Front Door to Cuba

Timetable History of Cuba

Struggle for Independence - 2

Navigate the Timetables Navigate the Timetables Navigate the Timetables


February 24. In Puerto Rico, an uprising known as the Grito de Lares begins.

March 29. Captain General Dulce issues a decree which declares that any vessel captured in Spanish waters or the high seas carrying men and arms for the Cuban rebels are to be treated as pirates. (Bartlett)

August 4. At a coordinating meeting for revolutionary activities (on a farm named San Miguel de Rompe, in Las Tunas) Carlos Manuel de Céspedes makes a passionate plea for immediate action, ending with the words: “Gentlemen, the hour is solemn and decisive. The power of Spain is decrepit and worm-eaten; if it still appears great and strong to us, it is because for more than three centuries we have contemplated it from our knees.”

August 14. In Santiago de Cuba, a revolutionary committee is formed. [Eventually a date for rebellion is set for December 24 1868, but as you will see, the rebellion is forced to start early.]

September 18. Isabel II, Queen of Spain, is dethroned.

September 23. In Puerto Rico, the Revolutionary Junta proclaims a free Puerto Rican Republic.

October. Early in the month, a telegrapher friendly to the revolution intercepts a telegram from General Lersundi to Governor Udaeta of Bayamo. It reads: "Cuba belongs to Spain and for Spain she must be kept no matter who is governing. Send to prison D. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Francisco Vicente Aguilera, Pedro Figueredo, Francis Maceo Osorio, Bartolomé Masó, and Francisco Javier de Céspedes…" [The conspiracy is discovered when the wife of Trinidad Ramirez, one of the rebels, reveals the plan to her priest in confession. The priest convinces her to tell the authorities.]

October 10. From his plantation, La Demajagua, near Yara, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes proclaims Cuban independence in the historic “Grito de Yara.” Joined by 37 other planters, he liberates his slaves and incorporates them into a rebel army.

October 12. First clash with Spanish troops at Yara. The rebels eat supper at the Maceo house in Majabuabo. After the meal, Marcos Maceo donates four ounces of gold, a dozen good machetes, two revolvers, four shotguns and a blunderbuss. Antonio and José Maceo, with half-brother Justo Regüeyferes Grajales, join the rebels.

At this point, Spain has only 7,000 regulars on the island, and a Volunteer force armed with 90,000 Remington rifles purchased in the U.S. The volunteers help Spain to contain the rebellion until reinforcements arrive.

October. The rebel army, known as the mambises, consists initially of 147 volunteers who do not even have a weapon each. Their weapons consist of 45 fowling pieces, 4 rifles, and a few pistols and machetes.

October 24. A group of 80 distinguished Cuban citizens and prominent Spaniards hold a meeting with Captain-General Lersundi to ensure the continuing hostile policy against the insurgents. Lersundi re-emphasizes his loyalty to the Queen of Spain (who has been overthrown and is in exile).

October 28. Ten days after capturing the city of Bayamo, the Revolutionary Municipal Council of Bayamo petitions Céspedes to proclaim the immediate abolition of slavery.

November. The rebel army now has 12,000 men.

At battle of “El Cristo” and “El Cobre,” Antonio Maceo shows exceptional courage, initiative and leadership. He is quickly promoted to sergeant, and then to captain.

In Bayamo, Maceo achieves a victory that his commander, Colonel Pio Rosado, declared impossible. He is praised by General Mármol.

November 1868 through December 1869. Spain sends its finest officersto command 35,000 veteran soldiers and thousands of others. Spain also sends 14 warships and a train of artillery equipped with latest model Krupp cannons.

December 27. Céspedes signs a decree declaring Cuba incompatible with slavery, but adding that slavery will end "when it had full use of its powers under free suffrage so that it could agree on the best means of carrying the proposal to and end that would be advantageous to the old as well as the new citizen." [Meaning a gradual and indemnified abolition to happen after the war.]


January 4. General Don Domingo Dulce(a former Captain General with a liberal reputation) arrives in Cuba to replace Lersundi. Among his more liberal changes is the granting of freedom of the press and of assembly. Between January 7 and 28, 77 different periodicals appear supporting the revolution.

January 7. Spanish General Valmaseda outmaneuvers rebel General Marmól and surprises Cuban forces at El Saladillo. More than 2,000 Cubans die in this encounter, most of them are recently freed slaves.

January 8. On the plain of La Caridad, the battle continues.

January 10. Spanish General Valmaseda crosses the river Cauto and heads for Bayamo.

January 15. Valmaseda enters Bayamo and finds it burned to the ground. This is done with the unanimous consent of its inhabitants upon realizing they cannot resist the siege by Spanish forces armed with artillery and modern weapons.

January 16. Maceo is promoted to commander. He begins to operate with independent forces, still under the jurisdiction of General Marmól. With this new freedom to “formulate his own tactics,” he achieves victories in Mayari and Guantánamo.

January 21. In Havana, the Volunteers force (controlled by wealthy slave-owners opposed to independence) attacks the audience attending a comedy at the Villanueva Theatre. The performance is suspected of being favored by rebel sympathizers.

January 26. Maceo is promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Liberating Army.

Historian Philip Foner, from his book Antonio Maceo:
“On many occasions, Spanish officers were completely fooled by Maceo’s whirlwind attacks against their superior forces.”

February 9. Under General Federico Cavada (a former colonel in the U.S. Volunteer Service during the Civil War) the Las Villas district joins the war for independence.

February 12. A decree from new Captain General Don Domingo Dulce orders the Spanish army that all rebel insurgents captured with weapons are to be immediately shot. Higher ranking and better known captives are garroted in public.

February 26. The Revolutionary Assembly of the Central Department in Camagüey issues a declaration that states: “The institution of slavery, introduced into Cuba by Spanish Dominion, must be extinguished along with it.”

Read an excerpt from historian Philip Foner’s book: A History of Cuba and its relations with The United States, Volume II – 1845-1895, on the nature of the revolutionary government.

March 19. U.S. President Grant's cabinet makes its first major decision on a Cuban policy. Nearly all members of the cabinet, led by Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, are opposed to the recognition of Cuban belligerency.

March 24. José Morales Lemus, a Cuban representative of the revolutionary government, arrives in Washington and tries to see Hamilton Fish. He is told that the U.S. will "observe perfect good faith to Spain, and whatever might be our sympathies with a people, wherever, in any part of the world, struggling for more liberal government, we should not depart from our duty to other friendly governments nor be in haste to prematurely recognize a revolutionary movement until it had manifested capacity of self-sustenance and of some degree of stability." [However, Cuban rebels sustain a war for ten years with a great deal of stability, and Fish remains firm in his position.]

April 4. Dulce endorses a proclamation by Count Valmaseda in which all males over 15 years of age caught absent from their plantation without adequate excuse are to be shot.

April 9. The U.S. House of Representatives adopts a resolution to recognize Cuban belligerency by a vote of 98 to 25. (This is the will of the American people, but the U.S. government never acts on it, spurred by the desire to absorb Cuba.)

April 10. The Constitutional Convention meets at Guaimaro. A constitution is adopted that provides for a republican government. Article 24 declares, “all the inhabitants of the Republic are absolutely free.”

April. José Martí, now 17-years old, is sentenced to six years of hard labor for expressing his opposition to colonial rule.

May. General Thomas Jordan, a well-known U.S. Confederate officer, lands in Cuba and is soon made Cuban Chief-of-Staff.

May 14. In a fierce and bloody battle at San Agustín, Sergeant Marcos Maceo (Antonio Maceo's father) is killed in battle at the side of his son by a Spanish bullet. In his book about Antonio Maceo, Foner says, "Mariana Grajales, living incarnation of Cuban patriotism, cried out to the youngest of her sons, still a little boy: 'And you, stand up tall; it is already time that you should fight for your country.'"

In A History of Cuba and its relations with The United States, Volume 2, historian Philip S. Foner writes: “Indeed, as a passionate patriot and foe of the Spaniards, this Negro woman, Mariana Grajales, one of the outstanding women in Cuba’s revolutionary history, swayed her entire family to the cause of independence.”

May 22. In an attack at the strongly defended sugar mill, “Armonia,” Maceo receives the first of 24 wounds. He is carried back to a hidden rest camp, where his wife and his mother nurse him back to health.

A few weeks later, Maceo's two small children die of disease, possibly cholera.

June 5. A force of Volunteers forces Captain General Dulce (a liberal) to leave for Spain.

June 28. Captain General Antonio Caballero de Rodas arrives in Cuba.

Late in the month, an expedition organized by the New York Junta, made up of 800 to 1,400 men equipped with Spencer carbines, revolvers, sabres, two batteries of 12-pounder, and several 60-pounder guns, is intercepted by U.S. federal authorities and most of the men are arrested.

July 16. The House of Representatives rejects the Constitution. Instead, it institutes the Rule of the Freed (Reglamento de Libertos). This allows slavery to continue, but in a more discreet form. The slave, now called a “liberto,” must continue to work for his master, who has no obligation to feed, clothe or pay wages.

Historian Philip Foner, from his book Antonio Maceo:
“What the Cuban army lacked in numbers, experience, warfare training and arms and equipment was often compensated for by their thorough knowledge of the country, effective use of guerrilla tactics, greater immunity to cholera and other diseases that flourished on the island, and above all patriotic devotion. The most important asset of guerrilla warfare is an ideal; the rebels were fighting for the liberation of their country, and this gave them the popular support without which a guerrilla movement cannot be effective.”

September 5. U.S. Secretary of War John A. Rawlins* dies. He is the only man in U.S. President Grant's cabinet that actively promotes recognition of Cuban belligerency. From his deathbed, he sends a message to President Grant through Postmaster-General Creswell: “There is Cuba, poor, struggling Cuba. I want you to stand by the Cubans. Cuba must be free. Her tyrannical enemy must be crushed. Cuba must not only be free, but all her sister-islands. The Republic is responsible for its liberty. I will disappear; but you must concern yourself with this question. We have worked together. Now it is up to you alone to watch over Cuba.” [President Grant never recognizes Cuban belligerency.]

[* On February 13, 1931, the centenary of Rawlins’ birth is celebrated in Cuba.]

October. In a sharp turn in direction, Céspedes calls for the destruction of all the cane fields on the island. “Better for the cause of human liberty,” he says, “better for the cause of human rights, better for the children of our children, that Cuba should be free, even if we have to burn every vestige of civilization from the tip of Maisí to the tip of San Antonio, so that Spanish authority shall be eliminated.”

By the end of the year, Spain has amassed a powerful fleet, with about 50 vessels of 400 guns, including the Victoria and Zaragoza. This proves to be a major advantage, since the rebels have no navy and Spain is easily able to keep outside aid from getting through.

The rebel army is forced to abandon the province of Las Villas, the most western point of the rebellion, and fall back to Camagüey. However, Spaniards are constantly on the run in Santa Clara, Camagüey and Oriente provinces.


March 1. General Manuel Quesada (de Céspedes’ brother in law) arrives in Washington to make arrangements for a rebel “naval and military” center to help the Cuban rebels.

March 12. General Luis Marcano (from Santo Domingo) is assassinated.

March 24. An excerpt from a bitter editorial in Madrid’s newspaper "La Discusión."

June 26. General Donato Mármol is killed in battle. General Máximo Gómez is placed in command. Gómez and Maceo become dominant military figures.

July 20. Gómez reorganizes his forces. General Calixto García becomes second in command, and Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Maceo is put in charge of the third battalion.

Heading a battalion of only 187 men, Maceo takes part in numerous successful attacks under Gómez’s command.

August. The ship “Virgin” is purchased by $9,800 by John F. Patterson, an American agent for the Cuban rebels. The ship is later renamed Virginius.

October 2. After defeating a Spanish attack on his camp in Majaguabo, Maceo receives another severe battle wound. By the twentieth he’s active again, taking part in the highly successful assault on the town of Ti-Arriba, which results in the destruction of the town and the capture of a large quantity of booty.

October 4. The Virginius leaves New York on its first mission for the Cuban rebels.

December 4. During an attack on the fortress of Baragua, Maceo is wounded again. His younger brother, Julio, dies in the same battle.

December 27. Spanish Prime Minister Juan Prim y Pratas is assassinated in Madrid.


July. Gómez decides to invade the Guantánamo zone, which is strongly guarded by Spanish elite units. [Planned by General Gómez, the campaign is designed to test the officers that had been in training in a sort of ambulatory officers' school. The efforts rely heavily on Maceo and Calixto García.]

At the beginning of the campaign, Maceo clashes with the famous rifle battalion of San Quintín, one of Spain’s most aggressive and disciplined units. In battle, Maceo’s aide, Manuel Amábile, sacrifices his life in order to save his leader. This is not the last example of the love Maceo's soldiers had for him.

During a fierce battle at “La India,” José Maceo lays wounded in front of the enemy trenches, and Antonio Maceo refuses to retreat without another attempt to save his brother. In a brave effort, Maceo leads a charge “through a veritable shower of bullets until the fortifications were breached and the buildings set on fire.” José Maceo is rescued, and after a long period of recovery his life is saved. The Spaniards fight to the death, and only one soldier escapes.

October 15. General Gómez leaves Maceo in charge while he attends a government conference on war strategy.

November 27. A group of medical students are executed in Havana by a Spanish firing squad.


January/February. Spanish General Martínez Campos, after failing to defeat Maceo with 1,000 men, declares, “It is impossible to end the war by means of arms.”

March. Maceo is promoted to full colonel.

March 8. Learning that Martínez Campos is expecting re-enforcements, Maceo intercepts the troops and stages a series of "flank and rear guard attacks," inflicting numerous wounds on the advancing columns.

March 18. Spanish troops receive additional support and engage Maceo in a six-hour battle. Maceo retreats.

March 27. Maceo strikes back, defeats Spanish troops at “Loma Del Burro.”

April 16. President Céspedes writes to Antonio Maceo: “A few days ago I received the news that the operations of the enemy in Guantanamo had been completely paralyzed. This fact which can be due to various causes, is primarily due to the brilliant operations and heroic efforts of the Cubans who fight against the Spaniards in that district. Those have been operations and efforts which have obtained the sort of glory that is just associated with your name and which is confessed and recognized by all.” (Foner)


May 26 – June 7. During a conference with government officials, President Céspedes meets Maceo for the first time.

Gómez revives his plan to attack the West, argues that Cuban victories in Guantánamo are important, but the revolution can only make real headway if it moves west. The plan is accepted, but when ordered to divert men from the expedition to protect the members of the government, Céspedes refuses to obey, and is removed from command for disobedience.

The plan to move westward is later abandoned, and Maceo reluctantly replaces his commander.

June 20. General Calixto Garcia takes over Gómez’s position as commander of the province.

July 1. The whole army of Orience comes under Calixto Garcia. In the next four months, the rebel army wins victory after victory in the Guantánamo district. Maceo plays a leading role.

September 26. Don Gil Colunje, Minister of Foreign Relations of Colombia, proposes a joint action, “under the leadership of the United States,” to support the Cuban rebels’ struggle for independence. “The people of Cuba,” he writes, “after having proclaimed to the world their determination to be free and independent, are now, and have been for four years past, engaged in a daily struggle wit their mother country, seeking to accomplish the work of liberation which they began.” The plan is flatly rejected by U.S. Secretary of State Hamilton Fish.

October 24. Hamilton Fish informs the Spanish Minister to Washington, Don José Polo de Bernabé that continuing the war without apparent probability of success is producing “a state of things which will justify, if not require, a recognition of belligerency; That four years of contest without any advantage of arms by Spain over the insurgents exhibit a condition under which no complaint can be made if other powers recognize it as war.” (Foner) The meaning being that the U.S. government could choose to recognize the rebels.

November. Maceo rejoins General García to help capture the town of Holguín. Exactly one month later the town is captured.

Late, 1872. As a result of the many successful Cuban campaigns, Captain General Valmaseda resigns. The new Captain General, Cándido Pieltán, adds 54,000 men, 42 artillery pieces, and 2,000 horses (aside from the thousands of guerrillas not formally part of the Spanish army but used mainly to guard towns, garrisons, plantations and mills) to the war effort. The Rebel Army, on the other hand, has close to 7,000 men.

December 13. Black American citizens call for a meeting at Cooper Institute to support the “Cuban Patriots,” and to support the Cuban war effort against Spain. Speeches are delivered by Reverend Henry Garnet and Samuel R. Scottron, among others, who encourage the U.S. Government to support the Cuban rebels. “Let the colored people of America avail themselves of the sacred right of petition to assist the struggling patriots of Cuba, and disenthrall from the most tyrannical slavery five hundred thousand of our brethren now held as chattel slaves by the government of Spain.”

December 15. The New York Herald reports on the Cooper Institute meeting of 12/13, warning the Grant administration that “the voice of this Cooper Institute meeting is the voice of all our citizens of African descent, including especially those four millions lately released from the shackles of slavery.”


February 11. After Queen Isabella II of Spain is overthrown, Estanislao Figueras y de Moragas becomes the first President of the Spanish Republic until he is replaced by Francisco Pi y Margall.

March. The Spanish Cortes abolishes slavery in Puerto Rico. (Foner)

May 11. Ignacio Agramonte is killed. General Máximo Gómez assumes command of the Eastern forces.

June 8. Antonio Maceo is promoted to Brigadier General.

July 9. The Virginius sets anchor at Kingston Harbor.

August 6. A Royal Decree issued on this day condemns Antonio Maceo to death.

October. Gómez rejects a proposal by Vicente García to remove President Céspedes. Gómez writes in his diary: “The state of the Revolution was hardly encouraging, since the only portion which sustained itself with apparent advantage over the enemy was the one I commanded… [especially] the occupation of the rich territory of Guantánamo… Everything else held out only the prospects of ruin and decadence for the Republic. Bayamo was lost and disorganized; the Venezuelan General Manuel Garrido who commanded it had been disgraced; Camaguey was sustained only by a spearhead of valiant men led by the audacious and noble Agramonte and with the rest [of the provice] in the power of the Spaniards; Las Villas was totally abandoned with the remnants of the army drifting from Camaguey to Oriente. That was the state of things in those memorable and bitter days.” (Foner)

October 23. The ship Virginius departs from Kingston, Jamaica, with men and weapons for the rebels. Captain Joseph Fry assembles a crew of unemployed seamen, most of whom are not aware of the ship’s connection to Cuban rebels. Included in the voyage are General William Ryan (known in the U.S. as George Washington Ryan) and Pedro de Céspedes (President Carlos Manuel de Céspedes’ younger brother). “Much depends upon the success of this expedition,” writes Major J.C. Harris of Virginia, a friend of General Ryan. “We take only 300 men from this port, but we will be joined by two other parties and I am confident of success.”

October 25. The Virginius reaches port at Jeremie, Haiti. Within a day authorities order the ship to leave port, and the ship proceeds towards Port-au-Prince.

October 27. Members of the House of Representatives call for a meeting in Bijaugal. President Céspedes is not invited, and the session removes Céspedes and proclaims Salvador Cisneros Betancourt as President. The leading officers are present, including Major Generals Modesto Díaz and Manuel de J. Calvar; Brigadier Generals Antonio Maceo and José de J. Pérez; Colonels Guillermo Moncada and Francisco Borrero and others, accompanied by 2,000 soldiers. At the meeting, Cisneros announced his new cabinet, which included: Francisco Maceo Osorio as Secretary of State; Antonio Hurtado del Valle as Sub-Secretary; General Vicente García as Secretary of War and Treasury; Félix Figueredo as Sub-Secretary of Dispatch; and Federico Betancourt as Secretary of the Council.

October 29. The Spanish warship Tornado, under Captain Dionisio Castillo, leaves Santiago de Cuba to pursue the Virginius.

October 31. After an 8-hour sea chase, Spanish officials overtake the ship Virginius and arrest a number of Americans and Englishmen on board; the vessel carries weapons and supplies for the Cuban rebels.

November 2. A court martial on the Spanish corvette Tornado, finds the crew of the Virginius guilty of piracy and sentenced to death.

November 4. At six A.M., four ranking officers of the rebel army, arrested on the Virginius, are executed; General Bernabe Varona (aka Bembetta), General Pedro Céspedes, General Jesús del Sol and Brigadier General George Washington Ryan.

November 7. In Washington, at President Ulysses S. Grant’s cabinet meeting, the Virginius is the first topic of discussion. Before the meeting is over, Secretary of State Hamilton Fish receives a telegram informing him of the execution of Ryan and the others on Nov. 4.

November 7. In Santiago, at eight o’clock in the morning, Captain Fry and 36 other are executed by firing squad after a court-martial aboard the warship San Francisco de Borja under orders of General Juan Burriel. In The Virginius Affair, Richard H. Bradford describes the execution; “A ragged volley flashed toward the men. Fry fell forward, dead at the first fire. Others were still standing, leaning against the wall. Some bent forward. Many were on the ground in agony. Poor marksmanship and nervousness had made a butcher’s job. Some of the squad rushed forward to administer the coup de grace and shoved muskets into the men’s mouths. Shooting continued for five minutes until thirty-seven men lay dead in heaps before the wall. To American sailors in Santiago harbor it sounded like fireworks on the Fourth of July. A wagon drove up, the bodies were piled on hastily, and it drove off.”

November 8, late morning. The British warship Niobe arrives in Santiago de Cuba. Commander Sir Lampton Loraine sends a telegram to military governor Juan Nepomuceno Burriel: "I demand that you stop the dreadful butchery that is taking place here."

November 8. In Washington, Fish holds the first meeting on the Virginius incident with Spanish minister Don José Polo de Barnabé. Author Richard H. Bradford writes in The Virginius Affair; “…there are times when men of similar personality who speak frankly but with respect can smooth differences which more skilled men might turn into major problems. Two such men were Fish and Polo de Barnabé.”

November 10. The New York Herald and the New York Tribune publish editorials pushing for war with Spain and support for the Cuban rebels. From the Herald: “It is a duty incumbent upon our government at once to recognize the belligerent rights of the Cubans…” and “it is a duty which Secretary Fish cannot any longer safely postpone.”

November 12. The Virginius is escorted from Santiago de Cuba harbor by the Spanish ships Tornado and Isabel la Catolica. The sail to Bahia Honda, where the Virginius is to be turned over to the American government on December 18.

November 17. Hamilton Fish: “There is not at this day the evidence of any organized government of what is called the Republic of Cuba… simply a brave, persistent defiance of Spanish rule, and a long-continued guerrilla fighting.”

November 18. From an editorial in the Spanish paper La Bandera Española (The Spanish Flag); “The Spanish government would be an unworthy government if it will not defend, without recognizing or accepting any limitation and without omitting any sacrifices, the integrity of our territory, and our honor, and our independence as a nation, if another nation or all nations joined together to impair them in the least.”

November 24. Yale Law School professor Theodore D. Woolsey addresses the issue of the Virginius in the New York Times; “a weak nation must be very careful how it breaks through the fine network of what is lawful, but a strong nation will do it and take the consequences.”

December 3. British survivors from the Virginius are turned over to Sir Lampton Loraine on the Niobe.

December 5. The New York Times reports on the execution of Captain Fry and the others captured aboard the Virginius.

Dec. 17. U.S. Attorney General Williams issues a written opinion on the case of the Virginius. Author Richard H. Bradford, in The Virginius Affair, surmises that “the decision nevertheless was a mixture of fact and pretension, legality and bluff.” (pg 102) In his opinion Williams asserts that “without admitting that Spain would otherwise have any interest in the question, I decide that the Virginius at the time of her capture was without right and improperly carrying the American flag.”

December 18. At 9 am the ship Virginius is formally returned to American officials.  Captain W. D. Whiting on the USS Despatch, takes charge of the Virginius, towing it out to sea.

December 18. The last survivors of the Virginius are delivered to Commander Braine at the US warship Juniata, in front of Morro Fortress, Havana.

Dec. 24. In a letter to his son, US Secretary of State Hamilton Fish remarks on the Virginius incident: “I do not expect that the fugitive-from-justice editor of the New York Sun or the wild Irishmen who run the New York Herald, or the Spaniard who edits El Cronista will be satisfied, but I have thought of the tens of thousands of wives who might have been made widows, and of the hundreds of thousands of children who might have been made orphans, in an unnecessary war undertaken for a dishonest vessel.  There is a national evil worse than war, but unless the national honor, or the national existence, require war… then the nation should do all that it can to avoid the terrible evil. That is what I have endeavored to do.”


January 3. In Spain, General Manuel Pavía, Captain-General of Madrid, stages a successful Coup De Tat and forces Queen Isabella to flee the country.

February 4. With permission from the government, Gómez forms a force of 500 soldiers from Oriente and Las Villas (300 infantry and 200 cavalry), and names Maceo General of the new division, second in command only to himself.

February. Rebel conservatives launch an all-out slander campaign against Maceo. The opposition stems from the effects of racial prejudice and propaganda about “black domination.”

February 10. In Naranjo, the Rebel Army defeats 2,000 artillery-equipped veteran Spanish troops.

February 27. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes is killed in battle after being ambushed at San Lorenzo (Oriente).

February 16.  In the Battle of Las Guásimas, the rebel army is again victorious against larger Spanish forces.  Maceo, with 200 cavalry and 50 infantry, attacks a column of 2,000 men sent from Camagüey.   In all, the Spaniards pour 6,000 men and six pieces of artillery into the battle, but have to retreat. (Foner) [Note: Other sources date this battle as March 15]

As the battle of Las Guásimas continues and the Spanish cavalry is all but defeated, Spanish General Manuel Armizán requests help from troops in Camagüey. By the end of this battle, Spaniards suffer 1,037 dead and wounded, and the Cubans 166. The rebel victory uses so much ammunition and equipment that the western invasion is temporarily called off.

April 16. Captain General José Gutiérrez de la Concha signs another decree (the third) proclaiming the death penalty for Antonio Maceo and confiscating all his property.

April 18. Maceo’s brother, Miguel, dies in his arms from wounds received in an attack on the Spanish garrison at Cascorro.

April 25. Henry C. Hall, American Consul in Havana informs the U.S. State Department on the status of the war after a meeting of ex-Captains General of Cuba. He states: “the board entertains no hope of a speedy suppression of the insurrection; in fact it is indirectly admitted that it may be a work of years. But the hope is expressed that it may be kept within its present limits and that the sugar production of the Western Departments of the island may be kept up; as long as this production continues means will not be wanting for sustaining the Government and combating the insurrection; to this end it is recommended that all the resources of the Government should be directed.”

September 4. Calixto García is captured by the Spaniards and Maceo assumes command of the Second Division.


January 6. General Máximo Gómez crosses the ‘trocha’ (the long fortified line that the Spaniards erected to prevent penetration of the West. “The objective, Gómez tells his men, “is the destruction of the plantations which sustain the enemy, principally the mills from which the hacendados derive their wealth and with which they support Spain’s war effort.”

February 27. The Spanish government agrees to pay $80,000 in compensation for the execution of Americans captured in the Virginius. A settlement is also reached with the British government.

April 27. General Vicente García renounces allegiance to the revolutionary government and calls an assembly at Lagunas de Varona of everyone dissatisfied dissatisfied with the progress of the revolution. The move results in a disruption of the whole revolutionary movement.

April 28. President Cisneros attends the protest meeting at Lagunas de Varona and addresses the hostile gathering: "I know, gentlemen, how I should and ought to end this affair, since I have Maceo in Oriente, Reve in Camagüey, and Gómez in Las Villas who will obey me. But rather than risk the disgrace of being accused as the author of the misfortunes of my country, I prefer to sacrifice my position-if that will lead to the reduction of ill will and to the good and uninterrupted march of the revolution." President Cisneros offers to resign.

June 18. Maceo meets with General Vicente García in Alcalá, near Holguín and expresses his disagreement with García’s actions.

July 28. After the House of Representatives accepts the resignation of Cisneros, Juan B. Spotorno is named interim President of the Republic.

November. U.S. Secretary of State Hamilton Fish announces that he is seeking to achieve action by the European powers, led by England, to restore peace in Cuba. Such peace, he adds, would include neither the abolition of slavery nor the independence of the island.

December. Another vicious campaign against Maceo begins. He is again accused of seeking a Black Republic. Maceo ignores the charges.

Alfonso XII, son of Isabel II, takes over the throne of Spain.


January 18. Joaquín Jovellar is appointed Captain-General of Cuba.

March 11. Francisco (Panchito) Gómez Toro is born, son of Máximo Gómez and Bernarda Toro Pelegrín.

March 28. The House of Representatives elects Tomás Estrada Palma as president of the Republic (replacing Juan B. Spotorno).

May 16. From his camp in Baragua, Maceo writes a letter to President Tomás Estrada Palma addressing the charges against him. Estrada Palma does not respond.

According to official records, Cuban cigar factories sell 102,651 cigars to Great Britain, 76,885 to the U.S., 16,815 to France, and 9,287 to Spain.


May 11. García demands reforms in the revolutionary government through a new manifesto

September. Maceo is wounded again. Gómez writes in his diary: “General Maceo was seriously wounded, but that man, with his indomitable spirit and iron constitution, is already active again.”

September 27. After an informer advises General Martínez Campos of Maceo’s wounds and the small size of his escort, the General sends a column of 3,000 men to surround the area, but the rebels had just escaped. Reporting the affair to Madrid, Martínez writes: “I thought I was dealing with a stupid mulatto, a rude muleteer; but I found him transformed not only into a real general, capable of directing his movement with judgment and precision, but also into an athlete who, finding himself indisposed on a litter, assaulted by my troops, abandoned his bed, leaped upon a horse and outdistanced those pursuing him.”

November. President Estrada Palma is captured and imprisoned by the Spaniards. Maximo Gomez is offered the presidency, but he refuses. [Many believe this to be factor that ended the Ten Year War unfavorably for the rebels.] General Vicente García is named president of the Republic.

December. The rebel government, ready to discuss peace terms with Martínez Campos, asks for the neutralization of a part of Camagüey province.

December 24. Spanish General Juan D. Burriel, considered by Americans to be responsible for the Virginius executions in late 1873, dies in Spain.


January 29. In the Sierra Maestra Mountains, Maceo successfully ambushes a large column of Spanish troops. The rebels capture their booty, including many weapons and ammunitions, and force the Spaniards to retreat with many dead and wounded.

February 4. While most of his troops are away and he's only left with 38 rebels, Maceo is completely surrounded and outnumbered more than eight-to-one. After three hours of brutal combat, the Cubans completely rout their enemy. Spanish prisoners are later released to the Spanish commanding general.

February 5. A conference is held between the most important leaders of the government and the Spanish generals. The government, including President García and the House of Representatives resign. A Comité del Centro (Committee of the Central Department) is formed.

February 7, 8, 9. In the area of San Ulpiano, Maceo achieves a brilliant victory over the famous San Quentín battalion.

February 9. The Comité del Centro asks Martínez Campos for terms to cease fighting.

February 11. At a meeting in Zanjón, in Camagüey, the Treaty of Zanjón (Pacto de Zanjón) is accepted. Slaves who fought on either side are freed, but slavery is not abolished and Cuba remains under Spanish rule.

February 29. Surrender ceremonies are scheduled to take place at Puerto Príncipe.

March 4. The New York Times runs a lengthy review of the Ten-Year War that doesn't mention Antonio Maceo.

March 8. Maceo camps at Baraguá, near Santiago de Cuba.

March 15. In Baraguá, General Martínez Campos and other Spanish representatives meet with a small gathering of black and white Cuban officers led by General Maceo. The Spanish general continually addresses Maceo as "señor." An eight-day truce is established, but it is agreed that it will end on March 23.

March 18. Maceo is offered a considerable sum of money to accept the Zanjón pact. He replies:
“Do you think that a man who is fighting for a principle and has a high regard for his honor and reputation can sell himself while there is still at least a chance of saving his principles by dying or trying to enforce them before he denigrates himself? Men like me fight only in the cause of liberty and will smash their guns rather than submit.”

March 23. War breaks out again. Maceo issues a circular that becomes known as “The Protest of Baraguá.”

April 6. New York’s La Verdad pays tribute to Maceo’s action: “The hero of the day is Maceo, and it appears it is up to him to raise Cuba again to the pinnacle of its glory.”

May 10. Maceo leaves Cuba (under Presidential orders) in a Spanish cruiser headed from Santiago de Cuba for Jamaica.

May 21. At Loma Pelada, the rebel government accepts Spanish peace terms, officially ending the Ten-Year War.

October. After organizing the Cuban Revolutionary Committee (Comité Revolucionario Cubano), Major General Calixto García issues a manifesto inviting all Cubans to unite in the fight against Spanish rule.

November 23. La Independencia, a publication of the Revolutionary Committee, urges slaves to “take your machetes in hand, and burn the cane.”

José Martí returns to Cuba.


August 5. At a conference in Kingston, Jamaica, Maceo and García plan the next uprising.

August 26. The Little War (La Guerra Chiquita) begins prematurely in Santiago de Cuba. (Some historians consider this to be Cuba's second war of independence, and others ignore it, referring to the struggle that began in 1895 as Cuba's second attempt.)

September 5. Antonio Maceo issues a circular known as “The Kingston Proclamation,” reminding Cubans that the reforms promised have not materialized. "Instead of giving Cubans the opportunity to participate in the direction of their government, Spaniards have been pouring into the island to man political posts, pushing the rightful representatives of the people to one side; they are guided only by the interests of their pockets and that of the Peninsula…”

December 14. In Haiti, an assassination attempt is made on Maceo by Dominican generals Quintín Díaz and Antonio Pérez. Maceo is warned in advance and the attempt fails. It is later revealed that the attempt was planned and paid for by Cuba’s Captain General Ramón Blanco.

José Martí is again exiled. He travels to the U.S., then to Venezuela.


January. Havana becomes the center of slave trafficking to the new world. By now this has become a very lucrative enterprise.

January 24. José Martí makes his first public speech in the U.S. at New York's "Steck Hall." He denies the charge that slaves are using the insurrection to wreak vengeance on whites, which he attributes to Spanish propaganda. “The sins of the slave,” he says, “fall wholly and exclusively on the master.”

In a future article printed in PATRIA, titled, “My Race,” Martí asserts that “Cuban means more than white, mulatto or black men. The souls of white men and Negroes have arisen together from the battlefields where they fought and died for Cuba. Alongside every white man there was a Negro, equal in loyalty and brotherhood for the daily tasks of war. Merit, the tangible culmination of cultural progress, and the inexorable play of economic forces will ultimately unite all men. There is much greatness in Cuba, in both Negroes and whites.”

June 1. General José Maceo, Brigadier Rafael Maceo, Guillermo Moncada, and other rebel leaders surrender. The surrender is arranged by the consuls of France and England in Guantánamo, on the condition that the rebels be given safe passage from the island. But once out at sea, a Spanish warship takes them to Spanish prisons in Africa.

June 28. Maceo leaves Santo Domingo with 34 companions and a cargo of arms, bound for New York.

July 6. A third attempt is made on Maceo’s life.

August 3. García is forced to surrender and is sent to prison in Spain.

August 24.Juan Bellido de Luna, director of the Cuban revolutionary paper in New York, "La Independencia," writes to Maceo, urges him not to invade Cuba.

The U.S. government prepares for overseas expansion, wiping out Native American resistance in the West and building an offensive Navy. Investment by the U.S. in Cuba increases rapidly. Of Cuban exports, 83 percent go to the U.S., only 6 percent to Spain.


José Martí settles in New York, where he lives until 1895.

December 1. U.S. Secretary of State James G. Blaine writes; "that rich island, the key to the Gulf of Mexico, and the field for our most extended trade in the Western Hemisphere, is, though in the hands of Spain, a part of the American commercial system… If ever ceasing to be Spanish, Cuba must necessarily become American and not fall under any other European domination."

December 10. En route to Honduras, Gómez stops in Kingston, where Cuban physician Eusebio Hernández arranges a discussion group with Maceo, Carlos Roloff, and José María Aguirre de Valdéz. Maceo insists that when the time comes, General Gómez is the one man behind whom all Cubans can unite.


May 31. Maceo finds work in Honduras as deputy judge.

July 31. Maceo finds new work (still in Honduras) as commander of the ports of Puerto Cortés and Omoa.

November. Maceo receives the first letter from Martí, (dated July 20).


January. Maceo’s wife, María Cabrales, arrives in Puerto Cortés. Later that same month, General Gómez calls on Maceo with a business proposition – the establishment of an agricultural colony of Cuban emigrants.

June 13. Maceo writes to the editor of El Yara:
“Cuba will be free when the redeeming sword flings her antagonists into the sea. The Spanish domination was a shame and affront to the world that suffered it. But for is it is a shame which dishonors us. Whoever tries to take power over Cuba will only get the dust of its soil drenched in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle.”

July. Maceo resigns his posts in Honduras and declares, “Our enslaved Cuba demands that her sons fight for her freedom.”


August 2. Maceo and Gómez set sail with their families for the U.S. to join the new independence movement.

October 1. In New York, Maceo and Gómez begin to hold conferences at the small hotel of Madame Griffon, on Ninth Ave. This is the first time that Maceo and Martí meet face-to-face.

October 20. In a letter to Gómez, Martí resigns from the revolutionary movement.


October. Maceo travels to Key West to raise money for the independence effort.

December 23. A letter from Gómez to Maceo leads to the first serious breach in their long friendship.


January 16. Maceo sends Gómez another letter, less severe in tone than his first response.

July 10. Flor Crombet arrives in Panama.

July 20. Crombet arrives in Kingston, aboard the Morning Star, with arms and ammunitions for the rebels. “But the ship’s captain,” writes Foner, “fearful of being arrested with his dangerous cargo, threw the entire shipment into the sea and returned to New York.” (This is the second time that war materials are lost).

August 17. At a conference of all the military and civil leaders in Jamaica, the majority votes (over Maceo’s objections) to make another effort to get the revolution started.

Foner: “At one point in the conference, the dissension between Maceo and Crombet reached so heated a point that Maceo challenged Crombet to a duel. (After seconds had been appointed, they decided that the duel should be postponed indefinitely for the good of the cause, and were able to persuade the two combatants to accept this decision.)"

August 31. At a dispute over finances, in which Maceo questions Gómez’s authoritarian style, his integrity, and his fitness to command, Gómez brakes off their friendship.

October 7. Slavery is abolished in Cuba, since economic conditions make it more profitable to free slaves and hire them for work by day, avoiding the expense of year round support.

December 8. Gómez announces the end of the rebel movement.

Historian Philip Foner, from his book Antonio Maceo:
“The failure was (also) due to a serious flaw in the organization of the revolutionary movement. Its total leadership had been in the hands of military officers, with civilians confined to the task of raising funds. The movement itself had started with the military leaders, who had then called in the revolutionary émigrés. This gave it a dictatorial character from the very outset, for the civilians were expected to blindly accept the decrees of the military leaders, especially those of the supreme commander, Máximo Gómez. Inevitably, as was illustrated by Martí ’s withdrawal, friction would arise not only between the two tendencies in the revolutionary movement, but also among the military leaders themselves, as in the disputes between Gómez and Maceo and Crombet and Maceo. Under these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that the entire movement deteriorated.

Whatever the cause of the end of the rebel movement, it was a bitter blow to Maceo. His eight-year longing to return to the field of battle for Cuban freedom had been thwarted and obstructed, and now he had received the major portion of blame for the latest fiasco. Finally, he had lost his great friendship with Gómez, and had made a dangerous enemy of Crombet.”


January. In Panama, Maceo obtains a concession to build a large number of wooden houses in the community of Bas Obispo (and his financial status improves considerably).


October. In Havana, José Beltrán wins a court decision asserting that “it would be an injury to deny a man of color the service he solicited because of his race.” The case is brought about because a café owner had refused him service, siting the color of his skin as the reason.

Previous | Next Timetable