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RESULTS OF THE FIGHT - LIFE IN THE TRENCHES
THE SPANISH FLEET IN SANTIAGO HARBOR
The fight had been a hard and heavy one. The ough Riders had gone into the engagement just 490 strong, and of that number 89 were killed or wounded. The total loss to the Americans was 1071 killed and wounded. The loss to the Spanish was also heavy, but the exact figures will probably never be known.
Utterly tired out with their marching and fighting, the Rough Riders intrenched as best they could, cared for their wounded and dead, and then dropped down to get a well-earned rest. The night was misty and cold, and many who had been bathed in perspiration suffered accordingly. Theodore Roosevelt had a blanket taken from the Spanish, and in this he rolled himself, and slept with others of his command.
At three o'clock in the morning came an unexpected alarm. The Spanish skirmishers were out in force, trying to drive the Americans back. But there was no heavy attack, and presently all became as quiet as before.
“ They'll not give up yet,” said one of the officers of the Rough Riders. “They mean to retake this hill if they can.”
Just at daybreak the Spaniards opened the attack on San Juan Hill once more. Theodore Roosevelt was resting under a little tree when a shrapnel shell burst close by, killing or wounding five men of the command. He at once ordered the eight troops under him to a safer position, where the Spanish battery and the sharpshooters could not locate them so readily.
If the fight had been hard, guarding the trenches was almost equally so. beat down fiercely, and the newly turned up earth made many of the Rough Riders sick. Added to this, provisions were, as usual, slow in arriving. Those in the trenches were kept there six hours, and then relieved by the others who were farther to the rear.
“Running from the cover of brush to the
trenches was no easy matter," says one Rough Rider who was there. “We had dug the trenches in a hurry, and had no passages from the rear leading to them. All we could do was to wait for a signal, and then rush, and when we did that, the Spaniards would open a hot fire and keep it up for perhaps fifteen minutes. The sun was enough to turn a man's brain, and more than one poor fellow caught a fever there that proved fatal to him."
Through the entire day the firing continued, but no advances were made upon either side. The Americans were waiting for reënforcements, and the Spaniards were doing likewise. On our side a dynamite gun and two Colt's guns were used, but with little success. But the Gatling guns proved very effective, and caused a great loss to the enemy.
The city of Santiago lies on the northeast coast of a large bay of the same name. This bay is shaped somewhat like a bottle, with a long neck joining it to the Caribbean Sea.
In the harbor, at the time of the battles just described, the Spaniards had a fleet of war-ships under the command of Admiral
Cervera, an old and able naval commander. In the fleet were four large cruisers and two torpedo-boats. Three of the cruisers were of seven thousand tons burden each, and all could make from eighteen to nineteen knots an hour. Each carried a crew of about five hundred men, and all were well supplied with guns and ammunition.
To keep this fleet“ bottled up,” our own navy had a fleet of its own just outside of the harbor, where it had been stationed ever since Admiral Cervera had been discovered within. The American fleet consisted of the cruiser Brooklyn, which was Commodore Schley's flag-ship, the battle-ships Texas, Iowa, Indiana, and Oregon (the latter having sailed all the way from the Pacific coast around Cape Horn to get into the fight), and the converted yachts Gloucester and Vixen. There were also close at hand, but not near enough to get into the fight, the cruiser New York, Admiral Sampson's flagship, and several other vessels of lesser importance.
For a long time it had been thought that Cervera would try to escape from the harbor, in which he could not be reached because of
the strong forts that protected the entrance. To bottle him up more effectively, the Americans tried to block up the harbor entrance by sinking an old iron steamboat, the Merrimac, in the channel. This heroic work was undertaken by Lieutenant Hobson with a crew of seven daring men, but the plan failed, for the Merrimac, instead of sinking where intended, swung to one side of the main channel.
When it was reported to him that the Americans had taken the heights of El Caney and San Juan and were strongly intrenched in their positions, Admiral Cervera concluded that Santiago Bay might soon become too hot to hold him. The capture of the city would be followed by the taking of the forts at the harbor entrance, and then there would be nothing left for him to do but to surrender.
San Juan and El Caney had been taken on Friday, and all day Saturday occurred the shooting at long range, as already described. In the meantime the war-ships outside of the harbor kept up a close watch on the harbor entrance, lying well out during the day, but coming in closer at night,