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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, May 14, 1898, Image 1

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Superior Force of Spaniards Routed in a
Spirited Engagement Near
Loss of the Enemy About Twenty in Killed and
Wounded, While but One of the Invaders
Receives a Scratch.
May 12. — (Via Key West, Fla., May
13.) — This evening a force of Ameri
can regular troops landed on Cuban
soil near Cabanas and fought a brisk
skirmish with a greatly superior
body of Spanish troops. The Span
iards lost about twenty killed and
wounded. On the American side one
civilian got a slight scratch.
The object of the expedition was to
land arms, ammunition, clothing and
equipments for the insurgents, but
owing to the Cubans failing to co-
operate, as was arranged, the muni
tions of war were not landed. Scouts,
however, were sent to the insurgent
camp after darkness had set in, and
a further attempt will be made to
land arms to-morrow at daylight.
The expedition, which left Key
West on Wednesday night, consisted
of companies E and G of the First
United States Infantry, numbering
150 men, under command of Captain
J. A. Dorst, of Miles' staff, and Cap
tain O'Connell. It sailed on the
steamer Gussie, and brought 600
rifles, 10,000 rounds of ammunition
and a large supply of food and cloth
The Gussie, which was accompa
nied by two newspaper boats, arrived
off Havana just after dawn this
morning, and was promptly stopped
by the blockading squadron. We ex
plained our object, and the commo
dore detached the gunboat Manning
as an escort.
Leaving Havana, we steamed west
ward for nearly forty miles, passing
Mariel. About a mile and a half
west of Cabanas the vessels stood
within less than a half-mile of the
shore and anchored. Immediately
several hundred Spanish cavalry ap
peared among the palms and under
growth, evidently quite aware of our
There was no use trying to go
ashore in small boats while these fel
lows were there, so the Manning
opened fire with shrapnel at 600
yards. The sound of the guns
brought up the gunboat Wasp, which
was cruising a few miles westward,
and she also opened fire. This proved
too much for the Spaniards, and in a
few minutes we coula see them rid
ing at full gallop for the shelter of
the hills.
Later we found they had left plen
ty of infantry behind them under
cover of the woods.
A boat was lowered from the star
board side of the Gussie. A spirited
scramble as to who should get into
it took place. Every soldier was
eager to go. Finally Captain O'Con
nell, of Company E, and twelve sol
diers put off fqr the breakers. Be
fore the ooat was ten feet away from
the ship another followed. In it
were eleven soldiers and Lieutenant
Colborn of Company G. With mis
directed energy the soldiers tugged
on the oars, and, not being experts,
their progress was slow.
Unable to get over the reef, Cap
tain O'Connell hesitated, but Private
Messier, who was in the bow, solved
the problem by springing into the
water and wading ashore. His ex
ample was quickly followed by all
the men, they dragging the boat.
Many stumbled and went under qji
tirely, but all got ashore safely,
though soaking wet.
Lieutenant Colborn claims the
honor of having been the first United
States soldier in Cuba. It was a
close race between him and Private
The men immediately deployed in
a skirmish line, plunged into the
bushes and were lost to view.
While another boat was being low
ered an attempt was made to land
horses. They were made to leap
overboard and then led with halters
by soldiers in a boat. The first
horse became unmanageable and
swam around the ship several times
b?fore he could be headed for the
While the landing of horses was
occupying the attention of all of the
ships there came the crack of mus
ketry in the brush 100 yards from
shore. Volley quickly followed vol
ley. The firing was Immediately an
swered by our pickets.
For ten minutes the firing was al
most continuous. None of the com
batants could be seen from the ships, j
but pretty soon rising smoke over the j
The San Francisco Call
trees indicated the whereabouts of
the conflict. The soldiers left their
boats on shore, abandoned them and
dashed into the woods to the assist
ance of their comrades, who were evi
dently, judging from the firing, at-
Birdseye View of the Leeward ar>d Windward Islands, West Indies, Showiog the Prob
able Movement of the Spanish and Americao fleets Toward Eacf) Other.
tacked by a largely superior force.
On board the Gussie the excite
ment was intense, but perfect disci
pline was maintained. The one re
maining boat was loaded with fif
teen men and started for the shore.
The Manning and the Wasp took
positions 300 yards from shore and
began sending shrapnel over the
beach into the woods beyond. The
shells could be heard crashing
through the trees and brush, which
were set on fire in several places.
On the Gussie the men were or
dered to lie flat on the upper deck
ready to fire on any visible foe. A
few volleys were sent into the brush
over the heads of our boys on shore
to help out the shrapnel. In the
brush the rifles continued to crack
and on the water the guns of the
Manning and the Wasp boomed
Foiled in their attempt to surprise
the landing party, the Spanish re
treated. Gradually the firing on
shore ceased, but the gunboats kept
shrapnel screeching through the
woods at intervals for half an hour.
Attracted by heavy firing, the An
napolis came to the assistance of her
consorts, but too late to get into the
Evidently discouraged by their re
pulse, the Spaniards seemed have re
tired to a safe distance. Captain
Dorst, when the firing began, started
for shore in a small boat. A huge
breaker on the reef turned it over
and sent the captain and his com
panions into the water, whence they
waded ashore.
The presence of so large a force of
the enemy, however, made the land
ing of arms and supplies unwise, not
to say impracticable, so Captain
Dorst, after making sure that the
expected insurgents were not in the
vicinity, decided to re-embark.
Darkness was falling and it was
unsafe to leave such a small number
of men on shore, for at night the
gunboats could do nothing. Three
Cuban scouts were mounted and sent
inland to meet the insurgents and to
make an appointment for another at
tempt to-day. They rode along the
beach under cover of the underbrush
for a mile, and then took the path for
the interior. When they had gone
our soldiers returned on board the
Our only casualties were sundry
duckings from which the men suf
fered little inconvenience, and a
slight scratch to a civilian with the
party. While the engagement was
going on the Spaniards fired repeat
edly at the vessels lying near shore.
One buhet struck the pilothouse of
the Dewey and others whizzed mer
rily close by. The Gussie was struck
several times, but no one was in
NEW YORK, May 13.— The Herald's
European edition publishes an inter
view with Pierre Loti; a distinguished
member of the French Academy and
navy. Loti is intensely bitter toward
America, He accuses the United
States and England of brigandage in
the matter of the Philippines. He says
the Latin race must resist an Anglo-
American alliance, which is surely
Small Army Ex
pected to Hold
NEW YORK, May 13.— The
Herald's Washington corre
spondent telegraphs: Many offi
cers In both the army and navy
have expressed themselves as
very much opposed to the pro
posed plan of s ding an army
of only 12,000 men to the Philip
pines. Ad i ral Dewey, in his
dispatch to the Navy Depart
ment, has intimated that it
would take a large and efficient
army of men to establish and
preserve order among both
Spaniards &.nd insurgents in and
around Manila. The troops that
the administrate . have desig
nated for the Philippi: s are on
the whole unorganised and
v.'holly unfit to hold the respon
sible position to which they have
been ordered. The expedition,
as It now stands, will consist of
a force of 700f> men. It is planned
not to send ihe remainder of the
12,000 troops concentrated at San
Francisco to i ie Philippines for
r.t least two months. The bulk
of actual work will thus fall to
the lot of this first detachment.
The entire population of the
Philippine Islands Is In th»
neighborhood of 18. 000,000 peo
ple. When It is considered that
the United States army will be
obliged to govern tins large
number an army of 7000 men
seems a bagatelle. With this
small army and with the as
sistance of Admiral Dewey's
fleet the United States might
possibly be able to capture Ma
nila, but not the rest of Philip
pine territory.
Army experts who have made
themselves familiar with the
conditions now existing in the
Philippines are bringing all the
pressure possible to bear on the
administration to have the relief
expedition consist of 25,000 men.
This army, they claim, would be
sufficient if properly officered,
armed and equipped to do and
maintain order in the Philip
pines until the close of tb.3 war.
They agree with the Herald that
there is no good reason why an
army of this size could not be
sent. The troops that are to be
mobilized in Washington will
have no actual service and will
be simply an expense to the Gov
ernment. Many advisers of the
President are now urging him
to send the men ordered to
Washington to Manila. Much
dissatisfaction is being expressed
over the delay in getting the
expedition under way. It will be
nine days before any troops will
leave the United States for Ma
nila, and in the meanwhile Ad
miral Dewey is left to hold hia
position as b< -t he can.
Strategic Plans of the Navy Changed by
the News of the Enemy's Vessels
From Martinique.
Schley's Flying Squadron Will Also Take a Hand
in the Chase and There Is No Chance
of Escape for the Dons' Ships.
Call Office, Riggs House,
Washington, May 13.
This morning's session of
the Cabinet was the shortest
and the most important of the
present administration. Being
hastily convened at 1 1 o'clock
it was adjourned at 11:30.
Within that brief space of time
new war plans were formed
for both the army and navy,
ST. PIERRE, Martinique, May 13.— There is a flotilla of eight Spanisn war
ships and seven torpedo vessels in the vicinity of this island. It issupposed that
part of this flotilla is heading northwest. It is positively known that part of the
Spanish flotilla is cruising about Martinique, keeping watch on the United States
auxiliary cruiser Harvard. Spanish torpedo vessels have been running in and
out of Port de France all day. The commander of the Harvard, which is in the
harbor of St. Pierre, has asked permission to remain there seven days to make
repairs to some disabled machinery. The time asked for by the Harvard has
been granted by the French authorities here, but her commander has been noti
fied that when the repairs have been completed he must give twenty-four hours'
notice before leaving. Many flashes of light, presumably signals between war
ships, were seen off St. Pierre last night.
necessitated by the surprising
intelligence that the Spanish
Cape Verde fleet, instead of
being at Cadiz, was off the
French island of Martinique,
only 425 miles distant from
Sampson's fleet at San Juan,
Porto Rico.
Although the new strategic
plans were to outward ap
pearances hastily formed they
Copyrighted, 1898, by James Gordon Bennett.
had not been hastily consid
ered, for late last night the
President was informed
through the agency of the
Herald and The Call that
one of their dispatch boats
off the Windward Islands
and their regular correspond
ent on the island of Martin
ique had finally located the
Spaniards. This information
was laid before the strategic
board immediately and they
spent most of last night in?
devising plans to meet this
new situation. Consequently,
when Secretary Long this
morning received a cablegram,
from the commander of the
scouting cruiser Yale, from St.
Pierre, island of Martinique,
confirming the Herald and
Call's intelligence, the plans
were already well matured.
Maps were placed before the
President showing thevarious
islands to the east, west and
south of Porto Rico, and the
exact location of the fleet off
Fort de France, Martinique,
and a table showing the rela
•tive distances between San
Juan and Martinique, the lat
ter point and Havana, and be
tween Hampton Roads and
Windward Passage.
It was quickly decided that
instead of ordering Captain
Sampson to wait until the-
Spanish fleet approached San
Juan he should be directed
to sail and meet it. The rea
son for this was obvious. It
was known that Admiral Cer
vera's torpedo boats Terror
and Furor, which touched at
St. Pierre, Martinique, lat©
Wednesday night, had been,
advised that the batteries of
San Juan had been reduced
and the entrance to the har
bor was guarded by Samp
son's vessels, thereby cutting
them off from their expected
base of supplies. It was
feared that the Spanish ad

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