Page images
PDF
EPUB

were safe, and then betook himself to a kitchen tent, where he finished the sleep of that night on a rude table recently taken from an abandoned Spanish home in that vicinity.

« On that night it rained cats and dogs and hammer-handles,” said one of the soldiers afterward. “ It was inky dark darker than I have ever known it to be anywhere on the plains. The water made a muddy pond of the whole camp, and the trenches were half filled in no time. Everything was blown helter-skelter by the furious wind, and some of our outfits we never recovered. In the midst of the confusion some fellows reported that the Spaniards were trying to break through our lines, but the report was false, - the outsiders were starving Cubans who had come in looking for shelter and something to eat. We gave them what we could which was precious little, for we had next to nothing ourselves - and then got them to help us get things together again. One of the Cubans was an old man, who could speak a little English. He said he had lost two daughters and three grandchildren by starvation since the war

between Spain and Cuba had started. He himself was little more than a skeleton."

That Theodore Roosevelt was warmhearted enough to look out for other soldiers besides those of his own command is proven by what took place on the day following the big storm. Next to the Rough Riders were located a regiment of Illinois Volunteers. Because of the muddy roads and swollen streams, they could get no rations, and scant as were their own supplies, Colonel Roosevelt had the Rough Riders furnish them with beans, coffee, and a few cases of hardtack, for which they were extremely grateful. Later in the day the commander of the Rough Riders also got to them part of a mule train of provisions.

The American position had been greatly strengthened, and many additional troops were now at the front. It was felt that an advance upon Santiago would surely result in victory, although the losses might be large. But the Spaniards were no longer in a position to continue the struggle, and on July 17 the city formally surrendered. The surrendered territory covered many miles, and the Spanish soldiers to lay down

The war

their arms numbered upward of twenty thousand.

There was great cheering in the American trenches when the glad news was brought in, and soon Old Glory was planted on every height, while the trumpets sounded out triumphantly. Possession of Santiago was immediate, and in a few hours the Stars and Stripes floated from the flagstaff of the civil government buildings. Our gallant army had won on the land just as our gallant navy had won on the sea. had been, for us, one of triumph from start to finish.

In foreign countries the news was received with an astonishment that can scarcely be described. After Dewey's wonderful victory in Manila Bay, many naval experts said that such a fight could not be duplicated, yet it was duplicated two months later off Santiago Bay in a manner that left no doubt of American supremacy on

Then when it came to fighting on land, our army was designated as “ paper soldiers, that is, soldiers on paper or in name only, and it was said that their guns would be found of little use against the

the sea.

Mausers of Spain. But this was likewise false ; and to-day the army and navy of the United States are respected everywhere. And more than this, foreign powers have come to our country for many of their war-ships, asking us to build and equip them, and also asking us to make cannon and rifles for them.

While the war was on in Cuba, a part of the United States army under General Miles was sent to Porto Rico, another island belonging to Spain. Here the inhabitants hailed the Americans with delight, and the resistance by the Spanish soldiers was only half-hearted.

With the downfall of the navy and Santiago, Spain knew not what to do next, and gladly received the terms of peace offered by President McKinley and his advisers. The terms were accepted on August 9, and thus the short but sharp war came to a termination. By the treaty of peace Cuba was given her liberty, and Porto Rico and the Philippines passed into the possession of the United States.

CHAPTER XVIII

Last Days In CUBA — THE DEPARTURE FOR HOME

ARRIVAL AT MONTAUK – CARING FOR THE SICK AND WOUNDED PRESENTATION TO THEODORE ROOSEVELT BY HIS MEN - MUSTERING-OUT OF THE ROUGH RIDERS

Four days after the surrender of Santiago the Rough Riders found themselves in the hills four or five miles back from the intrenchments they had occupied during the last fight. Other commands were scattered in various directions, for to let them go into the wretched city would have been out of the question. Santiago was dirty in the extreme; the fever was there, and hundreds were on the verge of starvation.

It was a trying time for everybody, and equally so for Theodore Roosevelt, who did all in his power, as before, to make his men comfortable. When it did not rain, the sun came out fiercely, causing a rapid evaporation that was thoroughly exhausting to the soldiers. The locality was not a healthy

« PreviousContinue »