From Yauco to Las Marias
Karl Stephen Herrman
FROM YAUCO TO LAS MARIAS
A Recent Campaign in Puerto Rico by the Independent Regular Brigade
under the command of BRIG. GENERAL SCHWAN
KARL STEPHEN HERRMAN
[Illustration: Theodore Schwan, Brigadier-General U.S. Volunteers.]
TO ROBERT SMITH COBB
MY BROTHER LORD IN CERTAIN ISLES OF FRIENDSHIP AND OWNER OF PRECIOUS CARGO
IN MY SHIP OF DREAMS
The Independent Regular Brigade
Place of meeting--Forces comprised by the command--Why we were not like the
Volunteers--Characteristics of the professional soldier--Sketches of the
more important officers--What we were ordered to do.
The First Day's March
Disposition of our column--The road to Sabana Grande--The infantrymen's
burden--Wayside hospitality--Hard tack and repartee--Into camp and under
blankets--Arrival of Macomb's troop--A smoke-talk.
The People of Puerto Rico
Their attitude toward the invading Americans--The proclamation of General
Miles--Justice and the private soldier--Depravity of the native masses--Men
and women of the better class--Local attributes of life--A hint to the
The Second Day Begins
We march to San German--Removal of the sick from the ambulances--An
approaching Spanish force--Our scouts and their leader--Concerning Senor
Fijardo--Visible effects of imminent battle--Something about the town of
The Engagement at Hormigueros
Topography of the battlefield--Macomb's cavalry fired into by Spanish
skirmishers--Our advance-guard comes into contact with the foe--General
Schwan reaches the firing line--The main body arrives and joins in
the fray--Subsequent manoeuvres of our column--The Spanish retreat--A
computation of losses.
The Second Day Ends
A personal resume of the fight--Lack of melodramatic accompaniments--A lost
chance of glory--Another neglected opportunity--A glimpse of the flag--Once
more into camp.
The Occupation of Mayaguez
We enter the city in triumph--An enthusiastic reception--A pretty girl
and the star-spangled banner--Other memorable incidents--Our rags and
tatters--A description of Mayaguez--We pitch our tents in a swamp--The
First Kentucky Volunteers.
The Engagement at Las Marias
Difficulties encountered in locating the retreating enemy--Final
determination upon pursuit--Lieutenant-Colonel Burke sets forth--Discovery
of Spanish troops near Las Marias--A one-sided encounter--Unwelcome
notification of truce--The rest of the brigade comes up--Feeding the
The Territory Won
General Schwan returns to Mayaguez--Business and pleasure--A custom
we abolished--Extent of the district captured by our brigade
--Aguadilla--Facilities for transportation--Labor and the
laborer--The cost of living--Rents and real estate--Skilled workmen--A word
The End of the Campaign
Arrival of the mail-steamer--The soldier-boy and his letters--The greater
part of the brigade is quartered in Mayaguez--Agriculture in Puerto
Rico--Material result of our campaign--A farewell order--General Schwan
departs for the United States.
A Brief Sketch of the Life of Brigadier-General Schwan
Theodore Schwan, Brigadier-General U.S. Volunteers
Statue of Columbus, Mayaguez
American Cavalry entering Mayaguez on the 11th of August
The Public Fountain in Aguadilla, a Favorite Rendezvous
for Runaway Lovers
Plaza Principal, Mayaguez. Town Hall in Background
Spanish Prisoners who were brought from Las Marias to Mayaguez
Plaza Principal, Mayaguez. A Public Celebration of the New Flag's Advent,
under the Auspices of the Local School-teachers and their Pupils
The Plaza of San German on Market-day
Lower Quarter of Mayaguez
A Mid-section of the Calle Mendez-Vigo, Mayaguez
Positions occupied by Spanish Soldiers in the Skirmish at Hormigueros
Railroad from Mayaguez to Aguadilla
The Theatre, Mayaguez
Custom-house at Mayaguez occupied by General Schwan as Brigade
Road from Mayaguez to Anasco
Lower End of the Calle de Mendez-Vigo, Mayaguez
Guenar Bridge, Mayaguez
Upper End of the Calle Mendez-Vigo, Mayaguez
The Town of Sabana Grande
Witch River, near Cabo Rojo
American Camp at Mayaguez
Plaza Mercado, Mayaguez
Mouth of the Mayaguez River
A Bit of Yauco
Wooden Dock at Mayaguez. In the Offing can be seen the German Man-of-war
"Eleventh of August" Street
The Officers of the Alphonso XIII Regiment of Cazadores, taken a few days
before the Fight with the American Troops at Hormigueros
The Military Hospital, Mayaguez
Part of the Village of Maricao
Infantry Barracks, Mayaguez
The Rosario River, near Hormigueros
A Street in San German
Tobacco Plantation (cutting leaves), Mayaguez
The Plaza Principal in Mayaguez looking toward the Church
A Ruined Church along our Line of March
A Puerto Rican Laundry
Watering the Artillery Horses at Yauco
A Native Bull-team
On the Road to Lares
The Best Outfit in our Wagon Train
"Promenade of the Fleas" in Yauco
When only One Man gets a Letter
The "Weary Travellers' Spring," near Anasco
A Crude Sugar Mill near Las Marias
A very Popular Spot
Two Knights and a Pawn
I have ventured to set down in this place the following bald and brief
items of our recent history, not because I doubt an already existing common
knowledge of their substance, but simply because they serve to illuminate
and give finish to the succeeding narrative.
Major-General Miles sailed from Guantanamo, Cuba, on the 21st of July,
1898; and landed at Guanica, Puerto Rico, on the 25th of the same month.
The troops sailing with him numbered 3,554 officers and men, mainly
composed of volunteers from Massachusetts, Illinois, and the District
of Columbia, with a complement of regulars in five batteries of light
artillery, thirty-four privates from the battalion of engineers, and
detachments of recruits, signal, and hospital corps.
On August 1st he was re-enforced by General Schwan's brigade of the Fourth
Army Corps and part of General Wilson's division of the First Corps,
raising his numerical strength to 9,641 officers and men. The Spanish
forces in Puerto Rico at that time numbered some 18,000, about evenly
divided between regulars and volunteers, and scattered advantageously over
3,700 square miles of territory. By the end of August the American strength
had nearly doubled.
In the brief campaign that followed, a large part of the island was
captured by the United States forces, and the positions of all the Spanish
garrisons, except that at San Juan, were made untenable. There were
altogether six engagements,--at Guanica Road, Guayamo (2), Coamo,
Hormigueros, Aibonito, and Las Marias,--with a total loss to the Spaniards
of about 450 killed and wounded, while the American casualties of the same
nature amounted to 43.
General Miles, in his scheme of operations, intended that three columns
of our troops--each composed of infantry, cavalry, artillery, and their
adjuncts--should march through the eastern, western, and central parts of
the island, respectively, diverging at Ponce and coalescing before San
Juan. The entire success of this plan was prevented only by the arrival of
the order to suspend hostilities, on the 13th of August.
The column marching east--known as the First Division, First Army
Corps--was commanded by Major-General James H. Wilson, and took part in
three engagements. The column sent through the interior--known as the
Provisional Division--was commanded by Brigadier-General Guy V. Henry, and
met no opposition of moment.
The third column, called the Independent Regular Brigade, and directed
to proceed through the western section of the island, was commanded by
Brigadier-General Theodore Schwan, and had two engagements with the
Alphonso XIII Regiment of Cazadores.
It is the story of General Schwan's campaign that I am about to relate.
The Independent Regular Brigade
_Place of meeting_--_Forces comprised by the command_--_Why we were
not like the Volunteers_--_Characteristics of the professional
soldier_--_Sketches of the more important officers_--_What we were ordered
Yauco, the place selected by General Miles as a rendezvous for the troops
of the Independent Regular Brigade, is a town of about 15,000 inhabitants,
and some six miles distant from Guanica. It is connected both by rail and
wagon-road with Ponce, the largest city on the island, and is noted for its
Spanish proclivities, fine climate, excellent running water, and setting of
mountains--luxuriantly green throughout the year.
Here were assembled on the evening of Aug. 8, 1898, all the forces assigned
to General Schwan, with the exception of Troop "A," Fifth Cavalry, which
did not appear until some thirty hours later. The command was composed of
the Eleventh Infantry, Light Battery "D" of the Fifth Artillery, Light
Battery "C" of the Third Artillery, and the troop of cavalry already
mentioned,--all regulars, and as resolute and picturesque a set of men as
ever wore the uniform of war.
* * * * *
Because we had no Volunteers with us, we were not granted even one little
word-spattering newspaper scribe, and so relinquished at the outset any
fugitive hopes of glory that otherwise might have been entertained. We were
out for business,--hard marching, hard living, hard fighting,--and the
opening vista was fringed with gore. We were none of us the darlings of any
particular State, nor the precious offspring of a peripatetic statesman
with a practised pull. We were at no time decimated by disease through
ignorant or insubordinate disregard of the primary principles of hygiene.
We didn't write long wailing letters home because we were obliged to sleep
on the damp ground, and had neither hot rolls, chocolate, nor marmalade for
breakfast. We were ragged, hungry, tough, and faithful. In other words, we
were regular army men, and, most distinctly, _not_ Volunteers.
[Illustration: Statue of Columbus, Mayaguez.]
There is a personality peculiar to the professional soldier, even though
he be but a half-fledged recruit, that defies analysis and baffles
description. He is of course built from the same clay as his brother of the
Volunteers; but the latter is a tin god, and the former is a devil. Yet the
difference does not spring from anything more fundamental than environment,
and therein lies the solace of the other fellow. Putting aside all odious
comparisons and limiting myself to a view of the regular army man as I know
him, I can simply say that in the eight months during which I underwent
in his company hard knocks and privations without number I could not have
found a more truly satisfactory comrade and friend. He doesn't, on the
average, know much about books; nor did he ever hear of the Etruscan
Inscriptions or the Pyramidal Policy of the Ancient Egyptians. He takes a
grim delight in smashing the English language into microscopic atoms at a
single blow. He is more fond of women, horses, and prize-fighting than is
good for him. He will steal when he is hungry, lie to save his skin, curse
most terribly on trifling provocation, and spend, to his last sou markee,
his hard-won wage on adulterated drink.
"He's a devil an' a ostrich
an' a orphan-child in one."
But he will stand his ground in action while there is ground to stand on;
he will throw his life away at a moment's notice for the flag, or a chosen
comrade, or a worthless girl; he will march and starve and thirst world
without end if he has a leader who holds his confidence; and he is, on the
whole, a rather fine specimen of the true American--being usually Irish or
[Illustration: American Cavalry entering Mayaguez on the 11th of
Our brigade commander, General Theodore Schwan--silent, upright,
tall, and spare--was regarded with affection and respect by every one who
came into personal contact with him, officer and man alike. He was shrewd,
clever, and distinguished, but never too busy or elevated to listen to the
humblest soldier from the ranks, and from first to last a gentleman. Of his
staff it is the highest praise to say that they were in every way worthy of
their chief. Bluff Captain Davison, gruff Captain Hutcheson, studious Major
Root, saturnine Major Egan, wounded Lieutenant Byron, patient Lieutenant
Poore, dashing Captain Elkins, and courteous Lieutenant Summerlin, I salute
you all in the most military manner of the soldier dismounted! You were my
friends in need, you lent me money, you gave me fatherly counsel and passes
of freedom to the shimmering tropic dawn--and I shall not forget.
At the head of the Eleventh Infantry was Colonel I.D. DeRussy, who, with
his ministerial drawl and dry wit, was a sharp contrast to his blunt,
impetuous, and fiery second in command, Lieutenant-Colonel Burke. But, so
far as I am aware, perpetual harmony reigned between them; and both were
beloved by their men. The battalion of artillery was commanded by Captain
Frank Thorp of Light Battery "D," my own outfit. He was best known in the
ranks as "Side-wheeler," from a peculiarity of gait, and, though well on
in years, was at all times gallant, courageous, and capable. A stiff
disciplinarian, he kept his guardhouse well filled from week to week; but
he was as quick to reward as punish, when warranted by circumstances. It
is worthy of note that although he took each day enough medicine to lay an
ordinary man on his back, or in an early grave, yet he was well and fit
from start to finish.
Captain Macomb of the Fifth Cavalry is not an easy man to describe in cold
ink. Handsome, stalwart, and grave; black-haired, black-eyed, a scarf of
yellow knotted at his throat,--he was Custer without the vanity or Lancelot
devoid a Guinevere.
[Illustration: The Public Fountain in Aguadilla, a Favorite Rendezvous for
When he clattered through the many quaint little towns abutting on our line
of march, he was followed by a billow of sighs from behind the half-closed
lattices, though I dare say he knew nothing about it; for indeed he was
no heart-breaker, but a true soldier. I recommend him to either Rudyard
Kipling or Richard Harding Davis.
Said General Miles, in a letter of instruction to General Schwan under date
of August 6, 1898:--
"You will drive out or capture all Spanish troops in the western portion
of Puerto Rico. You will take all necessary precautions and exercise great
care against being surprised or ambushed by the enemy, and will make the
movement as rapidly as possible, at the same time exercising your best
judgment in the care of your command, to accomplish the object of your
And this programme we were now ready to carry out.
The First Day's March
_Disposition of our column_--_The road to Sabana Grande_--_The
infantrymen's burden_--_Wayside hospitality_--_Hard tack and
repartee_--_Into camp and under blankets_--_Arrival of Macomb's troop_--_A
[Illustration: Plaza Principal, Mayaguez. Town Hall in background.]
The disposition and arrangement of our forces on the first day's march can
best be shown by the following document:--
HEADQUARTERS INDEPENDENT BRIGADE (REGULARS), CAMP AT YAUCO, PUERTO RICO,
Aug. 8, 1898.
GENERAL ORDERS No. 13.
This command will move out on the road to Sabana Grande at ten o'clock
tomorrow morning. It will observe the following rules and order of march:--
1. Macomb's troop of cavalry will act as a screen, and will march about two
miles in advance of the point of the advance-guard. The extent of the front
to be covered by, and the disposition of the cavalry, will depend upon
the nature of the country, and will be left to the judgment of the troop
commander. He will communicate freely by means of orderlies with the
commander of the advance-guard, who will at once transmit all messages to
the commanding general. Three mounted orderlies to be furnished by the
troop, will march with the advance-guard.
2. Two companies of infantry, one platoon of artillery, and two Gatling
guns will constitute the advance-guard. A pioneer detachment, consisting of
one non-commissioned officer and eight men, to be carefully selected from
the advance-guard, will march with the reserve, and will be under the
direction of the engineer officer of the brigade. The requisite tools
will be carried on a cart. Upon arriving in camp, the advance-guard will
immediately establish the outpost.
3. The main body will consist of nine companies of infantry, one battery
and two platoons of artillery, and two Gatling guns.
4. The trains following the main body will be under the direction of the
brigade quartermaster, and their order of march will be:--
Supply and baggage wagons.
The rear-guard will be composed of one company of infantry. A detachment
from it will protect exposed flanks of the train. If horses can be procured
for them, the commanders of the advance and rear guards will be mounted.
The above disposition for each day's march will be conformed to, unless
By command of Brigadier-General Schwan.
GROTE HUTCHESON, _Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General._
[Illustration: Spanish Prisoners who were brought from Las Marias to
As Captain Macomb's cavalry had not arrived at the hour appointed for our
start, we set off without him. And in fact there was little need of his
services on that day, our march being through a section of the island
already cleared of Spanish troops, and exceedingly slow and wearisome,
The route from Yauco to Sabana Grande lies for some two miles along the
level and creditable road leading to Guanica, suddenly going off at right
angles just beyond a picturesque sugar-mill into as uneven, crooked, and
hilly a highway as can well be imagined.
I cannot tell you in adequate language just how the tropical sun punishes
the unacclimated Northerner, especially if he be a foot-soldier tramping
along in a blinding dust, parched of throat, empty of belly, and loaded
down with a pack that would make a quartermaster's mule to fake the
glanders. If you have been there, it needs no words of mine to galvanize
your memory; and, if you have not, you cannot understand. This matter of
the soldier's pack and what to do with it became a subject of serious
consideration during the recent war, in both Cuba and Puerto Rico. On the
march, in the charge or pursuit or retreat, it is a senseless, clogging,
spirit-shackling incubus, a rank absurdity, and an utter impossibility. As
a result, after three days of active campaign the infantryman is seen gayly
stalking along with no burden save his rifle, ammunition-belt, and a wisp
of gray blanket, which seems to me to be a fatuous and footless condition
of affairs that might well be quickly remedied for the benefit of all
[Illustration: Plaza Principal, Mayaguez. A Public Celebration of the New
Flag's Advent, under the Auspices of the Local School-teachers and their
As we passed the occasional little hacienda, set in its grove of cocoanut
palms or orange-trees, dusky and wrinkled women came forth from the doors,
bearing upon their heads huge jars, from which we filled our ever-parched
canteens with cool, sweet water. They also brought us mangoes and other
native fruits, and queer cigars of most abominable flavor. Because we were
forbidden to eat of the fruit, we stuffed ourselves with it, and looked for
more. From time to time a weary or sick soldier would lay himself down by
the roadside, to be picked up later on by an ambulance; but, as the day
wore on, the intervals of rest grew longer and more frequent. We had but
one opportunity to water the sweating horses of the artillery, and then it
was a painful matter of buckets. We munched hard-tack for our noonday meal,
and made merry over it, talking of the day when we should go home and feast
on beans and beefsteak and countless other things of which the heathen
wot not. We were intensely voluble or silent by turns, and invented new
nicknames for each other, which were so apt, spite of being touched with
bitterness, that they stuck forevermore. And never, so far as I can
remember, did any one mention the "Maine" or Cuba Libre.
At last, shortly after sunset, we descended a long, steep hillside, and
went into camp in the valley of the Rio Grande, just without the gates of a
small town, uninteresting in character, and Sabana Grande by name. We had
marched only twelve miles, but were hungry, limp, and ugly. So, having
crammed down a hasty supper of nothing in particular, we made short shift
of absent tents, and, pulling our blankets to our chins, lay face upward
to the stars that made us homesick, and slept the sleep of tired little
I was wakened in the middle of the night by a distant jangle of sabres and
rattle of hooves. Seeing our officer of the day, Lieutenant R.E. Callan,
standing not far away and looming gigantic against the sky, I asked him the
meaning of the noise; and he replied that it was Captain Macomb's troop
of cavalry just coming in. I lit my pipe and talked for a while with the
lieutenant of other things than war--Maude Adams and John Drew, football,
ambition, and books--till finally he went away to make his rounds. My pipe
went out, and I dreamed of stranger happenings than my longest thoughts
could fashion in the glare of day. And, when I woke again, reveille was
soaring from post to post.
[Illustration: The Plaza of San German on Market-day.]
The People of Puerto Rico
_Their attitude toward the invading Americans_--_The proclamation of
General Miles_--_justice and the private soldier_--_Depravity of the
native masses_--_Men and women of the better class_--_Local attributes of
life_--_A hint to the weary._
Before proceeding further with the story of our advance, it may interest
you to know what manner of people we found the Puerto Ricans to be, and how
they behaved toward us who came to them as dogs of war.
When we were first on the island, there is no doubt that the mass of the
population regarded us with acute distrust, if not with dislike and fear.
But the prompt measures taken by General Miles to disabuse their minds of
any preconceived ideas of ensuing rape, robbery, or desecration, did
much to soothe the more ignorant and childish of the natives, while the
intelligent and educated class needed no further assurance than that
contained in the proclamation issued by the commanding general from Ponce
on the 28th of July, which was as follows:--
TO THE INHABITANTS OF PUERTO RICO:
In the prosecution of the war against the kingdom of Spain by the people
of the United States, in the cause of liberty, justice, and humanity, its
military forces have come to occupy the island of Puerto Rico. They come
bearing the banner of freedom, inspired by a noble purpose to seek the
enemies of our country and yours, and to destroy or capture all who are in
armed resistance. They bring you the fostering arm of a free people, whose
greatest power is in its justice and humanity to all those living within
its fold. Hence the first effect of this occupation will be the immediate
release from your former relations, and it is hoped a cheerful acceptance
of the government of the United States. The chief object of the American
military forces will be to overthrow the armed authority of Spain, and to
give the people of your beautiful island the largest measure of liberty
consistent with this occupation. We have not come to make war upon the
people of a country that for centuries has been oppressed, but, on the
contrary, to bring you protection, not only to yourselves, but to your
property; to promote your prosperity, and bestow upon you the immunities
and blessings of the liberal institutions of our government. It is not our
purpose to interfere with any existing laws and customs that are wholesome
and beneficial to your people so long as they conform to the rules of
military administration of order and justice. This is not a war of
devastation, but one to give all within the control of its military and
naval forces the advantages and blessings of enlightened civilization.
NELSON A. MILES,
_Major-General, Commanding United States Army_.
[Illustration: Lower Quarter of Mayaguez.]
The promises set forth in this document were kept to the letter. Indeed,
Justice sat up so straight for the people of Puerto Rico that she often
toppled over backward and crushed the American soldier. To steal anything,
from a kiss to a cow, was almost a capital offence; while houses and
churches might have been lined with gold and jasper, or infected with the
small-pox, so stringently were we kept out of them--at least during the
This was all a mighty good thing for somebody, no doubt, but it detracted
in large chunks from the glamour of war for the soldier-boy; and I fear
that the majority of us felt hurt, if not sorely cheated. Nor is it at
all certain that the average inhabitant of Puerto Rico is worth coddling,
protection, prosperity, "and the immunities and blessings" accorded him by
his new rulers. A thick, stout cudgel or a bright, sharp axe will be more
effective than honeyed words in helping him cheerfully to assimilate new
ideas; though no one will believe it here at home until the hurrah is all
over and some of the truth gets into general circulation.
[Illustration: A Mid-section of the Calle Mendez-Vigo, Mayaguez.]
About one-sixth of the population in this island--the educated class, and
chiefly of pure Spanish blood--can be set down as valuable acquisitions to
our citizenship and the peer, if not the superior, of most Americans in
chivalry, domesticity, fidelity, and culture. Of the rest, perhaps one-half
can be moulded by a firm hand into something approaching decency; but the
remainder are going to give us a great deal of trouble. They are ignorant,
filthy, untruthful, lazy, treacherous, murderous, brutal, and black Spain
has kept her hand at their throats for many weary years, and the only thing
that has saved them from being throttled is the powerful influence in
their discipline effected by the Roman Catholic Church. When our zealous
missionaries have succeeded in leading them into the confines of other
creeds, we shall have all the excitement we want in Puerto Rico, and the
part of our army stationed there will have no lack of exercise.
Despite a common belief to the contrary, the color-line is drawn as
rigidly in Puerto Rico as it is in Kentucky. The people having nothing but
Castilian blood in their veins are as proud as Virtue; and, while politics
and business see a certain mingling of skin-colors, the mixture ceases to
exist across the threshold of home. No true Spaniard would permit himself
to sing of his "coal-black lady" or his "cute little yallar gal"; and, if
he did, he would be ostracized.
The women are all very pretty or extremely ugly, and never simply plain.
The girls of the better class are brought up from babyhood under a constant
surveillance that knows no laxity until after marriage, and does not
altogether cease even then. The growing bud is taught to play the piano or
guitar, to embroider, to sing a little, to dance a little less, to speak
and read French, to powder her face with art, and to walk like a very
queen. She is usually married before she is seventeen, especially if her
father has money; and, until the day of her death, she never sees a modern
newspaper, never goes slumming, and never soils her gentle hands with work
of any degree. She is apt to love her husband devotedly, and does not think
her career fitly rounded until she is a mother.
[Illustration: Positions occupied by Spanish Soldiers in the Skirmish at
The men of the same social footing are not so interesting--to me; but,
nevertheless, they possess many characteristics which claim attention and
deserve applause. They are never drunkards or wife-beaters; they don't drag
their business to the dinner-table and bed; they are not given to profane
speech; and they show greater interest in a sonnet than in the price of
Life for both sexes and all grades in Puerto Rico is a rose, a kiss, and
a cigarette; song, laughter, and manana. The island is, unequivocally, a
Paradise; and, if I remember rightly, dwellers in Paradise are not expected
to labor. These people amply fulfill the expectation.
If you are sick of the worry and fret and jar of contemporaneous life here
at home, if you care for wide, sweet blue sky, eternal flowers, crystal
fountains, and gypsy music, then there is no better place for you to go
than to Puerto Rico. Take a bicycle and ride from Ponce around the island
or straight across to San Juan. You will find the roads, when there are
roads, superlatively excellent--particularly, if you do not mind an
occasional hill or sharp and sudden shower of rain. The larger cities all
have comfortable hotels; and, if you can afford to stay a month in Ponce,
Mayaguez, and San Juan, you will bring back fragrant memories that will
last you many years, or else you will send for your household gods and not
come back at all. And, if you don't ride a bicycle, you will be able to get
just as much pleasure from the toy railroad or wee horses when you travel
about from place to place, while the expense in either case will be
[Illustration: Railroad from Mayaguez to Aguadilla.]
The Second Day Begins
_We march to San German_--_Removal of the sick from the ambulances_--_An
approaching Spanish force_--_Our scouts and their leader_--_Concerning
Senor Fijardo_--_Visible effects of imminent battle_--_Something about the
town of San German_.
At eight o'clock in the morning on the 10th of August General Schwan's
brigade broke camp at Sabana Grande, and moved out on the road to San
German. The order of march differed from that of the day before only in the
presence of the troop of cavalry; and, the command being well rested, such
progress was made that the advance-guard reached the western side of San
German by noon--a good ten miles. The main body halted at the same hour
just outside the eastern entrance to the town, preparing a makeshift meal;
and at this point the sick, both on their own account and to make room in
the already crowded ambulances, were transferred to a private hospital.
Before quitting San German, word was brought to the commanding general
that the entire Mayaguez garrison--some 1,362 men, chiefly regulars--was
marching in our direction, and would contest our advance. This information,
which proved to be correct, was at once communicated to the cavalry and
advance-guard, with orders to proceed with the greatest care, and to reduce
somewhat the distances ordinarily separating the different parts of the
Our source of information at this and other important times was a small
body of native scouts, numbering from 6 to 11 men and commanded by Lugo
Vina, a swarthy, wizened little Puerto Rican, who looked like General Gomez
and was taciturn as an Indian. He was considered by General Schwan to be
a man of great character and force. These scouts were well mounted, and
accompanied the brigade during its entire march, rendering most important
and efficient service. Three of them were arrested as spies by Spanish
officials between Las Marias and Mayaguez, and narrowly escaped being shot.
Eventually, they suffered nothing worse than imprisonment for several
months at San Juan; and, when the Evacuation Commission arranged for their
release, the United States reimbursed them to the full extent of their
wages for the period of their captivity.
[Illustration: The Theatre, Mayaguez.]
For the position of "alcade" or Mayor of the city of Mayaguez General
Schwan had a most difficult task.
Someone thoroughly acquainted with the country and its people was wanted
and the selection fell to a prosperous planter residing within the
jurisdiction of Mayaguez--who had been--while not properly speaking, a
scout--was yet of considerable service to General Schwan as an interpreter
and guide up to the taking of Mayaguez. And because he had in addition been
exceedingly useful to our government before the actual breaking out of the
war, it was the wish of General Miles to confer upon him some suitable
reward immediately hostilities were suspended. General Schwan was prepared
to make this appointment, but so strong an opposition to the plan sprang
spontaneously from the inhabitants of the municipality most interested that
the appointment was held up.
After a careful consideration of all the remonstrances and the strenuous
denial by the candidate of all and every allegation and his desire that
the promised honor be conferred upon him at once and without delay, it was
decided by General Schwan that in the face of so much opposition there was
nothing to do but to leave the residents of Mayaguez to decide the question
for themselves which they did in a most emphatic manner by refusing to
endorse the planter as a possibility, and presenting the name of Senor
Santiago Palmer as an acceptable party.
This latter gentleman subsequently received the appointment, which was
satisfactory to all concerned.
* * * * *
The news that we were about to meet the Spanish forces face to face spread
rapidly among the men in the ranks, and aroused more enthusiasm than
terrapin and champagne could have done. Nobody any longer complained of the
heat; and, when it began to shower by fits and starts, nobody complained of
that, either. There were no more stragglers casting a windward eye to an
empty ambulance, nor growls because we pressed forward so rapidly.
[Illustration: Custom-house at Mayaguez occupied by General Schwan as
On that particular afternoon I was with the advance-guard; and, when we had
learned what we might expect before sunset, I studied the men about me with
a lively curiosity as to what effect the probability of immediate action
would have upon their visible emotions.
Most of them, in our platoon of artillery at least, were boys, or little
more than boys, and almost without exception recruits of less than six
months' standing. It might have been expected that some degree of
gravity would have crept over them in the nearness of such unpleasant
possibilities; but never were they more gay and care-free, to all
appearance. Old jests already worn to shreds before we left the transport
at Guanica were once more revived, and capered with new life. Good-natured
irony flew from lip to lip in fantastic speculation as to probable
promotions in case all the officers should be killed at the first go-off.
The horses were told, individually and with great tenderness, just what
every man expected of them in the approaching crisis. And no comrade gave
another any instructions regarding mother or the girl at home, if he were
to bite the dust. For my own part, I found my mind so busy in going over
the cadences of a waltz I had danced with Somebody months before that I
could not bring myself to consider anything else but the beauty of its
refrain--or was it Her eyes?--try as I might. And, besides, it is not
profitable to shake hands with the devil until you are within reach of his
[Illustration: Road from Mayaguez to Anasco.]
The wagon-road leading from San German, over which we were now marching,
follows the valley of the Rio Grande, whose flats, varying in width from a
few hundred to a thousand yards, extend on each side to a chain of hills.
On either hand, in the immediate distance, are fields of sugar-cane,
bounded wherever they touch the road by wire fences.
San German, the city through which we had just passed, is a place of nearly
10,000 inhabitants, with a jurisdiction numbering 30,600. It has three
very fine markets, a charity hospital, a seminary, good school buildings,
theatre, and casino. There is a railroad in construction, a post-office and
telegraph station. It is situated on a long, uneven hill, at the foot of
which lies the beautiful valley of the Juanjibos and Boqueron Rivers,
which is made a veritable garden of enchantment by the orange, lemon,
and tamarind trees, together with various other plants, growing there in
abundance. The town was founded in 1511 by Captain Miguel Toro, and has
borne the title of city since 1877. The principal streets are called Luna
and Comercio. Its chief plaza is of notable size, its church is quite
regular in architecture, though of old construction, and the barracks of
the infantry and civil guard merit mention. Finally, it may be said that
its citizens have held a distinguished record for bravery and patriotism
ever since their decisive victory over the English forces in 1743.
[Illustration: Lower End of the Calle de Mendez-Vigo, Mayaguez.]
The Engagement at Hormigueros
_Topography of the battlefield_--_Macomb's cavalry fired into by Spanish
skirmishers_--_Our advance-guard comes into contact with the foe_--_General
Schwan reaches the firing line_--_The main body arrives and joins in the
fray_--_Subsequent manoeuvres of our column_--_The Spanish retreat_--_A
computation of losses_.
The ensuing account of our fight with the Alphonso XIII Regiment of
Cazadores, on the 10th of August, is taken bodily from the official report
made by General Schwan to Major-General Miles under date of August 21:--
At a distance of about seven miles from Mayaguez the Rio Rosario, coming
from the east, parallels the road for nearly a mile, and empties into the
Rio Grande just south of Hormigueros. A sugar-mill stands just off the road
to the left; and a wagon-road branches off to the right, lined with hedge
and brush, and, crossing the Rosario on an iron bridge, leads to the hamlet
of Hormigueros, which is located on a side hill 1,500 yards from the main
road. The ground to the south of Hormigueros is covered with banana groves
and cane fields. At about 600 yards from where the Hormigueros road leaves
the main road the latter crosses the Rio Grande on a wooden bridge. Just
beyond this bridge the road to Cabo Rojo branches off to the south. From
this point, for nearly a mile, the main road passes through very low, flat
ground, cut up with deep furrows, which extend to the hills on the left
and the river on the right, and contain considerable water from recent
rains.... To resume the narrative of the day's events, near a point on the
main road where it is flanked by sugar-mills our cavalry was fired into,
though without effect, by the enemy's scouts, who were concealed behind a
hedge lining the Hormigueros road. They were easily dispersed. The infantry
and advance-guard having passed this point, the cavalry took the latter
road, and, crossing the Rosario, turned westward, and advanced under cover
of the railroad embankment until--taking every opportunity to damage the
enemy by its fire action--it reached a position beyond the covered wooden
[Illustration: Guenar Bridge, Mayaguez.]
The brigade commander had left San German at the head of the main body.
When he heard the firing in his front, he sent word to commanding officers
to advance without further halt, and to keep their commands closed up.
Similar orders were sent to the train. He was informed and approved of
the route taken by the cavalry before reaching the bridge. He crossed the
latter about half-past three o'clock, being at that time about 500 yards in
advance of the main body.
[Illustration: Upper End of the Calle Mendez-Vigo, Mayaguez.]
A staff officer, who had been sent ahead to select camp, reported at this
time the ground west of the Cabo Rojo road as suitable for this purpose;
but owing to the suspected proximity of the enemy, whose position had not
yet been determined, it was decided to push ahead and beyond the iron
bridge. This, despite the fact that the men had now marched 13 miles and
were very tired. Once in possession of the bridge and the high ground to
the north of it, the command would occupy a strong position, which
would make it hard to check its advance on Mayaguez. Accordingly, the
advance-guard, under Captain Hoyt, moved forward, deploying its advance
party as skirmishers and its supports into a line of squads. In this
formation it continued until it had approached the bridge within about 400
yards. At this juncture the enemy opened fire, at first individual fire.
The firing aimed at the advance-guard accelerated the march of the Eleventh
Infantry, which ... reported to the brigade commander, whose staff had
already commenced the demolition of the wire fences enclosing the road.
About the time that the brigade commander caused the deployment of
two companies to re-enforce the advance-guard,--Major Gilbraith in
command,--the enemy, from his position in the hills to the right front,
fired volleys at the main body through the interval separating the infantry
advance-guard from the cavalry, wounding a number of men, also an officer
and several horses of the brigade staff. Meanwhile the artillery battalion,
under the authority of the brigade commander, had taken up a position
to the left of the road. As the powder used by the enemy was absolutely
smokeless, and his position being, moreover, for the most part screened by
the trees along the Rio Grande, the question of the exact direction to be
given Major Gilbraith's detachment, and to the lines of battle about to be
formed from the main column, became a most perplexing one. Luckily, this
uncertainty did not last long, those of the enemy's bullets that struck the
ground near us solving the problem. Some slight confusion was caused by
a premature and hurried deployment of the remaining companies, which
interfered somewhat with the brigade commander's intention of forming two
additional lines, one to support the fighting line and the other to act
as a reserve, or as the changing conditions of the combat might render
expedient. But under his supervision this defective formation was soon
rectified, three companies being placed on the right and four companies on
the left of the road, the former, under Lieutenant-Colonel Burke, moving
forward in support of Major Gilbraith, and the latter being held back for a
time. Major Gilbraith and Colonel Burke's troops, being unable to cross the
creek, passed over the bridge that spans it by the left flank, the former's
companies having previously occupied a sheltered place in a ditch parallel
to and to the right of the main road. About this time the advance-guard,
one of the companies of which (Penrose's) had previously held for a short
time a knoll on the left of the road, moved forward and crossed the iron
bridge, the advance sections of the companies being led by Lieutenants
Alexander and Wells, respectively. After ... a time the entire
advance-guard, including the two Gatling guns, was concentrated on the
right of the railroad. It dislodged the enemy, and with the cavalry troop
to the right,--the troop had arrived about this time, after doing effective
service in threatening the enemy's flank,--and with the companies of Major
Gilbraith pushed forward in the centre, took up a position on the northern
line of hills. Here they were rejoined by the infantry and by two pieces
of artillery under First Lieutenant Archibald Campbell, which the brigade
commander had ordered forward, and which by their fire added to the
discomfiture of the enemy. The two Gatling guns under Lieutenant Maginnis,
with the advance, did good work, at first in a place near the creek where
the gunners had a good view of the enemy, and later on at the various
positions of the advance-guard. The two guns from the main body were also
operated from the crest of the hill during the latter stage of the combat.
[Illustration: The Town of Sabana Grande.]
The affair ended about six o'clock; and the troops, including all the
artillery, bivouacked on or near the position occupied by the enemy. The
wagon train afterward went into park between the railroad and the Rio
Grande, near enough to enable the men to get what was necessary for their
comfort during the night. Before darkness set in, Captain Macomb with his
troop was directed to make an effort to capture a railway train in plain
sight from the hill occupied by the command; but the train got under way
before he could reach it. It also escaped some shots that were fired at it
by the artillery. Although it had now become quite dark, the captain picked
up a few prisoners, including a wounded lieutenant.
The difficulty in locating the enemy, and hence in giving proper direction
to the attack formations, has already been alluded to. Another cause of
anxiety during the earlier stage of the fight were the reports that came to
the brigade commander from different parts of the field, through officers,
that the enemy was getting around our right (or left) flank, and
endeavoring to capture our train. There may have been some foundation for
these reports; but, if so, the flanking parties were probably small, and
deterred from pursuing their design by our steady advance. It may be added
that the train was well guarded.
[Illustration: Witch River, near Cabo Rojo.]
Our loss embraced 1 enlisted man killed and 1 officer and 15 men wounded.
All the wounded, the surgeons say, will recover. The enemy's loss cannot be
definitely ascertained, but it is estimated at 15 killed alone. It probably
did not fall short of 50 in killed and wounded.
The command continued its march at an early hour the following morning, the
advance-guard and the main body proceeding slowly and with great caution.
This extra care was unnecessary. Those of the enemy's forces that were held
in reserve (some of them not far from the city) had fled precipitately as
soon as they realized the extent of their defeat.
In connection with the foregoing report I consider the subjoined document
as being of interest:--
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES MILITARY
EXPEDITION IN CAMP AT MAYAGUEZ,
PUERTO RICO, Aug. 12, 1898.
The brigadier-general commanding desires to convey to the officers and
soldiers of his command his thanks for their excellent conduct in the
engagement they had on the 10th instant, near the town of Hormigueros, with
the Spanish forces in that vicinity. Concealed in a strong position, they
poured a murderous fire into our troops about to go into camp after a
fatiguing march. Had the disposition of the cavalry screen and of the
advance-guard--which latter included both infantry and artillery--been less
perfect, or had the command been deficient in discipline or other soldierly
qualities, such an attack might have proved disastrous. As it was, it was
promptly and gallantly repulsed, the repulse resulting in the enemy's
precipitate evacuation of the city of Mayaguez, though it had been placed
in a state of defence.
[Illustration: American Camp at Mayaguez.]
The major-general commanding the army has been pleased to commend the
troops for their gallant action on this occasion,--a fact which it affords
the brigade commander genuine satisfaction to announce.
By command of Brigadier-General Schwan.
_Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General._
The Second Day Ends
_A personal resume of the fight_--_Lack of melodramatic accompaniments_--_A
lost chance of glory_--_Another neglected opportunity_--_A glimpse of the
flag_--_Once more into camp_.
At the risk of being considered tautological, I cannot refrain from
devoting another chapter to the Hormigueros fight: first, because it was my
initial experience under fire; and, second, because there are more things
in a soldier's memory than are set forth in the official report of his
[Illustration: Plaza Mercado, Mayaguez.]
Our advance-guard, after leaving San German, marched rapidly along the
level road leading to Mayaguez until about three o'clock in the afternoon.
As the head of our column came into view, the country people living along
the route gathered their most precious possessions into huge bundles, and
hurried away across the fields,--a sure sign that we were approaching the
enemy's position. At the hour mentioned we were suddenly set upon by a
blinding shower, and a halt was made for about fifteen minutes, when, the
fury of the downpour having somewhat abated, we once more began to move
ahead. The cavalry had gone off on a side road for some purpose not known
to me, and the infantry was deployed in long lines to the right and left,
while the artillery brought up the rear at an interval of about a hundred
yards. At half-past three the skirmishers came to the Rio Rosario, but,
being unable to ford it, were called back to the road and started across
the iron bridge, already described by General Schwan. It was at this moment
that the Spanish forces opened fire, concealed in a dense undergrowth about
500 yards in our front.
All jammed together as we were, it would seem that we might have been
absolutely slaughtered by the leaden hail which was poured in upon us; and
the only explanation of our marvellous immunity probably lies in the fact
that the enemy were surprisingly bad shots. Bullets whistled by our heads,
or kicked up the dirt at our feet; but, though the pop of rifles made up a
continuous sound like the opening of a hundred thousand beer-bottles, not a
vestige of smoke rose in the clear air, not a patch of hostile uniform was
to be seen.
For some reason our infantry did not at once reply to the Spanish
fusillade; and during this brief interval two men and two horses were
wounded in the platoon of artillery which stood idly just behind the
foot-soldiers,--too close, in fact, to be of any service, and in the way
of everybody. Then the two Gatling guns under Lieutenant Maginnis went off
into the field at our right, where they began to speak for themselves; and
Gatling guns in action have a mighty cheerful effect upon your nerves,
if they happen to be on your side of the fracas. Next, an order from the
general sent the artillery galloping to the rear for about an eighth of a
mile, where, after a short detour to the left and a mad race across swampy,
ditch-dug fields, it took up a temporary position on a convenient knoll.
The main body of our command had meanwhile arrived, and got into the row
without ceremony, the firing now being heavy on both sides. My memory
serves me with no clear impression of the sequence of events after this
[Illustration: Mouth of the Mayaguez River.]
During the first hour of our fighting all the powder used by us was as
smokeless as that of the foe, and again and again the remark was passed
that this did not seem like the real business of war. In other respects
as well there were few of the accompaniments that we conjure up in our
stay-at-home imagination of battle scenes. There was a little galloping of
hooves, not long sustained; an occasional sharp cry of command or sharper
oath; an intermittent rumble and jar from the infrequently moved artillery,
not yet in action; and perhaps a groan or two from the wounded. But, even
when the field-rifles began to boom and shroud the landscape in drifting
smoke, the make-believe aspect of the affair did not in any degree
diminish. There were no clouds of dust, no heaps of slain, no cheers, no
desperate charges, and not even a glimpse of the stars and stripes. Away
to our right we could see crowds of spectators on the elevated platform
surrounding the Sanctuary of Montserrate; and I remember thinking it was
well no admission fee had been charged for the spectacle upon which they
gazed, else they would have murmured themselves defrauded.
[Illustration: A Bit of Yauco.]
My own most thrilling moments came about in this way: The platoon of
artillery to which I belonged had, as already related, decided that its
position directly behind the hotly beset infantry was untenable, and
consequently fell back at speed, for some distance. Standing at the head of
the first piece, with all my faculties engrossed by the scene before me, I
did not hear the order which should have sent me scampering to my seat on
the limber-chest, and so suddenly found myself alone, with my comrades
mounted and away in full career. A glance about me disclosed the fact that
no other living thing was standing up within a radius of five hundred
yards. I was a conspicuous mark for the eager slayers in the adjacent
underbrush; and I ought, of course, to rejoin my section as quickly as
possible. So I ran. It occurred to me that here was my chance to show what
I was made of. I would stop running, fill and light my pipe, and stalk in
a leisurely manner down the white road, thus winning, perhaps, comment
and applause from high places. I say all this occurred to me; but I also
happened to recollect the story told of the survivor of Bull Run, who
replied to a sneering criticism anent the Federal retreat from that famous
field by the sententious rejoinder that "all them as didn't run was there
yet,"--and I felt that I could fully appreciate the point. So I continued
to sprint as fast as I could, leaving the bubble Reputation for other
seekers, or for myself upon some other day and field. I was not afraid, and
I was simply doing my duty; but I sometimes think that I may have neglected
the flood-tide of opportunity, and I often wonder why, in melodramatic
crises, a man's mind is not always able to control his legs.
I was not alone in the disregard of romantic possibilities. Later in the
afternoon I saw a wounded private propped up against a fence, and bleeding
copiously from a bullet-hole that extended through both cheeks. His eyes
were closed, and he was making queer noises in his throat. As I happened to
be idle at the instant, I stepped to his side, and inquired compassionately
if I could do anything for him. He opened his eyes with a jerk, spat forth
a couple of teeth, and replied: "If you'll tell me how the beginning of
'Sweet Marie' goes, I'll give you a piece of my face for a souvenir. I've
been trying to get that blame tune straight for the last fifteen minutes,
but keep getting off my trolley." And he laughed a ghastly laugh. I stared
at him in amazement, and then, seeing that he was not delirious, strode
moodily away. What that man ought to have said was, "How goes the fight?"
or "A drop of water, for God's sake"; but it is the painful truth that he
[Illustration: Wooden Dock at Mayaguez. In the Offing can be seen the
German Man-of-war "Geier."]
A striking feature of the engagement was the thoroughly matter-of-fact
manner in which both officers and men went about their work. There was no
strutting, no posing, no shirking, but an evident intention on the part
of all concerned, from General Schwan down, to do whatever had to be done
without unnecessary fuss and feathers, promptly and well. I have seen far
more excitement displayed on an ordinary drill-ground at home, in the
piping times of peace.
A sudden appearance of the flag just after the trumpets had sounded "cease
firing" brought moisture to the eyes of many a toughened veteran; but even
then, with victory still glowing in our grasp, there was not the ghost of a
cheer. We were simply more tired and hungry than usual, and until matters
had been straightened out for the night had no time for sentiment. And,
when we finally went into camp on the very field where we had just ceased
fighting, we found our chief interest centred in hot coffee, crisp
hard-tack, and comfortable blankets. We had begun to realize that we might
have lain stiffer and starker that night but for the whim of chance, and
were silent with the clacking tongue.
* * * * *
Hormigueros, the village which gave its name to this engagement, is a place
of about 3,000 inhabitants, whose houses cluster about the base of the
mountain crowned by the Sanctuary of Montserrate. This church is visited by
an endless stream of pilgrims, and many wild legends are told concerning
[Illustration: "Eleventh of August" Street.]
The Occupation of Mayaguez
_We enter the city in triumph--An enthusiastic reception--A pretty girl
and the star-spangled banner--Other memorable incidents--Our rags and
tatters--A description of Mayaguez--We pitch our tents in a swamp--The
First Kentucky Volunteers._
As early as half-past eight on the following morning--August 11--our scouts
entered the city of Mayaguez, some three or four miles distant from our
camp of the night before. About an hour later Captain Macomb marched his
troop through the streets, accompanied by the brigade headquarters staff.
Many prominent citizens greeted General Schwan at the Casa del Rey, and
declared themselves subject to his orders.
At eleven o'clock the entire brigade entered Mayaguez, with the general
riding at its head, colors flying, and band playing.
We had been through this triumphal entry business several times before; but
I, for one, never grew tired of it. It was for all the world like being in
the procession of a great circus. The sidewalks, balconies, windows, and
roof-tops were packed with wide-eyed humanity, of all ages and conditions,
hues, sizes, and degrees of beauty. At every street corner, and in every
square, great crowds of the lower classes rent the air with vivas and
bravos, regulating their enthusiasm by the size of the guns that swung past
them. It is easy enough for some grades of mankind to cheer with frenzy the
appearance of a victor, no matter who he be; and a Chinese host would
have been received with just as much acclaim as we were, had they come as
conquering heroes. The houses of the aristocrats sent us no demonstration
of feeling one way or the other, with a single startling and highly
dramatic exception. We had turned from the Calle Mirasol into the Calle
Candalaria, and the head of the column had almost reached the Plaza
Principal. The band had just crashed into "The Stars and Stripes Forever."
Suddenly the crowd on an upper balcony of a stately house to the left was
seen to sway violently; and a moment later a beautiful young girl, tears
streaming from her eyes, leant far out over the rail, and waved a crudely
made Old Glory over the ragged ranks below. For a breath we were struck
dumb by this apparition. Then every hat came off; and for the first time
that day we split the heavens with a cheer,--lustily and long. The outbreak
was infectious, and from every side the clamor swelled and burst till it
seemed as if the universe had vaulted into mad tumult at the touch of a
girl's hand. Her name was Catalina Palmer, and she has since married an
American lieutenant. But that, as Kipling would say, is another story.
[Illustration: The Officers of the Alphonso XIII Regiment of Cazadores,
taken a few days before the Fight with the American Troops at Hormigueros.]
At one corner a richly dressed old woman threw handful after handful
of small silver coins among us. In several places we trod upon great
quantities of flowers thrown in our path by peasant girls. The flags of
England, Germany, France, and Italy, were everywhere to be seen. The
quaintly uniformed corps of firemen turned out in splendor to do us honor,
and we saluted with grave dignity the immense statue of Columbus standing
in the centre of the town. By those who entered Mayaguez that day none of
these things will ever be forgotten.
From a spectacular point of view I am inclined to believe that Kiralfy
would have regarded us with scorn and derision, though Jack Falstaff
might have been better pleased. We were gaunt, bronzed, and dishevelled,
unshaven, dirty, and tattered. Toes protruded from shoes, our hats were
full of holes, our trousers hardly deserved the name, and we limped
disgracefully. It was the popular impression in Puerto Rico that every
American soldier was a full-fledged millionaire, but even they expressed
some disappointment at our evident disregard for the external superfluities
of elegance. But, when you stop to consider it, we did not go to the
Antilles to make love to the pretty girls. We were quite sufficiently
clothed and fed to march through tropical underbrush, take several cities,
and put our more gaudily equipped enemies to ignominious flight. And that
is what we were there for.
[Illustration: The Military Hospital, Mayaguez.]
In the early part of the afternoon we went into camp about a mile and a
half outside the city lines, and the main body remained here until August
13. The camping-ground was a bad one, lying as it did in a bowl formed by a
circle of low hills; and it was soaked and spongy to a degree approaching
absolute swampiness. As we were not allowed to go into the city, we
grudgingly sat still, and chanted our misery to the unresponsive
wilderness, getting our feet wet and gathering the frolicsome malaria germ
by way of interlude.
On the evening of our arrival a transport steamed into the bay, having on
board the First Kentucky Volunteers, who for some weeks afterward were
quartered in the town, doing provost duty and breaking hearts. Later on we
came to know them well; and, when they marched away to Ponce, we missed
them sadly. They had lots of money, and they spent it freely. We of the
regular brigade had not been paid for three months.
* * * * *
Mayaguez is a darling little city on the western coast of Puerto Rico,--a
place of lattices, balconies, and walled-in gardens ablaze with blossoms.
Behind it lies a semicircle of green hills, and before it is the laughing
sea. Columbus touched here in one of his earlier voyages, and historical
associations have been accumulating ever since.
It is the third largest town on the island, having a population of 25,000,
the majority of whom are white. The harbor is next best to that at
San Juan,--102 miles distant,--and is an open roadstead formed by two
projecting capes. It is a seaport of considerable commerce, and
exports sugar, coffee, oranges, pineapples, and cocoanuts in large
quantities,--principally, with the exception of coffee, to the United
States. Of industry not much can be said, save that there are three
manufactories of chocolate, solely for local consumption. The climate is
excellent, the temperature never exceeding 90 deg. F.
[Illustration: Part of the Village of Maricao.]
The city is connected by tramway with the neighboring town of Aguadilla,
and by railroad with Lares on one side and Hormigueros on the other. It
has a civil and military hospital, two asylums, a public library, three
bridges, a handsome market,--the best on the island, constructed entirely
of iron and stone, at a cost of 70,000 pesos,--a slaughter-house, a
theatre, a casino, and a number of societies of instruction, recreation,
and commerce. It also has a post-office and telegraph station; was founded
in 1760, and given the title of city in 1877.
A river called the Mayaguez divides the town into two parts, connected by
two pretty iron bridges named Marina and Guenar, respectively. The sands of
this river formerly yielded much gold; and there is gold still to be had
from the same source, if one has energy enough to seek it. There are no
less than 37 streets and 4 squares,--the Principal, Mercado, Iglesia, and
Teatro,--all adorned by dainty fountains, and, in one instance,--the Plaza
del Teatro,--a veritable ocean of flowers as well. The Calle Mendez-Vigo
is one of the most picturesque and attractive streets in the world. It
stretches from one end of the town to the other, wide and beautifully
clean; and it is lined on either hand by the handsome houses of rich
merchants. In the middle of its length lies the Plaza del Flores, between
the theatre and the Hotel Paris. Moreover, it is in the Calle Mendez-Vigo
that there lives the prettiest girl in Puerto Rico,--a little maid of
sixteen years, Esperanza Bages by name, and already famous for her charms.
The church was built in 1760. It is of masonry, with two towers and
magnificent altars. The town hall, situated on the Plaza Principal, is a
good stone building of two stories. Annexed to it is the Casa del Rey,
built in 1832, and serving for offices of the military commandancy. The
infantry barracks--Cuartel del Infanteria--is also a building of modern
construction, dating from 1848; and, though of simple architecture, it is
And now let us leave Mayaguez for a little while, and get on with the war.
[Illustration: Infantry Barracks, Mayaguez.]
The Engagement at Las Marias
_Difficulties encountered in locating the retreating enemy_--_Final
determination upon pursuit_--_Lieutenant-Colonel Burke sets
forth_--_Discovery of Spanish troops near Las Marias_--_A one-sided
encounter_--_Unwelcome notification of truce_--_The rest of the brigade
comes up_--_Feeding the prisoners_--_Our disappointment_.
HEADQUARTERS INDEPENDENT BRIGADE (REGULARS),
MAYACUEZ, PUERTO RICO,
Aug. 22, 1898.
GENERAL J.C. GILMORE, Headquarters of the Army, Ponce, P.R.
_Sir_,--... Detachments from the cavalry troop went out (from Mayaguez) in
the afternoon of the 11th on both roads leading to Lares; but the left hand
or westerly of these roads was followed only a short distance, information,
thought to be reliable, having been received to the effect that the bulk of
the enemy's force had taken the more easterly road, on which the town of
Maricao is situated. This part of the force was reported as making fair
headway, having only a pack-train as transportation. Reports also came to
brigade headquarters that Spanish troops in large numbers, coming from
different places,--including Aguadilla and Pepino,--were concentrating to
attack my command. While not impressed with the accuracy of these reports,
I had the outposts strengthened, and placed a field officer in charge of
them. A party from the outposts, sent to reconnoitre the Las Marias road,
brought word on the afternoon of the 12th that the rear-guard of the
Spanish was still within five miles of Mayaguez, and proceeding slowly.
[Illustration: The Rosario River, near Hormigueros.]
I immediately determined to pursue and, if possible, to capture or destroy
this force, and at first resolved to move out with the entire command.
On reflection, however, I realized that there were objections to such a
course. The city and surrounding country were in an unsettled and excited
state, the latter swarming with guerillas, deserters, and bushwackers. I
had no accurate knowledge of the spirit, strength, and location of the
enemy's forces, supposed to be within easy reach of Mayaguez. Then, too,
the rest of my command, already worn down by the exhausting marches and
operations beginning on the 9th, had been seriously broken in upon by
heavy outpost duty and drenching rains, which latter had made their camp a
veritable mud-hole. Furthermore, the road to Lares, except for the first
eight miles out, was said to be all but impassable for wheeled vehicles;
and this reminded me that the major-general commanding had intimated that
I might have to go to Lares by way of Aguadilla. I therefore concluded
to despatch a reconnoissance in force, under Lieutenant-Colonel Burke,
Eleventh Infantry, to harass the enemy and to retard its progress in every
way. The detachment was made up of six companies of infantry and one
platoon each of cavalry and artillery, and started at ten o'clock A.M. on
August 12. It was given ample transportation for its three days' rations
and the infantrymen's packs. It was therefore as mobile as it could be
made without a pack-train. Hindered by excessive heat, followed by heavy
showers, it marched only to a point where the two roads, above mentioned,
are joined by a cross-road,--or about nine miles. I did not hear from
Colonel Burke during the night, as I had hoped to; and the remainder of my
command had its wagons packed, and was preparing to pull out on the morning
of the 13th, when a courier came to me from him with a report of the
difficulties that had retarded his progress, and of the presence of a
Spanish force near Las Marias, variously estimated at from 1,200 to 2,500.
This force, the colonel said, had taken up a defensive position; and he was
moving toward it...
THEODORE SCHWAN, _Brigadier-General Commanding_.
[Illustration: A Street in San German.]
MAYAGUEZ, PUERTO RICO, Aug. 16.
_My dear Gilmore_,--Availing myself of the first breathing-spell I have had
for some time, I wish in this informal way and in advance of my regular
report to say a few words to the general and yourself regarding our last
Saturday's work (August 13).
As soon as the result of the Hormigueros fight became known in
Mayaguez--about nine o'clock on the 10th--Colonel Soto, the commander,
"pulled up stakes." That the Spanish troops left in the greatest hurry the
condition of their barracks abundantly evidenced. Our advance-guard found
the city entirely clear of the Spanish, and I ordered my cavalry to keep
in touch with them. The cavalry took the right-hand road of the two roads
leading to Lares, over which some of the Spanish troops had actually gone;
and in the evening the troop commander reported that they were between
seven and ten miles off, and still retreating. My command was thoroughly
tired. No one without witnessing it can conceive the distress an infantry
soldier suffers while marching in this hot climate, in a deep column,
weighted down as he is even without his pack; and some rest seemed actually
imperative. But the next morning I found that the main body of the
Spanish had taken the westerly (or left hand) road to Lares, and early on
Friday--there being many other things to engage the attention of myself and
troops--I started Burke out in pursuit, with about 700 men, all told. I
overtook him Saturday morning about three and one-half miles north of
Las Marias. His infantry had pulled his guns over roads that were almost
perpendicular. His troops were exchanging shots at long range across a deep
valley with the retreating Spaniards, most of whom had forded (losing a lot
of men, who were drowned) a deep and rapid river known in that country
as the Rio Prieto. Our fire had already demoralized the thoroughly
disheartened and half-famished Spanish soldiers; and their rear-guard, at
least, was also disorganized and hiding in the hills.
[Illustration: Tobacco Plantation (cutting leaves), Mayaguez.]
A company of infantry I had sent out brought in, about ten o'clock in the
evening, forty odd prisoners, a number of pack-animals, etc. Our men were
thoroughly worn out by the day's work. Early the next morning I had four
companies of infantry, the cavalry, and two guns ready to resume the
pursuit. And there cannot be the shadow of a doubt that, had I had five
more hours, I should have taken Lares; for that the flying Spaniards had
prepared to abandon it at once I have the most reliable information. But
at this particular juncture the notice that hostilities would be suspended
came to me. No troops ever "suspended" with worse grace. We had given the
Spanish no peace, and had taken all the starch out of them. The colonel and
lieutenant-colonel had surrendered. Their troops were utterly demoralized
and disintegrated. It seemed a pity to deprive us of the full fruits of a
victory for which we had labored so hard; but of course we had to bow to
the inevitable. Please let the general read this.
Faithfully your friend,
The part of our command left under Colonel DeRussy set out on the morning
of the 13th to join the rest of the column, whose movements you have
already followed in the preceding documents. The last detachment found it
no less difficult to make headway than had the first; and on the morning of
the 14th the entire brigade was so broken up and strung out that its head
and tail were a good nine miles apart. So much trouble had been experienced
in getting the artillery up the incredibly steep mountain-sides that no
one had been able to give assistance or even thought to the hopelessly
embarrassed wagon-train, and consequently we were practically without food
for over twenty-four hours. When at last something to eat did come plodding
along, we were obliged to put up with half-rations in order that our little
collection of recently acquired prisoners might be fed. At a conservative
estimate, those prisoners must have been the hungriest lot of men that ever
laid down their arms. There were less than sixty of them, and they drew
rations for about 1,200. However, they were fed; and we had the consolation
of realizing that victory, like some other things of less familiar
acquaintance, is its own reward. By noon on the 14th, everything was once
more in order; and I have not yet ceased to wonder how those in authority
managed to erase so quickly the chaos of the night before.
[Illustration: The Plaza Principal in Mayaguez, looking toward the Church.]
The engagement at Las Marias, while not particularly momentous in itself,
was note-worthy as being the last between our forces and those of Spain
during the recent war. I do not believe that the knowledge of this
fact--even had we possessed it at the time--would have materially consoled
us for the disappointment we felt in being obliged to stop shooting just
when we had learned to do it so beautifully; but, still, it is something to
have been in at the finish.
The Territory Won
_General Schwan returns to Mayaguez_--_Business and pleasure_--_A custom
we abolished_--_Extent of the district captured by our brigade_
--_Aguadllla_--_Facilities for transportation_--_Labor and
the laborer_--_The cost of living_--_Rents and real estate_--_Skilled
workmen_--_A word about investments_.
On August 16, in obedience to orders from Army Headquarters, General Schwan
left the bulk of his troops in the positions they had respectively occupied
at the time of the receipt of the truce, and, accompanied by the artillery,
returned to Mayaguez. The people of this city had not yet recovered from
the ferment into which they had been thrown by our advent, and went about
in a state of tremulous titillation, expecting I know not what. At any
rate, it did not seem to arrive; and after a day or two had passed without
any sign of fell intent upon our part the merchants allowed themselves to
be coaxed back into their places of business. The cafes were once more
thronged. Semi-weekly concerts were given in the Plaza Principal by the
band of the Eleventh Infantry and the Banda del Bomberos, in alternation.
Balls, dinner-parties, and flirtations resumed their interrupted course,
gathering new zest and brilliancy from the foreign element within the
gates. All the Americans began to study Spanish, and all the Puerto Ricans
to study English, without particularly gratifying results on either side.
Cocking-mains, local games of chance, and more hectic immoralities were set
forth for the delectation of the private soldiers; while I have personal
knowledge of at least one quasi-clandestine bullfight, that may be best
described as a furtive fizzle.
Strict measures were taken by the brigade commander to prevent
anything resembling disorderly conduct among his men, and though these
laurel-crowned heroes, under the influence of a wonderfully cheap rum, were
seized at odd moments with an evident desire to start the war all over
again, there was not much difficulty encountered in maintaining a degree of
decorum that was highly satisfactory.
The sanitation of the municipality was rigorously inquired into, and
regulated; but it is only justice to the residents of Mayaguez to say that
little reform was necessary in this regard, as the current statistics of
mortality and disease amply proved. Of the few changes made, however, one
may be specifically mentioned.
[Illustration: A Ruined Church along our Line of March.]
[Illustration: A Puerto Rican Laundry.]
It was the custom whenever a peasant died to carry the corpse to the
cemetery in a coffin hired at transient rates, and then, having dumped the
deceased into a shallow grave, to return what is facetiously known as the
"wooden overcoat" to its original owner, for further service. This was bad
enough, considering the danger of infection thus engendered; but much worse
remains behind. It seems that the plot of ground reserved for dead paupers
was very circumscribed. So it had become necessary to bury four or five
bodies in the same hole, the last one in being perhaps no more than six
inches from the light of day. And, as if this state of affairs were not
already sufficiently horrible, we found that the congestion was sometimes
still further relieved by a wholesale emptying of graves, the bones thus
removed being thrown into some adjacent corner above ground, where they lay
undisturbed in the hot sunshine and smelt to heaven. This ghastly practice
was summarily stopped.
* * * * *
If you will take a map of Puerto Rico and cut off the western section by
drawing a line from Guanica through Lares to Camuy, you will see at once
the extent of the territory brought under American control by General
Schwan. The principal towns of this section, in addition to those already
described, are Aguadilla, Maricao, Anasco, Cabo Rojo, Lares, and Las
Marias; but none of these places are important enough to call for detailed
notice, with the possible exception of the first-named. This city,
Aguadilla, while it has a population of only 5,500, is notable as being the
most picturesque town on the entire island. It is the capital and port of
the surrounding district; and, though the climate is hot, it is remarkably
healthful. The site is a stretch of shore facing Mona Channel, between
Cape Borinquen and the Rio Culebrinas. Directly behind rises the steep
green-crested Jaicoa Mountain, its slopes covered with orange, lemon, and
palm trees in bewildering profusion; while half-way to the summit there
gushes forth a fairylike, crystal stream, which flows directly through the
town before emptying into the bay. An antique church and a little fort of
11 guns, called Conception, add to the scenic beauty of the picture, when
viewed from the sea. Tourists will probably spoil this lovely town before
the end of another decade, but at present it is a quivering page of
[Illustration: On the Road to Lares.]
[Illustration: The Best Outfit in our Wagon Train.]
Of the facilities for transportation in this part of Puerto Rico, it may
be said that they are either extremely good or extremely bad. The former
condition prevails generally in the valleys, and the latter among the hills
toward the interior. There are several interrupted lines of railroad, and
burros are used to a considerable extent by the inland planters; but far
the greater part of communication and carriage is accomplished by way of
Labor here, as elsewhere in the tropics, is to be had very cheaply, but is
uncertain, sluggish, and dishonest. A man for plantation work can be hired
for almost nothing a day, but he will not earn even that unless he is
driven at the point of a machete. The local peon desires to toil no longer
than is necessary to obtain the bare wherewithal to fill his belly. Then
he dreams away the remainder of the day, smoking the eternal cigarette;
perhaps rousing himself sufficiently to pick the strings of a guitar in the
cool of the evening--and this, at least, the beggar does well. He is not
at all ambitious to improve his condition, and he will never be any better
than he is to-day. Probably he will be much worse. He will cut throats and
burn haciendas all the gay year round if he is not allowed to gang his ain
gait. We are going to reform him, of course; but--the day will come when
we shall be ashamed to look Spain in the face. In Cuba this man's brothers
were known as "patriots"; which meant that they were soldiers when there
was any work to be done, and laborers when fighting was on hand. In my
opinion, they are vicious beasts.
The cost of living naturally hinges upon the price of labor; and so one
may eat and drink in Puerto Rico for a trifle more than a song. Fruit and
vegetables are cheap and plentiful, though flour is so costly as to be
almost a luxury; while the meats are neither low in price nor good in
quality. Excellent fowls are to be had for very little money. Milk is dear
and dangerous; butter is only known as it appears in cans from Denmark; and
all the other dairy products are of the meanest description. Still, one can
live with pleasure and comfort upon the many peculiarly native articles of
subsistence in common use.
[Illustration: "Promenade of the Fleas" in Yauco.]
[Illustration: When only One Man gets a Letter.]
Rents are low, but satisfactory houses are seldom to be had when they are
There is always room in the hotels of the larger towns; and, until one can
build for himself, a hotel offers a very pleasant substitute--at a slightly
increased expense. Land, for building purposes, or in an unimproved state,
can be leased for a sum that is almost nominal, except in a few highly
favored localities. Purchasers of land are more than likely to find
themselves immediately embroiled in a lawsuit over the title. If no flaw
exists in your title, then it does exist in one that was drawn up a hundred
years ago; and in either case the result is the same--you lose.
Skilled workmen in any branch of industry will not find a good field for
their abilities in Puerto Rico, at least not for a few years to come. If
there were any demand for their services,--which there isn't,--they would
not be able to command anything approaching the standard of wages usual in
the United States.
To the investor, dairy farms, ice-plants, transportation schemes, and
bar-rooms offer tempting possibilities,--I reserve agriculture for separate
consideration,--but it cannot be too forcibly emphasized that plenty of
money, good-health, patience, and a smattering of the Spanish language are
absolutely indispensable requisites to the foreigner trying to do business
on this island.
[Illustration: The "Weary Travellers' Spring," near Anasco.]
[Illustration: A Crude Sugar Mill near Las Marias.]
The End of the Campaign
_Arrival of the mail-steamer_--_The soldier-boy and his letters_--_The
greater part of the brigade is quartered in Mayaguez_--_Agriculture
in Puerto Rico_--_Material result of our campaign_--_A farewell
order_--_General Schwan departs for the United States_.
On the 19th of August a steamer came into the harbor, bringing us a mail,
the first we had received since the beginning of July. If the people who
wrote those letters could have seen the happiness they wrought upon their
distant boys, I am sure they would have been surprised and touched. Again
and again we read the simple news of home,--the cat was dead, or little
sister had the mumps, or father had built a new fence around the back
pasture,--and wars and kings and presidents faded into forgetfulness before
the heart to heart talks that had come from over-seas.
I don't suppose there is anybody that knows the value of a letter better
than a soldier does. A few blotted lines from his mother or sister or
sweetheart are meat and drink and fine raiment for his soul. He feels brave
again and good again and--homesick again. He makes life a burden for the
whole camp until he has borrowed or stolen a scrap of paper and a stubby
pencil wherewith to make reply. He sits down in some convenient spot, with
emotion fairly oozing from every pore, and for a solid hour he wrestles
with his tools and vocabulary. The result probably does not altogether
please him. He feels that he has said too much about his lack of socks,
the toughness of his fare, the flatness of his purse. All the love and
tenderness he meant to set down have somehow refused to leave him, even in
description. But he knows he will be massacred if he goes howling for more
paper; and so he sends off what he has written, counting the weary days
until his answer comes. The man who first invented writing was, without
doubt, the greatest man that ever lived.
[Illustration: A very Popular Spot.]
[Illustration: Two Knights and a Pawn.]
On August 25 it was decided to bring all but four companies of the brigade
into quarters at Mayaguez, chiefly because a great deal of sickness had
begun to spring up in the outlying camps. This was accordingly done.
* * * * *
Scientific agriculture and prosperity have long been regarded as almost
synonymous terms in Puerto Rico.
The provincial government established and maintained an experimental
station at Rio Piedras, for the purpose of promoting a technical knowledge
of the native soil-products; and the results of this step have proved
invaluable. The recent director of the station, Senor Fernando Lopez Tuero,
wrote, while in office, several monographs on tropical agriculture; which I
have been at some pains to translate in my search for absolutely reliable
information relating to that subject. Senor Tuero is considered, to be a
high and conservative authority by those of his compatriots who are best
able to judge; and I feel confident that the following estimates are
nearly, if not entirely, correct:--
The chief agricultural products of the island are cotton, rice, cacao,
corn, cocoanuts, pepper, bananas, tobacco, vegetable dyes, coffee, sugar,
pineapples, and vanilla. Of all these I shall only pause to deal here with
the last four.
Coffee and sugar are regarded by the Puerto Ricans as their most valuable
crops. The first takes six years to come into full bearing, and during this
time will cost an expense of about 162 pesos an acre, with a return in the
last year of 86 pesos an acre,--a net deficit for the full period of 76
pesos. Afterward the expense should be about 66 pesos an acre, and the
return 90 pesos. Sugar requires a heavy investment at the start. A
plantation of 250 acres, together with the necessary buildings and
machinery, will call for about 52,500 pesos. The total cost of a crop, from
beginning to end, should be 152 pesos an acre, and the return about 170.
A pineapple plantation, for the investor of limited means, ought to prove
profitable and encouraging. The first year of cultivation will produce a
crop, at a final cost of 40 pesos an acre, including the land-rent. The
return is put down at 200 pesos, leaving a gorgeous net profit of 160
pesos. It would seem perhaps that under such circumstances it is odd that
there is not a more general raising of this fruit by the local planters;
but the reason for an apparent neglect of a golden opportunity lies in
the difficulties heretofore encountered in finding swift and adequate
transportation from field to market. With this handicap removed there is
little doubt that pineapple-growing will become a tempting industry.
The vanilla bean, however, is king-pin of the list in the claim of profit
to be derived from its culture. It is said that the yearly cost of raising
the crop will be 94 pesos an acre, chiefly for manure and irrigation. And
the annual return for every acre is figured at 652 pesos,--a net profit
that is fairly dazzling.
While all these details--which I have digressed so many times to give--do
not properly form a part of the story of our campaign, yet it is by
no means unusual for one who has put his hand into a grab-bag to look
carefully and well at the prize withdrawn. And that is what I have been
The material result of General Schwan's campaign may be briefly summarized
thus: He marched his command ninety-two miles in eight days; fought two
successful engagements; expelled the Spanish forces from the entire western
part of Puerto Rico; captured and occupied nine towns; and took 362
prisoners, including Colonel Villeneuve, a lieutenant-colonel, and four
other regular officers. In addition he seized 450 stands of arms, 145,000
rounds of ammunition, and ten thousand dollars in silver coin. His loss was
1 killed and 16 wounded against a total of 20 killed and 50 wounded on the
side of the enemy.
On August 27 the general issued a farewell order to his brigade, from which
I briefly quote:--
"On relinquishing his command to return to the United States, the
brigadier-general commanding desires to congratulate, and to return his
heartfelt thanks to, the officers and soldiers of the regular brigade for
their achievements and excellent conduct during the last eighteen days....
Our troops have continued to hold their advanced positions and outposts
until now, when, peace being assured, all but a small fraction have been
brought to comparatively comfortable barracks near this city. The hardships
endured on the march and at these outposts have been great.... But these
hardships have been cheerfully borne by officers and men. Not a murmur has
been heard, despite the fact that nearly one-fourth of the strength of most
organizations is on sick-report, their ailments being directly caused by
the exposure incident to this campaign.
"Less than three weeks have been occupied by the campaign, yet a bond of
sympathy between officers and soldiers has been established that years of
peace could not have engendered."
On the following morning, accompanied by Lieutenant G.T. Summerlin, his
aide-de-camp, General Schwan left Mayaguez for Ponce, where he boarded the
transport "Chester," and returned to the United States.
The campaign of the Independent Regular Brigade was thus brought to an
A BRIEF SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF BRIGADIER-GENERAL SCHWAN.
Theodore Schwan was born in Germany, July 9, 1841. He received his earlier
education in the preparatory schools of his native land, but came to the
United States when he was about sixteen years old. He enlisted as a
private in the Tenth Infantry on June 12, 1857; and served successfully
as corporal, sergeant, first sergeant, and quartermaster-sergeant until
October 31, 1863, when he received his commission. He was made a first
lieutenant, Tenth Infantry, April 9, 1864; regimental quartermaster in
December, 1864; a captain, March 14, 1866; a major, Eleventh Infantry,
and assistant adjutant-general, July 6, 1886; a lieutenant-colonel and
assistant adjutant-general, February 19, 1897; a colonel and assistant
adjutant-general, May 18, 1898. Two weeks before his last promotion in
the regular army he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, and in
accordance with the Act of Congress, approved March 2, 1899, he will retain
that rank until July 1, 1901. He was brevetted several times during the
War of the Rebellion, and his whole military career, covering a period of
forty-two years, is absolutely devoid of blemish.
The following officers received distinguished mention in General Schwan's
reports, for service rendered under fire during the campaign in western
Lieutenant-Colonel Burke, Eleventh Infantry.
[A] Major Gilbreath, Eleventh Infantry.
Captain P.M.B. Travis, Eleventh Infantry.
Captain R.W. Hoyt, Eleventh Infantry.
Captain A.L. Myer, Eleventh Infantry.
Captain Penrose, Eleventh Infantry.
Captain Macomb, Fifth Cavalry.
Acting Assistant Surgeon Savage.
Lieutenant Odon Gurvoits, Eleventh Infantry.
Lieutenant T.F. Maginnis, Eleventh Infantry.
Lieutenant Alexander, Eleventh Infantry.
Lieutenant Wells, Eleventh Infantry.
Lieutenant W.S. Valentine, Fifth Cavalry.
Lieutenant Rogers F. Gardner, Third Artillery.
[Footnote A: Died of apoplexy on August 22, 1898, while in camp near Las
In addition to those named above, special and valuable efficiency was
displayed by Major E.A. Root, engineer; Major H.H. Benham, ordnance; Major
Egan, brigade-surgeon; Captain Buchanan, Collector-of-the-Port at Mayaguez;
Captain Davison, brigade-quartermaster; Captain Hutcheson, assistant
adjutant-general; and Captain Elkins,[A] Lieutenant Byron, and Lieutenant
[Footnote A: Wounded at battle of Hormigueros.]
In connection with the present writer's expressed opinion regarding the
relative practical value of regulars and volunteers in modern warfare, the
following excerpt from the Chicago _Record_ of November 3, 1898, is worth
Captain Avid Wester, the Swedish officer who accompanied the American army
in Cuba, in order to study the war, has just returned to Sweden. During
his stay in Gothenburg he was interviewed, and he seems now to have a more
sympathetic view of the Americans--the volunteers excepted--than former
reports indicated. Captain Wester greatly praised the treatment he had
received from all the American officers, and the bravery of the Americans
in the regular army. "Of the 18,000 men under the command of General
Shafter," he says, "only 4,000 were volunteers or militiamen; the rest
consisted of regulars, which had had an average service of six years on the
borders of the Indian territory. They were very good and well-disciplined
soldiers, who went into battle with complete disregard of death. The
militia regiments, however, could not be got within range of the Spanish
bullets, and all the stories about the heroism of volunteers are untrue.
The only volunteers who distinguished themselves were the 'rough riders,'
who, in spite of their name, fought on foot, but these men were not a
militia regiment. The troop consisted of cowboys and adventurers, who cared
neither for life nor death, but rushed blindly into battle. Brave fellows
withal." After praising the bravery of the Spaniards and the accuracy of
their fire, Captain Wester expresses the belief that with modern rifles in
use it is of the greatest importance to have well-trained soldiers, who
in the heat of battle retain their coolness and listen to their officers'
directions and commands,--in a word, soldiers who retain good firing
discipline. This, he says, cannot be expected of men with short time of
training, on whom the din of battle often has so paralyzing an effect that
the soldier can neither hear nor see.
The question concerning the quality of the beef served as a ration to our
troops during the recent war--in Cuba and Puerto Rico, and aboard the
transports--has already been pretty thoroughly answered, one way or the
other. Yet, though the topic is worn nearly threadbare and admittedly has
nothing in particular to do with General Schwan's campaign, I venture to
make, in this place, a personal contribution to the discussion in the form
of an extract from a letter, written by me from Mayaguez on September 15,
Our rations [on the transport "Comanche"] consisted of hard tack, coffee,
canned baked-beans, canned tomatoes, and canned "roast beef." Before we
arrived at Key West the baked-beans had all been eaten and the water in the
tanks had gone rotten--we carried no condenser--so that we were reduced to
the rather monotonous diet of tomatoes for breakfast, tomatoes and canned
roast beef for dinner, and tomatoes again for supper; with a full allowance
of coffee and hard tack at all three meals.
Anybody will be able to understand that we were pretty hungry at the end of
the second day. We were thirsty too--I paid as much as fifty cents for a
glass of ice-water from the cabin--but I will skip the mass of details. We
had seen the piles of neat cans, labelled "roast beef," stacked up on the
dock at Port Tampa, and we were impatient for the first mess-call that
made us acquainted with the contents of those cans. I regret that I cannot
adequately describe to you the appearance of the stuff. I will simply say
that it looked filthy, was covered with a sort of slime, and emitted a
nauseous odor. It was very hard to even gaze at it and remain unmoved,
but we did more than that--we tried to eat it. I managed to swallow three
mouthfuls and immediately became wretchedly sick. The example seemed to be
On the succeeding day we were each given an unopened can of the meat, which
was supposed to last us for twenty-four hours. Most of the men threw their
portions overboard at once; a few packed away the "corpse"--as we already
called it--for purposes of trade with the unsophisticated Cubans; and I
kept my can as a souvenir. I did not, however, keep it long; for, chancing
to drop it upon the deck, the contents exploded with a distinct report,
startling me not a little and covering my person with the debris. At the
time I thought this experience was going to be altogether unique, but I
discovered afterward that the same thing happened in a great many other
Having abandoned the beef, we were forced to subsist on hard tack and
tomatoes for the rest of the voyage, and hailed with joy our anchorage at
Daiquiri. But we were too previous. During our ten days' stay in Cuba we
found the "corpse" still waiting for us in the mess, and we carried the
ghastly burden along when we finally steamed away for Puerto Rico.
We landed at Guanica on the 25th of July, which meant that we had been
half-starved for twenty-two days. We had forgotten the "Maine" and would
have greeted Weyler himself with a glad sweet smile, had he come bearing in
his hands food fit for a human being. Once more disembarked, we lost sight
of the canned roast beef for good--save at extremely rare intervals while
on the march. We found no difficulty in eating the beef obtained from
Puerto Rican steers, although it was tough and bloodless; and we received
salt pork often enough to furnish variety.
After the cessation of hostilities we began to get American beef instead of
the native article, and, while it was by no means so impossible a food as
its canned cousin, it certainly could not be called delicious. It smelled
badly before it was cooked, was rigid and stringy when served, and had a
rank taste, like--well like nothing else on earth. Our sick-list doubled at
A list of the killed and wounded on the American side, at the battle near
Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, on the 10th of August, 1898.
Fred Fenneberg, private in Company "D," Eleventh Infantry.
Lieutenant J.C. Byron, Eighth United States Cavalry, R.D.C.
John Bruning, corporal in Light Battery "D," Fifth Artillery.
George Curtis, private in Light Battery "D," Fifth Artillery.
Samuel G. Frye, private in Light Battery "D," Fifth Artillery.
Willard H. Wheeler, sergeant in Company "A," Eleventh Infantry.
Joseph P. Ryan, corporal in Company "A," Eleventh Infantry.
Arthur Sparks, private in Company "C," Eleventh Infantry.
John L. Johnson, corporal in Company "D," Eleventh Infantry.
J.A. Sanders, private in Company "D," Eleventh Infantry.
Harry E. Arrick, private in Company "E," Eleventh Infantry.
Henry Gerrick, private in Company "E," Eleventh Infantry.
Paul F. Mitzkie, private in Company "E," Eleventh Infantry.
William Rossiter, private in Company "G," Eleventh Infantry.
Lemuel P. Cobb, private in Company "I," Eleventh Infantry.
D.J. Graves, private in Company "M," Eleventh Infantry.
Amos Wilkie, corporal in Company "M," Eleventh Infantry.
Frank Muller, private in Company "E," Eleventh Infantry.
Augustus H. Ryan, private in Company "F," Eleventh Infantry.
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