Siege of Santiago
|Siege of Santiago|
|Part of the Spanish-American War|
| United States
Republic of Cuba
|Kingdom of Spain|
|Commanders and leaders|
|William Rufus Shafter||Jose Toral|
|Casualties and losses|
|1,614 dead or wounded||2,000 dead or wounded
The Siege of Santiago also known as the Siege of Santiago de Cuba was the last major operation of the Spanish-American War on the island of Cuba. This action should not be confused with the naval battle of Santiago de Cuba.
The primary objective of the Americans on Cuba had been the capture of the city of Santiago de Cuba. U.S. forces had driven back the Spaniard's first line of defense at the Battle of Las Guasimas. General Arsenio Linares pulled his troops back to the main line of defense against Santiago along San Juan Heights. In the charge at the Battle of San Juan Hill U.S. forces captured the Spanish position. At the Battle of El Caney the same day, U.S. forces took the fortified Spanish position and were then able to extend the U.S. flank on San Juan Hill. The destruction of the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba allowed U.S forces to safely besiege the city.
On July 3, 1898, the same day as the naval battle, Major General William "Pecos Bill" Shafter began the siege of Santiago. Shafter fortified his position on San Juan Heights. General Henry W. Lawton's division moved up from El Caney extending the U.S. right flank to the north. To the northwest, Cuban rebels under the command of Calixto Garcia extended the U.S. line to the bay. General Arsenio Linares had been severely wounded at the Battle of San Juan Hill and was replaced by General Jose Toral. Toral had a good defensive position and Shafter knew he would sustain severe casualties from a frontal assault.
Instead, the Americans settled on a siege of the city. U.S. artillery sited on the heights pounded the city, while U.S. forces supported by Cuban rebels choked off all water and food supplies to the city. On July 4, a .30 Army Gatling from Lt. John Parker's Gatling Gun Detachment was moved to Fort Canosa in support of the siege. Over the next thirteen days, it was used to fire 6,000 to 7,000 rounds into the city of Santiago, causing many casualties.
On July 3, a relief column was able to fight its way through Garcia's rebels and into the city bringing Toral's force to a total of 13,500. On July 4, a cease fire was enacted to evacuate roughly 20,000 citizens from the city. On July 8, Toral proposed to surrender Santiago if his troops could be evacuated to another city. Washington officials would not accept Toral's proposal. Shafter was now pressed for time. Disease had begun to take its toll on the U.S. forces, and the officials in Washington wanted results. Shafter and the U.S. Navy under William T. Sampson continued to bomb the city.
Everyone involved wanted a quick end to the campaign. Major General Nelson A. Miles, the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army, arrived on Cuba and, on July 13, Toral, Shafter and Miles met between lines to discuss surrender terms. In order to keep the Spanish happy and bring about a quick surrender, Shafter and Miles avoided the word "surrender".
Shafter relied on his friend Dr. George E. Goodfellow’s excellent knowledge of Spanish to help negotiate the final surrender after the Battle of San Juan Hill. Goodfellow attributed part of his success to a bottle of “ol’ barleycorn” he kept handy in his medical kit which he properly prescribed to himself and Spanish General Jose Toral, lending a more convivial atmosphere to the conference. On July 17, after both governments agreed to the terms, Toral surrendered about 11,500 soldiers within the district of Santiago plus an additional 12,000 soldiers stationed around Santiago. The Spanish also ceded Guantanamo City and San Luis.
The siege effectively ended the major fighting on Cuba, but the war was not yet over. Yellow fever had spread through the U.S. Army before the surrender had taken place, and some 4,000 U.S. soldiers were ill. Many officers, notably Theodore Roosevelt, fought for the removal of the army from Cuba, which was recalled and sent to containment camps in coastal cities in the U.S to deal with the infected troops. Plans were made for a major assault on Havana, but the next major campaign of the war came on Puerto Rico, led by General Miles.
- Parker, John H. (Lt.), The Gatlings At Santiago, Middlesex, U.K.: Echo Library (reprinted 2006), p. 68
- Parker, John H. (Lt.), The Gatlings At Santiago, p. 68
- Aker, Andrea (October 19, 2009). "Doc Goodfellow: Arizona’s Gutsiest Physician from the Territorial Days". Retrieved March 4, 2013.
- Konstam, Angus San Juan Hill 1898: America's Emergence as a World Power (1998)
- Marrin, Albert The Spanish-American War (1991)
- Parker, John H. (Lt.), The Gatlings At Santiago, Middlesex, U.K.: Echo Library (reprinted 2006)