Today’s installment concludes The Cuban Campaign,
the name of our combined selection from Andrew S. Draper, Theodore Roosevelt, and Pascual Cervera. The concluding installment, by Pascual Cervera from Official Report, was published in 1898.
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Previously in The Cuban Campaign.
Place: Santiago Area
“When the converted yacht Gloucester arrived, I found on board about twenty wounded men belonging mostly to the destroyers, the captains of the latter, three officers of the Teresa, and the paymaster of the Oquendo. There were in all ninety-three men belonging to the crews of the squadron.
The captain and officers of the yacht received us with great courtesy, vying with one another in supplying our wants, which were many, for we arrived absolutely naked and half starved. The captain said to me that as his ship was so small he could not receive so many and that he should look for a larger ship to take us. The insurgents with whom I had talked had told me that they had two hundred men, among whom there were five or six wounded, and added, on the part of their captain, that if we wished to go with them we should follow them and they would help us as best they could. I told them to thank their captain for us, and tell him that we had surrendered to the Americans; but if they had a surgeon I should be grateful to them if they would look after our wounded on the beach, some of whom were very seriously injured.
I told the captain of the yacht of this conversation with the insurgents, and begged him to reclaim our men, which he promised to do; and he at once sent out a detachment with a flag. He also sent some provisions, of which those on the beach were in great need.
We then steamed easterly and met the nucleus of the squadron, from which the auxiliary cruiser Paris was detached, and our yacht proceeded until we were off Santiago, where we received instructions, according to which some were transshipped to the Iowa and the rest to other vessels, while the wounded were taken to the hospital ship.
During my stay on board the yacht I inquired of the captains of the destroyers as to the fate of their ships, as I was anxious to hear of their sad end. The history of the Furor your Excellency will learn in detail from the enclosed copy of her captain’s report. Captain Fernando Villaamil met a glorious death, and the number of casualties on board bear testimony to the valiant conduct of this little ship, whose captain also was slightly wounded.
I likewise enclose to your Excellency a copy of the report from the captain of the Pluton, who was also slightly wounded, and whose ship has as glorious a history as her companion’s.
When I reached the Iowa, where I was received with all manner of honors and marks of respect, I had the pleasure of seeing on the gangway the gallant captain of the Vizcaya, who came out and greeted me, wearing his sword, which the captain of the Iowa did not wish him to give up, in testimony of his brilliant defense. A copy of his report is also enclosed, from which your Excellency will see that the history of the Vizcaya is very similar to that of her sister-ships, the Teresa and the Oquendo, which proves that the same defects had produced the same unfortunate results, and that it was all but a question of time.
I remained on board the Iowa until 4 p.m., when I was transferred to the St. Louis, where I met the second in command of the squadron and the captain of the Colon. While I was still on board the Iowa, Admiral Sampson came up, and I asked permission to telegraph to your Excellency, which I did, as follows:
In compliance with your Excellency’s orders, I went out from Santiago yesterday morning with the whole squadron, and, after an unequal battle against forces more than three times as large as mine, my whole squadron was destroyed. Teresa, Oquendo, and Vizcaya, all with fire on board, ran ashore; Colon, according to information from Americans, ran ashore and surrendered; the destroyers were sunk. Do not know as yet loss of men, but surely six hundred killed and many wounded (proportion of latter not so large). The survivors are United States prisoners. Gallantry of all the crews has earned most enthusiastic congratulations of enemy. Captain of Vizcaya was allowed to retain his sword. I feel very grateful for generosity and courtesy with which they treat us. We have lost everything, and I shall need funds. Cervera. July 4, 1898.”
I wish to make a correction as to the fate of the Pluton, which was not sunk, but which, unable to maintain herself afloat, succeeded in running ashore, as your Excellency will see from the report of her gallant captain.
On board the St. Louis the second in command of the squadron and the captain of the Colon told me of that ship’s sad fate, the former handing me a report, a copy of which is enclosed.
In order to complete the outline of the history of this mournful day, it only remains for me to tell your Excellency that our enemies have treated us and are treating us with the utmost chivalry and kindness. They have clothed us as best they could, giving us not only articles furnished by the Government, but their own personal property. They have even suppressed almost entirely the usual hurrahs, out of respect for our bitter grief. We have been and are still receiving enthusiastic congratulations upon our action, and all are vying in making our captivity as light as possible.
To sum up, the 3d of July has been an appalling disaster, as I had foreseen. The number of dead, however, is less than I feared. Our country has been defended with honor, and the satisfaction of duty well done leaves our consciences clear, though we bitterly mourn the loss of our beloved companions and the misfortunes of our country.
The Admiral (Cervera) to the Captain- General (Blanco).
This ends our selections on The Cuban Campaign by three of the most important authorities on this topic:
- The Rescue of Cuba by Andrew S. Draper published in 1899.
- Official Report by Theodore Roosevelt published in 1898.
- Official Report by Pascual Cervera published in 1898.
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