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Spain, War with

For events leading to the war between the United States and Spain in 1898, the reader is referred to the article on Cuba. Other details will be found under the titles of persons and places that became conspicuous in the war. The following narrative of the military operations of the war is by Lieut.-Gen. Nelson A. Miles, commanding the United States army:

The recent war with Spain was the logical outcome of the conditions which existed in Cuba. It was evident, not only to this country but to all the world, that Spanish rule on this side of the ocean must necessarily cease, if peace and international harmony were to be preserved. The great Spanish nation of the sixteenth century, with its rich possessions encircling the globe, had so decayed in the nineteenth century as to be unfit in every way, physically and financially, to control not only Cuba but her remaining colonies. One by one, through the same misrule, Mexico and South-American states had found her yoke unbearable and had gained their independence, Spain thus losing these vast possessions and the large income derived from them. Cuba, termed “The ever faithful Isle,” and Porto Rico remained. For more than a century Spain [293] had been a dying nation; while the effect of her rule, or rather misrule, in Cuba was a menace to the peace and good order not only of this country, but of every other country having any relations with the island.

While Spain was in possession of Florida, a succession of disagreeable events had occurred in connection with our commerce in the Gulf of Mexico, which involved great loss to us, and which so marred the relations between Spain and the republic that, after much controversy, Florida was finally ceded to the United States—largely as a matter of compensation to our country.

The Ten Years War, with all its cruelty and horrors, had ceased purely through the physical exhaustion of the insurgents, only to be recommenced, with renewed vigor, with the insurrection which had been in progress two years at the outbreak of the late war. The voice of civilization demanded intervention. the Virginius affair, involving the massacre of several of our citizens and others, had not faded from the memory of our people; nor was the final adjudication of that incident satisfactory. The summary execution of the victims, under the circumstances, was directly contrary to treaty obligations and to justice.

The character of the war waged by Spain against the Cuban insurgents was cruel, and often barbarous, despite the warnings given by our nation that it should be conducted in a humane manner. It was becoming a war of extermination. “The Pearl of the Antilles” was ruined, and its population reduced many hundreds of thousands by death, in many cases from starvation. With a forbearance that, perhaps, no other nation would have shown, we had preserved the strictest neutrality at great cost, with much loss in our trade relations.

On Feb. 15, 1898, the world was startled and horrified by the blowing up of the battle-ship Maine, of the United States navy, in the harbor of Havana, with the loss of 253 of her crew. It does not matter now how this was done; whether or not any Spanish official was concerned in the destruction of this magnificent ship, nor how it occurred; nevertheless, the disaster caused great consternation throughout our land, and from that moment Spanish rule in Cuba was doomed. The whole nation with one voice demanded its termination. Party feelings were forgotten, and on March 9 Congress appropriated $50,000,000 for national defence. With this large amount the executive department was authorized to make prepaarations for the impending war. The navy department succeeded in securing large quantities of munitions of war, including a considerable number of rapidfire guns and ammunition, some third or fourth rate vessels, and quite a number of others that were used as an auxiliary naval force; yet, such priceless jewels are the modern appliances of war that, even with the large amount of gold available, our government was unable to purchase a single battle-ship, a first-class cruiser, or a modern high-power gun of the greatest destructive power. It requires years to build these great engines of war, and they cannot be obtained in an emergency.

On April 25 Congress declared war, making the declaration that war had existed from April 21.

Congress had been much more generous in its appropriations for the navy than for the army, and much progress had already been made in the construction of battle-ships and cruisers. At the time of the breaking out of the war, indeed, the navy was in fairly effective condition, except for a shortage in ammunition, and it proved to be in every way superior to the Spanish navy. The magnificent results of the operations and the splendid record of the navy during the war were eminently satisfactory.

Although, for many years, Congress had been urged to make appropriations for the adequate protection of our seacoasts, it had been so tardy in doing so that, when the war broke out, the condition of our coast defences was far from satisfactory. A very few modern guns of high power had been placed in position. It is true that much work was in progress, but it takes years to construct guns and to build emplacements for them, so that at that time it required many months still to accomplish the necessary results. Suddenly attacked by a first-class naval power, most of our [294] seaports would have been practically defenceless.

The army, of 25,000 men, was doing duty in various parts of the country, where for many years it had paved the way for the advance of civilization, and had afforded constant protection to the citizens on the frontier. It was, as far as practicable, well trained and in excellent condition. It was fairly well armed and equipped, and it was ready for any emergency, its officers and men having been hardened by service and training in the West. It was, as far as intelligence, physical excellence, discipline, and devotion to duty are concerned, unexcelled by any military body of equal numbers in the world. Such a force, however, was not even sufficient to have properly guarded our sea-coasts, in the event of a war with a strong naval power.

The militia, composed of the national guards of the several States, was, as a rule, inefficient, and, as a body, could practically be disregarded. Its arms and equipment were obsolete and unfit for use by troops fighting an army properly organized and equipped. Never, in the history of the country, was the necessity so obvious to the people for proper legislation for the reorganization of the regular army, as well as of the national guard. Small-arms using smokeless powder had been manufactured for the use of the regular troops, but there was not a sufficient reserve supply of these arms to equip even the small army called into service at the time of its mobilization. Our field artillery, our siege-guns, and all our heavier guns were constructed for, and used, black powder. This in time of action proved to be a great disadvantage; and, in fact, the regiments of volunteers which were present with our army in Cuba had to be withdrawn from the firing-line on account of the obsolete firearms with which they were armed, while the field artillery was subject to the same disadvantage. Had our field artillery been of modern type, using smokeless powder, there is no question that its proper employment would have produced much more effective results. The same disadvantage was experienced by the navy during its attack on the fortifications at San Juan, Porto Rico, when the smoke from the guns to a great extent prevented efficient firing.

It is safe to say that, with an army of 75,000 men properly equipped, at the time of the declaration of war, peace could have been secured without requiring a single volunteer to leave the country, and thus the necessity of the enormous volunteer army, and the expense and inconvenience incident to its organization and maintenance, could have been avoided. In fact, only 52,000 men were landed on Spanish soil before the peace protocol was signed.

The President was authorized to call for volunteers by act of Congress approved April 22, 1898, and, under the act approved April 26, 1898, authority was given to increase the regular army to 62,527 men, while the act approved May 11, 1898, authorized the enlistment of 10,000 “immunes,” to be organized into ten regiments, and of 3,500 engineers, to be organized into a brigade of three regiments.

In the volunteer act of April 22 there was the following provision: “The President may authorize the Secretary of War to organize companies, troops, battalions, or regiments, possessing special qualifications, from the nation at large, not to exceed 3,000 men, under such rules and regulations, including the appointment of the officers thereof, as may be prescribed by the Secretary of War” ; and under that authority the 1st, 2d, and 3d regiments of volunteer cavalry were organized.

The first two acts, going into effect almost at the same time, had a bad effect upon the enlistment of the regular army up to its authorized strength. Volunteers naturally preferred their own organizations complete, and it thus became difficult to enlist men in the regular service, which it was most essential to have rapidly brought up to its authorized strength. Enlistments, therefore, were necessarily slow, while at the same time most of the recruits thus received were utterly untrained and unfitted for immediate service. It was decided to permit the regiments of the national guard to go into the service practically as they existed at the time, but they were not so mustered in. A large percentage of the trained officers and men, either through [295] business and professional obligations or for other reasons, were unable to go, and were replaced by men untrained and unfitted for the service—in some cases, it is stated, not over one out of three going with their regiments. With such a condition of affairs, the difficulty of getting an effective force into the field, properly trained and equipped, was considerable. A great rush was made for appointments to commissions in this volunteer army. Many officers were unfit for the positions given them, thus adding materially to the delay in bringing the force to its necessary state of discipline and effectiveness.

I had previously recommended that 50,000 volunteers should be immediately called for, who were to be thoroughly equipped; and, shortly afterwards, that 40,000 more should be enlisted, to act as reserves.

On April 23 the President called for 125,000 volunteers, and, on May 25 he made a further call for 75,000 more. These, with the 10,000 immunes, 3,500 engineers, and the troops “possessing special qualifications,” added to the regular army brought up to its full strength, gave a total force of 278,000 men.

In order to secure a proper uniformity in equipment, and to promote the efficiency of the troops, the following letter was written and orders published:

Headquarters of the army, Washington, D. C., April 26, 1898.
Sir,—I regard it of the highest importance that the troops called into service by the President's proclamation be thoroughly equipped, organized, and disciplined for field service. In order that this may be done with the least delay, they ought to be in camp approximately sixty days in their States, as so many of the States have made no provision for their State militia, and not one is fully equipped for field service. After being assembled, organized, and sworn into service of the United States, they will require uniforms, tentage, complete camp equipage, arms, and ammunition, and a full supply of stationery, including blankbooks and reports for the quartermaster's, commissary, medical, and ordnance departments. They will also require complete equipment of ordnance, quartermaster's, commissary, and medical supplies, hospital appliances, transportation, including ambulances, stretchers, etc. The officers and non-commissioned officers will have to be appointed and properly instructed in their duties and responsibilities, and have some instruction in tactical exercises, guard duties, etc., all of which is of the highest importance to the efficiency and health of the command. This preliminary work should be done before the troops leave their States. While this is being done, the general officers and staff officers can be appointed and properly instructed, large camps of instruction can be judiciously selected, ground rented, and stores collected. At the end of sixty days the regiments, batteries, and troops can be brigaded and formed into divisions and corps, and proper commanding generals assigned, and this great force may be properly equipped, moulded, and organized into an effective army with the least possible delay.

Very respectfully, Nelson A. Miles,
Major-General, Commanding.
The Secretary of War.

General orders, no. 54.

Headquarters of the army, adjutant-General's office, Washington, May 25, 1898.
The following standard of supplies and equipment for field service is published for the information and guidance of troops in the military service of the United States. The allowance is regarded as the minimum for field service:

Headquarters of an army corps.— Three wagons for baggage, etc., or eight pack-mules; one two-horse wagon; one two-horse spring-wagon; ten extra saddle-horses for contingent wants; two walltents for commanding general; one walltent for every two officers of his staff.

Headquarters of a division.—Two wagons for baggage, etc., or five pack-mules; one two-horse spring-wagon; one twohorse wagon; five extra saddle-horses for contingent wants; one wall-tent for commanding general; one wall-tent for every two officers of his staff.

Headquarters of a brigade.—One wagon for baggage, or five pack-mules; one twohorse [296] spring-wagon; two extra saddlehorses for contingent wants; one wall-tent for the commanding general; one walltent for every two officers of his staff.

Allowance of transportation for regiment of cavalry, forty-nine wagons or 144 pack animals.

Troop of cavalry, Company of Infantry, or light battery.

Supplies.Troop of Cavalry.Company of Infantry.Light Battery.
Field rations, 10 days: Cavalry, 100 men; infantry, 106; artillery, 1253,6403,8584,550
Ammunition, 100 rounds: Cavalry, 100 men; infantry, 106 men725769
Officers' baggage anti supplies250250250
Tentage (7 conical wall for cavalry and infantry, each; 9 for light battery)8548541,098
Grain for animals, 10 days, 6 lbs.; Cavalry, 115; infantry, 12; artillery, 1266,9007207,560
Utensils for each company mess350350350
Horseshoes, nails, tools, and medicines for cavalry and artillery horses300325
Soldiers' baggage: Each 1 blanket, 1 poncho, 1 extra suit of undergarments, and 1 piece shelter-tent1,6621,7612,078

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