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I had rather have a plain, russet-coated Captain, that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than that you call a Gentle-man and is nothing else.

-- Oliver Cromwell

War Stories: Spanish American

War Stories published under this topic are as follows:

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Spanish American U. S. S. POTOMAC,

Caimanera, Cuba, August 23, 1898.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the work done on the wreck of the Maria Teresa since the last inspection made by Lieutenant-Commander Pillsbury, on August 15, 1898.
  7344 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American SIR: At 9 a. m., July 3, I gave orders and arrangements were made for general muster at 9.30 a. m. At 9.30 a. m. the enemy were telegraphed by the Iowa as Coming out. At the same time they were discovered by the quartermaster on watch, N. Anderson, of this ship, and reported to the officer of the deck.
Note: account written July 7, 1898.  9163 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American [Letterhead: New York and Cuba Mail Steamship Company]

On Board: S.S. City of Washington

[Havana], February 16, 1898

Dearest,

I sent you two cablegrams last night telling you of my safety, and before they both reached you before the morning papers, and that you were spared the agony of suspense and uncertainty.
Note: written the day after the USS MAINE was lost  9849 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of that part of the squadron under your command which came under my observation during the engagement with the Spanish fleet on July 3, 1898. At 9.35 a. m. Admiral Cervera, with the Infanta Maria Teresa, Viscaya, Oquendo, Cristobal Colon, and two torpedo boat destroyers, came out of the harbor of Santiago de Cuba in column at distance and attempted to escape to the westward.
Note: account written July 6, 1898.  7570 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American U.S.S. "Oregon" San Francisco Cal. March 19th 1898 Weighed anchor at 4.45 .m. and got under way passing between Angel island and Alcatraz. Almost every whistle in the city and every ship on the bay saluted us as we headed for the Golden Gate at a 14 knot clip, even the little government tug "Gen McDowell" added her mite from the wharf at Alcatraz while the military prisoners on the "Rock" waved their hats and we could feel that they were cheering although too far off to be heard.
  9750 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American USS Oregon, 4 July 1898
Sir - I have the honor to report that at 9.30 AM yesterday the Spanish fleet was discovered standing out of the harbor of Santiago de Cuba. They turned to the westward and opened fire, to which our ships replied vigorously. For a short time there was almost continuous flight of projectiles over this ship, but when our line was fairly engaged and the Iowa had made a swift advance, as if to ram or close, the enemy's fire became defective in train as well as range. The ship was only struck three times, and at least two of them were by fragments of shells. We had no casualties.
Note: by Captain C.E. Clark, USN  8075 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American Friday Jan. 1st 1897 Dear Sir, Some time ago, about Dec. 20th I wrote a letter to a friend of mind, Dr. Guitierez at Key West, in which I described our passage of the Trocha and Maceo's death, which I requested him, after reading, to forward to the "World", for publication, but I am afraid, the Spaniards have the letter, as I intrusted it to Lieut. Col. Pacio to forward, and his fate just now is unknown. I will therefore write about it once more. On December. 4th at 2 p.m. Gen. A. Maceo, accompanied by about 30 persons on his staff, assistants and a few cavalrymen commanded by Comandante Varios, left San Felipe at the foot of the Gobernador (a large conspicuous hill); and as my clothes had not come, although I had dispatched 2 messengers, the General told me to come without them. About 6 p.m. we got to the beach, between Cabanas and Mariel, where the boat was hidden in the woods; but there was a very strong northerly wind and very heavy sea, so as to make it very dangerous, if not impossible to launch the boat. We therefore picked the boat up on our shoulders, even the General taking hold several times, and carried it about a mile and a half across a neck of land, launching it inside the harbor of Mariel, not more than 2 miles outside the town, about 10 p.m. Gen. A. Maceo, Gen. Pedro Diaz, Panchito Gomez [son of major General Maximo Gomez (Daley)] and I were the first 4 to cross, with one guide and two boatmen. We landed after a passage of about 20-25 minutes at a little wharf near what I took to be some bathhouses, and all of us picking up a load, started a march of about 2˝ miles, when we stopped at a deserted house. The guide went back, and shortly returned with the 2nd group, namely Brigadier General Miro, Col. Nordarse, Dr. Zertoucha, Com. Justis and Ramon Umaha. By 2 a.m. the rest, namely, Com. Piedra and Beaberes [don't know the correct spelling (Daley)], one captain and 5 assistants had joined us and we went about ˝ mile further, to a safer point, where we waited for daylight. About 6 a.m. on the 5th we started on the march and about 7 a.m near La Merced, met Lieut. Vazquez and some of his men, who took us to a house, where we camped all day. Next day Dec. 6th we left about noon, mounted on the horses of Vazquez's men, as our horses had not come yet; met Lieut. Col. Baldomero Acosta with men and horses 2 p.m. and camped at Gara 4 p.m.-9 p.m. Then resumed the march and camped at Baracoa [Havana province (Daley)] at midnight. At 4 a.m. Dec. 7th resumed the march and met Brigadier Silverio Sanchez, encamped with about 300 men, at 8 a.m. at San Pedro. As we had not had much sleep and there was nothing to eat, most of us (the Grl. Staff) went to sleep and the General had his hammock put up as well. We naturally had all confidence in Brig. Sanchez, but he did not have any exploradores and when suddenly about 2 p.m. without any warning, heavy firing commenced at our advance guard, all was for a moment confusion. Not enough, to be without exploration, but the advance guard was so near the camp, that when the fire opened, the bullets entered and passed beyond the camp. Naturally we all mounted as quick as possible, and the General, Miro, Diaz, Nodarse, I and 3-4 more were riding in a group, when immediately outside the little wood, in which was the camp, we met our retreating and, at no great distance, saw the enemy advancing and firing en guerilla. The General gave his horse the spurs and drawing his machete, shouted to the retreating men "Atras! al machete!". The men and others who were all the time coming from the camp to the front, seemed electrified, and with enthusiastic shouts wheeled their horses and charged, while the enemy precipitately retreated about 200 yards where he took position behind a strong stonewall about 4 feet high and, even dismounting his cavalry, opened a terrific fire by volleys. The General at this moment told me to collect what men I could, and charge the enemy's right flank (on our left) while he himself charged on the left. I collected about 35-40 men, and seeing the stonewall not extended very far, also knowing it to be impossible for a small cavalry to take a wall like that from infantry by a direct charge, I went about 500 yards further to our left and then charged around the end of the wall. I broke their first line of fire, but was losing men fast, and when I fell wounded with 3 bullets, my men put me on another horse and retreated. As I went back, I saw the General [Antonio Maceo (Daley)], with small group, not more than 6-8, charging, away on our right, and it seemed but a moment, when all but 2 or 3 where on the ground. Commander Manuel Sanchez, was charging at the General's side, when a bullet entered the chin of Maceo, coming out at the back of the neck. The General fell forward on his horse's neck and Sanchez catching his arm exclaimed: "General, no soy cobarde!" Maceo could not speak, but gave him a terrible look and at this moment Sanchez received a bullet through his right leg which after traversing his horse also entered the stomach of the General. Maceo fell but a short distance from the stonewall and it seems it was impossible for our people to advance and get his body. Some of the Spaniards advanced and robbed both him and Panchito Gomez, but they never got their bodies as the fire of our men drove then back. Near dark about 5 p.m. the enemy retreated and our people then got the bodies. And I here wish to protest against the horrible custom of the Spanish to kill the wounded. They say Panchito Gomez committed suicide and I saw a picture in one of the Spanish papers, where he puts the revolver to his brain. But that are all lies. First and foremost he had no revolver; on Dec. 2nd before we crossed, we have a nice little fight near San Felipe, and Panchito was wounded in the left shoulder and also lost his revolver. Second he had no bullet wound in the head. He had besides his old wound in the shoulder, only one bullet wound in the left side of the stomach; but they found him alive with that by the side of the General and gave him a pinch (thrust) with the point of a sword in the right breast, a cut in the hollow of the left arm, and a horrible machetazo, that laid open the whole back of his head and left side of the neck. All of us who crossed with the General were wounded except Gen. Diaz and Zertucha and Com. Justis who was killed. I received a bullet in the right knee, one through the right arm and another in the left side, but the last 2 light wounds that are about well. The bullet in the knee is one of those confounded copper bullets that make a hole size of your thumb, and besides it hurts the bone. I believe you want to know also about some of the atrocities of the soldiers towards Pacificos, and I could write lots, that I have personally witnessed, but I refer you to Mr. George Bronson Rhea, who has a host of well authenticated instances at your disposal. Still if you wish for some more, let me know, and I will supply them. As for the talk of the papers and Grl. Weyler about his speedy pacification of the island do no believe a word of it. In Pinar del Rio are at least 6000 armed Cubans, besides 4-6000 more with machetes. They have a splendid General (Rius Rivera) there and at present plenty to eat. I was there sometime and never went hungry, besides had the satisfaction there, to see Weyler with 25,000 men unable to force our position for 5 days, when we had not more that 80 men. Of course everyone deplores the loss of Maceo, but I find nobody discouraged; on the contrary everybody, soldiers as well as leaders are strong in the determination, to fight till their island is free. They all have still great hopes of American intervention, but even without that, they will fight on, trusting to tire out Spain, and especially Spaniard finances. Let me know if you wish to know more. Yours, El Coronel Carlos Gordon
  5052 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American U.S.S. Maine Havana, Cuba Dear Father, I received your loving letter a few days ago and was pleased to hear from you. I would have written sooner but owing to us having to been ordered to sea so soon. I didn't have any chance. We are now in Havana Cuba. We arrived here yesterday after a five hour run around a place called Dry Tartogos a small Florida reef. We were out to sea when the orders came for us to proceed to proceed at once to Havana. We are the first American ship that has been here in six years. We are now cleared for action with every gun in the ship loaded and men stationed around the ship all night. We are also ready to land a battalion at any moment. By the looks of things now I think we will have some trouble before we leave. We steamed the whole length of Cuba and about every mile you can see puffs of smoke and the Spainards firing on the rebels. There are three German ships (?) loading. here was Old Moro Castle stands at the entrance of the harbor, there are thousands of Spanish inside you can see them all sitting on the walls at any time of the day. This is a landlocked harbor but I think we could get out of it all right although we are in a pretty dangerous position at the present time and we hardly know when we are safe. Well dear Father I will now have to close sending my best love and wishes to all and hoping that I may be alive to see you all again. I remain you loving son. Charles U.S.S. Maine in the charge of Council General of the United States Havana, Cuba
Note: by Charles Hamilton, Apprentice, 1st Class, Battleship Maine.  4372 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American

Santiago De Cuba

July 18, 1898

Dear Parents,

Received your welcome letter and was so glad to find all well. I am in the best of health, but my God, how the men around me suffer! There are 30 to 40 in the Company sick. It is the fever, and I thank God every day that He has spared me so far. He has heard your prayers, my dear Mama. As I have no paper, I will give you a brief sketch of what has happened on the Island and go into details some other time.

  7334 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American "A regiment of the Second Brigade was jamming itself through the trail, and then came some of the Sixteenth Infantry's bandsmen. In battle, bandsmen followed a regiment and carried off the wounded. The band leader and the drum major were swearing earnestly. A soldier stumbled and dropped. His rifle fell from his hand. On the instant a bandsman darted forward, throwing his tenor horn into the brush. He grabbed the rifle and unbuckled the dead man's cartridge belt. It was this sort of thing that the drum major was swearing about - half the bandsmen had discarded their instruments and picked up rifles and cartridge belts. 'You hear me, pick up that goddamn horn! You hear me!' The bandsman paid no attention. 'You pick up that goddamn horn!' shrilled the drum major. ' An' that's an order!' The bandsman looked at him. 'Not by a goodamsite, Dan' he said. 'You think I'm agoin to get shot at an' not shoot back!' 'Goddam!' ejaculated the drum major. He darted at another bandsman, who was unbuckling a cartridge belt from a soldier who had been wounded - and who was helping him do it. The band had few instrumens left; but for every missing horn or fife there was a Krag rifle and a belt of cartridges. A fortnight later I saw some of those instruments; they had bullet holes in them, they were dented and battered and roughly straightened out."
Note: by Private Charles Johnson Post.  3188 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered befell just before we charged. Bucky O'Neill was strolling up and down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer ought never to take cover - a theory which was, of course, wrong, though in a volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our regimental toast on the transport running, " The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted."
Note: by Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Riders,(1st United States Volunteer Infantry).  8161 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by this ship in the action of yesterday during and following the sortie of Admiral Cervera’s squadron. The ship had started at 8.50 for the army landing at Siboney, the commander in chief having an appointment with the general commanding the army.
Note: account written July 4, 1898.  7488 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American "On June 15, 1898, the dynamite cruiser VESUVIUS, of which so much had been expected, was at last tested, with what result it remained for the Spaniards cooped up in Santiago harbor to report. The swift craft crept unobserved to within 600 yards of the mouth of the harbor, and, after discharging 1,500 pounds of ammunition at the Spanish ships and the fortification within, escaped unharmed. A Cuban pilot and Ensign L. C. Palmer, who had made the trip ashore and were acquainted with the location of the ships of Admiral Cervera's squadron and the batteries, went aboard the vessel, and she was ordered to the mouth of the harbor. The last order issued to her from the flagship was to be very deliberate. The VESUVIUS took up her position and fired three shots in as many minutes, one from each of her aerial dynamite tubes. The report was a peculiar one, sounding like a cough. There was no recoil perceptible. The first shot struck near the ridge of the hills, and exploded with a tremendous roar, not unlike the thunder of a shell. There was, however, very little flame. The light emitted was rather in the nature of a glow. An immense volume of red earth was blown straight up into the air to a height of 200 feet. The effect of the second shot, which struck higher up on the cliff, was similar to that of the first. The third shot went over the hill, and probably reached the supposed location of the torpedo boats in the harbor. Only two shots were fired in answer by the forts, and these were apparently delivered at random. The VESUVIUS backed out at a high rate of speed, although she was moving with her engines reversed. She swept by the lighthouse tender that was lying to seaward, which was getting away from the fire of the forts, passing her as though she was lying at anchor. The men on the VESUVIUS were delighted with their work and anxious to try their guns again. They expected and were eager to go straight into the harbor, but the effect of the shots were not such as justified an attempt to pass the lower batteries, and VESUVIUS did not repeat her attack."
Note: by General Marcus J. Wright.  4175 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American I was just closing a letter to my family when I felt the crash of the explosion. It was a bursting, rending, and crashing sound, or roar of immense volume, largely metallic in character. It was succeeed by a metallic sound - probably of falling debris - a trembling and lurching motion of the vessel, then an impression of subsidence, attended by an eclipse of the electirc lights and intense darkness within the cabin.
Note: recounted by Captain Charles D. Sigsbee, USS MAINE, Commanding Officer.  13230 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American The day first of July, at six o'clock in the morning, the enemy army main force commanded by General Shafter, composed at least of 15,000 men, with plenty of modern artillery, without counting the insurrects groups, attacked the lines of the city towards the East and Northeast, that is, El Caney, defended by General Vara de Rey with 520 men and two Plasencia type guns and the position of San Juan, occupied by two companies of 250 soldiers.
Note: by Spanish Navy Officer José Muller Tejeira, 1898.  8583 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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