Buffalo Soldier Regiment: History of the Twenty-Fifth United States Infantry, 1869-1926

By John H. Nankivell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
THE CAMPAIGN OF SANTIAGO—CAPTAIN LOUGHBOROUGH’S RECOL-
LECTIONS OF THE CAMPAIGN—LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAGGETT’S
REPORTS ON THE BATTLE OF EL CANEY—GENERAL CHAFFEE’S
INDORSEMENT—THE CAPTURE OF THE SPANISH FLAG AT EL CANEY
—LIEUTENANTS FRENCH’S, CALDWELL’S, AND MOSS’S REPORTS
ON THE BATTLE—LOSSES—AN AMUSING INCIDENT—LIEUTENANT
COLONEL DAGGETT’S ORDER TO THE REGIMENT.

It is not the intention of the compiler of this history to enter into a detailed strategical and tactical study of the Santiago Campaign, far abler writers than he having already exhaustively covered this subject, but it is intended to present, as clearly as possible, the movements of the 25th Infantry during the campaign from the accounts of those that participated and from various official reports. Referring once again, then, to the recollections of Captain Loughborough we find that:

“As soon as the regiment had landed it was marched out about four miles and bivouacked for the night. The country is rugged and covered with a dense tropical vegetation. A few “Cuban Patriots” had joined us and formed the extreme advance saving us some disagreeable outpost duty. This was the only service I know of them doing throughout the campaign, though they were always on hand ration day. Later developments showed that the service rendered was not so important, as any Spanish force had retired to a safe place, something our friends looked out for when there was any danger.

“June 23rd, the regiment started shortly after daylight towards the city of Santiago. About 9:00 o’clock, there was a report that the enemy were in our front. The regiment was immediately formed for battle, and reconnoitering parties sent forward; after about thirty minutes delay the supposed enemy proved to be the large leaves of some tropical trees being moved by the wind, giving them the appearance of persons in motion. Our route was over a narrow trail, through a dense wilderness; water was scarce and the heat intense. About noon we arrived at Siboney, where we bivouacked for the night. Before daylight the next morning the troops in our rear were heard passing on the trail by our camp. Shortly after daylight Captain Capron’s battery of four guns passed, and the men lined up along the road and cheered lustily. About an hour later, musketry fire and the occasional discharge of a Hotchkiss gun could be plainly heard towards Santiago. About three-quarters of an hour later we received orders to march. By mistake, the wrong trail was taken, and after marching fourteen hours we returned to our camp of the previous night, all fagged out. A great many men of the brigade were overcome with heat during this long, tiresome and fruitless ramble. I cannot say how many of these were of the 25th Infantry, but in my own company (B) there was not a man out of ranks when the camp was reached. (I have called the above-mentioned place “Siboney.” There is probably some other name for it, as the Cubans have one for every hamlet. It is not far from Siboney, and not knowing the name, have called it Siboney.)

“On the morning of the 25th, we got rations from the transport and all enjoyed a hearty breakfast. At 1:00 p. m. we broke camp and marched to Sevilla, about six miles. Here we remained until the morning of the 27th, part of the regiment being out on picket duty. June 27th, the regiment marched three miles towards Santiago and bivouacked on the banks of a small creek. Bathing was forbidden, as the creek was the only water supply for the army. The troops remained at this place until the afternoon of June 30th. The camp was in the valley of the creek, the ground is low and flat, and with the heavy rainfall every one was uncomfortable. Rations had to be brought from Siboney over a trail and did not arrive regularly.

-70-

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