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The 1898 Spanish American war
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spanish-american war

Battle of Santiago de Cuba (july, 3, 1898).

The Santiago campaign

Spain had in the metropolis of Pelayo, the Vitoria and Numancia are still in the docks of La Seyne at Toulon, and the Mendez Nunez in reserve, as well as the coastal battery Duque de Tetuan (1874) and the training ship Puigcerda, a monitor in 1874, for the battleships, the Emperador Carlos V and the Princesa de Asturias freshly accepted service is also stationed at Cadiz and Cartagena and carrying out patrols during the war. Most of the torpedo boats were also stationed.

The squadron was composed of the Caribbean at the time of declaration of war only a few minor units, and a strong squadron was assembled at the Cape Verde Islands, with Admiral Ocquendo, the Vizcaya, the Infanta Maria Teresa, the Cristobal Colon, destroyers Furor, Terror and Pluto, under the command of the best Spanish admiral, the respected Pascual Cervera y Topete. This man, 59, former minister of the navy had served 47 years in the navy, in Cuba, he knew well, as in the Far East, through diet changes. Cultured, polite, competent, courageous, he was appreciated as well as the court of his men.

At the time of declaration of war, he proposed to wait in Madrid to the Canary Islands, which the U.S. Navy would not fail to ping to the coast metropolitan areas, and combining that with his squadron of Cartagena, sent as reinforcements, take in a pincer the "Yankees" and inflict a crushing defeat. All his commanders had approved the plan. It is with dismay on learning that his orders are to defend Cuba on site and to sail as soon as possible. It runs so sad with the same resolution as the English Admiral Sir Charles Cradock, sent to sacrifice against the powerful Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the Falklands. He knows that on paper forces are important, though outclassed by the number and tonnage of American, which is her home, and that its ships are far from being at the top level: They suffer from a poor supply of shells, various malfunctions of their main guns, lack of maintenance such as Vizcaya example could barely sustain 12 knots, not to mention the Cristobal Colon, which was missing its turret front half of its main armament.


Nonetheless the fleet leaves St. Vincent April 29, 1898, as Americans learn quickly. A long detour and believed to run quickly from coal, the Americans believe that Cervera's squadron will probably win the fortified port of Puerto Rico. On May 1, far away in Cavite (Manila Bay), an American fleet sank at anchor by surprise the Spanish Pacific fleet. Sampson must also necessarily score points, even if only for the sport. But Cervera's squadron is far more serious than the old gunboats from the Far East ... On 4 May, the fleet of Admiral Sampson is sent before the colony to intercept Cervera. May 11, she arrived at San Juan and began to bomb the harbor, thinking cervera there. Faced with the evidence of the absence of the Spanish Admiral, the fleet sailed to return to Key West. Informed that a ship in the squadron was to coal to Martinique. Sampson to lashes and to Curacao. Then he returns to Key West where it should be joined by the squadron of Schley. The two wings merged on 18. Key West is not far from Havana, it seems unlikely that Cervera comes to risk it to try to lift the blockade. They know that the squadron arrived in the south of Cuba, and must be anchored under the protection of the guns of one of two fortified ports on the coast in this area, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. Thinking that the first hypothesis is most likely, the combined American squadron, now under the command of Schley, sailed to Cienfuegos. American confidence in the outcome of the battle ahead is such that the wing is surrounded by a picturesque fleet of luxury yachts who think attending a "picnic" on these units, we still embedded a piece of countryside ... in case. others are better equipped after requisition, such as Gloucester, who will share in the heart of the battle.

The 22, at Cienfuegos, the eye in the telescope, Admiral Schley observe the apple mast that emerge from the hills hid the harbor, ships of many present, but failed to identify them formally. Are they those of Cervera? The next day a messenger joined the squadron with a message confirming the Sampson odre to stay put. But a few hours later, he received another one messenger to sail quickly to Santiago, as rumors indicate is the anchor of the Spanish Admiral. But Schley and probably still feels that the presence of cervera Cienfuegos is always possible. On 25, a cruiser Sampson arrives with the first copy of the message, which reiterates the formal order to reach full steam port of Santiago. It runs reluctantly. He learned by the commander of the cruiser that Cubans will signal resistant, three shafts of light from the window of a house on the coast near the port, if the Spanish fleet was there. The watchmen at the end of three days thought they saw the lights, and Schley received formal confirmation of the presence of Cervera from other sources. He could no longer remain in doubt.

However, Schley can not intervene right away: Weather conditions are rapidly deteriorating and the coal fleet, the Merrimack serious problems of boilers that tie. A 20 nautical miles from Santiago, he sent three ships to try to see the Spanish fleet. They come back without seeing the shadow of any cruiser. Schley decides, fearful of falling short of coal, spinning around Key West to refuel, to the chagrin of the Secretary of the Navy, furious, finds that the insubordination of his admiral. He sent an urgent telegram on 27 classified "top priority" intimating to the Schley odre the more formal area to stay. Fortunately, it gives up at the last moment to leave the area, even before receiving the telegram, as the sea calmed down and Charbonnier Merrimack is again able to do its job. Refueling there, he takes all his squadron on May 29 and parked in front of the mouth of the harbor. There, he saw the glow of sunset the Cristobal Colon, and urges the Landemaine at dawn. The artillery duel was unequal and yet the blows of the ships do not. The Colon escaped and joined the rest of the squadron to be placed directly under the protection of the guns of the fort. The day after, Sampson joined Schley's squadron.

So U.S. forces begin a siege of the port. Cervera for the only way to escape is that time is degraded, and to leave the door to the double cover of darkness and bad weather. but the sea remaining oil. For their part the two admirals Yankees do not intend to force the Bay: Large batteries commanding the mouth of the harbor and approaches, not to mention the long-range batteries fortified port itself, and mines laid across the mouth. On the other hand, they can wait until the General Schaft, landed nearby, arrives to take the city and port in the rear with his troops and capture the fort, batteries, and force Cervera to leave the harbor. This is indeed what the events will show. But Sampson, who hoisted his mark on the cruiser-battleship New York, thanks to the inspiration of RP Hobson, a naval lieutenant and brilliant engineer, develops a light plane: This is to send the old Merrimack through the mouth, lights off, winning the roads, machines stopped, helped by the current and momentum, then scuttled after having maneuvered across wetted and firmly, with its carefully placed charges. Thus, it blocks the port, cutting off any possibility of retirement at Cervera.

The operation is conducted on the night of June 2 to 3 but is a failure: The ship, again because of pressure problems in the boilers, is poorly operated and scuttled into a position and a place that still allows Cervera to leave the harbor. For its part, the Mairal Spanish in a few days ashore laplupart of his sailors with all weapons disponobles to strengthen the lines of defense from Santiago to the interior, against Schaft, approaching dangerously. Before the news of the American commando operation, the "Captain General" Blanco, commander in chief of Cuba, orders Cervera out of the harbor in force. Cervera studied its possibilities: Exit night would run the risk of running out of his squadron visibility for its maneuvering in the narrow mouth of course always possible collision with the Merrimack. After careful consideration, he decided to sail Sunday, July 3rd at nine in the morning hours of traditional religious services in the United States Navy (Yamamoto studied in detail as well as Mahan Spanish-American War, which guided his choices well later to Pearl Harbour). From the Saturday at two o'clock in the afternoon, the boilers had to be set in motion while the sailors stationed at the front lines in the back of the Vlle would return urgently to prepare and ship parts.

The battle

On July 3, at 9:00, as expected, the squadron set off. But the watchmen flagship of Commodore Schley, on the battleship-cruiser Brooklyn, saw rise from the hills behind the thick black smoke and gave the alarm. Schley sent the small yacht Vixen to inquire about the preparation of all vessels of the fleet in case of an output. But despite his precautions, he was taken aback by noting the disappearance Landemaine at the dawn of the cruisers New Orleans and Newark, charcoal left in Guantanamo, escorted by the battleship Massachusetts. The locking device was now rewarded with a massive opportunity in the West. Sampson on the New York sailed this point to "close the gap." The latter and the Brooklyn were now only two units that can effectively intercept Cervera's squadron, and were at both ends of the device. At 9:35 on a glassy sea and bright sunshine, Cervera at the head of the Infanta Maria Teresa arrived the port driver and began his way to the mouth. His ships followed at intervals of 7 minutes. The watchman of Brooklyn saw the plume of smoke behind the hill closing the mouth and gave the alarm, quickly confirmed by Schley himself with a microscope. Flags of commotion were drawn to the apple of the masts, but the New York Sampson had indeed disappeared from view and was not informed.

The duel began between Teresa in mind, and the battleship Iowa, across the street. It was almost an execution: The ship amriral esapagnol, going at full speed, could be fired as part of its front and a few pieces barbettes while the squadron in a semicircle of Americans held him under the scope of almost all parts: The whole horizon barred with black silhouettes of light kindled literally fatal. Fortunately for Cervera, there was not a breath of wind, and thick white smoke hid the pieces to the silhouette of pointers Teresa. Also, the second burst, the strokes were found in spite of the distance and did not bear. At seven miles east of Santiago, Sampson went to an interview with General when one of his watchers warned white fumes of guns. While observing the scene itself is seen between two plumes of smoke from the silhouette caractrstique Teresa and realized that the time had come. He made an about face in his huge cruiser for "cross the T" of the line of battle of Cervera hoping strongly that the latter, ignoring the presence of the device so far, would come to him. At this distance it was still impossible to predict, however, if Cervera escaped to the east or west.

Cervera also studied the options and decided to use one of these gestures of chivalry which was the pride of the Spanish crown: Spinning due west, toward the Brooklyn, he was trying to ram through the while the rest of the squadron, while putting in line of battle ships to respond effectively to Americans, would escape to the east, apparently empty of New York, Brooklyn with one ship able to follow them. As expected, the subterfuge and took the battleship Texas, very close to the Brooklyn, believing that Cervera sailed to the west, began his maneuver in that, like the rest of the squadron. The Brooklyn was the only one turning its prow to the east (by mistake, not prescience!). Through the fog generated by fat stacks of ships, which spread to the surface due to lack of wind, one of the watchmen of Texas suddenly saw with amazement the emerging high white bow of a cruiser, which the gilding wore the striped coat of arms and the eagle. "Brooklyn straight ahead!" Thanks to the presence of mind to the mate who pulled the levers of xxx on "full astern", and the readiness of the helmsman, Texas avoided a fatal collision...

Leaving the bay, Cervera saw the Brooklyn coming eastward with him over the side. Declining a ramming, he confirmed his early heading west to deceive. Penetrating deeper into the American system of fire, he drew her to him all the shots, while Colon and Vizcaya were eclipsed by shaving the coast. Banking heavily on Teresa was hit by a large caliber that destroyed the bridge, killing all the officers including the captain. Cervera then took personal command of the ship. He began to burn, the fire spreading dangerously in the corridors at the rear, to the ammunition bunkers, which could not be drowned. Cervera then decided to save his men while allowing some hope to continue the fight from the shore: He turned his ship toward the beach, thinking to fail. American ships could not follow the toutefos Teresa because their boilers were only half their maximum heat: As a backup fuel, they were condemned and they were cold, including the Brooklyn. These same measures ordered the night before to prevent the ships falling short of coal weighed heavily on the action.

The situation of the cruiser Ocquendo, the fourth out of the bay, was little better because when the fire subsided Teresa, it helpless, burning like a torch, they came to rely on the unfortunate cruiser, who answered all parts, destroyed one after the other. His was paserelles rgulireent plonne so that after a few tens of minutes, the officers could order were killed. More than half of her crew killed or wounded, he remained for him to run aground in turn, less than a mile from Teresa. But at the moment of impact of the grounding, at 10:30, the hull was so battered by EETE fire that broke in two a tremendous explosion. Finally, it was the turn of destroyers Furor, Terror, followed by Pluto. The first two escaped, zig-Zagu between high geysers of large pieces, but the latter received an impact of large caliber (330 mm) on its rear deck, destroying its engine room and distorting its rudder. Veering sharply to the coast, he sailed so close to it almost immediately it struck a reef, destroying its bow. Her crew jumped and swam to shore in minutes.

Sr the Furor, the Sitat was no better: The first impact on the bridge crashed and killed the officer of the bar and ordered the other direction. The bar was stuck at its highest incidence and the unfortunate destroyer began to turn around, cashing other shots. Unable to replicate with small arms, it was quickly evacuated by the crew, just before another shell 330 mm fell in the engine room, sending pieces of drivers and pieces of boilers brought to white in the blue . Water rushed immediately behind yawning, and he sank in an instant. In thirty minutes, two cruisers and two destroyers were destroyed summers. Schley could savor his victory. But the kill was not yet fully consummated: The Brookyn, followed by Texas and Oregon began a shooting hunting Vizcaya, the closest along the coast a little more off the Colon. Iowa and a yacht on the front line, the Gloucester, fished the suvivants Spaniards, while Indiana was in the rear guard, a lack of adequate heating. A tremendous artillery duel then began, alongside and at close range (900 meters), between Vizcaya, protecting the flight of the Colon (which had no room in front 254 mm), and Brooklyn, as in time of Nelson. At this distance, even wore a gun. All parts, to machine guns crackled with rage. For a bit and Schley and his crew felt ready for a collision in order, swords ...

The regular exercises of the American gunners began to bear fruit. While recharging their parts is slower and the officers asked them to take their time before setting out, hitting the goals became more and more to the point that a sailor who looked on astonished not to see the white plumes of the geysers ... For their part the gunners Spaniards were well served by the guns a little faster and a thicker hull armor, but an excitement throughout Latin began to crack as the only fiscal year in which the gunners were entitled was felt in imprecision of the disastrous fire of Vizcaya. At one point, the Brooklyn suffered a 280 mm shell that penetrated the hull just below the bridge but did not explode, injuring two sailors superficially. A moment later another shell decapitated adjuster shots, perched on his top. But the next moment, a hit at the stern of the Vizcaya blew the torpedo tube in his back. The ship began to burn furiously annoying gunners. The fate of the vessel was sealed. Slowly but surely his plays were put out of action and after mine turn off to Brooklyn for the ram, it was decided to make it fail on the beach, like the other two. The commander was seriously wounded, it was his second that took over, and after a quick "vote" with the officers and men present to see if something more could be done to the crown and the honor of Spain, no way was raised against the decision to fail the cruiser.

Seeing it definitely skews towards the coast, the Brooklyn and Texas ceased fire. Texas board is going to start a song of victory when Captain Philips ordered them to be quiet, "Do not sing, boys, those poor devils are dying" ... Indeed, we could see the red dotted with white spots of the injured as valid, that the shoulder, the back fire, an arm, their uniforms often ragged or scorched, smoldering seemed to spring open wounds of the hull as the bridge. The latter was transformed into a hell, whose languages ??have licked red flags of the masthead on the bottom of a continuous rumbling. These poles also began to writhe under the heat. Their huge SWR suddenly broke into a horrible metallic relaxation, and beware of unfortunates who were on their way: they are often found in two parts. The planks of the bridge that did not burn again gave way, broke under the buckling of steel bridge raised to red by pressure. The entire ship's belly was just a huge boiler vomiting in all orifices.

But the men of the Vizcaya ordeal was not over: Diving with the pain that we imagine in a saltwater attacking their wounds and their bright blures stripper, they should remain immersed intermittently to escape the gunfire of resistant pro-American of Santiago, who attended the show first passively, decided to go after the representatives of the hated regime, which nagaient painfully to shore. Around the other guns had to be added to the point where the Commander Evans, of Iowa, who had launched all boats to pick up survivors, sent a boat with an officer armed with a door voice to discourage Cubans to continue their killing easier, under the threat of a flock of his large pieces ... The Spanish sailors saw the fire that greeted them on shore, turned back to rescue Americans, and this time had to contend with sharks, attracted and maddened by the smell of blood, which barred their passage here and there hapant members at random: The first American master of Iowa, Jeffrey Davis, recalls giving a hand to an officer in the arm that burned easily floated. As he leaned more to make it easier for the water by grabbing his forearm, he saw a gray spinning close to the gunwale, and the next moment he fell back into the boat, on the knees with the trunk of the unfortunate. A shark had taken the rest.

The Cristobal Colon, meanwhile, seemed to sow his pursuers. He was now driven by the Brooklyn, whose machines were not yet fully heated, unlike the battleship Oregon, whose crew had redoubled its efforts to achieve medium tes who had obtained during the tests. Finally, Texas, to the rear, continued on its course. The hunt lasted two hours, the Cuban coast, about 110 Kilometers. The Colon, spinning nearly twenty knots seemed able to sow. Distances which stretched before we stopped the fire fighter to take stock. Schley was jubilant: The right side seemed endless and the Spanish cruiser always put more miles between them and him, but he knew that soon inflected coast opposite the ship Iberian, who would be forced to change its course, this time with his open to his pursuers. On the bridge of Colon, the "Pasha" studied his cards was far more concerned again: He knew that in one hour than its drivers, toiling in the hell of the engine room (over 50 at full steam) have exhausted the stock of coal in Asturias and commence the locally produced, low quality. As expected, at nine in the evening, while the coast was starting to get closer, the smoke plume visible on the horizon for Oregon that changed imperceptibly colored heels. Slowly but surely, in this dark plume, we began to distinguish the bow shiny black with hints of red in the setting sun, until the large pieces before the battleship are again within reach. The gunners took their time to aim, and Oregon came to the point that those of 203 mm from the Spanish ship, the only major where he was with, were also within range. A "dialogue" between the two vessels began.

On the sixth salvo, Oregon did fly on its stern. The Spanish ship, which sped still entitled to the coast which is now barred the way, decided to make it not be caught: For that honor is but, he noticed a group of reefs in order to make run his ship and then scuttled. This was done. The sailors and officers could then quietly put their boats into the water and gain the shore, waiting to go to the Americans. When Admiral Sampson arrived at full speed on the New York, it was all over. He could only watch the wreck marking out the side, ripped, twisted, whence torrents of thick curls. He could also see the bridge crowded with men from Indiana and Iowa, the ballet of boats pulling bodies tossed like puppets of the black water. In any Cervera's squadron, only the small-aptly named Terror-had survived. The Battle of Santiago de Cuba was over. Spain had lost the same day his best admiral taken prisoner along with 1600 men and 70 officers in its ranks with 323 dead or missing and 151 injured, but also the loss of his best fleet, and more, its colonies Caribbean, this a few months after the fall of the Philippines. Shipwrecked who had reached the shore and escaped the guns of the Cuban insurgents, only a handful had joined the line defending the city. The Americans had lost one officer described and deplored nine minor injuries and one seriously. Santiago will fall on July 17, taking over two weeks against superior numbers of troops.


We know what the effects of this victory were the Congress as the popular press, and more on elites and the Spanish people who saw his last ship down with his final dream of matching the empire of Charles V. But also men who wanted their share of glory which was in the final, looking back a century, an "execution"...
Nearby, a stocky officer and nervous orders of a celebrity of the former Confederate Army, "Battler Joe" Wheeler, with favorites and little round glasses, climbed under fire Spanish at the head of his Rough Riders on the crest of San Juan. Former Assistant Secretary of State for the Navy, avid reader of Mahan, he was so adept at "critical shock" which he had studied philosophy. He was elected 12 years later, President of the United States. A great lover of hunting and happy rock of Grizzly, he is also its marine equivalent of nearly omnipotent Royal Navy ... For everyone was "Teddy" Roosevelt. (See US Navy in 1914.).