Spanish-American War. I INTRODUCTION Spanish-American War, brief war that the United States waged against Spain in 1898. Actual hostilities in the war lasted less than four months, from April 25 to August 12, 1898. Most of the fighting occurred in or near the Spanish colonial possessions of Cuba and the Philippines, nearly halfway around the world from each other. In both theaters the decisive military event was the complete destruction of a Spanish naval squadron by a vastly superior U.S. fleet. These victories left the Spanish land forces isolated from their homeland and, after brief resistance, brought about their surrender to U.S. military forces. The defeat marked the end of Spain's colonial empire and the rise of the United States as a global military power. II THE CAUSES OF THE WAR A number of factors contributed to the U.S. decision to go to war against Spain. These included the Cuban struggle for independence, American imperialism, and the sinking of the U.S. warship Maine. A Cuban Independence The war grew out of the Cuban struggle for independence. Since the early years of the 19th century, many Americans had watched with sympathy the series of revolutions that ended Spanish authority throughout South America, Central America, and Mexico (see Latin American Independence). Many people in the United States were irritated that the Spanish flag continued to fly in Cuba and Puerto Rico. The brutality with which Spain put down Cuban demands for a degree of local autonomy and personal liberty aroused both sympathy and anger. Support for the cause of Cuban independence had deep historical roots in the United States, and this cause became the stated objective of the war. The Cubans revolted in 1895 under the inspired leadership of Cuban patriot Jose Martí. The revolt was prompted by the failure of the Spanish government to institute reforms it had promised the Cuban people at the conclusion of a rebellion against Spanish rule known as the Ten Years' War (1868-1878). To put down the 1895 rebellion, the Spanish government poured more than 100,000 troops into the island. General Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau, known as the "Butcher" for his ruthless suppression of earlier revolts, was sent to the island as captain general and military governor. He immediately rounded up the peasant population and put them in concentration camps in or near garrison towns. Thousands died of starvation and disease. The brutality of "Butcher" Weyler aroused great indignation in the United States. The general anger was exploited by sensational press reports, which exaggerated even Weyler's ruthlessness. In 1897 the Spanish government became alarmed at the belligerent tone of public opinion in the United States. Weyler was recalled, and overtures were made to the rebels. The rebels rejected an offer of autonomy, however, and were determined to fight for complete independence. B American Imperialism An important factor in the U.S. decision to go to war was the growing imperialism of the United States, as seen in the mounting efforts to extend American influence overseas. The increasingly aggressive behavior of the United States was often justified by references to Manifest Destiny, a belief that territorial expansion by the United States was both inevitable and divinely ordained; this belief enjoyed widespread support among U.S. citizens and politicians in the 19th century. Manifest Destiny was promoted by the publishers of several prominent U.S. newspapers, particularly William Randolph Hearst, the publisher of TheNew York Journal, and Joseph Pulitzer, the publisher of the New York World. Their newspapers published a steady stream of sensational stories about alleged atrocities committed by the Spanish in Cuba, calling for the United States to intervene on the side of the Cubans. The spirit of imperialism growing in the United States--fueled by supporters of Manifest Destiny--led many Americans to believe that the United States needed to take aggressive steps, both economically and militarily, to establish itself as a true world power. C The Sinking of the Maine In January 1898 serious disorder broke out in Havana, Cuba. The U.S. consul general in the city asked that a U.S. warship be sent to the harbor to protect U.S. citizens and property. The second-class battleship Maine was ordered to Havana. On the night of February 15 the Maine was destroyed by an underwater explosion while at anchor in Havana harbor and 266 officers and men were lost. Exactly how and why the explosion occurred could not be determined at the time, but many people in the United States believed the Spaniards were responsible. "Remember the Maine!" became the national battle cry overnight. A U.S. Navy study published in 1976 suggested that spontaneous combustion in the ship's coal bunkers caused the explosion. III DECLARATION OF WAR U.S. President William McKinley had hoped to avoid war with Spain, but he was swept along on the wave of national feeling in support of war. On April 11 he sent a message to Congress asking for the authority to put an end to the fighting in Cuba. The fact that he knew Spain had just ordered an armistice was barely touched on in the message. On April 19 a joint resolution of the two houses of Congress gave him the authority to intervene. On April 22 the North Atlantic Squadron was ordered to blockade Cuba. A declaration of war on April 25 was hardly more than a formality. Congressional resolutions affirmed Cuban independence and stated that the United States was not acting to secure an empire. IV THE CARIBBEAN THEATER At the beginning of the war there were nearly 200,000 Spanish troops in Cuba. About 125,000 were regulars and the remainder were local volunteers. The regulars were well-trained men armed with up-to-date magazine rifles. The bulk of the troops were stationed at Havana in the western part of the island. Havana was linked by rail with the port of Cienfuegos on the south-central coast. The remainder of the island was accessible from Havana only by sea or by very mediocre roads, and the countryside swarmed with Cuban insurgents. In contrast, the U.S. Regular Army had a total strength of some 25,000. These troops were scattered in small posts throughout the country. McKinley appealed initially for 125,000 volunteers, which he later increased to 267,000, but these men could not be trained into reliable fighting units for some time. Therefore, the cry of "On to Havana!" seemed unrealistic indeed to Nelson A. Miles, the commanding general of the U.S. Army. Miles proposed to concentrate all his regulars in one Army corps to take advantage of any opportunity that might develop from the Navy's operations. A Blockade of Cuba The Navy's basic job was to blockade the island of Cuba. If the Spanish army could be cut off from seaborne supplies from Spain, it could not maintain itself for long against the Cuban insurgents, let alone prepare to fight the U.S. forces. To maintain a successful blockade, the U.S. Navy would have to control the sea approaches to Cuba. To accomplish this, the United States determined that the Spanish navy had to be destroyed wherever it was found. Thus the U.S. war objectives were broadened to include an attack on the Spanish naval base in the Philippines and eventually the conquest of the Philippine islands themselves. On paper the Spanish navy was formidable, but in reality many of its ships were not ready for sea. In the spring of 1898 a squadron of four armored cruisers and three destroyers was the only Spanish naval force in shape to proceed to the Caribbean. In actual fighting power, the U.S. North Atlantic Squadron of four battleships and two armored cruisers was overwhelmingly superior. Nevertheless, news that the Spanish squadron under Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete was sailing westward across the Atlantic Ocean from the Cape Verde Islands, off the western coast of Africa, caused a panic in U.S coastal cities. Such a clamor arose for protection that the commander of the North Atlantic Squadron, Rear Admiral William Thomas Sampson, was forced to leave half of his squadron at Hampton Roads, Virginia, to discourage the Spanish from bombarding U.S. seaports. With his reduced forces, Sampson could not simultaneously watch the two major Cuban ports of Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, located in southeastern Cuba. The Spanish squadron was prevented from slipping into Cienfuegos harbor in May 1898 only by the belated arrival of a squadron from Virginia. Sampson had finally pried this squadron loose after Civil War monitors--heavily armored ships used for coastal bombardment--had been substituted for the squadron's ships in the harbors along the U.S. coast. These communities were reassured by the monitors, although there was no ammunition available for their muzzle-loaded guns. By June 1 Sampson's fleet, reinforced by the battleship Oregon, had blockaded Cervera's Spanish squadron in the port of Santiago de Cuba. B Expeditionary Force The U.S. Army had succeeded, after extreme difficulty, in collecting some 16,500 men at Tampa, Florida. This Fifth Army Corps was composed mainly of regulars, although there were also two National Guard infantry regiments and a regiment of volunteer cavalry, called the Rough Riders. This unit had been raised by Lieutenant Colonel (and future U.S. president) Theodore Roosevelt and commanded at first by Colonel Leonard Wood. When Wood was appointed brigadier general of volunteers in July 1898, Roosevelt was made a colonel and assumed command of the cavalry regiment. The Fifth Army Corps left Tampa without much military order or discipline. Troops piled aboard the available ships in almost total disregard of any loading plan, if indeed one existed. Drinking water had to be rationed, the food was bad, and the congestion aboard the ships was incredible. But on June 20 they arrived off the coast of Cuba. After some bitter discussion with the civilian shipmasters, several of whom stoutly refused to bring their ships close to this "enemy shore," men and supplies were bundled overboard into boats. It took five days to get all of the Fifth Corps landed in Cuba. C San Juan Hill The Rough Riders cavalry division, dismounted because the horses had been left behind, was the first to land and it quickly pushed ahead toward Santiago de Cuba. At Las Guásimas it fought the first land battle of the war, a sharp skirmish in which a somewhat superior Spanish force was driven from its positions. After several days of preparation, the U.S. division launched a general attack on the morning of July 1. The attack, which was badly coordinated, eventually took the Spanish positions at El Caney and on San Juan Hill. More than 280 U.S. soldiers were killed and over 1500 wounded in the fighting. U.S. commanders were discouraged by the unexpectedly heavy losses and did not immediately follow up with further attacks. The Spanish captain general in Havana, however, was even more distraught. Convinced that Santiago de Cuba could not be held, Ramon Blanco y Erenas telegraphed Admiral Cervera, ordering him to take his ships to sea "to avoid being included in the surrender." D Victory in the Caribbean Cervera knew he was being ordered to certain destruction but felt compelled to obey. He chose the morning of July 3 for a hopeless but gallant escape attempt. The Spanish ships had to emerge from the narrow harbor entrance one at a time, each in turn facing the concentrated fire of the U.S. ships. Cervera's flagship, Infanta Maria Teresa, led the column and was taken under fire by the Iowa at 9:35 AM. Within several hours, all seven Spanish ships in the squadron had either been destroyed or driven ashore. The discrepancy in fighting power between the two squadrons is underlined by the casualty figures. The Spaniards reported casualties of 323 dead and 151 wounded. The Americans had 1 killed and 1 wounded. Cervera and more than 1700 of his officers and men became prisoners of war. The battle marked the end of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. The Spanish garrison at Santiago de Cuba surrendered on July 17, after protracted negotiations and some intermittent shelling. On July 25, U.S. troops landed in Puerto Rico and took the island after encountering only token resistance. Hostilities in the Caribbean were now at an end. V THE PACIFIC THEATER Two months before the U.S. victory in the Caribbean, U.S. ships had already destroyed Spain's naval forces in the Philippines. An often debated question is why, in a war undertaken to end Spanish rule in Cuba, a U.S. naval squadron should have been ordered to destroy a Spanish naval squadron based in Manila, over 9000 miles away. A fairly prevalent theory ascribes it to the so-called imperialism of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt had become assistant secretary of the navy in 1897. His energy and enthusiasm had contributed notably to the readiness of the U.S. Navy in the SpanishAmerican War. Late in 1897, before he resigned to organize the Rough Riders, he had insisted on the appointment of Commodore George Dewey to command the Asiatic Squadron. Dewey was an energetic and determined officer, capable of swift and forceful action. On February 25, 1898, Roosevelt sent Dewey a cable warning him of the need for vigorous action against the Spanish squadron at Manila in case of war with Spain. However, it is probable that Roosevelt was thinking simply of wiping out Spanish sea power wherever it existed, rather than of American empire building. He was an ardent disciple of Captain Alfred T. Mahan, whose views on the importance of control of the seas were consistent with the actions Roosevelt took. However, Roosevelt's famous dispatch to the Asiatic Squadron had little bearing on Dewey's actions. The commodore had orders to attack the Spanish force in Manila when he left the United States in December 1897, and he got specific orders to do this after war broke out. A Battle of Manila Bay Dewey had his squadron concentrated in the British harbor of Hong Kong when the war message arrived on April 24, 1898. He had four steel cruisers--Olympia, Baltimore, Boston, and Raleigh--and two seagoing gunboats--Concord and Petrel. The Spanish commander at Manila, Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasaron, was as unprepared as the unfortunate Cervera in Cuba. He had a total of seven ships. His flagship Reina Cristina could be described as a cruiser. The other ships, except for a small, wooden corvette, were steel or iron gunboats, mostly in poor repair. Dewey left Hong Kong on April 25. When he arrived at Manila Bay he faced several difficulties. He knew that the narrow entrance to the bay was defended by heavy guns mounted on the islands of Corregidor and El Fraile. He also had reason to believe that the channel was mined. Furthermore, if any of his ships were to be severely damaged, he would have no means of making repairs--he was 7000 miles from the nearest home port, and Hong Kong and other neutral ports were now being closed to him. None of these difficulties deterred Dewey, however, and he led his darkened squadron into the harbor entrance. No mines exploded and there was only scattered gunfire. As day broke on May 1, Dewey's squadron was well within Manila Bay. The city of Manila lay dead ahead, defended by batteries that began long-range and ineffective firing at the U.S ships. Montojo's squadron, not Manila, was Dewey's immediate objective. He bore away southward toward the Spanish naval station at Cavite. Increasing daylight revealed the Spanish warships at anchor there. At 5:40 AM, Dewey gave the order to fire. As in the Caribbean, the battle was over in just a few hours, resulting in the destruction of the Spanish squadron. Spanish casualties included at least 160 dead and 210 wounded. The U.S. forces had no fatal casualties. Only two officers and six men were wounded, none seriously. None of the U.S. ships were badly damaged. B Occupation of Manila In spite of the victory, Dewey's problems were just beginning. He was holding Cavite with a few dozen Marines. In the city of Manila, 12 miles away, there were 13,000 Spanish troops. A Filipino insurrection was in progress against the Spanish, but the U.S. government could not make up its mind whether to help the rebels or not. A further problem soon presented itself. Britain, France, and Germany all sent warships to protect the interests of their nationals in the Philippines. Behind these naval maneuvers was an implied threat to move in if the United States itself did not take possession of the Philippines. Dewey threatened to bombard Manila if Spanish shore batteries fired on his ships. When U.S. troops began to arrive on July 17, the pressure eased rapidly. U.S. troop strength reached 8500 by the end of July, and Dewey and the Army demanded the surrender of Manila on August 7. They then arranged with the Spanish captain general to occupy key positions before the Filipino insurgents did. The U.S. flag was hoisted over Manila on August 13. VI PEACE TREATY Spain and the United States signed a peace treaty on December 10, 1898, in Paris, France. It provided for Spanish withdrawal from Cuba, leaving the island under temporary U.S. occupation. Spain was to retain liability for the Cuban debt. The United States did not push for the annexation of Cuba because the Teller Amendment, passed when the U.S. Congress declared war, prevented the United States from taking over Cuba. Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines were ceded by Spain to the United States, which in turn paid Spain $20 million. In December 1898 the United States announced the establishment of U.S. military rule in the Philippines. The treaty and the U.S. occupation of the Philippines encountered considerable opposition in the United States, prompting serious questions about growing U.S. imperialism. Opponents argued that the region was not vital to U.S. economic or military interests and that occupying the Philippines violated the principles of democracy. Many prominent U.S. citizens--including writer and satirist Mark Twain and business tycoon Andrew Carnegie--criticized the annexation of the Philippines. As justification for taking over the Philippines, it was argued that the United States could not honorably hand the islands back to Spain because Filipinos were "unprepared for self-government" and the islands would simply fall prey to Germany or another power if U.S. forces left the region. Pious talk about the United States's duty to civilize so-called backward races was accompanied by less altruistic mentions of the economic opportunities that existed in Asia and the U.S. Navy's desire for a base in the Philippines. After an intense fight in the United States Senate, the treaty was finally ratified on February 6, 1899, by a margin of just one vote. The debate had revolved around whether the United States should annex and occupy the Philippines or honor the Filipino declarations of independence and leave the islands. The ratification of the treaty indicated that the United States was committed to maintaining a military presence in the islands and that it would oppose the Filipino independence movement. VII PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN WAR Tensions arose between U.S. troops and Filipino insurgents even before the treaty was ratified. Two days before the treaty was signed, a U.S. sentry shot a Filipino soldier who had been trying to cross a bridge in Manila. Hostilities soon escalated, marking the beginning of bloody war between the United States and Filipino rebels that would last more than two years. Although the Filipino troops were armed with old rifles and were badly outmatched in open combat, they waged an effective form of guerrilla warfare, using the country's rough terrain to assist them in battling the better-armed U.S. troops. Between 200,000 and 600,000 Filipinos died during the war against the United States. Most of them were civilians, killed more often by famine and disease brought on by the warfare than by actual fighting. The war destroyed livestock and interrupted farming activity, seriously reducing agricultural output and creating food shortages. Fewer than 5000 U.S. soldiers died during the conflict. The insurrection was largely subdued by 1901, when Filipino rebel leader Emilio Aguinaldo surrendered, swore allegiance to the United States, and called on other rebels to lay down their arms. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt declared an end to the war in 1902, but rebel resistance continued in parts of the Philippines until 1903. The United States controlled the Philippines until after World War II (1939-1945); the Philippines was granted complete independence on July 4, 1946. VIII RESULTS OF THE WAR The peace treaty marked the end of Spain's colonial empire and the advent of the United States as a world power that would seek to expand and protect its interests in Asia. Shortly before the treaty negotiations, the annexation of Hawaii, which had been on hold for months, was quietly accomplished. In 1901 the U.S. Congress passed the Platt Amendment, specifying the conditions under which the United States could intervene in the internal affairs of newly independent Cuba. The amendment was included in the Cuban constitution that was adopted later that year. Under that constitution, Cuba also ceded to the United States territory to be used for U.S. naval facilities (see Guantánamo Bay). The Spanish-American War affected the United States in a number of other ways. It firmly established the United States as a major military power and illustrated the importance of a two-ocean navy to U.S. military planners. The war helped speed the construction of the Panama Canal, which was completed in 1914 and was seen as vital to linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans for U.S. commerce and military activities. The war also raised the visibility of Theodore Roosevelt, who went on to become vice president in 1900 and president in 1901. Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.