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The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, July 01, 1900, Image 6

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1900-07-01/ed-1/seq-6/

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General Shafts Tells of His Fourth of July at Santiago

my lunch under a tree with Genera! Law.
ton. who accompanied me during my
three-mile insp«etion of his lines.
with an army of about twenty-one
thousand men engaged In Investing a city
a commander could hardly expect to ha%'e
a, very quiet Fourth; but there certainly
have been but few Fourths of July to
which we can look back with more satis
faction than July 4. 1S38. as well as the
preceding days and the one following.
A cour>le of hundred of our wounded
from trie battles of the preceding day
were placed in ambulances and wagons
and sent down to Siboney, where uhe>
were placed In hospital until they could
be sent back to the United States. >
. I visited all the general ; officers at. their
various quarters. I also communicated
with Admiral Sampson and sugges.ed his
forcing his way Into the harbor, a. sug
gestion'that was not favorably regarded.
It was a busy day. There were- a great
many questions to answer and Jrders to
be given. It was only when interruptions
were least numerous that I couid stop for
a cup of coffee, some bacon and. beans and
a little hard bread, t rememh*? **¦**¦ I -' k -
and was a very true friend of the Ameri
can army.
'.I have every reason- to .believe the re
turn of the Spanish prisoners had the de
sired effects correcting among the troops
in . Santiago the false report*? that had
been circulated. V Of. this I was assured by
the • Enfirlish Consul; .who was thoroughly'
ln touch with the sentiment of the cltv
that they would be treated well as prison
ers of war. I learned from -the wounded
Spanish officers and men captured at El
Caney, that they expected to be killed as
soon as they fell into our hands. Acting
upon : thia . information. I determined to
offer to return all the wounded Spanish
officers at El Caney who were able to
beai* transportation and who were willing
to" give. their paroles not to serve against
the forces of the- United States until regu
larly exchanged. This offer was made and
courteously accepted by the Spanish offi
cer, General Toral. 'These officers, as well
as several of the wounded Spanish pri-'
vates, twenty-seven in 1 ally were sent to
their lines under the escort of a troop of
cavalry. .The troops, together with ambu
lances containing wounded, were per
mitted to. pass instdethe Spanish lines— in
fact, almost : to the edcre of the city— and
were received with honors, tho Spanish
troops presenting arms to them. '
fnrelpn consuls and Inhabitants of the content*
of your message. Very respectfully,
Commander In Chief, Fourth Corps.
. Several of the foreign consuls came Into
my lines and asked that the time given
•for them, the ¦women and children, to de
part from the city be extended until 10
o'clock on July 5. To this I consented and
wrote a seeond letter as follows: . - .'.
The Commanding General F-panlFh Forces,
Fantintfo de Cuba, July 3, 189S— Sir: In con
sideration of a request of the consular officers
'in youf city tor further delay. in carrying out ;
,my Intentions .to fire on. the city, and in th«
Interests of the poor women and children, who
will suffer very greatly by their hasty departure
from the city, I have the honor; to announce ¦
that I will delay suuh action solely In their -In
terests until - noon of the 6th. provided -that ¦'
during the Interim your forces make no demons j
Mration whatever "upon those of my own: I \
am, with great re*rtfct, your obedient servant, i
-' ¦ i r '. Major General,. U. s: V.. t
¦ The effort ;• to permit women, children
and non-combatants , to leave . Santiago
was made entirely in the* interests of hu
manity, as I thought It was too late In. :
the .century, for. an American army to:flro .
Vpon a town filled with women and.ch.ll-''
flren. I therefore spent some littletime'
making arrangements -for. the care : and
subsistence of the refugees. - ;'. , ...... • .'¦•*
It was an jnterestinp 'but sorrowful
fright to see" the thousands -of poor crea-. .
tures, principally Cubans, ! and, conse
quently our , friends, coming-out of. the
city carrying: their babies and bundles..
They were obliged to carry any. luggage
they might wish to tako with them, as no
horses or vehicles of any . ltihd ' were al
lowed to be taken from the city.: Every- .
thins they brought out was carried ui>on
their backs. Of course, there was a great
deal ¦ of excitement attending such a de
parture to evade -a bombardment, but
there was considerably more anxiety
among the ¦ Spaniards than the Cuban**,
who felt a confidence in the American
nrmy; A surprlsin plyV- large number of
men, Spaniards- as well as Cubans, found
their way out of the city to avoid the ter
rors of a bombardment.- ;
The cessation of hostilities during the
fourth gave ray troops a. chance to re
cover from fatigue, while I Was enabled
to hurry up some reinforcements for the
purpose of completing tho investment of
Santlagro. on the north. ..I, wanted to
strengthen my position as much as pos
sible 1 on my right, for I knew that thirty
miles from me, at San . Luis,., there were
thirty-five = hundred Spanish troops, j and
forty ¦ miles beyond,. Qt^HolKUin,- still far
ther north, ? ten thousand. ; From reports I
expected, these troops hourly to put in an
appearance and attackme on the right.
> This delay also prave: an opportunity to
get up some batteries, of light artillery
and place them in the line: also to inspect
the- entire length of the" line (a ride of
about twenty-five miles), ' which I did
that. day.; .;,.¦.-¦..-¦;..: - •-¦ .";-'- •.¦'<•."¦¦ -¦., •,.¦-¦«-. ¦
:i was fully convinced from "my knowl
edge of \ho amount of their, supplies that
the Spaniards would be. forced to surrend
er if given a little time, and I thought the
result .would be hastened . If ', the • men of
their army : could be made to understand
¦ . - - •'¦: '*¦*•¦
ronrtoi<-a untenable for the Spanish fleet.
A ith jheir fleet destroyed I felt sure that
it v.r>u!d only be a question of time before
the Spanish commander would be forced
to FUrrcndcr. The news of thn naval vic
«"ry «-m, therefore, transmitted, under
lia.<r of truce, to the Spanish commander
without delay, and the suggestion agnin
rn:ifie that lie surrender to cave needless
By an agreement betv/cen General Toral
and myself there had been a suspension
in hostilities durtnp tho Fourth, to onabl*
the women, children nnd non-combatants
to come out of Santiago. I had stopped
tho firing a'onjr the lines for the purpose
of pending tho following letter within the.
Spanish Iine3:
Headquarters Unltc-d State!" Forces. .
Near Han- Juan ttlver, July 3. 189S, 8:30 a. m. '¦
To the Commasi<1it:!r General of the SptnlFh
Forces. Santiaco de Cuba-Sir: I shall be ob-
I'fre'l. unless you imrrender. to. shell Bantlago
ile <"ubft. Plsaee .inform the cttlxenB of foreign
orurtrjes and all women and children that they
j-houM leave th<« city bffore 10 o'clock to-mor
row morning. Very respectfully, your obedient
Major General, V. 3. V.
To this letter I received the following
His Excellency the General Commanding
Forces of the United Bute*. Near t>un Juan
Illver— S!r: I have the honor to reply to your
communication of to-floy, written at 8:30 a. m.
cn4 received at 1 p. m... demanding, the surren
der of tUis city, or .m the contrary case an
nouncing to me that you wiil Ijombard this
city, imd that I advise the foreigners, women
and children that they must leave the city be
fore 10 o'clock to-morrow morning.
It Js my duty to say to you that this city
will net surrender and that I will inform the
It was unfortunate that our surround
ing's should have been of puch a charac
ter bcruuVe Santiago, for the American
people, is a place of romance. From San
tiago Corlcz Balled to conquer Mexico;
from Santiago lie Soto sailed -to discover
the Mltfhty Father of Waters; from Kan
tiago Mencndez saiicd to found St. Au
curtine; from Santiaco Ponce de I^eon
sailed to Jind the fountain of youth. .With
these surrounding* -what a grand old cele
bration we could have had Jf death had
been a Ft ranger to us und peace hud
reigned supreme.
However, w<? had come thlncs to cheer
us up and to rrjoice over. Admiral Cer
*-*>ra had left the harbor the day before
and his fleet had been absolutely anni
hilated, bo that the influence of that Be*
jx>wer whose gaik-ona hari crossed !tn>l
recro^sed the Spanish main was a thing;
of the past forever. Complete reports of
the einkin,T of the Spanish Meet reached
vk on the mornirp of the Fourth and were
received with yells and other manifesta
tions of rejoicing among the troops. T'ie
bands along the line played patriotic airs.
We knew that part of the work the army
had been sent there to do had been ac
complished ; the Bay of Santiago had been
ON the morrinjr of July * everybody
in our army was Ico tired and worn
out to enter Into a celebration "f
the Fourth of July in the Rood old
American fashion. The troops had been
under fire almont all the day before and
had worked until latcs nt nisht ontrench
lng themselves in front of the Spaniards.
who had been driven back to th« ir *»-c
ond line of dtfcr.se. It had been rein
ing- hard, hb only it can rain la a trop
ical country. For three <!aye •oHfyen had
eeen their old friends and cnmr..-ic« car
ried to hospital* in the roar. WDttitded;
and burying parties had been nil over the
battle fields burying tho dead, so that
our purroundlncs were such :is t'o maktt
any lively celebration a littlo out of

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