Henry Reeve (soldier)

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Henry Reeve (1850—1876) was a Brigadier General in Cuba's 'Ejército Libertador' (Army of Liberation) - more commonly known as the 'Ejército Mambí' - during the First Cuban War of Independence (Ten Years' War) (1868-1878).

Biography[edit]

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, USA on April 4, 1850 and died in Matanzas, Cuba on August 4, 1876. Reeve was 27 years old at the time of his death, and had served in the Cuban Army for 7 years, having participated in over 400 engagements against the Spanish Army.

Upon becoming aware of the Cuban uprising initiated at his farmstead, 'La Demajagua' by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes in 1868, he promptly volunteered. He arrived in Cuba in 1869 aboard the vessel Perrit as part of an Expeditionary Force.

The expedition was ambushed by the Spanish Army while unloading and Reeve was taken prisoner, along with many others. A Spanish firing squad shot the group, and left them unburied and presumed dead. Reeve was wounded but had enough strength to creep away, and was found by units of the Cuban Army.

He was known as 'Enrique - El Americano' and nicknamed "El Inglesito" ("the little Englishman") by General Ignacio Agramonte y Loynáz. He quickly rose under his command. Reeve in turn gave Agramonte his nickname: "El Mayor". He served with distinction; initially under Agramonte and subsequently under General Máximo Gómez y Báez.

Under Agramonte he participated in many actions, including the rescue of Brigadier Julio Sanguily in 1871; where Agramonte, Reeve, and 34 others overcame a superior Spanish force of 120.

In one critical action he leaped over an artillery battery, lifting the morale of the Cuban fighters, but sustained a serious leg wound. For his actions, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

Exposed to the harsh jungle conditions, he was told he would never walk or ride a horse again. Reeve persevered and with metallic braces he was able to walk, but had to be strapped to his mount in order to be able to ride his horse. He kept leading the famed Camagüey Cavalry Corps throughout the balance of his life.

After Agramonte's death at Jimaguayú in May 1873, Reeve presented Máximo Gómez to the legendary Camagüey Cavalry Corps. Under Gómez' command Reeve participated in the failed invasion of Western Cuba. Stranded in the province of Matanzas in 1876, the Spanish annihilated his small escort at Yaguaramas; unable to ride, Reeve shot himself with his handgun before being captured.

Henry Reeve was honored by the Cuban government in 1976 on the centenary of his death with a postal stamp.

In response to Hurricane Katrina, Cuba assembled 1,586 humanitarian doctors to offer to assist the United States. The offer was declined, and on September 19, 2005 Fidel Castro created the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disasters and Serious Epidemics in honor of him.[1]

Sources and further reading[edit]

Speech by Fidel Castro initiating the Henry Reeve's Contingent

  1. ^ "Castro: U.S. hasn't responded to Katrina offer". CNN. Retrieved June 1, 2011.