Notwithstanding the cudgelings of stress, neglect and hostility that beset the soldier, the army began to be restless for something better. The stir of honest ambition, that lies close to true American hearts, plainly started to transform itself into concrete movement. 1881 If the powers denied to the service a chance of handling the larger units in maneuver, then the military man would do the next best thing and move imaginary forces on paper and would read of the best technic and tactics from books. If the government prevented practice, at least the officer could voluntarily absorb more theory. He could thus have some advancement in the knowledge of the most intricate and extensive profession found in civilization.
1881 When the general of the army1 laid the foundation of the School of Application for Infantry and Cavalry at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he sowed the seed of advanced learning in the service. Although the course of instruction then prescribed for this institution was primitive and elementary, the very installation was the beginning of general and special service schools that were to spring up later and make our officers the peers in the art and science of war of any in the world. Thus the army began to wake itself, unaided, from the dark ages of provincial life into which the nation had thrown it.
p356 The nucleus of progressives who built up a first- and a second-year course at Leavenworth little knew that the efforts of this institution were to be one of the great factors in the successes of two modern wars. Neither did they realize that their onward-looking efforts would step by step cause an officer to have a continuous education throughout his career. At first officers were detailed from their regiments to be students and those who were in command of troops at the school were in general to be instructors. The first year2 was taken up with the rudiments of a general education and the second with certain books on the science and art of war. Papers by both students and instructors were to be read at various times.
The beginning of any renaissance is too dim, as we know, to throw a full light upon conditions at once. 1881 The army went along in this year without much to alleviate the load of its irksome and humdrum duties. In fact, Congress let it rest dormant for the next seventeen years without doing a single vital thing toward its strength or monetary needs. But within the service there was a decided ripple of constructive unrest which tended toward practical and theoretical efficiency in spite of the unsympathetic aloofness of the government.
A distinct evidence of this movement toward higher standards was the work of Brevet Major General Emory Upton. He had been sent abroad to study the workings of the armies of Europe and Asia. His report upon his return had led him to make an exhaustive study of the organization and management of our armies in the past. This work was entitled The Military Policy of the United States. His research and comments clearly demonstrated that our country had really had no sound policy up to that time. Unfortunately he had finished only review of the use and abuse of our military forces down to the middle of the Civil War,
1881 when he died. It was many years later, as we shall see, that the fruits of his tireless labors were brought to light by a fearless Secretary of War. It was also a long time afterward, when we had successfully miscarried, that the recommendations of his report upon his tour abroad met with favor from the politician. But every one of his precepts was followed to the letter and to the country's betterment, even if it did take a long time to move our legislators to act toward that end. The 3‑battalion organization for infantry and cavalry, the interchangeability of line and staff officers, the examination as a condition to promotion, the establishment of a general staff and the extension of military education were embodied among his conclusions; and they were all afterwards put into effect, though most of them did not reach fulfillment until we had had another war with its needless death rate.
Fighting Indians went on with frequency in the west during this year, but the actions though difficult and full of hazard, were small. One matter of importance occurred in concluding affairs in the Sioux country. Sitting Bull, with his followers, had kept to the British possessions well out of reach of our soldiers. But forays into the United States by some of his warriors had been so severely met by detachments of the army, that the savages had either been driven back with heavy loss or had come into the reservations. His force had grown feebler, too, by hunger and disease. His influence was gone and most of his people had abandoned him. Worn out and unable to exist longer in his cold habitat,
1881 he came into Fort Buford, Dakota, and gave himself up. With him were 45 warriors, 67 women p358 and 73 children. This act marked the termination of the bitterest conflicts with the savages.
But the Indian fights were not over by any means. The Indian agents in Arizona had so harshly mishandled the Apaches, whom Crook had left in a peaceable state after years of the utmost toil, honesty and care, that the President felt obliged to reassign that officer (who was now a brigadier general) to the command of that department.
1882 When Crook arrived, he found that his labor during the seventies was absolutely undone. These tribes had been so defrauded and abused, in the interim, that they were all upon the warpath. From semi-civilized quiescence they had lapsed into barbarous strife in a space of half a dozen years. The agents had ejected them from their reservations because silver had been found in the ground that they occupied. These members of the "Indian Ring" had flung them into prison to languish for months without charges against them, had starved them, had taken away their crops, had given them little hearing in a court of justice and in general had treated them like cattle. As one reads of the outrages perpetrated on these savages, one can hardly believe them to be the work of white men.
General Crook again went into this difficult and tremendous country of huge mountains, deep cañons, cactus, and sultry dust. He could have led his troops against these spurned savages with glory to himself and without criticism from any one. Being a man of character and training he set for himself the task of winning back the Apaches' confidence by peaceful means. With a small escort he visited these tribes and heard their grievances at great personal risk. He investigated their complaints and in almost every case found that the Apaches had been heinously treated. The old chieftains and squaws told him stories that would have wrung pity from a hardened criminal. The way in which they met him — a real friend and champion after all these years — was pathetic in its childlike appeal. The faces of the old men brightened and the squaws wept when they again saw his face and heard him in council.
The government wisely put the complete control of Indian affairs in that district in his hands. It was not long before he again restored order, confidence and peaceful conditions p359 among the redmen without resort to a single battle. Old Pedro's outburst shows clearly that the army officer more than any other individual served his country by clinging to peace until every proper means of persuasion was exhausted:
"When you (General Crook) were here, whenever you said a thing we knew it was true, and we kept it in our minds. When Colonel Green was here, our women and children were happy and our young people grew up contented. And I remember Brown, Randall, and the other officers who treated us kindly and were our friends. I used to be happy; now, I am all the time thinking and crying, and I say, 'where is old Colonel John Green, and Randall, and those other good officers, and what has become of them? Where have they gone? Why don't they come back?' And the young men all say the same thing."
While Crook was using his power in this fruitful and pacific way, the "Indian Agent Ring" was sending out newspaper stories of murders and depredations committed by the Indians. Their purpose was to involve General Crook in a fight, so as to drive the Apaches away from land on which they wished to profiteer. The General investigated each case, found it to be a fiction and stopped the rumor. Thus he reached out with one hand and throttled sinister threatenings and with the other soothed the maltreated tribes of Arizona. He set the Indians to work and made them satisfied by his justice, kindness and lack of compromise.
But there was one tribe, the Chiricahua Apache, that had taken refuge in the Sierra Madres over the border in Mexico. With these redmen General Crook was unable to treat. It seems that their flight took place after an incident which was a culmination of many previous wrongs. A police officer in attempting to arrest a young Indian on a minor charge fired into a group of Apaches into which the young buck had fled. The result was that the policeman killed a squaw instead of his quarry. The Indians immediately retaliated by killing the officer and playing football with his head. Fearing vengeance they escaped into Mexico.
1883 Later, a band of this tribe under Chato conducted raids from their strongholds in the mountains on settlers and citizens in the United States. It was necessary now for General Crook to take action. April 23
1883 After having proceeded across the border and having conferred with the Mexican military leaders, who encouraged him, he set out from Willcox with 7 skeleton companies of the Third and Sixth Cavalry, all that he could assemble. April 28
1883 Later on, Captain Crawford, Third Cavalry, joined him with 100 more Apache scouts, making the whole command about 50 officers and soldiers, and not quite 200 friendly Indians. Was not this a pretty force for a rich, sizable nation to give a general officer for the purpose of whipping hundreds of Indians in one of the most natural strongholds God ever made? May 1
1883 The commander pressed on across the boundary line and came into the high broken country of the Sierra Madres. May 15
1883 The scouts in advance came up with the Chiricahuas and succeeded in frightening them off and getting their camp. General Crook then let a young squaw and a boy, whom the scouts had captured, make their way back to the camp of Geronimo, their leader. When that chieftain heard that General Crook was in command and that all the Apaches of Arizona had come back as friends of the white man, he immediately sent out runners to notify all the tribe to come in. He then came in himself. Over 200 of the Chiricahuas finally gave themselves up July
1883 and Arizona was at peace again under a just administrator. In two years, General Crook had restored to tranquillity a territory that would have taken a decade to conquer. How much bloodshed might have been saved in the seventies, had men such as Canby, Howard, Miles and scores of others been given complete control, is inestimable. As it was, untrained civilians by their connivings for gain, became the agitators who fomented war.
While these activities were going on with the Indian, the army showed more signs of interior improvement. 1883 General P. St. George Cooke gave to the service a new Cavalry Tactics as the result of his experience and investigations. The manual is both interesting and instructive. He developed from previous recommendations the double column of fours so as to form mounted units into more compact bodies. He called the company organization a "troop," for the first time it had so been p361 termed in regulations. He assigned the troop officers to positions which are similar to the ones they now occupy and sized the troopers from the tallest in the middle to the shortest on either flank.
Through the efforts of the Ordnance Department, the rifle was improved as far as it could be with the money allotted by Congress. Though the Lee magazine rifle had been adopted (1882) it could not be issued in large quantities because there seemed to be no funds for that sort of product. 1884 So the Springfield model was improved as a single loader. It was fitted with the Buffington rear sight, which for the first time equipped our rifle with a device that allowed for the drift of the bullet. It was a 45‑caliber weapon and shot fairly accurately at 200 and 300 yards. To it could be attached 3 types of bayonet, the triangular, the spade or trowel, and the cylindrical ramrod.3 It was as good a single-shot, black-powder weapon as then existed, and the best the army could produce with the funds at hand.
1884 The blue uniform with red facings for artillery, sky blue for the infantry and yellow for the cavalry was not much changed in cut over that of the Civil War. The fatigue cap was somewhat lower in crown.
The noncommissioned officers wore above the elbow large chevrons of cloth for the fatigue blouse and of gold for the dress coat. On overcoats the chevron was worn below the elbow. The fatigue coat had a low falling collar.
Improvements in seacoast fortification had been let run along by the reluctance of Congress to such a degree that all sorts of guns of obsolete type presented a picturesque but useless array on our shores. Finally by suggestions of certain progressives in the army and House and Senate,
1885 an act was passed which authorized a board of officers to draw up a scheme of modern fortifications for our seacoast defenses. As a result the Endicott Board really enunciated the scheme of protection of our shores which proved twenty years later to be most useful. The recommendations contemplated the establishment of 2,362 guns and emplacements. Up to the war with Spain only 151 of these had been installed.
To return to Arizona, we find that for two years General Crook had succeeded in keeping the Apaches satisfied, peaceful and industrious. Such conditions were evidently too drab for the Indian agents who felt that they had been robbed of their control in that vicinity. On one occasion they refused to let the Indians have an irrigation ditch which had been staked out by certain army officers. At various times the agents tried to throw aspersions on Captain Crawford's character because he had taken the Indians' part. They also allowed the sale of liquor to the savages. As long as greed and avarice were at the bottom of the civilian agents' motives, there naturally followed argument with the military man. The result was that the Indian was led into uncertainty. While authorities of the Interior Department haggled and when one white man would give an order or permission only to have it countermanded by another, it was impossible for the savage to discriminate between the parties at issue or to understand the causes of his treatment. He did not know what to expect.
1885 As a result Geronimo and Nachez with 124 Chiricahuas left their reservation for the Sierra Madres. General Crook pursued the same tactics that had been so successful before. With Apache scouts, led by officers of the army and backed by the troops, he hunted down the warriors in their little groups. It was a taxing and endless job that occupied the summer and fall, but Geronimo, finally seeing the hopelessness of further struggle, sent word to General Crook that he desired a conference. It was not long before the general met him at a picturesque spot called "Cañon de los Embudos." For several days Geronimo argued his point and refused to accept the terms offered, March 27
1886 but when "Chihuahua," a fine old chieftain, voluntarily surrendered, Geronimo followed suit. But Geronimo was not yet ensconced upon the reservation. On the way in, he must have changed his mind for he gave the troops the slip. April
1886 It was at this time that General Crook was superseded by General Miles. With detachments, mostly of the Fourth Cavalry, the new commander followed up Crook's plan. But it was several months before the wily chieftain could be taken. July
1886 Captain Lawton and Surgeon Leonard Wood rendered conspicuous service in finally capturing him. Although there were minor outbreaks of Apaches afterward, p363 this episode marked the virtual end of the conflicts with these tribes.
While Crook and others were rounding out the salvation of the Apaches with little bloodshed, the army in other parts was called upon to do a different sort of national police. The Chinese laborers in the mines of Wyoming were having violent troubles with their employers.
1885 When part of the army was called out to suppress this uprising, it did its usual work of restoring order with little bloodshed.
1886 The schools in the army were by this time on a fair road to substantial advancement. It was little thought, when Lieutenant Arthur L. Wagner was sent to Leavenworth as instructor of military art, that he was going to be such a great factor in developing the curriculum of that school. For eleven years he was to influence its standards, he being there without intermission throughout that time. It was during this period that he wrote the Campaign of Königgrätz (1889), The Service of Security and Information (1893) and Organization and Tactics (1895). These works were particularly needed by the service. They suited the requirements of all branches and remained for years standard authorities on these important phases of military instruction. They were the result of wide research and able condensation and suited to the everyday use of troops. Ever since their issue the service at large has been influenced by them. It was through Wagner's efforts that the courses at Leavenworth were raised to a higher standard, especially in the field of military art. His fine personality and tireless energy made him truly the Sylvanus Thayer of the General Service schools.
Arthur Lockwood Wagner
From the impetus of the Leavenworth courses came a desire for more specific professional learning in the various branches of the services. Not only was it apparent that officers should be cognizant of strategy and tactics in general, but that they should also be experts in the technic and tactics of the various arms to which they belonged. After much persuasion,
1887 a "school of instruction" of drill and practice for cavalry and light artillery was authorized by Congress. Although the institution was not established until five years later, the authorization was at p364 least certain for future possibilities. At length, such a school was placed at Fort Riley, Kansas (March 14, 1892).
While the army was improving its mind in order to be more efficient to fight, it was woefully deficient in materials for war. The large guns in the service seemed to be ill‑supplied because of the usual lack of funds. Existing weapons and ammunition were obsolete. The 8‑inch shell for instance had a cast-iron point and was unsuitable for armor-piercing purposes. Black powder was still in use at this late date in modern discovery.
1888 Tests were conducted by the Ordnance Department at Fort Hamilton, New York, with a pneumatic, dynamite, torpedo gun. April 24
1888 The results as reported by the chief of that branch were fair, and he consequently recommended experiments with explosive gelatine or dynamite so as to increase the range and power of projectiles. June 14
1888 But he later complained that Congress in its last two sessions had made no appropriations, so that experiments and the purchase of guns and ammunition for this purpose had to stop.
However, the next year the Congress did appropriate a sum for experimenting on the Pacific coast with 3 pneumatic, dynamite guns.
1889 But it so happened that the Watertown Arsenal had to suspend work on rifles of large caliber, because the plants of Watervliet and Watertown were too small to accommodate the manufacture of both cannon and small arms. Since the latter were in demand by the army, they had to take precedence to the exclusion of the larger weapons.
If lack of legislative attention deprived the army of many of its necessary tools, at least it could improve itself in its training and organization to the limit of its internal powers. The urge of progress in the service was growing rapidly and was manifesting itself in several ways. Where the work of the soldier was most tangled, where marching to and fro was incessant, where operating and guarding stage lines, quieting Indians, holding off desperadoes, allaying labor troubles and safeguarding the settlers was all in the work of the week, there was still time found for training.
1889 When it is realized that 1 company of the Second Infantry in a short campaign against the Bannocks marched •over 1,300 miles, it is remarkable that the units of the service could thus find time for betterment p365 toward no personal or selfish ends. Summer
1889 An instance of such a thing is found in the field maneuvers of the Twenty-first Infantry at Camp George Crook near Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Not only was the practice beneficial, but it was the first time the regiment had been assembled for twenty years.
Further, the service was anxious to better its standards and organization.
1890 The next year Congress was prevailed upon to pass a law which required no outlay of money. Promotion below the grade of brigadier general was to be within each arm, corps or department of the army. Officers could now be transferred inside their branches without loss of rank entailed by the previous narrow limits of regimental promotion. The entire service by this move became more flexible in the interest of efficiency. To the same end this legislation provided for a rigid examination for promotion of all officers below the grade of major.
While this progress was being fostered in the service, some sorry Indian troubles again come into prominence. The great Sioux nation on its various reservations had become saturated with a new religion whose principal tenet was that an Indian Messiah was shortly to come, who would give the red race domination over the white. The belief provoked a fanaticism that entailed fasting, vapor baths and ghost dances, and drove many of these superstitious people to leave their reservations. A large force of savages had collected in the Bad Lands, 1,800 alone having stampeded to that place when General Brooke came to Pine Ridge with 5 companies of infantry and 3 of cavalry.
1890 Sitting Bull had been killed and a riot had ensued when the Indian police had tried to arrest the old medicine man. Sitting Bull's followers then made their escape to Big Foot's village, •40 miles to the northwest. It became a matter of moment then to keep Big Foot from slipping away into the Bad Lands, from which place incursions could be carried on at will. General Brooke ordered Colonel Forsyth to intercept Big Foot's band and to disarm the Indians peaceably if possible. With 2 battalions of the Seventh Cavalry and some Hotchkiss guns, Forsyth surrounded the camp at Wounded Knee Creek and invited the warriors to a council, whereupon 106 of them came out and sat on the ground in front of their tepees. The p366 Indians were then sent in groups of 20 to bring out their arms. The first group could only discover two weapons, whereupon Forsyth had to order soldiers to search the premises. They found fifty rifles. While this operation was going on, one of the seated Indians drew a rifle from under his blanket and fired upon the soldiers. The other warriors who had similarly concealed their weapons opened at once upon the troops. Though taken by surprise, the soldiers soon collected themselves. The battle raged from a little after eight in the morning until three in the afternoon. There were little tactics involved, but each soldier went about his business in an orderly way. When it was seen that there was no more danger, Colonel Forsyth ordered his men to desist, saying, "We did not come here to butcher them." It had been a bloody affair, 146 Indians having to be buried on the field and about half that number of officers and soldiers having been killed or wounded. Colonel Forsyth took the remainder of the redmen back to the reservation. Dec. 29
1890 Some troops of the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Cavalry and Second and Twenty-first Infantry then surrounded other errant bands. The work was taxing in this very cold winter and it was not what one might call holiday pleasure. Jan. 14
1891 While the soldiers on all sides were closing in, the Indians saw the hopelessness of further resistance and surrendered. To show the Indian the power of the white man, this large command, which finally included several regiments of infantry, was reviewed by General Miles in the presence of the redmen. The warriors were so highly impressed that no further outbursts of a grave nature have since occurred with these tribes.
1891 Right upon the heels of this action came several internal improvements in the service. Congress passed a law which compelled the retirement of officers upon reaching the age of 64. By opening up an unlimited list for those who were over age, men who had outgrown their fitness for activities in the field could be properly cared for. More efficient work could thus be had by younger men at the head of troops.
1891 This year also marks the first issue by the War Department of three separate sets of drill regulations for "Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery." They represented the work of the best mind p367 of the service in contradistinction to the output of private publications. The infantry drill included "setting‑up exercises" and a "bayonet exercise" by the count. Loading was executed quickly and without motions. The soldier half cocked his piece, opened the chamber at the breech, took out the empty shell, inserted a loaded one, closed the chamber and was ready to fire. For drill, such complicated movements as "fours right, left front into line faced to the rear" still persisted and showed traces of intricacy. But as a whole the marchings were comparatively simple. For the cavalry, the troop in single rank was divided into 2, 3, or 4 platoons, depending on the number of fours. The squadron consisted of not more than 4 and not less than 2 troops. For the artillery, the battery consisted of 2 or 3 platoons and a platoon of 2 sections. A section was composed of a piece with its caisson. Each carriage was drawn by six horses. The battery officers consisted of 1 captain and 4 lieutenants. The gun detachment for field batteries was composed of 5 privates and 2 corporals; for heavier and seacoast batteries, the service of the piece required more than that number.
1891 It was in the latter part of this year that troubles along the Rio Grande sprang up, much as they did twenty-five years later. One Garza was a leader of a large band of outlaws who committed depredations, stole property and killed Americans. His retinue was composed of bandits on both sides of the boundary line, who were liable to appear at any point between Brownsville and the source of the river. The troops had to cover tremendous distances and be ready to fight at any moment. The Third Cavalry, under Colonel Anson Mills, was conspicuous later in helping to quell these disturbances, which lasted over two years.
1892 It was at this period that the Ordnance Department made its great advance in small arms when it adopted a foreign rifle, the Krag-Jorgensen, and started this weapon's manufacture at the Springfield armory. Money for its production was so limited that it was all the department could do to supply the regular army. But the powder was at last smokeless and the weapon had a magazine which held 5 cartridges. Each cartridge was loaded with •40 grains of powder and a bullet •.308 of an p368 inch in diameter. The muzzle velocity was •about 2,000 feet per second. This was the most marked advance in small arms since the application of the percussion cap, and of much greater value, as shall be seen in a war which is soon to come.
1893 The next year hard times struck the country like an avalanche. Labor uprisings began to take place. The panic spread through most of the United States. The militia either would or could not quell these gigantic outbreaks. Mobs of the worst classes burned and looted cars.a The Governor of Illinois refused to call out the militia of his state for the suppression of lawlessness. President Cleveland acted at once for the protection of national mails and the restoration of order. 1894 The federal troops were ordered to the scene of difficulty, wherever they were available, and in every instance brought quietude with little or no bloodshed. In this connection it should be noted that the soldiers were used between 1886 and 1895 in 328 different civil troubles extending through 49 states and territories.4
These hard times, driving men from a livelihood in civil life, caused a tremendous number to apply for enlistment in the service. It was possible to recruit the army up to strength and to select the best men from among the many who applied. The result was the recruitment of an army enlisted personnel of such a quality as has seldom, if ever, been known in our history. Although it is a travesty on any nation to produce an army from the ashes of a labor conflagration rather than by direct inducement, the effect of this slump in business was to give to the regulars for the war that was approaching, an efficiency that served the country well. What Congress failed to create, Providence provided.
While the army was taking on a more efficient complexion, rumors of Indian troubles again put some of its forces on the move. It seems that the Bannocks had been once more aroused. The difficulty arose when certain lawless civilians killed two Indians and one child while the latter were on a hunting expedition. The Governor of Wyoming and the Indian agent at Fort Hall, Idaho, asked for troops on account of the resulting
p369 threatening attitude of the Bannocks toward the settlers. A squadron of the Ninth Cavalry and a battalion of the Eighth Infantry under Major Adna Chaffee were sent by rail to Market Lake, Idaho, whence they marched to the scene of possible trouble, in order to prevent collision between the Indians and the settlers. General Coppinger accompanied the expedition.
1895 When this force arrived at Jackson's Hole, the excitement promptly subsided. The main body was shortly withdrawn, but 2 troops of the Ninth Cavalry remained at Jackson's Hole and Teton Pass in order to keep order until a judicial settlement of the affair could be made.
1896 These were times of improvement not only in schools, but in small arms and in drill regulations, about the only features the army could perfect without money. The Krag was rebuilt so as to make it a steadier and more dependable weapon for expert shots at long ranges. The powder was more carefully manufactured so as to give it grammar uniformity. A separate drill regulation for light artillery and a new one for the cavalry, expanded the former regulations to meet the requirements of the batteries and troops at full strength.
1896 The service was affected by the discovery of gold in the Yukon valley of Alaska which caused a tremendous rush to that region. To the army fell the lot of policing and exploring this vast unbroken stretch of valuable territory. The Fourteenth Infantry, and parts of the Twenty-fifth, Fourth, Second, Eighteenth Infantry and of the Eighth and Ninth Cavalry, for the next two years, were constantly at work surveying routes and estimating the resources of this new country. Through snow and ice, over glaciers and rivers, by snowshoe and reindeer sledge, they gained minute information as to the mineral resources, topography, vegetation, timber, animals, birds and in fact everything of commercial value. This inestimable knowledge was achieved in addition to the labor of policing the country and making it safe.
1897 In the United States proper the gradual conquering of the Indian and the growth of railroads helped the army to begin to concentrate in regimental units, so that it could train in the art of war. Of such preparation it had been heretofore deprived, because it had had to be scattered about in so many different p370 posts. All through the latter part of the nineties decided effort was made to collect the small isolated units, so that practice marches and small problems could be undertaken. For instance, the Twelfth Infantry had been concentrated at Buffalo (July 26, 1887) for the first time it had been brought together since 1869. Several other regiments later were likewise gathered in from various places. So the Leavenworth and Riley graduates were slowly being accorded opportunity to test the results of their courses in tactical, strategic, and logistical studies, as well as in technical knowledge. The regular army, although still well spread out, was more highly developed and efficient than at any time in our previous history.
of 1898 However, there were less than 25,000 effective regulars5 against a population of 73,000,000 people, the smallest proportional regular force existing at the beginning of any of our wars, except the Revolution. Congress for nearly thirty years, had almost totally confined itself to ignoring or paring and cutting its land forces, while the territory of the country was expanding. Out of the 2,362 guns for seacoast defense recommended by the Endicott Board, whose plans had been adopted, barely 6 per cent were in position. There were no adequate staff departments and no general staff. Though the War with Spain had been foreseen for some time, nothing had been done toward changing our ludicrous, defensive weakness, let alone our offensive incapacity. Even the militia law was more than one hundred years old. The Spanish army on a peace footing numbered 128,123, and for all we knew was well trained. The p371 militias of the various states as a whole had little understanding and less practical knowledge of conduct in war, mainly because of their negative treatment by legislators. The situation of the United States would have been comic had it not turned out to be tragic.
1898 Even after the battleship Maine had been blown up in Havana Harbor and war was inevitable, Congress, instead of building an army on broad and efficient lines, rejected the excellent Hull Bill March 8
1898 and contented itself with simply adding to the regular forces 2 regiments of artillery.6 This move brought the regulars up to a paper strength of 28,747, almost 100,000 less than the Spanish forces.
1898 When war was finally declared, the War Department machinery found itself clogged with thirty years' mold. The management of small detachments, which already knew pretty well how to take care of themselves, was as much as had been necessary. The shrinkage and setbacks of the army during the previous three decades were most apparent in the offices in Washington. There the reflection of an overconfident and militarily careless people was clearly mirrored. Humdrum methods and a tiny personnel brought little of value to an active, fighting force. What would happen were the Farmer's Bank of Smithville suddenly compelled to take over the business of the Bank of Commerce in New York City? Just what happened in our war offices at the outbreak of the war — an attempt to transform provincial methods into international facilities. And Congress had just crushed a bill which offered to remedy these defects. As a consequence, there were no accurate maps of the scene of activities and no secret information of the new enemy's resources. The commissary, quartermaster and medical departments had, all told, only 258 officers fit to carry on in the field. In addition, the ordnance department had no modern guns and ammunition available, except for the little regular army.
The regulars were still scattered over our wide country. One regiment, the Fourteenth, had to be brought later clear from Alaska to the front. Notwithstanding the news-stand size
p372 of the War Department, it was not inert.
1898 Even before the declaration of war, being exasperated by the "masterful inactivity" of Congress, it had issued orders for the concentration of the infantry of the regular army at Tampa, Mobile and New Orleans.7
While the regular soldiers were thus on the move, Congress decided as usual after we were committed to the conflict to make its own reorganization of the forces.
1898 All able-bodied male citizens between 18 and 45 were to be liable to military duty. The volunteer system of 1861 repeated itself with most of its mistakes. The enlistment was to be for two years or for the war, a term over which the recruit might gamble. For these temporary troops, the governors were to appoint officers in such a way that for any state or territory they would be in proportion to its population. Generals and higher staff officers were to be selected in Washington. April 23
1898 Following this enactment the President issued a call for 125,000 volunteers. April 24
1898 The next day legislation more than doubled the size of the regular army p373 (62,597 men) by allowing the smaller units to recruit to larger strength and by adding a third battalion to a regiment in time of war. Another second lieutenant was given to each artillery battery. The war pay of the soldier, now that the volunteer appeared, was increased 20 per cent. But Congress was wary. It was careful to provide that as soon as hostilities were over the army should return to its former impotent size.
Such disjointed and impractical legislation could hardly give birth to anything other than hectic results. It was the same old story over again with the recruit, who preferred to go into the volunteers where he found comrades and an easier life. Neither could the regular army gain the numbers authorized by Congress before being launched into the scene of activities. Provision for adequate staff departments was still wanting, and volunteer office seekers overran Washington.
The plan for concentrating camps at the southern ports had to be abandoned before being carried out, because these places were unsuitable for troops. Two other concentration points were designated — Camp Alger at Falls Church, Virginia; and Camp Thomas at Chickamauga, Georgia.º From these places troops could then be sent to Tampa, Jacksonville and Fernandina, Florida.
1898 The Seventeenth (regular) Infantry was the first to move from Columbus Barracks, Ohio, toward Chickamauga. Indeed, the trained forces were naturally the only ones for some time to show signs of mobility, because they were the most ready.
The volunteers who flocked to respond to the first call of the President were generally in a sad state of uselessness. Although a few were well equipped with uniforms and equipment and under excellent control by their officers, the greater part lacked so much discipline, equipment and organization that they proved to be as much of a menace to friend as foe. On the other hand, the comparatively good volunteer regiments were so in spite of the neglect they had suffered.
1898 Congress now began to reek with measures for a more adequate force. Our highest legislative body at this juncture in war reminds one of the calf that had to have its ears pulled off to get it to the cow and its tail pulled off to get it away. A volunteer brigade of engineers was allowed, May 12
1898 as was also an p374 additional force of 10,000 enlisted men who should be immune to tropical diseases. The Medical Corps was increased by 15 assistant surgeons and as many contract surgeons as might be required. May 18
1898 A volunteer signal corps for service during the war and 2 additional assistant adjutant generals were also provided. This medley of acts was largely useless as later events proved. The country was again to learn that it is difficult to make up for lack of intelligent forehandedness.
1898 Against General Miles' advice the President issued a second call for 75,000 men. The General thought that 50,000 highly trained soldiers would be better than a mass who could not be so easily disciplined and handled, and might simply be a burden to the country. We shall see the dire effects of ignoring General Miles' suggestion.
1898 Then, Congress made provision for allowing regular officers to hold staff appointments in the volunteers without losing rank and grade in the army. This measure was good, as it had shown itself to be in the Civil War.
While all this legislation was taking place our potentiality was in chaos. Volunteers of every variety were rushing to enlist, and then trying to struggle to the front.
1898 Dewey had won his battle of Manila and was waiting at Cavite for troops in order to take and occupy that city. Little expeditions with arms, ammunition and supplies had tried with more or less success to land at Cuban ports so as to give their cargoes to our allies in that country. Lieutenant Rowan had delivered his message to Garcia after a most racking and winding journey through tropical forests nov tortuous mountains. In a small fishing smack he had safely returned. But the army was not on the move. Supplies of all sorts were lacking, and Tampa had but a single-track railroad. For the troops that had assembled there, this was an irritating and protracted delay. One correspondent termed it the "rocking chair period." But the trained regulars were not idle. Drills and practice in making hasty intrenchments were the incessant work of troops under General Shafter. The movements and character of our soldiers, as they charged through the palmetto groves, rode their horses through the streams and worked with the precision of a fine machine, brought forth the highest comments from the foreign p375 attachés. One war correspondent when admiring the physiques of these rugged, cheerful and canny men, remarked that it was only a pity there were not more of them.
But the supervision of the corps with its small and improvised staff could not overcome the difficulties that foresight alone should have prevented. The populace as usual was crying "On to Havana" as it had previously done with Boston, Canada, Mexico and Richmond. There was the customary shortage of rifles, ammunition, supplies, clothing and even food. Beside the regulars, there was a great lot of excellent youth — untrained. There were box cars on the sidings with provisions and clothing of many varieties, but the outside was unlabeled. An officer looking for beans would open a car to find patent-leather shoes. The volunteer soldiers were sometimes seen begging for food in the streets, while supplies in the cars lay rotting. There were no storage facilities. The docking space at Port Tampa was so limited that there was room for only eight vessels out of the thirty troop ships collected. Once, in docking, two vessels collided with serious injury to one boat.
But the administration in Washington grew so impatient to have the troops be off that urgent messages were sent to embark.
1898 General Miles was instructed to send 70,000 troops to Havana. When it was shown that there was not enough ammunition for such a command to fight one battle against 125,000 Spanish troops well armed with Mausers and protected by the strongest kind of fortifications, there was pause. General Shafter was then ordered to proceed to Mariel on the north coast of Cuba and establish himself there, but the navy could not furnish the requisite number of convoys. May 10
1898 Orders were then issued to take 12,000 troops to Key West, but this plan had to be abandoned, because of the unsuitability of that place for soldiers, especially on account of the dearth of water. In the meantime the War Department was taxed to its utmost capacity, because the military forces were now bloated abnormally by the influx of thousands of volunteers.8
Finally General Miles left Washington for Tampa. There he found the disorder that always follows national apathy. Troops had to be camped so far from each other on account of sanitary and water facilities that there could be little coöperation. It was impossible for receiving officers to supply the organizations quickly. The loading of transports was chaos. A battery would be placed on one vessel and its ammunition on another. Regiments were broken up and scattered among the troop ships. Medical stores were placed in the hold under all sorts of other freight. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt, in trying to get aboard the transport assigned to his Rough Riders, found it already occupied by 2 other regiments.
1898 General Miles wired Washington:
"This expedition has been delayed through no fault of any one connected with it. It contains the principal part of the army which for intelligence and efficiency is not exceeded by any body of troops on earth. It contains fourteen of the best-conditioned regiments of volunteers, the last of which arrived this morning. Yet these have never been under fire. Between thirty and forty per cent are undrilled, and in one regiment over three hundred men had never fired a gun."
Then the President directed that the Fifth Corps sail at once with whatever force was ready. Nearly 16,000 men were crammed into the troop ships. The decks were so full that there was scarcely room to stir. Men who had brought blankets and overcoats lay down beside men in white and khaki trousers. There was every kind of hat from plain straw to sombrero. The
p377 heat and odors made men temporarily ill. But after their torment they were off at last, and every one breathed satisfaction and hope. But joy was short-lived. Some of the navy convoy had sighted what were supposed to be Spanish war vessels, all of which were then thought to be bottled up in Santiago Harbor. The Fifth Corps at sea was turned back to Key West. Finally, came the verification that Cervera's fleet was just where it was supposed to be — in Santiago Harbor.
June 13, 14
1898 And the transports9 again set sail for the southeastern end of Cuba.
The voyage was not one of unadulterated pleasure. Those who were putting to sea for the first time, never wanted to go again. When the roughness of an inter-island passage is combined with crowding, poor food, little water, pine cots, the neighing of horses and the noxious odors of congestion, the traveler desires land and land only. The boats moved at the rate of •seven miles an hour and often not at all. Though disheartened, this body of men, most of whom were fine specimens of manhood and well trained, were only waiting to get a foothold on land so as to have this whacking business over with in able style.
While they were still on their voyage, Congress was in process of passing another military law. Though the act seems out of harmony with the happenings of the day, it was nevertheless a good one.
1898 It authorized the summary court or trial of enlisted men by a single officer. More speedy and simple justice could thus be rendered and much red tape and overhead saved. There was not much that Congress could now do, but it was trying hard to show interest after the country had let military training fall into dry rot.
By the time the troops reached Daiquiri, they were very ready to go ashore.
1898 But the civilian captains of the transports, who apparently were not amenable to orders, thought otherwise. They actually feared so much for the safety of their ships and themselves, that they refused even in this critical moment to go near the land. They stubbornly remained •from two to twenty miles from shore. And they were thus immovable in the face of p378 the fact that the Navy had so pounded the Cuban coast that what Spanish troops were there had fled inland. It took a great part of a day to locate one of the troop ships. In this state of affairs every boat and launch of the navy had to be utilized to the transfer. Since there were no lighters and flats, the animals had to be dropped into the water and made to swim ashore. Some fifty of them became confused, swam out to sea and were drowned. The movement of officers and men from vessel to vessel was so dangerous in the rough sea, that Colonel Van Horn received a mortal injury. Two men drowned in getting to shore because of the absence of landing facilities. Five days were thus occupied in getting the Fifth Corps from the water to the sands. June 25
1898 Finally some 6,000 under Lawton found themselves at Daiquiri and the remainder at Siboney under Wheeler. No more than the supplies for daily consumption could be placed on shore until two weeks later.
Shafter's plan was to have Lawton occupy a strong defensive position between Santiago and Siboney, and Bates secure some point between Siboney and Daiquiri. But General Wheeler, eager for the fray, sent General Young to attack the enemy in the vicinity of Las Guasimas, which lay in the direction of San Juan.
1898 Young advanced in 2 columns with the First and Tenth Cavalry on the left and the Rough Riders on the right.10 He had only 2 guns and they were limited to 50 rounds of ammunition all told, although the Tenth had a Hotchkiss battery. The columns deployed in the thick jungle. To any one who has never seen a tropical forest, it is impossible to picture the density of these Cuban copses. Spanish bayonets that jag and arrest, matted vines that form layers of strong walls and undergrowth that ties the feet to the ground, make progress nigh impossible without a machete or large knife. Hampering the progress still more, the Spaniards poured in a hot fire. The troopers, advancing cautiously through these indescribable thickets and wire fences, could not see their targets and therefore could not reply to the fusillade. Colonel Wood's command p379 (then immediately led by Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt) while deploying late, was caught in column. Several of its members fell, and Sergeant Hamilton Fish was killed. But the whole line broke its way onward until the men could see the enemy, when they opened fire. The regulars pressing in front and the Rough Riders on the flank, caused the Spaniards behind their strong intrenchments to leave in haste. The whole engagement had occupied but an hour and a half. Considering the fact that the Rough Riders had received their Krags only the day before and were not familiar with them, great credit is due them in this action. And of course, the regulars acted as troops of long training should. The men were all so exhausted by the intense heat and fatigue that they could not pursue.
During the delay of six days, while General Shafter, suffering with gout, remained on the transports, and General Wheeler, the senior on shore, was strengthening out his lines a little beyond Las Guasimas, from where El Caney lay to his right front and San Juan before him, another expedition was in progress on the Pacific.
1898 After having captured Guam where there was no resistance offered, General Anderson pushed on toward Manila. He had 2,491 men: the First California, the Second Oregon and 6 companies of the Fourteenth Infantry. June 30
1898 Two months after Dewey had won his fight against the Spanish squadron at Manila, the first troops of the United States reached him. In the meantime, he had had to sit passively at Cavite, because he had no landing forces. Once he felt he would have to quit the island when he received rumors that a Spanish fleet was leaving Spain.
On the very day that Anderson arrived at Manila, General Shafter, who by now had alighted upon the Cuban shores, decided to strike at once. In the meantime General Duffield with the Thirty-third and part of the Thirty-fourth Michigan volunteers had landed from Camp Alger. But reënforcement was more of an embarrassment than a help, principally because of the lack of supplies. Shafter had not been able to land his heavy guns and the diseases of the rainy season were imminent. He himself said:
"These preparations were far from what I desired them to p380 be, but we were in a sickly climate; our supplies had to be brought forward by a narrow wagon road which the rains might at any time render impassable; fear was entertained that a storm might drive the vessels containing our stores to sea, thus separating us from our base of supplies; and, lastly, it was reported that General Pando, with 8,000 reënforcements for the enemy, was en route from Manzanillo, and might be expected in a few days."
Lawton's division, supported by Bates' brigade and Capron's battery, were to assault El Caney at daybreak the next day. The other 2 divisions were to march directly toward Santiago by the road through San Juan, with Kent on the left and Wheeler on the right. The Thirty-fourth Michigan back at Siboney was to be the reserve. General Duffield from that point was to threaten the Spanish detachment on the left at Fort Aguadores.
General Lawton marched all night, and, due to General Chaffee's fine personal reconnaissance, was in position by daybreak.
1898 The attack upon El Caney was to be a slow affair. It does not portray the conditions to say that the country was thick, the enemy's blockhouses scattered and the Spaniard's resistance more fierce and heroic than at any other time during the war. Little by little in the maze, dimness and heat, the regiments closed in semicircular order upon the enemy. Since it was difficult to keep in touch, and the fire of the enemy was destructive, it took many hours to work slowly through the obstacles of man and nature. The Massachusetts regiment, the only volunteers with Lawton, had to be withdrawn because their old black-powder rifles were ineffective and simply threw up clouds of smoke which drew effective fire from the fortified enemy. It was three o'clock before the lines were in a position which averaged a distance of about a thousand yards from the enemy. Lawton's one little obsolete battery of artillery was ineffective. And so it turned out to be an infantry, bushwhacking fight.
In the meantime, Sumner and Kent had formed their divisions so as to pass through the dense country to one of the streams in their front, and thence through cultivated fields and p381 over high ridges to their goal of San Juan. It took the 2 divisions more than six hours to advance through the woods to the first stream. The fighting thereafter reminds one of the individual methods of Resaca de la Palma. These troops suffered most of their losses while they were advancing through narrow and crowded trails and thick country and before they could reply to the fire of the Mauser bullets coming from an unknown direction. The soldiers generally displayed heroism, fortitude and dogged determination while all this was happening. The great exception was that of a well-known volunteer regiment whose officers skulked in large measure and whose men, therefore, except small detachments who joined the regulars, did likewise. While regular officers and soldiers were being killed and wounded, these untrained men hid along the trail. The regular cavalry and Colonel Leonard Wood's regiment could not keep such an orderly advance as Kent's infantry, principally because of the thicker country over which they had to operate. But they all plodded along heroically except the one volunteer regiment. The following is an extract from the report of the inspector general who was on the scene during this defection.11
"As stated, the Sixth and Sixteenth United States Infantry took the right-hand fork. General Kent indicated the left-hand route to Col. W. A. Downe's regiment, the Seventy-first New York Volunteers, an organization then having present for duty 44 officers and 855 men, 3 battalions, commanded as follows: First, Major W–––––; Second, Major W–––––; Third, Major K–––––.b The First Battalion headed into the left-hand trail, but retreated or hunted cover in a panic occasioned by the explosion near by of a shrapnel and the loss of some the Seventy-first's men.
"General Kent and every officer of his staff ineffectively tried by mandate, persuasion, and action to force the battalion into and along the pathway, but the men were thoroughly and, p382 all things considered, naturally demoralized. Confusion ensued, and the left-hand route to San Juan was congested by the First Battalion of the Seventy-first, some of the men of which prostrated themselves in the path. The majority of them crept into the bushes lining the route. The Third Battalion, Seventy-first New York Volunteers, Major K–––––º commanding Companies B, L, K, and E, was headed in by officers of General Kent's staff, encouraged by the division commander himself.
"This battalion passed somewhat farther into and along the left trail than the preceding one of the same regiment had done, but the tendency of the regiment was so obvious that it was apparent the Seventy-first as an organization, could not be gotten into its proper position, viz., on the left of the Sixth and Sixteenth United States regiments of infantry. The indecision of the occasion caused confusion, and the action of the Seventy-first New York Volunteers blocked the advance of the Third Brigade.
"Major Sharpe ran to order the Third Brigade to pass the position of the Seventy-first, panic-stricken, as stated. He was aided in this duty by every officer of the division staff, including General Kent; and, without hesitation, the Ninth United States (Lieutenant Colonel Ewers), the Thirteenth (Lieutenant Colonel Liscum), 73 officers and 1,345 men, swung into the left path over and past the Seventy-first New York, and kept steadily on, exposed to a vacuum fire from an, as yet to them, unseen foe."
Although this is a plain statement of facts, the Seventy-first New York should not be made to bear censure or ignominy. Suppose some of their officers did funk the fight. Suppose, too, that some of the men skulked in the bushes. What was the cause? A man ignorant of the habits of bugs and bees finds himself in an apiary. He is asked suddenly to open a hive and take out some honey. He hesitates, balks and finally refuses. He is keenly alive to the thousand darting stings that lurk within and swarm without. On the other hand, the keeper of the place walks boldly up to the hive and with a few deft movements takes out a toothsome comb. Could it be said that either of these men was more cowardly by nature than the other? p383 Their only difference in this instance lies in knowledge and training. Transform the stings of the bees into deadly bullets and the hives into blockhouses full of hostile, thinking, human beings, and we have the situation of the Seventy-first New York, as opposed to the troops of long training and discipline. It is the old story of the use and abuse of amateurs in war. These New York men had patriotically volunteered, had left their homes, business and pleasure, and had undergone great hardship. They were the victims of those superficial politicians who loudly contend that you can develop a clerk into a soldier overnight without murdering him or holding him up to shame in battle.
To go on with the story, the rest of the fight was mainly carried on by regular troops. Little clusters here and there climbed slowly the heights of San Juan. The men fired in groups, standing up in the long grass to take aim. Right along with the regulars went the Rough Riders. If they can be criticized at all, it is that their eagerness sometimes exceeded their technic, so that a colored regular regiment had to extricate them at one point. But they were picked men of no little experience in war or actions kindred to war. There was some artillery firing, when most of the troops were near the summit, and finally the garrison of the main blockhouse went flying, pursued by a murderous fire from the Tenth and Colonel Wood's cavalry. The cavalry that had taken Kettle Hill was also closing in, and before dark San Juan was in possession of the United States forces. Lawton over at El Caney had had a severe task in taking that position. In spite of orders to withdraw, he pressed on and reached his goal. At the end of the day San Juan and El Caney were both held by the American soldiers. Trained regular troops had again demonstrated their ability to go forward in spite of superhuman difficulties and sometimes superannuated leadership. The casualties for the day amounted to 593 of whom 94 had been killed.
For the next few days the time was spent in straightening out the lines before Santiago proper and in trying to adjust the difficulty of taking care of the sick and wounded.
Though every possible precaution had been taken to guard against the fevers of the rainy season, in this time when the p384 men were abnormally fatigued, unacclimated and ignorant of the danger from mosquitoes, officers and soldiers in large percentage were prostrate with dengue, malarial and yellow fever and with dysentery. Due to the nation's pervious lassitude during peace, there were no replacements at hand. Those who might come would be unready. Shafter was fearful that he would lose his only efficient troops right here when he was so close to his final objective. Surgeons, ambulances and medical supplies of all sorts were wanting, and the casualties from disease were beyond reason. This frightful condition calls to mind the splendid reduction of the Medical Department by the bright men of a previous Congress in the seventies. It is a fortunate thing that the Santiago forces were poorer in quality than our troops. For later, great boatloads of our stricken soldiers had to be transported to Montauk Point, Long Island. So just as the army was about to obtain its objective it dwindled to a fraction of its former self with no reënforcements in sight.
While the lines were being intrenched for investment of Santiago,
1898 Sampson destroyed the Spanish fleet which had tried to make its escape.c This victory saved the troops from a perilous position and put the Spaniard on the defensive. Although some 5,000 Spanish reënforcements had been allowed to slip through into Santiago by the Cubans, the enemy's added strength was not vital now. Our troops occupied their time in lengthening the entrenchments about the city. Although 4 field batteries and some field mortars were our only artillery, the lines were extended for the effective troops until they practically encircled Santiago.
During this time negotiations for a surrender were opened by Shafter.
1898 Toral, the Spanish commander, made an offer of capitulation of the city with the reservation that his troops be allowed unmolested and without arms to go to Holguin. Although this audacious overture was acceptable to Shafter, it was not tolerated at Washington. Shafter then felt himself forced to try to take the city. Accordingly he warned the Spanish authorities that he would open fire the next day. July 10
1898 The bombardment was begun according to his threat, and lasted two days while being supported by our fleet. The loss of life was naturally small, but the destruction to buildings large.
1898 During the latter part of this fire display, General Miles arrived from Washington. He brought with him the Sixth Massachusetts and part of the Sixth Illinois under command of Brigadier General Henry. During the preceding two days the First Illinois, the First District of Columbia and the Eighth Ohio Infantry, with 6 batteries of artillery under command of Brigadier General Randolph, had been landed.
Negotiations now took a more definite turn. Several conferences between the commanders ensued, but the Spaniards were sparring for time in order to get as good terms as possible. Finally it was settled that the surrender was to be unconditional and that the Spanish troops were to be conveyed at the expense of the United States back to Spain.
1898 The capitulation was then signed by all parties.
Thus ended the main action in the war with Spain. It was well it turned out so, for doubtless we should have lost 5,000 troops in taking the barricaded and barbed-wired city.
1898 The formal surrender, when the United States troops marched in and hoisted the American flag, took place two days later.
The Santiago campaign was the most primitive in character. The science the army had taken so much pains to learn might, under such condition, be thought to be wasted. But since teamwork, discipline, decision and control are stressed particularly in theoretical tactics, maybe the work had not been in vain.
It remains now to follow two campaigns occurring simultaneously in a large island in the Pacific and a small one in the Atlantic.
1898 While the battles of San Juan and El Caney were in progress in the Western Hemisphere, Anderson, it will be remembered, had landed at Cavite in the Eastern. The troops under him could do little more than to reconnoiter and prepare a new camp — Camp Dewey — for Greene's brigade which was expected to arrive. July 17
1898 When Brigadier General Greene made his appearance, he had with him a battalion each of the Eighteenth and Twenty-third Infantry, the First Colorado, the First Nebraska and the Tenth Pennsylvania Infantry, and 2 batteries of Utah Volunteer Artillery — about 3,586 men all p386 told. General Greene then placed his troops in Camp Dewey and General Anderson remained at Cavite. July 25
1898 Major General Merritt, the commander, next arrived with his staff. July 30
1898 Later Brigadier General MacArthur brought his brigade, consisting of the Thirteenth Minnesota, the First North Dakota, the First Idaho, the First Wyoming and 1 battalion each of the Eighteenth and Twenty-third Infantry. The Astor Battery, a gift of John Jacob Astor, completed MacArthur's force, making a total for his brigade of 4,847. General Merritt now had nearly 11,000 men, with the prospect of nearly 5,000 more, who were on their way.
1898 The very day General Merritt arrived in Manila Bay, General Miles with the Sixth Massachusetts, the Sixth Illinois Infantry, 275 recruits and 2 batteries each of the Third, Fourth and Fifth Artillery, arrived at Guanica on the southern coast of Porto Rico. He had left Cuba as promptly as he could. One by one the little towns and garrisons of the province of Santiago had surrendered when approached by army officers bearing the news of the fall of the city. General Miles then saw that there was nothing to interfere with his expedition to Porto Rico. Taking with him only this small force that had not been touched by disease, he sailed away, leaving eastern Cuba in possession of the ailing Shafter and his stricken troops. Arriving at Guanica, Miles took the town with no resistance. July 26
1898 Next day General Garretson moved on Yauco •four miles toward San Juan (de Porto Rico) with 6 companies of the Sixth Massachusetts and 1 of the Sixth Illinois. When near the hacienda, Santa Desidera, the fire of a small Spanish force spread confusion to 3 of the Massachusetts companies, who, however, were soon rallied, and pressed forward, causing the Spaniards to retreat and leave the road open to Ponce. July 27
1898 At that seacoast town the next day Major Generald Ernst arrived with the Second and Third Wisconsin and Sixteenth Pennsylvania Infantry. The garrison at Ponce at once fled, leaving these troops a free landing, which they made the next day. July 28
1898 Miles now knowing that he had a firm foothold on the south of the island, waited for the troops which he knew to be on the way. July 31
1898 In three days, Brigadier General Schwan arrived from Tampa with the Eleventh and Nineteenth Infantry, 1 troop of the Second p387 Cavalry and 2 batteries of the Seventh Artillery. Major General Brooke and Brigadier General Hains brought from Newport News the Third Illinois, the Fourth Ohio, the Fourth Pennsylvania, 1 company of the Eighth Infantry, 1 troop of the Sixth Cavalry, the Philadelphia City Troop, 2 troops of New York cavalry and Rodney's battalion of artillery. General Miles' plan was simple and well executed. Four columns were to march by different routes covering the entire island and to converge on San Juan, where the fleet was. When that stronghold would be taken the whole country would be in the hands of the United States. As he had saved the army from annihilation by frustrating the politicians' proposed attack on Havana instead of Santiago, so now he went into the back door of Porto Rico, while the front door was heavily guarded.
The columns must be taken up separately in order to understand what happened. General Schwan had the extreme western end of the island to cover with a small force of regulars (1,447 men), of the Eleventh Infantry, 1 troop of the Fifth Cavalry, 1 battery of Gatling guns, and 2 batteries of the Seventh Artillery.
1898 At Hormigueros he came upon over a thousand of the enemy posted on strong heights. Schwan's troops had to deploy in the fields, break through sugar cane and wire fences and pass over creeks under fire. As they came steadily on and approached the hills, the garrison fled. Aug. 11
1898 Next day he entered Mayaguez, a city of 22,000, with loss of 1 man killed and 6 wounded. Drenching rain and the fatigue of his men prevented pursuit of the enemy. Aug. 12
1898 The next day 6 companies of infantry, a platoon of cavalry and 2 gun pushed along with great difficulty into the mountains. Schwan followed with the remainder of his cavalry and directed his other forces to come after him as soon as possible. Toward Las Marias some 2,000 Spaniards had collected. The American regulars, though outnumbered, went forward as fast as they could to attack the Spaniards on the crest of a high ridge. After Schwan's men had poured in a heavy fire the Spaniards retreated, leaving a highly disorganized rear guard in their wake. Most of this latter force was captured, as was the Spaniard's commander, Colonel Soto. Schwan was about to complete his victory and attack Lares, when word reached him that the peace protocol between Spain p388 and the United States had been signed. This news ended the fighting for him.
1898 The next column toward the east was Henry's. After he left Ponce, the going in the rough, hilly country was slow. He had only oxcarts to haul his supplies. Aside from a battalion of the Nineteenth Infantry and a troop of the Second Cavalry, his command consisted of raw, unseasoned regiments of volunteers. The discipline of the Massachusetts regiment on the march and in camp had been bad in the vicinity of Ponce, and in the subsequent advance. Their actions before Yauco had been what you would expect of raw troops under political guidance. After several of the officers resigned on the threat of being placed before a board of inquiry, things in the regiment went better. But there was a great deal of straggling on the march. Aug. 8
1898 Only •nine miles were covered the first day, and the troops did not all reach Adjuntas (•12 miles north of Ponce) until two days later. When the news of the protocol came, Henry was at Utuado with his regulars and 2 battalions of his Massachusetts regiment, preparing to advance upon Arecibo.
General Wilson's third column, farther to the east, consisted of Ernst's brigade of the Sixteenth Pennsylvania, the Second and Third Wisconsin and 2 regular batteries of artillery. They had just exchanged at Ponce their black-powder rifles for new Krags with which they were unfamiliar. They first marched east in order to take the central road direct to San Juan. General Wilson's service of information was so good that he knew that a strong force of Spaniards were preparing to meet him at Aibonita. On the way to that town a strong outpost of Spaniards was discovered at Coamo. The Pennsylvania regiment after bivouacking in the hills all night,
1898 marched twelve miles over a difficult passage through the mountains and outflanked the Spaniards, who fled to Aibonita, leaving their dead commander. The Pennsylvanians marched into Coamo with 210 prisoners. Pushing on, General Wilson sent his troop of New York Cavalry ahead, which established an outpost •five miles in advance, where they came under the fire of the Spanish batteries. Aug. 10, 11
1898 For two days General Wilson reconnoitered the strong Aibonita position and brought up the remainder of his forces. He decided on another flanking movement. Aug. 13
1898 Sending p389 General Ernst over a mountain trail to the left, he hoped to take the place from the rear. In the meantime he had engaged the Spaniard's attention by the use of his battery. The black powder of the artillery brought only a hot fire from the Spaniards, so that the battery had to be withdrawn. It lost in killed 1 officer, 1 man, and in wounded 6 men. General Wilson then, understanding that at any minute he might be ordered to suspend hostilities, delayed Ernst's flanking movement and called upon the Spaniards to surrender. Aug. 13
1898 It was not long after he received the refusal of the Spaniards that orders came from General Miles to suspend hostilities.
General Brooke's column on the extreme east had been delayed by the poor facilities for debarking his supplies at Arroyo. Two of his transports had run aground.
1898 Finally the infantry was ready to move. General Hains, with the Fourth Ohio and Third Illinois, brushed aside small detachments and took possession of Guayama. There was some minor fighting by reconnoitering parties beyond that town, but Brooke had now to wait until his cavalry and artillery could come ashore. Aug. 12
1898 After several days, he issued orders for an attack in front and flank by his entire force. Aug. 13
1898 He was about to take the enemy by surprise when the news of the protocol reached him.
Thus the island of Porto Rico was in the clutch of the four fingers of General Miles' expedition when the cessation of hostilities came.
It is necessary to look into another hemisphere to see what the United States troops are doing there. Merritt was anxious to end the struggle at Manila by an immediate attack on that city. General Greene very tactfully arranged with Aguinaldo, leader of the insurgent forces, who was our virtual ally but seemed to be inimical to the United States, to clear the Calle Real,
1898 so that the American troops would have an open way for the attack on the Spanish trenches. The American lines were then stretched out and intrenched within striking distance of Malate. July 31
1898 Just before midnight the Spaniards, attracted by the extensive dispositions, opened a very hot fire upon the Tenth Pennsylvania and the 4 guns of the Utah Artillery. A company of the Third Artillery and the California Infantry were hurried through a terrific tropical storm to reënforce the line. Although p390 10 men were killed and 43 wounded, the action was indecisive. Then Greene for many days extended his entrenchments to secure his right flank. The line was constructed with great hardship, because the men could not expose themselves without drawing the fire of the enemy. They had to lie down during incessant rains, shelter being impossible. Constant effort had to be spent in keeping the loose soil from slipping. Shoes were so uncomfortable that many men went barefoot, especially when the trenches were filled by as much as •two feet of water. Few men could receive khaki before they left the United States, so that they sweltered in old blue woolen shirts and trousers. Nightly firing by the enemy with both small arms and artillery did not add to the rest of the men. As most of the rank and file were under fire for the first time, it was almost impossible, in the darkness and wet, to enforce fire discipline and control with so many green troops. In four nights 150,000 rounds of ammunition were uselessly expended.
Although General Merritt was anxious to bring this waiting period to a conclusion, the navy felt it was not prepared to deliver a heavy supporting fire. Meanwhile, negotiations were in progress between General Merritt and the Spanish officials. When surrender was demand, the latter declined, but there was a tacit understanding that when the attack did occur, the Spaniards would make only a show of force, in order to save their honor.
1898 The bombardment, begun by the navy, was followed by the army's artillery. For three quarters of an hour the shells flew while the Spaniards remained silent. When the magazine in the San Antonio fort exploded, General Greene sent the Colorado regiment forward. Then a few shots came from the enemy's lines. But our troops crossed the stream and entered the battered fortress unimpeded. After General MacArthur had fired his artillery at Blockhouse Fourteen, a squad of the Twenty-third Infantry scouted forward only to find the enemy's trenches empty. The forts, lines and blockhouses were then occupied by the entire force. Pushing forward into the streets of the suburbs, soldiers of the Minnesota regiment encountered unexpected resistance from a blockhouse there, where they were driven back in some disorder. MacArthur then brought up p391 reënforcements, who had to march over a single road and through rice paddies and thick timber. Only a small proportion of his men could be put on the firing line. After a time the fire from the blockhouse diminished and the place was abandoned. The way to Paco and Manila was now open to MacArthur's men. Greene's brigade, less impeded than MacArthur's, made its way through Malate and Ermita with a few exchanges of shots. The whole force now moved on, and in the early afternoon found itself before the inner walled city where a white flag was flying. Generous terms were given the Spaniards, who were allowed to go home with all the honors of war; and Manila flew the American flag. The Americans had lost 20 killed and 105 wounded.
While peace negotiations were on foot, the regular forces were in a state of perplexity as to the future. The nation had now three islands on its hands, whether or not it wanted them. The only institution to which it could turn for control, police and civilization of the new soil, was the army. Any number of homeless refugees, insurrectos and untamed barbarians had to be brought into a setting of law and order. After victory, the usual clean‑up would have to be made by the permanent troops.
The volunteers had a different outlook. Feeling that the war was now over they naturally clamored to be out of the service. Although a peace treaty had not yet been signed and their contracts with the government were not terminated, such political pressure was brought to bear
1898 that 100,000 of them were ordered to be discharged. In Porto Rico and Cuba, the regulars were left high and dry with a big, distasteful work of reconstruction on their hands. In Manila, where the volunteers were greatly in preponderance, they could not be well let go Oct.
1898 while Aguinaldo was setting up an independent government. Some 40,000 insurrectos were hovering around Manila. Congress was doing nothing to replace the volunteers who were going out.
Besides, the regular regiments were far below strength, because they had been unable to obtain their full quotas throughout the war. An average of 556 enlisted men per regiment in the regular forces fought at San Juan. Sickness had reduced some of these units later to as low as 300 men, whereas p392 the authorized number amounted to 1,272. A paltry army was shrunken to a skeleton, in the face of conditions which required 100,000 trained men for the police and careful administration of these great islands, in great part sadly demoralized under Spanish rule.
Disease, too, was lessening the effectiveness of all the American forces. Though the volunteers were in a worse plight than the regulars, both had suffered extremely. The federal troops had been forced hurriedly into climatic conditions, with which no one was familiar. Although the regular officers took the greatest precautions, such new maladies as yellow and dengue fever were a puzzle to them at a time when the scientific knowledge of the deadly doses in mosquito bites were unknown. Most of the casualties among the regular troops were thus unpreventable at that period. On the other hand, although the volunteers lost 289 killed or mortally wounded in the war, they lost 3,848 from disease. And this figure is mostly made up of deaths occurring in the United States, where sickness could have been prevented by discipline and training.
1898 At the outset of the war, General Miles desired the volunteers to be placed in small camps in their own states where they could be instructed in their duties and responsibilities, given practice with proper arms and ammunition, have the advantage of learning tactics through tactical exercises, be efficient in guard duty, and acquire the thousand and one habits that are so vital to the life of a soldier and the success of an army. The General felt that, while the soldier was absorbing with little danger that discipline which is so essential to the safety of others, the larger camps could be the more carefully selected, especially for hygienic reasons. Then the smaller units could be formed into larger ones with some assurance of order, discipline and sanitation. But his advice was not to be taken. The answer was that there were not enough trained officers in the country to carry on such a program and the regulars could not be spared from the front. So the volunteers were hustled off without knowing the strenuous duty of a soldier to himself or his fellows. One war correspondent stated that "it always took one regular to offset the volunteer's mistakes, to help him cook his rations and to teach him to shelter p393 himself and to keep himself clean." With poor equipment he was huddled in camps of meager facilities and extent. Camp Thomas had a capacity of 20,000 troops, yet 76,742 were sent there. Camp Alger was worse. Men died from typhoid fever by flies and like them. The War Commission stated:
"Large bodies of men who are not soldiers, under officers who have had little or no military training, cannot be brought together and held for many weeks in camp and remain healthy. If the water supply is not abundant or is not good; if the thoroughly well-established rules of sanitation are not observed; if the discipline of the camp puts little restriction on drunkenness and immorality; if the soldier does not know how to live and his officers do not watch him and teach him; if his food is poorly cared for and badly cooked, and he is permitted to eat and drink anything and everything he can find, sickness will certainly prevail. If, as at Camp Thomas, a regiment can go for ten days without digging sinks; if the sinks dug are not used or they quickly overflow and pollute the ground; if practically no protection is afforded against the liquor sellers and prostitutes of neighboring places; if commands are crowded together and tents seldom struck, or even never during the occupation of the camp; if no one is called to account for repeated violation of sanitary orders, it cannot be but that typhoid fever once introduced will spread, rapidly, widely.
"How much may be accomplished by intelligent and watchful supervision on the part of surgeons and regimental officers and the observance of the well-established rules of camp sanitation is shown by the record of the Eighth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at Camp Thomas. This regiment was for many weeks very healthy, while much sickness was occurring in regiments nearby, though the conditions of camp site, of water, and of drill were practically the same. . . .
"In conclusion it may be said that it is impossible to bring together a regiment of 1,300 men whose lives and habits have all been different and place them in camp, subject them to its discipline, diet and duties, without much complaint. They must become acclimated and accustomed to camp life before sickness can be prevented; and until the individual soldier appreciates p394 the necessity of complying fully with the regulations and confines himself to the regular food — and this the soldier never does until experience teaches him the necessity — he will drink polluted water, eat noxious food that disturbs his digestive organs, and will not take care of himself, and no discipline or watching will prevent it. The imprudent acts of the soldiers are the first and greatest cause of sickness in camps."
The soldier must be disciplined, it is true, but the physician must be specially trained also. Camp hygiene is a distinct branch of the medical profession. One cannot expect an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist to understand camp sanitation thoroughly. Such work is the special province of the medical corps. Many good volunteer doctors from the home towns made a fizzle of sanitation at Alger and Thomas, simply because they had not been trained in that line. Others who knew what to do, were not backed up by the newly made line officers. At the beginning of the war the medical corps of the army, like the quartermaster corps, had a size proportional to the army total of 25,000 men. Yet this body had to take care of 223,235 volunteers at a moment's notice. Death and confusion logically resulted.
As the war with Spain was reaching its close, an even greater and longer conflict was coming to an end. The last of the Indian uprisings was taking place. It seems that the Pillager Chippewas near Leech Lake, Minnesota, felt themselves unjustly dealt with, when some of their number were arrested.
1898 A detachment of 20 men of the Third Infantry was despatched from Fort Snelling to the scene of discontent, at the request of the Secretary of the Interior. Lieutenant Humphreys, commanding these few men, found the Indians to be so numerous and hostile, that he asked for reënforcements. Captain Wilkinson moved out shortly afterward with 80 men of the Third Infantry. At Sugar Point two Indians were arrested on the way, and, although the warriors' attitude was threatening, there was no violence. Oct. 5
1898 Then an unfortunate accident occurred. A soldier inadvertently discharged his rifle. In a moment this latter detachment was fired upon from the underbrush. The troops could be defend themselves as well as possible. For p395 two days they held out, at the end of which time they had beaten back the Chippewas. Captain Wilkinson and 6 men had been killed and 14 wounded, including some civil officers. After this affair, an additional force of 5 officers and 206 men from the Third Infantry arrived at the Leech Lake Agency. The Fourteenth Minnesota was also stationed along the Great Northern Railway. Oct. 20, 21
1898 Soon afterward the Indians, for whom warrants had been issued, were taken peaceably and order was restored in this tribe.
Thus ended the Indian wars. One newspaper man has estimated that it cost the government in these struggles over $1,000 for every redman who lived within our border. That is a tremendous figure. But it is safe to say that, with a small fraction of the total sum, a decent-sized army could have been trained and equipped in the beginning; the Indians could have been awed and controlled with little bloodshed by such a force; and two years of such treatment would have advanced railroads and commerce by a quarter of a century. Such an able management would also have prevented in large measure the unnecessary deaths that continuously blot over half of the history of our country.
Analogous to the dribbling loss that took place on the plains is the conduct of the war with Spain. To be sure, there was little that Congress could do after hostilities had overtaken us. Nothing could make up for our neglect in the previous thirty years. But when it rejected the Hull Bill, which called for a reorganization similar to the one before the World War, it threw its weight positively on the side of politics to the exclusion of efficiency and the saving of life and treasure.
Notwithstanding the great drawbacks of legislative deficiency, the trained forces, principally the regular army, showed that they could loyally and quickly go forward in carrying out their missions. The schooling and practice they had evolved from the pittance accorded by legislation proved to be invaluable. The scientific knowledge the regular had obtained had been gleaned by his own efforts and in spite of exterior hindrances. Although such labor could not bring into the officer's pockets an extra dollar or promote him to a higher grade, he forged ahead with only his interest in his profession p396 to stir him onward. The product of such unalloyed zeal told at San Juan and El Caney, the vital actions of the war. In addition to the fine character of the regular army, it must be remembered that regular officers to the number of 387 led volunteer units. It is acknowledged that the enemy was not as aggressive as might ordinarily have been expected. But the trained troops that beat their way over hot trails and through the jungle showered with a hail of Mauser bullets could not know that the Spaniard would retreat. At any rate, the battles were a great test of zeal and efficiency.
1898 When the treaty of peace was signed, in the making of which General Merritt played a large part in Paris, the war had lasted exactly 109 days. Even so, we had paid a price far in excess of necessity — and would have paid more, had it not been for the exertions of the regular in the dark days when he began his own renaissance.
1 General Sherman.
2 First Class:
Mahan's (Wheeler's) Field Fortifications.
Woolsey's International Law and Laws of War.
Ive's Military Law.
Operations of War (Hamley).
The Lessons of War as Taught by the Great Masters (Colonel France J. Soady).
Lectures by professors and essays prepared by students from general reading.
Practical instruction in surveying and reconnoitering by itineraries and field notes, as prescribed for the use of the army.
For the Second Class:
Correct reading aloud, with care and precision, with proper accent and pauses, to be heard and understood.
Writing, a plain hand easy to read, designed for the use of the party receiving, and not an exhibition of haste and negligence of the writer, especially the signature.
General Sketch of History (Freeman).
History of the United States (Seavey, Goodrich).
3 This weapon was largely used in the war with Spain.
4 Troops did not relish such police duty.
Authorized strength of the Army
|Infantry, 25 regiments||877||13,125|
|Cavalry, 10 regiments||432||6,170|
|Artillery, 5 regiments||280||4,025|
|General and staff officers||362|
6 The Sixth and Seventh.
7 The general officers of the regular army, just before the war, were Major Generals Miles (commanding the army), Merritt, and Brooke; Brigadiers General Otis, Coppinger, Shafter, Graham, Wade and Merriam; and the heads of the staff bureaus: Brigadiers General Greely (chief signal officer), Breckinridge (inspector general), Flagler (chief of ordnance), Sternberg (surgeon-general), Lieber (Judge-Advocate-General), Stanton (paymaster general), Wilson (chief of engineers), Ludington (quartermaster-general), Corbin (Adjutant-General), and Eagan (commissary general).
The following army corps were organized during the war:
Corps Organized during War
|First||Major General Brooke||Camp Thomas||58,548|
|Thirdº||Major General Wade|
|Secondº||Major General Graham||Camp Alger||23,511|
|Fourth||Major General Coppinger||Mobile||20,816|
|Fifth||Major General Shafter||Tampa||15,736|
|Sixth||Major General Wilson|
|Seventh||Major General Lee||
|Eighth||Major General Merritt||San Francisco and Manila||22,989|
The Sixth Corps was never organized; General Wilson was assigned to command a division of the First Corps.
8 During the war, camps were established for military purposes at Tampa, Fla.; Mobile, Ala.; Camp George H. Thomas, Ga.; Camp Alger, Va.; Camp Poland, Knoxville, Tenn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Miami, Fla.; Fernandina, Fla.; Camp Wikoff, N. Y.; Camp Hamilton, near Lexington, Ky.; Camp George G. Meade, Pa.; Camp Wheeler, Huntsville, Ala.; and Camp Shipp, Anniston, Ala.
Volunteer Army, May 30 to August 31, 1898
|Volunteer Army on May 30, 1898||6,224||118,580||124,804|
|Volunteer Army on June 30||7,169||153,355||160,524|
|Volunteer Army on July 31||8,633||203,461||212,094|
|Volunteer Army on August 31||8,785||207,244||216,029|
9 Kent's First, Lawton's Second and Wheeler's Cavalry Divisions.
10 All the cavalry acted as foot soldiers. There were few horses and it is doubtful if they could have been used in this campaign. The Rough Riders really became dogged walkers.
11 This inspector, afterwards a brigadier general in the regular army, before his death gave to the author the only copy of this report known to be in existence. The Secretary of War had ordered all the copies burned immediately after their printing, but the inspector saved one for himself.
a By "cars", the author must mean horse-drawn vehicles; before the invention of the automobile, they are what the word denoted. The Oxford English Dictionary quotes the Evening News (London), July 25, 1886: "I then untackled the horse from the car." By 1893, only about 25 internal-combustion automobiles had been sold: in Europe by the inventor of the automobile, Karl Benz.
b Major John H. Whittle, Major J. Hollis Wells, Major Frank Keck. (New York and the War with Spain, Albany, 1903), p182: that document, published by the State of New York, not unexpectedly having a very different version of the events.
c The naval battle under Admiral Sampson is told in full in Chapter 26 of A Short History of the United States Navy.
d According to the entry in Cullum's Register, he ranked at the time Lieutenant Colonel in the Regular Army and Brigadier General in the Volunteers; being made Major General only in 1916, well after his retirement.
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