Ch 12: The Battle for San Juan

Our landing continued without molestation. On Thursday 23rd a distant rattle of musketry wafted over Los Altares, six altar-shaped foothills, and huge columns of smoke crept up against the sky line. The Spaniards were burning the small towns and withdrawing into Santiago. General Lawton, with the 1st and 22nd Regular Infantry, 2nd Massachusetts, and detachments of the 4th, 8th, and 25th Infantry, pushed ahead into Siboney, finding it already occupied by Cubans under General Castillo, who had attacked the rear guard of Linares, as they were firing the town. The Spaniards fled, leaving stores and ammunition intact. They tried to destroy the railroad as they retired, but Colonel Aguirre and some Cuban cavalry followed them up, and the Imperial troops continued their flight. At Aguadores, which was strongly garrisoned, the railroad bridge over the creek was blown up with dynamite, to prevent our direct advance along the railroad.
   The country within nine miles of Santiago was now in our hands. The base of operations was moved from Daiquiri to Siboney, a pretty little town, inhabited by the employees of the Iron and Railroad Company. General Linares had made preparation to vigorously oppose a landing here, and two almost perpendicular cliffs were terraced with trenches carefully masked from top to bottom. He hoped the troops would walk into this trap when they found the town seemingly deserted, and he could then open a hidden fusillade from either side with open country behind for retreat. A few searching shells from the fleet soon caused him to alter his decision, and the troops evacuated this stronghold, Commandante Billen being killed by a chance shell.
   The warships continued bombarding Aguadores, and the Spaniards replied vigorously. One shell struck the "Texas," killing Ensign Blakeley, and wounding five others dangerously, and the gunboats that could be spared from the blockading squadron were unable to silence the coast batteries.
   General Shafter remained on the "Seguranca", with his plan of campaign. General Wheeler assumed command on shore, and conflicting orders resulted. General Chaffee's Brigade was ordered to form the advance in conjunction with Lawton's division, and reached Jaragua at dusk on the 23rd. General Young's cavalry brigade, with General Wheeler, then passed these outposts and advanced to Siboney. The Cubans reported the enemy in force at Guasimas, and after General Wheeler had reconnoitred the position with General Castillo, he ordered the cavalry to attack at daybreak. At 4 am. the Rough Riders marched over the foothills by a thickly wooded trail, any section of which invited ambuscade and annihilation, had the Spaniards possessed initiative.
   General Young, with the 1st and 10th Cavalry and four Hotchkiss guns, advanced along the main road. The enemy, neglecting to attack either force separately, held a position on a plateau where the trail and road converged. General Rubin entrenched his forces in a disused Bacardi distillery, with rough trenches built at an angle obtuse to the approaches. Three companies of the Puerto Rico Battalion held his right, commanding the main road, while opposing the Rough Riders, Major Alcaniz commanded half a battalion of the San Fernando Infantry; two companies of the Talavero Regiment, a company of engineers, and two gun detachments held the centre. General Young deployed his men without discovery within 900 yards of the Spanish position. The Rough Riders, though, advancing down the trail, were met with a terrific fire, which checked them in some confusion; Captain Capron, Lieutenant Fish, and several men being killed and many severely wounded. The raw volunteer troopers, however, behaved splendidly. Colonels Wood and Roosevelt threw out their troops in skirmish order through the chapparal. The regular cavalry had extended their left flank, effecting a junction with the Rough Riders.
   A semi-circular line of attack was thus formed, but owing to the dense undergrowth, the American fire could not be effectively maintained until a series of advances, in face of a hail of bullets, had brought the line to within 300 yards of the Spanish position. Pouring in heavy volleys from their carbines, the cavalry then surged forward, the enemy's right flank falling back in good order before the Rough Riders, who were now enfiladed by Rubin's mountain artillery, and the infantry supports entrenched along the ridge. In a few moments the fire of the regulars drove back the Spanish left, and after Captain Alcaniz with the "Talaveros" bravely sought to cover the retreat of the guns and the wounded, the entire force fell back in confusion and withdrew to Santiago. They left but thirteen dead on the field, and removed their wounded, which were many.
   At the supreme moment Captain Taylor, who had heard of the battle, came up with three troops of the 9th Cavalry. Several companies of the 71st Regiment also hurried to the front, but these reinforcements were not required.
   Considering the disposition of the enemy, the American loss was extremely light. From a total strength of 964 men, sixteen, including Captain Capron and Lieutenant Fish, were killed, and fifty two wounded. Majors Bell and Brodie, Captains Knox and McClintock, and Lieutenants Byram and Thomas were severely wounded. Mr. Edward Marshall, the war correspondent, was shot through the spine during the battle. The Rough Riders gained unstinted praise for their bravery at Guasimas.
   Colonel Roosevelt, after working incessantly to place the navy on a war footing, raised the regiment of cowboys for scouting in Cuba. Tenderfoot dudes, first tolerated, afterwards beloved, by the ranchmen, flocked to the corps and an excellent camaraderie prevailed. He has been charged with going to war to become Governor of New York but one of his men, replying to this, said, "If the Colonel was looking out for a prospective governorship, it must have been in Hades, for no one courted death more."

Colonel Roosevelt

   I have seen Colonel Roosevelt gently soothing his wounded, fearlessly leading a charge, addressing meeting after meeting during his political campaign, and quietly resting with his family. His every act is characterised by a fearless sincerity, the sentiment of duty and principle of justice. The spirit of the man is even more than any series of his acts; a man the nation can trust.
   The disembarkation of the remaining divisions of the army proceeded slowly, and many of the men, especially of the 71st New York, stood in the surf for hours in the tropical sun, seizing the approaching boats and dragging them on shore through the breakers. Such exposure in the tropics is a sure forerunner of fever. Perspiration poured off the men, as they unloaded stores on the burning sand, and their overheated bodies were repeatedly cooled as they plunged into the surf to drag the boats to shore. That labour was constant for fifteen hours per day for a week, and many a poor fellow unconsciously sowed the seeds of death, that soon stalked grimly through the ranks.
   The soldiers were under the impression that tropical outfits would be issued for them in Cuba. They were still dressed in heavy serge, the old regulation equipment, and many had only thin civilian boots, which heat and salt water rendered useless. So few wagons had been shipped that there was no transportation for their effects, and as regiment after regiment was rushed to the front, the men, labouring in the sweltering heat, discarded articles mile by mile, until they had nothing but the clothes they stood upright in, and the route of the advance resembled the trail of a retreating army. Besides kit, rifle, and ammunition, the troops were ordered to carry three days' rations in their haversacks. They were marched at all hours, invariably during the heat of the day, and suffered severely; only the splendid physique of the American army made marches possible under such conditions.
   The expedition landed just at the close of "el verano de San Juan" (the summer of St. John), and but for the unfortunate week of delay at Tampa, the advance could have been made in dry weather. The rains restarted on the fourth day and the difficulty of transport increased. Yet regiment after regiment was raced forward, when it was impossible to get sufficient supplies to the front. The Cubans and cavalry brigade made efficient outposts, and common-sense generalship would have mobilised the army first on the hillside near Siboney, where the men could have been easily fed, and the transport trains utilised to carry out supplies to an advanced base, protected by the cavalry. When all was in readiness, even the day before the battle, the army could have moved forward the eight miles toward El Pozo, and made the attack, well fed, and with an abundance of supplies on hand to sustain it.
   The army went to Santiago to accomplish a stupendous task. A landing had to be effected on a hostile coast, artillery and supplies moved forward through ten miles of difficult country, open at all sides for surprise attacks from the enemy. Siege had to be laid to a considerable city, well garrisoned, naturally entrenched with steep ridges, and with a powerful fleet to assist in its defence. By negligence and blunder, the land operations from first to last were a series of mistakes, any one of which might have proved fatal to American arms. Victory was snatched at heavy cost, but a victory that can be attributed alone to Providence; for had the morale of the enemy been less impaired by starvation and disease, or had the fleet remained in Santiago Harbour, the amazing valour of the American soldiers must have gone for naught, and a reverse been entailed.
   Owing to the unaccountable delay in road-making during the dry days and the subsequent employment of improper measures in repairing washouts and ruts with brushwood and sand, to withstand the periodic downpours, even the light mortars could not be brought to the front before July 9th, and not one of the siege guns was landed. What General Shafter hoped to accomplish with an army thus equipped and moved against the city, it is impossible to say. What would have been the result, even if Santiago City had been carried by assault, if the Spanish fleet had turned its heavy guns against the invading army, it is easy to foresee.
   Ostensibly the army was to go to Santiago to attack and destroy the batteries thus enabling the navy to enter the harbour, remove the mines, and co-operate with the army on land in destroying the fleet and capturing the city. To accomplish this, an advance should have been made along the coast railroad under cover of the guns of the navy. Aguadores could then have been captured, leaving only a short march across the foothills between El Morro and Santiago. The shore batteries at the harbour mouth would have been isolated and captured, and a combined advance made on Santiago by sea and land, the army covered by the guns of the navy. General Shafter, in the "Century," says: "I regarded this as impossible." Yet on July 2nd he wrote a note to General Wheeler, asking if it were not feasible to capture the forts on the bay to let in the navy, and on July 6th he still talked of it to his staff.
   The army was sent up the most difficult approach, against the strongest defences of the city; by superhuman exertion the outlying positions were captured, but without sufficient artillery the army could go no farther. They had the city surrounded, but must have withdrawn or faced decimation by disease, without a chance to expel the fleet or assist the navy in gaining entrance, had not the enemy steamed out to escape, and brought on, from our point of view, the coveted result.
   Castillo moved his Cubans forward to El Pozo, where, under De Coro and Gonzales, they did efficient outpost work a mile beyond the American lines, thus relieving the soldiers from much arduous guard duty. Garcia brought 2000 insurgents, his Negro regiments of Cambote and Barracoa, from Assedero, in government transports. Thoughtful Americans felt a thrill of pity when they saw the unkempt and emaciated insurgents, who had steadfastly endured three years' campaigning. Their march to the coast had been terribly trying, and for several days they had existed on grass soup. Can we wonder, then, that these ignorant Negroes were demoralised at the sight of hard tack and bacon? They broke open the boxes and devoured the first square meal of three years, with so much gusto that certain gentlemen looked on with disgust and called them pigs, and energetic pressmen were speedily making copy on the "lazy Cubans' hate of work and love of eating."
   Along the now disused trail between Daiquiri and Siboney, overcoats and blankets were rotting by the wayside, and some of the "boys" told the ragged pacificos of this discarded treasure which was useless to the army. The poor wretches soon appropriated everything, but unfortunately they applied this permission universally, and on subsequent marches, when the men laid their packs by the roadside to collect later, they frequently found them rifled. Ragged and ignorant as were Garcia's soldiers, they did not steal and loot as charged, for theft is religiously punished with death in the rebel camps. The Negro pacificos, many of whom were armed with rifles shipped down at the time but were absolutely without discipline, had no such scruples, and pilfered at every opportunity. It is impossible to fix any standard of judgment for people in their condition. But they were not insurgents, they were not Cubans. One-third only of the population of Cuba before the war was coloured. Weyler killed off many of the whites in the West, but the Negroes we saw around Santiago were no more typical of the Cuban race than are the ignorant coloured squatters and cotton-workers of the Georgia backwoods representative Americans.
   Unfortunately, by the action of these Negroes, the American troops soon lost the reverence they felt for the patriots' struggle for liberty, since they had neither time nor opportunity to form a broad and charitable judgment. Some of the very writers, who in Havana had misled the public with faked stories of victorious insurgent armies sweeping the Island, now found material at the expense of the Cubans in the expose of the phantasms created by their own imagination.
   Pressing forward to the outposts on June 26th, we camped just above El Pozo, in a snugly thatched hut considerately erected by the Cubans. The rains had restarted, and miasma hung over the valley like a heavy pall, but toward evening the misty curtain was suddenly drawn aside, the skies turned blue as if by magic, and a most glorious panorama lay revealed to our wondering gaze. Santiago lay on a gentle ridge, alarmingly close, the minarets of the ancient cathedral and the blue walls of the San Cristobel convent, peeping over the graceful palms covering the valley. The sun was dropping behind the heights of El Cobre, and shed a golden radiance over the peaceful scene. The military hospital and barracks, standing at the edge of the city, were plentifully bedecked with Red Cross flags, while before them, separated delusively by an invisible valley, were the forts and blockhouses of San Juan.
   The light uniforms of the soldiers lounging around the blockhouses showed up plainly; they were apparently oblivious of the approaching army. A few distant booms to seaward - the navy exchanging courtesies with Morro - were the only evidence of war. Sunset was first heralded by the Cuban bugler, but his puny notes were soon drowned by the harmonious burst of trumpets, as the beautiful "retreat" of the American army was sounded by the various regiments encamped at Sevilla, about a mile behind. Then their bands burst into the Star-Spangled Banner; and stretched across the heavens, with silver stars shining from a sky of blue and the crimson glare of the setting sun intersected by white fleeced bars of cloud, the very spirit of Old Glory was typified. It seemed that a spiritual hand had thus emblazoned the heavens in omen of the flag so soon to float over that benighted land.
   The army was camped near Sevilla where, despite the rain and the sorry rations, the spirits of the soldiers were sustained by the thought of battle. The light batteries were up, but we still looked across at the enemy working on the defences before Santiago, while our guns were parked, and the men worked on the roads. General Shafter arrived at the front on July 29th, cursorily viewing Santiago from El Pozo. On the following afternoon General Castillo and several American officers made a reconnaissance from the war balloon, and in a pouring rain at 3 pm. a general advance was ordered. Santiago lay to our direct front. General Lawton was to advance to the extreme right, with the Second Division, comprising the brigades of General Chaffee, the 7th, 12th, and 17th Infantry, General Ludlow, 8th and 22nd Infantry and 2nd Massachusetts, and Colonel Miles, 1st, 4th, and 25th Infantry, and two field batteries. After capturing El Caney, a fortified town menacing the right flank, Lawton was to swing round and invest the north side of Santiago.
   The 1st Division, the 1st and 10th Cavalry, and the Rough Riders, with three field batteries, were to capture the advanced positions of Santiago at San Juan, and invest the city on the east. General Duffield, with the 9th Massachusetts and 33rd and 34th Michigan and a force of Cubans, was to advance along the coast and join the navy in a combined attack upon Aguadores, menacing the left flank. If possible, he was then to move on Santiago from the south. A semi-circular cordon would thus entirely encompass the city. Garcia and his two thousand Cubans were expected to cover the entire western edge of the bay and the extreme north, to prevent reinforcements or supplies entering through either the Condella, Oristo, San Luis, or other passes leading to the city.
   It is inexplicable why a general advance should have been ordered on the 30th. Lawton had seven miles to march to the right, but the centre divisions had less than two. The sudden movement of the army corps into the narrow trail retarded Lawton for several hours. The remaining divisions might have remained in camp until daybreak, and marched the short distance to the Pozo, dry, fed, and fresh for the assault. So congested was the trail that darkness supervened before many regiments had advanced at all, and at midnight the drenched troops lay down in the muddy road and rested on their arms until daybreak.
   Reveille on July 1st roused a wet, bedraggled army from unrefreshing sleep. The troops lit fires with difficulty, and the centre divisions roundly "groused" at the spoilt night that they might have spent comfortably in camp. But the boom of Capron's first gun at Caney sent a thrill through the ranks; discomforts were forgotten, and the tension of anxious anticipation, the exultant, undefinable something of approaching battle, dominated each one of us. With Creelman and Armstrong, I moved down toward Caney, and turned to view the shelling of the citadel from the Ducrot. This citadel resembled a French chateau rather than the Moresque forts of Spain; but the guns made little impression upon it, and I rode back to El Pozo, where Battery A, Captain Grimes, was entrenched on a ridge opposing San Juan.
   Directly behind the guns the cavalry were at ease, preparing a sorry breakfast. I remembered, at certain training manoeuvres at Aldershot, that a field officer was disqualified for halting his men some distance in rear but directly behind a battery during an artillery duel. Seeing the guns about to open, I had the temerity therefore to warn one officer of the danger, should the enemy's artillery reply. "We have our orders and cannot move," was the answer.
   By the guns, Captain Grimes and Lieutenants Conklin and Farr were ranging, the cannoneers stood by their pieces, and at one minute to eight, No. 1 and 2 guns were loaded with common shell
   "Range 2500 yards!" "No. 1! Fire!"The breech block was closed with a snap, the trail of No. 1 gun was swung into position, and the layer looked over his sights, depressing the piece a trifle. The report rang out; a shell went screaming over the peaceful valley and burst at impact just beyond the ridge, amid the cheers of the soldiers.
   "Too much elevation! No. 2 at 2450. Ready! Fire!" No. 2 gun sent a shell crashing below the blockhouse.
   No. 3 followed suit but No.4 missed fire through defective pricking; in the second round, though, each gun sent a shell hurling against the blockhouse, and the enemy could be seen scampering to cover. With the range fixed, shrapnel was implemented.
   Up to the thirteenth round there had been no reply, though we looked instinctively across the valley after each discharge. Suddenly a tiny ring of bluish smoke circled through the air, and with a vicious scream a shrapnel hurtled over the battery and burst just above the heads of the crowd behind the hill. Men fell on all sides, and before the surprised soldiers had recovered from their astonishment, another shell exploded. With marvellous direction, shrapnel burst regularly just over the battery, among the troops so wickedly exposed there. A group of Cubans were literally blown to pieces, horses were killed, and then a shell burst before No. 3 gun, killing two gunners. Helm and Underwood, instantly, fatally wounding Roberts, and injuring every man in the vicinity. As I turned, blinded with dust, with Scovel and Bengough, to seek a less exposed place, the grimy figure of Corporal Keene loomed through the smoke, and with blood pouring from two wounds he returned to his gun, which Michaelis, the son of a brave officer, and the only one uninjured in the detachment, was coolly working as if on parade, while Brown, a Harvard man, carried ammunition from the caissons.
   There was a subtle fascination in watching the three devoted officers, and the men of Battery A, standing exposed to the sure and deadly fire, and answering shot by shot. Colonel Ordonez, the Spanish inventor and artillerist, succeeded Colonel Melgar, commanding the artillery, and had personally ranged the position with fearful accuracy. The enemy used smokeless powder, and their battery could not be located, while the black powder of our guns made a perfect target. After nine minutes of this effective shelling, the Spaniards fortunately held fire, and thus the crowded troops behind the ridge were able to move from their perilous position. Grimes fired fifteen more rounds, and failing to evoke reply, he also ceased fire, and his men fell, exhausted by their efforts in the hot sun. Below the hill Surgeon Quainton worked heroically under fire with Dr. Church of the Rough Riders.
   When the artillery duel had ceased, though there was no indication that the enemy's guns had been silenced, the regiments started to pour down the trail leading through the thickly wooded valley intervening between El Pozo and the enemy's position on San Juan. Lieutenant-Colonel McClernand, of the Fifth Corps, had ridden up with orders from General Shafter for Generals Kent and Sumner to move their divisions forward through the valley to the edge of the woods and there await orders. The trail led down to the San Juan River, walled in on either side by impenetrable bush. Just beyond the last ford the woods ended abruptly and a gentle grassy slope led to the foot of the San Juan ridge, which is like a huge rampart thrown up to defend Santiago. Extending along its whole length were trenches, intersected with blockhouses, while below strong barbed-wire barricades were stretched along the base of the hill. San Juan was the strategic key to Santiago. Beyond was an intervening valley, with a gradual ascent leading up to the plateau on which the city stands. It commanded the succeeding rows of trenches on the hillside and the strongly fortified and barricaded outskirts of the city, that rose like a wall along the next crest.
   One moment's consideration of the topography of this position will show that an attacking force marching down the wretched trail to San Juan would be forced to form line of battle at the edge of the woods, under a sweeping fire from trenches and forts, and after thus deploying, the depleted force must advance across the open, against the fences, and storm the hill. Such a course could but court extermination.
   There are defined, strategic rules for capturing such a position. Preparatory action holds infantry to cover with artillery at the front, until the shelling has produced sufficient effect for a general advance. The configuration of the ground seldom admits guns remaining far in rear of the advance, but there is no justifiable hope in advancing strong masses of troops against an entrenched position without preparatory artillery action, and no assault should be ordered until the artillery duel has silenced the enemy's guns and shaken the defending forces. A few hours shelling would have demolished the blockhouses and cleared the trenches along the ridges. Then, with rough trails cut branching from the road through the trees to the edge of the wood, several columns could have emerged simultaneously in the valley, formed line, and charged the hill with small loss, ready to face the enemy's main position. General Shafter, however, intended that the columns should advance quietly through the woods, and stand ready to make the charge when the artillery had prepared the way and Lawton's Division had swung to flank the position on the right. Possibly he thought the enemy would sleep in the interim.
   Into the unknown jungle the cavalry and infantry advanced. The road was muddy, and in places only three could march abreast, so that when the advance guard reached the first ford, the road was choked with closely wedged men for considerably over a mile. The Spanish pickets concealed in palm trees, in the valley, soon saw blue uniforms advancing, and gave the alarm. Not certain of the strength of the force, the Spaniards fired only a few desultory volleys, but as the vanguard came unseen down the road, the captive war balloon was sent bobbing along in the very advance, just over the tree-tops. It developed the fight the moment it drew within range. Every rifle from fort and entrenchment blazed at once at the silken globe; the artillery re-opened, and bullets and shells poured through the tree-tops, dealing death and destruction among the men in the crowded trail. By this time the cavalry were starting to deploy along the creek; but when the wretched balloon had finally received its quietus, and sunk amid the curses of the men stricken through its agency by an unseen fire, the enemy had exactly ranged the line of the road, and were apprised that a general advance was taking place. A withering fire was directed against the angle where the balloon had disappeared and along the edge of the wood.
   In a moment the insanity of the tactics dawned upon the American army; not though the soldiers knew someone had blundered. "Theirs not to reason why. Theirs but to do and die." The whole command would have been withdrawn, and the artillery allowed to prepare the way, had not the trail been so packed that a retrograde movement would have cost hundreds of lives, besides demoralising the survivors. A modern army, composed of the finest men and material in the world, had been moved recklessly into a death-trap, to be decimated by what proved to be a handful of half-starved Spaniards.
   Generals Kent, Hawkins, and Sumner held a hurried consultation. Lieutenant Ord climbed a tree and viewed the enemy's position far more effectually than a hundred balloons. General Hawkins crossed the ford, and glanced upward at the ridges. In a few moments the leaders of division, seeing retreat impracticable, decided to rush the position.
   Lieutenant Miley, representing headquarters where the commander-in-chief should have been, concurred in their view. Grimes’ Battery had reopened, and as there was imminent risk from our own shells falling short, he sent orders to the artillery to cease firing while the troops deployed. A heroic figure of six feet three, Miley stood at the ford, encouraging the men, who moved over the stream into a hell of fire. Cavalry and infantry were mixed, but the former deployed to the right, the latter on the left. The men were ordered to reserve their fire and to lie flat on their faces as they formed line. The San Juan River ran streaked with blood, for the dead and wounded fell from its slippery bank into the water repeatedly.
   Hawkins's Brigade, the 6th and 16th Infantry, extended first; the 71st New York, who had suffered severely, being ordered to support. Through misunderstanding these volunteers were halted and lay down in the road beneath a galling fire, and Wikoff's Brigade, the 9th, 13th, and 24th Infantry, passed over them. Colonel Wikoff was killed as he reached the head of the road. With magnificent coolness Colonel Worth of the 13th stepped forward to lead the brigade. He was shot down instantly. Colonel Liscum of the 21st sprang into his place and fell delivering his first order. The leading company, seeing the three officers shot in succession, faltered; but Colonel Ewers of the 9th heroically took the lead, and the brigade, steadied, deploying on the extreme left.
   General Wheeler, through sickness, had that morning been relieved of command of the cavalry by General Shafter. General Sumner took his place at the head of the division. Colonel Wood had assumed charge of Sumner's Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt leading the Rough Riders, Colonel Diel the 1st Cavalry, and Colonel Baldwin the 10th. General Young had sickened after heroic service at Guasimas, and on the previous day, he was invalided home. Colonel Carroll assumed charge of his brigade, with the 3rd Cavalry, Major Wessells, 6th, Captain Kerr, and 9th, Colonel Hamilton. They deployed steadily on the right under a terrific fire.

Colonel Roosevelt with the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill

   When General Wheeler heard the firing, he rose from his cot and journeyed to the front in an ambulance. Finding wounded by the roadside, he insisted on mounting his horse, relinquishing the hospital wagon for their use. Thin and wan, and shaking with fever, he rode slowly down the lines, followed by his son and aide. Lieutenant Wheeler, and the men could scarce forbear a cheer. As senior officer he assumed command, and virtually directed the action for the remainder of the day.
   The men were suffering severely while deploying, and as I crawled partially along the line, the dead and wounded were thickly strewn down the fringe of the wood, and it seemed that disaster had come. Lieutenant Mitchie, aide to General Hawkins, lay dying beside the creek. Benchley was killed delivering an order. Captain O'Neill fell dead just before the line broke cover. Lieutenants Devereux and Haskell were wounded and apparently dying. Captain Henry was shot from the saddle as he crossed the creek. Lieutenant Roberts lay beyond mortally wounded, with a dozen troopers around him dying or dead. Captains Swift and Steel, also of the cavalry, had both fallen, and dead or wounded officers and men lay in all directions.
   I waited for a few minutes with the 9th Cavalry. Many of the coloured troopers were praying aloud with Negro familiarity, but their supplications were constantly broken by the flight of bullets, when a volley was fired in our direction, and they responded in kind. It was a relief to join in and pump a Winchester at the hidden enemy; but the order was soon passed down: "Cease firing! Load magazines!"
   Alsop Burrows and Basil Rickets, society men, serving in the Rough Riders, had charge of the dynamite gun, and had moved it forward. It became jammed after the first discharge, and the valuable adjunct had to be relinquished. The gunners, however, sprang to a machine gun, and worked that manfully. Lieutenant Parker rushed his Gatlings up and swept the crest, private Sine working the crank of one until the lead melted. He was killed ere his gun cooled.
   Pearson's Brigade, the 2nd, 10th, and 21st Infantry, had now crossed the ford. Colonel McKibben led the 21st to support Hawkins. The others swept away up the valley to the left. Our loss was considerably over a thousand, before the lines for attack were formed through the chaparral on the fringe of the woods. At the supreme moment a thirteen-inch shell, fired right over the city by the Spanish fleet, thundered into the lines like rushing trains. Then the stirring "Charge!" from Hawkins's bugler rang through the trees, and the cavalry trumpets repeated it. The men had long scrambled through torrent and thicket under a galling fire; the sight of comrades falling acted as an incentive, and, like a series of waves, the companies surged forward, the platoons irregular, commands mixed.
   As the line broke cover, the Spaniards blazed down with Mauser and machine gun, and their fire resolved the assault into a series of short rushes. There was a murmur of hoarse commands, bugle-calls rang out, while the roar of artillery, incessant crash of rifles and bursting shells, drowned the imprecations of the soldiers and the agonised cries of the wounded. On the right of the line Colonel Roosevelt spurred his horse forward, and with a cheer the Rough Riders started toward Kettle Hill, an eminence to the right front.
   The whole cavalry division moved forward rapidly. Colonel Hamilton was shot dead; his senior, Captain Taylor, and Adjutant were severely wounded as they advanced. Colonel Carroll fell as the Spanish outposts ran back. Major Wessels was wounded a few moments later. Captain Bigelow received three bullets before he relinquished his company. Captain Mills was shot through the head. The grassy ascent was soon covered with dead and dying, but the troopers swept upward, and captured the fort and trenches, the enemy retreating with loss to the woods beyond. Turning slightly to the left, the cavalry then charged the main line of entrenchments, soon extending until they touched the centre division, assaulting San Juan.
   In the centre General Hawkins, his white hair flowing loosely in the breeze, led forward his infantry brigade. Barbed wire fences barred the way, but Lieutenant Wise, of Military Kite fame, and other officers smashed the posts with logs. A fraise of barbed wire was negotiated with loss, and as the cavalry joined hands with the infantry right, it was an individual race from the extended lines to the top of the hill. "Epaulettes Forward!" was the cry that led raw armies. At San Juan every officer was an individual leader, and the terrible percentage of officers who fell is an eloquent tribute to their worth.
   The San Juan Heights were held by Colonel Baquero of the Simanca Regiment, and just three companies of the Puerto Rico Battalion. Carefully entrenched, and hardly touched by our artillery fire, this small force, aided by machine guns and two nine-pounders, had torn up their assailants in the valley below with no appreciable loss. But they were disconcerted by the steady American advance, and redoubled their volleys as the thin blue line crossed the valley and commenced to climb the steep ascent. They leaned over their defences to fire at the stormers almost directly below them, and being suddenly exposed, received volley after volley from our reserves, and were swept by the Gatlings. The brave Baquero was killed, vainly attempting to rally his men; and as the leading files of the almost exhausted Americans clambered over the ridge, and prepared for the crash of hand-to-hand conflict, a straggly line of pale blue rose against the sky, as the Spaniards sprang up from their trenches, evacuated their fort, and fled precipitately into the intervening valley before Santiago.
   Ere twenty of "ours" had clambered over the ridge, "Old Glory" fluttered proudly on San Juan hill, the cavalry pennants were planted on the ridges to the right, and many a stricken and dying soldier raised his bleeding body to give a cheer of exultation and defiance.

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