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A BLOCKHOUSE ON ONE OF THE LINE OF FORTS BUILT ACROSS THE ISLAND OF CUBA BY THE SPANIARDS AND
principal objects, therefore, of my mission A SWIFT INCREASE OF MISERY AND DESOLAwas to ascertain and report the exact political and military conditions existing at that time in Cuba. As the President expressed it at the time, he did not "want to go into the Cuban business bow on without knowing where" he was "going."
A few weeks after my arrival in Havana, I made a report to the Secretary of State (in substance) that, in my opinion, there was no immediate prospect of the Spanish soldiers suppressing the insurrection in Cuba or of the insurrectionary troops driving the Spanish from the island, and that, therefore, without outside interference, war, with its attendant horrors, would continue for an indefinite time; that the island was being devastated and gradually being reduced to an ash pile; that property was being destroyed everywhere, fields burnt, and human life taken by both contestants under the most aggravating circumstances; and that commerce was being extinguished, entailing great loss to the United States and to the American citizens resident on the island.
Should I write a report to-day of the conditions now existing on the island I would not change, in its essential features, the report written two years ago, except to say that the destruction of property and the loss of life have suffered of course a large increase, and that misery, poverty, desolation, and devastation exist now in greater degree only than at the former period. The United States, at this writing, has determined to intervene, and, with soldiers and sailors, compel the Spanish troops to depart from the island and the Spanish flag to be furled forever upon the "Gem of the Antilles."
It is most difficult to comprehend the cruelties and enormities of Spanish rule on the island-more especially within the last few years. Spain has been repeating her past history by continuing that policy which has heretofore humbled her pride and reduced her territorial possessions, and will now lose Cuba, Porto Rico, and very possibly
the Philippine Islands by that "barbarous in each week, from July to October, there is persecution"-so atrocious that Motley says "it was beyond the power of man's ingenuity to add any fresh horrors to it."
Cuba, iying at the gate of the Gulf of Mexico, is, in some respects, the most fertile spot on the face of the globe. Its soil, in great part, is a rich chocolate loam, capable of producing everything that grows in tropical regions in the greatest abundance, while it stands unrivaled in the quality and quantity of its two great staple products sugar and tobacco. It is true that, as in all tropical regions, the sun during the summer months casts heated rays upon all parts of the island; but during that period the rainy season begins, and three or four afternoons
a succession of rain showers followed by the sun again, a wise provision of nature, as it results in the continued growth of grass and In conseall plants then in the ground. quence, the island is ever green; and there being no winter, as fast as a crop is reaped, the ground is available for the next. As is well known, sugar-cane, when once planted, does not have to be replanted for seven or eight years; so that when it is annually cut down and ground into molasses and sugar, the planter thereafter has only to wait for a corresponding period in the next year to perform a similar operation. From Santiago de Cuba, the most eastern province, to Pinar del Rio, the most western, there is a range
of mountains varying more or less in height the wealthy class of Cuba. A very high (the highest portion being at the eastern tariff on all goods, except those coming end of the island) which constitutes a back- from Spain, has driven the inhabitants of bone, as it were, and to which upon each of the island to trade with Spain to a great its long sides the remainder of the island extent, and the Spanish merchants at Barceseems to be securely anchored. In these lona and other points, preferring to have mountains are found many minerals, and commercial relations with the Spaniards upon their sides grow in profusion the most rather than the Cubans, have done much to valuable hard woods, the railroads using in some instances mahogany for cross-ties.
The history of the Spanish people, so far as it refers to their colonial possessions, has never kept step to the music of the march of progress or ever shown any development of interior natural resources. Here, on this favored spot where Spanish feet were planted over four centuries ago, there are no public roads or highways or even country roads; no canals; no telegraphs, except along the line of some of the railroads; and the few railroads on the island were
built by A Mr. He
bring about this financial change in these two classes.
This change, combined with economic questions, has been greatly widening the dividing line between the Cubans and Spaniards until it has resulted in the present existing chasm. Enmity, therefore, exists between Spaniards and Cubans, though the latter are descendants of Spaniards themselves.
It is a remarkable fact that nearly every person born on the island seems to be at once instilled with a dislike for the Spaniards and their methods, and I know of no instance where chil
Serveral of conrul de
enter- itachi umidor Amo recuerdo
and capital, and not by Spanish. It has ever
FACSIMILE OF GENERAL WEYLER'S AUTOGRAPH, WRITTEN ON A PHOTOGRAPH GIVEN
been the policy of the Spaniards to occupy the edges of a country and remain in and closely around the cities and towns which constitute the seaports.
THE ENMITY BETWEEN SPANIARDS AND CUBA.
Less than a half century ago the Cubans (or Insular Spaniards, as they were called) owned most of the property and wealth of the island; but it has been gradually passing away from them until to-day the Peninsular Spaniards (or the Spaniards born in Spain) have succeeded in securing possession of the commercial business, stores, and commission houses of the cities, so that they are now
dren born in
have not participated in this feeling. This be
ing true, has made it easier for the Spaniards to deprive the Cubans of all "Home Rule, ' or participation in the government and its perquisites, until the last feather was added to the great pile which had been accumulating for a long number of years, and has driven the Cubans to attempt once more to throw off the Spanish yoke and seize and hold the reins of their own government.
THE SPANISH ARMY IN CUBA.
Spain, losing her power by gradual process, has seen for many years that Cuban independence is only a question of time, though the political demands on the party
in power in Madrid has made it necessary
mense expense, over 3,000 miles from her shoresthe largest number of organized troops that has ever been transported so great a distance from their homes and firesides. These troops have been badly handled, and therefore have not made much of a
else may be said about him, has fought this war in the only way he could win it, and never for one moment during the three years of strife has he departed a hair's breadth from the policy first inaugurated. He proposed to combat Spain's purse more than her soldiers; to play a waiting game and exhaust the failing financial resources of Spain. He did not pro
pose to fight if it could be avoided, because he could not well afford to lose a man or a cartridge, being dependent for both upon the very uncertain and devious methods of filibusterism. His army, scattered over an island some 800 miles long by an average breadth of sixty miles, if all concentrated upon a single point, would number about 35,000 men; but being entirely devoid of bases of supplies and deficient in transportation and food for men or horses, to concentrate would be to starve, and to fight pitched battles against overwhelming numbers would result in the loss of the battle and the loss of his cause. is a grim, resolute, honest, conscientious, grizzled old veteran, now seventy-five years old, who has thoroughly understood the tactics necessary to employ in order to waste the resources of his enemy and to prolong the war until such time as Spain would abandon the struggle as hopeless, or until it should become manifest to the United States that the contest had degenerated into a hopeless conflict.
GENERAL RAMON BLANCO.
record in strategy and tactics or for efficient service on the island of Cuba. They were principally located in the coast cities and in the larger interior towns, while the insurrectionists have been holding to a great degree the rest of the island.
The inefficiency of the Spanish soldier is due not to a want of personal courage, but because he is not properly drilled, disciplined, or organized into a fighting machine. În Cuba he has to struggle as best he can with but little or no pay-while badly clothed and fed and is sent into the field to stand the sunshine and the storm without giving him proper protection from either. He then becomes an easy captive to climatic causes, and instead of a robust soldier crammed General Weyler, the Spanish commander with fire and fight, we find a half-sick, list- first charged with suppressing the insurrecless man, to whom it is an effort to raise tion, seemed to have had an idea that if he and aim a rifle. could build trochas, or ditches, across the Gomez, the leader of the rebels, whatever island from north to south, and from sea to
GENERAL WEYLER AND HIS POLICY.
sea, at one or two points, and have these
General Blanco, did but little to suppress the insurrection. He organized columns to move from the cities and operate against the bands of roving insurgents in their vicinity, but
upper one being occu- GENERAL BARTOLOMÉ MASO, PRESIDENT OF THE CUBAN
to report any advance of his enemy. It cannot be said that this method of warfare proved successful, though. It cost large sums
the Spaniards have so little idea of modern warfare and of the necessary attributes to mobilize an army, that these columns, after having been out a very few days and exchanged fire with the insurgents, would invariably return to the cities because out of rations or burdened with a few wounded, while the insurgents who had assembled to temporarily check their march would scatter out again and return to their various little camps, with the result, probably, to each side, of only two or three men killed and a few wounded.
THE RECONCENTRADO ORDER AND ITS EFFECT.
It was evident, therefore, that this style
of money to construct trochas, and now of guerrilla warfare as practiced by the inthey have been practically
abandoned. One light battery of artillery could have opened the way for passage of troops. The insurgents always found many ways of crossing them at night or where these lines ran through swamps, or around by the water at either end. Maceo, it will be remembered, who was supposed to have been shut off in the western end of the province by what is known as the Mariel trocha, found no difficulty in crossing when he desired to go east, though, unfortunately for the Cuban cause, it resulted in his death afterwards.
more active in
COLONEL ERNESTO FONS STERLING,
Captain General Weyler, surgents could be maintained for years beCuban campaign work than his successor cause a generous soil, tilled by the peasantry NOTE.-The portraits on this and the next page, of the heads of the Cuban insurgent government, are after photographs taken by a special correspondent of MCCLURE'S MAGAZINE in the winter of 1897-1898.