War with Spain - Charles Morris

Cuba in Insurrection

The end of the war of 1868-78 was followed by the exile, voluntary or involuntary, of a large number of Cubans, many of whom found new homes in the United States, others in the Spanish-American republics and non-Spanish West India Islands. Among these were Maximo Gomez, the brothers Antonio and Jose Maceo, and others of the prominent leaders in the rebellion. Despite the pacific terms of the capitulation, these men deemed it safest not to remain within reach of Spain, particularly after seeing how that country juggled with its promised reforms. The number of Cubans in the United States is said to have been forty thousand, while there were large numbers elsewhere, all inspired by active hostility to Spain.

The spirit of revolution was never permitted to die out in the hearts of these exiles. Revolutionary clubs or juntas were formed, until about one hundred and forty of these existed in North and South America and the West Indies. For several years before 1895 these clubs were busily engaged in collecting money, buying war supplies, and laying plans. Cuban workmen in the United States offered to give one-tenth of their earnings towards the fund. There were fire-arms on the island, concealed since 1878. Others were smuggled in. Every available step of preparation was made, and the revolutionists impatiently awaited a suitable opportunity to institute a new rebellion.

Maximo Gomez


The chief organizer of these movements was a Cuban named Josť Marti, then in New York. Born in Cuba, he had studied at Seville, graduated at Madrid, and become a political convict at Havana, finally finding a refuge in the United States. Taking advantage of the business depression of 1894 in Cuba and the lack of employment on the sugar estates, hundreds of men being idle through the closing of the mills, Marti fixed the date of February 24, 1895, for the outbreak of the proposed rebellion, and notified the clubs in Cuba of his plan. He promised to bring them aid from outside, and for this purpose chartered three vessels, the Lagonda, the Amadis, and the Baracoa, which were loaded with war-material. This expedition failed, being stopped by the United States authorities at Fernandina, Florida. About the end of January, 1895, Marti made his way to San Domingo, where he entered into communication with the old soldier Maximo Gomez, who had taken a leading part in the previous war, and was now over seventy years of age. Consultations were also held with the Maceos, then in Costa Rica, and with other leaders of the late rebellion.

On the appointed day, February 24, 1895, the citizens of Havana were startled by the report that the public order had been disturbed,—a band of rebels, twenty-four in number, having appeared in arms at Ybarra, in the province of Matanzas. Other small bands defied the authorities in other sections of the island. Yet the affair at first seemed no more serious than a negro riot, and very unlikely to make way against the twenty thousand Spanish troops in the island and the sixty thousand Volunteers enrolled. Governor General Calleja hastened to declare martial law in the provinces affected, and the outbreaks in Matanzas and Santa Clara were soon put down. This was not the case in the province of Santiago de Cuba, a thinly-settled, mountainous, and densely-wooded district, admirably adapted for the guerrilla warfare which the insurgents proposed to wage.

Galixto Garcia


The plans of the conspirators in this province included wide-spread conflagrations and the extermination of the Spanish officials and soldiery, including the resident governor. Though these sanguinary plans were not carried out, the activity of the rebels in arms soon convinced the authorities that the affair was more serious than they had supposed, and early in March seven thousand troops were sent over from Spain to reinforce those in the island, of whom less than half were effective. Of the thirteen gunboats on patrol duty along the coast, no more than seven were in condition for use. The commissary arrangements were so bad as seriously to hamper the movements of the troops, and for a time the insurgents had it largely their own way, raiding and plundering the plantations of loyalists, and vanishing into the woods and mountains on the appearance of the troops. Many of the plantation hands joined them, and their numbers rapidly increased until there were several thousand men in arms.

They were as yet, however, without experienced leaders; but early in April, Antonio Maceo, with his brother and twenty-two others of the exiles who had taken part in the former war, arrived from Costa Rica, landing near Baracoa, not far from the eastern extremity of the island. Their progress inward proved a dangerous one. Intercepted by a party of Spanish cavalry, they bad a brisk fight, Maceo finally getting away with a bullet-hole through his bat. For ten days the party made its way through the country, now seeking places of concealment, now forced to fight, and trusting to the wild fruits of the woodland for food. So alert were the Spanish patrols that in the end Maceo was left with only two or three of his original companions. With these he fell in with a band of rebels, by whom he was enthusiastically received.

Antonio Maceo


Maceo, an educated mulatto, had gained a high reputation for daring and ability during the former conflict, his influence being great with the negro contingent of the rebellion. He was the only one of the leaders who had refused to concur in the capitulation of Zanjon, continuing in arms for two months, and finally leaving the country without signing the treaty of peace. He now put himself at the head of the insurgents in the district he bad reached, and in several sharp brushes with the Spanish, in which he more than held his own, he proved that the rebellion had at length gained an able leader.

Shortly afterwards Jose Marti, the acknowledged head of the insurrection, reached Cuba from San Domingo, Maximo Gomez and several others coming with him. They landed on the southern coast, in a district filled with the pickets and patrols of the enemy, and for two days they were in great danger, hiding in caves on the coast. On the evening of the third day, with five followers, they reached a camp of the rebel army, where they were received with an enthusiasm equal to that which bad greeted Maceo.

The arrival of these experienced leaders inspirited the Cuban patriots, many of whom now joined the ranks, until the patriot army numbered more than six thousand men and bolder operations became possible. It was arranged that Marti should return to the United States and seek further aid for the revolutionists, leaving the command in the able hands of Gomez, who was to advance to his old battle-ground of Camaguey, the Cuban name for the province of Puerto Principe, while Maceo and the others remained in Santiago de Cuba to recruit their forces.

Marti accompanied Gomez some distance on his way. and on seeking to return was met by a body of troops. before whose fire he fell dead. Gomez, who came to his aid, was slightly wounded, and was borne by his men from the field The corpse of Marti was embalmed by the Spaniards and taken to the city of Santiago de Cuba, where it was given honorable burial. Thus early in the war perished the fomenter and organizer of the insurrection. for which he, with his associates is said to have collected a fund of more than a million dollars.

The rapid growth of the insurrection soon satisfied the Spanish authorities in the home government that Calleja was not the man for the situation and Premier Canovas had him removed, appointing in his place Martinez Campos, who had the prestige of having put an end to the previous war, and was looked upon as the ablest general of Spain. He reached the island about the middle of April, landing at the port of Guantanamo with reinforcements numbering twenty-five thousand men.

[Illustration] from The War with Spain by Charles Morris


Great hopes were entertained by the Spanish party that the new governor-general would quickly end the war. He took hold of affairs with energy, while at the same time he sought to conciliate the people, giving employment to the laboring population on the roads, and otherwise trying to alleviate the prevailing distress. His standard of action, however, was above that of his agents, and things soon went wrong. As for the revolutionists, they quickly made it apparent that they were not to be disarmed by a show of leniency, and their numbers increased until over ten thousand were in the field, perhaps three-fourths of them armed with rifles, though cartridges were not abundant.

The war went on in the fashion of 1868. There was no such thing as a battle, though skirmishes were of almost daily occurrence. In most of these affairs the Spaniards largely outnumbered their opponents, and were far superior to them in equipments. The insurgents, therefore, fought principally from ambush, being little affected in their consciences by the constant reproach of the Spaniards that they would not stay still long enough to be killed. They were past-masters in the act of vanishing, and were so thoroughly familiar with all the by-paths and mountain fastnesses of the island that pursuit was usually idle. It was their purpose to wear out and worry out their foes, and in this they showed excellent skill.

It may be said here that the strength of the insurgents lay largely in their horses. They were admirable horsemen, riding like Cossacks or cowboys, and far superior in this respect to the Spanish cavalry, few of whom were trained to the saddle. Many stories are told of women who rode in their ranks and wielded the machete even more fiercely than the men, and there is little doubt that these stories have some foundation in truth. The favorite mode of fighting by the insurgents was to harass the Spanish troops with a skirmish fire, in which they sought to pick off the officers by sharpshooting; then, if the opportunity presented, they would dash forward in a wild cavalry charge, machete in hand, and seek to make havoc in the ranks of the foe. The Maceos excelled in this mode of fighting.

As regards the character of their horses, we are told by a newspaper correspondent who visited one of their camps: "Horses are tethered about everywhere, and stand unsheltered, rain or shine. They are fed on rushes, or colla, for no other grain is to be had, and a sore-backed, sorry lot they are, though tough and tireless as our own bronchos."

A further extract may fitly be made from the picturesque account given by this writer, Mr. Grover Flint, correspondent of the New York Journal. He says:

"CAMP SABANAS, near Sagua, April 1, 1896.

"This is a real insurgent camp. About me, as I write, are standing its swarthy guards, with the silver star on their hat-rims and rifles in their hands. It is a permanent camp, with a little hospital Dr. Francisco Domingues, of Havana, is stationed here as a special agent of General Maximo Gomez, not only to attend to the wounded. but to forward despatches to the chiefs of insurgent divisions throughout the Matanzas province.

"The camp lies in a forest among the foot-hills that rise from either side of the valley, reaching from the coast to the interior of the island. High mountains and swamps, green with rushes and cane, protect it on all sides but one. On this side a narrow trail zigzags for a league in the woods, barely missing morasses and pitfalls. Twenty well-armed men could hold that trail against a regiment. The camp itself is tropical and picturesque. It is a plateau, thickly overgrown with stunted trees and towering palms, reached by little paths cut with the machete.

"The insurgents live in small huts or wikyups, —'jackals' they call them here, —built of boughs and saplings and thatched with palm-leaves. Rebels against Spain must sleep in hammocks, for the ground sweats in the Cuban jungle, and white men cannot sleep on it and live. At night strange birds sing, queer animals, like overgrown rats, look at you from the trees, and great land-crabs scurry into their holes at your approach. . . .

"The camp-guard consists of fifty men, exclusive of negro camp-servants, armed only with machetes. . . . Guards and patrols watch the trail leading from the valley, and no one is allowed to leave without a pass from the commander. Squads of men ride through the country at night in search of the 'plateados,' those bloodthirsty robbers who were the terror of the country early in the war, but who have been almost suppressed by the insurgents. When the plateado is caught, he is brought into camp and hanged to the nearest tree.

"It is odd to find soldiers with camp-servants to fetch water, cut wood, and perform the acts of personal service; but the men are active and quick to take the saddle on sudden alarm, as I have seen on several occasions since my arrival. For simplicity, the life is like that of Marion's men in our American Revolution. No coffee, no bread; heated sugar and water at daybreak, sweet potatoes and stewed beef at noon, and stewed beef and sweet potatoes at night. Beans and rice are luxuries. Sugar-cane, sweet and nutritious, does for bread. We eat with our fingers and knives down here, with bits of palm-bark for plates. Food is plentiful or scarce according to the country and to circumstances. That there is no 66 scarcity now is proof that the sympathy of the native population is with the insurrection. No man is so poor that he cannot cheerfully give food for the army. This proves, also, the truth of the saying here that the Spaniard owns only the ground he stands on. The news of every movement of the Spaniards is quickly reported."

The death of Marti left Gomez at the head of the insurrectionary movement. But the old rebel leader did not find himself in comfortable surroundings. After the death of Marti, he wrote despondently: "From that moment my position became considerably worse. I was without health, without troops, without arms." Though determined on the invasion of Camaguey, he made the movement" sick not only in body, but in soul as well." He had abundant reason for depression. "The people of Caniaguey," he was informed, "wanted no war." To rid themselves of their unwelcome visitor, they offered to find him the means to leave the country; and proposed to make him re-embark by force if he would not do so of good will.

A still more dangerous phase of the situation was the attitude assumed by his men, who did not relish being led out of their province into new and strange districts. One morning his escort drew up their horses to a halt, declaring that they would go no farther, and demanding to be led back to their native province.

"It cost me trouble to reduce them to obedience," writes Gomez. "Three days later," he continues, "a traitor presented himself to the enemy and informed him of my situation, and again my escort insisted upon their proposition not to follow me. In vain their own officer in command interposed his authority; the soldiers refused to obey. Then, indignant, I rebuked them severely, calling them disloyal and bad companions. 'Return to the East,' said I to them. 'I alone will go to Camaguey'."

General Borrero addressed them still more indignantly . "General Gomez is a foreigner," he said, "who has come to help us in this holy war, and you wish to abandon him while sick and pursued by the enemy. If that is the way you act, then the whole world can say with reason that you are cowards."

This and more of the same kind of argument finally induced the soldiers to go on; but Gomez was "troubled with the most terrible doubts." His hopes revived on learning that Campos had "urged that his march should be stopped at all hazards," for, if he entered Camaguey, Spain might consider her cause lost.

The period spoken of was that of the greatest depression in the old soldier's career. His invasion of Camaguey proved highly successful, the Spaniards being beaten at every point, while abundant spoil fell into the hands of the patriots, and they had every reason for encouragement.

Gomez now developed his plan of campaign. The patriot bands were given the following general orders: They were, first, to attack the small posts held by the Spaniards, making every effort to obtain arms, and setting free every prisoner who would deliver his weapons; second, they were to cut all railway and telegraph lines; third, they were to keep on the defensive, and to retreat in small groups unless they had the advantage; fourth, all forts or buildings from which any resistance was made were to be destroyed; fifth, all crops of sugar-cane and all sugar-mills were to be destroyed unless their owners contributed to the Cuban war-fund; sixth, the farmers were forbidden to send any food to the cities without paying taxes on the same to the insurgents.

Campos took steps to counteract the insurgent plan by ordering the division of certain regiments into detachments to protect the sugar-estates, while other detachments were stationed along the railroads and placed on every moving train. He further ordered an attack to be made on every band of rebels encountered that did not more than three times outnumber the troops, directing his officers to set free all who surrendered, and to provide convoys for food sent to the towns.

The war in 1895 was one of skirmishes innumerable, only a single affair reaching the dignity of a battle. This was of interest from the fact that Maceo and Campos were the opposing leaders. Maceo had greatly annoyed his foes by attacks on train-loads of supplies for the fortified town of Bayamo, in the district of Santiago de Cuba, and it was deemed necessary to drive him from the field. Several Spanish columns were put in movement against him from different quarters. Campos led one of these, a force of fifteen hundred men, from Manzanillo, and on July 13 came upon the foe, about two thousand seven hundred strong, well posted on a stock-farm several miles from Bayamo. The plan of Maceo was to attack the centre division, under Campos, but by an error the assault was made on the advance guard, led by General Santoci1des, upon which fell a sharp fire from the wooded hill-sides. Santoci1des fell dead, and a rebel bullet tore the heel from the boot of the governor-general.

The confusion in the Spanish ranks, due to the fall of Santocildes, convinced Maceo that they had lost some important officer, and he at once made a vigorous machete charge, hoping to win a decisive victory. He was repulsed But Campos, finding the situation critical, felt obliged to draw up his whole force into a hollow square, using as breastworks the wagons and the dead horses and mules. For several hours the Cubans raged around this strong formation, the Spaniards being saved from a disastrous rout only by the presence and the generalship of Campos. An assault had been made on the rear-guard early in the affray, Maceo hoping to capture the ammunition-train. But these troops defended themselves vigorously and fought their way to the main body, where they aided in the formation of the square. The Spaniards finally succeeded in reaching Bayamo, having suffered heavily in the fight and been pursued to the environs of the town. Maceo's lack of artillery saved them from total destruction, and Campos did not venture to leave his place of refuge until he had gathered around him a powerful force.

The advance of Gomez into Camaguey brought him into communication with the venerable Salvador Cisneros, who had discarded his title of Marquis de Santa Lucia to accept the presidency of the Cuban republic during the former insurrection, and was as ardent a revolutionist as ever. Marti had, upon landing in Cuba, issued a call for a constitutional convention, in consequence of which Cisneros and other Cuban-leaders had come together, twenty representatives being sent from the provinces and twenty from the army. The convention met on September 13, 1895, adopted a constitution on the 16th, and on the 18th elected the following executive officers:

PRESIDENT, Salvador Cisneros Betancourt.
VICE-PRESIDENT, Bartolome Maso.
SECRETARY OF STATE, Rafael Portuondo.
SECRETARY OF WAR, Carlos Roloff.

Cuba was divided by this constitution into five states. Laws were passed regulating various government affairs, establishing post-offices, providing for the collection of taxes, etc., the whole forming a fairly complete government on paper, though one few of whose functions could be exercised. The tradition is that the seat of government was fixed at Cubitas, a mythical station on a mountain-top, approachable only by a spiral track, which a corporal's guard could defend against an army. But this stronghold probably existed only in imagination, and the government seems to have been a perambulatory one, though having its head-quarters in the Cubitas mountain district.

At the end of the constitutional two years' term of office, in October, 1897, a new government was elected, Bartolome Maso being now chosen President, Dr. Domingo M. Capote Vice-President, and Josť B. Aleman Secretary of War. Various other departmental officers were chosen, General Gomez was reappointed Commander- in-Chief, and Calixto Garcia was appointed Lieutenant-General.

In November, 1895, Maceo left Santiago de Cuba to join Gomez, who had made his way westward into the province of Santa Clara, where, on November 19 and 20, he fought a severe battle at Taguasco, in which he gained a decided advantage over General Valdez and his men. The much-vaunted trocha lay in Maceo's way, but he made short work of it. He simulated an attack on this line of defence, and, as soon as the Spaniards were concentrated upon the threatened point, he crossed an unprotected part of the line without firing a shot or losing a man.

Campos had concentrated twenty-five thousand troops in Santa Clara, but these failed to keep back the insurgents, who shrewdly availed themselves of their old guerrilla tactics, advancing in small columns, which held the enemy in check by pretended attacks, while the main body slipped onward with its pack-trains. In this way the provinces of Santa Clara and Matanzas were successfully crossed and that of Havana entered, the war being by this daring movement brought nearly to the gates of the capital. Gomez had succeeded in obtaining a few pieces of artillery, and the insurgent army no longer felt obliged to lurk in the woods and the long grass.

During the year 1895 the Spanish government had sent more than one hundred thousand troops across the ocean, to which the Volunteers added a strong contingent available for garrison duty. But there had been heavy losses through disease and combat, and the hospitals were full of the sick. It is impossible to say how many rebels were in the field. They have been variously estimated at from thirty thousand to fifty thousand, but may have been considerably less in number. This is certain, the present war was a far more serious affair than the former one, while the methods adopted by the Cuban leaders were more destructive of the Spanish strength and less easy to overcome. As the year progressed towards its end, the orders of Gomez were more fully carried out. Trains were wrecked and bridges blown up with dynamite, tracks were tom up and telegraph lines cut, contributions were forced from the planters to secure their crops from the torch, and taxes were collected upon food-supplies sent to the cities.

Fighting went on almost daily, but it was of the old kind. The insurgents would not fight unless they had the advantage in number or position. Every foot of ground was known to them, while nearly the whole population served them as spies. All the negroes and most of the whites were their friends, and they had timely warning of every movement of their foes. The Spanish outposts and columns were perpetually exposed to sudden and sharp assaults, the Cuban soldiers making off before an effective blow could be dealt them in return.

By the end of the year the Cuban forces were firmly established in Havana province, where they gained reinforcements from the negro field-hands and Cuban youths. The bandits, of whom a considerable number had arisen, taking toll from both parties alike, were hanged by the insurgents wherever captured. The fighting was principally done by Maceo, Gomez occupying himself in the more effective work of depriving Spain of the sinews of war by burning cane-fields and destroying railroads. In January, 1896, a still further advance was made, Maceo leading his men into Pinar del Rio, the most westerly province of Cuba, into which insurrection had never before made its way. Thus within a year the Cuban revolution had spread from end to end of the island, the Spanish being left in possession only of the cities, while all the country was in insurgent hands or in a state of turmoil and insecurity. Gomez marched where he would and burned the crops of planters who sought to grind their cane, until the sky around the capital was filled with smoke by day and lurid at night with the flames of blazing fields.

The campaign of Campos had proved an utter failure. But, despite the severe criticism to which he was exposed, he refused to depart from his humane policy and make war upon non-combatants. In consequence, the demand for his recall and replacement by a man who would conduct the war with less regard to the feelings of the people grew urgent, and at length was responded to. He was ordered home, and sailed for Spain January 17, 1896, leaving General Sabis Marin in temporary authority until his successor should arrive.

We may somewhat briefly conclude our record of the events of the war before describing more particularly the system upon which it was conducted and the peculiarly Spanish method of dealing with a colonial revolution. The new governor-general, General Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau, Marquis of Tenerife, to give him his full title, reached Havana February 10, 1896, greatly to the satisfaction of the ultra-Spanish party, who now looked to see vigorous methods introduced and the island quickly swept clear of the scum of rebellion which had swept over it from end to end. They were destined to disappointment. The Weyler trumpet was blown very loudly, but its noise proved only empty air.

General Weyler had won the deep hatred of the Cubans by the atrocious deeds which he was said to have committed in Camaguey during the former war. In his military career during the disturbances in Spain and in the African war against the Moors he was a favorite lieutenant of the brutal chief Valmaseda, under whom he gained a reputation for barbarous cruelty. His fame in this direction preceded him to Cuba, and his career there fully sustained his reputation, the cruelty exercised towards the helpless non-combatants having rarely been surpassed in the history of war.

Vakeruabi Weyler


At present, however, we propose to deal only with warlike events, leaving methods to be considered later. Governor-General Weyler began by promising to clear the provinces near Havana of rebels in arms and let peaceful industry take its course. He was not long in discovering that he bad a bold and active enemy to deal with. Hardly had he entered upon his office when Maceo returned from Pinar del Rio and swooped down on the city of Jaruco, which he looted and burned. Gomez joined him, and the two resumed their former course, burning cane, exacting tribute, and otherwise disturbing the enemy. The Cuban leaders had announced in December, 1895, their purpose to stop production and commerce, and thus deprive the Spanish government of the revenues of the island. In carrying out this policy Gomez had made his march through the rich sugar districts, destroying as he went and leaving ashes and desolation behind him. Maceo had wreaked similar ruin in the wealthy tobacco districts of Pinar del Rio, burning and destroying and forcing the helpless laborers either to join his ranks or seek subsistence in the cities. The work of "concentration" was thus began by the insurgents themselves.

Weyler's warlike energy proved to be more show than substance. He sent his infantry to pursue the cane-burning insurgents, but beyond the murder of non-combatants little was accomplished. He sent troops into Pinar del Rio, where they met no great opposition, and the world was informed that this province was pacified. Yet his proclamation had hardly been made before Maceo was back there again. On March 13, 1896, the dashing mulatto leader had entered and burnt the port of Batabano, on the southern coast, and before Weyler's troops could reach him he was in the "pacified" province. Here he made his head-quarters in the mountains and bade defiance to all the power of Spain.

Now was the time for Weyler to show his military skill, but in this he signally failed. Instead of pursuing his defiant foe persistently with cavalry and using bodies of infantry to occupy the country and cut off his retreat, he wasted his strength in the old exercise of troche-building, extending a defensive line across the island from Mariel to Majana, a work which it took two months to construct and fifteen thousand soldiers to guard, a force sufficient, one would think, to have cleared the province of insurgents.

Meanwhile, Maceo held the province almost unopposed. By May 1 only four fortified cities were left to Spain in its southern part, and these were crowded with refugees. Weyler refused to do anything to aid these unfortunates, and the operating columns which he sent into the province were defeated in almost every engagement. Gomez meanwhile withdrew his forces to Camaguey, where, with five hundred followers, he met and defeated General Castillanos with two thousand troops. Two hundred men were killed and wounded on the side of the Spaniards, while the insurgents had but ten killed in this affair.

Though Maceo showed a humane disposition, Bermudez, one of his lieutenants, an ex-bandit, established a reign of terror in the district controlled by him, murdering men on the slightest pretext, and forcing the inhabitants to seek refuge in the fortified places until the country was practically depopulated. The autumn campaign was opened by Weyler in person, he marching into Pinar del Rio at the head of thirty thousand men, with the determination of starving or driving out the foe. While he did not succeed in this purpose, the province, through the double destruction achieved by the Cubans and the Spanish, was rendered incapable of supporting a large force, and Maceo's negro followers dwindled away. In consequence, leaving his slender following under Rius Rivera, the daring leader passed in a boat around Weyler' s trocha into Havana province, having sent orders in advance for a concentration of the Cuban forces in this at Matanzas province. While waiting for these forces, on December 4, 1896, he, with his few followers, was fired on by soldiers in ambus, and fell, mortally wounded. Dr. Zertucha, of his staff, is charged with having treacherously led him into this ambuscade, though this is far from certain. Thus perished the most daring warrior of the Cuban conflict. His eight brothers had all died before him in the struggle for Cuban freedom. His body was recovered from the enemy after a desperate fight; his valiant soul was lost to the cause.

The death of Maceo and the capture of Rivera, which soon after took place, practically put an end to military operations in Pinar del Rio, and on January 11, 1897, Weyler proclaimed that the three western provinces were pacified and the rebellion confined to the eastern section of the island.: Gomez had withdrawn into Camaguey, where he held his own, the members of the Cuban government being with him: After announcing that the provinces were "pacified," Weyler set out to pacify them. Pinar del Rio was actively patrolled by his troops, and he entered upon a campaign through Matanzas. Here he met with no insurgents in arms, but treated the country-people as rebels, ruthless devastation marking his line of march. The decree of concentration which he had issued was vigorously enforced, the country-people being driven into the towns, their dwellings burned, and everything destroyed that could in any way aid or shelter the insurgents. All those against whom the shadow of suspicion rested were killed on the spot and set down as rebels slain in battle in the absurd bulletins which Weyler constantly issued. Eventually, disturbed by the protests in the United States against his barbarity, he issued an order that no sentence of death should be carried out without his signature. But this did not put an end to the bulletins of battles in which a Spaniard or two were wounded and ten or more rebels killed, and which at once excited the derision of the world and the indignation of those who believed that these so-called engagements were really massacres of unarmed "pacificos." Weyler was rapidly earning contempt by his rodomontade and hatred by his cruelty.

The Spanish army reached the city of Santa Cara in February, 1897. Here, finding no large body of insurgents to oppose his progress, Weyler sent out columns of infantry to burn and destroy, afterwards crossing the province back an4 forth to see if his orders had been well obeyed. By the end of the month his troops had reached the fertile valleys of the mountains between Santa Clara and Trinidad, a region in which the Cubans had large supplies. Their system of government embraced a prefectura, it being the duty of the prefect in each district to claim control of all supplies, using them for the troops as needed and paying the owners in receipts for the goods taken. This system had been well organized in the district mentioned, and the troops found here herds of cattle, which they drove away; coffee- and potato-plants, which they destroyed; and hospitals, which they burned. Non-combatants were forced to' take to the woods. If captured, they were killed or taken with the women and children to fortified towns, there to suffer the slower death of starvation.

Gomez, meanwhile, was playing a waiting game, knowing that the fury of Weyler's assault would soon subside. He had no commissary department, and his men were divided up into small bands, coming and going much as they pleased, planting and gathering their rapidly growing crops, and simply keeping within call that they might concentrate in the main camps if any movement in force should be undertaken. During their longer marches, they had to trust to their chance of living off the country. The two eastern provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Puerto Principe continued in their bands throughout the war. The only district held by the Spaniards in Santiago province was that of Bayamo, and this was retained only at severe cost in lives and strenuous effort. The cutting of the railroad to the' north more than once reduced the garrison of Bayamo to the verge of starvation, while the supplies which it obtained by boat up the Rio Cauto were interfered with by the insurgents, who in January, 1897, blew up a Spanish gunboat in that river with a torpedo operated by means of an electric wire from the bordering woods. It was the effort to hold this town that led to the battle between Maceo and Campos, already described.

The principal demonstrations of the insurgents during 1897 were made by the forces under General Calixto Garcia, like Gomez a veteran of the ten-years' war, and now second in command. He had reached Cuba from the United States in the spring of 1897. The only military operation of the year on the part of the insurgents that calls for particular attention was the capture by Garcia of the strongly fortified post of Victoria de las Tunas, northwest of Bayamo, September 30. The siege of this place continued for three days, during which the Spanish commander was slain and forty percent of the garrison were killed or wounded, the remainder surrendering. Garcia's success must be attributed to his possession of artillery, he having two heavy and six rapid-fire guns, which were handled by American artillery-men. One of the latter estimated the spoils of the victory to be "twenty-one forts, over a thousand rifles, a million rounds of ammunition, and two Krupp cannon." The post had been declared impregnable by Weyler, and its fall exposed him to severe criticism in Madrid.

In truth, Weyler had been losing ground with the home government throughout the year. The indignation roused in the United States by his cruelty had produced a feeling of uneasiness in Spain, whose people seemed far more affected by this protest than by the cruelty itself. And it was growing evident that Weyler's severity was little more effective than Campos's clemency. The rebels continued unsubdued, the high-sounding war-bulletins were being derided in foreign newspapers as transparent fictions and there was imminent danger that the era of Weylerism might provoke armed intervention from the United States.

Canovas, the prime minister who had appointed Weyler, continued to sustain him, but the Liberal party in Spain was gaining power at the expense of the Conservatives, and on August 6, 1897, the assassination of Canovas by an Anarchist left Weyler without support in the administration. After a brief interval the Liberals came into power on October 4, under their leader Sagasta, one of whose first acts was to order Weyler home. The chief reason offered for this step was the deplorable condition of the sick and wounded soldiers arriving from Cuba. In fact, the principal losses to Spain during the war in Cuba had been from disease, the field operations being largely a series of inconsequential skirmishes with little loss to either side.

Weyler's successor was General Ramon Blanco, late governor-general of the Philippine Islands, and man of very different character from his predecessor. He reached Havana October 31, 1897, and at once attempted to put into effect the milder policy which had been decided upon at Madrid. He had announced, "My policy will never include concentration. I fight the enemy, not women and children. One of the first things I shall do will be to greatly extend the zones of cultivation, and allow the reconcentrados  to go out of the towns and till the soil."

But it was easier to promise than to perform. The starving reconcentrados were in no condition to wait until nature should return food in exchange for their labor. The amnesty proclamation issued by Blanco was unheeded by the insurgents. They had lost all faith in Spanish clemency, and did not propose to lay down their arms. The autonomous administration which he sought to establish was a similar failure. The insurgents would have no autonomy. "Independence or death" was their sole demand. Gomez issued a warning that any person coming to his camps with offers of autonomy should be shot as a spy; and this severe order was carried out in the case of Lieutenant-Colonel Ruiz, who sought the camp of General Aranguren and persisted in offering autonomy to the men after being warned of the consequences. Aranguren, although his personal friend, ordered him to execution. That decisive event put an end to the scheme of home rule under a Spanish governor-general.

With the offers of amnesty and home government was mingled an attempt to bribe the Cuban leaders to desert their men. This met with a still less favorable reception, and several of those who sought to tempt the leaders to dishonor were dealt with as Ruiz had been.

Meanwhile the war had fallen back into its old condition of outpost skirmishes and indecisive conflicts, and to all appearance the task of putting down the insurrection was no more advanced than in the spring of 1895, though Spain had sent two hundred thousand soldiers to Cuba and had almost fallen into bankruptcy through her futile efforts. Thus events drifted on into the year 1898.