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Battle of El Caney
Part of the Spanish-American War
Christy - The Capture of El Caney.jpg
"The Capture of El Caney" by Howard Chandler Christy
Date July 1, 1898
Location El Caney, Cuba
Result U.S./Cuban victory
Belligerents
United States United States
Cuba Republic of Cuba
Spain Kingdom of Spain
Commanders
United States Henry W. Lawton Spain Joaquín Vara de Rey
Strength
8,500 infantry
1,000 guerrilleros
500 infantry
Casualties and losses
81 dead
360 wounded
38 dead
138 wounded
130 captured

The Battle of El Caney was fought on July 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War.

Contents

Background

At El Caney, Cuba, 500 Spanish soldiers under General Joaquín Vara de Rey were instructed to hold the northwest flank of Santiago against an American advance.

Battle

"We received such a shower of bullets that it seemed at one time as if the company must be wiped out of existence."
—Frederick E. Pierce, 2nd Massachusetts[1]

Despite having no machine guns or artillery and being denied promised reinforcements, Vara de Rey and his soldiers held over 8,000 Americans from their position for nearly twelve hours before retreating, preventing them from sweeping through and overwhelming the defenders of San Juan Hill.

Aftermath

The Americans lost over 80 dead and more than 350 wounded. Precise Cuban losses at El Caney are not known, but the Cuban irregulars lost around 150 killed and wounded that day. Over 300 Spanish troops were killed, wounded, or captured.

Notes

References

  • Albert A. Nofi (1997). The Spanish-American War, 1898. Combined Books. ISBN 0-938289-57-8.  
  • Carrasco García, Antonio, En Guerra con Los Estados Unidos: Cuba, 1898, Madrid: 1998.

External links

See also

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Battle of El Caney
Part of the Spanish-American War
Date July 1, 1898
Location El Caney, Cuba
Result U.S./Cuban victory
Belligerents
United States
Republic of Cuba
File:Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg Kingdom of Spain
Commanders and leaders
Henry W. Lawton File:Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg Joaquín Vara de Rey †
Strength
6,653 infantry
1,000 guerrilleros
514 infantry
100 armed irregulars
Casualties and losses
81 dead
360 wounded
38 dead
138 wounded
130 captured

The Battle of El Caney was fought on July 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War.

Contents

Background

At El Caney, Cuba, 514 Spanish regular soldiers, together with approximately 100 armed Spanish loyalists[1] under the command of General Joaquín Vara de Rey were instructed to hold the northwest flank of Santiago against the American 2d Division commanded by Brigadier General Henry Ware Lawton.

Battle

Although the Spanish defenders had no machine guns, they were well-equipped with modern smokeless powder rifles and a battery of two modern breech-loading 80mm mountain howitzers (Cañón de 8 cm Plasencia Modelo 1874, designed by Colonel Plasencia of the Spanish Army) that also utilized smokeless ammunition. The Spanish regular infantry was armed with fast-firing M1893 7mm Mauser rifles, while the loyalists were equipped with single-shot Remington Rolling Block rifles in .43 Spanish (also using smokeless powder).[2][3] Denied promised reinforcements from Santiago, Vara de Rey and his forces held over 6,000 Americans from their position for nearly twelve hours before retreating, preventing General Lawton's men from reinforcing the U.S. assault on San Juan Hill.

Some of the American forces were hindered by their equipment; in the case of the 2nd Massachusetts, the men were equipped with antiquated blackpowder single-shot .45-70 Springfield rifles. According to Frederick E. Pierce, a trooper of the 2nd Massachusetts, the Americans "...received such a shower of bullets that it seemed at one time as if the company must be wiped out of existence."[4] Because of this unequal contest, the 2nd Massachusetts was later taken out of the line and replaced with troops armed with more modern weapons.[5]

The American forces also lacked effective support fire, as the single Gatling Gun Detachment had been sent to support the troops assaulting San Juan heights. General Lawton's artillery support consisted of a single battery of four 3.2-inch (80mm) Model 1885 Field Guns - light breech-loading rifled cannon using black powder ammunition.[6] The relatively short range of the American gun battery - together with the signature cloud of black smoke generated with each volley - forced gun crews to endure a fusillade of Mauser rifle fire from the Spanish defenders. General Lawton's initial decision to continually shift the battery's fire to multiple targets resulted in minimal effect on the Spanish strongpoints.[7] Continued assaults took a heavy toll of the attackers. During the fighting, General Vara del Rey was killed, but Spanish resistance continued.

After an initial repulse, Lawton ordered his battery of four 3.2-inch guns, commanded by Capt. Allyn Capron, to concentrate fire on the El Viso strongpoint in the Spanish defenses.[8] Capron's guns successfully breached the strongpoint walls at a range of 1,000 yards. An attack was then launched by two U.S. infantry regiments, the 12th and the 25th, and after a bloody firefight, El Viso was captured.[9] Private T. C. Butler, Company H, 25th Infantry, was the first man to enter the blockhouse at El Caney, and took possession of the Spanish colors. Once El Viso was taken, the U.S. battery reduced each Spanish strongpoint in turn.[10] The fighting ended about 5:00pm with the withdrawal of the Spanish troops.[11]

Aftermath

Though eventually successful, the attack on the fortifications of El Caney had proved to be of little real value. The attack on two strongly defended points at both El Caney and San Juan diluted the strength of American forces, resulting in delays and additional casualties.

The Americans lost 81 dead and 360 wounded, with Cuban rebel losses estimated at around 150 killed and wounded. The number of killed and wounded on the Spanish side is not known with certainty, as many of the defenders who survived the battle at El Caney were later killed, wounded, or captured in a fruitless attempt to recapture the Spanish trenchworks at Kettle Hill.

Approximately 400-600 of the retreating Spanish defenders at El Caney later participated in a hastily-organized counterattack against troopers of the U.S. 3rd Cavalry and the 1st Volunteer Infantry atop Kettle Hill.[12] After closing to within 200 yards of Kettle Hill, they were taken under fire at a range of 600 yards by a single ten-barrel .30 Gatling Gun atop San Juan Hill manned by Sgt. Green of the Gatling Gun Detachment.[13] According to Spanish commanders captured after the battle, all but 40 of the 600 attacking Spanish troops were killed by the Gatling gun fire.[14]

Notes

  1. ^ Ossad, Steven L., Henry Ware Lawton: Flawed Giant and Hero of Four Wars, Army History (Winter 2007), p. 13
  2. ^ Roosevelt, Theodore, The Rough Riders, Scribner's Magazine, Vol. 25 (January–June), New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 572
  3. ^ Tucker, Spencer C., The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, Santa Barbara CA: ABC-CLIO Press (2009), p. 840
  4. ^ Nofi, Albert A., From ‘Dagoes’ to ‘Nervy Spaniards’: American Soldiers’ Views of their Opponents, 1898, On War and Warfare.
  5. ^ Dierks, Jack, A Leap to Arms: The Cuban Campaign of 1898, Philadelphia PA: J.B. Lippincott Company (1970), p. 103
  6. ^ Gilman, Daniel, Peck, Harry, et. al. (ed.), The New International Encyclopedia: Artillery, Vol. II, New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. (1902), p. 71
  7. ^ Tucker, Spencer C., The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, Santa Barbara CA: ABC-CLIO Press (2009), p. 200
  8. ^ Tucker, p. 200
  9. ^ Tucker, p. 200
  10. ^ Tucker, p. 200
  11. ^ Tucker, p. 200
  12. ^ Parker, John H. (Lt.), The Gatlings At Santiago, Middlesex, U.K.: Echo Library (reprinted 2006), pp. 59-61
  13. ^ Parker, John H. (Lt.), The Gatlings At Santiago, pp. 59-61
  14. ^ Parker, John H. (Lt.)]], The Gatlings At Santiago, pp. 59-61: Capt. Henry Marcotte, U.S. Army (ret.), correspondent of the Army and Navy Journal who accompanied the Gatling Gun Detachment, stated that Spanish officers in charge of the counter-attack against Kettle Hill told him that the enemy consisted of about 600 troops who had withdrawn from El Caney, and whose attack was repulsed by machine gun fire so effective that only forty troops ever got back to Santiago, the rest being killed.

References

  • Albert A. Nofi (1997). The Spanish-American War, 1898. Combined Books. ISBN 0-938289-57-8. 
  • Carrasco García, Antonio, En Guerra con Los Estados Unidos: Cuba, 1898, Madrid: 1998
  • Dierks, Jack, A Leap to Arms: The Cuban Campaign of 1898, Philadelphia PA: J.B. Lippincott Company (1970)
  • Parker, John H. (Lt.), The Gatlings At Santiago, Middlesex, U.K.: Echo Library (reprinted 2006)

External links

See also

Cuba portal


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