The forts at Santiago received a terrible punishment, if they were not destroyed, and one of Admiral Cervera's ships, the Maria Teresa, was considerably damaged by shells that went over the forts into the harbor. There were several other warships in the harbor besides those that came with Admiral Cervera. The Reina Mercedes was nearly destroyed by the shells from our ships. Our old friend, the Oregon, sent a big shell over the hills that swept nearly everything off her decks. Other shots riddled her hull and sank her.
The Santiago fortifications were bombarded a number of times and some splendid shots were made. There was a battery to the west of the harbor that fired more accurately than the others, and so the Texas got the range and dropped a shell into the powder magazine one day. Everything about that battery seemed to be in the air at once when that shell exploded. Nothing was left of it but a pile of ruins and a big hole in the ground.
There is a ship in the United States navy that is unlike any other in the world. She has three long guns which are built into the ship and do not turn to one side or the other. The whole ship has to be pointed at the object which the gunners wish to hit. She does not fire shells loaded with powder, as other warships do, but uses a long shell filled with gun-cotton, or dynamite, both of which are deadly explosives. When one of these shells strikes anything the effect is terrible. The Vesuvius, for that is the name of this ship, fired several of these shells over the fortifications at Santiago, in the direction where the Spanish fleet was lying. She did not hit any of them, but she tore great holes in the sand and rocks near by. It is said that the Spaniards called the Vesuvius "The Hurler of Earthquakes" because of the damage her shells did. The guns of the Vesuvius are really firing tubes. No powder is used in them, compressed air being the power that expels the shells. Very little noise is made, and there is no smoke.
If one small shell should strike the Vesuvius it would send men and boat to the bottom at once, because she has so much deadly gun-cotton on board. Her crew is almost afraid to move.
"Why, I'm afraid to even snore in my sleep," said one of them, "for fear I'll discharge the gun-cotton; and as for kicking in my sleep—why, I'm as quiet as a drugged snake."
"We slide along," said another; "we're afraid to walk at first. I went on tiptoe for the first three days."
"Well, I went on my hands and knees the day it was so rough," said a third. "A fellow has to learn to walk on any part of his anatomy in this ship when the sea is rough."
The Vesuvius has been described as a ship which fights and then runs away. That is, she fires three shells and then takes herself out of the range of an enemy's fire.
I think this is a good place to tell you about a few more of the odd ships that belong to Uncle Sam's navy, for no nation beside ours has anything like them.
The Katahdin is an armored ram which relies upon her sharp prow to disable an adversary. Her armament is only four six-pounder rapid-fire guns.
Then there is a fleet of vessels whose duty it is to repair the damages that ships receive in battle, supply fuel and water to fighting ships, and to care for the wounded. All of these are novel additions to the navy, but are practical auxiliaries in modern naval operations.
The Vulcan is one of the repair ships. It is, in fact, a navigable machine shop, fitted with steam tools for executing any work in metal. It carries duplicates of nearly every article belonging to a modern warship; and when you understand that some of these contain nearly seventy sets of engines, you can easily see the advantage of having a repair ship attached to a fleet.
Then there are the refrigerating ships, or "pantries," as the sailors call them. Their mission is to assist in feeding the navy. They are most valuable additions to a fleet, for they supply fresh meat and vegetables to improve "Jack's" diet of "salt horse."
Next come the ships that supply fresh water to the crews of our warships. These are fitted up with distilling apparatus, which converts salt water into fresh. The Iris, as one of these is named, belongs to the "sweet water squadron." The water consumption of a vessel is enormous. A battleship will use seven thousand gallons every day, which gives you an idea of the work such vessels as the Iris have to perform.
Now we come to such ships as the Solace and the Relief. These are hospital ships, and are provided with every appliance and convenience to be found in a modern hospital, including X-ray outfits to aid in locating bullets, a microscopic department, and a carbonator for supplying mineral waters. The hull of the Solace is painted white, with a wide stripe of green along the sides, and, as befits her mission, carries no guns or weapons of any kind. Hospital ships fly the "Red Cross" flag from their mastheads.
Our ships could guard Santiago and fire at the forts, but our naval officers had good reasons for thinking that they could not take the city unless our soldiers were on shore to help in different ways. Our ships could not go safely into the harbor till the "mines" under the water had been removed; the "mines" could not be removed till the forts on the cliffs had been taken. So now the time had come for our soldiers to go to Cuba.
OUR ARMY GOES TO CUBA.
Our soldiers—thousands of "Regulars" and thousands and thousands of "Volunteers"—were waiting in camps in the eastern and southern parts of the United States, in order to be ready to start for Cuba at short notice. Thousands of them were never ordered to go, but stayed in camp during all the war. Still, they were ready to go if needed.
About the middle of June more than 16,000 soldiers, under General Shafter, sailed from Tampa, on the west coast of Florida, for the southeastern shore of Cuba. It was hard work to ship so many men, and 2,000 horses and mules, and food, and all the things needed for war. It took one week to load the ships. How many ships were needed for this big "excursion party"? Thirty-four. Do you think our soldiers had a pleasant voyage? They had not. They were crowded together, the weather was very hot, some of the vessels were old and slow, and it was six days before our Army drew near our Navy at Santiago, and waited till plans were made for further movements.
Perhaps you are wondering where the Cubans were all this time, and what they were doing. As our country was trying to help them, did not the Cubans now come forward to join our forces? Yes. Several times brave Americans had made their way in secret to distant parts of Cuba, had met the Cuban generals, had talked with them, and brought back messages. And now Admiral Sampson came out in a small boat to meet our soldiers, and he took General Shafter on shore, a few miles west of Santiago, to hold an important council with a number of Cuban generals. The Cuban generals, chief of whom were General Garcia and General Rabi, told our officers a good deal about the country, the roads, etc., and planned to unite the Cuban troops with ours.
When General Shafter returned, he ordered the soldiers to sail on fifteen miles beyond Santiago, to a point called Daiquiri. This was their landing-place. It was harder to land in Cuba than it had been to leave Florida. Admiral Sampson sent some of his ships to fire upon the shore and drive away the Spaniards, and he also sent small boats to take our soldiers from the ships to the land. There were not boats enough, so the landing was slow work. There was great trouble in getting the horses and mules to swim ashore. But it takes less time to unpack than to pack, and after four days our Army was on shore.
Our men were in a rough part of the country. Steep hills were everywhere, the valleys were narrow, the roads were more like ditches. Thick underbrush, prickly bushes and tall grasses grew in many places. A number of men were set to work making roads, so that the wagons with the army supplies could push on. It was the wet season, and rain fell every day. Sometimes the streams would rise quickly and flood the new roads. When the rain was not falling the air was hot, and a steam seemed to rise from the ground. It seemed as if our men had no chance at all.
Spanish soldiers had been sent out from Santiago, and were now busy building log forts on hills a few miles from our camps, and piling up stones and branches of trees to make mounds, and putting up fences of barbed wire. In such places of shelter the Spaniards waited for our troops to march forward.
You must understand that the city that our troops wanted to reach was Santiago, but between them and it lay this rough country, where marching would be so hard, and where the Spaniards had forts on some of the hilltops.
THE BATTLE OF LAS GUASIMAS.
A Number of our officers thought it would be best not to go forward till some roads had been made, so that the army wagons could be sent on; but General Shafter thought it would be best to march on at once. He feared that after a week or ten days in that climate many of our men might have fever and be unfit for service. So, even before all the men had landed, General Shafter ordered the first ones to go forward and drive the Spaniards from a place near Siboney. Thus, some of our troops began their march just after landing from the boats. About two hundred Cuban soldiers went with them, to lead the way and watch for the hiding places of the Spaniards.
The troops reached the place in the evening, but found that the Spaniards had left it and gone about three miles further westward to a stronger fort. Our men rested all night, and before daylight the next morning—Friday, June 24th—they marched on to hunt the enemy.
Now I must tell you something about these soldiers who were going to fight their first battle in Cuba. There were nearly a thousand men; some were "Regulars," others were "Volunteers." They belonged to the Cavalry division of the Army—the soldiers who go on horses. But for this first work in Cuba they had to go on foot, without their horses.
The "Volunteers" numbered about five hundred. They belonged to a regiment called the "Rough Riders," and a strange regiment it was. Most of these men were from the prairies and cattle-ranches in the West; some were "cowboys," some were Indians. The others in the regiment were young men from the East—business men, college men, sons of rich men; all were brave, hardy fellows, fond of out-door life, fond of excitement, not afraid of work. These young men had been trained for the war by a man who was now one of their officers, Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt. He had given up a high position in order to serve his country in this way. People in the United States laughed when this company of "Rough Riders" was formed, and said that the "cowboys" and Indians would not obey orders, and that the others would not stand the hardships of war. But the people in the United States did not laugh after the battle of Las Guasimas.
That June morning it was thought best to separate and march by two roads, meeting near the Spanish fort. The way of the "Rough Riders" led them up steep hills. Thick bushes grew all around, so that the men could hardly see how to go; the sun rose, and the heat was so awful that some of the men dropped down, faint and sick. Suddenly, from among the trees and bushes came bullets, and the men began to fall, wounded and dead. The Spaniards could not be seen at all, and they were using smokeless powder that left no trace in the air. But our men heard the whizz of the bullets, and felt their sting. The "Rough Riders," as they pressed on quickly toward the fort, fired again and again into the bushes. At last they met their comrades, who had come by the other road and who had also had a hard fight, and all now toiled up the hill, firing as they went. The Spaniards had to retreat, and could now be seen by our men. The top of the hill was reached at last, the fort was taken, and the Spaniards fled toward Santiago.
This hard fight, which lasted less than two hours, is called the Battle of Las Guasimas, from the name of the poisonous kind of trees in the thicket where the "Rough Riders" were shot down.
It would require volumes to tell the bravery and heroism of the men who fought the Spaniards at Las Guasimas. Every one entered into it with enthusiasm. All stood their ground while the Spanish bullets were singing around them, and then, when they were allowed to do so, poured volley after volley into the brush in the direction from which the shots came. Colonel Wood walked along his lines as coolly as though on parade. Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt led his men through the brush when the air seemed full of bullets. Captain Capron, the fifth from father to son in the United States army, fell early in the fight, but before he was hit by a Spanish bullet he used his revolver whenever he saw a Spanish head.
Everybody had confidence in their officers and in themselves. If they were hit they fought on if the hurt was not mortal. If they could not stand, they propped themselves against trees, and kept on firing as the line went forward. Men fought with their arms in slings and with bandaged heads.
Lieutenant Thomas, of Captain Capron's troop, and who was wounded himself during that sweltering June day, tells some interesting stories of the battle. He comes of a fighting family. His father fought in the Civil War, his grandfather was killed in the Mexican War, and three ancestors fell in the war of the Revolution.
"I am sorry that I did not have a chance to see more of the fighting, but what I saw was of the warmest kind. On the 24th of June I was with Troop L, under Captain Capron. We formed the advance guard, and went out on a narrow trail toward Siboney. On the way we met some of the men of the Twenty-second Infantry, who told us we were close to the enemy, as they had heard them at work during the night. Captain Capron, with six men, had gone on ahead of us and had come across the body of a dead Cuban. Ten or fifteen minutes later Private Isbell saw a Spaniard in the brush ahead of him and fired. This was the first shot from our troop, and the Spaniard fell dead. Isbell himself was shot seven times that day, but managed to walk back to our field hospital, which was fully four miles in the rear.
"It has been said that we were ambushed, but this is not so. Poor Captain Capron received his death wound early in the fight, and while he was lying on the ground dying, he said: 'Let me see it out; I want to see it all.' He lived an hour and fifteen minutes after the bullet struck him, and up to the moment he fell had acted fearlessly, and had exposed himself all the time to the enemy's fire.
"I was then next in command of the troop, and I noticed that some of our men lay too closely together as they were deploying. I went down the line ordering them to their proper distances, and as I passed along, poor Hamilton Fish was lying, mortally wounded, a few feet from me. When he heard my voice, Fish raised himself on his elbow and said: 'I am wounded; I am wounded.' That was the last I saw of him in life. He was very brave and was very popular among the men of the troops.
"Sergeant Joe Kline, of Troop L, was wounded early that day, and was ordered to the rear with several other wounded men. On his way to the rear, Kline discovered a Spanish sharpshooter in a tree and shot at him. The Spaniard fell dead, and Kline picked up a silver-mounted revolver, which fell from the man's clothes, as a souvenir, which he highly prizes. Several of the Spanish sharpshooters had picked up cast-off clothing of the American soldiers, and wore them while they were at their deadly work.
"Sergeant Bell, of our troop, was badly injured from an exploding shell while on the firing line. He was ordered to the rear, but quickly came back again. He was ordered away a second time, but a few minutes later he was at the front again, firing away. For a third time he was sent back, and once more he insisted on going to the front, and when the other men saw him they greeted him with rousing cheers, and he fought till the end of the day, although painfully wounded in the back.
"While lying in the hospital, I heard a young man named Hall, who belonged to the Twenty-second Infantry, tell a story which will illustrate better than anything else the accuracy of the American shooters. He and five other men had crossed a bend in a road to get some water in their canteens. As they got into the open they were attacked by thirty-two Spanish cavalrymen, who cut them up badly with their sabres. Hall was the only one who was not killed. He was badly trampled by the horses, and had some sabre wounds on his body. Later on, Hall was picked up by some comrades to whom he told his story. These men located the Spaniards who had done the work and opened fire on them. When they had ceased firing there were thirty live horses, two dead ones, and thirty-two dead Spaniards. This was pretty good shooting, wasn't it?"
Many heroic deeds were done in the Battle of Las Guasimas, by the "Regulars" as well as by the "Hough Eiders." Suffering was bravely borne. Sixteen of our men were killed, and more than fifty wounded. Yet all our troops took heart from the victory of that day, and began to think it would be easy to go on driving the Spaniards back to Santiago, and then to take that city. But it did not prove to be easy.
There is a little railroad which runs from some mines near Santiago to the pier at Daiquiri. Before the landing was made, the Spaniards were driven from the coast by the shells of the American fleet. Before they hurried away they attempted to disable a locomotive which had steam up. They took off the connecting rods, throttle gear and other important parts of the machinery and hid them behind fences and other places where they thought they would not be found. Then they blocked the piston guides and ran off. But there were plenty of engineers and mechanics among the American soldiers, and when they saw the condition the locomotive was in they started to search for the missing parts. Most of these were found and the machinery was cleverly patched up. Then they knocked the blocks of wood out of the slides and threw fresh coal into the firebox, and in a very short time the locomotive was pulling a train of ore cars loaded with soldiers.
EL CANEY AND SAN JUAN.
For a few days after the battle of Las Guasimas no great event took place. There was no fighting. The other troops were making their way up from the coast, but the roads were so narrow and so bad that progress was slow. The army wagons had great trouble to get on, and many supplies were left at the coast or on the boats, because there was no proper way of taking them forward. The heavy cannon were hauled a few miles from the coast and then most of them were left, though they would have been a great help to our Army, and should have been taken to the front. It was soon found that many of the doctors' supplies—the things needed in taking care of the sick and wounded—had not been taken off the ships that brought the men from Florida. It was thought by some of our men that now more effort should be made to clear roads through the woods and thick bushes, but not much was done. A great deal of fault has been found with the way things were managed at this time. It seems as if some of the officers were very much to blame. There need not have been so many men killed in the battles that followed, or so much suffering and sickness in our Army, if all our officers had done their duty. Meanwhile, the Spaniards went on improving their forts on the hills a few miles away.
Nearly two thousand more of our soldiers landed in Cuba about this time, and more were expected soon.
But I must tell you about another Army that arrived in this part of Cuba during these days—a very small one beside General Shafter's Army, but one that did mighty work. Have you ever heard of the Red Cross Society? This is a society that nurses the sick and wounded. It has members in all parts of the world. Its chief officer is Miss Clara Barton, whose work has been so great and noble that it has made the whole world better. The badge, or flag of the Red Cross Army is a red cross on a white ground.
The Red Cross Army takes no part in war except to help those who need help. It does not know the difference between friend and foe. Its work is a work of love and mercy. No soldiers with any honor would ever fire upon a tent that has the Red Cross flag floating over it, or harm any person wearing the Red Cross badge. Yet, to the awful disgrace of the Spaniards, it is known that some of them, hidden in trees and bushes, fired upon doctors and nurses who were taking care of the wounded on the battlefields near Santiago.
This was the new Army, whose soldiers wear the sign of the Red Cross, that reached this part of Cuba now, and put up a large tent. In this tent all help that could be given was given, to Spaniards, Cubans and Americans. There were also "floating hospitals"—ships fitted up as hospitals. They proved to be great blessings to our Army and Navy.
You will remember that the Red Cross Society took great quantities of supplies to the suffering Cubans in the early part of 1898. Its work in Cuba was just well-established when hostilities broke out between the United States and Spain, and while the members who were on the ground wanted to stay and carry on the work of relief, General Blanco told them it was best for them to leave the island. They did so reluctantly, after doing all they could to insure the proper distribution of the supplies they left behind them. The result was that the food and medicines intended for the Cubans were used to sustain the Spanish army.
When the blockade of Cuban ports was instituted, the Red Cross Society was asked by the Government to take charge of the steamship State of Texas which had been loaded with provisions, clothing, medical and hospital supplies by the generous people of the United States. Miss Clara Barton instantly responded, but the ship was not allowed to go to Cuba under a flag of truce, because Acting Rear-Admiral Sampson would not allow it. He said he was afraid the supplies would fall into the hands of the Spanish army. But the Red Cross Society would not give up its errand of mercy, and when the United States army invaded Cuba, the State of Texas followed the transports and so got to Cuba after all, and anchored at a little place called Siboney, where the nurses immediately began to care for the wounded on the hospital ship Solace.
There had been so much mismanagement about the landing of the troops and the supplies, that General Shafter's army was without medicines or shelter for his wounded men. When he learned that the Red Cross ship had arrived, he sent word to Miss Barton to seize any empty army wagons and send him a load of hospital supplies and medical stores. She did this, although there were no boats obtainable to convey the supplies to the shore. There were only two old scows which had been thrown away as useless, but the Red Cross men patched them up as best they could, and then loaded them with the material asked for. They worked all night, and just as the sun rose in the morning, they managed to get them to the shore. It was the hardest kind of work unloading the scows in the surf, but they did it, and loaded some wagons with the precious supplies. Then the women nurses, who had been drenched to the skin in the surf, mounted on top of the load and started on a terrible ride over a roadless country. They reached the army, and the whole world knows the splendid work they did there. It was no fault of the surgeon-general of the United States that they were able to accomplish it, though, for he was opposed to female nurses and his action sadly hampered the work.
But now I must tell you about the next hard work that our soldiers had to do. On the last day of June, General Shafter gave orders that the whole Army was to move on toward Santiago the next day. General Shafter was sick, and stayed at headquarters in his tent, two miles away. Before Santiago could be reached, El Caney and San Juan had to be taken. So, on the first of July, early in the morning, six thousand of our troops, under brave officers, marched to attack El Caney. General Shafter thought this place could be taken in about an hour.
The town of El Caney, four miles northeast of Santiago, lies in a broad valley. Beyond it, on the Santiago side, is a high, level piece of country. The houses in the town are built of stone, and have thick walls. The town was protected by a stone fort on a hill, and also by log forts, trenches, and covered places, where the Spaniards could stay under shelter while they fired. The stone fort on the hill was first attacked by our men, and if they had had more heavy cannon the work might have been easy. As it was, more than half the day passed, and, in spite of the hard work of our men, the fort still stood. Our men had no smokeless powder, and their firing made a big black cloud around them all the time, so that they could not see clearly. At last the stone walls of the fort began to weaken, and then our men were ordered to "storm." They ran along the valley, broke through fences of barbed wire, and went up the hill with such a rush that the Spaniards could not meet them, but fled down into the town. The other forts kept up firing for a while, but our men, now having the fort on the hill, forced the Spaniards farther and farther, and, by four o'clock, our men held the town. The whole place was strewn with dead Spaniards, and our own loss was heavy. Both sides had fought bravely, and the struggle had lasted nearly nine hours.
At El Caney the Spaniards made the strongest resistance that the American army met in Cuba. One of the foremost figures in this battle was Brigadier-General Henry W. Lawton. I must tell you something about him. Lawton was but seventeen years old when the Civil War in this country broke out. He enlisted at once and was made a sergeant in an Indiana regiment. When his term of service expired he re-enlisted and fought gallantly throughout the remainder of the war. After the war was over Lawton enlisted in the regular army and was sent to the frontier, where he developed into one of the best Indian fighters in the army. When our country went to war with Spain, Lawton was holding an important position in the War Department at Washington. His splendid services were remembered and he was promoted to be a brigadier-general of volunteers and sent to Cuba. After the war with Spain was over, Lawton was again promoted, and in 1899 was sent to the Philippines to assist in putting down the Filipino insurrection.
Meanwhile, our other regiments had been ordered to attack San Juan, a village on steep heights, less than a mile east of Santiago. Our men went to the place by two different roads, and had to go through woods, wade through streams, and wind along narrow paths. A number of men from each regiment went before, with tools, and cut the fences of barbed wire. Fences of barbed wire had been put, like a network, all around Santiago, to keep our men away.
San Juan was protected by trenches and forts, and from these places Spanish bullets rained down upon our men. During the early hours of the morning there was much confusion among our troops. They were looking for further orders from headquarters, but none came. So, at last, the captains and colonels took things into their own hands and did what seemed best. Again there was need of more heavy cannon, and again our men were troubled by having powder that made a thick black smoke. Just as it was at El Caney, so it was at San Juan; not having cannon enough to destroy the forts, our men had to take the place by storm. Colonel Roosevelt led his "Rough Riders" in one of the finest charges ever made. The other troops, nearly all "Regulars," did noble work. With bullets pouring down upon them, our men made a wild rush up the heights, and the Spaniards fled. The struggle to take San Juan had lasted more than five hours, and cost many lives.
Though our men were worn and weary, they took no rest that night. They buried the dead, they repaired the forts and trenches. Our men knew that the Spaniards would try to win back the heights of San Juan, the last stronghold on the outskirts of Santiago.
At daybreak the next morning the Spaniards attacked our troops, and the fighting went on all day. A sharp attack was made in the evening, but our men still held the place. Yet they did not feel secure. The Spanish Army in Santiago was a large one, and might force our men back. Our men, though weary from marching and fighting and digging, hungry, for food was scarce, wanted to hold the heights that had been so dearly won.
The attack upon the Spanish defenses of Santiago began early in the morning of July 1st, as I have told you, and I wish I could tell you the one hundredth part of the brave and gallant deeds that were done by our brave soldiers on that and the next day.
Battery A, of the Second United States Artillery, fired the first shot of the engagement known as the battle of El Caney. The Spaniards replied, after it had sent five shells among them. The Spanish forces were much stronger than our men thought they were, and it took General Lawton nearly all day to gain possession of El Caney. Early in the day, Lieutenant Parker's battery of four Gatling guns began to hurl bullets into the Spanish trenches, and so well did it keep up the work that it played a very important part in the battle and a great deal of the credit of the victory is due to Lieutenant Parker. Afterwards, Lieutenant Parker, in speaking of these wonderful machine guns, said:
"We trained the guns on the top of the hill. They were fired above the heads of the slowly advancing line of blue which had started up the slope. I ordered the men to work the Gatlings as fast as they could. The result was astounding. With each of the four guns firing at the rate of eight hundred shots a minute, the bullets formed a canopy over the heads of the men at the foot of the hill. A Gatling gun in action is a sight to remember; so thick and fast do the bullets fly that one can actually see the stream of lead leaving the gun and, as if handling a hose, train it on any desired point.
"I remember one incident of the first day which showed how deadly was the fire of these machine guns. Away off, across the valley, we saw a clump of Spanish cavalrymen. I ordered the guns turned on them. They were so far away we had to use glasses to find them accurately, but when the little wheels began to turn, those who stood in the front line of the clump fell as grass falls before a mower, and it didn't take the rest of those Spaniards long to get behind something.
"As the day wore on, and the troops kept climbing up the hill, Colonel Roosevelt, who had been watching the work of the Gatlings, came along and placed his light battery of two Colt machine guns and one dynamite gun in my command."
You can get an idea of the deadly work of the Gatlings when I tell you that the fire of one of these guns is equal to that of one hundred and eighty riflemen, each discharging thirteen shots per minute.
The dynamite gun is the latest development in light artillery. One of them had been supplied to Roosevelt's Rough Riders, or "Teddy's Terrors," as they were often called, but none of them wanted to handle it.
They were willing to face Spanish bullets, but they were afraid of the dynamite gun. They thought it was just as dangerous at one end as at the other. It is an odd looking piece of artillery, having two tubes, or barrels, one above the other. It throws a long cartridge or shell, similar in shape, but not so large as those used on the Vesuvius, about which I have told you. One day Sergeant Borrowe volunteered to manage the gun that the rest of the men were afraid of. They let him have it, and he did splendid work with it.
Another famous gun in the fighting before Santiago was gun No. 2, of Captain Capron's battery. Captain Capron was the father of the young man who was killed in the battle of Las Guasimas. No guns did more effective work than his, unless it was Parker's Gatlings, and one shot from this No. 2 is said to have killed sixteen Spaniards at one time. After the battery returned to the United States, Lieutenant Henly, after saying that the battery was in every battle on Cuban soil except that at Las Guasimas, continued:
"We were peculiarly fortunate in escaping the bullets. The only man killed in our battery was a horse—I suppose we can count him as a man. At El Caney, we were directed to support the infantry in an attack on several blockhouses and a stone fort. We were twenty-four hundred yards away and soon got the range. The first shot was fired by Corporal Williams. Corporal Neff fired the shot that brought down the Spanish flag. We pounded a hole in the fort and the infantry went through it."
A young soldier who was wounded at San Juan told this story:
"My company got mixed up in the charge, and I pushed on with the Thirteenth Regulars. When we reached the top of the hill, some of us took shelter in a blockhouse and began firing from there at the opposite hills. There wasn't one of the enemy in sight unless you count dead ones, so we blazed away at nothing at all, for awhile. But they had us dead in range, and it was no dream the way their bullets played around us.
"One of the bravest things I saw in the war happened right here. An officer came up—he was a major of regulars—I don't know his regiment—and he saw that we didn't know what to aim at, and were getting a little rattled. So what did he do but quickly walk out in front of the blockhouse where the bullets were coming thickest, and proceed to study the hills with his field-glass, just as unconcerned as you please. And every now and then he would call to us who were inside, 'Men, sight at eight hundred yards and sweep the grass on the ridge of the hill'; or, again: 'Men, I can see the Spaniards over there; try a thousand-yard range and see if you can't get some of them. Fire low!' I never saw such nerve as that officer had; he'd have stirred courage in everybody."
"Didn't he get hit?" he was asked.
"I'll tell you about that in a minute; but while he was out there shaking hands with death, you might say, I was witness to a little incident in the blockhouse that is worth telling about: A lot of us were in there from different regiments—some from the Thirteenth, some from the Sixteenth, and some colored boys from the Twenty-fourth. We were all blazing away through the firing-openings in the walls.
"Just beside me was a big negro, who didn't seem more than half interested in what he was doing. I saw him pull a dead Spaniard out of the door with a listless movement, and then pick up his rifle as if he thought the whole thing a bore. Suddenly, a bullet came in with a zip along the underside of his gun barrel, glanced against the strap, and took the skin off the negro's knuckles as if they'd been scraped with a knife. And then you should see the change! He wasn't scared—not a bit; but he was mad enough to have charged the whole Spanish army alone. How he did talk—not loud, just quietly to himself—and how he did grab his cartridges and begin to shoot.
"Speaking of cartridges, some of the boys ran short because they had thrown away a lot in their haversacks; but I had put two beltfuls in a pair of socks and pinned them inside my shirt with safety pins, so I had plenty, and I was peppering away from behind a brick chimney, when one of the Thirteenth lads called out to me: 'Come over here, Seventy-one; I've got a fine shot for you.'
"I looked around and saw him standing by a window that was barred with iron, but had no sash to it. He was kneeling on the floor, just showing his head over the sill, and looking at the Spanish line. He was a nice looking lad, not a day over twenty-one, and his face was as smooth as a girl's. 'All right,' said I, going over to him, 'Where's your shot?'
"'There,' said he, pointing to one of the hills: 'nobody's fired at that one yet, but I'm sure the dagos are there. Set your sights at six hundred yards and we'll try it together!'
"So I fixed my sights, and we both fired out of the window with our rifles resting on the ledge. As I drew back I saw there was something queer with the boy, and noticed a splash of red on the lobe of his ear, just like a coral bead.
"'Did they wing you?' I asked. And even as I spoke, he staggered against the wall and turned round so that I saw him full in the face. There was a hole in the other side, just at the cheek bone, that I could have put my finger in. He had been shot clear through the head.
"'Poor chap,' I said, and lifted him over behind the chimney, where I had been. He didn't speak. I left him there and went to the door, thinking that I might see a Red Cross nurse somewhere about, and sure enough, there was one bending over a man stretched on the ground. It was the major who had been giving us the ranges.
"'Is he hurt bad?' I asked.
"The Red Cross man had the major's shirt open, looking at his wound. 'He's shot through the heart,' he said.
"'Can you come in here a minute, when you get through with him? There's a Thirteenth boy just been hit.'
"'In the head.'
"'Hold him by the jowls,' he said, 'until I come,' So I held him by the jowls, and then he spoke for the first time, and what he said was this: 'Say, Seventy-one, I done my duty, didn't I?'
"I told him that he did.
"'I had my face toward 'em when they got me, didn't I?
"'Sure, you did.'
"'Well,' he went on, quite cheerful like, 'I may get through this, and if I do, I'll have another crack at 'em. But if I don't, why I aint got no kick comin', for there'll be others to stay here with me.'
"That was the last I saw of him, for the Red Cross man came in then, and I went back to the firing. He was a game boy, though, wasn't he?"
What would have become of the wounded if the Red Cross nurses had not been on the field to help them, nobody knows, except that thousands of "mothers' boys" were saved, who in a few hours more would have been beyond mortal aid. No wonder bearded men wept like babies and blessed the angels of mercy as they passed. The boys went into the fight hungry, lay for two days in trenches, almost without food; and when they were wounded, were ordered to make their way to the rear as best they could. Men with desperate wounds had to walk or crawl perhaps a mile; perhaps five or six miles, over the wild, rough country, those who were least injured, assisting their comrades, and hundreds dying by the wayside. Had the Red Cross been allowed its way in the beginning, many of these horrors would have been avoided. The few army surgeons did all in their power, but nearly everything they-needed to allay suffering was lacking, and so insufficient was the force that many of the wounded lay for days before their turn came. Men taken from the operating table, perhaps having just had a leg or arm cut off, or with bodies torn by bullets, were laid naked on the rain-soaked ground, without shelter, and in the majority of cases without even blankets. And there they lay through two long days and nights. All honor to the Red Cross Society which finally forced its way to the spot and knew exactly what to do.
Some time after the return of the "Rough Riders" to the United States, Colonel Roosevelt told some interesting experiences:
"I recollect, as I was sitting, I gave a command to one of my orderlies, and he rose up and saluted and fell right forward across my knees dead. The man upon whom I had most to rely—I relied upon all of those gallant men, but the man upon whom I most relied, Buckey O'Neill—was standing up, walking up and down in front of his men, wanting to show them by his example that they must not get nervous, and to reassure them.
"Somebody said, 'Captain—Captain O'Neill! You will be struck by a bullet as sure as fate; lie down! lie down!' and he laughed, and said, 'Why, the Spanish bullet is not made that will kill me!' And the next minute a bullet struck him in the mouth and came out the back of his head and he was killed right there.
"Captain Jenkins crept up beside one of his sharpshooters and said to him, 'I see a Spaniard over in that tree, give me your rifle for a moment.' He fired two or three shots and then turned around and handed the rifle back to the man, and the man was dead—had been killed without making a sign or sound as he stood beside him.
"I was talking to a gallant young officer, asking him questions, and he was answering. I turned around and he had been shot through the stomach."
But General Shafter, still at headquarters some miles away, did not know how the men felt, and thought they ought to retreat to some safer point, and wait for more troops from the United States. Early the next morning—Sunday, July 3d—General Shafter sent a telegram to the War Office at Washington, saying that he thought of withdrawing his forces from the neighborhood of Santiago. An answer was sent to him, asking him to try to hold his present place, and more troops started for Cuba.
Fortunately, there were brave commanders in the American army who did not think as General Shafter did.—They had been doing the fighting, while he hadn't, and they had no idea of giving up an inch of the ground they had gained. One of the most prominent of them was General Joseph Wheeler. He had a splendid record in the Civil War, fighting on the side of the Confederacy. He was a bold and tireless fighter, and before he was thirty years old he was the commander of all the Confederate cavalry. His sabre had flashed in the thickest of many fights and he had led his splendid horsemen in many a furious charge.
When the war with Spain broke out, General Wheeler offered his services to the Government and was sent to Cuba, and when there began to be talk of retreat after those terrible days of fighting before Santiago, the splendid old Confederate counselled holding the army where it was, and fighting the Spaniards again, if necessary. He said, "American prestige would suffer irretrievably if we gave up an inch; we must stand firm!"
The message from General Shafter flew through the United States, and caused great anxiety. It was sad to think that our troops had drawn near the place they had been striving to reach, had had great labor, had borne much suffering, and that now, after all, they might have to retreat because there were not enough of them to finish the work—not enough to take Santiago.
But that very Sunday something took place that changed the whole color of the scene.
THE SPANISH FLEET LEAVES THE HARBOR.
While our Army had been toiling along narrow roads and through dense forests, wading the streams and storming the forts, on the way to Santiago, our Navy had been keeping up its blockade of the harbor. Perhaps I should explain to you that the Merrimac, sunk by Lieutenant Hobson, did not really close the channel, because the Merrimac had not gone down in the right spot on account of the breaking of the rudder. So our vessels still kept a close blockade.
The Spaniards now felt worried. Our Navy was at one side of Santiago, and our Army at the other. The Spaniards in the city thought our Army was larger than it was, and the word passed round that fifty thousand American soldiers were on the hills. Food was scarce in Santiago; there would soon be danger of starvation. In this state of affairs, Admiral Cervera, taking a wild chance for life and liberty, with the hope of being able afterward to help his countrymen, led his fleet out of the harbor.
Sunday morning, July 3d, was clear and beautiful. The cliffs of the harbor, and the old forts, made a fine show under the blue sky. The red and yellow flag of Spain floated, as usual, on top of Morro Castle. Far in the distance the mountain tops showed plainly—a dark line against the sky. The sea was smooth.
Our vessels were in place near the mouth of the harbor, though a few were missing. The Massachusetts and some smaller vessels had gone to Guantanamo for coal; the flagship New York had gone eastward to a place where Admiral Sampson could go ashore, for he wished to arrange plans with General Shafter. Commodore Schley had been left in charge of the fleet, and his flagship was the Brooklyn. It was at the western end of our half-circle of ships.
On Saturday evening, the night before, some of the men on board the Iowa saw a good deal of smoke rising within the harbor, and thought the Spanish ships might be getting ready to rush out. These men spoke to their captain about the smoke, but the captain thought that the Spaniards were only fixing their fires. The smoke seemed to him no thicker than it had often been before. The men on the deck could not help thinking about the smoke, and tried to ease their minds by making ready the signal, so that it could be run up instantly if the Spanish ships started out. But the night passed away, the signal was not needed, and the men concluded that the smoke really had meant nothing. They never dreamed that the Spaniards would come out in daytime. So it seemed likely that the day would pass quietly.
As it was Sunday, not much work was going on. By nine o'clock all the men were dressed in their white clothes, ready for the Sunday morning "inspection." Some of the officers were gloomy, for they had had news about the terrible losses in the Army during the last two days.
Suddenly, about half past nine, shouts are heard on some of the ships, and the signal flies up on the Iowa: "Enemy's ships are coming out," and a gun is fired from the Iowa, to attract the notice of all the fleet. Our ships, so still a moment before, are now full of life. Every man shouts to his neighbor, "They're coming out! they're coming out!" Men run in all directions to get to their posts; officers buckle on their swords; orders are quickly given. "Sound the general alarm!" "Clear ship for action!" "Bugles call to general quarters!" "Steam and pressure on the turrets!" "Hoist the battle-flags!" "Close the hatches!" "Full steam ahead!" "Turn on the current of the electric hoists!" "Get to your guns, lads!"
Our men are hurrahing and yelling with glad excitement. They throw off their white clothes, and tumble down the ladders, and throw themselves through the hatchways in their haste to obey orders. In less than three minutes every vessel is speeding along, and has obeyed the signal: "Open fire!"
There are the beautiful Spanish ships running at full speed, in a line, one behind the other, all their flags flying as if on a holiday parade. They are coming out of the channel and turning westward, firing fiercely on the Brooklyn, the nearest of our ships, while the forts on the cliffs fire on the rest of our fleet. First of the Spanish ships comes the Maria Teresa, carrying the flag of Admiral Cervera. The last two in the line are the torpedo-boat destroyers.
Our ships send forth a storm of fire; every instant the roar of our guns is heard, and the air is so filled with smoke that our men can hardly see their enemy.
Indeed, it is a wonder that our ships, all rushing toward the Spanish ships, do not crash into one another. And how can they help injuring one another with their guns? Ah, there is good management! Not one of the captains loses his wits—not one of the gunners mistakes a friend for a foe.
Now the Maria Teresa is on fire in different places, and turns in toward the shore. Great columns of flame shoot up as the big ship runs upon the beach and hauls down her flag as a sign of surrender. Now another Spanish ship is on fire from our guns, and runs ashore, hauling down her flag. She is as helpless as the Teresa. Not half an hour has passed since those two ships came out of the harbor, yet now, after running six or seven miles, they are ashore and in flames; most of their men are killed or wounded, the others are clinging to parts of the ships or jumping into the sea, though sharks are plainly seen in the water.
Meanwhile, the Gloucester, one of our smallest vessels, is attacking the two torpedo-boat destroyers, and, with a little help from some of our battleships, soon puts an end to the two little Spanish boats. One of them sinks, the other is compelled to run ashore; both ruined in less than eight minutes after the Gloucester fired the first shot at them.
The chase goes on, the guns keep up their deadly fire. Now another Spanish ship, the Vizcaya, turns to the shore, flames shooting from her decks. As she touches the beach, two loud explosions shake her from end to end. She has held her course for an hour and twenty minutes, but now she is burning on the shore.
Only one Spanish ship is left, the Cristobol Colon, flying at full speed, six miles ahead of our first ship, the Brooklyn. The Oregon and the Texas follow the Brooklyn, and the New York is only a short distance behind. For, of course, the New York, though several miles away when the race began, heard the signal gun, and turned, and flew back to Santiago on the wings of the wind. Faster and faster flies the New York, gaining rapidly in the race.
Surely, it is an exciting race, for the Colon is flying for life. Commodore Schley takes the Brooklyn farther out to sea, to head off the Colon, when she turns her course; but our other ships follow the Spaniard. There is little firing now from either side—the ships are racing.
Two hours pass in this way, and now the Brooklyn and the Oregon fire heavily at the Cristobol Colon, again and again. The helpless Colon hauls down her flag, and turns toward the shore. The last Spanish ship gives up the struggle at fifteen minutes after one o'clock, fifty miles west of Santiago.
While Commodore Schley is sending Captain Cook in a small boat to receive the surrender of the Colon, the crews of the Brooklyn and Oregon crowd upon the decks and turrets to cheer each other and shout for joy. Some of the men of the Oregon rush at once for their drums and bugles, and the notes of "The Star Spangled Banner" rise in place of the roar of the guns. The New York and the Texas arrive, and the four ships rest in triumph.
While waiting and resting, a scene took place on the Texas that will long be remembered. The captain suddenly ordered, "All hands aft!" The crew of five hundred men went to the deck to hear their captain's message. The captain, in a few simple words, spoke to the men of his faith in the Father Almighty, and then said: "I want all of you, officers and crew, to lift your hats, and in your hearts to offer silent thanks to God." The men were silent a few minutes, and then left the deck, giving, as they went, "Three cheers for our captain."
While the Brooklyn, Oregon, Texas, and New York were following the Cristobol Colon, our other vessels were busy saving the lives of Spaniards on board the sinking and burning ships. One small boat after another was lowered from our vessels, and the crews went to the burning vessels, where stores of powder were exploding every moment, took off the wounded Spaniards, and saved the men who had jumped into the sea and were trying to swim ashore. The work of rescue lasted till eight o'clock that night. A thousand Spaniards, among them Admiral Cervera and his son, were brought to our ships, and were well tended. Most of the Spaniards needed clothes, having thrown aside their garments when jumping into the sea; all needed food; a large number, being wounded, needed the care of our doctors. What the captain of the Iowa said of his men may be said of the crews of all our other vessels: "I cannot express my admiration for my magnificent crew. So long as the enemy showed his flag, they fought like American seamen; but when the flag came down, they were as gentle and tender as American women."
Admiral Cervera was picked up by the Gloucester, but afterwards was taken to the Iowa, where he was received with due honors. The bugles were sounded as he came over the side of the ship, the officers saluted him as Admiral, the crew cheered him to show their admiration for his courage. The Admiral's kindness to Lieutenant Hobson was remembered by our men, and they showed that they were grateful. Afterward, the Admiral was asked why the Spanish ships had not left the harbor during the hours of night, and he answered: "The searchlights of your ships were too blinding."
What a change had taken place in less than four hours on that Sunday! The Spanish fleet had been destroyed, six hundred Spaniards had lost their lives, many were wounded, a thousand were in the hands of the Americans. Our men had won a great victory, had not lost a ship, and had only one man killed and one wounded.
The story of the Gloucester's fight with the "destroyers" has been graphically told by one who was on board her during that exciting time.
"The Spaniards were beginning to get the range with their deadly automatic one-pounders. One shot in the right place would sink us. There was a line of splashes in the water, like that made by jumping fish, tracing accurately the length of our vessel, and gradually coming nearer and nearer.
"Crash! crash! went our guns, and suddenly, when within ten yards of the ship, the splashes ceased. The man at the gun had been killed. We were saved temporarily, but still the enemy was fighting for dear life. Both destroyers were trying their best to sink us; we refused to go down. Suddenly the pin of number four gun dropped out and it was necessary to remove the breach block and find the pin. It was all done quietly, quickly, but the nervous strain was awful. We were now within five hundred yards of the Furor, firing; sometimes at her and sometimes at the Pluton. At this point the New York went speeding by and cheered us as she passed. Gradually the Pluton's guns became silent, and it was evident that she was in distress. She was making for the shore.
"Suddenly there was a great flash aboard her, a mass of steam rose into the air, and she had exploded, probably in the engine room. Later we learned that a shot had passed clear through her boilers. A great cheer went up from the Gloucester's crew. But what was the Furor doing? Coming toward us? It was the last act of desperation. Again the starboard battery had come into use. There was no time to be lost; either we must sink the Furor or she would sink us.
"Our fire was redoubled. It was too fierce; no vessel could stand it. Still continuing on the circle, with a starboard helm, the Furor turned away from us toward Morro. But we kept up our heart-breaking fire. Like a stag, the boat turned again and made for her companion, which was now lying on her side amid the breakers, endeavoring, to escape us, but in vain; and, still turning, she made weakly toward us again. Then the truth dawned upon us; she was unmanageable, and was, simply moving in a circle, with a jammed helm. The battle was at an end.
"But our work was by no means over. We had spent two hours in slaughtering our friends who had crossed the sea to meet us, and we now spent twelve hours in rescuing the survivors."
The Gloucester was commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Wainwright, a most gallant and plucky officer. He was the executive officer of the battleship Maine when she was blown up in Havana harbor shortly before the war began. His fight with the "destroyers" was one of the bravest deeds ever recorded in naval history. After rescuing Admiral Cervera from the water, he placed his cabin at his disposal, did everything to make him comfortable, and treated him with the deference due his rank.
A midshipman on the Almirante Oquendo, who managed to get ashore after his ship was beached, told this story:
"The flagship opened fire while we, being the last, were still some way from the harbor mouth, yet before we cleared the entrance we got struck by a few shells. I was in the forward central torpedo room, and as, according to orders, the port holes were shut, I could see but little of what was taking place outside. We did not at once use our torpedoes, for shortly after the action began, a heavy projectile crashed through the upper deck and destroyed the shield near which I was standing. I was knocked down by the force of the explosion, receiving a slight leg wound from a fragment of the shell, while a splinter of the starboard gangway was driven into my chest near the heart. On recovering my feet, I found that the starboard torpedo tube was smashed and that the deck was strewn with dead and wounded, a few of whom were seeking to go up the gangway, which was also destroyed. Very shortly we all had to clear out of the room, as it became impossible to breathe there, owing to a lot of material taking fire. I sank, half choked, on the upper deck, but was revived by someone turning a hose on my head.
"On rising again, I found myself close to the second commander, Don Victor Sola, who was encouraging the crew, and Senor Nunoz, who put his arm around me, exclaiming, 'They are making a man of you to-day.' At that moment a heavy shell burst behind me, small particles lodging in my neck. This shell killed Don Victor Sola, whom I saw fall on his face without uttering a word. Right across his body fell that of the first gunner. When Captain Lazaga heard that the forward magazines were ablaze he followed the lead of the Teresa, heading for land and running the vessel ashore. I went back to the torpedo room and stripped. When I got back on deck, my companions were gone, so I got through the port cannon embrasure and slipped down a chain into the water."
The destruction of the Spanish fleet at Santiago was as complete as the destruction of the Spanish fleet at Manila. Commodore Schley was the senior officer in command, and it was fitting that the man who "bottled-up" Cervera's fleet should be the one to destroy it. After peace was declared, he was promoted to be a rear-admiral, and the people of the United States presented him with the costliest sword ever given a military or naval officer. It was a direct gift from the people to the man, and showed the estimation in which they held him.
In the running fight at Santiago, as at the battle of Manila, every officer and man did his duty. The Spanish vessels were out-sailed and out-fought. The American vessels were not injured and the Spanish were crushed. The American gunnery was effective at close range and long; the Spanish gunnery was not good at any range. The American shells told wherever they struck and the American vessels were maneuvered with the greater skill. Under the stress of the greatest excitement, the Americans showed the effect of their splendid drill and discipline.
Admiral Cervera and the principal Spanish officers were taken to Annapolis and installed in comfortable quarters. One of them said: "You ought to be proud of your country, because you have such good people." Another remarked, "I do not know that I am a prisoner except that I cannot go home." Eventually they were all sent back to Spain.
It has been truly said that laughter and tears lie very close together. It is equally true that in the midst of solemn and terrible events some amusing things happen, even though they may not seem funny at the time. And so, in connection with the exciting events of July 3d, 1898, some laughable stories are told.
When the Spanish fleet came out of the harbor with all their colors flying, a lieutenant on the Texas looked up and saw that his ship was displaying nothing but the Stars and Stripes. "Where are our battle-flags?" said he. Just then the Texas sent a shell against the Maria Teresa. "I guess they won't have any doubt about our being in battle," said Captain Philip. But the lieutenant thought that a battle was nothing without battle-flags, and sent a messenger after them. But the flags were locked up, and the man who had the key was busy in another part of the ship. "Then smash the locker," said the lieutenant, when informed of this fact. The locker was smashed, and soon the Texas was fighting under her battle-flags.
In the thickest of the fight a young lad on the Texas was heard to say: "Fourth of July celebration, eh? A little early, but a good one!"
During the chase after the Colon, the men of the Oregon went in turn to dinner, Captain Clark having called to them: "Now, children, go and get something to eat, if it is only a little bread and butter." The men satisfied themselves with a few bites, and then hurried back to the deck to watch the exciting race. The Oregon and the Brooklyn were gaining steadily on the Colon. Suddenly the Brooklyn signaled to the Oregon: "She seems built in Italy." And the Oregon signaled back: "She may have been built in Italy, but she will end on the coast of Cuba."
While some of the ships were chasing the Colon, and others were rescuing the wounded and drowning Spaniards, the Indiana, according to orders, returned to watch the harbor entrance. Suddenly an excitement was caused on the Indiana by news that a large Spanish battleship was coming from the eastward. Captain Taylor at once made ready for another fight, and sent his men to their guns. The officers on the bridge looked through their field-glasses at the strange ship, three miles away. "Yes, it is a Spanish ship." "Yes, she has Spanish colors." The stranger drew near, the guns of the Indiana were just about to open fire, but the foreign ship signaled her name and country—"Kaiserin Maria Theresa, Austria"—in time to save both parties from further trouble.
That Sunday morning the chaplain of the New York was preparing to hold service when the sound of a gun caused the ship to turn in her course and speed back to Santiago. The ship was cleared for action, and the pulpit was hastily thrown aside. As the ship sped along, some of her men saw a Spanish sailor struggling in the water. One of the men quickly picked up the pulpit—a clumsy, awkward affair, with a gilt cross on the side of it—and heaved it overboard, at the same time yelling to the poor Spaniard: "Cling to the cross, my lad, cling to the cross and you'll be saved." The struggling sailor clung to the cross and was afterward picked up by one of the small boats.
This story is told of two gunners on the Oregon. One was an old fellow whose name has been on the navy list for thirty years, the other was a young seaman gunner.
When Admiral Cervera led his ships out of the harbor of Santiago, in that brave dash for the freedom of the open sea, the veteran was engaged in his usual occupation of polishing the sleek coat of one of the big thirteen-inch guns. When the cry went up that the enemy was escaping, he gave a finishing touch to the muzzle and quickly took his station in the turret. Presently he turned to a young gunner near him and said: "Charley, I bet you a month's pay that I make a better shot at the dago beggars than you. What d'you say?"
"'Done,' was the prompt reply.
"Ten minutes later, the old gunner squinted his eye along the sight, signalled the man at the training lever to ease off a little, took the range from the officer in charge of the division, then gave the firing lanyard a quick jerk. When the smoke lifted, the eager watchers saw a great yawning hole in the port bow of the Almirante Oquendo. A cheer came from the men in the turret, and the veteran glanced triumphantly toward the younger gunner.
"The latter's turn soon came. The Oquendo, battered and helpless, drifted ashore in flames. The Oregon accompanied by the Brooklyn, sped on after the fleet-footed Colon. The rapid-fire batteries of both American ships rattled and shrieked after the fugitive. The eight-inch guns of the Brooklyn rumbled an unceasing chorus as they belched forth their shells, and occasionally a deeper roar from the thirteen-inch monsters of the Oregon would give a mightier volume to the din.
"It was after one of the latter shots that the forward turret of the Oregon echoed with a rousing cheer. Charley, the young gunner, had just dropped the firing lanyard from his hand and it was seen the Colon's conning tower was hit. 'He told me before he pulled the lanyard that he would fetch it,' exclaimed one of the gun's crew, admiringly, 'and he did.'"
A proud father, whose son was on one of the battleships during the destruction of Cervera's ships, said:
"Among the four letters I have received from my son is one which contains an amusing story of one of the officers of the Indiana. The officer in question is well known throughout the navy for his fastidiousness regarding apparel, and even on board his ship, is always the best-dressed man. He considers it his imperative duty to appear 'just so,' on every occasion.
"My son writes that when the fight began, everybody had on most of his clothes, the officers generally being in proper uniform. My boy started in with a full accompaniment of cap, shirt, coat, pants and shoes, but says that before the hour and a half was over he had shed everything except his trousers. The heat was, of course, intense and the main cause of the boy's throwing off all unnecessary garments. It has been his duty to carry messages several times from the commanding officer on the bridge to the rear of the vessel, where our dandy officer was stationed, and when the fight began he was fully uniformed. On the second trip back the officer was seen to be the only person in sight with a coat on his back, but the perspiration was rolling down his cheeks and dropping off in black beads and his face was besmeared and almost unrecognizable.
"Just before the last shot was fired, my son was sent to find the executive officer to deliver him a message from the bridge. He hurried to the deck, and, in clouds of black smoke endeavored to locate the lieutenant. He looked in vain, however, and finally stepped up to a man who at first appeared to be clothed in pajamas, and my son was just going to inquire for the first officer, when the smoke cleared away a little revealing our fastidious but brave officer dressed in his nightgown, with his sword strapped around his waist, and a pistol stuck in his belt."
Doubtless many more anecdotes could be told in connection with that day's history.
That Sunday morning, after General Shafter received the telegram from the War Office, he took a step which in the end proved very successful. He sent men to Santiago bearing a flag of truce and a message to the Spanish general. When a flag of truce is sent to an enemy all fighting stops for a number of days or hours, according to the time fixed for the truce, or quiet, and plans are then made. This message told the Spanish general that if he did not surrender within a certain time the American Army would attack the city. The Spanish general sent word back that he would not surrender, but that he would give notice to the people in Santiago that they might leave the city before the attack. Of course, before that day was over, our Army heard of the great victory of our Navy, and felt more hopeful.
During the week that followed that important Sunday, crowds of women, children, and old men; Spaniards, Cubans, and people of other nations, went out of Santiago. They hardly knew where to go. Men who saw that sight said it was pitiful. All the roads leading from Santiago were filled with people and wagons, toiling on to some place of safety. Most of these people had very little food, except the fruit then ripe on the mango-trees, and so had to be fed by our Army and by the Red Cross Society. Ever since General Shafter's army had landed, it had been feeding the hungry Cubans in the country around Santiago—people who were nearly starved on account of their long war with Spain. Food was scarce in our Army, because there was trouble in landing the supplies sent by the United States, and more trouble in sending the supplies forward to the soldiers. Still, the hungry people from Santiago could not be neglected, and they were given a share of food daily.
And with all those crowds upon the narrow roads from Santiago were many of our wounded soldiers, trying to make their way back to the Red Cross tent at Siboney. There were not enough army wagons to take the wounded from Las Guasimas, El Caney, and San Juan, and they could not all be treated in the field tents. So the men limped and hobbled along as best they could—wounded, sick, feverish—to Siboney, eight miles away. To add to the suffering, this was the wet season in Cuba, and rain fell for hours every day.
During that week of truce, General Shafter arranged with the Spanish general in Santiago for the exchange of Lieutenant Hobson and his crew. Half way between the American camp and the city there was a beautiful ceiba-tree, or silk-cotton tree, so called from the large seed-pods, full of soft, cotton-like stuff. Under this tall, shady tree many important councils were held between the Spanish and American officers. And under this tree, one morning, our officers gave up eight Spanish prisoners in return for Lieutenant Hobson and his men. Our soldiers welcomed these brave fellows with shouts of praise and joy.
On July 10th, the truce being ended, our Army and our Navy fired upon Santiago, and kept up the fire on the morning of the next day. Then a new truce was made, for the Spaniards wanted time to consult their Government. General Miles, the Commander-in-Chief of the whole United States Army, arrived and held councils with the Spanish officers. At last the Spaniards agreed to surrender the eastern part of Cuba, and at noon, on July 17th, our flag was hoisted on the governor's palace in Santiago. Our soldiers took possession of the city, and the citizens, who had gone away in such sorrow, now returned in joy because the United States had taken charge.
When General Miles arrived in Cuba with reinforcements, he at once took charge of the negotiations between General Shafter and the Spanish General Toral. General Shafter had made such a mess of the whole campaign that he was inclined to make trouble, thinking he was to be superseded; but General Miles told him that he had instructions to settle all matters according to his own discretion. After he had completed the negotiations with General Toral, General Miles generously left the honor of receiving the surrender of the Spanish forces to General Shafter. From the moment of his arrival on the island, General Miles had control of all military affairs. No greater discretion was ever given to an officer, but he used it wisely, and then allowed the honors to pass to another.
Some of our naval officers went into the harbor and exploded all the "mines," and the harbor was once more safe and open to all vessels. The war was not really at an end, but it was known that Spain could not hold out much longer.
One of the devoted Red Cross workers tells this story: "One of the most dramatic incidents of the war was the entrance of the Red Cross into Santiago, a few days later. Recognizing the great services rendered, the army officers experienced almost a change of heart, and the relief ship State of Texas was put ahead of anything, even Shafter, Sampson and Schley following respectfully in the rear. There were the two armies, the conquerors and the conquered, the wrecked ships of Spain, the starving Cubans, the silence of the grave hung over all; the memory of horrors gone before—of battle, murder and tragedy; and now was coming the first gleaming hope to a perishing people. Said Miss Barton:
"'Can somebody sing the Doxology?'
"'Praise God from whom all blessings flow' rang out in quavering chorus from the dozen men and women on the deck of the State of Texas, taken up and repeated here and there on battleships and shore, till the green hills that mirror Santiago re-echoed the song of thanksgiving, while gallant soldiers were not ashamed of tears, and the dying waved their feeble hands."
One of the problems of the war was how to dispose of the Spanish prisoners. It would cost a big sum to feed them and to guard them, and so it was decided to send them back to Spain. Ships were provided and this was done. The Spaniards who were sick and wounded received the same care and consideration that was given to the Americans who were in the same conditions. The humorous side of the affair was that, the contract to convey the troops to Spain was given to a Spanish Steamship Company.
I have spoken before of the other large island belonging to Spain—the island of Porto Rico. Late in July General Miles took a large body of troops there to take possession. These troops had much better supplies than the troops in Cuba, and they had not such hard work. The people in Porto Rico welcomed our soldiers. The Spanish soldiers made a few efforts to fight, but one place after another was taken by our troops, without any great trouble.
Ponce, near the southern coast of Porto Rico, is a city of importance, as I have told you. It was named for Ponce de Leon, the famous voyager of the sixteenth century, who wandered around in search of a fountain of youth. When our troops approached Ponce, the city and the port were given up to them gladly, as the Spanish soldiers had gone away.
Our troops now began moving on by different roads to San Juan, on the northern coast, the capital and chief city. It was known that the Spaniards were making great preparations to defend this city. As our Army pushed on, from day to day, there were some skirmishes with the enemy. On August 12th there seemed likely to be very serious fighting at different places near San Juan, but messengers arrived suddenly, saying: "The War is ended; Spain and the United States are arranging terms of Peace." Spain had lost Cuba and Porto Rico forever.
That afternoon, at four o'clock, the first paper of the Peace was signed at the White House, in Washington, though the full Treaty was not made until four months later. Spain agreed to give Porto Rico to the United States, Cuba to be independent, but our country to govern the island until the Cubans were able to manage their own affairs. The officers and soldiers chosen by the United States to stay in Cuba and Porto Rico to restore order and help the islands to recover from the effects of war, soon made many improvements.
As the navy began the war with Spain, it was proper that the navy should finish it. The greater events at Santiago obscured the last naval battle of the war, but it was a grand triumph for the navy. You will remember that the Wilmington was in the fight at Cardenas where brave Ensign Bagley was killed. After the destruction of Admiral Cervera's fleet, Commander Todd, of the Wilmington, was in command of a little fleet and at Manzanillo, off to the westward of Santiago, he destroyed nine Spanish vessels. This engagement gave him the title of "the Dewey of Manzanillo," and his report of that spirited affair was as modest as that of his namesake.
As our troops came pack to the United States, from time to time, they were received with great joy. But many of our men were very ill after the war, and had to stay a long time in a sickcamp on Long Island.
On the twentieth of August there was a great naval parade in the harbor of New York, and the leading vessels from the war made a fine display.
Later, there were Peace Jubilees held in a number of cities of the United States. The one in Philadelphia was a splendid affair. There were receptions and illuminations, but what pleased the spectators most was the great parade. A great many of the military and naval commanders of the men who won the splendid victories over the Spanish were present, and thousands of the men themselves marched past the miles of spectators who lined the sidewalks, as they passed along the streets.
It was an inspiring spectacle. General Miles, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the United States, rode at the head of the monster procession. Cheer after cheer arose from the enthusiastic crowds as the men who fought with Dewey swung past with rifles at "right shoulder." They shouted themselves hoarse when a squad of "Rough Riders" trotted by; Hobson and his men received an ovation; Colonel Huntington marched at the head of the brave marines who made the bold stand at Guantanamo. It was a day of heroes, and all were welcomed and cheered royally.
THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.
But in spite of Peace Jubilees and fine parades of returning troops, our country was still at war. But this war was with the natives of the Philippine Islands. To explain this trouble, I must go back in my story.
In another chapter I told you of the rebellion of the Filipinos against Spain. One of the leaders in the rebellion was a young man named Aguinaldo. The name means a "Christmas box." Aguinaldo has been a good box for some people, a troublesome box for others. Well, to quiet that rebellion, Spain made many promises, and Aguinaldo and other leaders went to stay in China. Spain did not keep her promises, and the rebels took up arms again. Before Spain could quiet this trouble, Commodore Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, and the Spanish soldiers fled to the city of Manila. Commodore Dewey had not forces enough to attack the city then, so he waited for more troops. But while he waited he blockaded the harbor. In June, General Merritt sailed from the United States with troops for Manila, and others were sent afterward.
On the way across the Pacific Ocean, at Guam, one of the Ladrone Islands, a ludicrous incident occurred. The Charleston steamed into the harbor, firing a few shots at the fort at its entrance. Several Spanish officers came out to the warship in a boat to apologize for not returning the salute, saying they had no powder. What was their astonishment upon being told they were prisoners, not even having heard that war had been declared.
The United States flag was raised over the island, and it is now held as a place to store large quantities of coal for the use of our war vessels.
Meanwhile, the Filipinos, and some of the savage tribes, had risen in great numbers against the Spaniards, and Aguinaldo returned and took command of his troops once more. Commodore Dewey, or Admiral Dewey, as he must now be called, having been promoted after his victory, tried to keep the natives in check; he did not think it right to let lawless people take the city of Manila.
The Spaniards made efforts to drive the Americans away from Manila, as well as to control the rebels, and sometimes matters seemed very serious for our men. On the 7th of August Admiral Dewey and General Merritt sent a notice to the Spanish General that, if he did not surrender by a certain day, they would attack Manila. They thought they could easily come to terms with the Filipinos, after settling the Spaniards.
On August 13th our ships in the harbor and our troops on the shore began the attack upon Manila. About noon the Spaniards had to surrender. Later in the day a cable message was received from the United States, saying that the war with Spain was ended.
Afterward, when the full Treaty of Peace was signed, the United States agreed to give Spain twenty million dollars for the Philippine Islands.
Manila had been captured once before from the Spanish. In what is known in this country as the "French and Indian War," Spain took sides with France, and England sent an expedition against Manila in 1762. After a siege of about two weeks' duration, the city was carried by storm and given over to pillage. Afterwards, terms of capitulation were agreed upon, and the English withdrew.
In the summer of 1899, Admiral Dewey sailed from Manila in his flagship, the Olympia. He made a leisurely voyage through the Suez Canal, stopped at various Mediterranean ports, and finally reached New York on September 26th. Preparations on a gigantic scale had been made to welcome him, and distinguished men and deputations from every state in the Union were on hand to greet him. Splendid receptions and parades followed; costly presents were showered upon him. The culmination of this spontaneous greeting of the American people was reached when, in the city of Washington, President McKinley presented him with a magnificent sword—the one that had been voted to him by Congress for his splendid services at Manila.
Through it all Admiral Dewey was as modest as a man could be; he said that the captains of his ships and the crews of their vessels were the men that won "all these indescribable honors" for him.
After the surrender of Manila to General Merritt and Admiral Dewey, Aguinaldo, the leader of the Filipinos, began to make trouble for the Americans. He proclaimed a new form of government for the islands, with himself as dictator. He entirely ignored the efforts of the United States to give his people a good government, and because they did not agree to his schemes, he began to fight our soldiers. He succeeded in raising a formidable insurrection, and we had to send more soldiers to the islands. General Otis was sent there with reinforcements, and later, a number of the generals who had fought at Santiago were sent to help him put down the rebellion against the authority of the United States, who owned the islands by right of conquest and purchase.
Many men were killed on both sides, and among them were Major John A. Logan, Jr., and Major-General Henry W. Lawton.
Major Logan was the son of Hon. John A. Logan, formerly a Senator and at one time Vice-President of the United States.
General Lawton, you will remember, was the famous officer who fought so gallantly in Cuba, particularly at the battle of El Caney, and was after wards sent to the Philippines. Upon his arrival in the islands he was at once given a command, and began to hunt down, the Filipinos. He fought as bravely and gallantly in the Philippines as he did in Cuba, capturing many rebel strongholds and considerable quantities of arms and ammunitions. He took a large number of prisoners and kept up such a tireless pursuit of the insurgents that they fled before him in terror. In fighting the Filipinos he used the same tactics that he had employed against the Indians in this country. He allowed his troops to fight in Indian fashion, each man for himself, when occasion required; and he had the love and respect of every man in his command.
General Lawton was specially thanked by President McKinley after his capture of San Isidro, where he led his men in person, as he almost invariably did. He was one of the bravest of men, and met a soldier's death in a skirmish at San Mateo, on December 18th, 1809.
When the news of General Lawton's death reached this country, the people quickly raised a fund, amounting to about one hundred thousand dollars, for his wife and children, as a token of their appreciation of his distinguished services. His remains were brought to the United States on a Government transport, and after lying in state at Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Indiana, were laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery, near the city of Washington, D.C.
You will remember that our war with Spain began on April 21st, 1808, and that it ended with the signing of the peace protocol, on August 12th of the same year; but I hardly think you know what these one hundred and fourteen days cost this country.
The cost in men was two thousand, nine hundred and ten, and of these one hundred and seven were officers. The total force engaged was two hundred and seventy-four thousand, seven hundred and seventeen officers and men.
The cost in money was about $1,250,000 for each day of the war, and if you reckon that up you will find that it amounts to an enormous sum of money.
The only American vessel that was lost was the collier Merrimac, which was sunk in Santiago harbor by our own navy.
Spain's losses will probably never be given out, for national pride will not permit her to publish the figures. We know, however, that she lost twelve cruisers, two torpedo-boat destroyers and twenty-one gunboats from her list of fighting ships. The value of Admiral Cervera's squadron, which was destroyed at Santiago, alone was $20,000,000. Besides capturing or destroying these war vessels, we took from Spain, during the war, twenty-four steam vessels, sixty-one sailing vessels and sixty-one lighters.
It is impossible to give Spain's losses in men, killed and wounded, but she surrendered to us in Cuba and the Philippines something more than thirty-nine thousand men. According to the terms of the capitulation at Santiago, this country sent nearly twenty-three thousand prisoners home to Spain.