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Admiral stood during the great fight; and one said that was a dent made in the ship by a cannon ball. The Lieutenant-Commander was busy writing a history of the battle. He told me that Dewey and he were schoolmates together in the Academy of Norwich, Vermont. He was going to have a sketch of the Admiral and himself made ready for the little school paper. It was a very grave matter, this country school, and the bulletin of it which was dignified by the name of a paper. He must have the best matter and the finest pictures for it, he said—that was the old place where he and the Admiral were schoolboys together.
This mood of Admiral Dewey and his chief officer gave me matter to ponder over. They did not think of the grand acclaims and the wonderful applause of the free, proud nation they had honored. But “How will the folk of Montpelier receive me?” and “Can I write an article worthy of the Norwich country school?” Men who would be welcomed as writers by the best magazines and gladly honored by the Czar, asking themselves these questions! It is only one more example of the old truth of how strong a grasp on men have the associations of a pure home life. It is this love of home, deep-rooted and enduring, this fondness for the earliest part of life, which followed these men through life and crossed the chasm of years and wars and stormy seas—this shall save the Republic when the battleships are futile and the cannon dumb.
EVENTS LEADING TO THE WAR WITH SPAIN.
T is, of course, well known that neither the Philippine Islands nor the conditions therein were in any degree a consideration which led to our war with Spain. It is even true that after the naval battle at Manila, the people stood with finger-tips upon the little spots in the map of the Pacific and questioned one another as to where and what might be “Manila” Bay. It is proper, however, to complete this record of achievement by a brief account of the civil and military affairs antedating the
action in Manila Bay. In palliation of Spanish inhumanity to her colonial subjects, it may be said that her internal dissensions have been such that the government was powerless as against the will of certain classes of its subjects. A brief reference to the late successions to the Spanish crown may throw some light on this matter.
Ferdinand VII died in 1833, and his daughter, Isabella, was proclaimed Queen, with her mother, Maria Christiana of Naples, as Regent. Then Don Carlos, Ferdinand's brother, asserted that the choice of Isabella violated the Salic Law, which forbids the inheritance of women, and that he should have been preferred.
This pretension had much support in the north of Spain, and this was the origin of the “Carlist" party, which has been a constant menace to the government when not in open rebellion against it. The character of Isabella II, who was declared of age in 1843, added new elements of perplexity. A successful revolution drove her from the throne and, in 1870, (the ten years' war in Cuba being then in progress) Amadeus of Aosta, the second son of Victor Emanuel of Italy, was invited to govern as a constitutional king. Within three years he resigned the office. A provisional government was then created, with Castilla at its head, after which, for a brief time, a committee of officers undertook the administration. In 1874 Isabella's son, Alphonse XII, accepted the crown. He died in 1885, and his widow, Christiana of Austria, was made Regent. Their son was born May 17, 1886, and he is now known as the “Little King.”
THE CUBAN ATROCITIES.
However, whatever might have been the origin or cause of Spanish misrule, the knowledge that Spain was helpless in the hands of its subjects only helped to goad into a frenzy the apprehension and alarm of her colonists in regard to the intolerable barbarities practiced upon them. This was especially the case in Cuba, where the oppression was so grievous and so long continued that not only the Cubans were crying out against it, but the civilization of the world was aghast at the spectacle.
We of the United States were so placed that the appeals of these sufferers came to us with great force. Our own material interests had long paid tribute to the shrine of this intolerance, and to our private and public remonstrances the Spanish government paid no heed. Our benefactions to relieve the distresses had been treated with disdain by Spain, and our contributions largely diverted into Spanish hands. So universal and pronounced had public sentiment in this country become, that all the great political parties declared against further endurance of the evil, and the platform upon which President McKinley was nominated and elected, insisted that some solution must be made in the interests of humanity. For the purpose of verifying the rumors and reports, many private commissions visited Cuba, and all returned with the statement that the enormities there had only in part been told. Senator Proctor of Vermont, who was Secretary of War in Harrison's administration, was one of those who visited the island. On his return, at the earnest request of the Senate, in his place in the Senate Chamber, he made this remarkable statement:
SENATOR PROCTOR'S REPORT.
"Outside of Havana all is changed. It is not peace, nor is it war. It is desolation and distress, misery and starvation. Every town and village is surrounded by a trocha (trench), a sort of rifle pit, but constructed on a plan new to me: the dirt being thrown up on the inside, and a barbed wire fence on the outer side of this trench.
“These trochas have at every corner, and at frequent intervals along the sides, what are called forts, but which are really small block-houses, many of them more like a large sentry-box, loopholed for musketry and with a guard of from two to ten soldiers in each. The purpose of these trochas is to keep the
reconcentrados in as well as to keep the insurgents out. From all the surrounding country the people have been driven into these fortified towns and held there to sub
sist as they can. They
are virtually prison yards, and not unlike one TIDAL WAVE IN MANILA. in general appearance, except that the walls are not so high and strong, but they are sufficient, where every point is in range of a soldier's rifle, to keep in the poor reconcentrado women and children. Every railroad station is within one of these trochas, and has an armed guard. Every train has an armored freight-car, loopholed for musketry, and filled with soldiers, 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