This is the text of the official war report sent by Major General Calixto Ramón García Iñiguez to his superior, the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Armies, Major General Máximo Gómez.
The source for translation is letter published in the first hand Spanish language account of Escalante (1946) pp. 522-529. Translations and annotations by Larry Daley. In some cases because of the Spanish verb structure the appropriate nouns are inserted and occasionally the allegiance of group leaders is noted to avoid confusion.
The translation of General Garcia’s report reads:
Headquarters Casa Azul, July 15 1898.
To Major General Máximo Gómez, Commander in Chief of the Cuban Armies:
I have the honor of reporting to you on the operations carried out by the forces under my command since June 1st (1898).
On June 1st, I was notified by General Luis de Feria, Commander of the Oriental Division of Holguín that an expedition had landed at the port of Banes. The expedition was lead by Brigadier Joaquín Castillo, foreign subdelegate. The expedition was escorted by the U.S. Navy vessel Oseola. Thus I marched from Jiguaní towards Banes. I gave orders that the 4,000 men that you had ordered recruited for this purpose were to go to Banes to be armed and supplied.
On the 6th of June I camped at Vijarú. That night General Feria arrived. General Feria was accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Hernández, Aide-de-Camp of General Enrique Collazo. Colonel Hernández had been sent by me to coordinate a campaign plan to fight the enemy in Oriente Province with the U.S. Secretary of War as the Secretary had requested. Colonel Fernández had just landed in Banes from the U.S. warship Gloucester and was carry dispatches from the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armies. General Miles. General Miles dispatches informed me that the plan was to attack the city of Santiago de Cuba by sea and land, and that it was necessary that most Cuban forces proceed towards the city to support the plan.
Immediately I gave orders so that the recently armed forces were to move towards the area of (Santiago de) Cuba. This was very difficult because of the exhaustion of the infantry and the lack of food.
Despite these difficulties, these forces reached Palma Soriano from where I left on June 8th towards Aserradero (on the other side, the coastal south side of the Sierra Maestra). I arrived at Aserradero on June 19th 6:30 AM.
My purpose at that place was to conference with U.S. Navy Admiral Sampson who had called the meeting to discuss the best way to attack Santiago. This conference took place on the U.S. Admiralty vessel New York.
To clarify this matter, I ordered my troops to march on Santiago de Cuba; and went to the meeting called by the Chief of the U.S. Navy force. I began following orders and instructions of the Chiefs of the U.S. Armed Forces as soon as they began to attempt entry into areas under my command.
On June 20 at 2 pm Brigadier General Demetrio Castillo, Commander of the Ramón de Las Yaguas Brigade landed at Aserradero. General Castillo had arrived from Sigua in an U.S. vessel. His purpose was to await my orders.
Soon after Major General William R. Shafter, Commander of the Fifth Corps of the U.S. Army came ashore to talk with me. General Shafter was in charge of the U.S. forces that were being readied to attack Santiago. After a long conference and having accepted my plan for landing his troops and advancing successfully on Cuba the American general returned to the ship.
The next day General Agustín Cebreco, marched the troops of his division toward the area near the coast immediately west of Santiago de Cuba. General Cebreco’s objective was to stop the enemy’s ability to reinforce his coastal garrisons in this area.
At 8 p.m. 530 men from the Bayamo Division of Brigadier Demetrio
Castillo boarded an American transport. Their assignment was to
reinforce the Ramón brigade to protect the U.S. landing and to advance
on Santiago de Cuba from the East. These forces landed en Sigua on
the 22nd of June and immediately advanced led by Colonel Carlos
Gónzalez. Together with 550 men from the Ramón Brigade lead by
their leader General Castillo these Cuban troops advanced on Diaquirí,
rapidly displacing the Spanish troops that were there. As the
Cubans took Diaquirí, the U.S. fleet began to shell the position.
However, as soon as the Cuban flag was raised the U.S. shelling stopped.
The U.S. Army landed its first regiments at Diaquirí and advanced on Firmeza and Siboney, led by Cuban troops who were the first to occupy these villages. In Siboney U.S. forces continued landing.
Meanwhile Cuban troops under Colonel Carlos González advanced towards Santiago de Cuba. Colonel González and his men had a violent clash with the Spanish at Guásimas. The Cubans had some losses however, Spanish losses were much greater.
In my conference with Admiral Simpson and Major General Shafter it was agreed that I should board at El Aserradero. This was done before dark. These Cuban forces were lead by General Capote, those of the division by Cebreco y Lora and by Brigadier Sánchez Hechevarría. These troops formed three distinct column lead by each of the preceding Major General Jesús Rabí was second in command of all the Cuban troops in the operation.
The about 800 men of Brigadier General Sánchez, were the first to board on the U.S. ship Leone; they landed at 5 p.m. at Siboney. General of Division Francisco Estrada left towards Aguacate on June 25th to gather the Cuban forces still there. General Estrada assembled a column of 800 1000 men to march towards Santiago and to fight any Spanish troops attempt to relieve the city.
At dawn on June 26th the rest of my forces were on the steamships Seneca and Orizaba standing off Siboney. I, with my headquarter staff, and other Jefes by invitation of U.S. General Ludlow who was in charge of our landings, were on the Alamo. At 7 a.m. we started to land and by 10 a.m. we had landed camping with the rest of the Cuban forces.
There and in the town’s immediate vicinity were our forces that had arrived earlier and several thousand of men of the U.S. Army. There were friendly exchanges between the Cuban and American forces. Since we were completely out of food in all our territory the American provided the necessary rations for our sustenance.
On the 25th General Shafter and I had finished our assault plans. He gave me my orders to march towards Santiago the next day. He did the same. Although some regiments and various cannon went forward that same day. In the very front of the vanguard, visible to the Spanish advanced fortification was Colonel Carlos González Clavel, elements of the Bayamo Division and part of the Ramón de las Yaguas Brigade.
On the 30th I camped with most of my forces on the Salado, three leagues from Siboney and one and half leagues from Santiago. General Shafter placed his headquarters in the same place. At three in the afternoon I received orders to move to Marianaje. This was between el Caney and San Juan, where I was to protect the batteries which were to shell both positions, from any Spanish attacks coming from Santiago.
At the beginning of the attack on Cuba there were 15,000 U. S. forces on land, and 4,000 Cuban soldiers under my immediate orders near the city. At five thirty in the morning of July 1, I marched on Marianaje, and at seven occupied my assigned positions thus: on the left over San Juan was Major General José M. Capote with a column of 1000, in the center Division General de Saturnino Lora with 500 men to his right Brigadier General Francisco Sánchez de Echavarría with his column of l,000 men, next was General Cebreco with 500 men of his division. On the right flank on heights of the batey of Marianaje, was I with General Rabí, our headquarter staff and escort facing the town of El Caney.
To my left flank were American forces with a battery preparing to attack the San Juan block house. Protecting, were forces under the command of Colonel González and part of the Ramón with other American forces. To my right flank was the battery that was to fire on El Caney and an American Division under General Lawton ready to assault the town. Together with was an assault force of 200 from the Ramón Ramón under the command of Commander Víctor Duany. All the forces of the Ramón were under the direct command of Colonel Carlos González.
At seven the American batteries opened fire on San Juan Hill. The Spanish artillery returned fired. A few minutes later the battery assigned to attack El Caney opened fire. The garrison of that town answered with heavy volleys.
El Caney was defended by some l,500 line troops under the command of Brigadier General Vara del Rey. San Juan was defended by some 2,000 men, also line troops.
At four in the afternoon after a rough assault the Americans took San Juan. All the Spanish garrison was killed or taken prisoner except some who escaped to Cuba.
At six, after repeated assaults, in which the forces of Commander Duany participated, the Americans also took El Caney. Almost all of the garrison of this town died in the assault and of those who escaped almost all died on retreat. Among those killed retreating was, already wounded General Vara del Rey.
The enemy tried to attack from Cuba and was turned back. On that day, in the trenches of Santiago el General Linares, who was in charge of the garrison was wounded and yielded his command to División General, Toral.
The Americans advanced by the Caney road to Cuba up to the Canosa blockhouses on outskirts of the city. In the van were the forces of Colonel González. Our losses that day were some one hundred, as they were taking fire without in to combat.
General Shafter ordered me to occupy the right flank of his army in the advance on Santiago. I made a night march. At ten that night, after sending some forces directly towards Santiago, I was camped at Quinta de Doucureau.
At dawn of 2nd I continued to advance on the right flank, taking all north of the city. General Cebreco with forces from his division was leading the van. And on point in the van was General Sánchez Echavarría and his men.
When the forces reached the Cuba to San Luis railroad. The center and rear of the column, while the van took various heights on the other side of the track.
In the morning of the 2nd General Francisco Sánchez advance along the railroad towards Santiago de Cuba. He ran into four (Spanish) guerrillas, they fired and were killed by our troops.
Colonel Ferrera, advanced on the right, fighting a guerrilla on Loma de Quintero, taking this position and the Caridad hill.
During the day I ordered a column to advance along the railroad towards San Luis. The enemy, after light resistance, abandoned the villages of Cuabitas and Boniato, and several blockhouse falling back on San Vicente.
All the 2nd there was heavy fire exchanged with the enemy in Santiago. The enemy from his fortifications laid down heavy rifle and cannon fire on our positions. We had ten casualties.
That day, all the French colony with the French Consul came out to place themselves under our protection. My forces slept in the positions they took, within rifle range of the city.
All the morning of the 3rd (of July) we engaged in fire fights with the defenders of the city. At ten the Spanish fleet that was in Santiago’s bay sailed out and was destroyed in less than an hour by the American fleet.
Admiral Cervera, with about 600 of his officers and men tried to take positions on land west of Santiago de Cuba. Cuban coastal detachments opposed the action. The Spanish were forced to surrender all their men to Colonel José Candelario Cebreco and his men. They were delivered, with receipt, to the American fleet.
At twelve thirty a sent a force to fire on the village of San Vicente. Immediately the Spanish evacuated, falling back towards el Cristo and also abandoning Dos Bocas on the railroad towards San Luis.
On the night of the 3rd (of July) using the Cobre road a column of 5,000 men, lead by Colonel Escario entered into Santiago. Colonel Escario, who had left Manzanillo the 22nd (of June) was harassed from (Manzanillo) to Baire, by the Manzanillo division.
From Baire to Palma this column was forced to fight hard against the (Cuban) column of General Francisco Estrada, this caused the Spanish hundreds of losses, to the extent that all along the route (Spanish soldiers) bodies were found. This (Spanish) column also exchanged fire with Lieutenant Colonel Lora, with part of cavalry of the Bayamo Division and with my cavalry escort under the command of Lieutenant Colonel C. M. Poey.
Colonel Escario recovered somewhat in Palma, where he abandoned his casualties. From here “extraviando caminos” (repeatedly changing routes) he reached Cuba by the Cobre road along which they suffered some firefights.
Perhaps the entry of this column could have been stopped if I had been able to use most of my forces for this purpose. However, to do this I would have had to abandon my positions to right flank of American Army.
On the 4th of July I receive official dispatches informing me that the enemy had evacuated the Villa of Cobre and the block houses of Bartolón, Monte Real, Coleto y San Miguel.
At twelve the firing stopped so that General Shafter could receive various Spanish parley commissions. As a result of these (parley commissions) the Spanish Governor of the City authorized the exit of the all families because of the fear that American bombardment of the city would begin, since the (U.S. command) had not answered whether it intended or not to start shelling. All the families took refuge in the houses and streets of Cuabitas and El Caney.
On the 7th (Cuban) General Estrada with his column of 700 hombres joined the siege (of Santiago). In those days and previously some American regiments came in from the United States. My forces continued to advance positions on the right flank, closing the lines around the city.
On the 9th and with the truce continuing, the enemy requested that they be permitted to abandon the city and retreat to Holguín. General Shafter said he would submit the request to his government and I convinced the General, how inconvenient an evacuation of that nature would be.
In those day I had a secret and reliable message from (spies in) Holguín, reporting that there was a strong six to seven thousand man column under the command of General Nario, ready to come to help in Cuba. In response to this I appropriately ordered guarding all the roads to our rearguard to foil the enemy’s plans to rescue the city. And so that the enemy in Santiago would stay closed in, I reinforced the weak parts of our lines.
At the same time I renewed my order that all the forces from Camagüey that are now in Oriente. (I also gave orders that) the two Holguín divisions so that they would place themselves conveniently to cut the road routes that Nario (could take).
On the 9th I advanced my right wing to close the lines (around Santiago). And since at twelve that day the truce would end, I had my forces make a flank movement so that the enemy would suspect that we were about to surround his positions and trenches of Dos Caminos and cause them to abandon them.
The maneuver was successful, since the enemy hurriedly abandoned the village of Dos Caminos del Cobre and all his blockhouses and trenches this side of the Yarayó. With this the lines completely surrounded (Santiago). The forces of the (Cuban) Division of (Santiago de) Cuba occupied all to the west of the city up to the waters of the bay including the Cemetery.
Since the U.S. government had not accepted the Spanish proposal that they evacuate the city and retreat to Holguín, General Shafter notified General Toral that if the city did not surrender he would shell at three in the afternoon. Since Spanish did not surrender, all the U.S. lines and part of the Cuban lines opened vivo (living) fire with rifle and canon. At the same time the (U.S.) fleet began to shell the city from the coast. The firing lasted until dusk when it ceased.
On the 11th the firing and shelling continued until nine in the morning, when another truce was signed. The enemy took advantage of this to make defensive positions and place canon. The Americans use the truce to place recently landed artillery batteries. And we took the time to finish some trenches and place two 12 pound cannon on a height by Dos Caminos, so that we could shell the fortifications between the Bull Ring and the bay.—
During the 12th and 13th the truce continued, we finished placing our cannon, digging our positions in the cemetery and along the front of the city on this (north west) side.
On the 14th firing to begin again at 12 noon; however, the enemy asked for a prórroga (truce extension). As a result of these truce talks the Spanish decided to surrender the city and all the affected areas in the Comandancia General de Cuba. That is all those places that the Spanish still held in Oriente Province east of a line that went from Aserradero through Palma to Sagua de Tánamo on the north Norte. (This was done) under the condition that all (Spanish) forces were to be taken to Spain, by the U.S. Government, via the United States.
General Toral has told General Shafter that 23,000 Spanish troops are involved in this surrender. With the surrender of Santiago and the rest of the population centers of East Oriente which the Spanish will evacuate soon the Primer Cuerpo (Cuban Army territorial designation) will be free. In the Segundo Cuerpo the only areas in enemy hands are Holguín, Gibara and the towns of rail line between these two places in the north and Manzanillo with two or three nearby towns in the south.
The American Government has decided for the time being to occupy the city of Santiago de Cuba with two regiments. Thus, since General Miles, has not given me orders to cooperate in any new operations, I retire the bulk of forces under my command to their respective (home) territories.
I give the appropriate orders to provided to (Cuban) General Juan Ducasse the l,500 men that you (Commander in Chief of the Cuban Armies, Major General Máximo Gómez) have requested from Oriente in the way you have disposed.—
De Ud. con la mayor consideración. (formula end to a very respectful greeting)
P(atria). y L(ibertad). (Motherland and Freedom)
(signed) Calixto García.
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