Classic History Books


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

Spaniards as well as the War Department completely by surprise as to his point of attack, he effected a
landing on the 26th at Guanica, near the southwestern corner of Porto Rico.

The expeditionary force to Porto Rico, however, consisted not of 30,000 men but of only about 15,000;
and it was not fully assembled on the island until the 8th of August. The total Spanish forces amounted to

only about 10,000, collected on the defensible ground to the north and in the interior, so that they did not

disturb the disembarkation. The American Army which had been dispatched from large Atlantic ports,

such as Charleston and Newport News, seems to have been better and more systematically equipped than

the troops sent to Santiago. The Americans occupied Guanica, Ponce, and Arroyo with little or no

opposition, and were soon in possession of the southern shores of the island.

Between the American forces and the main body of the enemy stretched a range of mountains running
east and west through the length of the island. San Juan, the only fortress, which was the main objective

of the American Army, lay on the opposite side of this mountain range, on the northern coast of the

island. The approach to the fortress lay along a road which crossed the hills and which possessed natural

advantages for defense. On the 7th of August a forward movement was begun. While General Wilson's

army advanced from Ponce along the main road toward San Juan and General Brooke moved north from

Arroyo, General Schwan was to clear the western end of the island and work his way around to Arecibo,

toward which General Henry was to advance through the interior. The American armies systematically

worked forward, with an occasional skirmish in which they were always victorious, and were received

with a warm welcome by the teeming native population. On the 13th of August, General Wilson was on

the point of clearing his first mountain range, General Schwan had occupied Mayaguez, and General

Henry had passed through the mountains and was marching down the valley of the Arecibo, when orders

arrived from Washington to suspend operations.

The center of interest, however, remained in the far-away Philippines. Dewey, who had suddenly burst
upon the American people as their first hero, remained a fixed star in their admiration, a position in

which his own good judgment and the fortunate scarcity of newspaper correspondents served to maintain

him. From him action was expected, and it had been prepared for. Even before news arrived on the 7th of

May of Dewey's victory on the 1st of May, the Government had anticipated such a result and had decided

to send an army to support him. San Francisco was made a rendezvous for volunteers, and on the l2th of

May, General Wesley Merritt was assigned to command the expedition. Dewey reported that he could at

any time command the surrender of Manila, but that it would be useless unless he had troops to occupy

the city.

On the 19th of May, General Merritt received the following orders: "The destruction of the Spanish fleet
at Manila, followed by the taking of the naval station at Cavite, the paroling of the garrisons, and the

acquisition of the control of the bay, have rendered it necessary, in the further prosecution of the

measures adopted by this Government for the purpose of bringing about an honorable and durable peace

with Spain, to send an army of occupation to the Philippines for the twofold purpose of completing the

reduction of the Spanish power in that quarter and giving order and security to the islands while in the

possession of the United States."

On the 30th of June the first military expedition, after a bloodless capture of the island of Guam, arrived
in Manila Bay. A second contingent arrived on the 17th of July, and on the 25th, General Merritt himself

with a third force, which brought the number of Americans up to somewhat more than 10,000. The

Spaniards had about 13,000 men guarding the rather antiquated fortifications of old Manila and a

 

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