanding the entrance to Santiago harbor bombarded.
             

June 3 –


     Hobson and seven men

sank the Merrimac in the channel entrance to Santiago harbor,
  and

being captured were confined in Morro Castle.

Read more

The Sinking of the Merrimac

 

The hide-and-seek action that ultimately ended with the naval battle at Santiago two months into the Spanish-American War started with the initial declarations of war by Spain on April 21st and the United States on April 25th.  With the opening declaration of hostilities, Spain moved swiftly to protect its citizens in the Caribbean.  Beyond the fleet at Manila, the remainder of the once mighty Spanish Armada was located in Spain and off the Cape Verde Islands.

The flotilla at home was undergoing  maintenance and repair at Cadiz, Spain.  These ships would not be battle-ready for at least a month, so defense of the Caribbean was delegated to the Cape Verde flotilla.

Rear Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete was surprised and dismayed when he received orders to lift anchor at his haven in the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa, and proceed to the West Indies (Caribbean).  “This is a very risky adventure, for the defeat of my ships in the Caribbean could result in great danger for the Canaries, and perhaps the bombardment of our coastal cities,” he wired back to Madrid.  “Any division of our fleet, and any separation from European seas, is a strategic mistake.”

Admiral Cervera was a respected naval officer and not a man fearful to do his job, but the orders sending his flotilla to meet the American warships in the Caribbean gave him an ominous foreboding of disaster.  When his appeal to Madrid was denied, he dutifully hoisted anchor on April 29th and set a course for Cuba.  Before his departure he registered his concern one more time, wiring Madrid that, “Nothing can be expected of this expedition except the total destruction of our flotilla.  With a clear conscience I go to the sacrifice, but I cannot understand the (Spanish) navy’s decision.”

 

 

As quickly as the media in the United States heard the news that Admiral Cervera’s ships were heading west, the yellow journalists worked up a frenzy of fear and dread, proclaiming in large headlines that the Spanish Armada was on its way and would bombard American coastal cities within two weeks.  Despite the fact that the “Armada” actually consisted of only four outdated cruisers and three smaller torpedo boats, the news reports quickly sensationalized the coming conflict to epic proportions.   The panic and public outcry that followed prompted immediate naval action at home.  Even as Admiral Dewey was enroute from China to Manila Bay for the infamous battle of May 1st,  preparations were underway to move the US Navy’s Atlantic fleet to the Caribbean.

Navy Secretary John D. Long was convinced Cervera and his ships would most likely head for San Juan, Puerto Rico on the eastern border of the Caribbean, though he left open the possibility that the Spanish Admiral might instead elect to steam straight for Havana.  The Atlantic fleet was under the command of US Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, a worthy opponent for Admiral Cervera.  Sampson proposed quick strikes, first to capture Havana, then a rapid voyage to shell and capture San Juan.  He reasoned that such a move would deny the Spanish flotilla any safe haven when they arrived in the Caribbean, projected by Secretary Long to be on or near the date of May 10th.

Once again however, it was the media that would dictate the order of battle.  Public panic and the cry for protection of American coastal waters prompted Long to split Sampson’s fleet, pulling the battleships Texas, Massachusetts and Iowa back to Hampton Roads, Virginia as a “flying squadron” under Commodore Winfield Scott Schley.  Sampson’s other warships were limited to blockade duties around the island of Cuba, further stripped by the transfer of two of his cruisers to support efforts of a naval militia under Commodore John Howell that was assigned routine patrol duty of the Atlantic coastline from Maine to Florida.

Those first two weeks of the Spanish-American War were filled with frustration and boredom in the Caribbean.  The inaction was further compounded when the sailors of Sampson’s fleet began hearing the glorious reports of the victory at Manila Bay, half a world away.  When Cervera’s flotilla had not arrived in the West Indies by Secretary Long’s predicted date of May 10th, the American commander, his officers, and his men were both disappointed and further frustrated.  It was this continuing erosion of morale that prompted Captain McCalla of the Marblehead to engage his ships in the cable-cutting operation of May 11th, and that also prompted Captain Todd to send his vessels into Cardenas Harbor that same day.  Both efforts had broken the boredom, but both had also ended in near disaster.

Feeling the same frustration as his men and with the Spanish flotilla proving to be a “no show”, Admiral Sampson chose to commence a reconnaissance of Puerto Rico.

The small island less than 3,500 square miles was located on the eastern fringe of the Caribbean, and sat between Cuba and the expected flotilla from Cape Verde.  Claimed for Spain by Christopher Columbus and colonized by Ponce De Leon, the people of Puerto Rico had begun requesting independence from Spanish rule. In 1897 Madrid granted the people of Puerto Rico a limited degree of self-government, but resisted all demands for independence.

When Admiral Sampson began his reconnaissance in May 1898, the Spanish had three forts on the long, narrow island.  On May 12th Sampson entered the harbor at San Juan on the western edge of the island.  His fleet consisted of seven warships, a torpedo boat, a tug and supporting supply vessels.  Carefully the fleet maneuvered around the sunken hulks of two ships in the harbor at San Juan, and proceeded towards the forts deep inside.   Sampson had hoped to find Cervera’s ships at anchor inside the calm waters, but all he found as he circled the harbor three times, were three small gunboats.  

As the fleet passed the enemy forts inside the harbor at San Juan, Admiral Sampson opened fire.  In the brief battles that followed, Sampson’s ships neither rendered or received any major damage.  As the ships withdrew however, an enemy shell exploded on the New York, killing two men and wounding seven.  Discouraged, disappointed and now running low on fuel, Admiral Sampson directed his fleet to return to Key West for resupply and repairs.

Steaming for Key West the day following his bombardment of San Juan, Admiral Sampson received some disappointing news.  The U.S.S. Solace caught up to the American ships with a report that Admiral Cervera’s fleet had returned to Cadiz, in Spain.  As the bulk of the American naval presence departed the Antilles, on May 14th the Spanish gunboats Conde de Venadito and Nueva Espana made a brief and generally ineffective sortie out of Havana.  The following day the U.S.S. Porter caught up to Admiral Sampson bearing surprising news.  The report he’d received two days earlier from the Solace was in error.  Admiral Cervera’s squadron had indeed arrived in the Antilles, and had been spotted at Martinique on May 12th, then in Curaco on the 14th.  Also, on May 13th Commodore Schley’s flying squadron had left Hampton Roads for Cuba.

The news, rather than raising the excitement level, served only to add to the frustration.   Low on fuel, Sampson had no choice but to continue his course for Key West.  In the two weeks that followed, events moved rapidly in the Caribbean and the commander of the Atlantic fleet chaffed at the bit to return and meet the enemy.  On May 18th the New York arrived in Key West and Admiral Sampson met briefly with Commodore Schley and ordered him to immediately steam for the harbor at Cienfuegos, the place he deemed the most likely destination of Admiral Cervera’s flotilla.

On the morning of May 19th Admiral Cervera’s ships reached the entrance to Santiago harbor at the southeast end of the island of Cuba.  It was the same day that the remainder of Admiral Sampson’s ships finally arrived in Key West.  The following day the Navy Department notified Admiral Sampson that in all probability, reports of Cervera’s fleet arriving at Santiago were correct.  It was anticipated that the enemy ships would proceed immediately for Cienfuegos, 300 miles and a single day’s travel, further to the west.  Based upon the location of Sampson’s ships in Key West and the route of the flying squadron under Schley, Cervera would be unmolested in this effort.

It wasn’t until midnight on May 21st that the flying squadron reached Cienfuegos, Commodore Schley’s warships riding out the darkness of night from a distance of about 20 miles.  With daylight however, his ships cruised closer to Cienfuegos, hoping to draw fire and confirm the presence of the enemy fleet.  They met only silence.  Somehow, once again, the Spanish fleet had eluded the Americans.  Meanwhile Admiral Sampson had returned to the Antilles, taking a blockading position in his flagship northwest of Cuba.  Here he sent a message to Commodore Schley to proceed with his flying squadron to Santiago, where Sampson expected the squadron to arrive on May 24th.  The search for the enemy fleet was still underway in the cat-and-mouse game that was now nearly a month old.

In fact, Admiral Cervera had taken his ships inside the narrow confines of Santiago Harbor.  While Cienfuegos may have been preferable, his ships were low on coal, and the 300-mile voyage to Cienfuegos had to be postponed.  That action not only sheltered the Spanish flotilla, but left the Americans wondering where the mighty armada of the Spanish Empire had vanished.

Commodore Schley didn’t leave immediately for Santiago however, remaining outside Cienfuegos where he was joined at noon on May 22nd by the  Iowa and the Dupont.  That afternoon he again sent his ships in closer to Cienfuegos, and this time he believed he could see  the tops of an enemy man-of-war.  Dupont was sent closer to reconnoiter and reported seeing several ships inside the harbor.  Schley initially believed he had found Admiral Cervera.  While continuing this blockade of Cienfuegos, the flying squadron was joined by additional American ships including the Castine, an armed yacht, and the aging collier Merrimac.  On the evening of May 24th Schley ordered the Castine to take up position in front of the harbor at Cienfuegos, though he was now convinced the Spanish fleet was not to be found nearby.  The Dupont was returned to Key West, and the flying squadron proceeded towards the opening to Santiago harbor 300 miles away.  Schley’s squadron included the Brooklyn, Iowa, Texas, Massachusetts, Marblehead, Vixen, Hawk, Eagle and Merrimac.

 

U.S.S. Merrimac

Not to be confused with the Civil War ironclad, the Merrimac was an aging collier the Navy purchased from T. Hogan & Sons of New York City on April 12, 1898 for the sum of $342,000.  With no armaments and no armor, the 333-foot ship was pressed into a Spanish-American War support role a few weeks after purchase, under the leadership of Commander Miller.

Almost from the beginning of the Merrimac’s brief stint of US Naval service, it was  plagued by problems.  The ship broke down so frequently it was the butt of common jokes, and it was said that at times “the full engineer force of the Brooklyn was sent about to get her running again.”

On the day Schley set course for Santiago, he also sent a message to Admiral Sampson indicating there was no sign of the Spanish flotilla at Cienfuegos, and that his ships did not have enough coal to maintain a blockade at the opening to Santiago harbor.  Unaware that the enemy warships were hidden within the narrow harbor, on May 26th Schley left the St. Paul to watch the harbor, then set his squadron on a course for Key West.  Enroute and about 40 miles from Santiago, the Merrimac broke down so completely it had to be taken under tow by the Yale.  

In the meantime, Admiral Sampson learned that in fact, the enemy warships had taken anchor inside Santiago Harbor, and was determined to end the chase.  He returned to Key West to obtain permission to personally take command of the blockade at Santiago Harbor and, he hoped, subsequently destroy Admiral Cervera’s squadron.  His request granted, on May 29th Admiral Sampson departed Key West for Santiago de Cuba in his flagship U.S.S. New York.  Joining his flotilla, in addition to the Mayflower and the Porter, was the newly arrived U.S.S. Oregon.  (The powerful battleship Oregon, under the command of Captain Charles Clark, had left port in San Francisco on March 12th to travel around the Cape and arrive in Florida after a 14,700 nautical mile, 71-day race against time.  The length of time it took the battleship to move from coast to coast would give rise to ideas for a shorter route, perhaps a canal in the narrow finger that joined the continents of North and South America.)

 

The Harbor of Santiago de Cuba is a long, narrow finger of calm tropical sea that reaches inland nearly 10 miles.  The shoreline is dotted with hidden coves and inlets, the perfect hiding place for small gunboats to protect any ships anchored inside.  Access to the harbor from the sea could only be accomplished through a narrow inlet, only 200 yards across.  The inlet itself was protected from the west by the Socapa Battery and on the eastern shore by the Morro Castle.

Before leaving Key West, Admiral Sampson had conferred with Captains Converse and Fogler and Commodore Watson in efforts to format a plan of action.  Unlike the harbor at Manila, there was no hope for American warships to enter and destroy the armada.  By chance, more than by design, Cervera’s ships were stuck in a harbor that offered far more protection from attack than had they been able to continue to Cienfuegos.  The culmination of these conferences was that, if the American ships couldn’t get in to destroy Admiral Cervera, then they would pen his ships inside.  There were discussions about loading several small schooners with brick and rocks and then sinking them in the narrow inlet.  Captain Converse thought of the broken down, 333-foot Merrimac and suggested that it might provide a greater sunken barrier than several schooners.

As Admiral Sampson steamed towards the enemy in his flag ship, the plan of action had been determined.  All that remained was to figure out a way to accomplish it.  The mission would be a dangerous one, sailing the large ship directly into the fire of enemy cannon, then sending it to the bottom of the sea.  Perhaps the HOW would be far more difficult than the WHAT, and even more critical than either perhaps, 

was the WHO!

 

 

Assistant Naval Contractor Richmond Pearson Hobson was a 28-year old lieutenant on the staff of Admiral Sampson as the New York steamed towards Santiago and the Spanish squadron of Admiral Cervera.  Hobson was a unique individual, somewhat of a loner who kept to himself.  At the age of 15 Hobson had entered the US Naval Academy at Annapolis and four years later graduated FIRST in his class of  1889.

It was during Hobson’s first three years at the Academy that much of his military personality would be shaped.  A man of principle and dedication, some would say he went to the extreme.   He was quick to report infractions, even when it involved midshipment of his own class.  During his first three years at Annapolis, classmates refused to talk to him except when official business required it.  Hobson took the situation in stride, concentrating on his studies.  In his senior year his classmates extended an olive branch, inviting the 18-year old youth back into their fraternity.  Having become used to the silent treatment, young Richmond informed his classmates that he was content with the status quo.

 On the night of May 29th as the New York headed back to Cuba, Admiral Sampson called the young officer to his quarters.  Briefly he outlined the plan to sink the Merrimac in the shallow waters of the entrance to Santiago Harbor, looking to the Naval Contractor for assurances as to the missions viability.  Hobson listened intently, then requested time to plan such a mission.  \The following day, his work completed, Lieutenant Hobson presented his plan to Admiral Sampson.

Hobson’s plan was to fit out the aging collier with a series of explosive charges along the port side, ten of them in all.   Under the cover of darkness the Merrimac would then enter the harbor, slowly steaming to the shallow waters in the narrowest passageway, where the bow anchor would drop causing the current to swiftly turn the ship sideways.  At this point the stern anchor would drop, holding the ship in place as the torpedoes were electrically detonated.  With the port side facing into the harbor entrance, the holes opened by the torpedoes would fill with water swiftly in the onrushing current, and the Merrimac would sink in less than two minutes.

Admiral Sampson listened attentively to Hobson’s proposals, including the part of the plan that called for the young lieutenant to lead the mission personally.  The Admiral approved it in its entirety, then set the men of the New York to the tasks of preparing the ten water-tight canisters that, when filled with nearly 80 pounds of brown powder, would be strapped below the water line on the port side of the Merrimac.

The following day, May 1st, Sampson’s ships arrived outside the harbor entrance, far enough away to be beyond the range of the guns at Socapa Battery or the Moro Castle.  The Merrimac, repaired again at least for the moment, was brought alongside the New York so that Lieutenant Hobson could supervise the placement of the ten charges that would put the old ship “out of its misery”.  He also carefully supervised placement of the detonators that would trigger these charges.  

The plan was for the mission to commence that very evening.  One additional task remained.  One man alone could not maneuver the 333-foot ship into the channel, drop the bow anchor, drop the stern anchor, and then detonate all ten charges.  It was not a mission the Lieutenant could accomplish by himself….this time Hobson would have to recruit assistance and work as part of a team.

Before Admiral Sampson issued his request for volunteers, he explained in explicit terms just how dangerous the mission would be.  For all practical purposes, it appeared to be a suicide mission, attempting to sail the old ship directly into the guns of the enemy, sink her, and then escape and evade the enemy to return on a small catamaran carried on the deck of the doomed collier.  His ominous speech concluded, the Admiral asked for volunteers.  Three hundred men at once offered to risk their lives, including Captain Miller who was reluctant to turn command of his vessel over to another.

From the ranks of the eager sailors, Hobson selected six men.  From the New York he selected Gunners Mate First Class George Charette and Coxswain Randolph Clausen.  From the USS Iowa he selected Coxswain J. E. Murphy.  Remaining to guide their vessel Merrimac in its final voyage were three sailors who had joined the Navy little over a month earlier, volunteers all of them.  Machinist First Class George Phillips and Water Tender Francis Kelly would operate the engines of the Merrimac for one final operation,  while Coxswain Osborn Deignan would man the helm to steer his ship to her final, glorious conclusion.

Preparations for the May 1st attack did not go well.  It seemed nothing had ever gone smoothly for the Merrimac when it joined the US Navy.  All ten charges were in place, the volunteers were ready to go, but there were only enough batteries to fire six of the ten explosive charges.  To Hobson’s chagrin, the mission was postponed and work continued on the ship the following day.

As Hobson reviewed his plans, he felt he needed one more volunteer for the crew.  Not only did he want a man to handle the task of dropping the stern anchor at the critical moment, he wanted an experienced sailor who could lead the others if anything should happen to himself.  Hobson discussed the matter with the New York’s executive officer, then approached 29-year old Master-At-Arms of the Admiral’s flagship.  Daniel Montague not only had seven years of experience in the United States Navy, prior to that service he had been a member of the British Royal Navy.  Montague promptly volunteered for the dangerous mission.

In the early morning darkness of May 3rd, what would become one of the most historic missions since the Great Locomotive Chase of the Civil War began.  In addition to Hobson and his seven volunteers, the Merrimac’s pilot and assistant engineer remained aboard for the first leg of the journey.  As they moved the ship towards the harbor, Hobson began testing his explosive charges.  To his frustration and dismay, only seven of the ten charges passed his initial test–he was going in at only 70%.  Refusing to be delayed another day, Hobson ordered the Merrimac to continue, steaming at full speed of 9 knots.

As the Merrimac neared the harbor entrance she slowed momentarily.  A small steam launch piloted by Cadet Powell steered close enough to take aboard the pilot and assistant engineer.  The plan was for Powell to keep his launch close to the harbor entrance to pick up Hobson and his seven volunteers who would return on the small catamaran once the Merrimac had been scuttled.

It was near total darkness as Hobson again commanded his doomed ship to move forward at full speed, riding the swell of the flood tide and hiding beneath a night  no longer illuminated by the moon.  Straight into the enemy guns the warriors sailed, hoping against hope that the darkness would be their one ally in the dangerous waters of the enemy.  It was not to be.

Within 500 yards of the narrow channel, the Merrimac suddenly came under heavy enemy fire.  Even in near total darkness, an enemy picket boat had discovered the ship.  Despite the loss of the element of surprise, and in the face of the intense enemy fire, the volunteer crew of the Merrimac continued at full speed into the jaws of death.  Within minutes a torrent of heavy cannon fire rained on the ship from all sides as it boldly entered the channel under the deadly guns of the Socapa Battery and Morro Castle.

The aged ship shook with the repeated battery of heavy enemy shells, but continued to steam valiantly ahead at full speed.  Hobson himself later wrote, “The striking of projectiles and flying fragments produced a grinding sound, with a fine ring in it of steel on steel.  The deck vibrated heavily, and we felt the full effect, lying, as we were, full-length on our faces.  At each instant it seemed that certainly the next would bring a projectile among us…I looked for my own body to be cut in two diagonally, from the left hip upward, and wondered for a moment what the sensation would be.”

Near the stern anchor, Montague heard a heavy round crash into the structure, cutting the anchor lashings.  At the helm, Coxswain Deignan yelled to Hobson, “She won’t respond sir!  The tiller ropes have been shot away!”  The same round had destroyed the collier’s all-important steering gear.  Almost beyond navigation now, the ship continued forward, propelled by the momentum of its full-speed approach and the swift currents of the flood tide.  And then the ship was in the channel, braving the continuing fire but moving ever closer its destination as the crew remained at their posts.  Despite the hail of fire that raked his ship,  Hobson stood exposed on the bridge, stripped to his underwear, to monitor the situation.  And then the Merrimac was sliding sideways, drifting away from the narrowest part of the channel and into deeper waters.

In the distance the Spanish warships Colon and Oquendo added their fire to the fusillade from the shore batteries.  Even when the Reina Mercedes sent two torpedoes to make direct hits on the Merrimac, nearly ripping it in half, Hobson and his volunteers stood faithfully at their stations.  Above the din of battle, Hobson shouted the order and Murphy dropped anchor to halt the rapidly drifting ship.  The stern anchor shot away, the doomed collier continued to drift as it dragged the lone anchor across the floor of the harbor.  Kelly began knocking the caps from the sea valves as Hobson set to the process of detonating the explosive charges.  The enemy fire had also destroyed batteries and detonators.  Only two of the charges exploded into the early morning sky.

The lack of working explosives failed to sink the ship in the less than two minute span previously plotted.  Instead, it remained afloat for more than an hour, burning intensely and slowly going to its grave.  Only a short distance from the shallow waters, the ship had come so close, only to fail in the end to accomplish its goal.

As the Merrimac burned, the catamaran fell up-side-down into the harbor.   Stripped to their underwear, the seven volunteers clung tenuously to their last vestige of haven, waiting for Hobson to leap overboard to join them.  Beyond the mouth of the harbor Cadet Powell continued to move through the darkness, waiting for the heroic men of the Merrimac to appear.  Finally, as morning dawned, he turned his launch back to rejoin the fleet with tales of the incredible display of enemy firepower he had witnessed, and the sad report that apparently none of the brave sailors had survived the night.  Within minutes, word had spread throughout Admiral Sampson’s ships.  It was a morning for sorrow and mourning.

Inside the harbor, Richmond Hobson and his valiant sailors clung to their overturned catamaran, hoping and praying that the current would turn and sweep them back out to sea…and to safety.   Instead the tide only moved them closer to the enemy.  

In that first dangerous hour, small arms fire from the nearby shore forced them to use their “raft” as a shield.  But as the Merrimac burned out and slowly sank, the enemy fire tapered off, then stopped.   In the early morning haze the eight sailors noted the approach of a Spanish launch–and then it was upon them.  Hobson yelled to the enemy, “Is there any officer in the boat to accept our surrender as prisoners of war.”

An gentlemanly looking Spanish officer appeared and motioned towards the men, ordering his sailors to lower their weapons and help the American sailors board his launch.  The officer that accepted their surrender was none other than Spanish Rear Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete himself.  As Hobson and his brave sailors surrendered to the enemy, Cervera surveyed the scene around him, taking in all that these young men had attempted to do, all that they had endured, and the risk that they had taken.  Turning to them he spoke one word……

 

 

Later that afternoon a small Spanish tug left the harbor under a flag of truce.  Steaming next to the New York, it halted while Cervera’s chief-of-staff, Captain Bustamente delivered a message from the Spanish admiral that Richmond Hobson and all of his men were safe.  It was a dramatic example of compassion in time of war, an enemy commander’s show of respect for true heroism even when exhibited by his enemy.   The message delivered, Bustamente returned to Santiago with provisions of clothing and a small amount of money for the captured sailors.

Initially the 8 prisoners were confined at Morro Castle, then later moved into the city of Santiago De Cuba.  Three weeks later Daniel Montague became very sick and was moved to a hospital.  (Though he recovered, the tropical illness contracted during his captivity, led to ill health in the years to follow and eventually contributed to his death in 1912.)  On July 6th, after a desperate battle during which Admiral Cevera would attempt to escape the harbor with his fleet, all eight volunteers from the ill-fated Merrimac sinking were paroled in a prisoner exchange.

 

Richmond Hobson and his men came home to be hailed as heroes.  On November 2, 1899, all seven of the sailors who had volunteered for the Merrimac mission were awarded Medals of Honor.  As a Naval officer, Hobson himself was ineligible for his Nation’s highest recognition of uncommon valor.  

(Prior to 1917, the Navy Medal of Honor was reserved for presentation ONLY to ENLISTED sailors and Marines.)        

Randolph
Clausen

George
Charette

Osborn
Deignan

Francis
Kelly

Daniel
Montague

John E.
Murphy

George
Phillips


The lack of success of the mission to trap the Spanish fleet by sinking the Merrimac could not damper the coverage in the media, or the public adoration showered on Hobson and his heroes.  Also despite Hobson’s failure to receive the Medal of Honor, he became recognized as one of our Country’s greatest heroes of that Splendid Little War.

A special commemorative poster was later widely circulated depicting the history of that conflict.   The photos of 10 of the leaders and heroes of that war were printed on that poster.  Richmond Hobson’s photo was among the ten, positioned in the center just below a painting of the capture of his team by Admiral Cevera and the Spanish.  (You can click on the smaller image of this poster at left, to view or print a larger copy in a separate window.)

 On October 8, 1898, just six months after Hobson’s heroic mission, Mr. and Mrs. Hilton of Westville, South Carolina were blessed with a baby boy.  They named him after the hero of their day.  Twenty years later their son would find himself facing his own war in France, a war in which 20-year old Sergeant Hilton would earn the Medal of Honor.  On the official roll of honor his name is listed as Richmond H. Hilton….his full name however…Richmond Hobson Hilton.

In his post-war years, Hobson himself chose to leave his Naval career.  In 1904 he was a Presidential elector from his home state of Alabama.  From 1907 to 1915 Hobson served his state’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

One year before Hobson’s namesake received the Medal of Honor, our Nation’s highest award underwent several major changes.  Among these was a new provision that no longer restricted award of the Medal to enlisted sailors and Marines.  In future wars, heroes like Richmond Hobson would be recognized for their courage, regardless of their rank.

On April 29, 1933 Richmond Hobson was invited to the White House.  The United States Congress had taken special action to add Hobson’s name to the Roll of Honor along with his those of his valiant sailors.  On that day, by that special act of Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented Richmond Hobson the Medal of Honor for his heroism 35 years earlier.  

Elsewhere the occasion was surely a moment of unique pride for Richmond Hobson Hilton, the Spanish-American war hero’s namesake.  With that award, Hilton became the only known person in history, named for a Medal of Honor recipient, to receive it himself.


              June 6 –


                      Spanish cruiser
Reina Mercedes sunk in the Santiago harbor entrance by the Spaniards
                      to prevent ingress of American war vessels.
          read more

  

The Battle of Santiago

Spanish Wrecks after the Battle

On 3 July 1898 a US force demolished the Spanish squadron at Santiago, Cuba, in one of the two major naval actions of the Spanish-American War. The Spanish squadron was poorly manned, poorly maintained and out-gunned, so it was an easy victory for the US. Six Spanish ships took part in the action – the armored cruisers Vizcaya, Infanta Maria Teresa, Cristobal Colon and Almirante Oquendo, and the destroyers Furor and Pluton. All these ships were run ashore, except Pluton, which sank. In addition, the Spanish cruiser Reina Mercedes was scuttled in the channel. Because many of the ships were beached, we have this unusual chance to view the ruined hulks of the Spanish ships.

Armored Cruiser Vizcaya

The armored cruisers Vizcaya, Infanta Maria Teresa and Almirante Oquendo were sisterships. Each ship carried two 11″ guns, but they were lightly armored. All three were lost at Santiago.

 

Vizcaya prior to the war. The 11″ guns were housed in two single turrets, one forward and one aft.

 


Broadside view of Vizcaya’s hulk, from the starboard side, aft. The destruction is evident even from a good distance away, with nothing but the funnels left standing above decks, and the entire hull blackened by fire.

 


Port side view of Vizcaya’s hulk from astern. A fallen mast rests across the aft 11″ turret.

 


Onboard view of Vizcaya’s ruined decks and demolished superstructure. The deck is entirely burned away, the secondary guns ruined, and the superstructure flattened.

 


Another onboard view, showing the general destruction of the ship. The secondary batteries have been completely smashed in.

 


Vizcaya’s after 11 inch gun following the battle. Her fallen mainmast lies across the turret.

 


Armored Cruiser Infanta Maria Teresa

Infanta Maria Teresa prior to the war.

 


Infanta Maria Teresa in April 1898, not long before her destruction.

 


Port side view of Infanta Maria Teresa’s hulk. Her funnels and one mast are still standing, but little else remains.

 


Wreckage of Infanta Maria Teresa’s bridge.

 


The starboard side spar deck. As in her sistership, the deck is entirely burned away.

 


Teresa’s after 11 inch gun turret. Amazingly, the US Navy salvaged this shattered hulk, and tried to tow the ship back to the US – but she went around in the Bahamas and was lost.

 


Armored Cruiser Almirante Oquendo

Almirante Oquendo prior to the war.

 


The wreck of Almirante Oquendo.

 


Armored Cruiser Cristobal Colon

Cristobal Colon prior to the war, with laundry hung out to dry. Spain acquired this ship from Italy in 1897, but her 10 inch guns were never installed, leaving her nearly defenseless.

 


The officers of Cristobal Colon prior to the war. One of the ship’s empty 10″ gun mountings appears behind the officers.

 


The wreck of Cristobal Colon.

 


Old Cruiser Reina Mercedes

Reina Mercedes early in her career. This old cruiser was completely obsolete by 1898, and she played no active part in the war. Some of her guns were removed and used for shore defenses, and she was scuttled as a blockship at Santiago.

 


Reina Mercedes scuttled in the channel. She was raised by the US Navy on 1 March 1899, then repaired and rebuilt in the US. She served as a receiving ship after 1902, mainly at Newport and Annapolis. By the 1950’s she was serving as a residence for the commander of the Naval Academy. In 1957 it was deemed too expensive to maintain the ancient ship, and she was stricken and scrapped.

 

June 11 –
                      Body of marines landed at Guantanamo from the
Marblehead and Texas, and had a
                      brisk skirmish.
         

June 12-14 –


                      General Shafter embarked at

Tampa for Santiago with an army of 16,000 men.

 

 

 


             June 15 –


                      Caimanera forts bombarded by US war ships.
            

 June 15 –
                      Admiral Cámara

with a fleet of ten of Spain’s best war ships

left Cádiz for

 

Via port suez canal to Manila
             June 20 –
                      General Shafter disembarked his army of invasion at Daiquirí, with a loss of one man killed
                      and two wounded.
            

 June 21 –


                      Angara capital of Guam, one of the islands of the Ladrones, captured by

the Charleston.
            

June 24 –


In Cuba,

Juraguá captured

 and

the Spanish were defeated  

 

Las Guásimas.

 

Heavy loss on both
                      sides, among the Americans

killed being Capron and Fish.

The SANTIAGO and several other transports languished off of Santiago for several days. In the disorganization of the disembarking troops, supplies, etc. at Daiquiri, Maj. Gen. Shafter simply had forgotten about the transports in the diversionary movement! The men spent their time swimming, and trying to cope with the crowded conditions. The morning of June 25 dawned to reveal something no one aboard the SANTIAGO had expected – an empty sea! During the night, the other transports had received belated orders to proceed to Siboney. In the darkness, the SANTIAGO was not seen and did not receive the orders. Finally the orders arrived in the morning. The first had become the last! The Ninth was finally able to begin to disembark at about 3:00 p.m., passing the wounded arriving from the skirmish at Las Guasimas as it came ashore.

 

The 9th U.S. arrives at Siboney

The next day was spent in helping to unload supplied from the transports. On June 27th, the Ninth finally took up their line of march toward Santiago. The unit made four miles that day, the men laboring in the intense heat, carrying their blanket rolls and ammunition. That night the regiment camped at Sevilla.

As the Ninth finally approached Santiago and the San Juan heights, it found itself in the valley between the American artillery and the Spanish forces. Shells of all types filled the air, luckily a safe distance above the regiment. Orders were issued to stack the blanket rolls, which were placed under guard, prior to going into action. The unit began its advance, forming its line, though it was not clear in which direction they should advance. The bullets of the Spanish Mausers sliced the air, but the smokeless powder completely concealed the Spanish positions. Finally, they were ordered ahead by Gen. Kent, and lead to a path that lead to the left off of the main road. In the movements, the first and second battalions of the regiment got separated with the 24th Infantry placed between. As the units moved into position, they past the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry hunkered down and trying to shield itself from the enemy’s fire.

In the space of a short time, Colonel Wikoff was killed, Lieutenant Colonels Worth and Liscum were both wounded. The Ninth Infantry and the other regiments of the 3rd Brigade advanced toward San Juan Hill, in spite of not having a brigade commander! Lt. Col. Ezra P. Ewers, who was now the senior officer in the Brigade would not learn this fact until after San Juan Hill was captured!

The men had to pass over five hundred yards under heavy enemy fire. Instead of aiming for the blockhouse atop the heights, the brigade aimed for the space between to the blockhouse, and the end of the hill, placing the unit in a very pivotal position. The troops of the Third, Ninth and 24th Infantries intermixed in their crossing of the San Juan River. The men were ordered to cease firing, but the order was of no avail. Some of the troops began to move ahead. The Ninth followed a few seconds later. As it reached the crest of San Juan Hill, its men took part in the volley firing against the retreating Spanish troops.

 

The 9th U.S. prepares to move out toward San Juan Hill

From the heat and exhaustion, the men lay down on the reverse side of the slope, out of range of the Spanish bullets. They remained in this position until Gen. Hawkins ordered them to get back into position at the crest to fire on the Spanish, in case the enemy counter-attacked. The expected counter-attack did not come. During the ensuing night, the regiment dug in, and by morning was entrenched.

On July 3, the men of the Ninth heard the sound of a distant bombardment. It was not until the next day that they learned that the firing was from the naval battle of Santiago, and that they had listened to the sacrificing of the dreaded Spanish squadron.

The men now settled into the siege of Santiago. From July 3 to July 10, they worked to reinforce their trenches. Each company  was sent down to the river to bathe until it was learned that the river was being used for drinking water by the units downstream. The bathing was quickly stopped unfortunately for the men of the Ninth.

No company cooking equipment had been provided, so each man had to fend for himself. Between gathering firewood, obtaining supplies (which were always in short supply, and only being replenished in the nick of time), cooking their food, etc. each man spent nearly six hours a day simply in keeping himself fed.

During the Battle of San Juan Hill, and the ensuing siege of Santiago, the Ninth U.S. Infantry lost one officer and 4 enlisted men killed and 27 enlisted men wounded. The surrender came on July 17. The Ninth may have taken part in the surrender ceremonies or have arrived just afterward, marching into Santiago, and watching the raising of the U.S. flag. After the ceremony, the regiment took up quarters in the Teatro de la Reina (“the Queen’s Theater”). It began guard duty in various sites around the town. At about this time, khaki uniforms were finally issued to the men.

It was also at about this time that sickness began to make its appearance in the regiment. Up until July 13, between four and nine men were usually reported sick each day. By July 17, the number had risen to about 17 men per day.  Within two days, the sick count had risen to 28 men. By July 20, the number jumped to 78 men, the next day to 92 men, and by July 22, 132 men out of the regiment’s 433 men were reported sick. Many of the men who were not officially reported as sick were also in poor condition, and barely able to perform their duties. The first death from sickness occurred on July 21. The second occurred on July 30. Two more men died on August 2.

On August 2, the Ninth was relieved by Col. Hood’s 2nd U.S. Volunteers, which was considered to be an “immune” regiment. By August 10, the Ninth was given orders to withdraw. The three mile march to the docks was difficult on the weakened men. Fifteen officers and 323 men made the trip. Leaving the docks, the men passed the sunken hulk of the REINA MERCEDES and were taken out to the ST. LOUIS, along with the 10th U.S. Infantry and part of the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry.

Aboard the transport one man died, and his death was attributed to yellow fever. As a result, the vessel was put in quarantine. The men were also put through a rigorous cleaning, and given new blue uniforms. The Ninth reached Montauk [Camp Wikoff] on August 13, with only 277 men present for duty, the remainder being placed in the hospital. On August 21 the unit was released from quarantine, though many of the men remained in the hospital.

 

The 9th U.S. Infantry at Montauk Point

By early September, the Ninth U.S. Infantry was back in the Madison Barracks. However, its stay would be short. By March of 1899, the unit was ordered to proceed to the Philippines to take part in the Philippine-American War. Before the unit left, the legacy of Cuba showed itself one more time – 26 men were discharged

 

June 28 –


     General Merritt

 

 left for Manila to assume

 

command of the American army operating in the
                      Philippines.
             

 July 1 –


 Terrific fighting in

 

 front of Santiago.

 

El Caney and San Juan Hill were carried by assaults in
                      which the American loss was great.
             

July 3 –

 

 Admiral Cervera’s

 

squadron of four armored cruisers and two torpedo-boat destroyers


 annihilated by

 

Commodore Schley’s

 

blockading fleet.

The surrender of Santiago was
  demanded by

 

 General Shafter.
             

July 6 –

                      Hobson and his comrades were exchanged for six Spanish officers
             Constructor Richmond Pearson Hobson
1870-1937

By Patrick McSherry

Click here for a link to Hobson’s home of Magnolia Grove
Click here  to visit another page with info. on Richmond Hobson
Click here see a view of Richmond Hobson, late in life, the Medal of Honor from Franklin Demalon Roosevelt
Click here to see a view of the USS HOBSON, DD-464, named for Richmond Hobson


Richmond Pearson Hobson was one of the great heros of the Spanish-American War, following only Theodore Roosevelt and George Dewey. Hobson’s fame and popularity was the result of leading an unsuccessful attempt to block the harbor of Santiago de Cuba by sinking the collier MERRIMAC in the entrance.

Hobson was born August 17, 1870, in Greensboro, Alabama. His father was a Confederate veteran of the American Civil War, and the family lived on the family estate of Hobson’s mother, a plantation called “Magnolia Grove”. He was the second of seven children. Young Richmond attended private school, and the Southern University in Greensboro from 1882 to 1885. He won a competitive test for appointment to the Naval Academy at age fourteen.

At Annapolis, Richmond was the youngest in his class. His strong religious views created difficulties for him with classmates. Midshipman Hobson was later put in “coventry”, or cut off from all social contact with his classmates, for putting some of the other students on report. He spent his last two years in this state of isolation. However bad his social situation, his academic life flourished. During his years at the Academy Hobson never ranked lower than third in his class. He also developed an interest in steam engines and naval architecture.

Hobson graduated from Annapolis in 1889, ranked first in his class. He was offered the opportunity to study naval architecture abroad and did so, in Paris at the Ecole National Superieurdes Mines in 1890 and 1891. This was followed by studies at the Ecole d’ Application du Genie Maritime from 1891 to 1893, where he graduated “with distinction.”

After his return to the United States, Hobson served for a year and a half as an assistant naval constructor in the Navy Department’s Bureau of Construction and Repair at Washington D.C. He attempted to get a posting to Asia during the Sino-Japanese War, and also to Europe, but his requests were denied. Instead, Hobson was sent aboard the USS NEW YORK, and served in various shipyards in the northeast. During this time, a superior officer accused Hobson of neglect of duty for accepting some defective metal castings. He was eventually vindicated by Acting Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1897, Hobson created and ran the third year program for naval construction at Annapolis. As war loomed, the entire class went to Key West, Florida to continue the students’ education with the North Atlantic Squadron. It was while serving with Admiral Sampson on the USS NEW YORK that Hobson was given the task of sinking the MERRIMAC to block the entrance to Santiago Harbor. The effort failed and Hobson was taken prisoner. He was exchanged on July 6, 1898, and, to his surprise, found himself a national hero.

After the war, Hobson had himself appointed Inspector of Spanish Wrecks, charged with determining if any of the damaged and sunken Spanish vessels at Cuba could be raised and reused. He succeeded in raising the REINA MERCEDES and the INFANTA MARIA TERESA. Hobson next went to the Far East to continue his salvage efforts with the victims of Dewey‘s attack. Here he salvaged the ISLE DE CUBA, ISLE DE LUZON and DON JUAN DE AUSTRIA. On his way to the Philippines, Hobson, still the popular war hero, was accused of kissing his way across the United States as he accepted the requests of ladies to be kissed. When the press began making an issue of it an embarrassed Hobson refused all future requests. Hobson’s hero status also created tension with his fellow officers, many of whom avoided him. About this time, he began to suffer from inflammation of the retina, which was aggravated by exposure to sunlight and desk work. Hobson requested a medical discharge beginning in 1900. The request was denied.

In 1901 Congress passed a joint resolution thanking Hobson for his exploits aboard the MERRIMAC. The resolution promoted him from Lieutenant to Captain, and also advanced him ten positions on the Construction Corps seniority list. This action served to make Hobson even more of an outcast among his fellow officers, who resented the preferential treatment. He resigned his commission in 1903.

Hobson’s departure from the Navy gave him time for other pursuits also. In 1905 he married Grizelda Houston Hull, the great-great niece of Confederate general Leonidas Polk, the great niece of former Alabama governor, George Houston, and a cousin of General “Fightin’ Joe” Wheeler. These connections would serve him well in political life.

As a civilian, Hobson took up the lecture circuit, traveling across the country in 1903 and 1904. In 1907, on his second attempt, the former Captain was elected to Congress, serving four terms. In 1908, before an unfriendly Democratic National Convention, Hobson commented that President Theodore Roosevelt had stated that there was a good possibility of war with Japan in the near future. Roosevelt denied the comments. With his Great White Fleet preparing to sail around the world, talk of trouble with Japan, either military or diplomatic, was not appreciated by the President. In spite of the acrimonious debate, Hobson continued predicting war with Japan until even the press tired of reporting his comments on the issue.

Congressman Hobson served on the Naval Affairs Committee from 1907 to 1914, working to strengthen the fleet and warning of future clashes with European powers, Japan and Russia. He was an early supporter of Womens’ Suffrage and fought for Black soldiers unjustly accused of rioting and killing a civilian in Brownsville Texas. In 1911, he introduced the first National Prohibition bill. Hobson’s views, unpopular with many of his constituents, ended his political career in 1916.

Later in life, Hobson continued to act against alcohol and drug abuse, serving as general secretary of the American Alcohol and Education Association, president of the International Narcotic Education Association and the World Narcotic Defense Association. He was also the organizer of the 1926 World Conference on Narcotic Education.

In 1933, Hobson was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions aboard the MERRIMAC during the Spanish-American War. His crew had received the medal in 1899, but officers were not eligible for the honor at that time. In 1934, Hobson was made a Rear Admiral on the retired list and granted a pension.

Richmond Pearson Hobson died of a heart attack on March 16, 1937, and was buried with honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

On January 22, 1942, the U.S. Navy commissioned a destroyer named in Richmond Hobson’s honor, the DD-464 HOBSON. The vessel saw extensive action throughout World War Two, in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific theaters of operations. She was awarded  six battle stars and shared in a Presidential unit Citation. She was lost in 1952 after a tragic collision with the aircraft carrier, USS WASP.

 

 July 8 –


   Admiral Cámara

was ordered to return with his fleet to Cádiz to protect Spanish coast
                      threatened by American warships.
            

 July 10 –
                      A second bombardment of Santiago, which severely battered Morro Castle.
           

  July 11 –


 General Miles

 

 

General Miles was a steamship constructed in 1882 which served in various coastal areas of the states of Oregon and Washington, as well as British Columbia and the territory of Alaska. It was apparently named after US General Nelson A. Miles.

Originally a sailing schooner built in 1879, the General Miles was extensively reconstructed in 1890 and renamed Willapa. In 1903 the name was changed again to Bellingham. After a conversion to diesel power in 1922, the vessel was renamed Norco. The vessel is notable for, among other things, for having been first a sailing vessel from 1879 to 1882, a steamship from 1882 to 1918, a sailing barge from 1919 to 1922, and a motor vessel (diesel-powered) from 1922 to 1950

 

joined the American Army before Santiago and conferred with

 

 General Shafter as to the means for reducing the city
            

 July 17 –
                      After the expiration of

 two periods of truce

 

General Toral surrendered Santiago and the
                      eastern province of Cuba to General Shafter.


             July 20 –


                      General Leonard Wood was appointed Military Governor of Santiago, and entered upon
                      his duties by feeding the hungry, clothing the destitute and cleaning the city.
           

  July 21 –
                      The harbor of Nipe was entered by four gunboats, which, after an hours’ fierce
                      bombardment, captured the port.
            

 July 25 –
                      General Miles, with 8,000 men, after a voyage of three days, landed at Guánica, Puerto
                      Rico. He immediately began his march towards Ponce, which surrendered on the 28th.
            

 July 26 –
                      The French Ambassador at Washington,

 

 Jules Cambon, acting for Spain, asked the
                      President upon what terms he would treat for peace.
            

July 30 –
                      The President communicated his answer to M. Cambon.
            

 July 31 –
                      The Spaniards made a night attack on the Americans investing Manila but were repulsed
                      with severe losses.
             

August –
                      The Rough Riders left Santiago for Montauk Point, Long Island
           

August 9 –
                      A large force of Spanish were defeated at Coamo, Puerto Rico, by General Ernst. The
                      Spanish Government formally accepted the terms of peace submitted by the President
            August 12
                      The peace protocol was signed, an armistice proclaimed, and the Cuban blockade raised.
           August 13 –
                      Manila was bombarded by Dewey’s fleet and simultaneously attacked by the American
                      land forces, under which combined assaults the city surrendered unconditionally
           August 20 –
                      Great naval demonstration in New York harbor.
           August 22 –
                      All troops under General Merritt remaining at San Francisco ordered to Honolulu.
           August 23 –
                      Bids opened for the construction of twelve torpedo boats and sixteen destroyers. General
                      Merritt appointed governor of Manila. General Otis assumed command of the Eighth
                      Corps in the Philippines.
           August 25 –
                      General Shafter left Santiago.
           August 26 –
                      President officially announced the names of the American Peace Commissioners. Last of
                      General Shafter’s command leaves Santiago for this country.
           August 29 –
                      Lieutenant Hobson arrived at Santiago to direct the raising of the
María Teresa and
                  
Cristobal Colón.
           August 30 –
                      General Wheeler ordered an investigation of Camp Wikoff.
         September 2 –
                      Spanish Government selected three peace commissioners.
         September 3 –
                      President visited Montauk.
         September 9 –
                      Peace Commission completed by the appointment of Senator Gray. President ordered
                      investigation of War Department.
        September 10 –
                      Spanish Cortes approved Peace Protocol
        September 11 –
                      American Puerto Rico Evacuation Commission met in joint session at San Juan.
        September 12 –
                      Admiral Pascual Cervera left Portsmouth, N. H., for Spain.
        September 13 –
                     Roosevelt’s Rough Riders mustered out of service. Spanish Senate approved Protocol.
        September 14 –
                      Evacuation of Puerto Rico began. Queen Regent signed Protocol.
        September 17 –
                      American Cuban Evacuation Commissions met in joint session at Havana. Peace
                      Commissioners sailed for Paris.
        September 20 –
                      Spanish evacuation of outlying ports in Puerto Rico began. First American flag raised in
                      Havana.
        September 24 –
                      Jurisdiction of Military Governor Wood extended to embrace entire province of Santiago
                      de Cuba. First meeting of the War Investigating Committee held at the White House.
        September 25 –
                      Lieutenant Hobson floated the
María Teresa.
        September 27 –
                      American Peace Commissioners convened in Paris.
        September 28 –
                      American Commissioners received by French Minister of Foreign Affairs.
        September 29 –
                      Spanish and American Commissioners met for first time, at breakfast given at the Foreign
                      Offce, Paris.
           October 1 –
                      Peace Commissioners held first joint session.
           October 4 –
                      2,000 irregular Spanish troops revolted near Cienfuegos and refused to lay down arms
                      until paid back salaries. Battleship
Illinois launched at Newport News.
          October 1O –
                      American flag hoisted over Manzanillo, Cuba.
          October 12 –
                      Battleships
Iowa and Oregon left New York for Manila.
          October 16 –
                      Opening of Peace Jubilee in Chicago.
          October 18 –
                      United States took formal possession of Puerto Rico.
          October 24 –
                      Spanish evacuation of Puerto Rico completed
          October 25 –
                      Philadelphia Jubilee began with naval parade in the Delaware.
          October 30 –
                      Cruiser
María Teresa left Caimanera for Hampton Roads.
          October 31 –
                      American Peace Commissioners demanded cession of entire Philippine group.
          November 5 –
                  
María Teresa, cruiser, reported lost off San Salvador, Bahamas.
          November 8 –
                  
María Teresa reported ashore at Cat Island, Bahamas.
         November 17 –
                      Evacuation of Camp Meade completed
         November 21 –
                      American ultimatum presented to Spanish Peace Commissioners.
         November 25 –
                      First United States troops landed in Havana province.
         November 28 –
                      Spain agreed to cede Phllippines.
         November 30 –
                      Captain-General Blanco left Havana for Spain.
         December 10 –
                      Peace Treaty signed.
         December 11 –
                      Small riot in Havana. Three Cubans killed.
         December 14 –
                      Fitzhugh Lee arrived in Havana.
         December 24 –
                      Peace Treaty delivered to President McKinley.
         December 27 –
                      American Evacuation Commissioners issued a proclamation to the inhabitants of Cuba.
         December 31 –
                      Last day of Spanish sovereignty in Westem Hemisphere.

 

   
   

 

   
   

 

 

 
 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Maps

 

Click on the pictures
 
 

   

Pacific campaign

Santiago de Cuba harbor

 

   
   

 
 

Santiago de Cuba and vicinity 1898
 
 

Santiago de Cuba and vicinity July 14, 1898

1868

Spanish-American War in Cuba

Cuba Struggle for Independence (1868-1898)
and then (Washington Post published), starts
the “Splendid Little” War . What follows are some benchmarks along the way:

 

April 10, 1895 — Jose Marti, Cuban revolutionary,

 

 

launches insurrection against Spanish rule.

 

 

He is killed May 19.

 

READ MORE

The most famous cigar ever rolled in Tampa went out not as a Corona or a Presidente, but as a liberator to spark the Cuban Revolution of 1895. This cigar cost thousands of lives, but eventually won the independence of Cuba from Spain.

  The story of the cigar that went to war starts Jan. 29, 1895, at the residence of Gonzalo De Quesada, secretary of the Cuban Revolutionary Party in New York City. Jose Marti, the leader of the Cuban crusade for freedom, called a secret meeting of the revolutionary junta at the Quesada home.

Present were General Jose Mayia Rodriguez, representing Generalisimo Maximo Gomez, and General Enrique Collazo, representing the Revolutionary Junta of Havana. Among the Cuban patriots taking part in the historic junta was Emilio Cordero, who in later years would become a prominent leader in the cigar industry of America marketing his popular brand Mi Hogar.        Gonzalo de Quesada        Jose Marti

 

Jan. 1, 1898 —

 In an effort to defuse the insurrection, Spain gives Cubans limited political autonomy.

Jan. 12 —

Spaniards in Cuba riot against autonomy given to Cubans.

 

Jan. 25 — USS Maine arrives in Havana Harbor to protect American interests.

Feb. 15 — USS Maine explodes, sinks; 266 crewmen lost. The Maine’s captain urges suspension of judgment on the cause of the explosion.

March 28 —

Naval Court of Inquiry says Maine destroyed by a mine.

 

April 11 —

President William McKinley asks Congress for declaration of war.

April 25 —

State of war exists between United States and Spain.

 

June 10 — U.S. Marines land at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

 

July 1 —

 

 Battles of El Caney and San Juan Hill in Cuba

 

result in American victories and instant national acclaim for

 

Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, the former Navy Department official and future president who leads the Rough Riders at San Juan Heights.

Among Theodore Roosevelt’s many accomplishments were two terms as President of the United States, the publishing of more than forty works of nonfiction, the exploration of the South American wilderness, and having his likeness sculpted on Mount Rushmore. However, even with all of these and many other achievements, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt often stated that participating in the Battle of San Juan Hill, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War was one of his proudest moments. Roosevelt’s service with the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, also known as the “Rough Riders,” lasted only four months, but he proclaimed “there are no four months of my life to which I look back with more pride and satisfaction.”(1) To most people, the charge up San Juan Hill is one of the two most memorable events connected with the “Splendid Little War.”(2) The other is the sinking of the USS Maine, which helped set the stage for war.

The American victory over Spain placed the nation among the world’s great powers. For Roosevelt, the Spanish-American War fulfilled a lifelong dream. While friends in the newspaper business ensured that his exploits in Cuba were not overlooked by the public, the future President yearned for even greater acclaim. He coveted the country’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. Despite an intense lobbying effort by some of his superior officers and a close friend, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Roosevelt’s request for the medal was denied by the War Department. Questions remain as to whether Roosevelt was refused the Medal of Honor because he was undeserving or if friction between himself and the War Department was the actual reason for denial.

Although countless pages have documented the Rough Riders in Cuba, the Medal of Honor issue has been largely ignored in print. Even two of Roosevelt’s own publications, The Rough Riders and An Autobiography, fail to mention in the narrative his desire for the award.(3) A multitude of War Department documents and Roosevelt’s own published letters clearly state his argument that “I am entitled to the Medal of Honor and I want it.”(4) With the centennial of the Spanish-American War approaching, perhaps this is an appropriate time to reevaluate Roosevelt’s role in the conflict and determine if his contribution was as worthy as he claimed.

After the Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, Cuba, on February 15, 1898, popular opinion in the United States cried for retaliation against Spain. The fever was fueled by yellow journalists such as Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and William Randolph Hearst of the New York Journal. One of the most anxious Americans was Theodore Roosevelt. When he had taken office as assistant secretary of the navy in April 1897, he used his position to expound upon America’s future role as a world power. He felt this goal could not be achieved without war. During a June 2, 1897, speech at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, the assistant secretary noted that “diplomacy is utterly useless where there is no force behind it; the diplomat is the servant, no the master, of the soldier. . . . No triumph of peace is quite so great as the supreme triumphs of war.”(5)

With war declared on April 21, 1898, the self-proclaimed jingo saw his wishes come true and was anxious to take part in the upcoming fray. Several years after the war, he boasted that “I had always felt that if there were a serious war I wished to be in a position to explain to my children why I did take part in it, and not why I did not take part in it.”(6) The latter portion of this statement was probably a reference to his father’s decision not to serve in the military during the Civil War, which haunted Roosevelt throughout his life. According to one of his biographers, “family, friends, and superiors all implored Roosevelt to remain in the post in which he had done so much to prepare the navy for war.”(7) Roosevelt ignored these pleas and instead lobbied Secretary of War Russell A. Alger for an army commission. Opportunity came for Roosevelt when the War Department mobilized the army for war.

A severe shortage of men prevented the army from immediately setting forth on an expedition to Cuba. To remedy the situation, President William McKinley proposed to Congress a first call for 125,000 state volunteers. The proposal became law on April 22. Four days later, additional legislation was passed to increase the regular army to more than twice its strength. On May 25, McKinley issued a second call for 75,000 volunteers to bring the army up to adequate strength for whatever expeditions might be required.

Most of the volunteers under the first call came from existing state militia or national guard outfits since they numbered about 125,000 men. The order for troops also permitted the federal government to raise three volunteer cavalry regiments to serve independently from the state units.(8) Secretary of War Alger knew the perfect candidate to command the first regiment: Theodore Roosevelt. Upon learning from Alger that the First United States Volunteer Cavalry Regiment was his to command, Roosevelt was ecstatic. He declined the offer, however, since his only military service had been three years in the New York National Guard, and he felt this was not enough experience to lead an entire regiment during wartime. As a compromise, Roosevelt suggested that he serve as lieutenant colonel if his good friend Leonard Wood was named as the commander. Alger agreed, and the Rough Riders were born.(9)

Wood was an ideal choice to command the newly formed regiment. He had many of the same political connections as Roosevelt, whom he had met in mid-1897 while serving as the White House physician, and they developed a deep friendship. Besides a career as a medical officer, Wood had served as both an army assistant surgeon and line officer during the expedition against Geronimo in 1886. He distinguished himself in the campaign and received the Medal of Honor in March 1898 for his role in Geronimo’s surrender. Wood was the only officer serving in the long campaign to receive the award, and rumors circulated that his political ties were the reason he had been singled out.(10)

Secretary of War Alger authorized Wood to raise and organize “a regiment of Volunteers possessing special qualifications as horsemen and marksmen.” Furthermore, War Department Special Order #98, April 27, 1898, directed Wood to report to Muskogee, Indian Territory; Guthrie, Oklahoma; Sante Fe, New Mexico; Prescott, Arizona Territory; Carson City, Nevada; and Salt Lake City, Utah for recruiting.(11) But once the word spread that the Rough Riders were recruiting men, applications came from all over the country. Originally the regiment was allotted 780 men by the War Department, but popular interest in becoming a Rough Rider quickly enlarged the number to 1,000. By July 7, 1898, the regiment exceeded the legal limit of men, with more than 1,100 names on the muster rolls.(12)

The origin of the name “Rough Riders,” according to Roosevelt, was created “both by the public and by the rest of the army . . . doubtless because the bulk of the men were from the Southwestern ranch country and were skilled in the wild horsemanship of the great plains.”(13) Publicly, Roosevelt invoked an image as a cowboy because of the several years he spent ranching in the Dakota Territory and the publication of his multivolume work The Winning of the West. In addition to the majority of cowboys and ranchers, recruits came from Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Roosevelt also recruited at the various social clubs of Boston and New York with which he was well acquainted. From this contingent Roosevelt especially sought athletes such as cross-country riders and polo players. Notable among the blue-blood eastern families recruited for the Rough Riders was Hamilton Fish, the nephew of former Secretary of State Fish. Most noteworthy of the western recruits was William “Bucky” O’Neil, who was the mayor of Prescott, Arizona, and a famous sheriff. A number of Native Americans representing tribes such as the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Creeks rounded out the regiment.(14)

The Rough Riders trained in San Antonio, Texas, for about four weeks, then joined the other outfits congregating in Tampa, Florida, for transport to Cuba.(15) The expedition was organized as the U.S. Army’s Fifth Corps. They were led by the rotund Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter, a Medal of Honor winner during the Civil War and veteran of the Indian wars. The Rough Riders had the distinction of being one of only three volunteer regiments that initially went to Cuba.(16)

  Officers at camp in Tampa, Florida: Maj. George Dunn, Major Brodie, former Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler, Chaplain Brown of the Rough Riders, Col. Leonard Wood, and Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt. (NARA 111-SC-93549)

“I Am Entitled to the Medal of Honor and I Want It”
Theodore Roosevelt and His Quest for Glory, Part 2

Leaving Tampa on June 6, the Fifth Corps anchored a week later off the coast of Santiago de Cuba and remained there until an advance force of the U.S. Army landed at the small port of Daiquiri, seventeen miles from Santiago. With the help of naval gunfire and a small force of Cuban revolutionaries under the command of Gen. Calixto Garcia, the three hundred Spanish troops in the area of Daiquiri were forced to withdraw on June 22. Because of heavy surf conditions, Shafter selected a landing point eight miles closer to Santiago at the port of Siboney. By June 26, most of the expedition was on shore, but not without casualties. Two men and a number of artillery horses and pack mules drowned in the rough sea. Roosevelt remembered that “we did the landing as we had everything else–that is, in a scramble.”(17)

  Landing at Daiquiri. (NARA 111-SC-94528)

Upon landing in Cuba, the mission of the Fifth Corps was unclear. The War Department gave Shafter instructions to destroy the Spanish forces at Santiago, and how to go about this was left up to him. As soon as a sufficient force landed on shore at Siboney, Shafter ordered the march toward Santiago. Although the Spaniards put up no resistance to the American landings, Cubans in the area reported that a force of two thousand Spaniards were about four miles from Siboney in the village of Las Guasimas. Former Confederate officer Maj. Gen. “Fighting” Joe Wheeler, who commanded the Fifth Corps cavalry division as a volunteer, sent Brig. Gen. Samuel B.M. Young on a reconnaissance toward the village with his brigade, which included the Rough Riders and the African American Tenth U.S. Cavalry. After a two-hour fight, Young’s brigade had the enemy fleeing toward Santiago.(18)

Sixteen Americans and ten Spaniards were killed in the fight. Figuring prominently in the skirmish were the Rough Riders, who suffered eight casualties. Newspapers across the United States proclaimed it a Rough Riders victory. Most responsible for the accolades was correspondent Richard Harding Davis, who tagged along with the Rough Riders and acted as Roosevelt’s own press secretary. In reality, Wheeler had advanced the cavalry prematurely, and they had been ambushed. Two of the Rough Riders killed were among the regiment’s more promising troopers, Capt. Allyn K. Capron and Sgt. Hamilton Fish. The most positive aspect of the skirmish was that it boosted morale among the soldiers and gave them confidence for the big fight that lay ahead.(19)

After the unexpected Las Guasimas fight, Shafter decided against any further advances until he could build up substantial supplies at Siboney and Daiquiri. On June 28 Shafter learned that a Spanish relief force was heading to reinforce troops entrenched among the heights surrounding Santiago. Two days later he ordered his forces to be ready to march toward Santiago on July 1. The ultimate goal was San Juan Hill, which was also known as either San Juan Heights or San Juan Ridge.(20)

The San Juan Heights rise above Santiago, about two miles east of the city. A small rise known as Kettle Hill was named for an abandoned mill and its iron kettles used to refine sugar. San Juan Hill rises to the southwest, about 400 yards further than Kettle Hill, and stands about 125 feet high with a brick blockhouse at the summit. Just east of Kettle and San Juan Hills flows the San Juan River. Approximately a thousand yards west of the San Juan Heights there was a strong line of Spanish fortifications that included barbed-wire entanglements, rifle pits, and trenches dug on the heights and to their rear.

Shafter’s plan to assault the San Juan Heights, based upon reconnaissance by his own troops and the Cuban army, was to send the Fifth Corps through the only two practicable routes in the jungle-covered terrain. The First Infantry Division under Brig. Gen. Jacob F. Kent and Wheeler’s cavalry would approach Kettle and San Juan Hills through the same road the army had followed from Siboney. The first phase of the attack was for Brig. Gen. Henry W. Lawton’s Second Infantry Division to take the village of El Caney on the right flank by way of the road to Guantanamo, which he claimed was possible in two hours. Lawton was then to move on to Santiago with Kent and Wheeler approaching to his left. If the plan went as designed, the three divisions would clear the Spaniards from the San Juan Heights and bring Santiago under siege.

The Battle of Santiago began early in the morning of July 1 with Lawton attacking El Caney, but his force of sixty-six hundred men met heavy resistance from the five hundred Spaniards garrisoned at the village. Not until late afternoon did El Caney come under American control.

With Lawton bogged down in El Caney, the First Cavalry Division and First Infantry Division with about eight thousand men would have to attack the defenses of San Juan Heights without the planned infantry support. The cavalry was now under the command of Brig. Gen. Samuel S. Sumner, who temporarily replaced an ill General Wheeler. As result of Wheeler’s illness, Wood was promoted to brigadier general, and Roosevelt was raised to the rank of colonel of the Rough Riders.

The infantry division under General Kent moved behind the Sumner’s cavalry division along the road leading to the heights at about 11 a.m. Gradually the infantry pressed up alongside the cavalry, then both divisions took position in an area that provided little cover, with the cavalry on the right and the infantry on the left. Not yet having received orders from Shafter’s headquarters, the men were exposed in the open with no clear course of action. Before the men completed their deployment, the Spanish troops on San Juan and Kettle Hills commenced rifle and artillery fire.

What triggered the Spanish fusillade was an observation balloon operated by the Signal Corps. Their mission was to obtain more intelligence about the Spanish position, but the balloon gave the Spaniards a perfect marker on which to aim their fire. How many American casualties the balloon caused is impossible to say. On the positive side, the two observers aboard the balloon gathered information on the enemy’s strength at San Juan Hill and discovered an alternate trail that helped spread the deployment of the Fifth Corps infantry.(21)

Sumner and Kent realized that San Juan Hill was heavily defended and the infantry and cavalry would be decimated unless they either advanced or retreated. Kent’s infantry, followed by Sumner’s cavalry, deployed along a narrow path, and by 1 p.m. the Americans established a firing line facing the heights against the Spanish right flank. Lt. John H. Parker and his battery of Gatling guns caused the most destruction. At a range of six hundred to eight hundred yards, Parker demoralized the Spaniards by firing continuously for little over eight minutes.(22)

Using Parker’s guns as a cover, the cavalry and infantry finally received permission to attack the Spanish forward positions along San Juan Heights. What actually happened at this point is still quite confusing. A number of different versions of the battle by its participants conflict with each other. Of particular interest to this study is Roosevelt’s own account of the events. In his two reports to Leonard Wood that were published in the Report of the Secretary of War, as well as his postwar story in The Rough Riders, Roosevelt gives the impression that he alone was the first to charge the San Juan Heights to drive away the entrenched Spaniards. This image of Theodore Roosevelt was propagated with the help of Richard Harding Davis. Reporting for the New York Herald, Davis transcribed what Roosevelt told him, then added his own twist to the story. In addition to the newspaper articles, magazines and books picked up his story. Davis depicted a fearless Roosevelt, wearing a blue polka-dotted bandanna, charging up the hill mounted on his horse, Texas. Thus the legend of Theodore Roosevelt was created.(23)

  Roosevelt and his Rough Riders atop San Juan Hill. (NARA 306-ST-505-58-4822)

The first report, written on July 4, 1898, provides Roosevelt’s initial claim for credit in charging the heights. He wrote,

After crossing the river at the ford we were moved along and up its right bank under fire, and were held in reserve at a sunken road. . . . We then received your order to advance and support the regular cavalry in the attack on the entrenchments and blockhouses on the hills to the left. The regiment was deployed on both sides of the road, and moved forward until we came to the rearmost lines of the regulars. We moved forward until I ordered a charge, and the men rushed the blockhouse and rifle pits on the hill to the right of our advance. They did the work in fine shape, though suffering severely. The guidons of Troop E and G were first planted on the summit, though the first men up were some A and B troopers, who were with me.

After the passage of almost three weeks, Roosevelt’s final report to Wood elaborated even further on his immortal charge.

We moved through several skirmish lines of the regiment ahead of us, as it seemed to me that our only chance was in rushing the entrenchments in front. . . . Accordingly we charged the blockhouse and entrenchments on the hill to our right against a heavy fire. It was taken in good style, the men of my regiment thus being the first to capture any fortified position and to break through the Spanish lines. The guidons of G and E troops were first at this point, but some of the men of A and B troops who were with me personally got in ahead of them. At the last wire fence up this hill I was obliged to abandon my horse and after that went on foot. . . . By the time San Juan was taken a large force had assembled on the hill we had previously captured, consisting not only of my own regiment but of the ninth and of portions of other cavalry regiments.(24)

  An “Oath of Office” certifies Theodore Roosevelt’s promotion to colonel of the First Volunteer Cavalry. (NARA, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917, RG 94)

In The Rough Riders, written almost a year after the war, Roosevelt provides further assessment of his gallantry.

The General [Sumner] at once ordered the first brigade to advance on the hills, and the second to support it. The instant I received the order I sprang on my horse and then my “crowded hour” began. . . . I started in the rear of the regiment, the position in which the colonel should theoretically stay. . . . I had intended to go into action on foot . . . but the heat was so oppressive that I found I should be quite unable to run up and down the line . . . moreover, when on horseback, I could see the men better and they could see me better.

I soon found that I could get that line, behind which I personally was, faster forward than the one immediately in front of it. . . . This happened with every line in succession, until I found myself at the head of the regiment. . . . The Ninth Regiment was immediately in front of me, and the First on my left, and these went up Kettle Hill with my regiment. The Third, Sixth, and Tenth went partly up Kettle Hill (following the Rough Riders and the Ninth and the First). . . . By the time I came to the head of the regiment we ran into the left wing of the ninth regulars . . . , who were lying down. I spoke to the captain in command. . . . I asked where the Colonel was, and as he was not in sight, said, “Then I am the ranking officer here and I give the order to charge. . . .” Naturally the Captain hesitated to obey this order. . . . So I said, “Then let my men through sir,” and rode on through the lines, followed by the grinning Rough Riders. . . .

Wheeling around, I then again galloped toward the hill, passing the shouting, cheering, firing men. . . . Some forty yards from the top I ran into a wire fence and jumped off Little Texas. . . . Almost immediately afterward the hill was covered by the troops, both Rough Riders and the colored troops of the Ninth, and some of the men of the First. There was the usual confusion, and afterward there was much discussion as to exactly who had been on the hill first. The first guidons planted there were those of the three New Mexican troops, G, E, and F, of my regiment . . . , but on the extreme right of the hill, at the opposite end from where we struck it, Captains Taylor and McBain, and their men of the Ninth were first up. Each of the five captains was firm in the belief that his troop was first up.(25)

While Roosevelt’s accounts and Davis’s articles make exciting reading, they do not tell the complete story. Based on official reports that Roosevelt either did not consult or refused to believe, historians writing about the battle for Santiago since July 1, 1898, have exposed a number of inaccuracies in Roosevelt’s versions. Ultimately the revised histories place credit for the charge on the San Juan Heights with the regular army, whom Roosevelt ignored in his accounts. Another obvious mistake is Roosevelt’s insistence in his official reports that he charged San Juan Hill, when in reality his immediate assault was on Kettle Hill. According to historians Peggy and Harold Samuels, Roosevelt had convinced himself that he had charged San Juan Hill as had Hawkins. “Although San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill were separated by geography and by difference in the quality of defenses, Roosevelt lumped together the hill, the knoll, the valley before them, and the heights as ‘the battlefield at San Juan Hill.’ He glossed over the clear physical difference between San Juan Hill in particular and the entire San Juan battlefield.”(26)

What the evidence supports is that the cavalry division advanced to the northwest across the San Juan River and up Kettle Hill. By the time the assault reached the top of Kettle Hill the ground was practically deserted by the Spanish soldiers. Due to the confusion of the heavy fire, cavalry units were intermingled with white soldiers of the Rough Riders firing beside the colored soldiers of the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry Regiments.(27) Who reached Kettle Hill first is where the confusion lies. First Lt. Edward D. Anderson made the claim for Troop C of the Tenth Cavalry. His report states that “while advancing near the road, Colonel Wood, the brigade commander, came by and told me to move my troop to the right and toward the blockhouse. I had 1 man killed and 7 wounded in reaching the top of the hill. . . . Shortly, Colonel Roosevelt and part of his regiment joined our right and I reported to him with my troop. His command took the position behind the crest in which we now occupy.”(28)

The troops on Kettle Hill under the orders of Sumner and the inspiration of Theodore Roosevelt started down the west slope of the hill and up the northern extension of San Juan Hill. The cavalry encountered trenches filled with dead Spaniards or those who wished to surrender. Some of the bolder enemy were shot in full flight by the Rough Riders and other regiments now firmly in place on San Juan Hill. The assaults against Kettle and San Juan Hills were against Spanish troops that had already begun pulling back. Around noon their two field artillery pieces had been depleted of ammunition, and their infantry had been decimated by the Gatling gun, artillery, and rifle fire. Those who remained in the trenches when the U.S. cavalry appeared were either dead or wounded. The Rough Riders did charge San Juan Hill, but only after the assault on the more strategically important Kettle Hill.

The July 1 assault on the San Juan Heights drove the Spaniards from the high ground surrounding the city of Santiago. This was accomplished at a severe cost, though, as the Fifth Corps sustained more than 1,300 casualties. The Rough Riders, who were about 490 strong when the battle started, suffered 15 men killed and 73 wounded. One of those killed was Bucky O’Neil, who was shot through the back of the head while parading in front of Troop A. Morale among the officers and men was at the lowest point of the campaign because of the high casualty rate and confusion of the day’s battle.

To make matters worse, logistical problems in getting supplies and food to the men on San Juan Hill, as well as abysmal medical services, prompted Shafter to consider withdrawing on July 2 to reorganize. But the Fifth Corps remained and debated with the navy for the next several days over the course to follow for an attack on Santiago. Shafter wanted the navy to force its way through Santiago Harbor and bombard the city, while Adm. William T. Sampson wanted the army first to seize the forts at the entrance of the harbor. In the meantime, negotiations commenced between Shafter and the new commander of the Spanish forces at Santiago, Gen. Jose Toral. Shafter threatened Toral with a combined sea and land attack if the Spanish did not surrender. The final blow for the Spanish force was the fiery destruction of their squadron as it tried to flee Santiago Harbor on July 3. This, coupled with an increase in sickness and lack of food for Toral’s men, induced the Spanish commander to surrender, and formal ceremonies took place on July 17.(29)

  Spanish forces march through the streets of Santiago. (NARA 111-SC-81840)

The Spaniards were not the only ones suffering from disease. By the end of July, almost 20 percent of Shafter’s men were hospitalized because of yellow fever, dysentery, and a large number of malaria cases. At first the War Department felt the Fifth Corps should remain in Cuba and wait out the epidemics, but Shafter warned that the disease would worsen unless the sick men were returned to the United States. Shafter solicited the views of his division and brigade commanders, and they concurred that the weakened soldiers must leave Cuba immediately or risk yellow fever deaths rising by the hundreds. All three of Shafter’s division commanders and several of the brigade officers, including Roosevelt, drafted and signed a letter stating their views on the withdrawal from Cuba. The letter was included with Shafter’s dispatch and sent to the War Department on August 3. Roosevelt also took matters into his own hands and sent an urgent plea to his friend, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. A copy of Shafter’s dispatch was leaked to an Associated Press correspondent at the Fifth Corps headquarters, and the generals’ letter was printed in newspapers across the United States. Although the exact source of who leaked the dispatch was never revealed, Roosevelt has often been considered the prime suspect. Because the dispatch went through so many hands, it was called the “Round Robin” letter.

The letter caused great embarrassment to the McKinley administration, which appeared cold and callous to the American public for leaving the sick troops in Cuba. McKinley was also fearful that news of a decimated army would give the Spanish more bargaining power when negotiating the armistice. The scandal became known as the “Round Robin Affair,” and as a result, McKinley allowed Shafter to start sending his men north as soon as possible. The first shipload of troops left Santiago on August 7, and by August 25 the entire corps had left Cuba. The Rough Riders were among those transported on one of the first ships to leave Cuba and arrived at Montauk Point, Long Island, on August 15 to a cheering crowd.(30)

Before Roosevelt and his Rough Riders left Cuba for the United States, he commenced fighting another, personal, battle. General Wheeler promised to recommend him to the War Department for a Medal of Honor, and his good friend Leonard Wood got the ball rolling by submitting the first endorsement on July 6. In a letter to the War Department Adjutant General’s office in Washington, Wood plainly stated that “I have the honor to recommend Lieut. Col. Theodore Roosevelt . . . for a Medal of Honor for distinguished gallantry in leading a charge on one of the entrenched hills to the east of the Spanish position in the suburbs of Santiago de Cuba, July First, 1898.”(31)

Although a nice gesture, Wood’s recommendation had very little merit. He had not been present during the actual charge, and Wood’s enemies asserted that he had got lost in the woods trying to maneuver his brigade, reaching San Juan Hill only after the fighting had ended. He was therefore not a reliable witness, and the War Department would later reveal this fact. Following Wood’s recommendation were similar endorsements from Generals Wheeler and Shafter. Like Wood, they also had not witnessed Roosevelt’s alleged heroic charge.

Roosevelt also pushed the Medal of Honor issue to his long-time companion, Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. Roosevelt boasted to him “that General Wheeler intends to recommend me for the Medal of Honor; naturally I should like to have it.” In a another letter to Lodge complaining about the deplorable conditions in Cuba and the deaths that might result from the malaria, Roosevelt reflected upon his own possible death. He told Lodge that “if I do go, I do wish you would get that medal for me anyhow, as I should awfully like the children to have it, and I think I earned it.”(32)

Impatient to hear news about the Medal of Honor, Roosevelt wrote to the War Department in September 1898. Assistant Secretary of War George D. Meikeljohn responded that they had Wood, Wheeler, and Shafter’s letters on file, but “owing to the pressure of current work the Department is unable to give consideration cases of this class at the present time, but the application made in your behalf will receive careful attention as soon as it is found practicable to take up these cases.”(33)

Although Roosevelt may have deemed Meikeljohn’s response a snub, his application was indeed one of many pouring into the War Department. Joining him on the Medal of Honor and Brevet list were more than fifty other veterans of the Spanish-American War. In order to deal with each case in a fair manner, Secretary of War Alger established on November 9, 1898, a “board of officers . . . for the purpose of making recommendations for brevet promotions, the awards of medals of honor, and certificates of merit for the officers, and enlisted men who participated in the campaigns of Santiago, the Philippines, and Porto Rico.”(34)

Known as the “Brevet Board,” the three officers in charge received mountains of paperwork from the Adjutant General’s Office that no doubt included Roosevelt’s numerous letters and supporting documents. To determine eligibility for the Medal of Honor, the Brevet Board had to follow paragraph 177 of the United States Army regulations. It states that “in order that the Congressional Medal of Honor may be deserved[,] service must have been performed in action as such conspicuous character to clearly distinguish the man for gallantry and intrepidity above his comrades–service that involved extreme jeopardy of life or the performance of extraordinary hazardous duty. Recommendations for the decoration will be judged by this standard of extraordinary merit, and incontestible proof of performance of the service will be exacted.”(35) Since its creation during the Civil War, the Medal of Honor had been haphazardly awarded because there were no clear rules or policies for documenting and authenticating the acts of gallantry befitting the decoration. The Brevet Board served to temporarily correct this dilemma.

Four months after submission of his name for the Medal of Honor, Roosevelt became more obsessed with the issue. He painfully told Lodge on December 6 that “if I didn’t earn it, then no commissioned officer can ever earn it. . . . I don’t ask this as a favor–I ask it as a right. . . . I feel rather ugly on this medal of honor business; and the President and War Dept. may as well understand it. If they want fighting, they shall have it.” Three weeks later in another letter to Lodge, Roosevelt changed his tone. He told his friend “now, please don’t, in the midst of all your worry over big matters, do another thing in connection with the medal.”(36)

  Roosevelt repeatedly stressed recommendations on his behalf by Generals Wood, Wheeler, and Shafter. Wood vaguely praised the “conspicuous gallantry” of Roosevelt’s leadership. (NARA, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917, RG 94)

He prepared himself for possible denial after learning from Senator Lodge that Secretary Alger had told him at a White House dinner that the Rough Rider would not receive the medal. Roosevelt also claimed that Alger had made this announcement to others on a number of occasions. He wrote to Leonard Wood and told him “pray do not think of the medal anymore. There is nothing to be done about it. I really care more for the recommendations for it than the medal itself.”(37) In a letter to Gen. Francis Vinton Greene, Roosevelt vented his frustrations about Alger: “You will readily understand however, that both my friends and myself feel that when the Secretary announces in advance publicly and repeatedly that the medal must not and will not be given, this mere fact itself amounts to coercion of the Board, and I shall think that the Board might better <<display>> sensitiveness about the coercion than about my friends having called in consequence of the Secretary’s public statements.”(38)

Roosevelt also expressed these same feelings in a barrage of letters to the office of the Adjutant General of the War Department, Henry C. Corbin. Corbin responded that “one word as to the reported remark of the Secretary of War that ‘you were not entitled to a medal of honor.’ I am fully persuaded that the Secretary never made any such statement to any one. My relations with the Secretary have been intimate and your name has been frequently mentioned and there was never a suggestion from him that was not full of kindly regard and appreciation. What he probably did say was ‘the case as presented by General Wood would not, under the rules of the office, entitle you to this consideration,’ and you must agree that Wood’s recommendation was lacking in the special features that warrant the issuance of medals to any one. As you have written him, I hope he will be able to set forth in detail just why it should be done. Should he do this, I undertake to say the Secretary will share with me the pleasure of bestowing this honor upon you.”(39)

Taking Corbin’s advice, Roosevelt solicited another statement from Wood. But Wood’s second letter quoted almost verbatim the official reports submitted to him in July by Roosevelt. In other words, Wood could not offer himself as an eyewitness. Roosevelt began to realize that there may not be any accurate witnesses to his valor because “I don’t know who saw me throughout the fight, because I was almost always in the front and could not tell who was close behind me, and was paying no attention to it.” Not giving up the fight, Roosevelt requested statements from regular army officers and volunteers who were either with him or in the area during the attack on San Juan Heights.

Roosevelt was correct. The statements submitted on his behalf were of little help because they provided conflicting and vague accounts of his bravery. Capt. C. J. Stevens of the Ninth Cavalry stated that “Col. Roosevelt was among the very first to reach the crest of the hill.” On the other hand, 1st Lt. Robert Howe of the Sixth Cavalry recalled that the “Colonel’s life was placed in extreme jeopardy, owing to the conspicuous position he took in leading the line, and being the first to reach the crest of that hill.” Gen. Samuel S. Sumner, as though he felt an obligation to support Roosevelt’s Medal of Honor case, simply says that “Col. Roosevelt by his example and fearlessness inspired his men at both Kettle Hill and the ridge known as San Juan, he led his command in person.” Sumner, whose testimony had great merit, provides no comments on whether Roosevelt was the first or among the first on the hill. The statements from former officers in the Rough Riders, such as Maxwell Keyes, W. J. McCann, and M. J. Jenkins, were biased in support of Roosevelt. They essentially echoed their colonel’s argument.(40)

With the Medal of Honor issue dragging on, Roosevelt’s emotions took on a childlike, vindictive tone. In a letter to Gen. Bradley Tyler Johnson, he wrote, “I do not believe the War Department has the slightest intentions of granting it, and I have really given up thinking about it. You see I cannot blame the War Department for feeling bitterly toward me now, for I have hit, and intend to hit them, hard for what they have done and left done and left undone, and I am rather pleased than otherwise that they should have given me no excuse to feel under any obligation to them. Now they can grant me the medal or not, just as they wish, for it will not make a particle of difference in what I shall write about them.”(41) When Roosevelt states that “I have hit the War Department hard,” he is most likely referring to the Round Robin affair and his testimony before the “Commission Appointed by the President to Investigate the Conduct of the War Department in the War With Spain.”

The long wait for news about his award ended for Roosevelt on June 8, 1899, when the Brevet Board submitted its recommendations for the Medal of Honor to the secretary of war. The three board members stated that “many cases of bravery and unquestioned courage in battle have been presented, but the application of the rules laid down for the guidance of the Board in awarding Medals of Honor constrains it to limit its recommendations.”(42) Twenty-eight participants of the Santiago Campaign were approved to receive the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action, but Roosevelt’s name was not among them. Instead, his name appeared with other volunteer officers on a separate list for recommendation as brevet colonel and brevet brigadier general.

Exactly why the Brevet Board denied Roosevelt the award is not officially documented. There are no extant War Department records nor similar correspondence among the personal papers of Russell Alger that hint at why Roosevelt was rejected. Certainly no evidence exists to support the contention that Alger held a grudge over the Round Robin affair or Roosevelt’s testimony to the congressional committee. On the contrary, letters from the War Department to Roosevelt indicate that they were more than willing to assist him in getting the Medal of Honor. One can only assume that the Brevet Board came to the conclusion that, though Roosevelt’s conduct in Cuba was quite admirable, it was not worthy of a Medal of Honor.

  The Medal of Honor was awarded to twenty-eight men in the battle for Santiago, but Roosevelt failed to secure it. (U.S. Army Center of Military History)

Regardless of why Roosevelt was not awarded the Medal of Honor, it was the correct decision. In one way or another, most of the officers participating in the fighting on July 1, 1898, performed very well. Military historian Graham Cosmas states that “in most regiments, the officer casualty rate was about double that for enlisted men–an indication of the extent and price of leadership from the front.”(43) To single out Roosevelt as a hero among the other line officers would have been a great injustice, and the merit of the award would have been cheapened. The denial of the Medal of Honor does not diminish the fact that Roosevelt gave his best effort in attempting to bring order to the chaos along the San Juan Heights. He risked his life by riding his horse during the charge while the Spanish bullets rained down upon him. There is no doubt that he was an inspiration to the men of the Rough Riders and the troops of the cavalry division.

Roosevelt took the Brevet Board’s decision with great disappointment, as might be expected. But time also helped heal any ill feelings he may have harbored, at least publicly. Since he was no longer serving in the United States Army, the brevet ranks of colonel and brigadier general had only political value to Roosevelt.(44) His career as a politician was right on track, and there was no reason to stew about the Medal of Honor any further. In 1907 he rejected an offer to join the Medal of Honor Club for the reason that “I was recommended for it [Medal of Honor] by my superior officers in the Santiago campaign, but I was not awarded it; and frankly, looking back on it now, I feel that the board which declined to award it took exactly the right position.”(45)

The reasons behind Roosevelt’s adamancy about getting the Medal of Honor are open to conjecture, but political ambition was certainly one of his motives. Clearly Roosevelt had sights on the presidency, and the medal was the perfect vehicle to help get him into the White House. He may also have been in awe of the Medal of Honor winners with whom he served in Cuba: Nelson A. Miles, William R. Shafter, Henry W. Lawton, Robert Lee Howe, and Leonard Wood. As an overly confident volunteer, Roosevelt hoped for acceptance by the regular officers. In his eyes, the Medal of Honor would put him on the same level as the career soldiers. Politically, not receiving the Medal of Honor certainly did not impede Roosevelt’s career as a civil servant. Because of his participation in the Spanish-American War, he was considered one of the most popular and colorful political figures in the United States. Almost immediately after the war, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York, then selected by McKinley as his vice president, then became President of the United States. His political successes were a direct result of the image he made for himself in Cuba.

Theodore Roosevelt passed away in 1919 from complications relating to an adventure in South America. Had Roosevelt still been alive in 1944, he would have been proud to learn that a Roosevelt did eventually win the award he so coveted. His son Brig. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., received the Medal of Honor posthumously for “gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France.”(46) However, this Medal of Honor was awarded with its own bit of controversy. Originally, Theodore jr. had been cited for the Distinguished Service Cross. Some commanding officers in the First Army, including Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins and Lt. Gen. Courtney Hodges, considered this to be the appropriate award, but the War Department upgraded the citation to a Medal of Honor.(47)

Even though he did not receive his nation’s highest military decoration, Theodore Roosevelt will forever be known as one of America’s most well-liked and vibrant characters. His charge up Kettle Hill, even though he insisted it was San Juan Hill, conjures a heroic image that will likely never fade with time. Theodore Roosevelt will always be remembered as the embodiment of the Spanish-American War, a significant historical event that he called the “time of my life.”(48)

 

The Crowded Hour

The Charge at
El Caney & San Juan Hills

 
PHOTO RIGHT:  Rough Rider Color Sergeant Wright

Among the regiments assembled and digging for shelter from the enemy guns at the foot of San Juan Hill was the 6th US Infantry, a part of General Kent’s 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division under Brigadier General Hamilton S. Hawkins.  Among the members of Hawkins’ staff was an eager young lieutenant who had told a friend he would return from battle as either a colonel or a corps.  As the enemy fire continued to rain upon the stalemated American soldiers, Lieutenant Jules Ord turned to his commander.  Tired of the wait he informed General Hawkins, “General, if you will order a charge, I will lead it.”

 

A veteran of Civil War assaults on fortified enemy positions, General Hawkins considered the young lieutenant’s offer, weighing it against the high rate of casualties he knew such a charge would create. 

 

 Lieutenant Ord broke the silence of the general’s contemplation.  “If you do not wish to order a charge, General, I should like to volunteer,” he offered.  “We can’t stay here, can we?”

“I would not ask any man to volunteer,” General Hawkins replied.

“If you do not FORBID it, I will start it,” Ord implored.  “I only ask you not to refuse permission.”

Of a truth, it was an unusual conversation between a commanding general and a junior staffer.  But the grizzled veteran also realized that Lieutenant Ord was right, the men couldn’t stay where they were and continue to suffer at the mercy of the enemy guns above them.  “I will not ask for volunteers, I will not give permission and I will not refuse it,” the general finally responded ambiguously.  “God bless you and good luck!”

Shirtless against the heat and armed with a pistol in one hand and saber in the other, Lieutenant Ord rose up and shouted to his men, “Come on, you men.  We can’t stay here.  Follow me!”.   In the tension of the moment and inspired by the sight of the brave lieutenant, the men of General Hawkins’ 6th Infantry rose to their feet to charge directly into the guns of the Spanish.  Almost immediately, Lieutenant Ord was struck by enemy rounds and fell dead, but his shout had energized the moment and the 6th Infantry continued to rush the hillside.  

To the right of the 6th, the men of the Rough Riders saw Lieutenant Ord and his men begin their assault and rose also, attacking the enemy above.  To the rear the 10th US Cavalry became caught up in the excitement, rushing forward to join the attack.  In the spontaneity and confusion of the moment,  the all-black regiment split with part of the 10th joining the 6th Infantry to attack San Juan Hill, and the other half mingling with the Rough Riders to assault Kettle Hill.

Focus on

Lieutenant J. Ord Hume L.F.

 

 

Born in Edinburgh 1864, he was one of the best known Composers and Bandmasters in late 1800s and early 1900s. He had a remarkable career as Bandsman, Bandmaster, Composer and Adjudicator. He joined the Duke of Duccleuch-Dalkeith Militia Permanent Staff when only eleven years old and became Cornet Soloist a year later.  At the age of sixteen he went to the Band of the Royal Scots Greys as Cornet Soloist, and remained with that regiment until 1887.

He was then appointed Organist of the Military Presbyterian Church, Aldershot, and Bandmaster of the Aldershot and Farnham Institute Bands. He held numerous other appointments, including the Bandmastership of the 3rd. V.B. Durham Light Infantry. Mr Ord Hume published uptowards 1,000 pieces. It was he who composed the test pieces for the first two 1,000 Guineas Challenge Cup Competitions at the Crystal Palace, and had been Chief Adjudicator in that Contest for many years. 

For a number of years he had headed the list of Adjudicators in the country, and as a Professional Teacher had been associated with practically every band of importance in the country.  Mr Ord Hume also had the Editorial Control of a number of important publications. In 1902 he toured the Commonwealth of Australia as Adjudicator at musical function of all kinds.

He was adjudicator at the Championship of Ulster Contest in Belfast in October 1905 and continued to adjudicate from time to time until the 20th N.I.B.A. Championship in Belfast, November 1931. This was his last appearance at this contest.  His last decision at a Band Contest, was given at the Aonach Tailteann Band Championship in the Mansion House, Dublin on Saturday 9th July, 1932. (This contest was won by Bloomfield Amateur Flute Band, Belfast. Piccolo player was Donald Sloan).

He passed away on 28th November 1932 after having been in ill health for sometime. His death was deeply regretted, not only by the N.I.B.A. but by all Bandsmen in Northern Ireland, by whom he was well known and greatly respected. He also arranged many fine test pieces for the Flute Bands over the years.

 

Notes taken from the Ulster Amateur Flute Band History, complied by Donald Sloan.

 

 

 

Among the Buffalo Soldiers that mingled with the Rough Riders was the 10th Cavalry’s regimental quartermaster, an 1886 graduate of West Point who had been an instructor at his alma mater when the Spanish-American War broke out.  He had requested a combat assignment with the statement that, “If I did not make every effort to obtain an opportunity for field service I should never forgive myself.”

When the young lieutenant was informed that all West Point instructors were frozen in their positions, and when repeated letters to the assistant secretary of war proved fruitless, he threatened, “I shall resign (the West Point position) and join some National Guard or volunteer unit that stands a chance of being sent to Cuba.”  Having previously served with the 10th US Cavalry, he also wrote his friend

 

 

 Colonel Guy V. Henry, commander of the 10th, requesting a return to service in his old unit.  When Colonel Henry requested the assignment of the young lieutenant to the 10th as it prepared for duty in Cuba, the assistant secretary of war finally granted him permission to leave his teaching duties.

As a white officer among the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th, the lieutenant had been given a nickname.  Though his first name was John, he was facetiously referred to as “BLACK JACK”.  It was a moniker that would follow him for life, long after his service with the 10th Cavalry ended, and nearly twenty years later would become one of the most famous names in military history when Lieutenant John J. Black Jack Pershing would become a general and lead the Untied States Expeditionary forces in

 

John J. Black Jack Pershing would become a genereral

The Great War.

 

As Lieutenant Pershing charged up Kettle Hill among the men of his 10th Cavalry and Colonel Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, he was more than impressed by what he was witnessing.  He later wrote:

“Each officer or soldier next in rank took charge of the line or group immediately in his front or rear and halting to fire at each good opportunity, taking reasonable advantage of cover, the entire command moved forward as coolly as though the buzzing of bullets was the humming of bees.  White regiments, black regiments, regulars and Rough Riders, representing the young manhood of the North and the South, fought shoulder to shoulder, unmindful of race or color, unmindful of whether commanded by ex-Confederate or not, and mindful of only their common duty as Americans.”


 

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July 3 —

 

Spain’s Atlantic fleet, having sought refuge in the harbor of Santiago, Cuba, attempts to escape and is destroyed by American naval forces.

 

Fort Huachuca: The Traditional Home of the Buffalo Soldier

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Buffalo Soldier statue at Fort Huachuca’s Main Gate.
It was dedicated in 1977 to recognize the part Huachuca
has played in African-American military history.
U.S. Army photo

Henry O. Flipper was the first African-American graduate (1877) of the U.S. Military Academy. The 10th Cavalry officer was dismissed from the service in 1882 after discrepancies were found in the post commissary funds of which he was in charge. Flipper maintained his innocence. He stayed on the Mexican border, serving as a mining engineer and publishing the Nogales Sunday Herald. He later became the interpreter for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1919-1922, an assistant to the Secretary of Interior, 1922-1923, and an engineer with a New York oil company operating in Venezuela. He authored several books before his death in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1940 at the age of 84. U.S. Army Signal Corps photo.

The story of black Americans fighting under their nation’s flag is older than the flag itself. First introduced as slaves by the British early in the 17th century, blacks served alongside their white masters in the first colonial militias organized to defend against Indian attacks.

By the time of the American Revolution, some freed slaves were taking a stand for independence along with the white colonists. A freedman named Crispus Attucks was among those eleven Americans gunned down in the Boston massacre of March 5, 1770, when they defied the British soldiery. When the war broke out, blacks like Peter Salem and Salem Poore were in the thick of the fighting. Salem was credited with shooting the British commander at Bunker Hill and Poore was cited for gallantry. A number of other blacks were serving in New England militia units in 1775, but when the Continental Army was officially formed in 1775, Congress bowed to the insistence of the southern slaveholders and excluded blacks, free or slave, from service. These regulations were soon overridden by the necessities of the desperate fighting and the need for manpower. Black veterans were retained and new recruits were accepted.

“A Halt to Tighten the Packs,” Frederic Remington

In all, there were approximately 5,000 blacks who served in the American Revolutionary War. Despite the fact that they continued to make real military contributions in the War of 1812 and in the Civil War, it was not until after that latter war that blacks were accepted into the regular Army.

Fort Huachuca, more than any other installation in the U.S. military establishment, was at the heart of half a century of black military history. It was here that black soldiers came to reflect upon their worth, to remember the part they had played in taming Comanche, Kiowa, Apache, and Sioux; in punching a hole through Spanish lines on a Cuban hilltop so Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders could dash through it; and in winning the day against Mexican forces at Agua Caliente in 1916. If their white fellow Americans did not show them the respect they deserved, their foes in battle did. The Indians called them “Buffalo Soldiers.” The Germans in World War I referred to them as “Hell Fighters.”

Sergeant George Berry of the 10th Cavalry who planted the colors of the 10th Cavalry on San Juan Hill, Cuba, 1 July 1898. [ He is holding those same colors and standing in front of the headquarters at Huachuca.]

It was on Huachuca’s parade field that they felt the stirrings of pride that only the soldier knows, and they marched with a growing sense of equality that their brother civilians would not be allowed to feel until decades later. Problems of discrimination were as widespread in the Army as they were in other parts of American society, but minority barriers fell faster in the Army where the most important measure of a man is his dependability in a fight.

In 1866 six black regular Army regiments were formed. They were the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Infantry and the 9th and 10th Cavalry. Three years later, as part of a reduction in the size of the Army, the 38th and 41st were consolidated to form the 24th Infantry and the 39th and 40th made up the new 25th Infantry. Officered by whites, these regiments went on to justify the belief by black leaders that men of their race could contribute mightily to the nation’s defense. Some of the service of each of these regiments in the latter part of the 19th century is highlighted in the paragraphs that follow.

The 24th Infantry Regiment participated in 1875 expeditions against hostile Kiowas and Commanches in the Department of Texas. One of the engagements of this campaign saw Lieutenant John Bullis and three Seminole-Negro Indian scouts attack a 25-man war party on the Pecos River. Sergeant John Ward, Private Pompey Factor and Trumpeter Isaac Payne were rewarded with the Medal of Honor for their exceptional bravery in this encounter.

General Benjamin H. Grierson in 1863. Grierson had earned a reputation as a daring cavalryman during the Civil War and was named the commander of the newly formed 10th Cavalry regiment, the Buffalo Soldiers, in 1866.

The 25th Infantry Regiment spent its first ten years in Texas building and repairing military posts, roads and telegraph lines; performing escort and guard duty of all description; marching and counter-marching from post to post; and scouting for Indians. In 1880 the regiment was ordered to the Department of Dakota and stationed at Fort Missoula, Montana. It participated in the Pine Ridge Campaign of 189091, the last stand of the Sioux, and quelled civil disorders in Missoula during the Northern Pacific Railroad strike in 1894.

The 10th Cavalry Regiment, or “Buffalo Soldiers,” is probably the most renowned of the black regiments. At its inception, the commander, Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson, was determined to fill the ranks only with men of the highest quality. Orders went out to recruit none but “superior men … who would do credit to the regiment.” The 10th’s record in several Indian War campaigns attests to the fact that Grierson achieved his goal. In 1886, the Buffalo Soldiers tracked Geronimo’s renegades in the Pinito Mountains in Mexico and several months later ran down the last Apache holdout Mangas and his band.

In 1890 the Battle of Wounded Knee Creek, the last major fight of the Indian Wars, pitted the U.S. 7th Cavalry against Big Foot’s Sioux. The 9th Cavalry Regiment also took part in this campaign and played a dramatic part in the Battle of Clay Creek Mission. Over 1,800 Sioux under Little Wound and Two Strike had encircled the battle-weary 7th. The situation looked grave until the 9th Cavalry arrived on the field and drove off the Indian force with an their rear. For conspicuous gallantry displayed on this occasion, Corporal William O. Wilson, Troop 1, 9th Cavalry, was granted the Medal of Honor.

Frederic Remington. “Saddle Up”

The paths of all four of these regiments would intersect in a scenic canyon in southeastern Arizona, just twenty miles from the Mexican border. The place was called Fort Huachuca and it had played an important part in the Apache campaigns since its establishment in 1877.

The first black regiment to arrive at Huachuca was the 24th Infantry which sent companies there in 1892. During the next year, the entire regiment would come together at the fort. Here they remained until 1896, a year that saw some excitement for the troops who thought that the Indian Wars were ended. It was in that year that Colonel John Mosby Bacon took Companies C and H, of the 24th Infantry out of Fort Huachuca to run down Yaqui Indians who had been raiding around Harshaw and Nogales. The search for these Mexico-based Indians proved inconclusive.

“Dismounted Negro, Tenth Cavalry,” Frederic Remington

Companies A and H of the 25th Infantry regiment took up residence in Huachuca Canyon in 1898, after returning from fighting in Cuba, and A Company remained there until the end of April 1899.

Troops of the 9th Cavalry joined the 25th Infantry at Fort Huachuca in 1898 and rotated its units in and out of the post until 1900. A detachment of the 9th would return briefly for a short tour in 1912.

Although the 9th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments had all served briefly at Fort Huachuca during the 1890s, it wasn’t until the 10th Cavalry, or the “Buffalo Soldiers,” arrived there in December 1913 that the continuous era of black soldiers began at Huachuca. (The nickname “Buffalo Soldiers” was first given to the men of the 10th Cavalry by the Indians of the plains who likened their hair to that of the buffalo. Over the years this name has been extended by veterans to include soldiers of all of the original black regiments.)

This proud cavalry unit had served in Arizona before, in the last century, rotating from one post to another in Arizona, New Mexico or Texas, wherever they were needed to track down Apache renegades. So the startling vistas were not new to many of the veterans. Nor was the relentless desert sun a stranger to these horsemen who doggedly followed the trail of Pancho Villa into Mexico in 1916. In Huachuca Canyon they found a home for the next eighteen years, the longest this mobile unit would stay at any one place since its formation in 1866.

Men of the 25th Infantry warm themselves around a Sibley stove at Fort Keough, Montana, in 1890-91.

Right after their arrival at Huachuca, in 1914, the men of the 10th were spread out at encampments along the Arizona-Mexico border from Yuma on the West to Naco on the east. They corralled their horses and stretched their tents at points in between like Forrest, Osborne, Nogales, Lochiel, Harrison’s Ranch, Arivaca, Sasabe, La Osa, and San Fernando. Many would sweat it out under canvas for as long as ten months before being rotated back to their home station in the cooler elevations of the Huachucas.

They were picketed along the border, not as some training exercise, but to enforce neutrality laws. Mexico was experiencing political upheaval on a scale that alarmed statesmen in Washington, D. C., and they quickly legislated that there could be no encroachments upon American soil.

Kitchen scene, 25th Infantry during winter campaign, 1890-91, Fort Keough, Montana. U.S. Army Signal Corps photo (SC83763).

They were relieved in 1931 by the 25th Infantry Regiment. First arriving at the post in 1928, the 25th continued the tradition of black soldiering there. Like the 10th Cavalry, they had seen hard combat in both the Indian Wars and in Cuba. Also like the Tenth, they were to serve there for 14 years until 1942 when they were incorporated as cadre into the newly formed 93d Infantry Division.

The 93d and 92d Divisions trained one after the other at Fort Huachuca during World War II. The 93d, which would be the first black division to see action in the war, arrived in Arizona in 1942 and shipped out to the Pacific in 1944. Because its regiments, the 368th and 369th, were assigned to the French Army in World War 1, the light blue French helmet became the division’s shoulder patch.

A squad room interior of the 24th Infantry at Huachuca around 1892.

The 92d too had regiments (365th, 370th and 371st) that could trace their lineage to some heroic fighting in France in 1918, but the division chose to reach back to the Indian Wars of the 1870s and 80s for their symbol. They chose for their shoulder patch the buffalo, recalling the “Buffalo Soldiers,” as the black troops were respectfully called by the Indians of the Western plains.

Company B of the 25th Infantry was stationed at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, from 1883-1888.
They pose here in their full dress uniforms. U.S. Army Signal Corps photo SC 83637.

To some blacks Huachuca was a mountain refuge far away from the immense struggle that was taking place in America’s city streets and country lanes, a fight for equality. But for others it was a way to participate in the struggle, to take up a profession that offered dignity, service to country, and maybe a warrior’s death. For whatever reason they joined the Army (the Marines did not admit blacks; the Navy had only a few openings for the menial job of messboy), Fort Huachuca would be an almost inevitable stop along their way. Some found it to be “a very fine place to serve.” To others it was “an infamous place.” For all it was, for a time, home. Black infantrymen and cavalrymen carved out a place in history there. If the sobriquet “Buffalo Soldier” has come to stand collectively for the black men who served in the four regular army regiments from 1866 to World War 11, then Fort Huachuca has earned the distinction of being “Home of the Buffalo Soldier.”

“A Campfire Sketch,” Frederic Remington——————“A Pull at the Canteen,” Frederic Remington

 

 

Though the Colors of the United States of America were flying from the summits of San Juan and Kettle Hills by 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon,

 

General Henry Lawton’s 2nd Infantry Division was still struggling for both survival and victory at El Caney.  Among the first to attack in the early morning was the 71st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, many of its men falling to the devastating fire from the Spanish blockhouses.  Two regular infantry regiments moved into position as the 71st fell back, the ranks of these units likewise being quickly repulsed as they pushed through the high jungle grass in their attempt to charge the enemy.

The Spanish were not, however, without their own tragic losses.

 

General Vara de Rey fought his soldiers well, until falling himself…shot through both legs.  While being carried to safety on a stretcher, he was hit again, this time in the head, and died instantly.  Before the day came to a close, two of his sons, serving under him at El Caney, would also be killed.

Two hours after the US Colors had risen over San Juan Hill, Lawton’s 3rd, 20th, and 25th US Infantry launched a heavy assault.  Much like the earlier charge at San Juan Hill, it was an almost spontaneous eruption of brave American soldiers who had fought all day and tired of the constant rain of enemy fire from the trenches.  The terrain was now littered with the bodies of dead and wounded Americans while, inside the city a small handful of leaderless Spanish soldiers was all that remained to make a final valiant stand.  Of the 520 Spanish soldiers who had defended the city earlier in the day, less than 100 remained to face the American charge.  

 

 

 

 

The charge began as Lieutenant Kinnison of the 25th observed, “We cannot take the trenches without charging them,” then almost immediately fell wounded by an enemy round before he could sound the charge.  Second Lieutenant A. J. Moss replaced him as yells and whoops “which would have done credit to a Comanche Indian” went up and down the ranks, according to Sergeant Major Frank Pullen of the 25th.  The Buffalo Soldiers charged with a fury, ignoring the men that fell around them, to charge the enemy trenches and rout the last of the enemy defenders.  Company H was first to reach the blockhouse where Private Butler took possession of the enemy flag for his company.  (Later an officer of the 12th infantry entered and ordered Butler to give up the flag.  Dutifully, Butler followed the white officer’s orders, but not before cutting a swatch from the enemy standard to later substantiate his claim that his company and his regiment had been the first to take the position.)

Within half an hour the battle was over, the city secured and the stone fort at El Viso destroyed.  By five in the evening all Spaniards who had not escaped into the jungle were either dead or captured.  The “two hour victory” had taken a full day, but because of the valor and determination of the young American soldiers, victory had at last come.  It was not without great cost, 81 Americans killed at El Caney, another 360 wounded.  Nine members of the 17th Infantry Regiment received Medals of Honor, all for “GALLANTLY ASSISTING IN THE RESCUE OF THE WOUNDED FROM IN FRONT OF THE LINES UNDER HEAVY FIRE OF THE ENEMY.


At both El Caney and at San Juan Hill, the efforts to bury the dead and treat and evacuate the wounded went long into the night and after the midnight hour.  At San Juan the Americans pitched their tents and dined on captured enemy provisions.  Throughout the night an alert vigil was maintained against the expected counter-attack that never materialized.

At El Caney General Lawton prepared his troops to finally move south to join with the other two divisions, nearly a full day behind schedule.  

 

El Caney

17th US Infantry

2LT Charles Roberts
1Lt Benjamin Hardaway
   

Company C

 

Company D

Cpl Ulysses Buzzard   Cpl Norman Ressler
Pvt George Berg   Cpl Warren Shepherd
Pvt Oscar Brookin    
Pvt Thomas Graves    
Pvt Bruno Wende    

San Juan & 
Kettle Hill

Company F
10th US Cavalry

 

SgtMaj Edward Baker

Company F
10th US Infantry

 

Company H
21st US Infantry

Pvt Charles Cantrell   Pvt John Deswan
Sgt Andrew Cummins   Cpl Thomas Doherty
Pvt William Keller   Pvt Frank Fournia
Pvt James Nash   Pvt Thomas Kelly
Pvt Alfred Polond   Pvt George Nee
    Mus Herman Pfisterer

Company A
13th US Infantry

 

US Volunteers

Sgt Alexander Quinn   Cpt Albert Mills
 

Berg

Brookin

Doherty

Keller

Nee

Polond

Roberts

 
Though Colonel Theodore Roosevelt emerged from the Spanish-American war a larger-than-life hero, in great part due his reckless but valiant leadership at Kettle Hill.  Never-the-less, he was denied the Medal of Honor.  Many historians believe this was due to his outspoken criticism of Secretary of War Alger and other top military planners.  While the public adored “Teddy” and fed vociferously on the reports of his Rough Riders, those who were the subjects of Roosevelt’s scathing reports of poorly planned military actions and inept efforts to properly equip and supply his soldiers, exacted their revenge.  Indeed, Roosevelt went so far as to say publicly, “I Am Entitled to the Medal of Honor and I Want It”.

Though two Medal of Honor recipients who had witnessed Roosevelt’s actions at Kettle and San Juan Hills (Generals Shafter and Wood) recommended the intrepid leader of the Rough Riders, his political enemies succeeded in denying it to him during his lifetime.  Beyond Roosevelt’s death, his actions were debated for decades and finally, more than 100 years after his famous charge during the Spanish-American War, Congress approved the award.  On January 16, 2001 President William Clinton presented Theodore Roosevelt’s Medal of Honor to his great-grandson Tweed Roosevelt, in ceremonies at the White House.  His award brought the total of awards earned in the July 1, 1898 battles at El Caney, Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill to an even two-dozen.  Ironically, Roosevelt’s long-sought Medal of Honor would be the ONLY posthumous award of the entire Spanish-American War.

Theodore Roosevelt’s MOH Citation

 

 

 

 

Governor-General of Cuba 
Ramon Blanco y Erenas
 

 

 

 

 

 

 1868

Spanish-American War in Cuba

Cuba Struggle for Independence (1868-1898)
and then (Washington Post published), starts
the “Splendid Little” War . What follows are some benchmarks along the way:

 

April 10, 1895 — Jose Marti, Cuban revolutionary,

 

 

launches insurrection against Spanish rule.

 

 

He is killed May 19.

 

The most famous cigar ever rolled in Tampa went out not as a Corona or a Presidente, but as a liberator to spark the Cuban Revolution of 1895. This cigar cost thousands of lives, but eventually won the independence of Cuba from Spain.

  The story of the cigar that went to war starts Jan. 29, 1895, at the residence of Gonzalo De Quesada, secretary of the Cuban Revolutionary Party in New York City. Jose Marti, the leader of the Cuban crusade for freedom, called a secret meeting of the revolutionary junta at the Quesada home.

Present were General Jose Mayia Rodriguez, representing Generalisimo Maximo Gomez, and General Enrique Collazo, representing the Revolutionary Junta of Havana. Among the Cuban patriots taking part in the historic junta was Emilio Cordero, who in later years would become a prominent leader in the cigar industry of America marketing his popular brand Mi Hogar.        Gonzalo de Quesada        Jose Marti

 

Jan. 1, 1898 —

 In an effort to defuse the insurrection, Spain gives Cubans limited political autonomy.

Jan. 12 —

Spaniards in Cuba riot against autonomy given to Cubans.

 

Jan. 25 — USS Maine arrives in Havana Harbor to protect American interests.

Feb. 15 — USS Maine explodes, sinks; 266 crewmen lost. The Maine’s captain urges suspension of judgment on the cause of the explosion.

March 28 —

Naval Court of Inquiry says Maine destroyed by a mine.

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Embarkation at Tampa, Florida

 

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U.S. Regulars leaving for Cuba. 

 

 

 

   
   

 

 

 

Company A, First United States Volunteer Engineers.

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Embarkation at Tampa, Florida

 

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Spanish-Cuban-American War
Embarkation at Tampa, Florida

 

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The Spanish-Cuban-American War 
The Sinking of the U.S.S. Merrimac
June 3, 1898

 

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Merrimac being scuttled at the mouth of Santiago de Cuba harbor.

 

   
   

 

   
   

 

   

The smokestack of the Merrimac near Estrella Point.

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Disembarkation and Attack at Guantanamo Bay
June 11-12, 1898

 
     

 

April 11 —

President William McKinley asks Congress for declaration of war.

April 25 —

State of war exists between United States and Spain.

 

June 10 — U.S. Marines land at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

 

June 11 –
                      Body of marines landed at Guantanamo from the
Marblehead and Texas, and had a
                      brisk skirmish

 

 

   
   

 

   
   

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
U.S. disembarkation at Aserraderos, 
Cuba, June 20, 1898

 

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     Gen. Shafter and Admiral Sampson received by
     Cuban Liberation Army at Aserraderos.

 

   
   

Spanish-Cuban-American War
U.S. disembarkation at Daiquiri, Cuba
June 22, 1898

 
     

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Horses and mules being thrown off transports swim to shore.

 

 

   

Troops landing on the dock at Daiquiri.

Troops landing on the dock at Daiquiri.

 

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
U.S. disembarkation at Daiquiri, Cuba
June 22, 1898

 

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The Rough Riders disembarking at Daiquiri

 

   

Troops assembling at Daiquiri before marching to Siboney.

Daiquiri

 

   
 

Wrecked locomotive at Daiquiri

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
U.S. disembarkation at Siboney, Cuba
June 23, 1898

 

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Massachusetts volunteers disembark from the New York at Siboney. 

 Troops landing on the beach at Siboney.

 

   
   

 

   
   

 

   

Siboney blockhouse

Siboney blockhouse

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Battle of Las Guasimas
June 24, 1898

 
       

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Spanish-Cuban-American War
Artillery duel at El Pozo, Cuba
July 1, 1898

 

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The Battle of El Caney
July 1, 1898

 

 

The Crowded Hour

The Charge at
El Caney & San Juan Hills

 
PHOTO RIGHT:  Rough Rider Color Sergeant Wright

Among the regiments assembled and digging for shelter from the enemy guns at the foot of San Juan Hill was the 6th US Infantry, a part of General Kent’s 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division under Brigadier General Hamilton S. Hawkins.  Among the members of Hawkins’ staff was an eager young lieutenant who had told a friend he would return from battle as either a colonel or a corps.  As the enemy fire continued to rain upon the stalemated American soldiers, Lieutenant Jules Ord turned to his commander.  Tired of the wait he informed General Hawkins, “General, if you will order a charge, I will lead it.”

 

A veteran of Civil War assaults on fortified enemy positions, General Hawkins considered the young lieutenant’s offer, weighing it against the high rate of casualties he knew such a charge would create. 

 

 Lieutenant Ord broke the silence of the general’s contemplation.  “If you do not wish to order a charge, General, I should like to volunteer,” he offered.  “We can’t stay here, can we?”

“I would not ask any man to volunteer,” General Hawkins replied.

“If you do not FORBID it, I will start it,” Ord implored.  “I only ask you not to refuse permission.”

Of a truth, it was an unusual conversation between a commanding general and a junior staffer.  But the grizzled veteran also realized that Lieutenant Ord was right, the men couldn’t stay where they were and continue to suffer at the mercy of the enemy guns above them.  “I will not ask for volunteers, I will not give permission and I will not refuse it,” the general finally responded ambiguously.  “God bless you and good luck!”

Shirtless against the heat and armed with a pistol in one hand and saber in the other, Lieutenant Ord rose up and shouted to his men, “Come on, you men.  We can’t stay here.  Follow me!”.   In the tension of the moment and inspired by the sight of the brave lieutenant, the men of General Hawkins’ 6th Infantry rose to their feet to charge directly into the guns of the Spanish.  Almost immediately, Lieutenant Ord was struck by enemy rounds and fell dead, but his shout had energized the moment and the 6th Infantry continued to rush the hillside.  

To the right of the 6th, the men of the Rough Riders saw Lieutenant Ord and his men begin their assault and rose also, attacking the enemy above.  To the rear the 10th US Cavalry became caught up in the excitement, rushing forward to join the attack.  In the spontaneity and confusion of the moment,  the all-black regiment split with part of the 10th joining the 6th Infantry to attack San Juan Hill, and the other half mingling with the Rough Riders to assault Kettle Hill.

Focus on

Lieutenant J. Ord Hume L.F.

 

 

Born in Edinburgh 1864, he was one of the best known Composers and Bandmasters in late 1800s and early 1900s. He had a remarkable career as Bandsman, Bandmaster, Composer and Adjudicator. He joined the Duke of Duccleuch-Dalkeith Militia Permanent Staff when only eleven years old and became Cornet Soloist a year later.  At the age of sixteen he went to the Band of the Royal Scots Greys as Cornet Soloist, and remained with that regiment until 1887.

He was then appointed Organist of the Military Presbyterian Church, Aldershot, and Bandmaster of the Aldershot and Farnham Institute Bands. He held numerous other appointments, including the Bandmastership of the 3rd. V.B. Durham Light Infantry. Mr Ord Hume published uptowards 1,000 pieces. It was he who composed the test pieces for the first two 1,000 Guineas Challenge Cup Competitions at the Crystal Palace, and had been Chief Adjudicator in that Contest for many years. 

For a number of years he had headed the list of Adjudicators in the country, and as a Professional Teacher had been associated with practically every band of importance in the country.  Mr Ord Hume also had the Editorial Control of a number of important publications. In 1902 he toured the Commonwealth of Australia as Adjudicator at musical function of all kinds.

He was adjudicator at the Championship of Ulster Contest in Belfast in October 1905 and continued to adjudicate from time to time until the 20th N.I.B.A. Championship in Belfast, November 1931. This was his last appearance at this contest.  His last decision at a Band Contest, was given at the Aonach Tailteann Band Championship in the Mansion House, Dublin on Saturday 9th July, 1932. (This contest was won by Bloomfield Amateur Flute Band, Belfast. Piccolo player was Donald Sloan).

He passed away on 28th November 1932 after having been in ill health for sometime. His death was deeply regretted, not only by the N.I.B.A. but by all Bandsmen in Northern Ireland, by whom he was well known and greatly respected. He also arranged many fine test pieces for the Flute Bands over the years.

 

Notes taken from the Ulster Amateur Flute Band History, complied by Donald Sloan.

 

 

 

Among the Buffalo Soldiers that mingled with the Rough Riders was the 10th Cavalry’s regimental quartermaster, an 1886 graduate of West Point who had been an instructor at his alma mater when the Spanish-American War broke out.  He had requested a combat assignment with the statement that, “If I did not make every effort to obtain an opportunity for field service I should never forgive myself.”

When the young lieutenant was informed that all West Point instructors were frozen in their positions, and when repeated letters to the assistant secretary of war proved fruitless, he threatened, “I shall resign (the West Point position) and join some National Guard or volunteer unit that stands a chance of being sent to Cuba.”  Having previously served with the 10th US Cavalry, he also wrote his friend

 

 

 Colonel Guy V. Henry, commander of the 10th, requesting a return to service in his old unit.  When Colonel Henry requested the assignment of the young lieutenant to the 10th as it prepared for duty in Cuba, the assistant secretary of war finally granted him permission to leave his teaching duties.

As a white officer among the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th, the lieutenant had been given a nickname.  Though his first name was John, he was facetiously referred to as “BLACK JACK”.  It was a moniker that would follow him for life, long after his service with the 10th Cavalry ended, and nearly twenty years later would become one of the most famous names in military history when Lieutenant John J. Black Jack Pershing would become a general and lead the Untied States Expeditionary forces in

 

John J. Black Jack Pershing would become a genereral

The Great War.

 

As Lieutenant Pershing charged up Kettle Hill among the men of his 10th Cavalry and Colonel Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, he was more than impressed by what he was witnessing.  He later wrote:

“Each officer or soldier next in rank took charge of the line or group immediately in his front or rear and halting to fire at each good opportunity, taking reasonable advantage of cover, the entire command moved forward as coolly as though the buzzing of bullets was the humming of bees.  White regiments, black regiments, regulars and Rough Riders, representing the young manhood of the North and the South, fought shoulder to shoulder, unmindful of race or color, unmindful of whether commanded by ex-Confederate or not, and mindful of only their common duty as Americans.”


 

 

 

El Viso Fort on hilltop, left. The blockhouse and defense line, right. 

Ducoureaud plantation, on El Caney-Santiago road, declared neutral by both sides.

 

   

Village of El Caney as seen from El Viso Fort.

El Caney street looking northeast.

 

   

The blockhouse and defense line at El Caney.

U.S. 7th Infantry Regiment firing on El Caney from the north.

 

   

El Viso Fort on hilltop.

 

The Battle of El Caney
July 1, 1898

 
       

Click on the pictures
 
 

   

Final charge of Chaffee’s Brigade (7th, 12th, 17th, Regular Infantry)

The Spanish defense El Caney.

 

   
 

Capron’s Battery in action at El Caney

 

   
   

 

   
 

Interior of El Viso Fort after its capture.

 

   
 

Capron’s Battery

 

   

El Viso Fort damaged by artillery fire from Capron’s battery.

 

 

   
   

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Battle of San Juan Hill
July 1, 1898

 

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Charge of the 24th and 25th USCT and Rescue of Rough Riders.

 

   

Observation balloon being inflated at the battle of San Juan Hill.

In the trenches facing the Spanish blockhouse at San Juan Hill before the battle.

 

   
   

 

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Battle of San Juan Hill
July 1, 1898

 

Click on the pictures
 
 

   

Gatling guns hauled by mules arrive to turn the tide at San Juan Hill.

Four Gatling guns won victory where conventional artillery failed.

 

   

Gatling guns cover the advance.

Teddy Roosevelt on horse leads the charge up San Juan Hill.

 

   

U.S. troops under a heavy barrage.

    Charging uphill toward the Spanish blockhouse.

 

   
   

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Battle of San Juan Hill
July 1, 1898

 

Click on the pictures
 
 

   

10th Cavalry USCT advances on San Juan Hill

 

 

   
 

Capture of the Spanish Blockhouse.

 

   
       U.S. wounded take shelter behind the captured
      blockhouse with corpses from both sides in front. 

The blockhouse after its capture.

 

 

   

 Artillery pock marks on blockhouse
at San Juan Hill.

 

Capt. Theophilus Morrison,
killed at San Juan Hill.
Union Dale Cemetery
Pittsburgh, Pa.

 

The Spanish-Cuban-American War 
Naval Battle of Santiago
July 3, 1898

 

Click on the pictures
 
 

The U.S. Navy smashes Admiral Pascual Cervera’s Spanish fleet.
 
 
 

Naval battle at Santiago de Cuba
 
 

The converted yatch Gloucester attacked two Spanish destroyers before being joined by the USS Indiana.

 

The Spanish-Cuban-American War 
Naval Battle of Santiago
July 3, 1898

 

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Explosion on the Vizcaya.

The Vizcaya had been raked by the USS Oregon.

 

   

Starboard quarter of the Vizcaya.

Vizcaya’s 13-inch gun and fallen mast, after it ran aground.

 

   

Starboard quarter of the Vizcaya

Portside of the disabled Vizcaya

Portside of the disabled Vizcaya

 

The Spanish-Cuban-American War 
Naval Battle of Santiago
July 3, 1898

 

Click on the pictures
 
 

   

The Almirante Oquendo, struck 57 times. Its captain died of a heart attack after its surrender.

Starboard side of the Almirante Oquendo. Its steel plates were bulging apart.

 

   

The cruiser Reina Mercedes before Morro Castle.

Furor sinking

 

   

Cervera’s flagship, the Infanta Maria Teresa, was the first to be
disabled with 29 hits.

     The Cristobal Colon, with guns pointing upward, scuttled at the mouth of the Turquino
     River after a 75-mile chase.

 

The Spanish-Cuban-American War 
Naval Battle of Santiago
July 3, 1898

 

Click on the pictures
 
 

     
     

 
 July 3 —

 

Spain’s Atlantic fleet, having sought refuge in the harbor of Santiago, Cuba, attempts to escape and is destroyed by American naval forces.

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
The Siege of Santiago de Cuba
July 1898

 

Click on the pictures
 

 
 
 

 

   
   

 

   
   

Spanish-Cuban-American War
The Siege of Santiago de Cuba
July 1898

 
       
   
       71st New York Regiment cook a meal during the 16-day
     siege of Santiago. 

 

   
   

 

   
   

 July 3 —

 

Spain’s Atlantic fleet, having sought refuge in the harbor of Santiago, Cuba, attempts to escape and is destroyed by American naval forces.

 

July 6 —

 Congress, caught up in expansionist fever fed by the war, votes to annex Hawaii, which has nothing to do with Spain.

July 14 —

 

Santiago surrenders.

 

On July 17, 1898,

 

General Jose Toral (center right) surrenders at Santiago, Cuba to the American commander,

 

Major General William Shafter (center left).

 

The Siege of Santiago

After setting up a telegraph connection to Washington, D.C., the V Corps began its march to Santiago on June 24. Fearful that tropical diseases such as malaria and yellow fever would overtake his troops, Shafter resolved to get them to Santiago as fast as possible.

 

The V Corps’ first battle occurred that day at Las Guásimas, a few miles from the landing point. Led by General Wheeler and Colonel Leonard Wood (1860–1927), the American troops ran into Spanish soldiers retreating toward Santiago. Death totals were low by military standards, but the Americans learned how hard it is to fight an enemy in jungle terrain. For example, most Spaniards used rifles with smokeless powder, but many American volunteers, including the Rough Riders, used rifles that revealed a soldier’s location with a puff of smoke as soon as he pulled the trigger.

 

After the battle at Las Guásimas, a series of hills called San Juan Heights and the town of El Caney were all that separated the Americans from Santiago. Meeting with his officers on June 30, Shafter said his plan was simply to storm those city defenses. Finally ashore, Shafter traveled to high ground at a place called El Pozo, where he could see Santiago two-and-a-half miles away. Communication problems, however, prevented Shafter from having any real input during the daylong battle on July 1.

 

The battle proved to be the deadliest of the war. Shafter expected General Lawton’s regiment to take El Caney in two hours. It took nine. Meanwhile, Generals Kent and Wheeler stormed San Juan Heights, an operation that included the Rough Riders as well as two African American army regiments. By the end of the day, hundreds of Americans and Spaniards were dead as the surviving Spanish soldiers retreated to temporary safety in Santiago.

 

Surrender and suffering

Two days later, on July 3, Admiral Cervera’s fleet tried to escape Santiago harbor to go to Havana or Cienfuegos. As Admiral Sampson was on his way to a meeting with Shafter, Commodore Winfield S. Schley (1839–1909) led the Atlantic Fleet to victory against Cervera. With no naval defenses and hundreds of people starving in the city, Spanish commander José Torál surrendered Santiago and all twelve thousand of his troops in the surrounding region on July 17.

 

Surrender gave Shafter another chance to insult the Cubans and disgruntle the news correspondents. Although the Cuban rebels had been fighting against Spain for over three years, Shafter refused to let them participate in the surrender ceremonies on July 17. This snub led Calixto García to resign from the Cuban army the next day. At the ceremony, while U.S. soldiers raised the American flag over the palace in Santiago, Shafter ordered his troops to remove American news correspondent Sylvester Scovel from the palace roof. Scovel refused to get down voluntarily upon Shafter’s order to do so and allegedly struck at Shafter in an ensuing argument.

 

The V Corps then found itself stuck in Cuba during the deadly summer months, when tropical diseases such as malaria and yellow fever were at their worst. According to Foner, when asked to identify his best generals during the revolution against Spain, Cuban general Gómez had named June, July, and August. But those months had attacked American soldiers also, who were not used to the muggy climate. The majority of the fifty-five hundred American casualties of the war came about as a result of sickness and disease rather than from combat.

 

Cuba’s second-largest city suffered during its siege. About half of its prewar populace, some 20,000 civilians, were allowed to evacuate for El Caney. Its buildings were then shelled from the encircling heights until July 14, when General Toral was asked to capitulate. After telegraphing Madrid, he accepted the Americans’ terms, so General Shafter raised the Stars and Stripes over the governor’s palace by noon on July 17.

The rebel leader García was excluded from this arrangement, however, and his followers were not allowed into the devastated city. Instead, the young Wood was installed as military governor on July 20, 1898, despite objections from rebels who argued that at least its civic administration “should be turned over to Cubans.” Shafter grudgingly agreed to share some duties, so the wealthy, French-educated rebel general Demetrio Castillo was temporarily named mayor. But the Americans remained distrustful and contemptuous of the ragtag insurgents, most of whom were black, and believed that only the former Spanish municipal officials could manage the city’s resurrection.

Castillo therefore was removed a few days later in favor of Santiago’s

ex-Spanish mayor, Leonardo Ros. García’s aggrieved followers retired into the hills, their vision of Cuban independence having been dashed. As some rebels still wished to avenge years of repression, roads inland remained dangerous for travelers, and no produce reached market. Some defeated Spaniards in turn continued to treat all Cubans with vindictiveness, while the American occupiers often regarded black inhabitants—almost 57 percent of Santiago’s peacetime populace—with blatant racism.

Fortunately, Wood proved to be an excellent administrator. He immediately addressed the needs of the few surviving residents, who were still suffering so badly from disease and famine that the death rate exceeded 200 people a day. Water and sewer systems had been destroyed, and no public funds were available. Wood hired citizens to clear streets of bodies and debris, then turned to repairing the docks and bridges. At first, he paid wages with rations, then he issued checks as the economy revived. García was allowed to make a ceremonial visit on September 22, yet the Americans still refused to relinquish control. Wood’s authority was even expanded the next month to encompass all of eastern Cuba, with Castillo as his token vice governor.

 

Yellow fever breaks out among American troops the next day.

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Surrender of Santiago de Cuba
July 13, 1898

 

 

 

Gen. Toral’s surrender to Gen. Shafter, July 13, 1898

 

   

American and Spanish troops fraternize after the surrender.

 

 

   

The Tree of Peace

 

 

   
   

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico
July 25, 1898

 

Click on the pictures
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

U.S. landing site. Guánica, Puerto Rico.

 

 

Spanish troops in P.R.

 

 

N.Y. 17th Volunteer Regiment lands at Arroyo, Puerto Rico.

 

   

N.Y. 17th Volunteer Regiment

U.S. troops in Arroyo

 

   

U.S. flag raised over Guayama City Hall.

U.S. Cavalry passing through San German

Sixth Mass. Infantry soldiers dead at Utuado, P.R.
 July 25 — U.S. Army invades Puerto Rico.

 

July 26 — Spain asks for peace.

Aug. 6 — Spain accepts American terms for peace.

Aug. 12 — Truce is signed with Spain.

Oct. 1 — Peace negotiations with Spain commence in Paris.

Dec. 10, 1898 — War ends, officially, with signing of the Treaty of Paris (With no Cuban Representative present). United States pays Spain $20 million for Philippines. Spain also cedes Puerto Rico and Guam and agrees to renounce sovereignty over Cuba.

 

 

 

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
U.S. and Cuban Liberation Army
Joint Operations

 

Click on the pictures
 
 

   
     Left to right: Aide to Gen. Demetrio Castillo Duany, and generals Castillo,
     William Shafter, Joe Wheeler, Kent, Nelson Miles, Calixto Garcia. 
 

 

   
     Brig. Gen. William Ludlow and Maj. Gen. Calixto Garcia.   

 

   
     Gen. Shafter and Admiral Sampson received
     by Cuban Liberation Army at Aserraderos.
 

 

   
   

 

   

 

 

Spanish-Cuban-American War
Medical Corps

 
       

 

 

Ambulance Corps

 

   
   

READ MORE INFORMATIONS

1898-1900: CHINA. U.S. troops invade to oppose the Boxer Rebellion which is an attempt to end Western domination of China.

1898: NICARAGUA. U.S. Marines invade the Nicaraguan port of San Juan del Sur.

1898: UNITED STATES. White Democrats disagree with an editorial written by the Wilmington, North Carolina Daily Record’s black editor. They march on the newpaper’s office, burning and destroying it. The mob goes on a racist rampage in the city, killing fourteen blacks. The Democrats then stage a coup forcing Wilmington Mayor Silas P. Wright and black and white members of the city government to resign.

1898: UNITED STATES. Once again the United States Supreme Court demonstrates clearly whose pulling its strings when it declares invalid a section of the Erdman Act which had made it a criminal offense for railroads to dismiss employees or discriminate against prospective employees based on their union activities. Can’t be havin’ none of that in the land of the free.

1898: UNITED STATES. Wall Street stock market manipulator E.H. Harriman and Judge Robert Scott Lovett gain control of the Union Pacific Railroad with cash arranged by William Rockefeller and the Warburg family’s Kuhn, Loeb Company. In return, Harriman deposits the vast receipts from the railroad into the Rockefellers’ City Bank and, when he issues tens of millions of dollars in “watered” (fraudulent) railroad stock, Harriman sells most of it through the crooks at Kuhn, Loeb.

Harriman and the Rockefellers have a nice little conspiracy going. Harriman charges those oil companies competing with the Rockefellers vastly inflated freight rates. The Rockefellers then buy the struggling companies for peanuts and build Standard Oil into a monstrous and utterly ruthless monopoly. The Rockefellers sell oil products below cost in every market in which there is a competitor, driving it out of business. The Rockefellers then jack up their prices to the absolute maximum they can extort from consumers.

1898-1959: CUBA. In the midst of countless hostile actions, the destruction of the Cuban economy and an ongoing, vitriolic propaganda campaign by the U.S. against Spain, the USS Maine enters Havana Harbor on the patently absurd pretext of it being, in the words of the grotesque U.S. consul in Havana, a “friendly act of courtesy”. The secondary pretext, of protecting Americans in Cuba, is equally absurd as Frederic Remington pointed out.

Remington, an illustrator for the Hearst newspapers, the key element in the propaganda campaign preparing the U.S. public for the long-planned U.S. invasion of Cuba, sends a cable to Hearst telling him that, contrary to the hysterical tales being invented and carried in the Hearst papers, “all is quiet” in Cuba and asks for permission to return to the U.S. Hearst sends Remington a cable saying, “Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

 

On cue and as though by magic, the USS Maine oh-so-conveniently blows up in Havana Harbor, resulting in the death of two hundred and sixty six U.S. sailors. By a fabulous stroke of luck, of the two hundred and sixty six corpses, only two belong to officers and to junior officers at that. Enlisted men were barred from going ashore. Officers were not.


By another fabulous stroke of luck, the U.S. has, since 1894, been beavering away planning for a full scale war against Spain and the seizure of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The blowing up of the USS Maine is the starting whistle.

The “act of terrorism” is, of course, immediately blamed on the Spanish who, self-evidently, had absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose by blowing up the Maine. A massive and hysterical propaganda campaign in the U.S. mass media, largely owned by Hearst and his fellow media slut, Pulitzer, whips the American public, who have already been well prepared by several years of vicious anti-Spanish propaganda, into a mindless war frenzy.

American newspapers carry out their sacred duty of printing lies to deceive the masses and carry headlines such as “The Warship Maine Was Split in Two by an Enemy’s Infernal Machine”, “How the Maine Looks As It Lies, Wrecked by Spanish Treachery” and “The Maine Was Destroyed by Treachery”. Illustrations in the newspapers, presented as fact and accepted as such by the American public, show imaginary explosives beneath the Maine and imaginary wires running ashore to imaginary Spanish evildoers.

And Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, who had, prior to the Maine explosion, warned Admiral Dewey to be ready to attack the Spanish, cold bloodedly kicks off the wars against Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines when he tells American newspapers that the Maine explosion definitely was not an accident, a statement for which there was absolutely no factual basis and was clearly designed to inflame the American public.

Six weeks later, a U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry surprises no one by coming to the conclusion that the Maine explosion was caused by a mine and we’re all supposed to know who put it there, aren’t we? The head of the Court of Inquiry, Captain William T. Sampson, will be duly rewarded with a nice fat promotion to the command of the U.S. North Atlantic Fleet.

But there are one or two things about this Court of Inquiry which seem to have been forgotten. The Judge Advocate of the U.S. Navy, Adolf Marix, reported to the court that his informants in Havana indicated that a two hundred pound mine had been placed beneath the Maine’s powder magazines by divers working for Cuban businessmen, not by the Spanish, who were, of course, the last people in the world who would do anything to give the U.S. an excuse to attack.

The Cuban businessmen were, in turn, connected to the American gun runner William Astor Chanler who had been involved in smuggling arms to Cuba and was, purely coincidentally, a very good friend of Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt. And Roosevelt wasn’t the least bit squeamish about killing a few hundred Americans. In one of his less guarded moments, he had written to Henry Cabot Lodge, “I don’t care whether our sea-coast cities are bombarded or not, this country needs a war.”

In 1971, British historian Hugh Thomas will quote William Astor Chanler as claiming responsibility for the blowing up of the Maine in a conversation with the American ambassador to the USSR, William C. Bullitt in the early 1930’s. Shortly after the conversation with Bullitt, Chanler died. Information on the cause of his death is difficult to find.

The blowing up of the USS Maine serves as the pretext for the U.S. attack on all Spanish possessions in the Caribbean and the Pacific which had been planned by the U.S. since 1894. The U.S. invades Cuba and occupies and seizes Puerto Rico, preventing its first scheduled democratic election. The U.S. later seizes Guam and invades the Philippines. In the fantasyland of American “history”, this unprovoked war of aggression and empire building is called the Spanish-American War. In Cuba, it is more accurately known as the U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence.

And now that Theodore Roosevelt has the splendid little war he has been so keen on, it’s time to turn it to political advantage. Roosevelt heads off to “liberate” Cuba with the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, the so-called Rough Riders. Roosevelt has very good friends in the U.S. mass media and he makes sure there is a constant flow of reports of his exploits, real or imagined. To be doubly sure, he has his very own “embedded” reporter, Richard Harding Davis of the New York Herald, whose glowing reports are picked up by a host of other American newspapers and magazines. Roosevelt’s propaganda engine would have us believe that he and the Rough Riders defeated the Spanish at San Juan Hill in Cuba virtually single handed. Roosevelt lobbied mightily for a Congressional Medal of Honor but he and his cronies couldn’t persuade the War Deparment to cough up. It would have to wait until 2001 for William “Wet Willy” Clinton to put the icing on Roosevelt’s propaganda cake.

The Humboldt (California) Times puts a nice racist spin on things when it prints a New York press story reporting that “Japs are excluded” from serving in the U.S. Navy. The report continues that “in view of the fact that there were several Japanese on board the Maine when it was blown up, it is interesting to learn the government has adopted a method that will keep them out of our navy.” The idea, apparently is that all people of Japanese ancestry are spies and those who were killed on the Maine had “useful information which (could) have been used for Japan’s benefit.” Well, Praise the Lord that those yellow devils got themselves blown up before they could betray the world’s loudest demockracy. The paper goes on, “The government has passed a rule that men admitted to the navy must be more than five feet, four inches tall. Navy officers say that will exclude the Japs.”

And who is making tens of millions of dollars yet again in their role as America’s leading merchants of death during this “splendid little war”? None other than the Duponts of course, who provide the majority of gunpowder to the U.S. government for its conquest of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Once again, it’s a case of Better Killing Through Chemistry thanks to the Dupont family.

When the Spanish in Cuba are defeated, the U.S. immediately changes its tactics, which were purportedly intended to help Cubans win their independence. The U.S. military refuses to allow Cuban independence fighters, the majority of whom are black, to take part in the surrender ceremonies or the creation of a Cuban government. The U.S. does not allow the Cubans to be present at the signing of the peace treaty in Paris. To prevent democracy prevailing and the Cuban government falling into the hands of its, gasp, black majority, U.S. dictator John R. Brooke disbands the mainly black Cuban army but leaves the previously demonized white Spanish officials in place. Hold on there John, I thought we were fighting the Spanish and helping the Cubans…

Unlike Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam, Cuba is not directly seized by the U.S. due to the Teller Amendment to the U.S. declaration of war against Spain. Instead, following U.S. military occupation, a series of repressive, racist dictatorships, ultimately connected with the U.S. Mafia, is installed. American sugar companies, multinationals, the Mafia, various Nazi supporters and merchants of death such as the DuPont family and other wealthy, white friends of the various U.S. supported dictatorships prosper while the great majority of Cubans live short lives of poverty, hopelessness and fear.

1898. NICARAGUA. U.S. Marines invade the port city of San Juan del Sur.

1898-present: HAWAII. In the midst of all this murderous empire building, the U.S. purports to formally annex the independent nation of Hawaii, the government of which had been overthrown by a coup of American sugar barons in 1893. By happy coincidence, the illegal annexation of Hawaii happens just in time for the U.S. to use Hawaii as a base for its planned invasion and occupation of the Philippines.

The U.S. remains in illegal occupation of Hawaii until the present day.

1898: HAWAII. Now that Hawaii has been stolen by the U.S., the great benefits of freedom and equality enjoyed in the U.S. are generously given to Hawaiians. Congress extends the racist Chinese Exclusion Act to Hawaii and the immigration of people of Chinese descent from Hawaii to the U.S. is prohibited. The U.S. appoints commissioners to run Hawaii. Unsurprisingly, among them is sugar baron and coup leader Sanford Dole. And to ensure harmony with our not-quite-white brothers in Hawaii, the list of commissioners is nicely rounded out by John T. Morgan, a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, an advocate of apartheid, a supporter of legalized lynching and a devout opponent of the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which was intended to prevent the denial of voting rights based on race.

1898-present:

PUERTO RICO. The U.S. invades and occupies Puerto Rico, a rich island with a strategic position long coveted by American militarists and robber barons, just as its one million people are in the process of achieving independence from Spain and are about to hold their first democratic elections. The first priority of the world’s loudest demockracy is, of course, to cancel the scheduled elections which, as in Cuba, would have resulted in a free country ruled by, gasp, black people. The nation of Puerto Rico is stolen from its people and becomes an occupied colony of the U.S. Repeated independence movements are ruthlessly and murderously crushed by the U.S. Puerto Rican patriots and independence leaders are imprisoned and tortured. The Spanish language is outlawed in schools and the American colonizers send missionaries to further the destruction of local culture. Local agriculture is systematically destroyed, making the island dependent on food imports from the U.S. and driving Puerto Ricans to work as virtual slave labor on what rapidly become American-owned plantations. Other Puerto Ricans are driven into the factories of U.S.-owned companies as cheap labor. A completely powerless puppet legislature is installed to create the usual tawdry illusion of democracy. In plain fact, Puerto Rico is a dictatorship run by the U.S. military.

The U.S. forces Puerto Ricans to become U.S. citizens in 1917 in order to allow them to be drafted into the military after the U.S. enters WW I just in time to be in on the treaty signing. In the fine tradition of American demockracy, Puerto Rico is given “non-voting” status in the U.S. Congress. The U.S. constructs major military bases and uses large parts of Puerto Rico, particularly the islands of Culebra and Vieques, as bombing ranges. Puerto Rico’s El Yunque rainforest is used by the U.S. for chemical warfare testing. The island of Vieques is used for test firing radioactive depleted uranium (DU) armaments (dirty bombs) which the U.S. will later use in its covert nuclear wars against the people of Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

General Nelson A. Miles, who headed the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico was not just a talented genocide artist who had carried out innumerable slaughters of native Americans so that their land could be stolen, he was also, as befits a senior U.S. military officer, a truly gifted liar. Miles said, “We have not come to make war upon the people of a country that for centuries has been oppressed, but, on the contrary, to bring you protection, not only to yourselves but to your property, to promote your prosperity, and to bestow upon you the immunities and blessings of the liberal institutions of our government.” Well gee, thanks a lot there Nelson. Thought for a minute you were here to steal our country.

1898-present:

 GUAM. The U.S. invades and seizes the strategically located island of Guam. It becomes a permanent part of the American Empire.

1898: PHILIPPINES.

The U.S. Navy under Admiral Dewey, who was warned by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt BEFORE the Maine explosion to be ready to attack the Spanish, destroys the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay. Filipino independence leader Emilio Aguinaldo returns from exile and resumes the Filipino war of independence against the Spanish. On June 12, 1898, having defeated all Spanish forces in the Philippines outside the capital of Manila, Aguinaldo signs the Philippine Declaration of Independence and ranges twenty thousand Filipino independence fighters in fourteen miles of trenches around the city of Manila, trapping fifteen thousand Spanish troops.

The ever-benevolent United States is, of course, in the Philippines only, as Admiral Dewey says, to “protect the natives and free them from the yoke of Spain”, a sort of nineteenth century Operation Filipino Freedom. Aguinaldo honors an American request not to attack the Spanish garrison, holding off for three months as Dewey waits for U.S. troops to arrive. Unknown to Aguinaldo, Dewey assures the U.S. government that he will “enter the city and keep the Indians (Filipinos) out.” When U.S. troops finally arrive, Dewey and General Wesley Merritt make a secret agreement with the Spanish governor, Fermin Jaudenes, for a mock battle after which the Spanish will surrender to the U.S. Dewey warns the Filipino independence fighters to stay out of Manila or they will be fired on by the U.S. The farce is carried out and the Spanish duly surrender to the U.S.

A few weeks later, the Philippine assembly ratifies the Malolos Constitution, establishing the Philippine Republic as an independent nation. During the Paris Peace Conference between the U.S. and Spain, President William McKinley first orders that the U.S. annex Luzon, Guam and Puerto Rico but not the Philippines. But, apparently, God has other ideas. On the night of October 24th, the President of the United States of America receives formal instructions from The Lord God Almighty.

I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way, that there was nothing left for us to do…but to take them all (the former Spanish colonies) and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died. And then I went to bed, and went to sleep, and slept soundly, and the next morning I sent for the chief engineer of the War Department and I told him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States.

William McKinley’s jihad against the Filipino people has begun. When told that the people of the Philippines are Roman Catholic, McKinley responds, “Exactly.”

1898: UNITED STATES. In December,

 McKinley issues what is farcically called the Benevolent Assimilation proclamation, one of the most outrageous pieces of hypocrisy ever crafted.

We come, not as invaders or conquerors, but as friends, to protect the natives in their homes, in their employments, and in their personal and religious rights. All persons who, either by active aid or by honest submission, co-operate with the Government of the United States to give effect to these beneficent purposes will receive the reward of its support and protection. All others will be brought within the lawful rule we have assumed, with firmness if need be, but without severity, so far as possible…..Finally, it should be the earnest wish and paramount aim of the military administration to win the confidence, respect, and affection of the inhabitants of the Philippines by assuring them in every possible way that full measure of individual rights and liberties which is the heritage of free peoples, and by proving to them that the mission of the United States is one of BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION substituting the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule. In the fulfillment of this high mission, supporting the temperate administration of affairs for the greatest good of the governed, there must be sedulously maintained the strong arm of authority, to repress disturbance and to overcome all obstacles to the bestowal of the blessings of good and stable government upon the people of the Philippine Islands under the free flag of the United States.

Needless to say, the reality didn’t quite align with McKinley’s pious lies.

In the path of the Washington Regiment and Battery D of the Sixth Artillery there were 1,008 dead niggers, and a great many wounded. We burned all their houses. I don’t know how many men, women, and children the Tennessee boys did kill. They would not take any prisoners. U.S. Soldier

1899: PHILIPPINES.

The real Battle of Manila takes place when U.S. troops slaughter three thousand Filipinos in a battle for the capital of the Philippines. Admiral Dewey steams up the Pasig River and fires five hundred pound shells into the Filipino trenches. Filipino corpses are so numerous that the Americans later use the bodies to makes breastworks. A British witness says, “This is not war; it is simply massacre and murderous butchery.”

The slaughter at Manila was necessary, but not glorious. The entire American population justifies the conduct of its army at Manila because only by a crushing repulse of the Filipinos could our position be made secure. We are the trustees of civilization and peace throughout the islands. Chicago Tribune

 

1898: UNITED STATES.

 As always, the U.S. press is doing a fine job of brainwashing the masses and, however we may criticize them for their whoring on behalf of the the ruling elite, we have to admire their flexibility. In the blinking of an eye, Filipino independence leader Emilio Aguinaldo, who had foolishly decided to oppose the U.S. theft of the Philippines, is repositioned from international statesman to brutish dictator. Aguinaldo even undergoes a change in skin color, appropriate since America’s war against the Filipino people is, fundamentally, a racist war of conquest against “niggers” and “Indians”.

1899: PHILIPPINES. In March,

U.S. troops capture Malolos, the seat of Aguinaldo’s government. The U.S. conducts a war against the Filipino people throughout 1899 in a series of bloody battles. The U.S.-appointed dictator of the Philippines is the military governor, General Elwell Stephen Otis. Otis is well qualified for the position, having been instrumental in carrying out the United States Government’s successful genocide of native Americans. Otis’ command is staffed with officers who, too, have learned the craft of genocide, killing native Americans.

The war against the people of the Philippines becomes nothing more than an extension of America’s racist wars against native Americans and its enslavement of blacks. American troops in the Philippines routinely talk and write of hunting and killing “niggers” and “Indians”. The phrase “nigger hunting” frequently occurs in letters written by American troops to the folks back home. Such letters also include gruesome details of burning villages, slaughtering prisoners and civilians, forced labor and looting. In 1900, Otis is replaced by another talented genocide artist, General Arthur McArthur, who carries on the good work.

U.S. Army Colonel Jacob Smith tells American reporters that fighting the Filipinos is “worse than fighting Indians”. Smith says that he is using tactics against the Filipinos which he had learned fighting “savages” in the American west and Smith, a “veteran” of the Wounded Knee massacre of three hundred and fifty native American men, woman and children, knows all about exterminating the inferior races. The New York Times enthusiastically endorses Smith’s embrace of genocide as “long overdue.” The American press, as always doing its sacred duty to deceive and manipulate the American public on behalf of the ruling elite, routinely refers to the Filipinos fighting the foreign invaders of their country as “insurgents”.

In the U.S. Senate, Albert Beveridge isn’t shy about stating the real motives for America’s war against the people of the Philippines.

The Philippines are ours forever….And just beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either….We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization of the world…..The Pacific is our ocean…..Where shall we turn for consumers of our surplus? Geography answers the question. China is our natural customer….The Philippines give us a base at the door of all the East….No land in America surpasses in fertility the plains and valleys of Luzon. Rice and coffee, sugar and cocoanuts, hemp and tobacco…..The wood of the Philippines can supply the furniture of the world for a century to come. At Cebu the best informed man on the island told me that 40 miles of Cebu’s mountain chain are practically mountains of coal……I have a nugget of pure gold picked up in its present form on the banks of a Philippine creek. . . .It has been charged that our conduct of the war has been cruel. Senators, it has been the reverse…..we are not dealing with Americans or Europeans. We are dealing with Orientals.

And the mass murder of the Filipino people and the theft of their country has another motive. One of the major goals of the U.S. ruling elite was the economic conquest of the Far East and especially the opening of the vast Asian markets to the petroleum products of the Rockefellers. At the time, the U.S. fleet lacked a base in the Far East. The extension of American military might to the Far East on behalf of the Rockefellers and their clubmates demanded a place where American warships could be based, repaired and replenished with coal and ammunition. Unfortunately for the Filipinos, their country fit the bill perfectly.

1899: GUAM.

 The U.S. establishes a prison for Filipino political prisoners on the the island of Guam.

1899: PHILIPPINES.

 The staff correspondents of the American newspapers stationed in Manila cable a joint protest against censorship of the press by the U.S. military. The correspondents make the shocking allegation that the American people have been deceived about what is going on in the Philippines. They report that they have been forced to participate in this misrepresentation. Genocide artist General Elwell Otis, U.S. military dictator of the Philippines, explains the suppression of the truth as being a good thing. The truth, he says, “would alarm the people at home.” Can’t be havin’ nobody alarmed in the land of the free.

1898: UNITED STATES

. U.S. troops attack Chippewa Indians at Leech Lake, Minnesota.

1898: UNITED STATES.

 The American Anti-Imperialist League is formed to oppose the U.S. annexation of the Philippines. Among the members is Mark Twain who will serve as vice president of the league from 1901 until his death in 1910. It will have to wait until 1992, however, until many of Twain’s anti-imperialist writings are published in book form. Better late than never.

1898: UNITED STATES.

Funny thing about America, the boys in the back room have got everyone so thoroughly brainwashed they’ll kill and die for them on the most ludicrously fabricated pretexts even though, during and after every war, men in uniform are treated like shit. It’s been that way since the Revolution and it’s still that way today.

The war against Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines was no different. American troops were inadequately housed, poorly fed and had shoddy medical care. Thousands died from communicable diseases such as typhoid. There were allegations of contaminated meat. The patriotic folks at Armor supplied 500,000 pounds of canned meat to the military. It had already been shipped to Britain and returned but, hey, business is business. The answer? Appoint a commission to “investigate” the problem.

And what fine, upstanding person of unquestioned integrity do we select to head this noble commission? Why none other than Grenville Dodge, big time genocide artist and, more to the point, big time railroad swindler and a man who committed treason for cash against the federal government during the Civil War. One of Dodge’s best rackets had been defrauding the federal government of millions of dollars on per-mile railroad construction subsidies. Appointing Dodge to investigate possible fraud and mismanagement by the War Department is sort of like appointing Allen Dulles to the Warren Commission or Henry Kissinger to the 9-11 Commission. Oh yeah, we did that too.

Unsurprisingly, Dodge does his job just the way he’s supposed to and finds that everything in the War Department is just swell. What a relief!

1899: NICARAGUA.

 U.S. forces invade parts of Nicaragua to “protect interests” during the revolution of Juan Reyes. What they are really doing is trying to help Reyes who will be more “understanding” to American gold mining and other commercial interests.

1899: COLOMBIA

. U.S. forces invade the Colombian state of Panama.

1899: SAMOA.

 U.S. and British forces invade to “protect interests” and control the succession to the Samoan throne so it comes out right.

1899: UNITED STATES.

Two thousand people gather in Georgia to witness the lynching of Sam Holt, a black farm laborer accused of killing his white employer. A contemporary newspaper report states that Holt’s ears, fingers and other parts of his body were cut off. He was then burned at the stake. Holt’s bones were crushed and his heart and liver cut into small pieces. Souvenir collectors paid twenty five cents for a piece of bone. A piece of Holt’s liver, cooked, sold for ten cents.

1899: UNITED STATES

. In a six week period during March and April, twelve black men are lynched in Georgia including a minister of religion, Elijah Strickland, who was tortured before being lynched. Yet again it’s a case of Truth, Justice or the American Way and none of the murderers is charged.

1899-1901: UNITED STATES

. On behalf of corporate interests, the U.S. Army occupies the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho mining region to break a miners’ strike.

1899: WAKE ISLAND.

The U.S. invades and occupies Wake Island to use it as a cable station as part of its military strategy against the people of the Philippines.

1899: UNITED STATES.

In a long-running battle with mineowners, miners blow up machinery in Wardner, Idaho. President William McKinley sends federal troops to crush the miners and, using the ruling elite’s standard divide and conquer tactic, picks black units from the segregated U.S. army on the theory that racial divisions will prevent them sympathizing with the white miners. The troops conduct house-to-house searches at bayonet-point and make mass arrests throughout the area. More than a thousand people are held prisoner without charge or trial for months in so-called “bullpens”. Eventually all are released without a single charge being laid.

THE END @ COPYRIGHT 2012

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