Classic History Books


The Path of Empire. A Chronicle of the United States as a World Power
by Carl Russell Fish

Perhaps 3000 insurgents were at hand under General Garcia. The number sent, then, was not inadequate
to the task. Equal numbers are not, indeed, ordinarily considered sufficient for an offensive campaign

against fortifications, but the American commanders counted upon a difference in morale between the

two armies, which was justified by results. Besides the American Army could be reinforced as necessity

arose.

 

CHAPTER XI. The Campaign Of Santiago De Cuba

 

In planning the campaign against Santiago, Admiral Sampson wished the army immediately to assault
the defenses at the harbor mouth in order to open the way for the navy. General Shafter, however, after

conferring with General Garcia, the commander of the insurgents, decided to march overland against the

city. The army did not have sufficient small vessels to effect a landing; but the navy came to its

assistance, and on the 22d of June the first American troops began to disembark at Daiquiri, though it

was not until the 26th that the entire expedition was on shore. On the second day Siboney, which had a

better anchorage and was some six miles closer to Santiago, was made the base. From Siboney there

stretched for eight or ten miles a rolling country covered with heavy jungle brush and crossed by mere

threads of roads. There was indeed a railroad, but this followed a roundabout route by the coast. Through

this novel and extremely uncomfortable country, infected with mosquitoes, the troops pressed, eager to

meet the enemy.

The first engagement took place at Las Guasimas, on the 24th of June. Here a force of about a thousand
dismounted cavalry, partly regulars and partly Rough Riders, defeated nearly twice their number of

Spaniards. This was the only serious resistance which the Americans encountered until they reached the

advanced defenses of Santiago. The next week they spent in getting supplies ashore, improving the roads,

and reconnoitering. The newspapers considered this interval entirely too long! The 30th of June found

the Americans confronting the main body of Spaniards in position, and on the 1st of July, the two armies

joined battle.

Between the opposing forces was the little river San Juan and its tributaries. The Spanish left wing was at
El Caney, supported by a stone blockhouse, rifle pits, and barbed wire, but with no artillery. About four

miles away was San Juan Hill, with more formidable works straddling the main road which led to

Santiago. Opposite El Caney, General Lawton was in command of about seven thousand Americans. The

fight here began at half-past six in the morning, but the American artillery was placed at too great a

distance to be very effective. The result was a long and galling exchange of rifle firing, which is apt to

prove trying to raw troops. The infantry, however, advanced with persistency and showed marked

personal initiative as they pushed forward under such protection as the brush and grass afforded until

they finally rushed a position which gave opportunity to the artillery. After this they speedily captured

the blockhouse.

The fight lasted over eight hours instead of two, as had been expected, and thus delayed General Lawton,
who was looked for at San Juan by the American left. The losses, too, were heavy, the total casualties

amounting to seven per cent of the force engaged. The Americans, however, had gained the position, and

after a battle which had been long and serious enough to test thoroughly the quality of the personnel of

the army. Whatever deficiencies the Americans may have had in organization, training, and military

education, they undoubtedly possessed fighting spirit, courage, and personal ingenuity, and these are,

 

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