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The Spanish-American War Part 3: Cuba & Puerto Rico
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Part 3: The Cuban & Puerto Rican Campaigns
In late April, U.S. Army Captain Andrew Summers Rowan, in disguise, entered the enemy lines in Oriente, crossed the island of Cuba, and made contact with Cuban General Garcia. Rowan also gathered maps and important intelligence information about existing military conditions on the island. The U.S. North Atlantic Squadron left Key West for Cuba on April 22 following the frightening news that the Spanish fleet under Admiral Pascual Cervera had left Cadiz, slipped past U.S. ships commanded by William T. Sampson and Winfield Scott Schley, and entered Havana Harbor. The U.S. fleet arrived in Cuba in late May.
Cuba: Naval Movements
MAP: Cuban Campaign Naval Movements, April-June 22, 1898
Cuban Ground Operations
US commanders planned to capture the city of Santiago de Cuba in order to destroy General Arsenio Linares' army and Admiral Pascual Cervera's fleet. At that time Spanish troops stationed on the island included 150,000 regulars and 40,000 irregulars and volunteers while rebels inside Cuba numbered as many as 50,000. Total U.S. army strength at the time totalled 26,000, requiring the passage of the Mobilization Act of April 22 that allowed for an army of at first 125,000 volunteers (later increased to 200,000) and a regular army of 65,000. After a lengthy and messy embarkation process from Tampa, Marines captured Guantánamo Bay, and 17,000 troops landed at Siboney and Daiquirí on June 22, east of Santiago, where they established a base of operations. After a brief skirmish near Siboney on June 23, a contingent of Spaniards assumed lighty entrenched positions at Las Guasimas. Ignoring
Cuba: American Landings & Battle of Las Guasimas
MAP: American Landings & the Battle of Las Guasimas, June 22-24, 1898
reports of Cuban scouting partiesand orders from above to use caution, an advance guard under former Confederate General Joseph Wheeler caught up with and engaged the Spanish rear guard on June 24. The fight, known as the Battle of Las Guasimas, was essentially a Spanish ambush. The skirmish was significant in that it revealed to commanders that the tatics of employing Civil War-era skirmishers at the head of advancing columns did not work effectively against Spanish troops who had learned the art of cover and concealment while dealing with Cuban insurgents, and never made the error of revealing their positions while on the defense. The Spaniards were also aided by the innovation of smokeless powder. American soldiers were only able to advance against the Spaniards in what are now called "fireteam" rushes; four-to-five man groups advancing while others laid down supporting fire. The battle ended indecisively in favor of Spain and the Spanish left Las Guasimas on their planned retreat to Santiago.
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American forces continued on toward Santiago. To reach the city, they had to pass through concentrated Spanish defenses in the San Juan Heights and a small town in El Caney. General William Rufus Shafter commanded about 15,000 troops in three divisions. Jacob F. Kent commanded the 1st Division, Henry W. Lawton commanded the 2nd Division, and Joseph Wheeler commanded the Cavalry Division but was suffering from fever and had to turn over command to General Samuel S. Sumner. Shafter's plans to attack Santiago de Cuba called for Lawton's division to move north and attack the Spanish stronghold at El Caney on July 1. It was expected that Lawton could accomplish this in about two hours, at which time he was to join with the rest of the troops for the attack on the San Juan Heights later in the day.

Battles of El Caney:
At El Caney, 500 Spanish soldiers under General Joaquín Vara del Rey were instructed to hold the northwest flank of Santiago against the American attack. Despite having no machine guns or artillery and being denied promised reinforcements, Vara del Rey and his soldiers held Lawton and over 8,000 Americans from their position for nearly twelve hours, preventing them from sweeping through and overwhelming the defenders of San Juan Hill. The Americans took staggering losses: over 80 dead and 350 wounded. Precise Cuban losses at El Caney are not known, but the Cuban irregulars also suffered heavily, losing around 150 killed and wounded that day. Many have called this engagement proof that, properly led, the Spanish Army might well have defeated the United States during the Cuban Campaign.
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San Juan Heights: July 1, 1898
At the sound of Lawton's guns at El Caney in the early morning hours of July 1, Sumner's dismounted cavalry followed by Kent's infantry began marching down the El Pozo Road toward the San Juan River. The road soon became crowded as infantry, cavalry and news correspondents bunched up waiting for Lawton's division to arrive from El Caney.

Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. McClernand of Shafter's staff, rode to the front and set up a post on El Pozo Hill. At about 7 a.m. "Fighting Joe" Wheeler heard the sound of gunfire, arose from his sickbed and rode to the front. Upon arriving at El Pozo Hill, Wheeler became the senior front line officer and began discussing the course of action with McClernand. The advance then resumed with Colonel
Cuba: San Juan Heights, July 1898
MAP: San Juan Heights, July 1898
Henry K. Carrol's cavalry brigade in the lead followed by Brig. Gen. Leonard Wood's brigade. The cavalry crossed the San Juan River and veered off to the right, while Hamilton S. Hawkins led his infantry brigade off to the left. A company from the signal corps ascended in a hot air balloon to reconnoiter the hills. Though it made for a good target for the Spaniards and was shot down, it was aloft long enough for its officers to discover another path leading up the slope. Hawkins' brigade had already passed by the new found route and Kent ordered forward the brigade under Colonel Charles A. Wikoff. It was 12 p.m. by the time Wikoff began heading down the trail, and a half an hour later he emerged from the woods and was struck by a bullet. He died as his staff officers carried him to the rear. Next in command was Lt. Col. William S. Worth who assumed command but within five minutes fell wounded. Lt. Col. Emerson Liscom assumed command and within another five minutes received a disabling wound. Lt. Col. Ezra P. Ewers, fourth in command of the brigade, assumed command. Kent and Sumner lined up for the attack and waited for Lawton's division to arrive from El Caney. Lawton, of course, did not arrive as scheduled, and no orders came from either Shafter or Wheeler. The troops simply waited at the base of the hill. Under constant Spanish gunfire, the men soon dubbed the areas "Hell's Pocket" and "Bloody Ford".
Staff of the Rough Riders
Staff of the Rough Riders
Kettle Hill
Many of the officers grew, including Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevel, grew impatient waiting for orders while suffering casualties. It was Roosevelt, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, who had actively encouraged intervention in Cuba and placed the Navy on a war-time footing. It was Roosevelt who had ordered Commodore George Dewey and the Pacific fleet to the Philippines, and along with Leonard Wood, had convinced the Army to raise an all-volunteer regiment, the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry. Wood was given command of the regiment that quickly became known as the "Rough Riders".In the absence of orders, Roosevelt took it upon himself to lead an advance up the hill. Facing the Rough Riders was a smaller hill which received the name Kettle Hill because the Americans found a large kettle near the base. Roosevelt formed his regiment and began to advance. The advance began to
slow as troops droppedfrom heat exhaustion. Roosevelt feared that he could not keep up on foot in the tropical heat and instead stayed mounted. Soon officers from the rest of Wood's brigade along with Carrol's brigade began to advance, and the units became intermingled. Two of the units involved were the 9th and 10th Cavalry of "Buffalo Soldiers." These regular army African American units were well seasoned following years of deployment in the hostile Western regions of the country against resistant American Indians. One of the 10th Calvary's lieutenants in attendance was John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, who would later attain fame during America's involvement in World War I.

The regulars reached a depression in the hill and stopped to fire. Roosevelt ordered the troops to charge. When the regulars refused because no orders to do so came from the brigade commanders, Roosevelt led his volunteers past and charged up the hill. The attackers, employing an extremely dangerous Civil War style frontal assault, cut their way through barbed wire fences and drove the Spaniards out of their trenches on Kettle Hill.
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San Juan Hill
In the meantime Hamilton Hawkins' brigade was faring no better than Roosevelt had in his original position. A brigade staff officer named Lt. Jules G. Ord tried to convince his superior to allow him to lead a volunteer charge. Hawkins responded "I will not ask for volunteers, I will not give permission and I will not refuse it," he said. "God bless you and good luck!" Ord then moved his brigade out of the trenches and advanced up the slope. General Hawkins apparently was not opposed to the attack since once the men began he joined in directing the two lead regiments. 150 yards from the hill the troops charged, cutting their way through the barbed wire.

Seeing the spontaneous advances of Roosevelt and Ord, Wheeler gave the order for Kent to advance with his whole division while he returned to the Cavalry Division. Kent sent forward Ewers' brigade to join Hawkins' men already approaching the hill. At San Juan Hill, 750 Spanish soldiers had been ordered to hold the heights against a combined force of about 15,000 US and Cuban troops. For reasons still not quite clear, Spanish General Arsenio Linares failed to reinforce this position, choosing to hold nearly 10,000 Spanish reserves in the city of Santiago. Spanish hilltop entrenchments, while typically well-constructed, had been poorly positioned, making even point-blank rifle volleying at the advancing Americans difficult. Kent's men soon discovered that they were covered from Spanish fire while they climbed the hill. Ord, still in the lead, was among the first to reach the crest. The Spanish fled, but as Ord jumped into the trench he was killed instantly and Hawkins was wounded shortly after.

After losing Kettle Hill, Linares's men still on San Juan Hill began to fire on the cavaliers' newly won position. While Kent's secured a blockhouse to the south after hand-to-hand fighting, Sumner also charged San Juan Hill. Roosevelt personally led the attack but paused after charging a few feet with only a handful of men following. He turned around and inquired why no one had followed. His men replied they had not heard the order and quickly joined the attack. Kent's remaining brigade under Colonel E. P. Pearson arrived after Hawkins and Ewers had already charged and moved further to the south and drove the Spanish off of a knoll on the Spanish right flank.

General Wood sent requests for Kent to send up infantry to strengthen his vulnerable position. General Wheeler reached the trenches and ordered breastworks constructed. Roosevelt's men did in fact repulse a minor counterattack on the northern flank. The Americans' position on San Juan Hill was exposed to artillery fire from within Santiago, and Shafter feared the vulnerability of the line and ordered the troops to withdraw. Wheeler assured Shafter that the position could be held; still Shafter ordered the withdrawal.
Before the men could withdraw Wheeler called aside Kent and Sumner and reassured them that the line could be held, and during the night they worked at strengthening the lines while reinforcements arrived.

In the assaults on the San Juan Heights, more than 200 U.S. soldiers were killed and close to 1,200 wounded in the fighting. Supporting fire by Gatling guns was critical to the success of the assault. Nevertheless, the battle had been a hard one for the Americans, who suffered almost three times as many losses as the Spanish had. The Spaniards, meanwhile, had literally fought to the knife, losing a third of their force in casualties but yielding very few prisoners.
Charge of The Rough Riders at San Juan Hill by Frederic Remington
Charge of The Rough Riders at San Juan Hill by Frederic Remington
 
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: Cuban campaign
Photograph: US Soldier
Photograph: US Soldier
Photograph: Black "Buffalo Soldier"
Photograph: Black "Buffalo Soldier"
Photograph: Black "Buffalo Soldier" & his family
Photograph: Black "Buffalo Soldier" & his family
Theodore Roosevelt as a Rough Rider
Theodore Roosevelt as a Rough Rider
"The Spanish Brute, Adds Mutilation to Murder" Judge, July 9, 1898
"The Spanish Brute, Adds Mutilation to Murder" Judge, July 9, 1898, by Grant Hamilton
       
 
The Siege of Santiago
After the battles of San Juan Hill and El Caney, the American advance ground to a halt. Lawton's division, which was supposed to join the fight early on July 1, did not arrive until noon on July 2, having encountering unexpectedly heavy resistance in the battle of
El Caney. Spanish troops successfully defended Fort Canosa, allowing them to stabilize their line and bar the entry to Santiago. The Americans and Cubans forcibly began a bloody, strangling siege of the city. During the nights, Cuban troops constructed a successive series of raised parapets toward the Spanish positions. Once completed, they were occupied by U.S. soldiers, and then a new set of excavations went forward. American troops, while suffering daily losses from Spanish fire, suffered far more casualties from heat exhaustion and mosquito-borne disease. At the western approaches to the city Cuban general Calixto Garcia began to encroach on the city, causing much panic and fear of reprisals among the Spanish forces. The Spanish finally surrendered Santiago on July 17.
Yellow Fever was transmitted by mosquitos
Yellow Fever was transmitted by mosquitos
The Naval Campaign
The major port of Santiago was the main target of naval operations during the war. In May 1898, Spanish Admiral Pascual Cervera was first spotted in Santiago Harbor where his fleet had taken shelter for protection from sea attack. For two months there was a stand-off between the Spanish naval forces and American fleet, which attacked out of Guantanamo Bay after its takeover on June 6–June 10.

On July 3, two days after the ground operations at El Caney and San Juan Heights, Admiral Cervera decided to move his fleet out of Santiago. When the Spanish squadron attempted to leave the harbor, the American forces destroyed or grounded five of the six ships. Only one Spanish vessel, the speedy new armored cruiser Cristobal Colón, survived, but her captain hauled down his flag and scuttled her when the Americans finally caught up with her. The 1,612 Spanish sailors captured, including Admiral Cervera, were
Cuba: The Naval Campaign
MAP: Cuban Naval Campaign
Spanish cruiser Cristobal Colón
Spanish cruiser Cristobal Colón
sent to Seavey's Island at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, where they were confined at Camp Long as prisoners of war from July 11 until mid-September. The Battle of Santiago on July 3, 1898, was the largest naval engagement of the Spanish-American War and resulted in the destruction of the Spanish Caribbean Squadron.

During the stand-off, United States Assistant Naval Constructor Richmond Pearson Hobson had been ordered by Rear Admiral William T. Sampson to sink the collier Merrimac in the harbor to bottle up the
Spanish fleet. The mission was a failure, and Hobson and his crew were captured. They were exchanged on July 6, and Hobson became a national hero; he received the Medal of Honor in 1933 and became a Congressman.
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"The Man Behind The Gun Will Settle This War," Puck, July 13, 1898
"The Man Behind The Gun Will Settle This War," Puck, July 13, 1898, by Joseph Keppler
Sheet Music: "The Heroes of San Juan Hill"
Sheet Music: "The Heroes of San Juan Hill"

Sheet Music: "Break the News to Mother" (1897)
Sheet Music: "Break the News to Mother" (1897)

"Break The News to Mother" by J.W. Myers (1904)
sound "Break The News to Mother" by J.W. Myers (1904)
Print: Black infantry at San Juan Hill
Print: Black infantry at San Juan Hill
Stereoview of General Shafter
Stereoview of General Shafter (2 views)
Stereoview: Grimer Battery A, Santiago, Cuba
Stereoview: Grimer Battery A, Santiago, Cuba (2 views)
Stereoview: 12-inch Coast Defense Gun
Stereoview: 12-inch Coast Defense Gun (2 views)
Stereoview: Morro Castle Fortifications
Stereoview: Morro Castle Fortifications (3 views)
Souvenir Spoon: Morro Castle
Souvenir Spoon: Morro Castle (3 views)
Stereoview: Spanish Cemetery in Cuba
Stereoview: Spanish Cemetery in Cuba (2 views)
Children's Fiction: A Young Volunteer In Cuba (1898)
Children's Fiction: A Young Volunteer In Cuba (1898), by Edward Stratemeyer. From the Old Glory series
Alfonso Sanz Print, "Battle of Santiago de Cuba" (1898)
Alfonso Sanz Print, "Battle of Santiago de Cuba" (1898)
Sheet Music: "Afer The War" (1898)
Sheet Music: "Afer The War" (1898)
Sheet Music: "After The War is O'er" (1898)
Sheet Music: "After The War is O'er" (1898)
Sheet Music: "Cervera and His Flying Squadron" (1898)
Sheet Music: "Cervera and His Flying Squadron" (1898)
Sheet Music: "The Battle of Santiago" (1898)
Sheet Music: "The Battle of Santiago" (1898)
Sheet Music: "The Song They Sang at Santiago" (1898)
Sheet Music: "The Song They Sang at Santiago" (1898)
Children's literature: Fighting In Cuban Waters (1899)
Children's literature: Fighting In Cuban Waters (1899) by Edward Stratemeyer, From the "Old Glory" series
Children's literature: The Navy Boys at the Siege of Havana (1899)
Children's literature: The Navy Boys at the Siege of Havana (1899), by James Otis
"On Board The Oregon", by Invincible Quartette (1902)
sound "On Board The Oregon", by Invincible Quartette (1902)
"Battle of San Juan Hill", by Mike Bernard (1912)
sound "Battle of San Juan Hill", by Mike Bernard (1912)
     
 
Puerto Rico
During May 1898, Lt. Henry H. Whitney of the United States Fourth Artillery was sent to Puerto Rico on a reconnaissance mission, sponsored by the Army's Bureau of Military Intelligence. He provided maps and information on the Spanish military forces to the U.S. government prior to the invasion. On May 10, U.S. Navy warships were sighted off the coast of Puerto Rico. On May 12, a squadron of 12 U.S. ships commanded by Rear Adm. William T. Sampson bombarded San Juan. During the bombardment, many government buildings were shelled. On June 25, the Yosemite blockaded San Juan harbor. On July 25, General Nelson A. Miles, with 3,300 soldiers, landed at Guánica and invaded the island with little resistance in the brief Puerto Rican Campaign.
 
Treaty of Paris
With both of its fleets destroyed, Spain sued for peace. Hostilities were halted on August 12, 1898 with the signing in Washington of a Protocol of Peace. Representatives of Spain and the United States signed the formal peace treaty in Paris on December 10, 1898. It was ratified by the United States Senate on February 6, 1899, and came into force on April 11, 1899.
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