Thursday, June 27

Scotland .. an Urgent Telegram and our First Fight

The SS Ethiopa drew into a grimy Port Glasgow dock at 3 o'clock this morning, delayed eleven hours by a storm of such ferocity that Moville was closed to all movements; and when we were eventually able to leave, the four hour crossing had taken twice that time. Mary was sick from the swell and it was with some relief that we at last reached our hotel, the Tontine in Greenock.
      We had spent a glorious fortnight meandering the lanes and byways of Northern Ireland, and Glasgow was to be the starting point for the second chapter of our honeymoon. It was far too early for certainty, of course, but I was sure that I had glimpsed a mother-to-be glint in Mary's eye. Our few short weeks of married life had been blissful; but little did I know how quickly this was to change. I took the telegram handed to me by the bell-boy at the reception desk; and when I saw the signatory "Ochs", I knew at once the importance of this message. The owner of the New York Times had deemed this matter of sufficient urgency to contact me directly and instruct me to travel with the utmost haste to China.
      I had been keeping a journalist's eye on the developing situation, and I was aware of the growing threat from the Boxers, and that the Legations in Peking were in imminent danger of being overrun. I was familiar with the general concerns, but little of specific note had appeared in the British press; and in Ireland it had proved difficult to find news from America. The bell-boy was able to find a two-week old copy of the New York Times and from the words of the Peking Correspondent, it was clear that the situation was, in fact, critical and that I must leave immediately.
      Mary read the telegram and The New York Times article several times and I knew that she understood the inevitability of our urgent departure. This had ruined our newly-wed time together, though, and under no circumstances would she accept my plan to return to Port Glasgow before we had even unpacked. We could have made the departure of the SS Astoria, leaving for New York at 8 o'clock, but she refused and for the first time I saw the mix of hurt and anger that was another side of her; a side I neither knew nor wished to see more of. We agreed instead that we would join the SS Furnessia, leaving at 10 o'clock the next morning. This would see us in New York by July 5th; then to the Lamson family home in New Jersey where Mary would stay for the duration of my trip. I would then take the train to San Francisco, arriving on the 9th or 10th.
      This itinerary left little room for time-slips but it was a workable plan and, in truth, I was excited at the prospect of another commission, in another theatre, in another country. I knew, though, that there would not be many more; tinged by the regret of being apart, the excitement would never be the same.

Report on the Boxer Crisis in Peking
New York Times - June 9th 1900

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Saturday, June 22

From Cuba to Campaigning for Roosevelt

Despite the pleasures of my recuperation under the Red Cross and the tender ministrations of my lovely volunteer nurse, Mary, I knew that I had to leave my hospital bed and rally again to the cry. This time, though, it was at the ballot rather than the battle that we had to be victorious, else all that had been achieved in Cuban fields might be for nought.
      My book "Under Two Flags in Cuba" was to have been published in the spring of 1898; but the manuscript, together with three hundred photographs illustrative of Weyler's regime in Cuba, and some historical letters that had passed between the Captain-General and Premier Canovas, were seized in Havana with my effects when I was deported to Spain at the beginning of the war. Thus the circulation of that work was curtailed and now, during my convalescence from a prolonged attack of fever contracted in the campaign, and a chest wound from the pistol of an incensed Spanish officer, I must prepare a new work. Yet even as I write, a number of books on Cuba are being issued from the pens of writers who have never set foot on Cuban soil. In each of these the primary cause of the war is omitted, and frequent criticism of the Cubans, based entirely on misconception, is raising doubts of the justification of American intervention in the Island.
      With the State elections now just a few short weeks away, these false and sycophantic accounts are being taken up as the clarion call of the Democrats, in their pandering to the post-war, anti-imperialist sway of public opinion.
      Returning from Cuba as a war hero, my friend and mentor, Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, now has the Republican nomination for State Governor of New York. An air of over-confidence has somewhat weakened the Republican resolve, though, and Roosevelt is under pressure from The Democrats, headed by Richard Croker who has backed the nomination of Augustus Van Wyck, brother of Robert, the incumbent puppet Mayor of the consolidated City of New York. It is, of course, well known that, as head of Tammany Hall, Croker receives bribe money from the owners of brothels, saloons and illegal gambling dens; and that within Robert Van Wyck's administration, he completely dominates the government of the city. For just a small promise, though, the voter suffers a conveniently short memory, and the Democrat's record seems to count for nothing against their claims of how they will work tirelessly for the people, claw back the growth of the city's innumerable municipal corporations, improve the lot of the immigrant population, and bring order out of the almost total chaos that is New York in the fall of 1898.
      Even though the "New York Times" has described the Van Wyck administration as one mired in "black ooze and slime", there is much to be done if Roosevelt is to take his rightful position as Governor; so it was with some urgency that I sent a note by courier to Jacob Riis of the "New York Sun", volunteering my services to Roosevelt's campaign. By return, I received an invitation to a meeting with the "lieutenants", Sereno Payne, David Healey, Frank Smith and Buck Rogers, who pulled me to safety from the sights of a Spanish sniper at San Juan Hill. It was soon decided that under the banner cry of "No Croker Domination", the real record of the war, and of Roosevelt's own heroic and defining action as leader of the Rough Riders, must be told. My role was to deliver as vividly as I was able, a series of free public lectures laying out in graphic fashion the facts and the truths about the war. Other orators would then pick up the themes of patriotism and support for the national administration, with a special emphasis on the fact that only those men with clear and assured records of action should be considered for office.
      With venues booked, details circulated to every New York newspaper, and public meetings sheduled for every night through October and up to the day of the elections, support for Roosevelt quickly picked up. Whether or not my lectures helped the cause will never be known; nor does it matter.
      The elections were held on November 8th. with results that not even the most optimistic could have foretold. Roosevelt was duly elected Mayor, but for the first time in history, the Republican ticket also carried every one of the seven posts in the New York State cabinet office ...
      ... the ideal platform for "Teddy's" subsequent campaign for the White House.

Illustrated History - a Lecture in Cortland
October 27th. 1898

Support and Confidence Growing for Roosevelt
October 30th. 1898

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Thursday, June 20

Arrested, Imprisoned and Deported, Returned

(continued) ..... extremely ignorant, for he spoke execrable Spanish. Two days later we reached San Sebastian, where my two shadow celadores left me as I crossed the Urumea into France at the Irun frontier. Once over the border, French antipathy to America became strongly marked. At Bordeaux a large crowd yelled, "Viva Espana!" and "Death to McKinley!" and even in Paris hostility was painfully evident. Though Rochefort bade them remember Lafayette, and denounced Spain, French sympathy, directed by the Bourse and holders of Spanish bonds, was strongly for the Spaniards. Crossing from Boulogne to Folkestone, were several American families, going to England to escape painful manifestations, and for days there had been a general exodus of Americans from Paris. The antithesis of this feeling in England was distinctly refreshing. Never were the two great English-speaking countries on more cordial terms, and with few exceptions, press and people extolled America's "holy war". The feeling was universal.
       Seven days later I reached New York again en route for Cuba. The full report of Dewey's victory in Manila on May 1st had just arrived, and it stirred the Americans as victory alone can stir a nation. The very sky was obscured by myriads of the Stars and Stripes, for Old Glory fluttered from every point of vantage. From the Hudson came the discordant screaming of a thousand steam sirens; bay tug, ocean greyhound, and ferryboat joined to rend the heavens, while an immense crowd of patriots filled City Hall Square, before the Journal bulletin boards, and sang the National Hymn while tears of effusive joy and gratitude ran down many a face.
       Reaching Washington on May 8th, I made preparation to cross the Spanish lines and re-enter Havana City on secret service. Finding however, that an army of invasion would leave for Cuba in a few days, I hurried to Tampa to join the Fifth Army Corps. The regular army was then mobilized, and outwardly all was in readiness for a forward move. General Wesley Merritt, then the only West Point general officer in the United States Army, was named for commander of the invasion, and when his appointment to lead the Philippine expedition was announced, it was universally supposed that General Miles would take the army to Cuba. But to the surprise of everyone, General William R. Shafter was placed in command of the forming Cuban expedition. An officer weighing considerably more than three hundred pounds, and suffering from gout, seemed the last man to lead an army into a difficult country like Cuba, where the activity and intelligence of the leader could do much to overcome the obstacles of the country, and mitigate risks to the health and life of those exposed to such a climate.
       Shafter’s appointment though, was a mere indication of the lack of system in the War Department at Tampa where confusion reigned. The size of the army was increased sevenfold by a mistaken stroke of the pen; and since the available transportation facilities could not have carried more than 25,000 men from the coast, the Administration is frequently blamed for not first devoting its energies to the equipment of a small army, before the vast resources of the National Guard were called upon, and the department paralyzed by the immense mobilization.
       Tampa, assuredly, was not an ideal spot for the preparation of an army of invasion. The white Florida sand made good camping-ground; but though drier, the climate is scarcely less enervating than that of Cuba. The great drawbacks, however, were the limited railway facilities and the base fact that everything in Tampa was expensive. This ensured a great hardship on officers and men, who frequently were forced to purchase necessaries of food and clothing that the commissariat should have provided. Despite the exorbitance, however, the officers found a
tolerable life in the palatial Tampa Bay Hotel, the great winter resort which became army headquarters. Here the band played at night in the Oriental annex, under flourishing palms, and officers danced with bright-eyed Cuban senoritas, a number of whom had fled from Havana.
       Eager groups animatedly discussed the war. The bronzed Indian fighters from the plains sharing their enthusiasm with the young subs just from West Point, and the civilian appointees, swelling 'neath their newly acquired rank and uniform. When Colonel Roosevelt's Rough Riders arrived, it was distinctly refreshing to find the sons of millionaires and professional men of prominent families serving as troopers in the ranks with cowpunchers, packers, and "bad men" of the West, all actuated by the same patriotism, and all deserving honour commensurate with their individual self-sacrifice.
       Gathered in or around headquarters were considerably over a hundred war correspondents and artists, representing newspapers from every quarter of the globe. Evidently Lord Wolseley's idea that the "drones of the Press" were the curse of modern armies was not shared by the war lords of Washington. It was surprising to find that the vast majority of correspondents, even those representing great New York dailies, had never seen a shot fired in anger, and were absolutely ignorant of military affairs. There were exceptions and London sent some tried veterans, among them; Robinson, Wright, Sheldon, McPherson, Hands, and Atkinson; but many held passes who would
never be permitted to accompany an army in the field by the British War Office. The rigours of the camps soon proved too great for much of this impedimenta, and it was a greatly diminished but very fit body of Press knights who finally landed in Cuba.
       General Shafter's force was ever sailing "tomorrow" until "manana" took on a Spanish significance. The waiting seemed endless but the order for a general advance at last arrived on June 5th. Its promulgation at 10 pm. is history; this was war and it emanated from the commanding general that "All who were not on board the transports by daybreak would be left behind." Officers and correspondents dashed off to their quarters to pack, dress, and catch the 11 o’clock train for war. It arrived at 5 the next morning and we reached the embarkation pier at 6. Whole battalions were moved in the rush. Regiment after regiment had hurried down to the narrow pile dock, which was soon packed indescribably with men and baggage. Troops at the extreme end of the pier were afterwards assigned to transports moored at the shore end, and vice versa. The embarkation resembled the sailing of a vast excursion party rather than a military movement. With the capacity of each transport, and the roster of each regiment before him, the youngest officer could have made effective assignment and saved such dire confusion, which took two days to untangle, and entailed much sun-exposure and hardship on the soldiers. But toward evening, June 7th, all was ready.
       Boom! went a saluting gun, and away went transport after transport; the bands playing, the troops, relieved from the tedium of the wait, cheering as only such enthusiasts can cheer. But a gunboat, previously a private yacht, had sighted two tramp steamers, and from unexplained reason, taking them for Spaniards, showed a clean pair of heels to Key West with the tidings. When this erroneous news was cabled to headquarters, the order - !! Stop the Expedition !! - was sent urgently from Washington. The leading transports were headed off far down the bay at this time, and only recalled after a long chase by the "Helena". A weary wait ensued and the men, cramped on the Vessels, which were fitted and filled like cattle-ships, grew sick with the delay. The water grew stale; the lack of exercise, and the foul air of the crowded holds in the fierce semi-tropical heat, soon affected the troops. The halt laid the foundation of many a subsequent death, beside the loss of a dry week in Cuba.
       One week later we sailed. On the 13th the flag ship "Seguranca" signalled the start; and with colours flying and bands playing, the vessels glided out to mid-stream and dropped down toward the sea. As the battery on shore boomed out a farewell salute, the soldiers swarmed to the deck and rigging, and the air was rent with a shout of triumph from sixteen thousand throats. The cheers were taken up on shore and echoed and re-echoed in pine forest and everglade. They were not evoked only by the usual zest for war shared by all men, the savage lust to fight which lies dormant in the piping times of peace. Those troopers knew they had a mission to fulfil. They remembered the blackened wreck in Havana Harbour, and the sailor comrades sleeping in that foetid slough; they thought also of the women and children crying aloud for deliverance from starvation and despair, of the ragged patriots fighting for liberty as their own fathers had fought - but for far smaller issues - in the War of Independence. Upon the grimy coal-dock, a group of Cuban ladies, widowed and orphaned exiles, knelt, praying with tear-streaming faces for divine benediction on the liberating army.
       Petty politicians have used the war for their own purposes, thimbleriggers have not been idle; but to the close observer it was evident that the war was a war of the people, the will of the multitude, inflamed perhaps by much exaggeration and misrepresentation, but nevertheless exerted for a just purpose when unvarnished facts stand forth. Twenty hours after the start was signalled we rounded Dry Tortugas, and in double column the fleet headed Cubawards, flanked on either side by the guard of warships. The massive cruiser "Indiana" held to the shore side, while the aggressive torpedo boat "Porter" dashed inshore at intervals, on the lookout for any lurking gunboat of Spain that might emerge on a forlorn hope, sink a transport, and meet the inevitable fate gloriously. The "Annapolis", "Bancroft", "Castine", "Helena", "Morrill", "Manning" and "Hornet" guarded the fleet of transports on the voyage, with the "Detroit", "Osceola" and "Ericsson" acting as scouts.
       The first land sighted was the sandy loam on Cayo Romano, and as the sun set in tropical suddenness, a fire flickered from the summit and was answered by a second flare on the distant heights of Cubitas: a message from the watchful guardia costa to the beleaguered Cuban Government, which has meted isolated justice in spirit rather than in letter, that the day of Cuba's triumph was at hand.

Troops Drilling at Tampa Bay Hotel - June 1898

Embarkation for Cuba from Tampa Bay - June 1898

This is the third part of a three-part account: Returned
read the first: To Havana - Arrested ... and the second: Imprisoned & Deported
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From: Under Three Flags in Cuba ... Buy this Book

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Wednesday, June 19

Arrested, Imprisoned and Deported

(continued) ...... a rough demand was made at the door. I glanced hopelessly at the barred window, seized my revolver, only to realize the madness of resistance, and hesitated, trembling, until a second thunderous demand nearly burst the door from its hinges. Colonel Trujillo and his valiant myrmidons entered as if bearding a tiger in his den when I withdrew the bar, but grew wondrous bold when they found no resistance intended. Said the bewhiskered Trujillo, with a malicious grin of recognition, and tone and manner suave, "General Blanco, sir, wishes to hold conversation with you. To a gentleman as yourself it is needless for me to say my sergeant is prepared for resistance; but a coach is in waiting if you care to come quietly." To the coach I went, as one in a dream, forgetting that I was compounding the secrecy of my arrest by such surrender.
       I was taken to the cuartel at the Punta fortress, and within an hour was before some semblance of court martial. Colonel Pagaleri fortunately presided; he showed me much consideration during my examination. I answered all questions frankly; denial was futile, but my heart sank as charge after charge was substantiated by the seizure of the despatches I had risked so much to secure. A letter from the Government to President McKinley, a full list of the rebel forces in eastern Cuba, the official offer of their co-operation with the United States, and three maps I had myself prepared, I felt would seal my doom.
       I asked, as my right, that the British consul should be notified of my arrest. "Spies have no rights but the rope," sneered the portly comandante, and I was taken out "incomunicado." My prison chamber was dirty, but the rats broke the solitude; it was at least airy, a large grated frame opening seaward. No bed was provided, but rodents and dirt were forgotten, and I sank on the floor worn in body and broken in spirit, at this sequel that meant failure of all I had tried to accomplish.
       I knew nothing of my impending fate. From my window I could see La Cabana fortress, and as the bloody executions of that death ditch recurred to me, I wondered how I should face the rifles of the firing squad. Below my grating the black waters of the bay surged against slimy rocks, and hungry sharks showed occasional fins, as they hunted for morsels expelled by the foetid sewer at Los Fossos. My bars were loose and rusty; but escape from La Punta meant a horrible death below. After retreat sounded, the guards in the courtyard chattered noisily, and interesting snatches of my impending fate were served up for my special delectation. I had accepted those despatches without thought, but I could not now face the penalty with fortitude. Spain could not have been blamed for dealing harshly with me. At such a crisis other countries would have shot me without compunction, and in such a war, life is but of individual value.
       On Wednesday morning the "Olivette" passed my bars. Scanning her decks, I saw that she was crowded down with Americans; merchants, Red Cross workers and correspondents leaving the Island. Before my capture. General Lee was preparing to sail, and I suddenly realized that with my secret capture no one would know of my plight, and I might rot in prison before I could communicate with the outer world. But my disappearance had been rightly attributed; Lewis, McReady, and Bryson had made inquiries, and assured themselves of my capture before they sailed. Long cable messages were sent to England, the British Foreign office was notified, and Lord Salisbury at once wired Havana for full particulars. Mr. Creelman Mr. Massingham, Mr. McKenzie, Mr. Broadhurst and other prominent journalists in London kindly interested themselves in my behalf. Mr. T. P. O'Conner, M.P. and Mr. J O'Kelly, M.P. who had tasted Spanish prison in the last war, brought my case before the House of Commons, and the authorities in Havana soon found they could no longer keep my incarceration there a secret.
       But I was not anticipating help from the British Government. When one is identified in quarrels of strange nations, the consequences must be borne. I had frequently gone beyond my province in Cuba, but the Spanish authorities decided to avoid complications by quietly shipping me a prisoner to Puerto Rico. Sir Alexander Gollan was then informed that I had been expelled from Cuba; he reported it to London, and the incident was apparently closed. Fortunately there were some friends who were not satisfied at the Consul General's terse report of my expulsion. Only two boats had left Havana; one to Key West, the other a transport bound for San Juan; and when it transpired that I was not on the American vessel, and that Colonel Perez and a guard were seen taking me toward the Spanish transport, fresh representations were made.
       In the stifling lower hold of the transport Buenos Aires, with a negro murderer named Hernandez, and several hundred yellow-fever convalescents, my condition was not enviable. When we reached San Juan, thanks to the kindness of Mr. Bronson Rea, then in Puerto Rico, I obtained a change of clothes. At this time, though, The British Government were demanding the release of my friend, Freeman Halstead, correspondent of the "Herald," and also a British subject, then in Morro Castle, under sentence of nine years' imprisonment as a spy for taking photographs of San Juan harbour. Governor-General Maccias, having no wish for further complications over one of Blanco's prisoners, refused my landing and I was rushed off to the Buenos Aires again, and sent to Spain.
       Shut below in that filthy transport were over a thousand invalid soldiers, to a man, yellow-fever convalescents. To be invalided from Spain's army was to be an invalid indeed, and the poor wretches packed in the sorry bunks were too weak to move. They vomited and defecated where they lay, and the condition between decks may be imagined, but not described. At night those who had died were carried out and dropped over the side; but the thought of repatriation in their beloved Spain buoyed up the men wonderfully, though many died directly they reached the shore. When I was first conducted below, some of these poor fellows reviled me as they lay in their misery, "Yankee pig," "mambi," and "nanigo" being among the most complimentary appellations. Seeing that one young soldier, after a fit of retching, was hanging exhausted over his bunk, I gently laid the limp form back, and readjusted the blanket, thinking nothing of the incident. His comrades witnessed this simple act of common humanity. No more gibes were cast at me, and before I had divined the reason of the change, a few petty services to the stricken men had gained me the friendship of every soldier below decks,
       The disembarkation at Cadiz was a memorable sight. On the starboard side, steam launches, gay with bunting, brought out high army officers in resplendent uniforms, diplomats, and a vast crowd, to welcome officers and officials returning rich to Spain. The port gangway led down to large floats manned by Red Cross helpers, who lifted the emaciated forms of fever-stricken soldiers from the terrible hold, placed them temporarily in clean uniforms to save the comments of the crowd on the wharf, among whom were country people, wives and mothers and fathers, in the last extremes of poverty, waiting to see their dear ones. They had walked fifty, sixty, and seventy miles to greet the returning heroes. They waited on in suspense and gave pitiful cries of horror at the wrecks Cuba had sent them. It was inexpressibly sad. As I watched those silent tragedies, tears blinded my eyes, and I forgot my own distress, impending imprisonment as a spy, possible deportation to North Africa, and the anxiety of my friends to learn my fate.
       The chief of police assured me that I should be sent to Africa on May 1st, and there was some excitement among the crowd of sight-seers when I was taken ashore. The advent of a "Yankee spy" had been heralded, and with minds inflamed by the spectres of manhood from Cuba, their jeers and expletives aroused neither my wonder nor resentment.
       On the day before the formal declaration of war, though, I was released upon the demands of the British Government. The charges formulated against me for bearing arms against Spain were withdrawn when the Spaniards found that I must be sent to England for trial under the Foreign Enlistment Act, when impolitic truths of their rule in Cuba might be evolved. Being captured before a declaration of war, the designation of spy could not be sustained, and I was ordered over the frontier, with a warning never to return to Cuba on pain of death.
       Chaperoned by two celadores of police, ordered to see me over the French boundary, I arrived in Madrid the next day, finding nothing to indicate the war on hand, except that the great daily papers had three of their columns devoted to it. I was considerably more amused than flattered to find one-third of a leading column devoted to my presence in Spain. It seems to me to be an inexplicable editorial vagary to give an equal space to the manifesto of President McKinley that involved two nations in war, and to one who, as the papers themselves remarked, was extremely ignorant, for he spoke execrable Spanish ...
(to be continued)

Reprint of George Clarke Musgrave's article written
in San Sebastian following his release from Cadiz in April 1898

Hansard report of question about George Clarke Musgrave
raised in the House of Commons on 1st April 1898

This is the second part of a three-part account: Imprisoned & Deported
read the first part: To Havana - Arrested ... and the third part: Returned
or the full story - (pdf: 1.6 Mb)

From: Under Three Flags in Cuba ... Buy this Book

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Saturday, June 15

To Havana - Arrested

In January 1898, travelling with the Cuban leaders and doing my utmost to assist their cause by carrying news and messages around the country, I was introduced to President Maso, head of the insurgent Cuban government, and was asked to carry orders to General Garcia, the Cuban leader in the east.
      I reached Garcia’s camp at daybreak on February 17th to find the General and his staff heavily engaged in guerilla action against Weyler's troops and in desperate need of assistance. In recognition of my part in freeing Evangelina Cisneros from the Recojidas in Havana; and to afford me some semblance of authority, Garcia gave me a commission as Captain and instructed me to carry despatches to the Americans in Santiago City. It was deemed expedient for me to attempt to reach the capital with General Sanchez, the brave and popular commander of the Barracoa district, and General Demetrius Castillo, who was to assume command of the beleaguered districts of Santiago City.
      We left Garcia, who was preparing to oppose the Spaniards with two thousand men, and made a forced march with two officers of Castillo's command, hoping to pass round the enemy by night. A significant heliograph message, however, announced that all operations were suspended, and the column retired. Captain Maestre was sent forward with an escort to accompany me through the dangerous San Luis district, but he fell sick, and unwilling to delay, I pushed forward alone with a servant and guide. Riding on the camino, we were held up by a ferocious looking cavalry squad, apparently guerillas or bandits. Fight and flight were impossible, and we fearfully threw up our hands, to discover that our assailants were Cuban irregulars, searching for horse thieves.
       At the zona I luckily met Preval, who had just been to secure mail over the barricade at Sant Ana. Colonel Congera selected guides and a fresh escort, and Preval agreed to accompany me over the mountains. We found food very scarce in the mountains, unripe guava alone sustaining us. It was bitterly cold also, especially at night, and the change developed my latent malaria. Occasionally I shot a jutia, or small species of tree bear, yielding rank but edible meat
      Our journey was tortuous but, at length, we reached the Ojo del Toro, and finally sighted La Galleta, beyond which lay Santiago City. On March 18th, after another frightful climb, we reached the fringe of mountains on the coast. The sea rolled in, far below us, and from that ridge, the most extensive view in the world, save the vista of Teneriffe, can be obtained. Away to the south, shrouded in the sunlit haze of the Caribbean, lay Jamaica; on the east, toward Maysi, glistened the "Windward Passage" fringed by the southern Bahamas and Haiti. Westward, Santiago seemed a city of Liliput, nestling at the foot of the range. Two white gunboats, a Ward liner, and the graceful "Purisima Concepcion" resembled four toy ships in a midget harbor, while a tiny train steamed leisurely out by the head of the bay. Beyond rose the opposite spur of the Sierras that extend to Manzanillo.
      The travel had been awful, but it was now time to make my attempt to cross the lines. I crawled forward and scaled the first barricade rapidly; the sentry there was chatting with the next post, and I was soon against the wires, and between two forts that loomed up fifty yards apart. The guards lounged round the campfires, cooking their "rancho"; the sentinels whined out "Alerta," and continued their chat, and, after vainly trying to compose myself, I started over the barbed Trocha. The posts fortunately protruded several inches above the wires, so, scaling the first fence as a ladder, I was able to step across from strand to strand, grasping each post firmly. Hearing a patrol approaching when all but over, I dropped beneath the tangled meshes, soon to realize that in the night air of the tropics hoof-beats are discernible at a great distance. My alarm was needless, for ten minutes elapsed before the "rounds" passed. Then I crawled out, my hands and legs lacerated and bleeding; but I felt nothing of the barbs. I was over, and content. The road to the city was clear at last.
      It was almost midnight when I crept into Santiago but, within minutes, I realised that I had to immediately leave again. I made my way to a hotel on the wharf where the brothers Barella I knew were good "Cubans". They were effusive in welcoming me and, at great risk to their lives, as it transpired, they said that I could stay for the night but that I must leave before first light. They related to me the events that had transpired in the past few days which, in brief, were that, amid rising tension between Spain and America, the USS Maine had been sent to Havana. This was seen as an insult to Spain's integrity and led to the issue of a frenzied, soul-stirring manifesto broadcast throughout the city. Such was the impact of this manifesto that, at the height of carnival on February 15th, the battleship had been blown up with the loss of the two officers and two hundred and sixty four Americans aboard her.
      War between Spain and American was now certain and imminent and Havana was no longer safe. The crisis was acute and my despatches were now dangerously compromising. Americans were flocking from the Capital and, along with all other foreigners in the city, I had to formulate my plans for escape from the island. I considered, and rejected, both the "buying" of a false passport, and swimming at night to a steamer in the harbour. Colonel Decker, however, was at Key West with the despatch boat "Anita" awaiting the advent of the fleet and, by underground mail, he arranged with me to steam at night to the San Lazaro beach to pick me up. The attempt was to be made on April 1st, but on the previous afternoon I lay resting in a secluded room at El Pasage, sick, worn, and anxious to feel the security of American soil again, when heavy footsteps broke my reverie, and a rough demand was made at the door ...
(to be continued)

Wreck of the USS Maine, Havana Harbour, Cuba (1898)
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

This is the first part of a three-part account: To Havana - Arrested
read the second part: Imprisoned & Deported ... and the third part: Returned
or the full story - (pdf: 1.6 Mb)

From: Under Three Flags in Cuba ... Buy this Book

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Thursday, June 13

The Rescue of Evangelina Cisneros

The events that culminated in the rescue of Evangelina Cosio y Cisneros go to make up a story little less than wonderful. She was only eighteen years old, cultured, talented and beautiful and the cruel fate that made her case stand out among so many wrongs was that she was being persecuted, not for any part she had taken in rebellion against Spain, but for resisting the insulting advances of a savage Spanish officer whose brutality had brought him the well-earned disgrace of being known across the world as "that beast in uniform". It was he who held the life and liberty of Evangelina’s father in his hands, and demanded of her the sacrifice of all a true woman holds dear as the price of her father's safety.
      Atrocities in Cuba had come to be the most commonplace of news. Every mail from the island brought tidings of murders, burnings and other outrages. Even when the victims were women, so accustomed had the world grown to such tales of horror, that little comment was occasioned. At intervals for a period of over a year through the Cuban news ran the story of one Cuban girl, who for alleged complicity in an uprising in the Isle of Pines had been cast into the foul Recojidas prison for abandoned women in Havana
      Evangelina's story was broken to the world by the New York Journal in August 1987 and widely covered by the media over the next few months. She was described as "young, beautiful, cultured and guilty of no crime save that of having in her veins the best blood in Cuba". Her case created international outrage and there were calls from all corners of the world for her release but, embroiled in their battle with the Cuban insurgents, Spain ignored these calls. From the heart of Havana, though, Eugene Bryson, who had first broken the story, together with William McDonald and myself were planning to effect her rescue. We were joined by Karl Decker, a Journal reporter sent to Cuba with a direct brief from Randolph Hearst to do whatever necessary to bring Miss Cisneros back to America.
      Her dramatic rescue was effected in the early hours of October 5th and Evangelina arrived in New York on October 13. Two days later she filed her application for US naturalisation and published in the Journal a Letter to America, which she handed personally to President McKinley.

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Friday, June 7

The Author - The Books ... Cuba, Land of Opportunity

Cuba, Land of Opportunity: a critical and incisive overview of Cuba's post-war economic, social and cultural developments, overshadowed by the failure of Britain to exploit the wealth of commercial opportunities in the "Pearl of the Antilles."
Published by: Simkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co, London 1919


Preface ...
The war has taught the world more geography and history than a century of ordinary education would have imparted. It has destroyed many inherited prejudices and shattered the complacency which was shackling the imagination that built up the British Empire. As Peace introduces a new era of international comity which will test the bonds forged between the Allied countries, this seems an opportune time to present some simple facts regarding Cuba, a young member of the family of nations, that has stood solidly with the Allies from the outset, but of whom the British people know so little. We have special interests in the West Indies, and there are sentimental and practical reasons why we should have a cordial understanding with our largest neighbour there, nearly the size of England.
      Few people realize that the national area of Cuba is 46,000 square miles, with a coast line of more than 2,000 miles, or that Havana is a more pretentious city than many famous European capitals. There are 2,650 miles of railroads in the Island, the chief of which are owned by British companies.
      Europe's commercial interests have suffered for many years because of our apathy, obsolete notions, and lack of information regarding Cuba. I have, therefore, prepared this unpretentious account of her war efforts supplemented by some general facts of our commerce and of modern conditions in this progressive country.
      As one of a small group of Englishmen who from motives of simple patriotism have attempted for several years to create at home a greater knowledge of Cuba, when each month produced fresh evidence of the strides made there by the United States and Germany, some of the statistics now presented seem to be a sad commentary on the lack of interest of the British public in foreign affairs which are closely identified with the welfare of our commerce. This should be stimulated by the Government through the Press, as in America during the past decade. What does the average man know or care about Latin America, its culture, progress, or its opportunities? His ideas of the leading countries there are based on crude misconceptions gathered from the temporary chaos of one or two small and retrogressive republics. This is like taking a small unfortunate Balkan State as a standard for European civilization.
      Glancing recently at a small file of a leading New York newspaper, I counted over a hundred columns of general news, conditions, and trade opportunities in Latin America. Nearly one half of these dealt with Cuba. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the United States is getting the lion's share of trade in markets where a few years ago Britain held such a promising place.

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Thursday, June 6

The Author - The Books ... Under Four Flags for France

Under Four Flags for France: the story of the war to date, in simple, narrative form, intensely interesting and remarkably informative. If you want a true picture of all that has happened, and of the situation as it exists today, you will find it in this book. Published by D Appleton and Company, London & New York, 1918

Preface ...
This book has been published at the suggestion of an officer of the United States Army whom I met recently in Europe. A keen student of the world war, he had followed its phases in the newspapers and had delved liberally in the imposing array of war books. But when he reached France, he found that he lacked perspective. Focussed on the great events, public attention has been moved daily to different episodes in the far-flung areas of conflict, until the mental picture has become kaleidoscopic.
      The super-strategy of Germany was based on a plan to extend her frontier straight across France to the mouth of the Seine. Hinged on Metz, her armies were to carry her frontier posts outward across Luxemburg and Belgium and, in an impressive sweep, swing the line south to embrace all of northern France. The French Army was to be overwhelmed in the process, and the capture of Paris would have been the logical result.
       Unprepared for this violation of neutral territory, Joffre met super-strategy with simple strategy and super-tactics which modified the invasion and wrecked all chances of a German victory and the bid for world dominance.
       From the outset, the operations on the Western front must be approached as a prolonged battle with every unit consolidated in the general plan. Everyone has read of definite actions in certain sectors, while brilliant phases, on which the developments of the campaign were based, have frequently been unrecorded.
       On the great battlefield outlined by the virtues and failures of Joffre's strategy, the United States Army is taking its place. A comprehensive story of the unified efforts of the composite armies to limit the German invasion and push it back to the frontier is necessary for many readers who desire to follow their own army in the field with a freshened memory and a coherent record of the events which have built up existing conditions. This I have endeavored to present.
       The Marne, Ypres, Verdun, are household words. Nancy, Lassigny, the Ancre Valley, and the Scarpe are among the vital French battles that have escaped general attention. Having had a fortunate opportunity to follow the recession of the German flood from the Aisne northward in successive efforts to flow around the French flank, on the Oise, above the Somme, across south and north Artois, and finally from Lille and Belgium, to reach the coveted coast, I have perhaps been able to supply links necessary for a complete understanding of the greatest of French efforts when there were no correspondents and the most rigid censorship existed.
       In a nascent history well-known episodes must take their place to complete the story. But the basis of these pages is personal observation widened by a collection of facts gathered for three years from unusual sources bivouacs, hospitals, prisoner convoys, and neutral points close to the enemy's frontier, where conditions in Belgium and the German side have added to the store. In these chapters I have tried to give a concise story of the war, tinged with human interest and so arranged that its ramifications are reduced to a straightforward account of the achievements of France and her Allies under the master hand of Joffre, whose policy endures.
       The closing pages were outlined under the influence of two inspiring challenges to Teutonic fury: the thunder of the new British guns in Belgium, and the American buglers sounding "Taps"

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Tuesday, June 4

Honeymoon in Scotland

Today, we bid farewell to the Lamsons who have looked after us so admirably since our wedding on 1st June and, for some months, to New York. We are booked on the SS Ethiopa bound for Scotland where we will be spending some weeks exploring this fascinating country, its scenery, its customs and its folklore.

Our passage is set for twenty-two days instead of the usual nine because we will be disembarking at Moville, for Londonderry, and taking in a short tour of Northern Ireland before rejoining the Ethiopa on her next sailing through to Glasgow. This extra journey time is as well because I still have much work to do completing the introduction and the final proofs of "In South Africa with Buller", which has to be with my publishers in Boston by the 30th August.

Primarily, however, this is time for Mary and I to be together before settling in to the new home that my brother William has acquired for us in London ... and before I once again take up the task that fate seems to have set me of chronicling the lives and the experiences of those unfortunate souls suffering the impact of the intricate web of today's political decisions and military actions that are forming and moulding the history of tomorrow.

Booking for the SS Ethiopa - 4th June 1900

The SS Ethiopia Under Steam

Seamen working in the rain on the SS Ethiopia
(Musuem of the City of New York - Byron Company NY 1900)
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Sunday, June 2

The Author - The Books ... In South Africa with Buller

In South Africa with Buller: a vivid account of the second Boer War from an author well known for his works dealing with wars and the effects of war.
Published by Little, Brown and company in Boston, 1900

Preface ...
The dust and heat of South Africa do not inspire literary style, and chapters written on horseback, after sixteen hours in the saddle, lack the polish bestowed by writers reclining in comfort and clean linen. I had planned to write a personal story, after the prevailing fashion, but finding that peerless artists were preparing word pictures of the campaign, I concluded that what was wanted was a plain account of the war and its causes, based on personal observation and investigation.
      Thanks to prominent Afrikanders, who were exceedingly anxious that I should present their side in the United States, their views and aspirations were freely brought to my notice. But familiarity with the Taal is apt to breed contempt, and though one cannot be blind to the machinations of capitalists and the blunders of imperialists and ultra loyalists, a careful review of facts will lead all lovers of universal liberty to realize that the only hope for South Africa lies in its federation under the almost republican constitution guaranteed by the British flag.
      The Orange Free State, founded as a republic by the British Foreign Office, and always on terms of cordiality with Downing Street, was in part induced to take up arms against a traditional friend by the possibilities of Dutch supremacy in South Africa. This Boer raid into the Colonies, however was nothing but blatant and unjustifiable aggression; it was, from first to last, a war of conquest and subjugation. The great sympathy that I had for the Boers vanished when I saw their ruthless devastation and method of extending their rule toward Cape Town.
      Patriots seeking to fight an army that may menace their existence do not wage war on women and children, or force citizens to take up arms against their own. country, turning out on the bare veldt those who refuse, looting their homes and crops. I have seen much of revolution. For three years I was a sympathetic witness of the Cubans in their struggle for freedom from Spain's grip and I would that the ultra Afrikanders could take a lesson from those self-sacrificing peasants.
      In their response to the Boer uprising, it is to the United States that England has looked for justice. Certainly at this juncture sympathy for either side can do no practical good. Yet with common language and ideals, the United States and Great Britain should have a better understanding than at present exists. Many thoughtful Americans, see nothing today in South Africa but the deliberate attempt of Rhodes and his cohorts to grab two tiny republics for their own exploitation. Some of them represent all that is highest and best in the United States but it seems beyond human power to alter their opinion. Alongside them, however, there are thousands of intelligent citizens who are desperately awaiting the clarity of full reports, anxious only for the truth.
      But this is hard to find. On the one hand, in a recent visit to the Transvaal lasting no more than a few hours, the late Assistant Secretary of the Interior claimed that the Boers were the "torch-bearers of the highest civilization", disproved the wrongs of the Uitlanders and the corruption of Krugerism, and returned to propagate the duty of the United States to cry a halt to the advance of the British forces. On the other, converse with the true American residents in South Africa and you will find that some ninety per cent, Republicans and Democrats, favour the British side. It is all but impossible to find one American in South Africa who is not loud in his denunciation of the Transvaal Government. These are men who have tasted the evils of Krugerism. They speak in the light of experience, and from the standpoint of plain American citizens.
      President Kruger invoked as arbiter the God of Battles. We can look for no higher decision but nevertheless, at 2pm to-day, the British flag was hoisted over Pretoria. There are many indications that the devoted but credulous burghers, who have fought so bravely and suffered so vainly for what they deemed right, will ere long relinquish their apanthropic ideas, and return to their homes to help build up a united South Africa. They have proved the fallacy of the exegesis of their leaders, whose greed and lust of territory has been one of the many causes of the inevitable war; and it rests with British statesmen to now form a tactful administration that alone can win their confidence and respect.
S. S. ETHIOPIA, June 5, 1900

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Saturday, June 1

113th Wedding Anniversary Today

When I arrived with Buller’s forces at the end of October 1899 as war correspondent for the New York Times and Black and White Budget, the British troops in South Africa were already under siege. Buller was forced to scrap his original plan and, instead, establish three detachments to relieve the besieged garrisons. One division, led by Lt. General Lord Methuen, was to follow the Western Railway to the north and relieve Kimberley and Mafeking. A smaller force of about 3000 led by Major General William Gatacre, was to push north toward the railway junction at Stormberg to secure the Cape Midlands district from Boer raids. Finally, Buller himself would lead the major part of the army to relieve Ladysmith to the east.
      I was assigned to Gatacre's force and experienced with him the period known as Black Week from December 10th to the 15th, when the British suffered a series of disastrous losses in three major battles at Magersfontein, Colenso and Stormberg. Reports from the front do not document this clearly but the simple truth is that Gatacre's strategy at Stormberg was ill-thought and his field preparations were rushed. In the event, his command of the battle was usurped when an officer of the Northumberland Fusiliers took it upon himself to order a retreat and most of the forces began to fall back under attack from mounted Boer reinforcements. It was not until they reached Molteno that Gatacre realised over 600 of us had been left behind. Hopelessly cut off, surrender was the stark choice for many but, having witnessed at first hand the wretched brutality of the Boer prison camps, I chose flight ...
      Alone in the open miles of veldt, with no means of communication, I was unaware of the reports circulating back to London and New York that I was in the hands of the Boers. Travelling mainly by night for some measure of safety, though, and sustaining my strength through whatever vegetables and crops I managed to unearth, I was, in fact, relatively safe and well. The hundred miles or so to King William's Town took around six weeks, then on to an artillery transport to Port Elizabeth to pick up a passage back to England, where I spent just two days before leaving once again for New York, arriving on 14th March 1900.
      With so many stories to file and details for the publication of my book to be completed, there was little time for me to even consider arrangements for my imminent wedding. I will be eternally grateful that this responsibility was taken on by the beautiful Mary who was soon to become my bride and by the Lamsons, the wonderful family of which I was soon to become a part.
      We married on June 1st and the reporters of the New York Times and the Tribune wrote glowingly of our nuptials. I believe, though, that to fully capture the experience of everything that had so far kept us apart .. and the joys that we were now able to share together, somebody will one day have to add music to the words and pen a song entitled "Back in The Arms of Mary" ...

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