Headquarters, Second Brigade,
Second Division, Fifth Corps
July 5, 1898.
The Adjutant General,
2nd Division, 5th Army Corps.
I have the honor to submit the following preliminary report of the part taken by my command in the battle of Caney, July 1, 1898. When time and opportunity permits I desire to submit a fuller supplementary report on the same subject.
The command consisting of the 25th and 4th regiment of infantry (the 1st Infantry had been detached as support for Capron’s battery), left El Pozo at daylight, July 1, and halted at Marianage for about one hour (6:30 to 7:30). During that time the command felt the ground toward Ducret House, on the Caney-Santiago road. From there reconnoitering parties were sent to the front, and on our right and left of Ludlow’s brigade, eventually finding the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment, with which I was ordered to connect and hold my command in reserve. At the junction of the Maruanhe trail with the Santiago-Caney road I remained until General Lawton, at 11:30 a. m., ordered the brigade to take position on the right of Ludlow’s Brigade. We were detained in reaching our position by troops in front blocking the road. We came into action directly in front of the stone blockhouse at 12:30, and from that hour until about 4:30, when the command to “cease firing” was given, the blockhouse having been captured, my brigade was continuously under fire.
The attack was begun by two companies in each regiment on the firing line, strength’ ened by supports and reserves from the remaining companies until the brigade had tut two companies left in reserve. At one time in this hotly engaged contest the commanding officer, 25th Infantry, sent me word that he needed troops on his right. I then sent forward 40 Cubans, under command of Captain Jose Vargas and Avelens Bravo, with Lieutenants Nicolas Franco and Tomas Repeloa, to form on the right of the 25th Infantry, which was also the right of the brigade. With these Cubans I ordered Private Henry Downey, Company H, 1st Infantry, on duty as Interpreter at the headquarters. These men advanced on the stone fort without line, fighting gallantly, during which Lieutenant Nicolas Franco was mortally wounded and died soon afterwards.
The brigade advanced steadily with such scanty cover as the ground afforded, maintaining a heavy fire on the stone fort from the time the fight began until it ended.
As the brigade advanced across a plowed field in front of the enemy’s position, the tatter’s sharpshooters in the houses in Caney enfiladed the left of our line with a murderous fire. To silence it Major Stephen Baker, 4th Infantry, in command of the battalion of that regiment on the left of our line of battle, directed it to turn its fire upon that town. In so doing this battalion lost heavily, but its steady front and accurate volleys greatly assisted the advance of the remainder of the brigade upon the stone fort.
With regard to tactical employment of the regiments of this brigade, a line of skirmish’ ers was formed direct from close order, at a distance of about 1,600 yards, and advanced through dense underbrush and three wire fences for about 600 yards. During this advance the brigade was under a heavy fire from an enemy who could not be seen; but the coolness displayed during this period is worthy of special mention.
The gallant conduct of all officers of this brigade, coming under my personal observation, was so marked that it would be unjust to make special mention of any of them. Attention is, however, directed to the reports of the regimental commanders, herewith inclosed.