Read CHAPTER XI - EL CANEY AND SAN JUAN HEIGHTS of The Boys of 98, free online book, by James Otis, on

General W. R. Shafter, in his official report of the operations around Santiago, says: 

“On June 30th I reconnoitred the country about Santiago and made my plan of attack.  From a high hill, from which the city was in plain view, I could see the San Juan Hill and the country about El Caney.  The roads were very poor and, indeed, little better than bridle-paths until the San Juan River and El Caney were reached.  The position of El Caney, to the northeast of Santiago, was of great importance to the enemy, as holding the Guantanamo road, as well as furnishing shelter for a strong outpost that might be used to assail the right flank of any force operating against San Juan Hill.  In view of this, I decided to begin the attack next day at El Caney with one division, while sending two divisions on the direct road to Santiago, passing by the El Pozo house, and as a diversion to direct a small force against Aguadores, from Siboney along the railroad by the sea, with a view of attracting the attention of the Spaniards in the latter direction, and of preventing them from attacking our left flank....  But we were in a sickly climate; our supplies had to be brought forward by a narrow wagon-road which the rain might at any time render impassable; fear was entertained that a storm might drive the vessels containing our stores to sea, thus separating us from our base of supplies, and, lastly, it was reported that General Pando, with eight thousand reinforcements for the enemy, was en route for Manzanillo, and might be expected in a few days.  Under these conditions I determined to give battle without delay.

“Early on the morning of July 1st Lawton was in position around El Caney, Chaffee’s brigade on the right across the Guantanamo road, Miles’s brigade in the centre and Ludlow’s on the left.  The duty of cutting off the enemy’s retreat along the Santiago road was assigned to the latter brigade.  The artillery opened on the town at 6.15 A. M. The battle here soon became general, and was hotly contested.  The enemy’s position was naturally strong, and was rendered more so by blockhouses, a stone fort and entrenchments cut in solid rock, and the loopholing of a solidly built stone church.  The opposition offered by the enemy was greater than had been anticipated, and prevented Lawton from joining the right of the main line during the day, as had been intended.  After the battle had continued for some time, Bates’s brigade of two regiments reached my headquarters from Siboney.  I directed him to move near El Caney, to give assistance if necessary.  He did so, and was put in position between Miles and Chaffee.  The battle continued with varying intensity during most of the day and until the place was carried by assault about 4.30 P. M. As the Spaniards endeavoured to retreat along the Santiago road, Ludlow’s position enabled him to do very effective work, and practically to cut off all retreat in that direction.

“After the battle at El Caney was well opened, and the sound of the small-arms fire caused us to believe that Lawton was driving the enemy before him, I directed Grimes’s battery to open fire from the heights of El Pozo on the San Juan blockhouse, situated in the enemy’s entrenchments, extending along the crest of San Juan Hill.  This fire was effective, and the enemy could be seen running away from the vicinity of the blockhouse.  The artillery fire from El Pozo was soon returned by the enemy’s artillery.  They evidently had the range of this hill, and their first shells killed and wounded several men.  As the Spaniards used smokeless powder, it was very difficult to locate the position of their pieces, while, on the contrary, the smoke caused by our black powder plainly indicated the position of our battery.

“At this time the cavalry division, under General Sumner, which was lying concealed in the general vicinity of the El Pozo house, was ordered forward with directions to cross the San Juan River and deploy to the right on the Santiago side, while Kent’s division was to follow closely in its rear and deploy to the left.  These troops moved forward in compliance with orders, but the road was so narrow as to render it impracticable to retain the column of fours formation at all points, while the undergrowth on both sides was so dense as to preclude the possibility of deploying skirmishers.  It naturally resulted that the progress made was slow, and the long-range rifles of the enemy’s infantry killed and wounded a number of our men while marching along this road, and before there was any opportunity to return this fire.  At this time Generals Kent and Sumner were ordered to push forward with all possible haste, and place their troops in position to engage the enemy.  General Kent, with this end in view, forced the head of his column alongside the cavalry column as far as the narrow trail permitted, and thus hurried his arrival at the San Juan, and the formation beyond that stream.  A few hundred yards before reaching the San Juan, the road forks, a fact that was discovered by Lieutenant-Colonel Derby of my staff, who had approached well to the front in a war balloon.  This information he furnished to the troops, resulting in Sumner moving on the right-hand road while Kent was enabled to utilise the road to the left.  General Wheeler, the permanent commander of the cavalry division, who had been ill, came forward during the morning, and later returned to duty and rendered most gallant and efficient service during the remainder of the day.  After crossing the stream the cavalry moved to the right, with a view to connecting with Lawton’s left when he would come up, with their left resting near the Santiago road.

“In the meantime, Kent’s division, with the exception of two regiments of Hawkins’s brigade, being thus uncovered, moved rapidly to the front from the forks previously mentioned in the road, utilising both trails, but more especially the one to the left, and, crossing the creek, formed for attack in the front of San Juan Hill.  During this formation the Third Brigade suffered severely.  While personally superintending this movement its gallant commander, Colonel Wikoff, was killed.  The command of the brigade then devolved upon Lieutenant-Colonel Worth, Thirteenth Infantry, who was soon severely wounded, and next upon Lieutenant-Colonel Liscum, Twenty-fourth Infantry, who, five minutes later, also fell under the terrible fire of the enemy, and the command of the brigade then devolved upon Lieutenant-Colonel Ewers of the Ninth Infantry.

“While the formation just described was taking place, General Kent took measures to hurry forward his rear brigade.  The Tenth and Second Infantry were ordered to follow Wikoff’s brigade, while the Twenty-first was sent on the right-hand road to support the First Brigade under General Hawkins, who had crossed the stream and formed on the right of the division.  The Second and Tenth Infantry, Colonel E. P. Pearson commanding, moved forward in good order on the left of the division, passing over a green knoll, and drove the enemy back toward his trenches.

“After completing their formation under a destructive fire, advancing a short distance, both divisions found in their front a wide bottom, in which had been placed a barbed-wire entanglement, and beyond which there was a high hill, along the crest of which the enemy was strongly posted.  Nothing daunted, these gallant men pushed on to drive the enemy from his chosen position, both divisions losing heavily.  In this assault Colonel Hamilton, Lieutenants Smith and Shipp were killed, and Colonel Carroll, Lieutenants Thayer and Myer, all in the cavalry, were wounded.  Great credit is due to Brigadier-General H. S. Hawkins, who, placing himself between his regiments, urged them on by voice and bugle-call to the attack so brilliantly executed.

“In this fierce encounter words fail to do justice to the gallant regimental commanders and their heroic men, for, while the generals indicated the formation and the points of attack, it was, after all, the intrepid bravery of the subordinate officers and men that planted our colours on the crest of San Juan Hill and drove the enemy from his trenches and blockhouses, thus gaining a position which sealed the fate of Santiago.

“In the action on this part of the field, most efficient service was rendered by Lieutenant J. H. Parker, Thirteenth Infantry, and the Gatling gun detachment under his command.

“The fighting continued at intervals until nightfall, but our men held resolutely to the position gained at the cost of so much blood and toil.

“On the night of July 1st I ordered General Duffield, at Siboney, to send forward the Thirty-fourth Michigan and the Ninth Massachusetts, both of which had just arrived from the United States.

“All day on the second the battle raged with more or less fury, but such of our troops as were in position at daylight held their ground, and Lawton gained a strong and commanding position on the right.  About ten P. M. the enemy made a vigorous assault to break through my lines, but he was repulsed at all points.

“On the morning of the third the battle was renewed, but the enemy seemed to have expended his energy in the assault of the previous night, and the firing along the line was desultory.”

Such is the official report of the battle before Santiago, where were killed of the American forces twenty-three officers, and 208 men; wounded eighty officers, and 1,203 men; missing, eighty-one; total, 1,595.

An account of any engagement is made more vivid by a recital of those who participated in the bloody work, since the commanding officer views the action as a whole, and purely from a military standpoint, while the private, who may know little or nothing regarding the general outcome, understands full well what took place immediately around him.  Mr. W. K. Hearst, the proprietor of the New York Journal, told the following graphic story in the columns of his paper: 

“I set out before daybreak this morning on horseback with Honore Laine, who is a colonel in the Cuban army.  We rode over eight miles of difficult country which intervenes between the army base, on the coast, and the fighting line, which is being driven forward toward Santiago.

“Pozo, as a position for our battery, was ill chosen.  The Spaniards had formerly occupied it as a fort, and they knew precisely the distance to it from their guns, and so began their fight with the advantage of a perfect knowledge of the range.

“Their first shell spattered shrapnel in a very unpleasant way all over the tiled roof of the white house at the back of the ridge.  It was the doors of this house which we were approaching for shelter, and later, when we came to take our luncheon, we found that a shrapnel ball had passed clean through one of our cans of pressed beef which our pack-mule was carrying.

“We turned here to the right toward our battery on the ridge.  When we were half-way between the white house and the battery, the second shell which the Spaniards fired burst above the American battery, not ten feet over the heads of our men.  Six of our fellows were killed, and sixteen wounded.

“The men in the battery wavered for a minute; then rallied and returned to their guns, and the firing went on.  We passed from there to the right again, where General Shafter’s war balloon was ascending.  Six shells fell in this vicinity, and then our batteries ceased firing.

“The smoke clouds from our guns were forming altogether too plain a target for the Spaniards.  There was no trace to be seen of the enemy’s batteries, by reason of their use of smokeless powder.

“Off to the far right of our line of formation, Captain Capron’s artillery, which had come through from Daiquiri without rest, could be heard banging away at Caney.  We had started with a view of getting where we could observe artillery operations, so we directed our force thither.

“We found Captain Capron blazing away with four guns, where he should have had a dozen.  He had begun shelling Caney at four o’clock in the morning.  It was now noon, and he was still firing.  He was aiming to reduce the large stone fort which stood on the hill above the town and commanded it.  Captain O’Connell had laid a wager that the first shot of some one of the four guns would hit the fort, and he had won his bet.  Since that time dozens of shells had struck the fort, but it was not yet reduced.  It had been much weakened, however.

“Through glasses our infantry could be seen advancing toward this fort.  As the cannon at our side would bang, and the shell would swish through the air with its querulous, vicious, whining note, we would watch its explosion, and then turn our attention to the little black specks of infantry dodging in and out among the groups of trees.  Now they would disappear wholly from sight in the brush, and again would be seen hurrying along the open spaces, over the grass-covered slopes, or across ploughed fields.  The infantry firing was ceaseless, our men popping away continuously, as a string of firecrackers pops.

“The Spaniards fired in volleys against our men.  Many times we heard the volley fire, and saw the brave fellows pitch forward and lie still on the turf, while the others hurried on to the next protecting clump of bushes.

“For hours the Spaniards had poured their fire from slits in the stone fort, from their deep trenches, and from the windows of the town.  For hours our men answered back from trees and brush and gullies.  For hours cannon at our side banged and shells screamed through air and fell upon fort and town.  Always our infantry advanced, drawing nearer and closing up on the village, till at last they formed under a group of mangrove-trees at the foot of the very hill on which the stone fort stood.

“With a rush they swept up the slope and the stone fort was ours.  Then you should have heard the yells that went up from the knoll on which our battery stood.  Gunners, drivers, Cubans, correspondents, swung their hats and gave a mighty cheer.  Immediately our battery stopped firing for fear we should hurt our own men, and, dashing down into the valley, hurried across to take up a position near the infantry, who were now firing on Caney from the blockhouse.  The town artillery had not sent half a dozen shots from its new position before the musketry firing ceased, and the Spaniards, broken into small bunches, fled from Caney in the direction of Santiago.

“Laine and I hurried up to the stone fort and found that James Creelman, a Journal correspondent with the infantry column, had been seriously wounded and was lying in the Twelfth Infantry hospital.  Our men were still firing an occasional shot, and from blockhouses and isolated trenches, from which the Spaniards could not safely retreat, flags of truce were waving.

“Guns and side-arms were being taken away from such Spaniards as had outlived the pitiless fire, and their dead were being dumped without ceremony into the trenches, after the Spanish fashion.

“When I left the fort to hunt for Creelman, I found him, bloody and bandaged, lying on his back on a blanket on the ground, but shown all care and attention that kindly and skilful surgeons could give him.  His first words to me were that he was afraid he could not write much of a story, as he was pretty well dazed, but if I would write for him he would dictate the best he could.  I sat down among the wounded, and Creelman told me his story of the fight.  Here it is: 

“’The extraordinary thing in this fight of all the fights I have seen, is the enormous amount of ammunition fired.  There was a continuous roar of musketry from four o’clock in the morning until four in the afternoon.

“’Chaffee’s brigade began the fight by moving along the extreme right, with Ludlow down in the low country to the left of Caney.  General Chaffee’s brigade consisted of the Seventeenth, Seventh, and Twelfth Infantry, and was without artillery.  It occupied the extreme right.

“’The formation was like two sides of an equilateral triangle, Ludlow to the south, and Chaffee to the east.

“’Ludlow began firing through the brush, and we could see through the palm-trees and tangle of bushes the brown and blue figures of our soldiers in a line a mile long, stealing from tree to tree, bush to bush, firing as they went.

“’Up here on the heights General Chaffee, facing Caney, moved his troops very early in the morning, and the battle opened by Ludlow’s artillery firing on the fort and knocking several holes in it.

“’The artillery kept up a steady fire on the fort and town, and finally demolished the fort.  Several times the Spaniards were driven from it, but each time they returned before our infantry could approach it.

“’Our artillery had but four small guns, and, though they fired with great accuracy, it was ten hours before they finally reduced the stone fort on the hill and enabled our infantry to take possession.

“’The Twelfth Infantry constituted the left of our attack, the Seventeenth held the right, while the Seventh, made up largely of recruits, occupied the centre.

“’The Spanish fired from loopholes in the stone houses of the town, and, furthermore, were massed in trenches on the east side of the fort.  They fought like devils.

“’From all the ridges round about the stream of fire was kept up on Chaffee’s men, who were kept wondering how they were being wounded.  For a time they thought General Ludlow’s men were on the opposite side of the fort and were firing over it.

“’The fact was the fire came from heavy breastworks on the northwest corner of Caney, where the principal Spanish force lay, with their hats on sticks to deceive our riflemen.  From this position the enemy poured in a fearful fire.  The Seventeenth had to lie down flat under the pounding, but even then men were killed.

“’General Chaffee dashed about with his hat on the back of his head like a magnificent cowboy, urging his men on, crying to them to get in and help their country win a victory.  Smokeless powder makes it impossible to locate the enemy, and you wonder where the fire comes from.  When you stand up to see you get a bullet.

“’We finally located the trenches, and could see the officers moving about urging their men.  The enemy was making a turning movement to the right.  To turn the left of the Spanish position it was necessary to get a blockhouse, which held the right of our line.  General Chaffee detailed Captain Clark to approach and occupy this blockhouse as soon as the artillery had sufficiently harried its Spanish defenders.

“’Clark and Captain Haskell started up the slope.  I told them I had been on the ridge and knew the condition of affairs, so I would show them the way.

“’We pushed right up to the trench around the fort, and, getting out our wire-cutters, severed the barbed wire in front of it.  I jumped over the severed strand and got into the trench.

“’It was a horrible, blood-splashed thing, and an inferno of agony.  Many men lay dead, with gleaming teeth, and hands clutching their throats.  Others were crawling there alive.

“’I shouted to the survivors to surrender, and they held up their hands.

“’Then I ran into the fort and found there a Spanish officer and four men alive, while seven lay dead in one room.  The whole floor ran with blood.  Blood splashed all the walls.  It was a perfect hog-pen of butchery.

“’Three poor wretches put their hands together in supplication.  One had a white handkerchief tied on a stick.  This he lifted and moved toward me.  The other held up his hands, while the third began to pray and plead.

“’I took the guns from all three and threw them outside the fort.  Then I called some of our men and put them in charge of the prisoners.

“’I then got out of the fort, ran around to the other side, and secured the Spanish flag.  I displayed it to our troops, and they cheered lustily.

“’Just as I turned to speak to Captain Haskell I was struck by a bullet from the trenches on the Spanish side.’”

Before five o’clock, on the morning of July 2d, the crew of the flag-ship New York was astir, eating a hurried breakfast.

At 5.50 general quarters was sounded, and the flag-ship headed in toward Aguadores, about three miles east of Morro Castle.  The other ships retained their blockading stations.  Along the surf-beaten shore the smoke of an approaching train from Altares was seen.  It was composed of open cars full of General Duffield’s troops.

At a cutting a mile east of Aguadores the train stopped, and the Cuban scouts proceeded along the railroad track.  The troops got out of the cars, and soon formed in a long, thin line, standing out vividly against the yellow rocks that rose perpendicularly above, shutting them off from the main body of the army, which was on the other side of the hill, several miles north.

From the quarter of the flag-ship there was a signal, by a vigorously wigwagged letter, and a few minutes later, from a clump of green at the water’s edge, came an answer from the army.  This was the first cooeperation for offensive purposes between the army and navy.  The landing of the army at Daiquiri and Altares was purely a naval affair.

With the flag in his hand, the soldier ashore looked like a butterfly.

“Are you waiting for us to begin?” was the signal made by Rear-Admiral Sampson to the army.

“General Duffield is ahead with the scouts,” came the answer from the shore to the flag-ship.

By this time it was seven A. M. The admiral ran the flag-ship’s bow within three-quarters of a mile of the beach.  She remained almost as near during the forenoon, and the daring way she was handled by Captain Chadwick, within sound of the breakers, made the Cuban pilot on board stare with astonishment.

The Suwanee was in company with the flag-ship, still closer inshore, and the Gloucester was to the westward, near Morro Castle.  From the southward the Newark came up and took a position to the westward.  Her decks were black with fifteen hundred or more troops.

She went alongside of the flag-ship, and was told to disembark the troops at Altares.

Then Admiral Sampson signalled to General Duffield: 

“When do you want us to commence firing?”

In a little while a white flag on shore sent back the answer: 

“When the rest of the command arrives; then I will signal you.”

It was a long and tedious wait for the ships before the second fifty car-loads of troops came puffing along from Altares.

By 9.30 the last of the soldiers had left the open railroad tracks, disappearing in the thick brush that covered the eastern side of Aguadores inlet.

The water in the sponge tubes under the breeches of the big guns was growing hot in the burning sun.

Ashore there was no sign of the Spaniards.  They were believed to be on the western bluff.

Between the bluffs ran a rocky gully, leading into Santiago City.  On the extremity of the western arm was an old castellated fort, from which the Spanish flag was flying, and on the parapet on the eastern hill, commanding the gully, two stretches of red earth could easily be seen against the brush.  These were the rifle-pits.

At 10.15 a signal-flag ashore wigwagged to Admiral Sampson to commence firing, and a minute later the New York’s guns blazed away at the rifle-pits and at the old fort.

The Suwanee and Gloucester joined in the firing.

Of our troops ashore in the brush nothing could be seen, but the ping, ping, of the small arms of the army floated out to sea during the occasional lull in the firing of the big guns, which peppered the rifle-pits until clouds of red earth rose above them.

An 8-inch shell from the Newark dropped in the massive old fort, and clouds of white dust and huge stones filled the air.  When the small shells hit its battlements, almost hidden by green creepers, fragments of masonry came tumbling down.  A shot from the Suwanee hit the eastern parapet, and it crumbled away.  Amid the smoke and debris, the flagstaff was seen to fall forward.

“The flag has been shot down!” shouted the ship’s crew, but, when the smoke cleared away, the emblem of Spain was seen to be still flying and blazing brilliantly in the sun, though the flagstaff was bending toward the earth.

A few more shots from the Suwanee levelled the battlements until the old castle was a pitiful sight.

When the firing ceased, Lieutenant Delehanty of the Suwanee was anxious to finish his work, so he signalled to the New York, asking permission to knock down the Spanish flag.

“Yes,” replied Admiral Sampson, “if you can do it in three shots.”

The Suwanee then lay about sixteen hundred yards from the old fort.  She took her time.  Lieutenant Blue carefully aimed the 4-inch gun, and the crews of all the ships watched the incident amid intense excitement.

When the smoke of the Suwanee’s first shot cleared away, only two red streamers of the flag were left.  The shell had gone through the centre of the bunting.

A delighted yell broke from the crew of the Suwanee.

Two or three minutes later the Suwanee fired again, and a huge cloud of debris rose from the base of the flagstaff.

For a few seconds it was impossible to tell what had been the effect of the shot.  Then it was seen that the shell had only added to the ruin of the fort.

The flagstaff seemed to have a charmed existence, and the Suwanee only had one charge left.  It seemed hardly possible for her to achieve her object with the big gun, such a distance, and such a tiny target.

There was breathless silence among the watching crews.  They crowded on the ships’ decks, and all eyes were on that tattered flag, bending toward the top of what had once been a grand old castle.  But it was only bending, not yet down.  Lieutenant-Commander Delehanty and Lieutenant Blue took their time.  The Suwanee changed her position slightly.

Then a puff of smoke shot out from her side, up went a shooting cloud of debris from the parapet, and down fell the banner of Spain.

Such yells from the flag-ship will probably never be heard again.  There was more excitement than witnessed at the finish of a college boat-race, or a popular race between first-class thoroughbreds on some big track.

The Suwanee’s last shot had struck right at the base of the flagstaff, and had blown it clear of the wreckage, which had held it from finishing its fall.

“Well done!” signalled Admiral Sampson to Lieutenant-Commander Delehanty.

At 11.30 General Duffield signalled that his scouts reported that no damage had been done to the Spanish rifle-pits by the shells from the ships, and Admiral Sampson told him they had been hit several times, but that there was no one in the pits.  However, the Suwanee was ordered to fire a few more shots in their direction.

At 12.18 P. M. the New York having discontinued fire at Aguadores, commenced firing 8-inch shells clear over the gully into the city of Santiago de Cuba.  Every five minutes the shells went roaring over the hillside.  What destruction they wrought it was impossible to tell, as the smoke hid everything.  In reply to General Duffield’s question: 

“What is the news?”

Admiral Sampson replied: 

“There is not a Spaniard left in the rifle-pits.”

Later General Duffield signalled that his scouts thought reinforcements were marching to the battered old fort, and Admiral Sampson wigwagged him: 

“There is no Spaniard left there.  If any come the Gloucester will take care of them.”

A little later the Oregon joined the New York intending 8-inch shells into the city of Santiago.  This was kept up until 1.40 P. M. By that time General Duffield had sent a message saying that his troops could not cross the stream, but would return to Altares.

On the report that some Spanish troops were still in the gully, the New York and Gloucester shelled it once more, and Newark, which had not fired, signalled: 

“Can I fire for target practice?  Have had no previous opportunity.”

Permission for her to do so was signalled, and she blazed away, shooting well, her 6-inch shells exploding with remarkable force among the rocks.

At 2.40 P. M. Admiral Sampson hoisted the signal to cease firing, and the flag-ship returned to the blockading station.

On the railroad a train-load of troops had already left for Altares.

Mr. A. Maurice Low, of the Boston Globe, thus relates his personal experience: 

“When the fighting ceased on Friday evening, July 1st, every man was physically spent, and needed food and rest more than anything else.  For a majority of the troops there was a chance to cook bacon and make coffee; for the men of the hospital corps, the work of the day was commencing.  At convenient points hospitals were established, and men from every company were sent out to search the battle-ground for the dead and wounded.

“It is the men of the hospital corps who have the ghastly side of war.  There is never any popular glory for them; there is no passion of excitement to sustain them.  The emotion of battle keeps a man up under fire.  Something in the air makes even a coward brave.  But all that is wanting when the surgeons go into action.

“Men come staggering into the hospital with blood dripping from their wounds; squads of four follow one another rapidly, bearing stretchers and blankets, on which are limp, motionless, groaning forms.

“To those of us at home who are in the habit of seeing our sick and injured treated with the utmost consideration and delicacy, who see the poor and outcast and criminal put into clean beds and surrounded with luxuries, the way in which the wounded on a battle-field are disposed of seems barbarous in the extreme.  Of course it is unavoidable, but it is nevertheless horrible.

“As soon as men were brought in they were at once taken off the litters and placed on the bare ground.  Time was too precious, and there were too many men needing attention for a soldier to monopolise a stretcher until the surgeon could reach him.

“There was no shelter.  The men lay on the bare ground with the sun streaming down on them, many of them suffering the greatest agony, and yet very few giving utterance to a groan.  Where I watched operations for a time there was only one surgeon, who took every man in his turn, and necessarily had to make many of them wait a long time.

“And yet these men were much more fortunate than many others, some of whom lay on the battle-field for twenty-four hours before they were found.  There was no chloroform; very little of anything to numb pain.  Painful gunshot wounds were dressed hastily, almost roughly, until ambulances could be sent out to take the men to the divisional hospitals in the rear.

“It is claimed that the hospital arrangements were inadequate, and that many regiments went into action without a surgeon.  From what I saw I think the criticism to be justified.  Naturally the wounded were taken care of first, - the last duties to the dead could be performed later.

“It was ghastly as one moved over the battle-field to come across an upturned face lying in a pool of blood, to see what was once a man, bent, and twisted, and doubled.  And still more horrible was it as the moonlight fell over the field, and at unexpected places one ran against this fruit of war and saw faces in the pallor of death made even more ghostlike by the light, while the inevitable sea of crimson stood out in more startling vividness by the contrast.

“We had won the battle, but our position was a somewhat precarious one.

“Our line was long and thin, and there was a danger of the Spaniards breaking through and attacking us in the rear or left flank.  To guard against this possibility, Lawton’s division at El Caney was ordered to move on to El Pozo, and Kent’s division was under orders to draw in its left.  The men who had fought at El Caney were hoping to be allowed to sleep on the battle-field and obtain the rest which they so badly needed, but after supper they were placed under arms and the march commenced.

“The Seventh U. S. Infantry led.  It was a weird march.  Immediately after leaving El Caney we crossed an open field, a skirmish line was thrown out, and the men were commanded to maintain absolute silence.  We were in the heart of the enemy’s country, and caution was necessary.

“After crossing this field we came to a deep gully through which ran a swift stream almost knee-deep.  Our way led across this stream, and there was only one means of getting over.  That was to plunge in and splash through.  Tired as we all were, after getting thoroughly wet our feet felt like lead, and marching was perfect torture.  Still there was no let-up.

“We pressed steadily forward until we came to where the road forked off.  Our directions had not been very explicit, we had no maps, and our commander took the road which he thought was the right one.  It soon led between high banks of dense growth of chaparral on either side.  The moon had disappeared behind the clouds, and had the Spaniards wanted to ambuscade us we were at their mercy.

“I will not say that we were nervous, exactly, but I think we would all rather have been out of that lane.  The fear that your enemy may be crouching behind bushes, that you know nothing of his presence until he pours a rifle fire into you, is rather trying on the nerves.

“The command was frequently halted for the officers to consult, and after we had gone about a mile they concluded they were on the wrong road, and went to the right about.  When we came out where we had started we found Brigadier-General Chaffee sitting silent on a big horse and watching a seemingly never-ending line of men marching past him.  We fell into position and pushed on the road to Santiago.

“How long we marched that night I cannot tell.  It seemed interminable.  My watch had run down and no one around me had the time.  Finally we were ordered to halt, and the men were told to stack arms, take off their packs, and rest.

“I dropped my blanket roll, which seemed to me weighed not less than two hundred pounds, on the muddy road, and sat down to rest.  The next thing I knew some one tapped me on the shoulder.  It was three o’clock, and I had been asleep for some hours.  The regiment was again under arms, and was receiving ammunition from a pack-train which had come up from the rear.  We pressed on until early dawn, when we were well in front of Santiago.  Entrenchments were hastily thrown up, and we were ready for the enemy.  The enemy did not give us much time for rest.  They made an assault upon our position early in the morning, which we repulsed....

“While the Spaniards were unable to dislodge us, they succeeded in forcing our artillery back, which had taken a position that subjected it to a withering infantry fire.  Later in the day this position was recovered and entrenchments thrown up, which, it was claimed, made the position impregnable.  The guns were so placed they could do tremendous destruction.

“There was a lull that afternoon, but in the evening the Spaniards opened up an attack along our entire line, with the intention, evidently, of taking us by surprise and rushing us out of our entrenchments.  But their purpose was a failure.”

General Lawton, in his report after the assault upon and the capture of El Caney by his division during the first day’s fighting, says: 

“It may not be out of place to call attention to this peculiar phase of the battle.

“It was fought against an enemy fortified and entrenched within a compact town of stone and concrete houses, some with walls several feet thick, and supported by a number of covered solid stone forts, and the enemy continued to resist until nearly every man was killed or wounded, with a seemingly desperate resolution.”

It was Sergeant McKinnery, of Company B, Ninth Infantry, who shot and disabled General Linares, the commander of the Spanish forces in Santiago.  The Spanish general was hit about an hour after San Juan Hill was taken, during the first day’s fighting.  The American saw a Spaniard, evidently a general officer, followed by his staff, riding frantically about the Spanish position, rallying his men.

Sergeant McKinnery asked Lieutenant Wiser’s permission to try a shot at the officer, and greatly regretted to find the request refused.  Major Bole was consulted.  He acquiesced, with the injunction that no one else should fire.  Sergeant McKinnery slipped a shell into his rifle, adjusted the sights for one thousand yards, and fired.  The shell fell short.  Then he put in another, raised the sights for another one thousand yards, took careful aim, and let her go.  The officer on the white horse threw up his arms and fell forward.

“That is for Corporal Joyce,” said McKinnery as he saw that his ball had reached the mark.  The officer on the white horse was General Linares himself.  It was afterward learned that he was shot in the left shoulder.  He immediately relinquished the command to General Toral.

On the evening of July 3d, General Shafter sent the following cablegram to the War Department: 


“To-night my lines completely surrounded the town from beyond the north of the city to point of San Juan River on the south.  The enemy holds from west bend San Juan River at its mouth up the railroad to the city.  General Pando, I find to-night, is some distance away, and will not get into Santiago.

(Signed) “SHAFTER.”

July 4th Secretary Alger received the communication given below: 


“The following is my demand for the surrender of the city of Santiago: 

                                                               A. M.


“’Sir: - I shall be obliged, unless you surrender, to shell Santiago de Cuba.  Please inform the citizens of foreign countries and all women and children that they should leave the city before ten o’clock to-morrow morning.  Very respectfully,

“’Your obedient servant,
“‘Major-General, U. S. A.

“Following is the Spanish reply which Colonel Dorst has returned at 6.30 P. M.: 

“’SANTIAGO DE CUBA, 2 P. M., July 3, 1898.


“’Sir: - I have the honour to reply to your communication of to-day, written at 8.30 A. M. and received at 1 P. M., demanding the surrender of this city; on the contrary case announcing to me that you will bombard this city, and that I advise the foreigners, women, and children that they must leave the city before ten o’clock to-morrow morning.  It is my duty to say to you that this city will not surrender, and that I will inform the foreign consuls and inhabitants of the contents of your message.

“’Very respectfully,
“‘Commander-in-chief, Fourth Corps.

“The British, Portuguese, Chinese, and Norwegian consuls have come to my line with Colonel Dorst.  They ask if non-combatants can occupy the town of Caney and railroad points, and ask until ten o’clock of fifth instant before city is fired on.  They claim that there are between fifteen thousand and twenty thousand people, many of them old, who will leave.  They ask if I can supply them with food, which I cannot do for want of transportation to Caney, which is fifteen miles from my landing.  The following is my reply: 

“’Santiago de Cuba.

“’Sir: - In consideration of the request of the consuls and officers in your city for delay in carrying out my intention to fire on the city, and in the interest of the poor women and children, who will suffer very greatly by their hasty and enforced departure from the city, I have the honour to announce that I will delay such action solely in their interest until noon of the fifth, providing, during the interval, your forces make no demonstration whatever upon those of my own.  I am, with great respect,

“’Your obedient servant,
“‘Major-General U. S. A.

(Signed) “SHAFTER,
Major-General Commanding.”