Read CHAPTER X - SANTIAGO DE CUBA of The Boys of 98, free online book, by James Otis, on ReadCentral.com.

The campaign of Santiago, during which the Spanish fleet under Admiral Cervera was entirely destroyed, and which ended with the capture of the city, can best be told as a continuous story.  The record of other events will be found elsewhere in regular order.

Even though a repetition, it should be set down that the North Atlantic fleet, Rear-Admiral W. T. Sampson commanding, with Commodores J. C. Watson and W. S. Schley of the first and second squadrons respectively, which blockaded the port of Santiago, consisted of the battle-ships Massachusetts, Iowa, Texas, Indiana, Oregon; armoured cruisers New York, Admiral Sampson’s flag-ship, Brooklyn, Commodore Schley’s flag-ship; protected cruisers New Orleans, Newark, Commodore Watson’s flag-ship; converted yachts Vixen, Gloucester.(33)

Inside the harbour, caught like rats in a trap of their own making, lay the Spanish fleet under command of Admiral Pasquale Cervera, consisting of the armoured cruisers Cristobal Colon, Vizcaya, Almirante Oquendo, Maria Teresa, Admiral Cervera’s flag-ship; torpedo-boat destroyers Furor and Pluton.

The Americans were on the alert, lest by some inadvertence their prey should escape, and it may well be supposed that the Spaniards, knowing full well they were not in sufficient strength to give battle, awaited a favourable opportunity to slip through the blockading squadron.

June 2. The first detachment of troops, including heavy and light artillery and the engineer corps, embarked for Santiago on the second of June.  Four days later this force was landed at Aguadores, a few miles east of Santiago, under the cover of Admiral Sampson’s guns.

June 6. The American fleet began the bombardment of the batteries guarding the entrance to the harbour at six o’clock in the morning, having steamed in to within three thousand yards of the shore, the Brooklyn in advance of the first column, with the Marblehead, the Texas, and the Massachusetts in line.  The second column was led by the New York, with the New Orleans, Yankee, Iowa, and Oregon in the order named.  On the left flank were the Vixen and the Suwanee, and on the right the Dolphin and the Porter kept watchful eyes upon the riflemen ashore.  The first column took station opposite the Estrella and Catalina batteries,(34) while the second was stationed off the new earthworks near Morro Castle.  Orders had been given that no shots should be thrown into El Morro, because of the fact that Lieutenant Hobson and his crew were imprisoned there.

The fleet continued the bombardment without moving from the stations originally taken.  It was the Iowa which opened the action with a 12-inch shell, and the skill of the gunners was shown by the shower of stone which spouted up from the base of the Estrella battery.  As if this shot was the signal agreed upon, the other vessels of the fleet opened fire, the enemy answering promptly but ineffectively.

Very quickly were the shore-batteries silenced by the Brooklyn and the Texas.  Estrella Fort was soon on fire; the Catalina battery gave up the struggle in less than an hour, and the Vixen and Suwanee engaged with some light inshore works, speedily reducing them to ruins.  Until nine o’clock the bombardment continued without interruption, and then the American fire ceased until the ships could be turned, in order that their port batteries might be brought into play.

One hour more, that is to say, until ten o’clock, this terrible rain of iron was sent from the fleet to the shore, and then on the flag-ship was hoisted the signal:  “Cease firing.”

The American fleet withdrew absolutely uninjured, - not a ship had been hit by the Spaniards nor a man wounded.

On board the Spanish ship Reina Mercedes, a lieutenant and five seamen had been killed, and seventeen wounded; the vessel was set on fire no less than three times, and otherwise seriously damaged by the missiles.  Near about Morro Castle, although none of the American guns were aimed at that structure, two were killed and four wounded, while on Smith Cay great havoc was wrought.

Admiral Cervera made the following report to his government: 

“Six American vessels have bombarded the fortifications at Santiago and along the adjacent coast.

“Six were killed and seventeen were wounded on board the Reina Mercedes; three officers were killed and an officer and seventeen men were wounded among the troops.

“The Americans fired fifteen hundred shells of different calibres.  The damage inflicted upon the batteries of La Socapa and Morro Castle were unimportant.  The barracks at Morro Castle suffered damage.

“The enemy had noticeable losses.”

June 8. Nearly, if not quite, twenty-seven thousand men were embarked at Tampa for Santiago on the eighth of June, under the command of Maj.-Gen. William R. Shafter.

Fire was opened by the Marblehead and the Yankee of the blockading squadron upon the fortifications of Camianera, a port on Cumberland Harbour fifteen miles distant from Guantanamo.  The enemy was forced to retire to the town, but no great injury was inflicted.

The Vixen entered Santiago Harbour under a flag of truce from Admiral Sampson, to arrange for an exchange of Lieutenant Hobson and his men.  Admiral Cervera said in reply that the matter had been referred to General Blanco.

The Suwanee landed weapons, ammunition, and provisions for the insurgents at a point fifteen miles west of Santiago.

In Santiago were about twenty thousand Spanish soldiers, mostly infantry; but with cavalry and artillery that may be drawn from the surrounding country.  On the mountains five thousand insurgents, many unarmed, watched for a favourable opportunity to make a descent upon the city.

Orders were sent by the Navy Department to Admiral Sampson to notify Admiral Cervera that, if the latter destroyed his four armoured cruisers and two torpedo-boat destroyers to prevent their capture, Spain, at the end of the war, would be made to pay an additional indemnity at least equivalent to the value of these vessels.

June 10. The American troops made a landing on the eastern side of Guantanamo Harbour, forty miles east of Santiago, at two P. M. on the tenth of June.  The debarkation was effected under the cover of the guns of the Oregon, Marblehead, Dolphin, and Vixen.

The war-vessels prepared the way by opening fire on the earthworks which lined the shore, a blockhouse, and a cable station which was occupied by Spanish soldiers.  The defence was feeble; the enemy retreated in hot haste after firing a few shots.  A small gunboat came down from Guantanamo, four miles away, at the beginning of the bombardment, but she put back with all speed after having approached within range.

Soon after the enemy had been driven away, the steamer Panther arrived with a battalion of marines under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Huntington.  She reported having shelled a blockhouse at Daiquiri, ten miles east of Santiago, but without provoking any reply.

Colonel Huntington’s force took possession of the heights overlooking the bay, where was a fortified camp which had been abandoned by the Spaniards.  There was nothing to betoken the presence of the enemy in strong numbers, and the men soon settled down to ordinary camp duties, believing their first serious work would be begun by an attack on Guantanamo.

June 11. It was three o’clock on Saturday afternoon; Colonel Huntington’s marines were disposed about the camp according to duty or fancy; some were bathing, and a detail was engaged in the work of carrying water.  Suddenly the sharp report of a musket was heard, followed by another and another until the rattle of firearms told that a skirmish of considerable importance was in progress on the picket-line.

The principal portion of the enemy’s fire appeared to come from a small island about a thousand yards away, and a squad of men was detailed with a 3-inch field-gun to look out for the enemy in this direction, while the main force defended the camp.

After perhaps an hour had passed, during which time the boys of ’98 were virtually firing at random, the men on the picket-line fell back on the camp.  Two of their number were missing.  The battalion was formed on three sides of a hollow square, and stood ready to resist an attack which was not to be made until considerably later.

The firing ceased as abruptly as it had begun.  Skirmishers were sent out and failed to find anything save a broad trail, marked here and there by blood, which came to an end at the water’s edge.

There were no longer détonations to be heard from the island.  The 3-inch gun had been well served.

The skirmishers which had been sent out returned, bearing the bodies of two boys in blue who had been killed by the first shots, and, after death, mutilated by blows from Spanish machetes.

Night came; heavy clouds hung low in the sky; the force of the wind had increased almost to a gale; below in the bay the war-ships were anchored, their search-lights streaming out here and there like ribbons of gold on a pall of black velvet.

No signs of the enemy on land or sea, and, save for those two cold, lifeless forms on the heights, one might have believed the previous rattle of musketry had been heard only by the imagination.

Until nine o’clock in the evening the occupants of the camp kept careful watch, and then without warning, as before, the crack of repeating rifles broke the almost painful stillness.

The enemy was making his presence known once more, and this time it became evident he was in larger force.

Another 3-inch gun was brought into play; a launch from the Marblehead, with a Colt machine gun in her bow, steamed swiftly shoreward and opened fire; skirmish lines were thrown out through the tangle of foliage, and only when a dark form was seen, which might have been that of a Spaniard, or only the swaying branches of the trees, did the boys in blue have a target.

It was guerrilla warfare, and well-calculated to test the nerves of the young soldiers who were receiving their “baptism of blood.”

Until midnight this random firing continued, and then a large body of Spanish troops charged up the hill until they were face to face with the defenders of the camp, when they retreated, being lost to view almost immediately in the blackness of the night.

June 12. Again and again the firing was renewed from this quarter or that, but the enemy did not show himself until the morning came like a flash of light, as it does in the tropics, disclosing scurrying bands of Spanish soldiers as they sought shelter in the thicket.

Now more guns were brought into play at the camp; the war-ships began shelling the shore, and the action was speedily brought to an end.  Four Americans had been killed, and among them one of the surgeons.

At intervals during the day the crack of a rifle would tell that Spanish sharpshooters were hovering around the camp; but not until eight o’clock in the evening did the enemy approach in any great numbers.

Then the battle was on once more; again did the little band of bluejackets stand to their posts, fighting against an unseen foe.  Again the war-ships flashed their search-lights and sent shell after shell into the thicket, and all the while the Spanish fire was continued with deadly effect.

Lieutenants Neville and Shaw, each with a squad of ten men, were sent out to dislodge the advance line of the enemy, and as the boys in blue swung around into the thicket with a steady, swinging stride, the Spaniards gave way, firing rapidly while so doing.

The Americans, heeding not the danger, pursued, following the foe nearly to a small stone house near the coast, which had been used as a fort.  They were well up to this structure when the bullets rained upon them in every direction from out the darkness.  Sergeant Goode fell fatally wounded, and the Spaniards charged, forcing the Americans to the very edge of a cliff, over which one man fell and was killed; another fell, but with no further injury than a broken leg.  A third was shot through the arm, after which he and the man with the broken limb joined forces, fighting on their own account.  One more was wounded, and then the Americans made a desperate charge, forcing the enemy back into the stone house, and then out again, after fifteen had been killed.

Meanwhile severe fighting was going on in the vicinity of the camp; but six field-pieces were brought up, and the second battle was ended after two Americans had been killed and seven wounded.

June 13. The camp was moved to a less exposed position, while the war-ships poured shell and shrapnel into the woods, and then the marines filed solemnly out to a portion of the hill overlooking the bay where were six newly made graves.

All the marines could not attend the funeral, many having to continue the work of moving camp, or to rest on their guns, keeping a constant watch for the lurking Spaniards; but all who could do so followed the stumbling bearers of the dead over the loose gravel, and grouped themselves about the graves.

The stretcher bearing the bodies had just been lifted to its place, and Chaplain Jones of the Texas was about to begin the reading of the burial service, when the Spaniards began shooting at the party from the western chaparral.

“Fall in, Company A, Company B, Company C, fall in!”

“Fall in!” was the word from one end of the camp to the other.  The graves were deserted by all save the chaplain and escort, who still stood unmoved.

The men sprang to arms, and then placed themselves behind the rolled tents, their knapsacks, the bushes in the hollows, boxes and piles of stones, their rifles ready, their eyes strained into the brush.

Howitzers roared, blue smoke arose where the shells struck and burst in the chaparral, and rifles sounded angrily.

The Texas fired seven shots at the place from which the shooting came, and the Spaniards, as usual, fled out of sight.

The funeral services had hardly been resumed when there was another attack; but this time the pits near the old blockhouse got the range of the malignant marksmen and shattered them with a few shots.  The Texas and Panther shelled the brush to the eastward, but the chaplain kept right on with the service, and from that time until night there was little shooting from the cover.

On this day the dynamite cruiser Vesuvius joined Admiral Sampson’s fleet, and the weary marines, holding their posts on shore against overwhelming odds, hoped that her arrival betokened the speedy coming of the soldiers who were so sadly needed.

June 14. Substantial recognition was given by the Navy Department to the members of the gallant crew who took the Merrimac into the entrance of Santiago Harbour and sunk her across the channel under the very muzzles of the Spanish guns.

The orders sent to Admiral Sampson directed the promotion of the men as follows: 

Daniel Montague, master-at-arms, to be a boatswain, from fifty dollars a month to thirteen hundred dollars a year.

George Charette, gunner’s mate, to be a gunner, from fifty dollars a month to thirteen hundred dollars a year.

Rudolph Clausen, Osborne Deignan, and - Murphy, coxswains, to be chief boatswain’s mates, an increase of twenty dollars a month.

George F. Phillips, machinist, from forty dollars a month to seventy dollars a month.

Francis Kelly, water tender, to be chief machinist, from thirty-seven dollars a month to seventy dollars a month.

Lieutenant Hobson’s reward would come through Congress.

While a grateful people were discussing the manner in which their heroes should be crowned, that little band of marines on the shore of Guantanamo Bay, worn almost to exhaustion by the harassing fire of the enemy during seventy-two hours, was once more battling against a vastly superior force in point of numbers.

From the afternoon of the eleventh of June until this morning of the fourteenth, the Americans had remained on the defensive, - seven hundred against two thousand or more.  Now, however, different tactics were to be used.  Colonel Huntington had decided that it was time to turn the tables, and before the night was come the occupants of the graves on the crest of the hill had been avenged.

A scouting party, made up of nine officers, two hundred and eighty marines, and forty-one Cubans, was divided into four divisions, the first of which had orders to destroy a water-tank from which the enemy drew supplies.  The second was to attack the Spanish camp beyond the first range of hills.  The third had for its objective point a signal-station from which information as to the movements of the American fleet had been flashed into Santiago.  The fourth division was to act as the reserve.

In half an hour from the time of leaving camp the signal-station was in the hands of the Americans, and the heliograph outfit lost to the enemy.  The boys of ’98 had suffered no loss, while eight Spaniards lay with faces upturned to the rays of the burning sun.

At noon the Spanish camp had been taken, with a loss of two Cubans killed, one American and four Cubans wounded.  Twenty-three Spaniards were dead.

The water-tank was destroyed, and the enemy, panic-stricken, was fleeing here and there, yet further harassed by a heavy fire from the Dolphin, who sent her shells among the fugitives whenever they came in view.

When the day drew near its close, and the weary but triumphant marines returned to camp, a hundred of the enemy lay out on the hills dead; more than twice that number must have been wounded, and eighteen were being brought in as prisoners.

On this night of June 14th, at the entrance to Santiago Harbour, the dynamite cruiser Vesuvius - that experimental engine of destruction - was given a test in actual warfare, and the result is thus graphically pictured by a correspondent of the New York Herald

“Three shells, each containing two hundred pounds of guncotton, were fired last night from the dynamite guns of the Vesuvius at the hill at the western entrance to Santiago Harbour, on which there is a fort.

“The frightful execution done by those three shots will be historic.

“Guns in that fort had not been silenced when the fleet drew off after the attack that followed the discovery of the presence of the Spanish fleet in the harbour.

“In the intense darkness of last night the Vesuvius steamed into close range and let go one of her mysterious missiles.

“There was no flash, no smoke.  There was no noise at first.  The pneumatic guns on the little cruiser did their work silently.  It was only when they felt the shock that the men on the other war-ships knew the Vesuvius was in action.

“A few seconds after the gun was fired there was a frightful convulsion on the land.  On the hill, where the Spanish guns had withstood the missiles of the ordinary ships of war, tons of rock and soil leaped in air.  The land was smitten as by an earthquake.

“Terrible echoes rolled around through the shaken hills and mountains.  Sampson’s ships, far out at sea, trembled with the awful shock.  Dust rose to the clouds and hid the scene of destruction.

“Then came a long silence; next another frightful upheaval, and following it a third, so quickly that the results of the work of the two mingled in mid-air.

“Another still, and then two shots from a Spanish battery, that, after the noise of the dynamite, sounded like the crackle of firecrackers.

“The Vesuvius had tested herself.  She was found perfect as a destroyer.  She proved that no fortification can withstand her terrible missiles.

“Just what damage she did I could not tell from the sea.  Whatever was within hundreds of feet of the point of impact must have gone to destruction.”

June 16. On the fifteenth of June the marines at Guantanamo Bay were given an opportunity to rest, for the lesson the Spaniards received on the fourteenth had been a severe one, and the fleet off Santiago remained inactive.  It was but the lull before the storm of iron which was rained upon the Spanish on the sixteenth.

The prelude to this third bombardment of Santiago was a second trial of the Vesuvius at midnight on the fifteenth, when she sent three more 250-pound charges of guncotton into the fortifications.  This done, the fleet remained like spectres, each vessel at its respective station, until half-past three o’clock on the morning of the sixteenth, when the bluejackets were aroused and served with coffee.

Immediately the first gray light of dawn appeared, the ships steamed in toward the fortifications of Santiago until within three thousand yards, and there, lying broadside on, three cables’-lengths apart, they waited for the day to break.

It was 5.25 when the New York opened with a broadside from her main battery, and the bombardment was begun.

All along the crescent-shaped line the big guns roared and the smaller ones crackled and snapped, each piece throughout the entire squadron being worked with such energy that it was like one mighty, continuous wave of crashing thunder, and from out this convulsion came projectiles of enormous weight, until it seemed as if all that line of shore must be rent and riven.

Not a gun was directed at El Morro, for there it was believed the brave Hobson and his gallant comrades were held prisoners.

When the signal was given for the fleet to retire, not a man had been wounded, nor a vessel struck by the fire from the shore.

The governor of Santiago sent the following message to Madrid relative to the bombardment: 

“The Americans fired one thousand shots.  Several Spanish shells hit the enemy’s vessels.  Our losses are three killed and twenty wounded, including two officers.  The Spanish squadron was not damaged.”

While the Americans were making their presence felt at Santiago, those who held Guantanamo Bay were not idle.  The Texas, Marblehead, and the Suwanee bombarded the brick fort and earthworks at Caimanera, at the terminus of the railroad leading to the city of Guantanamo, demolishing them entirely after an hour and a half of firing.  When the Spaniards fled from the fortifications, the St. Paul shelled them until they were hidden in the surrounding forest.

An hour or more after the bombardment ceased the Marblehead’s steam launch began dragging the harbour near the fort for mines.  One was found and taken up, and while it was being towed to the war-ship a party of Spaniards on shore opened fire.  The launch headed toward shore and began banging away, but the bow gun finally kicked overboard, carrying the gunner with it.  At this moment the enemy beat a prompt retreat; the gunner was pulled inboard, and the bluejackets continued their interrupted work.

June 17. Next day the batteries on Hicacal Point and Hospital Cay were shelled, the Marblehead and the St. Paul attending to the first, and the Suwanee caring for the latter, while the Dolphin and even the collier Scindia fired a few shots for diversion.  The task was concluded in less than half an hour, and had no more than come to an end when a small sloop was sighted off the entrance to the bay.

The Marblehead’s steam launch was sent in pursuit, and an hour later returned with the prize, which proved to be the Chato.  Her crew of five were taken on board the Marblehead as prisoners.

June 18. The active little steam launch made another capture next day while cruising outside the bay; a nameless sloop, on which were four men who claimed to have been sent from the lighthouse at Cape Maysi to Guantanamo City for oil.  There were strong reasons for believing this party had come to spy out the position of the American ships, and all were transferred to the Marblehead.

The crew of the Oregon had gun practice again on this day when they shelled and destroyed a blockhouse three miles up the bay, killing, so it was reported, no less than twenty of the enemy.

The first vessel of a long-expected fleet of transports, carrying the second detachment of General Shafter’s army, hove in sight of Admiral Sampson’s squadron on the evening of June 18th, and next morning at daylight the launches of the New York and Massachusetts reconnoitred the shore between Cabanas, two miles off the entrance to Santiago Harbour, and Guayaganaco, two miles farther west, in search of a landing-place.

Lieutenant Harlow, in command of the expedition, made the following report: 

“The expedition consisted of a steam launch from the Massachusetts, in charge of Cadet Hart, and a launch from the New York, in charge of Cadet Powell.  I took passage on the Massachusetts’ launch, leading the way.  Soundings were taken on entering the bay close under the old fort, and we were preparing to circumnavigate the bay at full speed when fire was opened from the fort and rocks on the shore.  The Massachusetts’ launch was some distance ahead and about forty yards off the fort.  There was no room to turn, and our 1-pounder could not be brought to bear.  We backed and turned under a heavy fire.

“Cadet Hart operated the gun as soon as it could be brought to bear, sitting exposed in the bow, and working the gun as coolly and carefully as at target practice.

“Cadet Powell had been firing since the Spaniards opened.  He was also perfectly cool.  Both launches ran out under a heavy fire of from six to eight minutes.  I estimate that there were twenty-five Spaniards on the parapet of the old fort.  The number along shore was larger, but indefinite.  The launches, as soon as it was practicable, sheered to give the Vixen the range of the fort.  The Vixen and the Texas silenced the shore fire promptly.

“I strongly commend Cadet Hart and Cadet Powell for the cool management of the launches.  One launch was struck seven times.  Nobody in either was hurt.  A bullet struck a shell at Cadet Hart’s feet between the projectile and the powder, but failed to explode the latter.

“Coxswain O’Donnell and Seaman Bloom are commended, as is also the coolness with which the marines and sailors worked under the Spanish fire.

“Nothing was learned at Cabanas Bay, but at Guayaganaco it is evident a landing is practicable for ships’ boats.  The same is true of Rancho Cruz, a small bay to the eastward.  Both would be valuable with Cabanas, but useless without it.

“I am informed that to the north and westward of Cabanas Bay there is a large clearing, with plenty of grass and water.

“I think a simultaneous landing at the three places named would be practicable if the ships shelled the adjacent wood.  A junction would naturally follow at the clearing.”

Cuban scouts reported to Colonel Huntington on Guantanamo Bay that the streets of Caimanera have been covered with straw saturated in oil, in order that the city may be destroyed when the Americans evince any disposition to take possession.  The Spanish gunboat Sandoval, lying at one of the piers, has been loaded with inflammables, and will be burned with the city, her commander declaring that she shall never become an American prize.

During this Sunday night the Vesuvius again discharged her dynamite guns, with the western battery as a target, and because of the frightful report which followed the second shot, it was believed a magazine had been exploded.

June 20. The fleet of transports arrived off Santiago at noon on the twentieth, and hove to outside the cordon of war-vessels.  General Shafter immediately went on board the flag-ship, and returned to his own ship an hour later in company with Admiral Sampson, when the two officers sailed for Asserradero, seventeen miles from Santiago, where General Calixto Garcia was encamped with his army of four thousand Cubans.  Here a long conference was held with the insurgent general, after which the two commanders returned to the fleet.

June 21. The despatch quoted below was sent by Admiral Sampson to the Navy Department, and gives in full the work of the day: 

“Landing of the army is progressing favorably at Daiquiri.  There is very little, if any, resistance.  The New Orleans, Detroit, Castine, Wasp, and Suwanee shelled the vicinity before the landing.  We made a demonstration at Cabanas to engage the attention of the enemy.  The Texas engaged the west battery for some hours.  She had one man killed.  Ten submarine mines have been recovered from the channel of Guantanamo.  Communication by telegraph has been established at Guantanamo.”

Daiquiri was chosen as the point of debarkation by General Shafter, and its only fortifications were a blockhouse on a high cliff to the right of an iron pier, together with a small fort and earthworks in the rear.  From this town extends a good road to Santiago, and in the immediate vicinity of the port the water-supply is plentiful.

June 22. Bombarding the coast as a cover for the troops which were being disembarked, was the principal work of the war-ships on the twenty-second of June, except in Guantanamo Harbour, where volunteers were called for from the Marblehead and the Dolphin to grapple for and remove the contact mines in the harbour.  It was an undertaking as perilous as anything that had yet been accomplished, but the bluejackets showed no fear.  Four times the designated number came forward in response to the call, and before nightfall seven mines had been removed.

The battle-ship Texas was assigned to duty off Matamoras, the works of which were to be bombarded as a portion of the general programme for this day while the troops were being landed.  The men of the Texas performed their part well; the Socapa battery was quickly silenced; but not quite soon enough to save the life of one brave bluejacket.  The last shell fired by the retreating Spaniards struck the battle-ship twenty feet abaft the stem on the port side.  It passed through the hull about three feet below the main-deck line, and failed to explode until striking an iron stanchion at the centre line of the berth-deck.  Here were two guns’ crews, and among them the fragments of the shell flew in a deadly shower, killing one and wounding eight.  Later in the day the Texas steamed out to sea to bury the dead, and, this sad duty performed, returned before nightfall to her station on the blockade.

June 23. General Shafter thus reported to the War Department: 

“Daiquiri, June 23. - Had very fine voyage; lost less than fifty animals, six or eight to-day; lost more putting them through the surf to land, than on transports.

“Command as healthy as when we left; eighty men sick; only deaths, two men drowned in landing; landings difficult; coast quite similar to that in vicinity of San Francisco, and covered with dense growth of bushes.  Landing at Daiquiri unopposed; all points occupied by Spanish troops heavily bombarded by navy to clear them out.

“Sent troops toward Santiago, and occupied Juragua, a naturally strong place, this morning.  Spanish troops retreating as soon as our advance was known.  Had no mounted troops, or could have captured them, about six hundred all told.

“Railroad from there in.  Have cars and engine in possession.

“With assistance of navy disembarked six thousand men yesterday, and as many more to-day.

“Will get all troops off to-morrow, including light artillery and greater portion of pack-train, probably all of it, with some of the wagons; animals have to be jumped to the water and towed ashore.

“Had consultation with Generals Garcia, Rader and Castillo, on afternoon of twentieth, twenty miles west of Santiago.  These officers were unanimously of the opinion that the landing should be made east of Santiago.  I had come to the same conclusion.

“General Garcia promises to join me at Juragua to-morrow with between three thousand and four thousand men, who will be brought from west of Santiago by ships of the navy to Juragua, and there disembarked.

“This will give me between four thousand and five thousand Cubans, and leave one thousand under General Rabi to threaten Santiago from the west.

“General Kent’s division is being disembarked this afternoon at Juragua, and this will be continued during the night.  The assistance of the navy has been of the greatest benefit and enthusiastically given; without them I could not have landed in ten days, and perhaps not at all, as I believe I should have lost so many boats in the surf.

“At present want nothing; weather has been good, no rain on land, and prospects of fair weather.

“SHAFTER,
Major-General U. S. Commanding.

The boys of ’98 occupied the town of Aguadores before nightfall on the twenty-third of June, the Spaniards having applied the torch to many buildings before they fled.  The enemy was driven back on to Santiago, General Linares commanding in person, and close to his heels hung General Lawton and the advance of the American forces.

June 24. It was evident that the Spanish intended to make a stand at Sevilla, six miles from Juragua, and five miles from Santiago.  The Americans were pressing them hotly to prevent General Linares from gaining time to make preparations for an encounter, when the Rough Riders, as Colonel Wood’s regiment was termed, and the First and Tenth Cavalry fell into an ambuscade.  Then what will probably be known as the battle of La Quasina was fought.

It is thus described by a correspondent of the Associated Press: 

That the Spaniards were thoroughly posted as to the route to be taken by the Americans in their movement toward Sevilla was evident, as shown by the careful preparations they had made.

The main body of the Spaniards was posted on a hill, on the heavily wooded slopes of which had been erected two blockhouses flanked by irregular intrenchments of stone and fallen trees.  At the bottom of these hills run two roads, along which Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt’s men, and eight troops of the First and Tenth Cavalry, with a battery of four howitzers, advanced.  These roads are but little more than gullies, rough and narrow, and at places almost impassable.

In these trails the fight occurred.  Nearly half a mile separated Roosevelt’s men from the regulars, and between, and on both sides of the road in the thick underbrush, was concealed a force of Spaniards that must have been large, judging from the terrific and constant fire they poured in on the Americans.

The fight was opened by the First and Tenth Cavalry, under General Young.  A force of Spaniards was known to be in the vicinity of La Quasina, and early in the morning Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt’s men started off up the precipitous bluff, back of Siboney, to attack the enemy on his right flank.  General Young at the same time took the road at the foot of the hill.

About two and one-half miles out from Siboney some Cubans, breathless and excited, rushed into camp with the announcement that the Spaniards were but a little way in front, and were strongly entrenched.  Quickly the Hotchkiss guns in the front were brought to the rear, while a strong scouting line was thrown out.

Then cautiously and in silence the troops moved forward until a bend in the road disclosed a hill where the Spaniards were located.  The guns were again brought to the front and placed in position, while the men crouched down in the road, waiting impatiently to give Roosevelt’s men, who were toiling over the little trail along the crest of the hill, time to get up.

At 7.30 A. M. General Young gave the command to the men at the Hotchkiss guns to open fire.  That command was the signal for a fight that for stubbornness has seldom been equalled.  The instant the Hotchkiss guns were fired, from the hillside commanding the road came volley after volley from the Mausers of the Spaniards.

“Don’t shoot until you see something to shoot at,” yelled General Young, and the men, with set jaws and gleaming eyes, obeyed the order.  Crawling along the edge of the road, they protected themselves as much as possible from the fearful fire of the Spaniards, the troopers, some of them stripped to the waist, watching the base of the hill, and when any part of a Spaniard became visible, they fired.  Never for an instant did they falter.

One dusky warrior of the Tenth Cavalry, with a ragged wound in his thigh, coolly knelt behind a rock, loading and firing, and when told by one of his comrades that he was wounded, laughed and said: 

“Oh, that’s all right.  That’s been there for some time.”

In the meantime, away off to the left could be heard the crack of the rifles of Colonel Wood’s men, and the regular, deeper-toned volley-firing of the Spaniards.

Over there the American losses were the greatest.  Colonel Wood’s men, with an advance-guard well out in front, and two Cuban guides before them, but apparently with no flankers, went squarely into the trap set for them by the Spaniards, and only the unfaltering courage of the men in the face of a fire that would even make a veteran quail, prevented what might easily have been a disaster.  As it was, Troop L, the advance-guard under the unfortunate Captain Capron, was almost surrounded, and but for the reinforcement hurriedly sent forward every man would probably have been killed or wounded.

When the reserves came up there was no hesitation.  Colonel Wood, with the right wing, charged straight at a blockhouse eight hundred yards away, and Colonel Roosevelt, on the left, charged at the same time.  Up the men went, yelling like fiends, and never stopping to return the fire of the Spaniards, but keeping on with a grim determination to capture that blockhouse.

That charge was the end.  When within five hundred yards of the coveted point, the Spaniards broke and ran, and for the first time the boys of ’98 had the pleasure which the Spaniards had been experiencing all through the engagement, of shooting with the enemy in sight.

The losses among the Rough Riders were reported as thirteen killed and forty wounded; while the First Cavalry lost sixteen wounded.  Edward Marshall, a newspaper correspondent, was seriously wounded.

While the land-forces were fighting four miles northwest of Juragua, Rear-Admiral Sampson learned that the Spaniards were endeavouring to destroy the railroad leading from Juragua to Santiago de Cuba.

This road runs west along the seashore, under cover of the guns of the American fleet, until within three miles of El Morro, and then cuts through the mountains along the river into Santiago.

When the attempt of the Spaniards was discovered, the New York, Scorpion, and Wasp closed in and cleared the hill and brush of Spaniards.

June 26. The American lines were advanced to within four miles of Santiago, and the boys could look into the doomed city.  It was possible to make accurate note of the defences, and most likely officers as well as men were astonished by the preparations which had been made.

There were blockhouses on every hill; from the harbour batteries, sweeping in a semicircle to the eastward of the city, were rifle-pits and intrenchments skilfully arranged.  Earthworks, in a regular line, completely shut off approach to the city, and in front of the entrenchments and rifle-pits were barbed-wire fences, or trochas.

Three more charges of guncotton did the dynamite cruiser Vesuvius throw into the batteries at the mouth of Santiago Harbour on the night of June 26th, and next morning the evidences of her work could be seen on the western battery, a portion of which was in ruins.  The water-mains which supplied the city of Santiago were cut on the same night, and the doomed city thus brought so much nearer to capitulation.

July 1. Knowing that with the close of June the American army was in readiness for a decisive action, the people waited anxiously, tearfully, for the first terrible word which should be received telling of slaughter and woeful suffering, and it came on the evening of July 1st, when the cablegram given below was flashed over the wires to the War Department: 

“PLAYA DEL ESTE, July 1, 1898.

A.  G. O., U. S. Army, Washington

“Siboney, July 1.  Had a very heavy engagement to-day, which lasted from eight A. M. till sundown.

“We have carried their outer works and are now in possession of them.

“There is now about three-quarters of a mile of open country between my lines and city; by morning troops will be entrenched and considerable augmentation of forces will be there.

“General Lawton’s division and General Bates’s brigade, which had been engaged all day in carrying El Caney, which was accomplished at four P. M., will be in line and in front of Santiago during the night.

“I regret to say that our casualties will be above four hundred; of these not many are killed.

(Signed) “W.  R. SHAFTER, Major-General.”