The battle of San Juan Hill didn't end the Spanish-American War for the United States Army or Roosevelt, but it might as well have for all the army or Roosevelt had to do with the matter. The Americans' capture of the San Juan Heights and of nearby El Caney disposed the commander of the Spanish naval squadron in Santiago Bay to evacuate his vessels lest they come under bombardment from American artillery. Evacuation would be dangerous, as a powerful armada of American battleships and cruisers lay in wait outside the bay; but like any blue- water man, Admiral Pascual Cervera preferred his chances at sea to those in the harbor, cooped up by land. He decided to make a run for it. The result was a disaster: All six Spanish warships were sunk or run aground, with more than three hundred men killed and seventeen hundred taken prisoner. Only one American sailor died, one other was wounded; damage to the American vessels was very light.
The destruction of Cervera's squadron essentially accomplished what the Fifth Army Corps had been sent to Santiago to do, leaving General Shafter and his superiors in something of a quandary as to what to do next. Without its ships, Santiagowas simply a sleepy, inconsequential village, hardly worth losing' lives over. Yet political considerations demanded that the town be taken: After the casualties at San Juan Hill, the United States Army couldn't very well turn around and walk away. Shafter sought to split the difference by negotiating a surrender.
Roosevelt wasn't privy to the thinking of either Shafter or his higher-ups in Washington--despite Lodge's intermittent efforts to