WAR WITH SPAIN


                                Bernard C. Nalty

                                 Printed:   1959
                                 Reprinted: 1961
                                 Revised:   1967

                         Historical Branch, G-3 Division
                        Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps
                             Washington, D. C. 20380


                             DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
                             WASHINGTON, D. C. 20380


     This pamphlet is a concise narrative of Marine Corps participation in the 
Spanish-American War.  The chronicle was compiled from official records and 
appropriate historical works and is published for the information of those 
interested in this important period in our history.

     Brigadier General, U. S. Marine Corps
     Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3

Reviewed and Approved: 11 November 1967

                        THE UNITED STATES MARINES IN THE
                                 WAR WITH SPAIN

                               TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                           Original    Online
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The United States Marines In The War With Spain               1           6
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                        THE UNITED STATES MARINES IN THE
                                 WAR WITH SPAIN


                                Bernard C. Nalty

     The sun's rays danced along the white hull and buff superstructure of the 
battleship MAINE as she slipped past the ominous bulk of EL MORRO fortress, 
paused to pick up her pilot, then glided gracefully to her berth in Havana 
harbor.  According to the State Department, the American warship was making a 
routine, friendly visit to Cuba; but in spite of this official explanation, 
the mighty MAINE did not drop anchor in the mud of the busy port solely in the 
interest of international courtesy.

     The series of events which brought an American war vessel to the Spanish 
colony had begun with the outbreak in 1895 of a second Cuban revolution.  An 
earlier revolt had dragged on for ten years before Spanish authorities had 
been able to restore order.  There had followed almost two decades of peace, 
but then the flames of war had erupted even more violently. In New York City, 
a band of Cuban expatriates beat the drum for American intervention, while in 
Cuba Spanish General Valeriano Weyler began a systematic campaign to crush the 

     General Weyler was making fair progress on the battlefield, but the 
rebels scored a far more important victory on the pages of the New York 
newspapers.  To circulation managers with papers to sell, the Cuban strife 
offered a heaven-sent opportunity; and soon the blood-red headlines screamed 
of Spanish barbarity--Weyler became known as "Beast." Sent to Cuba to sketch 
the war, artist Frederic Remington informed his editor that he could find no 
action.  "You furnish the pictures," snapped William Randolph Hearst, "and 
I'll furnish the war."  Remington did his best.  From his facile pen flowed 
sketches of lean, leering Spanish policemen and innocent Cuban maidens. His 
editors were pleased; and, safe from the Mauser's bullet, the exiled 
revolutionaries beamed with delight as they scanned the pages of the New York 
dailies. <2>

     If the average American, who knew only what he read in the papers, was 
somewhat confused by the Cuban situation, the American Consul at Havana was no 
better informed.  The rebels had begun burning the cane fields, many of them 
owned by American firms; and no one could be certain just how the Spanish 
would react.  To protect United States citizens living


in Cuba, Consul General Fitzhugh Lee arranged for a signal, the phrase "two 
dollars" followed within two hours by the message "Vessels might be employed 
elsewhere," which would bring the battleship MAINE steaming into Havana 
harbor.  Early in January 1898, Lee had alerted the warship when Havana was 
rocked by the shouts of young Spanish Army officers protesting the replacement 
of General Weyler; but the demonstrators did nothing to endanger the lives of 
Americans, and the final part of the signal never was sent.  At this point, 
the State Department intervened.  On 24 January, the MAINE was detached from 
the North Atlantic Squadron to pay a courtesy call upon the Spanish at Havana. 

     Spanish officials in Cuba may have resented the presence of an American 
man-of-war, but they kept their feelings under strict control.  The usual 
amenities were exchanged.  The acting Captain General presented a case of 
sherry to the MAINE's officers' mess; and Captain Charles Sigsbee, in command 
of the battleship, responded with a copy of his treatise on "Deep Sea Sounding 
and Dredging." Next, the American officers were entertained at a bull 
fight.<4> It was, in short, a pleasant visit, completely unlike the tense 
situation which many of the crew had expected.

     On the evening of 15 February 1898, the MAINE lay quietly at anchor in 
Havana harbor.  First Lieutenant Albertus W. Catlin, <5> officer-in-charge of 
the Marine detachment, was rummaging through his papers in search of a 
misplaced pen.  He had intended to write to a friend a letter describing the 
exquisite mildness of Cuban cigars.  Captain Sigsbee, alone in his cabin, also 
was composing letters.  Corporal Frank G. Thompson of the Marine guard lay on 
his hammock beneath an awning which had been rigged above the deck.  As he was 
lying there gazing into the darkness, a giant's hand seized him, hurled him 
through the awning, then let him crash back to the deck.  He could remember 
nothing save the roar, the shock wave, and the fact that during the split 
second he hung motionless in the air he had looked down onto the ship's 

     Other members of the crew heard two distinct blasts; the first a sharp 
crack like the report of a pistol, and the second an all-consuming roar which 
devoured the crew's quarters, twisted steel beams, and wrapped the forward 
third of the vessel in a pall of flame.  Power failed immediately.  Lieutenant 
Catlin, the pleasures of cigar smoking forgotten, groped his way to the deck. 
<6> Captain Sigsbee started along the smokefilled companionway only to collide 
with his orderly, Marine Private William Anthony.  The young Marine apologized 
to his Captain, then calmly and in the strictest military manner reported that 
the MAINE was sinking. <7>


     Together the captain and his Marine orderly stepped out on deck.  It took 
but a single glance to convince Sigsbee that the private had shown real 
heroism in carrying out his duties to the letter.  Already the vessel was 
settling into the mud. In the glare of blazing bunkers, the Captain could see 
one of the stacks wrenched loose and lying in the water.  The bow was gone; 
forward, marked by a tangle of twisted frames and girders, was a gaping, black 
void into which tons of water were rushing. In this area had been forward 
magazines, and there most of the crew had slept.  Almost two hundred and fifty 
men had been killed by the blast.

     To flood the remaining magazines would have been useless. The MAINE was 
doomed.  Reluctantly Sigsbee ordered the survivors into the waters. <8>

     "Public opinion," Sigsbee pleaded in wiring news of the tragedy, "should 
be suspended until further report." <9> He was asking too much.  Ever since 
the early years of the United States, those first perilous decades when Spain 
had ruled Florida and Louisiana, Americans had distrusted the Spaniards. In 
short, the public had been conditioned to expect treachery. Then too, there 
was Hearst, his rivals, and their packs of newshounds.  As far as they were 
concerned, to suspend judgment was to suspend publication.

     Against this backdrop, two boards, one American and one Spanish, convened 
to probe into the disaster.  Each questioned its witnesses carefully, weighed 
the evidence honestly, and reached contradictory conclusions.  The Spanish 
proved that the MAINE had been destroyed by internal explosions.  The 
Americans agreed that the detonation of ammunition in the forward magazines 
had destroyed the vessel, but they offered convincing proof that this blast 
had been triggered by an explosion outside the hull.  In other words, a mine 
had been responsible for the holocaust.  To this day, neither theory can be 
disproved.  The United States Naval officers who made up the board remained as 
impartial as possible under the circumstances.  They made no attempt to blame 
anyone for the destruction of the ship; <10> unfortunately, American 
newspapers were not so scrupulously just.

     The United States did not declare war immediately after the MAINE was 
sunk.  President William McKinley, prodded by a number of influential 
businessmen, continued to walk the path of peace; but Congress, more acutely 
aware of popular sentiment, clamored for vengeance.  Voters, a great many of 
them, wanted war; the newspapers screamed for war; and many a distinguished 
legislator burned with a desire to hang "Butcher" Weyler from a sour apple 
tree.  On 19 April 1898, Congress passed a resolution declaring that Cuba was 
free and independent and authorizing the President to employ American troops 


force Spain to relinquish her control over the island.  When the President 
approved this bold statement, Spain on 24 April declared war.  On the 
following day, the United States recognized that a state of war had existed 
between the two countries since 21 April. <11>

     While the debate raged over the cause of the MAINE disaster, Secretary of 
the Navy John D. Long, tired and worn by the problems of placing the fleet in 
a state of readiness, was absent one day from his office.  His pugnacious 
assistant, Theodore Roosevelt, promptly sent a "secret and confidential" 
dispatch to the American squadron at Hong Kong.  "Keep full of coal," he 
advised Commodore George Dewey.  "In the event of declaration of war with 
Spain, your duty will be to see that the Spanish squadron does not leave the 
Asiatic coast, and then offensive operations in the Philippine Islands." <12> 
Secretary Long was not blind to the need of alerting the scattered American 
squadrons, for on the following day, 26 February, he returned to his desk and 
ordered naval units in the Pacific and Caribbean to take on coal; but he was 
understandably annoyed to discover that Roosevelt had "come very near causing 
more of an explosion than happened to the MAINE." <13> The Secretary of the 
Navy had no intention of conquering the Philippines, but the machinery that 
had been set in motion could not be stopped.

     Thanks to Roosevelt's timely dispatch, Dewey's squadron was to strike the 
first blow against the Spanish.  Nerve center of the Philippine defenses was 
Manila Bay, a vast body of water protected by the islands of Caballo, 
Corregidor, and El Fraile. Located on the shores of this bay were the city of 
Manila and a naval station at Cavite.  Just around Bataan Peninsula lay the 
superb anchorage of Subic Bay.  To enter Manila Bay, an enemy fleet would be 
forced to pass between two towering, volcanic peaks and then steam along one 
of two deep water channels, both of which were within easy range of one or 
more of the island batteries.  A minimum of effort could have turned the 
shores of Manila Bay into the jaws of a mighty trap ready to be triggered upon 
the approach of any hostile squadron. Fortunately for Commodore Dewey the 
Spanish were reluctant to put forth even the minimum of effort.

     As far as the Philippines were concerned, the war began on 23 April with 
the issuing of a long-winded proclamation by the Captain General of the 
islands.  "The North American people, constituted of all the social 
excrescences," he ranted, "have exhausted our patience and provoked war with 
their perfidious machinations, with their acts of treachery, with their 
outrages against the law of nations and international conventions." <14>

     Next came a survey of the defenses.  Admiral Don Patricio Montojo 
investigated the possibility of completing the works at Subic Bay and making 
his stand there.  To his disgust, he


found that no guns had been emplaced nor any mines laid. Since he felt that a 
fight at Subic Bay would result in the destruction of his squadron, he 
returned to Cavite.  A poll of his officers helped the Spanish commander make 
up his mind. If the ships must perish, his captains argued, let them sink in 
the shallower waters off Cavite.  There the crews could be saved. The Spanish, 
besides lacking plans, had little confidence in their cause. <15>

     In the meantime, Dewey's squadron was moving to the attack. During the 
first few moments of 1 May, the Americans slipped into Manila Bay.  Corregidor 
loomed suddenly out of the inky blackness, but the attackers swept past 
unchallenged.  A pall of clouds still shrouded the moon as they drove on 
toward El Fraile.  Sparks blossomed from the funnel of the MCCULLOCH, an 
unarmed Coast Guard cutter, and an alert battery on El Fraile opened fire, its 
shell throwing up a column of water between the RALEIGH and PETREL.  Pillars 
of molten flame spouted from their guns as Dewey's ships replied.  The Spanish 
battery fell silent.

     As the tropic dawn exploded over the horizon, American lookouts sighted 
the Spanish squadron anchored a short distance offshore where it could be 
supported by the guns at Cavite and at Sangley Point.  Aboard the cruiser 
BALTIMORE, Captain Otway C. Berryman, in command of the Marine Detachment, and 
First Lieutenant Dion Williams sent their men scurrying to battle stations at 
the port batteries.  A neat chevron of spray arched from the BALTIMORE's bow 
as the mighty ship swung to starboard, unmasking her port batteries.  From the 
flagship OLYMPIA a great ball of orange flame and dirty smoke rolled out 
across the waves, hung inert for a second, then began to dissolve. The roar of 
the flagship's batteries was drowned out in the concussion of the BALTIMORE's 
guns as her Marines joined the battle.

     Passing the Spanish fleet, the American column steamed close to the 
batteries at Sangley Point, veered out of their range, and reversed course.  A 
second and third time Dewey led his vessels to the attack.  Each time the 
BALTIMORE's port batteries lay on the engaged side, and each time her Marines 
flung death at the Spanish cruisers.  Those Leathernecks whose stations were 
on the starboard side were released to form damage control parties and to help 
serve the port guns.

       Two Spanish torpedo boats slipped anchor and charged toward Dewey's 
flagship, but a blanket of shells from the OLYMPIA's secondary batteries 
smothered the attack.  One of the vessels wallowed helplessly for a moment 
then sank; the other was run aground.  Next a pair of enemy cruisers tried to 
get underway. Hit hard, the DON JUAN DE AUSTRIA came shuddering to a halt; but 
the CHRISTINA continued to press her attack.  An eight-inch shell shredded her 
steering gear, another ripped four of her rapid fire guns from their mounts, a 
third exploded in the


after ammunition room, and a fourth devastated the sick bay. In but a few 
minutes the cruiser had been reduced to a helpless, burning derelict. Although 
two counterattacks had been beaten off, Commodore Dewey suddenly broke off the 
engagement and withdrew into the bay.  He had received a garbled and entirely 
groundless report that his squadron had almost exhausted its ammunition.  Once 
the truth was known, he ordered his vessels back into action. At 1116 they 
resumed firing, and at 1230 the Spanish surrendered. On 3 May, Lieutenant 
Williams and a band of Marines from the BALTIMORE raised the Stars and Stripes 
over the naval station, but Dewey did not have enough men to occupy Manila let 
alone dominate the entire archipelago.  After a truly glorious victory in 
which a smaller but better equipped American squadron had annihilated a 
Spanish flotilla, the victor could do little else but show the flag and ask 
for reinforcements. <16>

     While Commodore Dewey had been preparing to embark on his great 
adventure, President McKinley was equally busy calling for volunteers to 
supplement the thin ranks of the Regular Army. These militia were enthusiastic 
for a taste of glory; but they were ill-clad, untrained, and wretchedly 
equipped.  Few militia regiments had been issued modern weapons; theirs was 
the venerable Springfield .45 with its old-style cartridge.  Thus, whenever a 
militia soldier fired his weapon, he was half blinded and, more dangerous, his 
position was marked by a billowing geyser of powder smoke.  In spite of these 
failings, the raw material was good.  With proper training, the volunteers 
would fight well; but training took time, so the brunt of the Army's offensive 
would have to be borne by the Regulars. <17>

     The problems facing the Navy were not as difficult.  During the years 
immediately preceding the war, the Department had been blessed with a fair 
amount of new construction, mainly lightly-armored cruisers and coast defense 
battleships.  There was no extensive reliance on its militia system.  Finally, 
and most important of all, Secretary Long had shown remarkable foresight in 
drawing together before the declaration of war enough fighting ships to make a 
blockade of Cuba possible.  Early in March, for example, he had ordered the 
OREGON to sail from Bremerton, Washington, to San Francisco.  From the 
California port, the battleship sailed around Cape Horn to join the fleet in 
the Caribbean by the end of May. <18> Although he lacked Theodore Roosevelt's 
theories of seapower, the Secretary did a workmanlike job.

     Like the Navy, the Marine Corps was ready to strike as soon as war was 
declared.  On 16 April, almost a full week before Spain declared war, Colonel 
Commandant Charles Heywood had been given verbal orders to organize a Marine 
battalion to serve in Cuba.  During the next two days, while Congress was


pushing through the resolution which declared Cuba to be free, the Commandant 
issued orders to assemble at the Brooklyn Navy Yard men from all East coast 
posts and stations.  Some 623 enlisted Marines, 23 officers, and 1 Navy 
surgeon formed the new battalion.  Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Huntington, 
battalion commander, had at his disposal five infantry companies and one 
artillery battery equipped with four three-inch rapid fire guns.

     Although the Brooklyn barracks was overcrowded, the task of organization 
and fitting out the battalion proceeded quickly and efficiently.  By 22 April, 
Lieutenant Colonel Huntington, full-bearded and fierce-looking veteran of the 
first Battle of Bull Run, had mounted a black steed and led his men on parade 
through the streets of Brooklyn.  Upon returning to the Navy Yard, they had 
boarded the USS PANTHER and, as a Navy band blared "The Girl I Left Behind 
Me," sailed for Key West, Florida. <19>

     While the PANTHER made its leisurely way southward--the vessel paused for 
a time at Hampton Roads--the Corps was expanding to wartime strength.  A 
temporary increase of 24 officers and 1,640 enlisted men was authorized for 
the Marine Corps by legislation enacted on 4 May.  A typical new recruit faced 
five or six weeks' indoctrination at one of the barracks, then was assigned to 
a ship or shore station.  Perhaps the proudest moment in the recruit's life 
came on the day he first donned his blue uniform and strode triumphantly out 
the main gate.  Sometimes, however, he was due for a shock; for the American 
people, unused to military uniforms, sometimes mistook a Marine private for an 
officer of the Salvation Army. <20>.

     Key West, where the Marine battalion was encamped, was rough and lawless.  
It was as though one of the old Colorado mining towns had been lifted bodily 
and dumped on the Florida sands.  Flies and mosquitoes swarmed over the 
luckless Marines, dust devils eddied through the camp, and worst of all there 
was no fresh drinking water save for that distilled aboard naval vessels.  In 
spite of this atmosphere, Lieutenant Colonel Huntington kept his men primed 
and ready.  He granted frequent liberty and wisely established patrols to halt 
the activities of the lawless individuals who flocked to Florida in the wake 
of the expedition.  After some of these citizens had engaged in a shooting 
spree, a detachment of about 50 men under command of Second Lieutenant Henry 
C. Davis was sent from the Washington Barracks to Key West to maintain order.  
Captain Harry K. White was detached from the battalion to perform the duties 
of Provost Marshal.  Operating from an abandoned cigar factory, the small 
group soon brought peace to the community. <21>

     While the Marine battalion was in camp, the Army was preparing for its 
first landing on the shores of Cuba, an attempt


to supply weapons and ammunition to the rebels.  On 10 May, two companies of 
the First Infantry boarded a creaking sidewheel steamboat with the frolicsome 
name of GUSSIE and sailed for Cuba.  Unlike similar operations in later wars, 
this particular project was hidden behind no veil of secrecy; for Frederic 
Remington, watching from the docks, sketched the GUSSIE's departure.  On deck 
was a handful of hardy newspapermen; and when the weary vessel finally reached 
Cuba, a pair of press boats was hovering nearby.  In spite of these many 
breaches of security, the landing was made.  Plowing boldly into the tangled 
undergrowth, the soldiers exchanged volleys with some Spanish troopers; but 
they could not make contact with the insurrectos for whom the supplies were 
destined.  Since nothing could be gained from a protracted clash with the 
Spaniards, the expedition re-embarked in the GUSSIE and returned to Key West. 

     The Navy was not idle, for upon the outbreak of war the Spanish fleet had 
been ordered from Europe to the West Indies. This maneuver momentarily upset 
the American scheme of strategy. At first, Admiral William T. Sampson, Captain 
"Fighting Bob" Evans, and a few of the more aggressive American naval officers 
had hoped to steam boldly to Havana and simply blast the city to kindling 
wood.  The threat of the Spanish battle fleet--no one yet knew that the 
admiral in command had glumly prophesied its destruction even before the ships 
had sailed--caused Secretary Long to veto Sampson's plan. <23> Later in the 
war, a glimpse of the fortifications at Santiago was to change his views, but 
for the time being Sampson was willing to pit ship against fort.

     Unable to obtain permission to crush Havana, the Navy began plugging the 
holes in its blockade of Cuba.  To isolate the island and to hinder the 
movement of Spanish warships, the cruiser MARBLEHEAD was ordered to cut the 
transoceanic cable off Cienfuegos.  On 11 May, a handful of seamen and Marines 
piled into small boats, moved close to shore, and began dragging for the 
cables.  Their work was slow, painfully slow; for their only tools were axes, 
chisels, hacksaws, and wire cutters. A hundred yards distant, startled Spanish 
troops watched the impudent Americans.  Occasionally one of the Spaniards 
would fire in the direction of the boats; but for an hour or so, the sailors 
and Marines toiled without serious interruption.  Two cables had been cut 
before the enemy recovered his wits.  Then rifles popped along the shoreline, 
and machine guns snarled as enemy bullets cracked across the water or chewed 
through the wooden boats.  Seven Americans were wounded, two of them fatally, 
before the boats could move out of range.  The expedition had been a heroic 
undertaking; but it was only partially successful, since at least one cable 
remained in operation. <24>

      Meanwhile, engines throbbing, four Spanish cruisers and a trio of 
torpedo boats were charging across the Atlantic.  A tremor of fear swept 
America's East Coast at the thought of


enemy shells bursting in Boston or New York.  The vessels, however, lacked the 
endurance to strike along the coastline; Admiral Pascual Cervera instead made 
for Martinique to take on coal.  There one of his torpedo boats, the TERROR, 
wheezed to a stop completely broken down.  Leaving the crippled ship behind, 
Cervera's squadron steamed over the horizon.  Admiral Sampson tried to 
anticipate the enemy's course, but American reconnaissance was poor and the 
Spaniards anchored safely at Santiago in southeastern Cuba (see map). <25>

     Once the enemy had been discovered, Navy Lieutenant Richmond Hobson and a 
crew of volunteers attempted to scuttle a large collier at the mouth of 
Santiago Harbor.  In the face of deadly fire, he conned his ship past the foot 
of Morro Castle, not to be confused with the fort at Havana, and abandoned her 
to sink.  Unfortunately, the vessel's death throes carried her beyond the 
channel; and a route of exit remained open to the enemy. <26>

     On 6 June, three days after Hobson's unsuccessful attempt to seal up the 
Spanish cruisers, Admiral Sampson unleashed a bombardment of the 
fortifications guarding Santiago.  The explosions were awe-inspiring; but when 
the dust had settled, Morro Castle emerged as sinister as ever.  Realizing now 
that there could be no single decisive thrust at the city, Sampson began 
looking for a good harbor to use as a coaling station and as a haven in the 
event of hurricanes. <27> The ideal site proved to be nearby Guantanamo Bay, 
and there the Marine battalion was first employed.

     The light cruiser MARBLEHEAD, veteran of the fight at Cienfuegos, steamed 
confidently into Guantanamo Bay on 7 June, the same day that the battalion was 
embarking aboard the PANTHER at Key West.  Together with the auxiliary 
cruisers YANKEE and ST. LOUIS, the slender MARBLEHEAD drove the Spanish 
gunboat SANDOVAL into the shallow waters of the inner harbor.  A composite 
reconnaissance force made up of Marines from several of Admiral Sampson's 
ships then landed to destroy the cable station at Playa del Este.  After a 
cursory check of the proposed landing area, the Americans withdrew. <28> On 10 
June, the Marine battalion landed to stay.

     The landing itself, carried out under a blazing afternoon sun, was 
uneventful.  Not a rifle cracked in the dense thicket as the sweating Marines 
dragged their gear across the beach, climbed a hill, and pitched camp.  The 
first night was quiet, but late in the afternoon of 11 June the enemy slowly 
came to life.  Just as the sun was plunging in the west, a handful of 
Spaniards or Cuban loyalists struck at an outpost, killed two Marines, then 
withdrew.  Shortly after midnight the enemy returned.  Stephen Crane, the 
novelist, who accompanied the expedition as a war correspondent, remembered 
the furious action


as a night of terror with "a thousand rifles rattling; with the field guns 
booming in your ears; with the diabolic Colt automatic clacking; with the roar 
of the MARBLEHEAD coming from the bay, and, last, with Mauser bullets sneering 
always in the air a few inches over one's head...." <29>

     This was a typical guerrilla attack, the marauders cloaked in darkness 
and firing wildly, the defenders confused but standing firm.  Pillars of white 
flame split the darkness, the stench of powder clung to the brush; but the 
fight seemed more violent than it actually was.  Casualties, by modern 
standards, were surprisingly few.  John B. Gibbs, battalion surgeon, was 
killed as was one of the Marines; two were wounded.  When it had grown light, 
Crane, egged on by a reporter's curiosity, crept toward the surgeon's tent to 
view Gibbs' body. He scarcely could find it.  So many Marines, exhausted by 
the night's fighting, lay sprawled asleep that Crane could not distinguish 
living from dead. <30>

     After snatching a few hours of fitful sleep, the weary Marines struck the 
tents which they had pitched the afternoon before, improved their 
entrenchments, and began clearing fields of fire.  From time to time during 
the day a rifle bullet cracked overhead; and once the sun had set, the firing 
increased in volume.  It was another of those "swift nights" which, according 
to Crane, "strained courage so near the panic point." <31>

     Next the battalion moved to crush Spanish resistance in the vicinity of 
Guantanamo Bay.  Both the Americans and their enemies were hampered by a 
shortage of water; but the Spanish, who had no shipboard distilling equipment, 
were forced to rely almost exclusively upon a well at the village of Cuzco.  
To seal this well and force the enemy to withdraw was the task facing the 

     On the morning of 14 June, Companies C and D, led by Captains George F. 
Elliott <32> and William F. Spicer, joined a band of more than fifty 
insurgents and struck out for Cuzco Well some six miles distant from the 
Marine camp.  Defended by a blockhouse and about six companies of Spanish 
regulars and Cuban loyalists, the well was no easy objective.  The main body, 
commanded by Captain Elliott, nevertheless was making slow but steady 
progress.  Second Lieutenant Louis J. Magill, with 50 men, was ordered to 
bypass the enemy position to cut off any opportunity of retreat, while the two 
other columns, under Lieutenants Clarence Ingate and James E. Mahoney, were to 
join Elliott's men in the final assault.  Neither of these last two groups 
arrived in time to be of any help, but Magill's men plunged quickly into the 
undergrowth on Elliott's left flank. <33>

     No sooner had Lieutenant Magill led his Marines to the crest of a hill 
overlooking the well than the DOLPHIN opened


fire from the bay.  The fall of the first few rounds convinced Magill that his 
men were in the line of fire.  Hurriedly he looked about for a signalman.  
Sergeant John H. Quick stepped forward, seized an improvised semaphore flag, 
and stood erect in full view of the enemy.  Mauser slugs flailed the air about  
him, the DOLPHIN's shells erupted all along the hillside, but he coolly 
continued to signal the vessel to cease fire.  The omnipresent Stephen Crane 
watched Quick but could discover no trace of nervousness in the sergeant's 
manner.  "As he swung his clumsy flag to and fro," Crane related, "an end of 
it once caught on a cactus pillar, and he looked over his shoulder to see what 
had it.  He gave the flag an impatient jerk. He looked annoyed." <34> This was 
the only emotion that he displayed.

     Thanks to Quick's heroism, the DOLPHIN lifted her barrage; but not before 
the enemy had effected his retreat.  The Spanish had been cut off from their 
source of water; the attack was a success.  After destroying the well, the 
column marched back to the camp at Guantanamo Bay late that night.

     Although the Spanish withdrawal brought a respite from full-scale night 
attack, the Marine battalion occasionally was harrassed by snipers and small 
bands of infiltrators.  One afternoon early in July, a company was swimming in 
the surf when Mausers thudded nearby and bullets began gouging out clots of 
sand.  Like so many startled birds, the Marines surged from the water, grabbed 
their rifles and took cover.  Fortunately, a few rounds of artillery scattered 
the attackers.

     Lessons learned during the first few nights ashore were not soon 
forgotten.  Sentries remained constantly alert, ready to carry out orders to 
challenge anything seen moving at night. One conscientious Marine private 
challenged a bulky shadow prowling in the brush, received no reply, and fired.  
His first shot killed a hulking, black pig. <35>

     While the Marine battalion was relaxing after the fight at Cuzco Well, 
the Army's V Corps landed on 22 June at Daiquiri, about 20 miles to the east 
of Santiago, and began its drive on the city.  Purpose of the offensive was to 
drive the Spanish fleet from its lair.  "It was," commented newsman Richard 
Harding Davis, "probably the only instance when an army was called upon to 
capture a fleet. " <36> In any event the Army was doing quite well.  A group 
of wild-eyed amateurs led by Theodore Roosevelt, now a Colonel of Volunteers, 
stormed up the slopes of San Juan Hill, while the lean and hardened Regulars 
captured El Caney.  By 3 July, the heights were firmly in American hands. <37>

     Throughout the campaign, Admiral Sampson and General William R. Shafter, 
the Army commander, had shown little sympathy for each other's problems.  The 
admiral steadfastly refused to


risk his ships in any attempt to force the narrow harbor entrance and destroy 
Cervera's ships.  Instead, he demanded that the Army first capture Morro 
Castle and its satellite batteries.  He then would send in minesweepers to 
clear the entrance and follow with his armored vessels.  Shafter, on the other 
hand, felt that ships were built to fight.  If an armored cruiser or 
battleship could not charge past the forts without being destroyed, how could 
his troops capture these same redoubts without suffering tremendous losses?  
"I am at a loss," Shafter complained, "to understand why the Navy cannot work 
under a destructive fire as well as the Army...." <38>

     Anxious to finish the campaign before yellow fever broke out among the 
troops, President McKinley finally lost his patience and ordered the two 
officers to come up with some sort of plan.  On Sunday morning, 3 July 1898, 
Sampson's flagship, the NEW YORK, pulled out of formation and steamed toward 
Siboney, ten miles to the east, and the waiting general.  No sooner had 
Sampson left his station than Cervera's ships made their break for the open 

     The handful of light Spanish vessels had no chance against the American 
fleet.  Cervera could either surrender to the advancing Army or attempt to 
break through the cordon of blockaiding ships and escape.  His own sense of 
honor and the traditions of the Spanish Navy left him no choice; on that 
fateful day he gambled all against impossible odds.

     Haste to do now what must be done anon 
     Or some mad hope of selling triumph dear 
     Drove the ships forth... <39>

Leaking boilers, barnacled hulls, defective guns, the Spanish vessels were 
hopelessly outclassed; but pride demanded their gallant sacrifice.

     The fact remains that some of the Spanish vessels nearly escaped.  
Cervera could have chosen no better time for his dash than a calm Sunday 
morning when the Americans, lulled into carelessness by weeks of comparative 
inaction, were relaxing. Signal flags blossomed over the American battlewagons 
as one by one, the flagship MARIA TERESA in the lead, the enemy ships sortied 
through the narrow channel, paused to set their civilian pilots safely ashore, 
then turned and drove west along the Cuban shore.  The time lost in dropping 
the pilots foretold disaster, but it was a mark of courtesy required by 
Cervera's code of chivalry.

     Recovering from their initial surprise, the American warships set out in 
pursuit.  The cruiser BROOKLYN, westernmost ship in the blockading fleet, was 
in the best position to join battle.  The OREGON, the only battleship which 
had steam up


in all her boilers, leaped across the sparkling waters; while the INDIANA, 
IOWA, and TEXAS, belching smoke from their funnels, rumbled like charging 
bison to the attack.  Since the NEW YORK, with Admiral Sampson aboard, already 
was nine miles to the east when the battle began, neither that ship nor the 
admiral himself had much influence on the drama that followed. Commodore 
Winfield Scott Schley, aboard the BROOKLYN, directed the action.

     The MARIA TERESA opened fire as soon as she cleared the harbor.  Four 
battleships and the BROOKLYN concentrated their salvos upon Cervera's 
flagship.  Mangled by these rending blows, the light Spanish cruiser lasted 
just half an hour before she was beached a flaming wreck.  PLUTON and FUROR, 
the two torpedo boats, remained afloat scarcely 20 minutes.  One ran aground 
and exploded, the other blew up and sank.  The OQUENDO, ripped to shreds by 
shells from the secondary batteries of her heavier opponents, clung grimly to 
life.  She was beached a short distance west of the charred Teresa.  She too 
was consumed by flames.

     Now only two of Cervera's ships remained in the fight. Badly damaged 
shortly after she had reached the open sea, the VIZCAYA gradually fell astern 
of the COLON and came under fire from the onrushing American vessels.  
Crippled and barely afloat, the VIZCAYA was beached some 20 miles west of 
Santiago. For a time, it seemed as though the COLON actually would make good 
her escape; but her boilers were weak and her hull fouled. Early that 
afternoon both the BROOKLYN and OREGON brought her within range of their guns, 
and the COLON had little choice but to strike her colors and go aground. <40>

     The Spanish had no monopoly on heroism that day.  Heedless of the danger 
of exploding magazines, American vessels came close to shore to rescue Spanish 
seamen from their burning ships.  Of some 2,150 crewmen in Cervera's squadron, 
1,782 were captured, <41> or, more properly, rescued; for had the Americans 
not aided them most of them would have drowned, been burned to death, or, if 
they reached shore, killed by Cuban guerrillas.

     Aboard the BROOKLYN, Marines displayed great courage. Captain Paul St. C. 
Murphy and Lieutenant Thomas S. Borden moved calmly among the sweating gun 
crews to inspire their men.  Private Harry L. MacNeal, assigned to the same 
vessel, deliberately exposed himself to the screaming shell fragments while 
clearing a jammed gun. <42>

     Snatched from the holocaust that consumed his fleet, Admiral Cervera 
paused to reflect on that day of horror.  The result of the battle was what he 
had predicted months before. He was, however, thankful that so many of his men 
had been


saved.  "The country," he wrote, "has been defended with honor, and the 
satisfaction of duty done leaves our conscience tranquil, with nothing more 
than grief for the loss of our companions and the misfortune of our country." 
<43> With the destruction of the fleet, the fate of Santiago was decided.

     In the meantime, while the eyes of the world were focused on Cuba, the 
United States had snatched up the island of Guam in the Spanish Marianas some 
3,000 miles west of Hawaii.  On 22 June 1898, the cruiser CHARLESTON, 
escorting a pair of transports loaded with troops destined for the 
Philippines, appeared off Apra harbor and began shelling unoccupied Fort 
Santiago.  Captain Henry Glass, in command of the cruiser, had been ordered to 
seize Guam, believed to be the hub of Spain's mid-Pacific empire.  Don Juan 
Mariana, the Spanish governor, did not know of Glass' mission, nor did he know 
that hostilities had begun.  To him, the booming of cannon meant but one 
thing, a salute to be promptly returned.

     In keeping with the niceties of international etiquette, the governor 
ordered an officer to round up a detachment of soldiers and move a pair of old 
cannon to Piti, a journey of some six miles.  While the lieutenant was getting 
his expedition organized, a group of Spanish officials boarded the CHARLESTON 
to apologize for their tardiness in returning the salute.  Only after they had 
become prisoners did they learn that war had been declared.  One of their 
number, released on parole, was able to reach the young lieutenant in time to 
prevent his returning the "salute," and thus precipitating a carnage.  On the 
following day, the CHARLESTON's Marines shepherded their prisoners aboard the 
transports and raised the Stars and Stripes over the island. <44>

     On the other side of the world, the war in the West Indies continued.  
The destruction of Cervera's fleet gave Admiral Sampson and General Shafter 
more leisure in which to criticize each other, but their arguments were 
resolved by the surrender of Santiago on 12 July.  The city's capitulation did 
not mean the end of the war, for parts of Cuba and the entire island of Puerto 
Rico still remained under Spanish control.

     Not until late in July did an American expeditionary force appear off the 
coast of Puerto Rico.  First it was planned to disembark the troops at 
Guanica.  A small naval landing party went ashore, hauled down the Spanish 
flag, unfurled the Stars and Stripes, then drove off the handful of defenders. 
A detachment of Army Engineers landed, but in the meantime General Nelson A. 
Miles had decided to land the bulk of his forces elsewhere along the coast.

     The general's choice for base of operations was the town of Ponce, a 
short distance inland from the seaside village of La Playa (properly called 
Playa del Ponce).  On 27 July, the


DIXIE anchored off the beach.  Navy Lieutenant Greenlief A. Merriam went 
ashore under a flag of truce to demand the surrender of La Playa and Ponce.  
The Spanish colonel in charge, his honor at stake, refused to act without 
instructions from higher authorities.  Actually, whether he surrendered or not 
made little difference, for he did not have the means to resist.  Later in the 
day, after some tedious dickering, Lieutenant Merriam returned to the DIXIE 
carrying the signed articles of capitulation.  An American landing party took 
over both objectives.  At La Playa, Marine Lieutenant Henry C. Haines ordered 
the American Flag raised and mounted a Colt automatic gun atop the customs 
house to encourage cooperation on the part of the townspeople.  There were no 
incidents during the night, and on the following morning General Miles' army 
began to troop ashore. <45>

     Early in August, a handful of American sailors occupied the lighthouse at 
Cape San Juan, Puerto Rico.  This was a massive brick structure, thick-walled 
and perched on a steep hill overlooking the San Juan Passage.  Marking the 
difficult passage around the northeastern tip of the island, the lighthouse 
was an important military objective; and scarcely had the sailors taken charge 
than excited Puerto Ricans came with stories that almost a thousand Spanish 
cavalry were massing for an attack.  These reports were exaggerated, but on 
the night of 9 August the Spanish did strike.  Possibly a hundred of the enemy 
milled around in the darkness, while the 28 Americans fired steadily through 
loopholes in the walls.  When the firing increased in fury, Lieutenant Charles 
N. Atwater, in command of the sailors, ordered the lighthouse beacon 
extinguished.  American warships anchored off the cape then turned on their 
searchlights and opened fire.  One round came screaming in short, crashed into 
a brick wall gouging out a two-foot gash, but fortunately did not explode.  A 
cloud of dust momentarily blinded the defenders as chunks of masonry rattled 
off the walls and pavement.  Immediately the lamp atop the building was 

     After midnight the firing gradually died down, and in the pale light of 
morning reinforcements were landed.  First Lieutenant John A. LeJeune, later 
to become thirteenth Commandant of the Marine Corps, led a detachment of 37 
men from the CINCINNATI. These joined a landing party from the AMPHITRITE to 
stand guard while the lighthouse garrison withdrew.  The American flag was 
left flying as the sailors and Marines rowed back to the waiting ships. <46>

     While the lighthouse was undergoing its brief but hectic siege, 
Lieutenant Colonel Huntington's Marine battalion, having embarked from 
Guantanamo aboard the RESOLUTE, was on its way to capture the Cuban town of 
Manzanillo.  When approached on the subject of surrender, the Spanish 
Commandant at Manzanillo cited his code of honor and refused to yield unless 
forced to


do so.  Later that same day, 12 August, the Americans saw what they took for a 
white flag flying over the city.  One vessel hoisted a flag of truce and 
steamed into the harbor to investigate, but the enemy opened fire as soon as 
the intruder came within range.

     Early the following morning, the attack was resumed.  While warships 
bombarded the enemy's shore batteries, the Marine battalion prepared to go 
ashore and outflank the Spanish entrenchments.  This operation, however, did 
not come to pass; for daylight revealed dozens of white flags fluttering along 
the shoreline.  Soon a Spanish official came out from the harbor to inform the 
Americans that a peace protocol had been signed between the warring nations. 

     Since operations in the Caribbean were suspended under terms of this 
agreement, the Marine battalion sailed almost at once for the United States, 
arriving at Portsmouth, New Hampshire on 26 August.  These sun-bronzed 
veterans received a heroes' welcome which was climaxed by a clambake sponsored 
by local citizens.  It was a gala event with food for everyone. The Y.M.C.A. 
presented a Bible to each member of the battalion while the Salvation Army 
passed out cakes, tobacco, apples, and writing materials. <48> When it became 
obvious that hostilities were at an end, the battalion was disbanded.

     Portsmouth, where the return of the Battalion was feted, was the site of 
another important wartime activity of the Marine Corps.  At Seavey's Island, 
Maine, only a few miles from Portsmouth, Marines had guarded Spanish soldiers 
and seamen captured during the conflict.  The first group of prisoners, 10 
officers and 692 enlisted men, arrived at the camp early in July.  Marines 
also guarded Admiral Cervera, who was interned at Annapolis, Maryland, after 
his capture off Santiago. <49>

     As far as numbers were concerned, the Marine Corps made no striking 
contribution to the victory over Spain.  Although some 2,055 enlisted men 
served with the fleet throughout the world, only a little more than 600 fought 
with the famed 1st Marine Battalion in Cuba. <50> The importance of the Marine 
Corps lay not in numbers but in the speed with which its expeditionary force 
had been assembled and dispatched, and its ability to do the job once on the 
field of battle.  Huntington's battalion embarked from Brooklyn less than one 
week after the first order for its organization had been issued.  In that 
short time, Marines by the handful had been gathered from posts and stations 
all along the East Coast, formed into companies, and issued the equipment 
necessary for combat.  Amid the confusion that was Key West, Marine Corps 
supplies moved smoothly; and when the battalion was unleashed against the 
Spanish at Guantanamo Bay it struck quickly and hard.  Although the battalion 
was successful, this action showed the need for an


American force in readiness.  The activation of the Marine battalion on such 
short notice and its effective performance in battle reflected Marine training 
and discipline, but the experience at Guantanamo also revealed lack of 
familiarity with large unit tactics, which had to be learned the hard way.

     Lacking the decisiveness of drama of Dewey's smashing victory in the 
Philippines, the landing at Guantanamo nevertheless was vital.  Because of 
their relatively short operating ranges and their instability in heavy seas, 
the warships of that day could not operate for long periods unless an 
anchorage and coaling station were near at hand.  In addition to this tactical 
importance, the action at Guantanamo clearly demonstrated the need for Marines 
as assault troops to be employed with the fleet.  Since the victory had been 
won by a Marine unit commanded by a Marine officer, Guantanamo gave added 
ammunition to those who would make the capture and defense of advanced bases a 
primary mission of the Marine Corps. <51>



(1) Herbert H. Sargent, "The Champaign of Santiago de Cuba" (Chicago: A. C. 
McClurg and Company, 1907), V. l, pp. 1-22.

(2) John Edward Weems, "The Fate of the Maine" (New York: Henry Holt, 1958), 
pp. vii, 40.

(3) Ibid., pp. 41-45.

(4) Walter Millis, "The Martial Spirit" (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 
1931), p. 96.

(5) Catlin later commanded the 6th Marines in France in World War I until 
severely wounded at Belleau Wood in June 1918.

(6) Weems, op. cit., pp. 66, 73-77.

(7) Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898, v. 1, p. 865.

(8) Weems, op. cit., pp. 81-84.

(9) Ibid., pp. 92-93.

(10) Joint Committee on Printing, U. S. Congress, "Message from the President 
to Congress and Selections from Accompanying Documents, 55th Congress, 3d 
Session", (Washington, 1899), v. 4, p. 17; hereafter "Messages and Documents", 

(11) H. H. Sargent, op. cit., v. 1, pp. 32-33.

(12) "Messages and Documents", v. 4, p. 23; Henry F. Pringle, "Theodore 
Roosevelt" (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1931), p. 179.

(13) Nathan Sergent, "Admiral Dewey and the Manila Campaign" (Washington: 
Naval Historical Foundation, 1947), p. 23.

(14) Ibid., p. 30.

(15) Ibid., p. 26.

(16) Ibid., pp. 36-40; J. M. Ellicott, "Manila Bay," "Marine Corps Gazette", 
v. 37, no. 5 (May 1953), pp. 54-55.

(17) H. H. Sargent, op. cit., v. 1, pp. 80, 92; Millis, op. cit., p. 216.

(18) "Messages and Documents", v. 4, pp. 47-56.


(19) "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898", v. 1, p. 822; John H. 
Clifford, "My Memories of Cuba," "Leatherneck", v. 12, no. 6 (Jun 1929), p. 7.

(20) Clyde H. Metcalf, "A History of the United States Marine Corps" (New 
York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1939), p. 255; see also the personal log in 
Biography File "Charles B. Hobbs," Historical Branch, HQMC.

(21) Clifford, op. cit., p. 7; "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 
1898", v. 1, p. 828.

(22) Millis, op. cit., pp. 200-201.

(23) H. H. Sargent, op. cit. , v. 1, pp. 150-155; Office of Naval 
Intelligence, "Notes on the Spanish-American War" (Washington: U. S. 
Government Printing Office, 1900), pp. 108-110.

(24) Millis, op. cit., pp. 200-201.

(25) H. H. Sargent, op. cit., v. 1, pp. 157-170.

(26) Ibid., pp. 225-226.

(27) Ibid., pp. 227-228.

(28) Carlos C. Hanks, "The Marines at Playa del Este,: "U. S. Naval Institute 
Proceedings", v. 67, no. 11 (Nov 1941), pp. 1591-1593.

(29) Extracts from the log of the battalion in Subject File Spanish-American 
War, Historical Branch, HQMC; Stephen Crane, "Wounds in the Rain" (New York: 
Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1900), pp. 178-179.  See also Frank Freidel, "The 
Splendid Little War" (Boston: Little, Brown, 1958), pp. 56-57. Unfortunately, 
this latest history of the war contains little else pertaining to Marine 

(30) Crane, op. cit., p. 239.

(31) Ibid., pp. 178-179; Extracts from the log of the battalion, loc. cit.

(32) Promotion came fast to Captain Elliott who served as tenth Commandant of 
the Marine Corps, 1903-1910.

(33) Extracts from the log of the battalion, loc. cit.

(34) Crane, op. cit., p. 189.

(35) Clifford, op. cit., p. 54.


(36) Weems, op. cit., pp. 134-144.

(37) H. H. Sargent, op. cit., v. 3, pp. 83-166, passim.

(38) Louis J. Gulliver, "Sampson and Shafter at Santiago," U.S. "Naval 
Institute Proceedings", v. 65, no. 6 (Jun 1939), pp. 799-800.

(39) George Santayana, "Spain in America", cited in Morison and Commager, "The 
Growth of the American Republic" (New York: Oxford University Press, 1950), v. 
2, p. 334.

(40) "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898", v. 2, pp. 506-509; 
"Messages and Documents", v. 4, pp. 517-520; H. H. Sargent, op. cit., v. 2, 
pp. 213-217; see also Joseph C. Gannon, "The USS OREGON and the Battle of 
Santiago" (New York: Comet Press, 1958).

(41) H. H. Sargent, op. cit., v. 2, pp. 216-217.

(42) "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898", v. 2, pp. 524-525.

(43) Ibid., pp. 559-560.

(44) Frederick J. Nelson, "Why Guam Alone Is American," U. S. "Naval Institute 
Proceedings", v. 62, no. 8 (Aug 1938), pp. 1132-1133.

(45) "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898", v. 2, pp. 642-645.

(46) Ibid.; Metcalf, op. cit., p. 262.

(47) "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898", v. 2, pp. 301-303.

(48) Clifford, op. cit., p. 54.

(49) "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898", v. 2, pp. 828-830.

(50) Ibid., v. 1, p. 827.

(51) W. H. Russell, "The Genesis of FMF Doctrine: 1879-1899," part IV, Marine 
Corps Gazette", v. 35, no. 7 (Jul 1951), p. 59.


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