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and with, as I observed and was informed was always the case, a pilot engine a mile or so in advance. There are frequent block-houses inclosed by a trocha, and with a guard along the railroad track. With this exception there is no human life or habitation between these fortified towns and villages and throughout. the whole of the four western provinces, except to a very limited extent among the hills, where the Spaniards have not been able to go and drive the people to the towns and burn their dwellings. I saw no house or hut in the four hundred miles of railroad rides from Pinar del Rio province in the west, across the full width of Havana and Matanzas provinces, and to Sagua la Grande on the north shore, and to Cienfuegos on the south shore of Santa Clara, except within the Spanish trochas. There are no domestic animals or crops on the rich fields and pastures, except such as are under guard in the
WATER BUFFALOES. immediate vicinity of the towns. In other
words, the Spaniards hold in these four western provinces just what
their army sits on. Every man, woman, and child, and every domestic animal, wherever their columns have reached, is under guard within their so-called fortifications. To describe one place is to describe all. To repeat, it is neither peace nor war. It is concentration and desolation. This is the 'pacified' condition of the four western provinces.
"All the country people in the four western provinces, about 400,000 in number, remaining outside the fortified towns where Weyler's order was made, were driven into these towns, and these are the reconcentrados. They were the peasantry (many of them farmers) some land owners, others renting lands and owning more or less stock, others working on estates and cultivating small patches—and even a small patch in that fruitful clime will support a family. It is but fair to say that the normal condition of these people was very different from what prevails in this country. Their standard of comfort and prosperity was not high, measured by our own. But according to their standards and requirements their conditions of life were satisfactory. They live mostly in cabins made of palm, or wooden houses. Some of them had houses of stone, the blackened walls of which are all that remain to show that the country was ever inhabited. The first clause of Weyler's order reads as follows:
“ I order and command: First, all the inhabitants of a country (district) outside of the line of fortifications of the towns shall, within the period of eight days, concentrate themselves in the towns occupied by the troops. Any individual who, after the expiration of this period, is found in the uninhabited parts will be considered a rebel and tried as such.'
“The other three sections forbid the transportation of provisions from one town to another without the permission of the military authority; direct the
owners of cattle to bring them into the towns; prescribe that eight days shall be counted from the publication of the proclamation in the head town of the municipal districts, and state that if news is furnished of the enemy which can be made use of it will serve as a recommendation.'
“Many doubtless did not learn of this order. Others failed to grasp its terrible meaning. It was left largely to the guerrillas to drive in all who did not obey, and I was informed that in many cases a torch was applied to their homes with no notice, and the inmates fled with such clothing as they might have on, their stock and other belongings being appropriated by the guerrillas. When they reached the town they were allowed to build huts of palm leaves in the suburbs and vacant places within the trochas, and left to live if they could. Their huts are about ten by fifteen feet in size, and for want of space are usually crowded together very closely. They have no floor but the ground, no furniture, and after a year's
wear, but little clothing except such stray substitutes as they can extemporize, and with large families or with more than can be accomodated in this little space, the commonest sanitary provisions are impossible. Conditions are unmentionable in this respect. Torn from their homes, with foul earth, foul air, foul water and foul food, or none, what wonder that one-half have died, and that one-quarter of the living are so diseased that they cannot be saved ? A form of dropsy is a common disorder resulting from these conditions. Little children are still walking about with arms and chests terribly emaciated, eyes swollen, and abdomen bloated to three times the natural size. The physicians say these cases are hopeless.
“Deaths in the street have not been uncommon. I was told by one of our consuls that many have been found dead about the markets in the morning, where they had crawled, hoping to get some stray bits of food from the early hucksters, and that there had been cases where they had dropped dead inside the market, surrounded by food. These people were independent and self-supporting before Weyler's order. They are not beggars even now. There are plenty of professional begg irs in every town among the regular residents, but these country people, the reconcentrados, have not learned the art. Rarely is a hand held out to you for alms when going among their huts, but the sight of them makes an appeal stronger than words.
“Of these I need not speak. Others have described their conditions far better than I can. It is not within the narrow limits of my vocabulary to portray it. I went to Cuba with a strong conviction that the picture had been overdrawn; that a few cases of starvation and suffering had inspired and stimulated the press correspondents and they had given free play to a strong natural, and highly cultivated imagination. Before starting I received through the mail a leaflet published by the Christian Herald, with the cuts of some of the sick and starving reconcentrados, and
took it with me, thinking these would be rare specimens
gotten up to make the worst possible showing. I saw
plenty as bad and worse ; many that should not
be photographed and shown. I could not
believe that out of a population of 1,600,000,
200,000 had died within these Spanish forts,
practically prison walls, within a few months
past, from actual starvation and disease
caused by insufficient and improper food. My
inquiries were entirely outside of sensational
sources. They were made of our medical
officers, of our consuls, of city alcaldes, (mayors), of relief
committees, of leading merchants and bankers, physicians NATIVE DOG. and lawyers. Several of my informants were Spanish born, but every time the answer was that the case had not been overstated. What I saw I cannot tell so that others can see it. It must be seen with one's own eyes to be realized. The Los Palos Hospital in Havana has been recently described by one of my colleagues, Senator Gallinger, and I cannot say that his picture was overdrawn, for even his fertile pen could not do that. He visited it after Dr. Lesser, one of Miss Barton's very able and efficient assistants (in the Red Cross work), had renovated it and put in cots. I saw it when four hundred women and children were lying on the stone floors in an indescribable state of emaciation and disease, many with the scantiest covering of rags—and such rags! Sick children as naked as they came into the world. And the conditions in the other cities are even worse.” In the United States this conservative, candid statement of Senator Proctor put feeling to a pitch, and there was loud clamor against Congress and the Executive for its unfeeling delay.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE “MAINE.” At this time there was an occurrence wbich set the country aflame. On the night of February 15, 1898, while peacefully at anchor in the harbor of Havana, the United States battle-ship Maine was sunk by an explosion and two officers and 264 of her crew killed or drowned. Prior to this, the Spanish government had protested against our sending cruisers with supplies to the reconcentrados, and there was much talk of the designs of the Spanish
fleet upon our Atlantic Coast. The attitude and feeling in Spanish circles was such that this destruction of the Maine was at once charged to the perfidy and cruelty of the Spanish governinent. At once the President created a commission to consider and report upon the cause of the destruction of the Maine, but in the minds of the public there was an ample casus
belli, and it would hardly brook the A FAMILIAR STREET SCENE.
delay necessary for a report. The conservatism of Congress kept it well in check, but the importunities of constituents drove it to preparatory action. On March 8, 1898, the House, by unanimous vote, passed a bill appropriating $50,000,000 for national defense. By unanimous vote, and without debate, the bill passed the Senate on the same day, and was immediately signed by the President. On the 16th of March, a protest by the Spanish government against our measures of defense and our fleet in Key West was received. On March 28th the President sent to Congress the report of the Court of Inquiry on the Maine disaster. The following is its full text:
REPORT OF THE COURT OF INQUIRY.
s“United States Steamship Iowa.
First Rate. “KEY West, Florida, Monday, March 21, 1898. “After full and mature consideration of all the testimony before it the court finds as follows:
"1. That the United States battle-ship Maine arrived in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, on the 25th day of January, 1898, and was taken to buoy No. 4, in from five and one-half to six fathoms of water, by the regular government pilot. The United States Consul-General at Havana had notified the authorities at that place the previous evening of the intended arrival of the Maine.
“2. The state of discipline on board the Maine was excellent, and all orders and regulations in regard to the care and safety of the ship were strictly carried out. All ammunition was stowed in accordance with prescribed instructions, and proper care was taken whenever ammunition was handled. Nothing was stowed in any one of the magazines or shell-rooms which was not permitted to be stowed there. The magazines and shell-rooms were always locked after having been opened, and after the destruction of the Maine the keys were found in their proper place in the Captain's cabin, everything having been reported secure that evening at 8 P. M.
“The temperature of the magazines and shell-rooms was taken daily and reported. The only magazine which had an undue amount of heat was the after ten-inch magazine, and that did not explode at the time the Maine was destroyed. The dry gun-cotton primers and detonators were stowed in the cabin aft, and remote from the scene of the explosion. Waste was carefully looked after on the Maine to obviate danger. Special order in regard to this had been given by the commanding officer. Varnishers, dryers, alcohol and other combustibles of this nature were stowed on or above the main deck, and could not have had anything to do with the destruction of the Maine.
“The medical stores were stowed aft under the ward-room, and remote from the scene of the explosion. No dangerous stores of any kind were stowed below in any of the other store rooms.
“The coal bunkers were inspected daily. Of those bunkers adjacent to the forward magazines and shellrooms, four were empty, namely: ‘B3, B 4, B 5, B 6.' 'A 15' had been in use that day, and ‘A 16' was full of New River coal. This coal had been carefully inspected before receiving it on board. The bunker in which it was stowed was accessible on three sides at all times, and the fourth side at this time on account of bunkers ‘B 4' and ‘B 6' being empty. This bunker, 'A 16,' had been inspected that day by the engineer officer on duty. The fire-alarms in the bunkers were in working order, and there had never been a case of spontaneous combustion of coal on board the Maine. The two after
SCENE ON THE RIO GRANDE. boilers of the ship were in use at the time of the disaster, but for auxiliary purposes only, with a comparatively low pressure of steam, and being tended by a reliable watch. These boilers could not have caused the explosion of the ship. The four forward boilers have since been found by the divers, and are in a fair condition.
“On the night of the destruction of the Maine everything had been reported secure for the night at 8 P. M. by reliable persons, through the proper authorities, to the commanding officer. At the time the Maine was destroyed the ship was quiet, and therefore least liable to accident caused by movements from those on board.