Spanish Americna War (detail from print of U.S.S. Maine exploding)

The War in Cuba

To win in Cuba, the United States had to defeat the Spanish Navy. As the war began, Spanish Admiral Pascual Cervera concentrated his small squadron in Santiago Bay to help protect the forts. The United States Navy, commanded by Commodore Winfield Scott Schley, trapped the squadron when it blockaded Santiago along with other major Cuban ports. American land forces began to attack the city from the north on July 1, 1898. Cervera was ordered to try to break out of the harbor to save his ships. Although realizing this maneuver would probably fail, Cevera attempted it early on July 3. All of his ships were destroyed, one after another.

The Cuban Land Campaign

Like the naval campaign, the land campaign in Cuba centered on Santiago. On July 1, 1898, General William Shafter attacked the San Juan heights that overlooked Santiago. In a series of fierce engagements, the Americans pushed the Spanish off the hills. The American troops were better equipped and employed the decisive use of Gatling guns, which had multiple barrels revolving around a central axis and were fired rapidly by turning a crank. Having suffered heavy losses, the Americans now besieged the city rather than attack it further.

The fall of Santiago on July 17 convinced Spain to concede defeat in Cuba. Following the victory, the person who attracted the greatest public attention was not General Shafter, but Theodore Roosevelt, a flamboyant “Rough Rider” who had charged up San Juan Hill.

Admiral Pascual Cervera
Commodore Winfield Scott Schley
New York Journal
Naval battle of Santiago
Buffalo soldiers in Tampa, Florida
The storming of San Juan Hill
Theodore Roosevelt on horseback with the Rough Riders
Cuban revolutionaries

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