The History of New York State
Book XI, Chapter 6, Part 3

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

After marching three miles along the road the New York regiment was ordered to turn into a thickly-bushed field behind the 6th, which had just arrived before. Field and staff discounted and had a brief conversation with General Hawkins and his staff, who ad clustered beneath a large coconut palm. But a few moments elapsed before orders were

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received to move on and the whole brigade took up its march. The regiment had scarcely proceeded two miles, having crossed one stream, where men had to wade in water more then ankle deep, before the sound of light artillery was heard ahead, and occasionally, as we could easily distinguish by the difference in sound, there would be a return fire of the enemy. Before long the New Yorkers rounded a little turn in the road, just before reaching El Poso Hill, where a light artillery battery had been stationed on the site of an old sugar mill, the firing of which had been previously heard. The 71st men learned later that Roosevelt's Rough Riders had also been on this hill and had not escaped without several losses in killed and wounded. The Spanish aim upon this gun was so accurate that it had to be moved, but was not shifted until very serious damage had been done.

Later and further along the road, when the Rough Rider's and other cavalrymen passed by the brigade which held the New York men, the New Yorkers cheered Colonel Roosevelt, then in command of the 1st Volunteer Cavalry. Just as the regiment reached the stream at the foot and east of El Poso Hill, there rushed back upon the 71st a stampede of Cubans with several men in litters, who had been wounded by shells aimed at the battery guns of El Poso and exploding over them in the road at its rear. One of the Cuban officers who could speak broken English protested vociferously against the injustice of sending Cuban troops before American troops into the fray.

Scarcely had the 71st entered the gulch, later described as the "Bloody Bend," when bullets and shell began to pour in thick and fast upon the men. Above went a balloon under the direction of Captain George McC. Derby, Engineer Corps, U. S. A. later riddled by shot it collapsed. The firing along the road was peculiar and constituted a feature of the San Juan engagement. Everybody had to go through it. Everyone therefore, of the regiment who started out from Sevilla that morning including colored servants, must have been under fire. the 71st was for at least an hour under continuous fire. The Spanish used smokeless powder., they knew the American forces would have to come by that road. their scouts and spies, or, if not these, the balloon told them where the American forces were. They put sharpshooters in the tall coconut palm trees along this portion of the road. they fired from their block-houses and entrenchments at the top of the hills, and besides volleys of musketry and single bullets of sharpshooters, there was frequently the bursting of shell over the heads of the New Yorkers and shrapnel flying in all directions.

Under these conditions there was, nevertheless, silence. The Americans could not see the smoke, or tell where the enemy were. Men fell dead or wounded on every side. Colonel Downs rode quietly at the head, followed by his staff, all mounted, and then followed the three battalions

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in regimental order. At last reaching a trail that turned into this road at the left, General Kent ordered colonel Downs to take the 71st along the trail and follow it to the ford of the stream and there rest. The regiment was led along this trail as far as it seemed possible without unnecessarily exposing them to the shower of bullets crossing an open space in the road, and there was halted. Other regiments, having received different orders, marched by, and some of the regular sneered at the 71st men and told them to go forward.

It was not the original plan of General Shafter to take San Juan Hill that day. The first intention was to enter Santiago by the El Caney Road. this was subsequently modified to suit changed conditions, rendered possible by the brilliant charge and occupation of San Juan Hill. Who were the first to get to the top of San Juan Hill, where was the block-house, and where were the entrenchments from which the Spaniards fled in retreat as soon as they saw the American troops advancing, it is not possible to say. The honor lies with the 13th, 6th, 16th, or 24th Infantry. But among those troops at arrive first upon the hill, where the enemy had been entrenched, were Company F, or a part of it, led by Captain Rafferty, who behaved in a quiet and gallant manner.

Company L, led by Captain Austin, who when asked by some superior officer at the top of the hill: "How did you come up here all by yourself?" answered: "I came as an advance guard of the 3d Battalion, sir," thus ingeniously avoiding the charge of bringing up his company without orders. The 3d Battalion, mostly intact, was led by Major Frank Keck; Company M, by Captain Goldsborough, and Company I, by Captain Meeks.

There is no doubt that the troops on that day became mixed. It was inevitable and due to the extraordinary character of the engagement. When companies leave battalions and battalions leave regiments and officers act independently of the commands of their superiors, confusion must result, through, as in this instance, success having crowned their efforts, there was nothing but praise for the courage that inspired them. Some of the 71st men went up with the regulars, some of the regulars went up with the main body of the 71st.

The following is Major Wells' report of the 1st and 2s Battalions in action on July 1, 1898:

After crossing the ford Companies M. H and a portion of F were formed in a line on the bank of the stream and were joined by companies A, D and G, of the 1st Battalion, and also by about fifty men of the 6th and 16th Infantry, Regulars--which latter regiments were supposed to have ascended the hill.

These companies were then organized into two battalions, M and H, with the two left squads of F, and the Regulars above-mentioned, forming the 2d, and A, G and D the 1st Battalion. These battalions were commanded by Captains Goldsborough and Linson, respectively, and, under my command, were marched in columns of fours to the foot of San Juan Hill, where the two battalions were formed in two lines, all by bugle call, the

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bugler being a man from one of the Regular regiments who had lost his command. I went tot he top of the hill and received orders from General Hawkins through his A. A. G., to send up at once one battalion, who were to be deployed on the firing line at the right of the block-house. Captain Goldsborough's battalion was designated for this purpose and at once deployed and were joined by Company F. Companies F and M were on the firing line with H held in support.

The losses of the two companies were most severe because of that portion of the hill the fire was the hottest, and these companies, advancing some distance over the brow of the hill, were most exposed. During this time the 1st Battalion, held till now in reserve, was brought to the hill and took position about fifty feet in the rear of the rest. After M and F had accomplished the purpose for which they were ordered forward, they retired just under the crest of the hill and were there joined by company I, which had ascended the hill some time before, gallantly led by Captain Meeks and Lieutenant Williams, when the battalion was then completed. The firing lasted until dark, when M and F were withdrawn form the crest and sent to the reserves, and companies A and G to take their places, while other companies were in support. At this juncture, or rather during the fiercest of the action, Adjutant Fisher was ordered to the rear by General Hawkins to draw fresh ammunition, and crossed the open fields bravely and creditably under a galling fire.

Since every important officer of the regiment in field and line has made his official report of this day's action, it is possible for anyone to know any detail by consulting these reports. Enough here that at the close of the first day's fight every man in the 71st Regiment felt that he had done his duty as he had clearly seen it, and that while some had opportunities denied to others for conspicuous gallantry, all from the humblest drummer, litter carrier and officer's valet up to the colonel himself, were under heavy fire, and where brave and hard work had equally to be done, the regiment was conspicuous for its fidelity to duty.

The wounded were carried to the rear, or marched there, from the beginning of the action, and for forty-eight hours the road for four miles back to division Hospital was filled with wounded men walking, or with litters conveying both wounded and dead. The result at the end of the first day's fight was in every way favorable to the American side. The Americans had captured the Spanish block-houses, forced the enemy out of their first line of entrenchments and had driven them back to Santiago. Had the 71st or the other unites been in possession of a larger force of artillery, they could have bombarded the city and taken it at once.

From a military standpoint the new York Volunteers and their companions had accomplished something like a miracle in driving troops from the strong entrenchments with infantry only. The lack of any artillery in this battle made it a good deal of a man to man fight. The fighting continued till sundown and the firing was intense and continuous. Then enemy's shells were fired five miles in the rear, making work at all the emergency hospitals dangerous and freedom from fire as far back as the Division Hospital exceedingly uncertain. At midnight on Saturday the enemy made his last daring attempt to destroy the American forces, suddenly pouring into the opposite trenches a terrific fusillade of musketry and firing shells in every direction.

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The American troops, not taken wholly by surprise, returned the fire with the heaviest musketry fire heard during the whole engagement. In this attack the enemy lost very heavily, some 3,000m it was reported, having been slain. The Springfield rifle, against the use of which the Regulars had reasonably complained, because of the black powder, which drew the fire of the enemy, could be fired safely at night. The 71st. utilized their muskets with disastrous effect on the enemy.

On Sunday morning orders having been given to Admiral Cervera by Captain-General Blanco to take his entire fleet out to sea, he endeavored to run the American blockade off Morro, at the mouth of Santiago Harbor, with the result of losing every vessel in his command, not a single one escaping destruction. They knew what was going on, though they were not prepared for the magnificent victory, particulars of which they afterwards heard.

As soon as they could the 71st obtained an official list of their dead and wounded, which, though not complete, was the best that could at that time be secured. Fourteen were killed in the 71st and sixty-seven wounded. Of the killed, there were several buried back of the trenches, several along the road from the front to the Division Headquarters and the others in trenches at the hospital. Privates Brown, Holland, Daly, and Ross, of Company M; Booth, of Company L; Decker, of Company I; Preger, of Company A, and Booth, of Company F, were buries near the front beyond the road that turns to the ford below San Juan Hill. Privates Skinner of Company B, and Scofield, of Company K, were buried by the side of the road at the edge of the stream running at the foot of El Poso Hill. Corporal's Inmen, of Company C, and Scheid, of Company F, were buried in the trenches at the Division Hospital, with many others, records of which were kept at the hospital.

Peace and Return to New York--Nothing but desultory firing, and mostly by our side, occurred from then until the 14th, the say of the surrender. During this time work of a serious nature was going on in both the division Hospital five miles from the front and in the General Hospital at Siboney, ten miles further back to ward the sea. On the night of July 1, and all night lone, lay 150 men, officers and soldiers, unsheltered in pools of their own blood, anxiously awaiting operations, in this condition they lay till noon of the following day, many of them for hours in a blistering sun.

The only change in the monotony was a detail of the 1st Battalion, under Major Whittle, and the 2d battalion, under Major Wells, to build bridges and improve the road. subsequently, Major Wells, having engineering experience, was put in charge of a detachment of Michigan troops, who, with some men of the New York Volunteers, did excellent

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work in cutting trees, clearing the chapparal and building bridges to withstand the freshets of the streams.

After the third of July, flags of truce were repeatedly raised by the enemy, and it was evident that negotiations were pending for a surrender. On July 6 Lieutenant Hobson and his famous crew were exchanged, notable generals on both sides meeting in the open before the trenches, bands playing the "Star Spangled Banner," Spanish prisoners of equal rank exchanged for ours, troops shouting all along five miles of entrenchments from San Juan to El Caney, making a scene forever memorable.

Until the 14th siege guns were being armed and put in position, troops from various States came by transports to Siboney and were sent to the front as reinforcements, and when flags of truce were not up, firing was indulged in, but mostly by our side. It was evident that General Shafter wish to avoid bombardment of the city for humanitarian reasons, through on the second of July it was not at all certain that we could hold our position, and the commanding general seriously considered a retreat; but by the fifth it was evident that victory was on the American side. Much to General Shafter's credit measures from this time were more merciful than drastic. Famine faced the enemy with every passing hour. It was only a question of time when they would have to surrender. The city could be taken at any time by bombardment, but not without a heavy loss in charging the American troops upon this secure entrenchments.

ON July 14, Santiago, worn out with starvation and siege, finally surrendered, relinquishing the entire eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, laying down their arms and stipulating merely that the Spanish Army be returned to Spain. The other terms of the surrender were settled by a council of six, three United States officers and three attachés from foreign governments to represent the side of Spain.

On July 20 the good news came to the New York Volunteers that Spain has sued for peace. On receiving the official notification the colonel shouted "Attention!" tot he 2d Battalion, encamped directly before him, and gave the news. A weak hurrah, that showed the depleted condition of the men, was heard. The 71st Regiment was at that time made up in the main of convalescents. General Shafter on August 4, received directions from the authorities in Washington to remove all troops to the United States as soon as transportation could be provided. On Monday, August 8, an order came for the 2d Battalion and two companies of the 3d Battalion, B and L. to leave camp that afternoon and march into Santiago, there taking transport for Montauk. As these troops arrived at Fort Pond Bay, within the hook of Montauk Point, on august 15, they learned that other detachments of the 71st, which had sailed later in two separate transports, had already arrived and had been transferred to detention camps.

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On Monday, August 22, detachments were moved to a permanent camp at the extreme right of Fort Pond Bay. There they found the rest of the regiment, which had not been obliged to undergo fumigation, and so avoided delay. Furloughs began to be liberally granted, and many men went home. On August 29 the march was made of such of the 71st as were able to return to New York to the station of the Long Island Railroad at Montauk, where after considerable delay a train was made up specially to convey the regiment to Long Island City. The ferry boat "Flushing" conveyed the regiment with their escorts tot he foot of Whitehall Street. along the route there was continual welcome from the shores, and crowds were visible everywhere giving a royal welcome. Traffic stooped as the ferry boat went under Brooklyn Bridge and thousands on the footpaths waved flags frantically. The progress up Whitehall Street and along Brooklyn was impeded by vast crowds everywhere. Cheering was incessant, but there were sobs among the cheering. The regiment has left a thousand strong, it paraded on its return less than 350 men, and of these there were not fifty who had not been seriously ill.

First Regiment, Infantry, New York Volunteers--Following orders received from Albany on April 27, 1898, directing Brigadier-General Robert Shaw Oliver, commanding officer of the 3d Brigade, N. G., to organize two regiments from this brigade, he formed on of these two regiments out of the 10th, 12th and 17th Battalions and the 44th Sep. Company of his Brigade, and designated it the "1st Regiment, National Guard, composed of organization of the 3d Brigade." The regiment thus organized consisted then of Companies A, B, C, and D, of the 10th Battalion, the 3d, 20th and 33d Separate Company of the 17th Battalion, and the 44th Separate Company. As it appeared that the 16th Separate Company would find it difficult to recruit the required number of men, it was relieved and replaced by the 15th Separate Company. The organizations were located at the time as follows: Companies A. B. C. and D, 10 Battalion at Albany, the 3d Separate Company at Oneida, the 5th Separate Company at Newburgh, the 14th Separate Company at Kingston, the 15th Separate Company at Poughkeepsie, the 20th Separate Company at Binghamton, the 24th Separate Company at Middletown, the 23d Separate Company at Walton, and the 44th Separate Company at Utica.

The regiment was mustered in the United States service and became, in accordance with General Orders No 11, A. G. O., S. N. Y., series 1898, the "1st Regiment, Infantry, New York Vols.," May 20th, 1898, and remained at Camp Black until June 11, 1898. On June 6, colors were presented to the regiment by Mr. Talbot Olyphant, representing the society of "The Sons of the Revolution," in presence of the command and

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a large number of citizens. Special orders, dated June 7th, assigned the regiment to the following stations: The colonel, headquarters and two companies to Fort Columbus, New York Harbor; the lieutenant-colonel, a major and five companies to Fort Hamilton, and major and five company to Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island. On July 7, the regiment left for San Francisco, arriving there on July 13, and proceeding to Camp Merritt. The regiment was assigned to the 1st Brigade, Independent Division, 8th Army Corps.

On August 5, Companies I, J. K. L. M and C left Camp Presidio, California, and boarded packet "Charles Nelson," bound for Honolulu, arriving there on the 14th, and establishing a temporary camp upon the grounds of the race track, Kaplolani Park, about five miles from Honolulu. Other companies arrived at intervals. Owing to the prevalence of fever the location of the camp changed. In November the regiment was ordered to return to San Francisco, and in December was mustered out of service. There were twenty-five deaths during service in the regiment, most of them due to typhoid fever.

Second Regiment, New York Volunteers--On May 2, 1898, the 13th, 14th and 15th Battalions of the 3d Brigade of the national guard of the State of New York, proceeded with such of their enlisted men as were willing to serve two years in the Volunteers Army of the United States, from their home station to Hempstead Plains, where a camp of mobilization was to be established. These battalions were formed into a regiment to be known as the 2d New York Volunteers, under command of Captain E. E. Hardin, of the 7th Untied States Infantry who was to receive a commission as Colonel of Volunteers. Major James H. Lloyd, of the 13th Battalion, was designated as lieutenant-colonel.

Colonel Hardin joined the regiment at Camp Black and assumed command on May 3, and mustering was begun. On May 18, the regiment started for Chickamauga, Georgia. The first and second sections arrived at Lytle, George, late in the evening of May 20, and the third section about 10:00 a.m., of the 21st. there the regiment was brigaded with the 3d Maryland and the 2d Nebraska, under command of Colonel Hardin, as the 2d Brigade, and attached to the 1st Division commanded by Colonel Frederick D. Grant, of the 14th New York Volunteer Infantry, and the 1st Army Corps, under Major-general James F. Wade. The regiment received orders on May 30 to proceed June 1 to Tampa, Florida. At Tampa the opened camp at Fort Brooke, an old army garrison Hillsborough Bay.

On July 6 notification was received from Corps Headquarters that transportation would be ready to move two battalions to Santiago. However, the battalions, though they got ready, did not go. Similar orders came again on July 12, but the regiment merely waited again. On July 20 the regiment was ordered to proceed to Fernandina, Florida, but

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nothing followed this order either. The trip to Fernandina was finally made at the end of July. On August 12 the regiment was ordered to Huntsville, Alabama, when transportation could be provided, and finally the regiment was relieved from duty and ordered to proceed to Troy, New York. At Troy, where the regiment arrived on august 27, it was given a cordial welcome. The thirty-two deaths in the regiment were divided as follows: The 1st Battalion lost fifteen; the 2d Battalion two; and the 3d Battalion, fifteen. Reports of the various commanding officers shoe that five officers and 373 men were seriously sick during service.

Third Regiment, Infantry, New York Volunteers--Following the requisition of the President upon the Governor of New York State for twelve regiments of infantry and two troops of cavalry, that being it quota, Brigadier-General Peter C. Doyle, commanding the 4th Brigade, National Guard, New York, was directed to organize from the separate companies of his brigade to be designated the 3d Regiment, Infantry, National Guard, New York.

The regiment was organized, and Brigadier-General Edward M. Hoffman, Inspector-General, S. N. Y., and Brigadier-General William M. Kirby, were detailed by the Governor to act as colonel and lieutenant-colonel. Twelve separate companies of the brigade constituted the regiment formed into three battalions, and Captain William Wilson, 34th Separate Company, and M. B. Butler, of the 42nd Separate Company, were nominated as majors. The several companies took up their quarters at Camp Black, Hempstead Plains, Long Island. On May 24 orders were received from the War Department for the regiment to move to Dunn Loring, Virginia, Camp Russell A. Alger. They arrived there on the 29th. There was the usual routine till July, when sickness became so rife it was determined to leave Camp Alger. Part of the corps were moved to Dunn Loring and others to Manassas, Virginia, the regiment going to this latter place. Then on august 29 the regiment proceeded in two sections via Washington to Camp Meade, at Middletown, Pennsylvania. Finally, the companies departed for their home stations, receiving demonstrations of welcome in each city.

Sixty-ninth Regiment, New York Volunteers--In response to a telegram from General Charles F. Roe, commanding the 5th Brigade, National Guard New York, requesting information as to the number of officers and men of the 69th Regiment who would volunteer for the Spanish War, colonel Edward Duffy reported that the 69th would volunteer as unit. The regiment at that time consisted of eight companies, numbering 31 officers and 529 enlisted men. On May 2 the regiment marched from its armory with full ranks and proceeded to Camp Black at Hempstead Plains, Long Island, New York. On May 16 the first list of recom-

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mended promotions while in the field were sent to Governor Black, bring intended to fill vacancies in the field and staff of the regiment. This list reads as follows:

First Lieutenant John J. Kennedy to be captain of Company E.
First Lieutenant John J. Ryan to be captain of Company E.
Second Lieutenant Ed. P. Gilgar to be first lieutenant and battalion adjutant.
Second Lieutenant John F. Bolger to be first lieutenant of Company E.
John P. Devane to be first lieutenant of Company M.
Sergeant-Major John P. Scanlon to be second lieutenant of Company E.
First Sergeant L. J. F. Rooney to be second lieutenant of Company M.

On May 19 the regiment was mustered into the service of the Untied States and after the ceremony the regiment was presented with a handsome stand of colors by "The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick." On May 20 the regiment received with enthusiasm the order to proceed to Chickamauga, and, when it moved through the streets on the 24th, received a great ovation from the public. It arrived at Chickamauga National Military Park on May 27 and was assigned camp site about two miles from Lyle Station on the southern Railroad. During the six days' stay at Chickamauga Park the regiment improved greatly, and it was there equipped with a wagon train, consisting of thirty wagons and 121 mules. While at Chickamauga the 69th was attached to the 2d Division, 3d Army Corps. On May 30 orders were received for the regiment to proceed to Tampa, Florida, and this it did on June 2. After arrival the 69th was merged with the 4th Army Corps, commanded by General John J. Coppinger. On June 18 the regiment was ordered to proceed to Jacksonville, Florida, and on the following Monday was ordered to be ready to embark onboard ship at Port Tampa. These orders were later cancelled. In July there was much sickness in the regiment, and it was ordered to the more salubrious camp at Fernandina, Florida. On August 12 the regiment received order to proceed to Huntsville, Alabama, and there go into camp. The regiment left on August 27, but near the town of Newcastle five cars left the rails and were dashed to pieces. It would found that Private peter Farley, company G, had been instantly killed, and that Sergeant Frank Glennon, Company G, was dying. In addition twenty-six other non-commissioned officers and privates and one civilian teamster were more or less injured. The injured men were sent back to Birmingham for treatment. On August 29 the regiment reached Huntsville, and was put into camp about a mile west of the town in a beautiful farming valley.

The regiment later served in the 2d Brigade, 1st division, 4th Corps. The division under the command of General Chaffee. Corps, Division and brigade were commanded by officers who achieved distinction in Cuba.

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There were seven deaths in the regiment during September and three during October.

Summarizing New York's part in the Spanish War, it is obvious that she had maintained her place among the States. A New Yorker--President glover Cleveland--in the first years of the Cuban insurrection, had made it clear to Spain that the United States would not tolerate atrocities such as Spanish generals were practicing in Cuba in 1895 and 1896; a new York diplomatist--General Woodford--handled a difficult situation in Madrid with marked ability; an energetic, resourceful new Yorker--Theodore Roosevelt--when the skies were darkening and it became evident that the brunt of the storm would be felt by the navy, took energetic original steps, to see that the naval arm of the Nation was efficient, especially, in gunnery--which indeed won the war; a New Yorker commanded the ill-fated "Maine," the sinking of which swept the nation into the war; a New Yorker--General nelson A. Miles--was commander-in-chief of the Untied States Army throughout the war period; men of the Empire State were with Dewey at Manila; a New York regiment was the first in the country to respond to the president's call for troops; a New Yorker--Admiral Sampson--commanded the Atlantic fleet; a New Yorker--General Wesley Merritt--commanded the Philippine Expeditionary Force; two New Yorkers--General Miles and Henry--Commanded the Porto Rico expedition; and out of the turmoil of the Spanish War, there emerged a New York citizen-soldier who was destined to take place as one of the greatest of American Presidents--Theodore Roosevelt, the Great American.

Authorities.

"New York and the War with Spain," published under the direction of the State Historian.

Alger, R. A., "The Spanish-American War."

"American-Spanish War--A History of the War Leaders." Introduced by General s. L. Woodford.

"Cuba's Fight for Freedom, and the War with Spain."

Bigelow, J., "Reminiscences of the Santiago Campaign."

Didapp, Juan Pedro, :Espana en la Guerra."

Harper's "Pictorial History of the War with Spain," Introduction by Major-General N. A. Miles.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

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