Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/617

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596
SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR OF 1898

Santiago at a speed of 13 knots. He arrived early on the 1st of June and work was at once begun on the preparations for sinking the collier " Merrimac " in the entrance channel, which was less than 200 ft. broad in parts available for ships. The preparations for a quick sinking were chiefly carried out by naval constructor Richmond P. Hobson, who went in, in the early morning of the 3rd of June, with a crew of seven men. The steering-gear was disabled by a shell, and the ship drifted too far with the tide and was sunk in a broad part of the channel where it did not block the egress of Cervera's squadron. Cervera sent word to Sampson that Hobson and his men, who had been captured, were unhurt. They were exchanged on the 7th of July.

On the 6th of June the batteries at the entrance were bom- barded and their weakness was ascertained. Sampson there- The United u P on placed, every evening, a battleship (relieved states Fleet every two and a half hours) close in, with a search- betore light turned on the channel, making it impossible, as

Santiago, Cervera. afterwards said, for the Spanish squadron to escape by night. The port of Guantanamo, 40 m. east of Santiago, was occupied by the " Marblehead " and " Yankee " on the 7th, a battalion of marines from the transport " Panther" landed there on the 10th, and the port was used thereafter as a base and coaling station. On the 14th the Spanish land forces retired before an expedition of the American marines, who remained in occupation until the 5th of August.

A blockade of San Juan, Porto Rico, by one or two fast ships was kept up on account of the presence there of the destroyer " Terror," but this vessel, coming out (June 22) with a gunboat to attack the auxiliary cruiser " St Paul," suffered so severely that she could hardly return to port, and was thereafter unserviceable.

When war was declared the total military forces of the United States consisted of 27,822 regulars and 114,602 militia. An act of the 22nd of April had authorized the president to call upon the states and Territories for men in proportion to their population, the regimental and company officers to be named by the governors of the states, the general and staff officers by the president. A first call was made for 125,000 men, and a month later a second call for 75,000. On the 26th of April large additions to the regular army were sanctioned for the war. The quotas were filled with extraordinary rapidity, and in May 124,776 had volunteered. The troops were concentrated chiefly at Chicka- mauga, Georgia, at Camp Alger, Virginia, and at Tampa, Florida, Preparations which was selected as the point for the embarcation tor a Land f the expeditionary force for Cuba, and where Campaign. Major-General W., R. Shafter was in command. With the exception of unimportant small expeditions, every- thing was delayed until control of the sea was assured, though some thirty large steamers were held in readiness near Tampa. After the arrival of Cervera at Santiago, the blockade of his squadron and the request (June 7) of Admiral Sampson to send a land force for co-operation, the troops embarked on the 7th and 8th of June, but a start was not made until the 14th, owing to a false report that Spanish war-ships were in Nicholas Channel. On the 29th the fleet of 32 transports, under convoy, arrived off Santiago. The whole force consisted of about 17,000 officers and men, 16 light field-guns, a train of heavier pieces, and some 200 vehicles. General Shafter selected Daiquiri, about 18 m. east of Santiago, for the point of landing, and the harbour entrance (preferred by Sampson) was disregarded. The fleet furnished all its available boats, and on the 2 2nd-2 5th the army was landed on a rough coast with scarcely any shelter from the sea; after the first day Siboney, 7 m. nearer Santiago, was used as well as Daiquiri. With the exception of three volunteer regiments (the 1st Volunteer Cavalry, known as the Rough Riders, of which Theodore Roosevelt was lieutenant-colonel; the 2nd Massachusetts and the 71st New York Volunteers), these troops were composed almost wholly of regulars, most of whom had served on the plains against the Indians. Soon afterwards more voluuteers arrived.

No opposition was made to the landing and the small Spanish contingents at Daiquiri and Siboney were withdrawn without doing


any damage to the equipment of the railway which ran from Santiago to the iron mines at these points. The American troops (commanded by Major-General Joseph Wheeler until the 29th, when General Shafter landed) pushed forward, a soon as they landed, and found a small Spanish rearguard which was covering the concentration of outlying detachments on Santiago and which was entrenched 25 m. beyond Siboney, at Las Guasimas. Briga- dier-General S.B.M. Young with 964 dismounted cavalry engaged (June 24), and after a sharp action, in which he lost 16 killed and 52 wounded, drove back the enemy, of whom n were killed out of some 500 engaged. The advance was slow and a week elapsed before Shafter was ready to fight a battle in front of Santiago. Here the defenders, under General Arsenio Linares, held two positions, the hill of San Juan, barring the direct road to Santiago, and the village of El Caney, to the northward of the American position at El Pozo. The plan of attack on the 1st of July was Shaf ter's, but owing to the illness of Shafter the actual command was exercised by the subordinate generals, Joseph Wheeler, H. W. Lawton and J. F. Kent. General Lawton's division was to attack and capture El Caney, and thence move against the flank and rear of the defenders of San Juan, which would then be attacked in front by Kent and Wheeler from El Pozo. But Lawton for nine hours was checked by the garrison of El Caney, in spite of his great superiority in numbers (4500 to 520); at 3 p.m. the final assault on El Caney was successfully delivered by General A. R. Chaffee's brigade. Only about 100 of the Spanish garrison escaped to Santiago; about 320 were killed or wounded, including General Vara del Rey, who, with a brother and two sons, was killed. In the meantime Wheeler and Kent had an equally stubborn contest opposite San Juan hill, where, in the absence of the assistance of Lawton, the battle soon became a purely frontal-fire fight, and the rifles of the firing line had to prepare the attack unaided. The strong position of the Spaniards, gallantly defended by about 700 men, held out until 12.30, when the whole line of the assailants suddenly advanced, without orders from or direction by superior authority, and carried the crest of the Spanish position. A notable part in the attack was taken by the 1st Volunteer Cavalry or " Rough Riders," commanded by Colonel Leonard Wood and Lieut.-Colonel Theodore Roosevelt. The Spaniards had no closed reserves, and their retreat was made under a devastating fire from the Ameri- cans on the captured hills. On the American side over 1500 men out of 15,000 engaged, including several of the senior officers, were killed or wounded; and in one of Kent's brigades three successive commanders were killed or wounded. On the Spanish side, out of the small numbers engaged, over 50% were out of action. Linares himself was severely wounded, and handed over the command to General Jose Toral. The Cubans on the American right failed to prevent General Escario from entering Santiago with reinforcements from the interior, and at the beginning of the investment General Toral's forces numbered about 10,000 men of the army and a naval contingent from the fleet.

Though victorious, the American army was in danger: after great fatigue under a tropical sun by day, the time spared at night from digging trenches was spent on a rain- investment soaked ground covered with thick vegetation; the of Santiago soldiers' blankets and heavy clothing had been cast on the Land aside in the attack; and there was insufficient food, because it was difficult to haul supplies over the one poor road from the base of supplies at Siboney. There was even discussion of retiring to a point nearer Siboney. Brisk firing was continued on the 2nd and 3rd of July, with a considerable number of casualties to the Americans. On the morning of the 3rd a demand was sent to the Spanish commander to surrender, with the alternative of a bombardment of the city to begin on the 4th. This in effect had already begun on the 1st, when Admiral Sampson fired a number of 8-in. shells from a point 3 m. east of the harbour entrance over the hills into the city, using a range of about 4^ land miles. The result of this and the threat of General Shafter was an exodus of many thousands of civilians towards El Caney, where the American supplies were heavily taxed to support them.