Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.
Powered by Campus Explorer
All Rights Reserved.
Site last updated
26 June, 2013
The Great Republic by the Master Historians|
Significance of the Fall of Santiago
by Bancroft, Hubert H.
|[The following review of and reflections upon the great victory described in the
foregoing pages is taken from the "History of the Spanish-American War," by
The land fighting before Santiago was dwarfed by the spectacular glory of the
naval engagement that followed swiftly upon its heels. The ocean is the perfect
battlefield, offering no natural advantage to either combatant. On land, the
limitless opportunities for defence, concealment, and surprise require most
patient investigation both of the original plan of a battle and its variations
in execution, in order that the action may be comprehended and explained. All
that is known at first are the general results and the confused mass of
individual experiences and incidents that indicate the fighting temper of the
forces engaged. The fighting before Santiago on July 1 and 2 was without
precedent, and was involved in more confusion than any other modern battle of
respectable scale. The destruction of Cervera's squadron was achieved amid all
the surroundings of a magnificent theatrical display. Its opening, swift
progress, and final tragedy, possessed a dramatic completeness of effect that
could not have been surpassed if the details had been designed and rehearsed in
Yet, splendid as the achievement was, the heroism displayed by the soldiers in
the obscurity of the inland jungles was of a quality that equalled the courage
and skill by which our ships were brought out victorious. And, at the moment
when the observers of the land battles were preparing to analyze the incidents
and construct the great story, the naval engagement intervened and relegated the
army's achievements to second place. It was not until two weeks had elapsed and
Santiago had surrendered, that the world understood the significance of the
American fighting at San Juan and El Caney.
The discovery was momentous. Upon a larger field 16,000 men, against the same
odds and with the same determination of unprecedented courage, devoid of any
quality of desperation, had repeated the achievement of the 950 at Las Guasimas.
As Sampson's fleet demonstrated that Dewey's victory was the fruit of national
character and system, and not chance, the forces at San Juan and El Caney
enforced with equal thoroughness the lesson of Las Guasimas.
It established the quality of manhood developed by free government, which the
monarchical systems had persistently denied. The very blunders of forecast
called out triumphantly the individual resource of each soldier, apart from the
combination in bodies. It is doubtful if the desperate courage of the Spaniards
had been underestimated; but certainly the deadly Cuban climate, with its
alternation of burning heat and nightly chill, its drowning tropical rains, the
rankness of vegetation, the tangled jungles, and the absence of foundations for
road-building -- certainly these were all underestimated or not prepared for.
Yet, if it had been determined to overcome these obstacles before attacking, the
purpose of the government to push the war to a quick conclusion could not have
been achieved. Cuba could not have been scientifically invaded and the war ended
short of twelve months.
It was thoroughly characteristic of the American idea of "business" that when
Shafter perceived the heat and the impending of the rainy season he determined
without hesitation to "beat the rains to Santiago," and do the necessary
fighting while the health and spirits of the men were good. It cannot be said
that the losses in battle were greater because of the impetuous advance. The
losses by disease later demonstrated the wisdom of haste.
The three battles on the journey were characteristic of what Europe has
sarcastically called "American enterprise." Disregarding tradition and
precedent, the army of the United States, provided with no field artillery of
sufficient power, plunged into a jungle and marched against a fortified city --
leaving all supplies behind, and throwing away, on the march, every pound of
clothing and equipment that was not necessary for actual fighting.
The extreme advance-guard of 950 cavalrymen, marching and fighting for the first
time dismounted, half of them volunteers of two months' training, charged an
enemy two or three times greater in numbers, intrenched, provided with
artillery, protected by barbed wire entanglements, in a familiar jungle, and
drove them back after an hour's fighting. It was called an "ambush," and at home
amateur critics of war attributed to desperation the valor of our troops. It was
to be discovered later that from Las Guasimas to Santiago the same ambuscade
confronted all our troops.
Halting only to fight, rest, and permit the main body to come up, cut off from
provisions and hospital relief, with quarter rations for empty stomachs, the
half-nude and weary, but determined army reached the outposts of Santiago and
assaulted them with a spirit that would not be denied. The outposts that were to
be taken in two days were stormed and captured against overwhelming odds of
defence in one day, after ten hours of ceaseless fighting. The night was spent
in making intrenchments and resisting attempts at recapture, and the next day in
the blazing sunlight, without tents, without food, without relief, they fought
the enemy back to his last ditch and held the city.
Of the 15,000 troops engaged, three regiments were volunteers practically
useless, not for lack of fighting qualities -- the stubborn march disproved that
-- but because their rifle ammunition carried black powder and the smoke menaced
our troops by revealing their position at every discharge. Of the remainder, one
regiment was of volunteers with smokeless powder ammunition, and the remainder
regulars, one-third of whose ranks had been recruited within sixty-five days.
One-third of that army was practically composed of volunteer recruits.
The military observers present, representing foreign nations, were unanimously
of the opinion before the attack on Friday the 1st, that the storming of San
Juan and El Caney, without the aid of heavy artillery, was a military feat
impossible of accomplishment. The intrenchments of the enemy, his position, his
advance defences, his artillery and numbers, rendered him impregnable against
enormous odds. Yet all this was swept away by infantry alone, by troops thrown
into regimental confusion in the jungle, some without brigade or regimental
commanders, yet all welded into substantial cohesive formation by the instinct
of self-reliance, springing from intelligent knowledge of the value of
combination and organization.
Captain Lee and Captain Paget of the British army declared that the United
States troops had performed the impossible in warfare. Count von Goetzen, the
German attache, whose opinion will scarcely be suspected of too much leaning to
the side of the United States, said the fighting of the Americans was
wonderfully well done, and that the storming of the outposts was a wonderful
feat of war. The fighting was creditable, he declared, to both sides, but he did
not dream how formidable San Juan was until after it had been taken. The
American marksmanship was surprising. The vigorous way in which our troops
sprang to the deadly work was a tremendous lesson to other nations. The
volunteers, he heard from other expert observers who had watched them, were
fully up to the regulars, and the dash and spirit exhibited were marvellous.
Major Grandprey, of the French service, who has been quoted elsewhere, declared
that some of the best-grounded theories adopted in Europe were overturned by the
achievements of the American soldiers. The Frank-furter Zeitung, a leading
newspaper authority of Germany, in a well-considered article from a military
contributor, declared that the United States troops before Santiago had
surpassed all precedents, and that the susceptibility of the American citizen to
quick training had demonstrated that our volunteer militia was a much more
reliable force than the compulsory reserves of Europe, an utterance astonishing
in the light of past beliefs.
It may be said that our military operations against Santiago were marred by
blunders or misfortunes, without raising the question of cause or responsibility
for them. But through all, the intelligence, tenacity, and strong character of
the American citizen found an unerring way to victory against the odds of the
enemy in front and the failure or impossibility of support behind.
The courage of our soldiers was matched by the skill of our seamen. The naval
battle of Santiago was most extraordinary in its contrasts of methods and men.
For eighty-six years American seamen had engaged no foreign adversaries. Our
ships were regarded as too light in armor, or too heavy in armament, and too
delicate in interior mechanism. It had been predicted by foreign experts that
our battle-ships would be capsized by the recoil from the delivery of full
broadsides from the great and small guns. These theoretical doubts were
dissipated. The battleships, in bombarding, were "listed," or careened to one
side by running the heavy guns out of the ports and turrets, in order to gain
elevation sufficient for the guns on the other side to throw shells over the
hills. Not a gun exploded, not a piece of delicate machinery failed, not one
gloomy prediction was realized.
Our methods of fighting, like our methods of diplomacy, were startling to the
enemy. Europe has clung to the conventions. In diplomacy, Europeans proceed by
the tortuous paths of tradition and the etiquette of precedent. They pronounced
the American directness of procedure by going to the heart of the subject in a
business-like manner as "brutal" and "irritating." At San Juan the Spanish
complained that our troops charged, when, under all the conventions of warfare
by accepted tactics they should have run away!
In the naval battle our commanders wasted no time in vain technical parade and
manoeuvre. They fell upon the adversary with all the weight of metal that could
be discharged, pounding the amazed and breathless Spaniards to destruction
before they could recover from the shock. The European gunner is trained to
shoot on the upward roll of his side of the ship, with the result that most of
the Spanish shots were hurled harmlessly over our ships. United States gunners
are trained to fire on the downward roll, so that the missile may go straight to
the enemy's hull, or reach it on ricochet. The hulls of the Spanish cruisers
testified to the deadly efficacy of the method. The three battles of this
century, preceding Santiago, that were enormously greater in political
significance than important as mere military operations, were Waterloo,
Gettysburg and Sedan. The effect of Waterloo was the destruction of Napoleon's
personal power and threatened political supremacy in Europe. The effect of
Gettysburg was to presage the downfall of the institution of slavery in the
United States, and the denial, by force of arms, of the political theory of the
right of any State to withdraw peacefully from the Federal Union. The effect of
Sedan was the ushering into immediate power of the German Empire, that Bismarck
had patiently constructed from the petty German states, the solidarity of which
was committed with its crown to the keeping of William I., of the new imperial
dynasty. In no military sense are these battles comparable, but in significance
they are. They were of momentous effect upon the nations and continents whose
interests were directly concerned. But to the round world they were, after all,
more or less incidents of locality. Waterloo was, perhaps, greatest of all; but
the world of 1814 was much smaller than the world of 1898.
In respect of the importance of the forces engaged on land and the display of
recognized scientific military operations, the land battles before Santiago were
mere skirmishes beside Waterloo, Gettysburg and Sedan. But in respect of the
revelation resulting from measuring the fighting and enduring qualities of the
American soldier by the standard obtaining in the standing army of Spain, the
result was of the highest significance. Among the people of the United States it
confirmed and established the confidence they had long cherished in the
efficiency of their race. It was more important to us than Gettysburg, in that,
while it erased every jarring memory of Gettysburg itself, it sanctified and
heightened the one glorious -- of the valor of all Americans who met on that
field of heroic struggle; and that the reunited devotion to one country and one
flag was sealed in sacrifice of blood and life by North and South together
fighting side by side. It revealed to us, as by inspiration, the strength and
character of our population, and the resourceful intelligence springing from
liberty restricted only by the rights of man. That this revelation was
understood by all foreign observers was confessed. They were sent to observe
both sides; not merely the tools of war, but the nature and power of the men who
wielded them. It is for the purpose of studying forces as possible adversaries
that such observations are made.
When the combined operations of the army and navy at Santiago are considered, it
is not improbable that the Spanish defeat will prove, by future results, to have
been more significant than any other battle of the century.
The overwhelming and quick defeat of Spain was confidently prepared for and
expected by the United States. The progress of the war did not appreciably
interrupt the regular course of our every-day life or business.
It was also conceded by all other nations that Spain must be defeated, if the
prosecution of the war was not averted by the intervention of European powers.
But some grave authorities abroad did not dream that it was possible for Spain
in a hundred days to be stripped of all her colonies, her splendid fleet
annihilated, her ocean commerce paralyzed, her finances demoralized, her
population maddened to the point of revolution, an important body of her army
captured within its own fortified places by a smaller army, and the prisoners
transported back to Spain, at the expense of the conquerors, as an act of
compassionate charity, founded upon good "Yankee" economy.
And all this without the enemy being able to strike a single blow in return, or
to disarrange in any particular the ordinary course of life in this country.
The significance of Santiago lay in this: that those who had considered Dewey's
action at Manila to be a miracle of good fortune, saw it repeated at Santiago,
at Manzanillo, at San Juan de Porto Rico, and at Nipe. Those who thought the 95
deg at Las Guasimas were reckless daredevils, who won out of sheer audacity, saw
the same quality of indomitable courage repeated by increased forces, with equal
success, at San Juan and El Caney.
When Santiago surrendered, the republic of the United States, so long scorned by
Europe as a nation of money-getters and sordid adventurers, with no traditions
of dignity or glory; so long treated with contempt by Europe in its accredited
representatives as being a government of ignorance and corrupt politicians and
mercenaries -- that republic, after Santiago, stood before the world suddenly
revealed in its real strength, taking undisputed place in the first rank of
nations, unsurpassed in its practical ability to provide for offence or defence,
and with a capacity for future influence in the whole world, and for the
increase of its strength restricted only within the national purpose, whatever
that might be.
The surrender of Santiago was the death-blow to Spain, and sudden warning to
Even after the destruction of the Maine the Spanish government did not expect
war with the United States. That act of cruel perfidy was so well shrouded in
mystery, as Spain viewed it, that it might be made the subject of endless
diplomacy, or, if put to it, the "mercenaries" of America could be pacified with
a money indemnity. No allowance was made for the existence of a profound public
sentiment in the United States aroused by the murder of our seamen. Once before
Spanish authorities had shot to death the crew of the Virginius, filibusters
from this country going to aid Cuban revolutionists, and nothing had come of the
outrage. The idea that the United States possessed any actual sympathy for
Cubans who perished under Spanish cruelty, neither Canovas nor Sagasta could
comprehend as anything more than rhetorical declamation covering a pretence to
forward some scheme of sharp practice that our government was preparing to
present. They frankly admitted that Spain could not be victorious in a war with
the United States, but they did not expect war -- diplomacy, and money
indemnity, at the proper time, would dispose of American protestations of
honorable purpose and humane motives.
Curiously enough, England, the European nation best able to know and understand
the spirit and power of the United States, underrated the situation at first.
Her naval and military authorities did not hesitate to prophesy that the
Americans were sure to be victorious in the end, because, although the national
spirit rose slowly, it rose surely under adversity, and was then irresistible.
They were ready, however, to expect the first successes for Spain, whose
standing army and excellent navy, equipped according to European standards,
would be superior to the overloaded and lumbering ships of our fleet and the
handful of soldiers composing our standing army, which would have to be
laboriously recruited from raw volunteers, these, naturally, of the lowest
classes of our population.
Even after Manila, the London Times, that recognized channel of sound
conservative opinion in England, took a gloomy view of our outlook. "In time, of
course," it said, "the United States will be able to bring out their immense,
almost inexhaustible resources of military and naval strength, but for the
moment nothing decisive can be looked for so long as Admiral Cervera's fleet is
in being, and while the American army is in process of manufacture." All that
had then been gained, it believed, was the knowledge that European intervention
was no longer practicable.
"Intervention by the powers" was, in fact, the trump card that Spanish statesmen
believed they held for use when all other resources should prove futile. It was
not possible to admit that a republic of "pig-stickers," "railroad builders" and
"tradesmen" would dare resist the dignified wishes of the "Concert of Europe,"
whose mission was the maintenance of the balance of power, the custodianship of
the secrets of diplomacy by circumlocution, and the division of the estates of
deceased governments among heirs to be selected for the decedent.
It was to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria, and Italy, and the Franco-
Russian League that Spain looked for assistance. Great Britain was, as usual,
independent of alliances, a solitary among nations, more powerful and much more
feared than the United States, but yet a solitary, as we have always been.
When Congress had taken steps that left no doubt of immediate war, Spain
recognized that her own diplomacy was ended. She turned immediately to Austria
(whose emperor was the uncle of the queen-regent and granduncle of Alfonso
XIII.), to the pope and to France. The mighty mystery of the "intervention of
the powers" was thus solemnly invoked. The venerable Leo XIII., representing in
his pontifical character and personal virtues the loftiest mission of religion,
made overtures to the President that were acknowledged with interest and respect
and replied to with open frankness of explanation. Then the aged pontiff
suddenly learned that even in this effort to preserve the curious national
pretence called her "honor," Spain had not hesitated to ascribe his action to
the wrong initiative and to represent his motives in such a manner as to cover
his high office with indignity and to reflect insult upon the United States.
Overcome with grief and feeling deep humiliation, Leo XIII. withdrew, not the
less respected by our government and the world that recognized his greatness of
mind and nobility of purpose.
During this time, also, the powers of the continent had agreed to make united
"representations" to the government of the United States through their
ambassadors and ministers in a body. The note was intended to have the
appearance of disinterested anxiety for peace and the effect of a menace from
combined Europe, if we persisted in the determination to make war on Spain, and
to destroy her sovereignty in Cuba. Italy did not join in the action.
The continent having agreed upon the plan, application was made to Great Britain
to join in the remonstrance. The continent relied upon the ancient feeling of
jealous dislike between England and the United States, and the recent
embroilment over the Anglo-Venezuelan boundary, as causes sufficient to move the
Much to Europe's surprise Great Britain declared a purpose to take no step
unfriendly to Spain or the United States, which countries were presumed to be
capable of managing their own affairs. But Mr. Balfour, in the premier's
absence, went further and consented to an action, the significance of which the
powers did not then probably fully perceive. He desired peace, but he could not
interfere. He would, however, unite with the powers in presenting to the
President of the United States an address expressing the hope that war might be
averted, and offering friendly offices. But the nature of the address must first
be communicated to the President and his consent obtained for its public
The text of the original note as determined upon by the powers is not known, but
when the British ambassador at Washington entered the White House, at the head
of the delegation of foreign representatives, it was notice to the world that
the President had dictated the terms of the joint address and that the British
ambassador presented it as the friendly and courteous suggestion of the greatest
European power, and that his presence estopped the representation from being
construed as a menace, upon peril of its repudiation by the British government,
and the danger of provocation that might attach.
A vivid and pathetic account of the horrors of war was given in several issues
of McClure's Magazine, in the diaries kept during the last days at Santiago by
Mr. Ramsden, British Consul in that city. He had lived among its people a number
of years and was cordially esteemed by all. The editorial note which follows the
extract from the last diary, gives a pitiful tragic touch to its story of
devotion to duty.
Tuesday, 5th July. At 5:30 a. m. I started with two carts which Willie had
found, provisions, and people for Caney, with flag. Three hours and a half on
the road. The scene was terrible; people flocking out, sick carried in chairs or
as they could, children getting lost by the way, etc. Through a son of Diego
Moyas in the American army, I obtained a room, such a one, in a house just
chockfull of blacks, and put my wife's mother and sisters in there, while Willie
pitched our tent in an empty piece of ground where a house had stood, and also
managed to obtain a small room in a house close alongside. The entrance to Caney
was stinking with half-buried corpses of men and horses, as three days before
there had been a tremendous battle there.
Wednesday, 6th July. Visited by war correspondents of papers, etc. About 18,000
to 20,000 in Caney; houses, of which there are 300, full of people, in most of
them not leaving room enough to lie on the floor, but having to pass the night
in a sitting posture. I wrote to General Shafter about provisions for the
British subjects, of which I have thirty odd on the list.
Thursday, 7th July. Akers and other correspondents arrived. He has no horse. I
received 100 pounds of flour from General Shafter for Britishers, and had it
made into bread, which they brought to my tent at midnight, and made me get up
to cool it down and put away till morning. General Toral wrote me asking me to
send in the English cable clerks if I could, and I sent in poor Cavanagh, Frume
and Booney. Toral said he had important telegrams for Madrid, and I knew it was
with regard to capitulation. Musgrave, correspondent of the Daily Chronicle,
turned up, and was very kind. I wrote by him to my girls at Jamaica and to the
Commodore, having also done so two days before. Captain Arthur Lee, of Royal
Artillery, and military attache, turned up.
Friday, 8th July. More correspondents, etc. Distributed biscuit, or rather
bread, I had made. Got Edwards to take charge of distributing provisions for
British subjects. The people are starving. The Red Cross Society cannot get
provisions up in time for want of means of transportation, nor can the army. The
people, thinking they had come out for but a couple of days and not being
allowed to bring animals of burden with them, have now no provisions left, and
round here the only thing obtainable is mangoes, of which there is a profusion.
The streets are filled with the remains of these thrown down by the people, and
they are in a state of ferment. The place is one big pigsty, and soon there must
be a frightful epidemic, with the people bathing and washing dirty clothes in
the river, from which the drinking water is obtained and to which any quantity
of filth and refuse finds its way. In some houses you will find fifty in a small
room, and among them one dying of fever, another of diarrhoea, and perhaps a
women in the throes of childbirth, and all that with not a chair to sit on or a
utensil of any kind, and all in want of food. You cannot buy anything for money,
though I know one man lucky enough to buy five biscuits of about two ounces each
for a five-dollar piece, and another who bought a small chicken for seven
dollars, but he did not take it right off, and the bargain was refused. People
will exchange mangoes or other things for food, such as rice, biscuit, or pork,
the things mostly looked for. Twenty-five good sized biscuits were paid for
three small chickens by a Red Cross man. The country is absolutely bare, and
money will buy nothing, and it is useless. Children dying for want of food; in
fact, the situation is indescribable. We now hear that the bombardment has been
postponed until Saturday, 9th, at noon. Elwell turned up in the afternoon; had
been in Kingston, Jamaica, the previous day, and had seen the Brooks and Douglas
families at the hotel, and said that my people had also arrived safely, though
he had not seen them. Elwell is chief of Miss Clara Barton's Red Cross work, and
prevailed on Willie to take charge to run the distribution, in place of poor old
Bangs, who works like a mule. Captain Finlay had arrived the day before, and
went off to-day. Major Allen also arrived, and two wagons of food.
Saturday, 9th July. I insisted on Willie giving up the distribution business, as
I foresaw what was bound to happen with no provisions to distribute, and I might
want him at any time to clear out, as indeed did happen. Lieutenant Noble came.
People starving. Major Allen turned up and Captain Lewis is appointed governor
of Caney. Captain Mendoza arrived with a letter from Andreini, and a cow from
General Lawton, which cow I made over to old Bangs to make soup with, which he
did. Mendoza told me that Linares had offered to surrender the town if the
troops were allowed to go with arms. Shafter cabled Washington about this.
"World" and "Harper's Weekly" correspondent turned up; also Rawson Rhea, of
"Journal," returned and was very kind. At 6 p. m. Mendoza came with an aide of
General Shafter, saying the Americans would enter the town to-morrow, and all
would be back there in forty-eight hours. Great rejoicings. I wrote to General
Shafter to know if families of Spanish officers would be allowed to go in before
their husbands left, etc. General Ludlow sent me a cow, which I made over as
Sunday, 10th July. Went round for distribution of provisions just arrived. The
whole afternoon with people begging sugar or milk or rice or something to keep
them from starving, or a sick child of a person from dying. I have now very
little left, having been giving away what I could. At 5 p. m. Americans began to
cannonade from field and siege batteries, with a few from fleet, until dark.
Frightful scenes; children crying for food and nothing to give them; a few
provisions arrived this afternoon, but not one-twentieth enough.
The weather so far had been fine, but this afternoon it began to rain, thus
adding misery to people without shelter; 300 houses in town, without counting
ranches run up with branches and leaves and sheets. Rough census taken estimates
population at eighteen to twenty thousand. At Cuavitas, Dos Bocas, Siboney, and
Firmesa there are also people, and probably 35,000 have left Santiago.
Monday, 11th July. American shore batteries and fleet cannonading town until
midday, also with some rifle fire. One shell burst here in Caney. Busy all day
with Major Allen, dividing up the provisions. Misery increasing, Americans sent
flag of truce at noon to see if town would surrender. Rained heavily, and at 11
p.m. a terrific thunderstorm and rain.
Tuesday, 12th July. Rained heavily nearly all night and until noon to-day. Truce
continued. Americans offer to convey troops to Spain with arms, and now await
Blanco's answer. They say 5,000 men are now on the way from Holguin. General
Miles has landed with more troops and six batteries of artillery, and comes to
the front this afternoon. They placed a few more siege guns to-day. The town is
now surrounded except on the Guao side. People continue to starve, and fevers
are taking hold after the rains. Smallpox was reported to me last night, but on
investigation I found that it was only chicken-pox. Cavanagh, who returned from
Santiago on Saturday, is completely off his head, and I much fear for him. Today
I got hold of a chair, and find it a luxury. Several ladies wanted permission to
return to Santiago, preferring to die at once by shells rather than slowly by
starvation. Siboney burned, owing to some cases of yellow fever there.
Wednesday, 13th July. Conferences yesterday between lines with American generals
and Toral about capitulation. Archbishop told Akers, who interpreted, that
several houses in town had been damaged, but no one killed. Wanted to send nuns
out, but refused. General Lawton was ordered to take Caney on the first day, and
then proceed with the rest to Santiago, but he found it a tougher job than
expected, and only got through with artillery by four in afternoon. Americans
lost 436 men at Caney, included in the 1,800. Starvation and sickness
increasing. Willie gone to Siboney to try for food. Rained at intervals, and
everything awfully damp and muddy. Cavanagh is very bad with bilious fever, and
no medicine to be had. I fear he will die. A purge might save him, but it is not
to be had. I don't feel at all well. When rain began we moved at night to a
small room Willie managed to get, a filthy place.
Thursday, 14th July. Cavanagh died at 2:15 this morning, and I have been ailing
with sore throat, chest oppression, and fever all night, and have to remain in
bed, or rather hammock. Got a coffin for Cavanagh, and buried him in the
afternoon. I could not go. In afternoon Sir Brien Leighton turned up, and gave
me two pastilles of Eaggis consomme, which came in well in my state. He told me
capitulation had been agreed upon. Spanish troops here and 8,000 more under
Toral's command to be shipped to Spain, and Santiago, Guantanamo, and Baracoa to
be included in capitulation. Ladies made memorial to General Shafter to be
allowed to go to town, preferring death by bomb to starvation. Willie returned
from Siboney without provisions, but got a little sugar on the road from a
Cuban. I wrote Shafter, asking when we could go in.
Friday, 15th July. Passed a bad night, fever and diarrhoea. At 9 a. m. round
came Major Allen with a note from General Shafter asking me to go in, as there
were some difficulties which he hoped my influence would fix, as otherwise there
might still be more fighting. I was still in bed, but got up, packed, and
started. Was detained at Spanish lines till I could get a note to Toral, and I
found that he and generals were between lines negotiating. Therefore, being
nearly 2 p. m., went on home, The city was like a deserted place, and with
soldiers on the outskirts and trenches, no one in the streets. Some houses
gutted and pillaged, others hurt by shell; not a shop of any kind open, trenches
and barricades in the streets down to Plaza de Dolores, made since I left. Found
my house intact. Changed, and went to see Toral, who was in his hammock done up,
just returned from conference. He told me everything had been arranged and
preliminary bases signed. Madrid's approval to capitulation, asked for three
days previous, is wanting, but he said, if not approved, he would capitulate
even if courtmartialled after. Bob Mason has been running it, and is one of the
commissioners who signed the articles. Eulogio brought us a piece of meat and
some bread, his share of rations, for nothing can be bought. Moran and Espejo
also came, and Barruecos. A shell burst in latter's house, twenty yards from
mine, and fragments came on my roof. Did a lot of damage. Several fell around
store, and one bursting in front broke roof titles. It is said fifty-nine houses
have been damaged, including three utterly demolished. A large piece in my
drawing-room knocked down and some bric-a-brac broken. No one killed. Linares's
wound has been painful, affected the radial nerve, but not dangerous.
Saturday, 16th July. I was writing until half-past two, and then could not
sleep, and was up at 4:30. Some families have come in to-day, and this afternoon
everything has been settled, without Madrid, and to-morrow at nine the city,
Guantanamo and Baracoa will be handed over. Thank God! Seventeen thousand five
hundred troops surrendered, and will be sent to Spain. I have not had a moment
all day long, and am done up and sick, and shall now try to get a little sleep,
but I have a frightful lot of work before me. Santiago de Cuba has made a heroic
defence, and the Americans have learned to admire the pluck of the Spaniards. On
the first attack there were, including 1,000 men from the squadron, 3,500 men of
all arms, with volunteers. Aldea had a column of 600 on the other side of the
bay, and there were about 200 more between Morro, etc., and Aguadores. From
Manzanillo 3,500 men arrived after the attack, and helped to replace the killed
and wounded. At Caney there were 500 men. There are now here and along the
railway, etc., 10,500 men. At Guantanamo 5,000, and Baracoa and others scattered
2,000, making a total of 17,000. Santiago had no defences, but they ran up some
earthworks, and made trenches after the fleet began to blockade and the United
States army to besiege them. The Spanish soldiers are half-starved, have very
little ammunition left, and are sick. Linares would have surrendered the place a
week ago had he been in command, but Toral has been delaying, while Blanco and
Madrid were against it.
Sunday, 17th July. The American generals came in this morning, and have taken
formal possession, and the troops are being marched out to encamp somewhere
round San Juan until the ships come to take them off to Spain. The Red Cross
boat "Texas" has come in, and also Sampson in a yacht. I saw Shafter and all the
American generals this morning, but went off home with a strong fever, and I
Monday, 18th July. Fever of thirty-eight odd degrees, and sweated during the
night; took quinine, but still bad. Obtained a cart to bring me up home and to
bed today; no carriage obtainable. Several American ships now in port.
[EDITOR'S NOTE.-- The fever which Mr. Ramsden's exposure and heroic labors
throughout the siege of Santiago had brought upon him grew gradually worse. By
August I he was so ill that he started for Kingston, Jamaica, where his wife and
daughters were, going by H. M. S. Alert, so often named in his diary; he was too
weak to walk, and had to be carried to and from the ship. He reached Kingston on
the morning of August 2. But under his rare sense of duty, he had deferred going
until too late to derive any benefit from the change; he grew only worse, and on
the afternoon of August 10 he died. His wife and daughters were with him at his
death, but not his sons. Mr. Ramsden was as much a martyr of the war as if he
had been killed in battle, and no man in the war rendered a nobler service.]