On the night of February 15, 1898, Colonel Charles sigsby, the captain of the United States Navy battleship Maine, moored in the port of Havana, Cuba, was writing to his wife affectionately under the light.
The warship was sent last month when the Cuban people revolted against the Spanish authorities.
Its mission is to protect the lives and property of Americans there.
For more than a month, Colonel sigsby and his Maine had little to do, despite the widespread war that had devastated the beautiful island country.
Because neither Cubans nor Spaniards want to ignore or offend this uninvited guest.
The clock pointed to 9:40, and the trumpeter on the ship sounded the light out signal.
In the dull and silent night sky, the melodious and beautiful horn seems to spread far away.
Sigsby looked up at the sparkling sea outside the porthole and put the written letter in the envelope.
Just then, a loud noise suddenly threw him and all the decorations on the table to the port side.
For a moment, the lights in the cabin went out, it was dark, and bursts of smoke came to my face.
Sigsby struggled to get up, groped up the deck and found that the bow had been blown up and sank rapidly.
In an instant, the huge steel trunk sank to the bottom of the sea with a violent explosion.
266 of the 354 officers and soldiers on the ship died before they knew what had happened.
How was this incident caused? There have always been different opinions.
It was not until 1976 that admiral Hyman ricofer used modern technology to infer that it was due to the spontaneous combustion of the coal cabin adjacent to the powder magazine that he really solved a historical case.
However, some fanatical expansionists in the American press and military at that time insisted that the Spanish did it.
The originally tense relationship between the United States and Spain became more and more gunpowder, and a war was imminent.
Why did the relationship between the United States and Spain deteriorate? Cuba is the cause.
As we all know, when the US ruling group was founded, it coveted Cuba, a close neighbor in the Caribbean.
In order to seize this strategically and economically important island, the US authorities have made various attempts, either by means of purchase or by means of pirate attacks, but they had to give up bitterly due to various factors.
After the civil war, the United States was busy restoring its national strength and had no intention or ability to conflict with Spain.
Therefore, the main purpose of its diplomacy with Cuba was to expand trade relations with the island and protect American investment.
However, it still pays close attention to the situation in Cuba and is ready to take this treasure land as its own whenever possible.
In February 1895, following the war of independence from 1868 to 1878, the Cuban people raised the banner of resistance against the Spanish colonial rulers again.
The uprising was led by a capable leader, Maximo Gomez.
By means of guerrilla warfare and destruction of the island’s economy, he led the rebel army to haunt and attack everywhere.
As indicated by the righteous flag, it was the same as starting a prairie fire, which dealt a heavy blow to the Spanish colonial authorities.
Of course, Spain, an old power, will not sit idly by and watch its last colony in the Americas gain independence and decide to take high-pressure measures to put out the raging fire of the Cuban uprising.
When governor combs was clearly unable to cope with the current situation, general Weiler succeeded him in early 1896.
Weiler, nicknamed “butcher”, is cruel and cruel.
He commanded 200000 troops and frantically implemented the “concentration system” in Cuba, driving all the rural population to concentration camps with poor conditions.
If he did not obey, he would be treated as treason and killed.
As a result, thousands of Cuban people died either under the whips and bayonets of colonists or under the siege of hunger and disease, Its tragic situation is beyond description.
These events in Cuba have always affected the nerves of all parties in the United States.
The people are very sympathetic to the insurgents and hope that the United States government will recognize Cuba’s revolutionary government and provide moral and financial assistance.
Expansionists, on the other hand, hope to take advantage of this blessed opportunity to openly wage war with Spain in order to annex Cuba and turn it into an American colony.
As for those big American bosses who have made huge investments in Cuba and suffered heavy losses due to the turmoil of the war, they have tried their best to encourage the government to send troops to intervene.
They ordered some newspapers and periodicals to exaggerate the losses and misfortunes suffered by American citizens in Cuba, calling Weiler “executioner” and “man eating hyena”.
When reporting on the situation in Cuba, the reporter of the New York Le Monde wrote: “There is blood on the road, blood in the fields, blood on the threshold of the house, blood, blood! The old and young, weak and disabled have been ruthlessly slaughtered.
Does not a country have enough wisdom, courage and strength to restore peace in this bloody land?” Similar publicity has really caused many Americans to have the psychology of “giving up their own”.
Mahan’s loyal admirer, young senator rocky from Massachusetts, became the representative of great power chauvinists with his sharp words and tough attitude.
In his speech to Congress, he said: “We have great direct financial interests on the island, and those interests are suffering.
If Cuba is liberated, it will be a huge market in the United States, where tax-free means can be used to provide an opportunity for American capital.
Moreover, we have broader political interests and are closely related to the fate of Cuba.
Such a large island is just far away from the Gulf of Mexico Yes, it completely controls the Gulf and the necessary channels for commercial exchanges between the Gulf and the northern and eastern states of China, and runs across the route to the Nicaragua canal.
Therefore, whether Cuba is directly in our hands, in the hands of a friendly country, in the hands of its own people, or because of its stakeholders and gratitude, it is a big barrier to American business, security and peace.
” In 1897, the agitation for war intensified with the advent of President William McKinley.
With the diplomatic and public opinion wars carefully planned by politicians, financiers, businessmen and newspaper tycoons, the political fanaticism against Spain has swept the United States.
In February 1898, a diplomatic error added fuel to the increasingly tense relations with Madrid.
At the end of 1897, the Spanish Minister to the United States de Molo wrote a personal letter to a friend,He commented on President McKinley’s New Year address, saying that McKinley was “a political liar who should not only open his back door, but also maintain good relations with militants in his party”.
These views are purely the personal feelings of the minister, and there is nothing wrong with them.
Unexpectedly, the letter was stolen by Cuban spies and fell into the hands of the Americans.
As a result, the New York Daily publicly disclosed the letter in the newspaper on February 9, which immediately caused an uproar in the media.
The Spanish Minister was speechless and knew he had caused great trouble, so he took the blame and resigned.
The Spanish government was also worried about the expansion of the situation and quickly issued a document to apologize to the United States.
However, the Americans did not let go, and the militants seized the matter and did everything they could to cheer the United States for sending troops to Cuba.
What a coincidence.
A week later, there was the sinking of the Maine mentioned above.
Although there is no real evidence to prove that the bombing was committed by the Spanish, many Americans blame Spain for the disaster.
For a time, American newspapers and periodicals shouted: “remember the Maine incident!” “To hell with the Spaniards!” “The time has come to intervene.
Mankind asks us to act.
” “Spain does not have enough gold to compensate for the insult suffered by our country or to repay the precious lives of the dead in the disaster of February 15.
” What’s more, a senator from Nebraska openly advocated the possible “dividends” of the war.
“The war against Spain can expand trade, increase the income of every railway in the United States, increase the products of all factories in the United States, stimulate every sector of industry and domestic trade, increase the demand for labor, and finally make the price of every share of American enterprises higher than at present,” he said These remarks fully exposed the real motive of the US ruling group eager to go to war with Spain.
At the end of March, the U.S. ambassador to Madrid presented the Spanish government with an ultimatum of the State Department, asking the Spanish government to conclude an armistice agreement with the Cuban rebels before October 5 and immediately repeal the decree on concentration camps.
Its tough attitude has been a rare move in American diplomacy for decades.
Because the Spanish government wanted to avoid war with the United States, it fully agreed to the requirements of the United States.
At the same time, it also invited European countries to mediate.
On April 7, the ambassadors of Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Russia to the United States sent a note to the United States, hoping that the Cuban issue could be resolved through peaceful means.
The president is famous for his “barometer” at home.
Where does he always stare at the barometer? He replied arrogantly and hypocritically that he also hoped for peace.
If the United States is still forced to intervene in the future, it is also for “human happiness”.
McKinley then asked Congress to authorize him to take the measures necessary for armed intervention in Cuba.
On April 19, both houses of Congress approved all the powers McKinley requested.
After all the usual conventions were over, the Spanish American War officially began.
At this moment, the Spaniards forced to Liangshan have little confidence in the prospect of the war.
25 years of civil war and riots have torn Spain apart.
Labor struggles, anarchist uprisings, and nationalist student demonstrations swept the country.
The revolution enveloped Cuba and the Philippines, the only two remaining major outposts in Spain.
As people said, “the Spanish Empire, once famous for a time, has become an old ugly woman without teeth.
” In terms of military affairs, although it has a regular army of 500000 people (150000 of whom are stationed in Cuba, 20000 in the Philippines and the rest in China), it greatly exceeds the 28000 regular army of the United States in terms of number and combat experience, everyone knows that the key to winning this war is the Navy rather than the army.
Unless Spain can control the sea, domestic troops will not be able to deploy reinforcements overseas at all.
In 1898, the Spanish Navy nominally had a lineup comparable to that of the United States Navy, but in fact it was in disrepair and vulnerable.
The new armored cruiser “CHRISTOBEL Cologne”, which is known as the most powerful, has not even installed the main turret.
The other three main cruisers had either mechanical problems or lack of sailors or training.
No wonder the Spanish admiral sevira, who was ordered to command the fleet, sighed pessimistically on the eve of the expedition: “this trip is either the destruction of the whole army or a hasty defeat.
” In contrast, the US Navy is a nouveau riche.
After the loss of the Maine, it still has four 10000 ton class I warships, one 6300 ton class II warship, two 9000 ton modern armored cruisers, 11 3000-7000 ton cruisers, six 4000-6000 ton low sideboard armored ships equipped with heavy weapons, and a large number of auxiliary patrol boats, gunboats and torpedo boats.
When the naval circles of European countries predicted that the Spanish American war would last for a long time, Mahan scoffed at it.
He confidently told reporters: within three months, the United States will win! Mahan is not boasting.
His views have a large number of confidants in the US Navy.
Theodore, then undersecretary of the Navy, had long believed that war with Spain was inevitable.
A year ago, when he accepted the appointment of the undersecretary of the Navy, he began to make all kinds of preparations for this future war.
As a fanatical imperialist, he is the concrete and vivid executor of Mahan theory, and firmly believes that a strong navy is crucial to the future of the country.
This strong, energetic naval power figure who loves boxing and wrestling never stays in the office for more than a moment.
Instead, he often goes to various naval factories for inspection.
As soon as he has the opportunity, he takes a new warship to the sea for inspection, chasing the wind and waves, which is more than his addiction.
Roosevelt’s aggressive and almost reckless style also made him often go his own way beyond Secretary of the Navy John Lang.
Shortly after the explosion of the Maine, he couldn’t wait to send a telegram to George Dewey, commander of the Asian sub fleet in Hong Kong: “prepare enough fuel.
Once you declare war on Spain, you are responsible for preventing the Spanish fleet from leaving the Asian coast and then launching an offensive in the Philippine Islands.
” A few days after the war, he resigned from the post of undersecretary of the Navy and volunteered to take the postThe head of the American first volunteer cavalry regiment, known as the “reckless cavalry”, is only colonel.
Later, he led the reckless cavalry in the battle of San Juan, made enough political capital, and became famous all over the country through newspaper publicity.
Three years later, just after Roosevelt turned 42, he unexpectedly ascended the throne of president of the United States.
After receiving Roosevelt’s telegram, Dewey, commander of the Asian sub fleet far away in Hong Kong, rubbed his hands and was overjoyed, and immediately ordered all ships to enter combat readiness.
As a veteran of the civil war and a fleet commander who has experienced the era of naval revitalization, Dewey has a typical character of belligerence and self-confidence.
At this time, in addition to the flagship “Olympia”, he had three well-equipped cruisers such as “Baltimore”, “Boston” and “Raleigh”, two gunships “Concord” and “petrel”, plus the anti smuggling boat “mccullock”, with a total of 33 6-inch guns.
Although from today’s perspective, these indicators are nothing, but in the late 19th century, it can be called a “sword on the sea”.
On April 27, 1898, Dewey led the fleet through the China Sea and then drove straight to Manila Bay 600 nautical miles away.
Along the way, they threw all kinds of inflammables into the sea, loaded lightly, and everyone made up their mind to fight to the death with the enemy.
In fact, as Mahan pointed out, the Spanish fleet in Asia is definitely not the same heavyweight as Dewey’s fleet.
There is only one modern warship in the fleet commanded by admiral Montoya, the flagship “Reye Kristina”, but due to the leakage of the ship body, it is unable to sail far and has little combat effectiveness at all.
Others are a group of old-fashioned and outdated coastal wooden sailboats.
The total firepower of the fleet is 1273 pounds at one salvo, accounting for only 13 of the artillery fire of the U.S. fleet.
The difference in strength is so great that we can imagine the outcome of this battle.
On the early morning of May 1, 1898, the Dewey fleet caught fire with the Spanish fleet moored on the surface of the sea of jiamidi 10 nautical miles away from Manila.
Like a hungry tiger wading into a flock of sheep, Dewey’s fleet fought only a few back and forth.
Less than a morning before and after, the Spanish fleet was destroyed.
However, the US ship itself was undamaged, and there were only a few wounded.
The next day, the garrison of the Kami region was forced to surrender.
Then, in order to wait for the arrival of ground troops, Dewey fleet stayed in the hot Manila Bay for several months.
The war in the Far East then fell silent.
This one-sided victory in the naval battle not only made Dewey famous in the first World War, but also made the US government and the public ecstatic.
But before the jubilant excitement of the whole country passed, a frightening news made all Americans take a cold breath! It turned out that the capable Spanish Navy commander sevira was a veteran and familiar with the art of war.
He knew that with his poor strength, he could only outwit the powerful US Navy.
Therefore, after he led the Spanish fleet to set out, he put on a ecstasy array all the way, which was true, false and false, so that the US Navy could not figure out its real whereabouts.
While Dewey was fighting in Manila Bay, general sevira stopped fighting, walked day and night, and wandered from east to west.
The whole fleet seemed to become an imperceptible sea ghost.
The whereabouts of the Spanish fleet are unknown, which has become a major problem for the United States.
Reminiscent of the glory of Spain’s invincible fleet in history, people have exacerbated their fear of the enigmatic Spanish admiral.
For a time, the newspapers published a lot of news, saying that the Spanish giant ship had reached the sea near Boston and New York, which made people panic along the Atlantic coast and asked the navy to take measures to protect it.
Under public pressure, the U.S. Navy Department had to split the fleet ready to go into three routes.
The first route, that is, most of the ships, were sent to Key West to deal with the situation in Cuba under the command of Rear Admiral William Sampson.
The second route is led by brigadier general Winfield Schley, with the Hampton anchorage as the berthing point.
It is composed of fast warships, named “flying fleet”, whose mission is to take into account the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The third route is composed of the cruiser San Francisco and four armed merchant ships.
Its mission is to cruise in the North Sea area to Cape Delaware, mainly to appease the people.
The US Navy’s is to round up this spooky Spanish fleet with unknown whereabouts.
But for more than ten days in a row, even the slightest shadow of Sevilla was not found.
The frustrated Naval Intelligence Service had to make a prediction that sevira might go to San Juan, Puerto Rico to replenish fuel, based on the last clue that sevira showed up in the Cape Verde Islands on April 29.
Major general Sampson was eager to fight.
After hearing the news, he immediately led the main ships into San Juan.
As soon as I got there, the vast sea was calm and the enemy had never been here at all! Sampson was furious and scolded the Admiralty for its incompetence.
In order to vent his anger, he ordered the shelling of the city of San Juan for more than an hour before returning to Key West.
Who knows, just as Sampson swears and returns without success, the Navy Department has received another important information that the Spanish fleet appears on Martini Island, not far from San Juan.
According to the analysis of the Navy, sevira may go straight to Havana or to the port of cienfugos on the South Bank of Cuba, because only these two places can provide him with fuel and military supplies.
So Sampson and Shelley came to the spirit again and led their fleets to the above two places.
However, all these efforts were in vain – sevira successfully deceived the American commander again.
Instead of going to Havana or the port of Cienfuegos, he crossed the Caribbean and plunged into the port of Santiago at the southern tip of Cuba.
There is not only land artillery to cover, but also mines on the narrow waterways.
For a fleet with weak strength and self-protection, this is indeed a good choice.
Of course, everything has its advantages and disadvantages.
If sevira continues to maintain his style of maritime guerrilla tactics, boldly intersperse and covert contact with the enemy, it will certainly drag the US Navy tired and full of flaws, and there may be a few lines of hope of winning.
But he automatically gave up the guessing game that hurt the American head.
In this way, the strength is temporarily saved, but his hands and feet are also tightenedThe morale of the troops.
On June 28, when sheft learned that Spanish reinforcements were gathering in Santiago, he decided to strike while the iron was hot and teach these recalcitrant Spaniards a lesson again.
On July 1, sheft led a large-scale attack on elkane, a small village northeast of Santiago, and the San Juan highland extending along Santiago in the east of the city.
To the north of the road is mount ketel and to the south is mount San Juan.
The two mountains stand side by side.
Although the enemy’s position was within the range of the Sampson fleet artillery, sheft did not ask the Admiral for fire support.
It seems that he deliberately did not let the Navy share the victory he was determined to win.
Unexpectedly, the Spanish are not easy to deal with.
Elkane’s 500 defenders and 5000 Americans tangled for a whole day, not the two hours expected by sheft.
The two divisions that attacked the San Juan highlands took great pains to occupy the position.
In the whole day, the Spaniards, who were at an absolute disadvantage of 1:10 in number, withstood the most elite troops of the U.S. Army, causing 1385 heavy casualties.
After this battle, everyone in the U.S. Army was frightened and trembled at the prospect.
You know, elkane and San Juan heights are just outposts of the main defensive positions of the Spanish.
“If there is another victory like that on July 1, our army will have to withdraw,” wrote army reporter Richard Davis in dismay Even Roosevelt, who had always been fearless and excelled in the attack on Keitel mountain, felt short of breath and guilty, “So far, we have paid a heavy price and finally won, but the Spaniards are very tenacious.
It is terrible to charge these trenches with modern rifles.
We must get help.
We need thousands of people, artillery, food and ammunition,” he wrote At this time, major general sheft, who was unfortunately seriously ill, was more like a deflated ball, with a sad face all day.
He braced himself up and drew up two urgent telegrams.
One was an urgent request for help from Sampson.
Another cable told Washington that the situation was serious and asked for permission to withdraw his troops immediately.