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Timetable History of Cuba

Struggle for Independence - 4

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1896

“I felt as if I sailed with Long John Silver and first gazed on Treasure Island. Here was a place where anything might happen. Here was a place where something would certainly happen. Here I might leave my bones.”
- Winston Churchill, upon first sighting Havana in 1895

January 1. Martínez Campos seriously misinterprets rebel movement and reports to Havana that the rebels have been blocked and sent back to the eastern segment of the island. The Diario de la Marina carries this as front-page news. On the very same day, the rebel army enters Havana province, having left a wide smoking path of destruction through Matanzas.

January 3. Martínez Campos sends a cable to the Minister of War in Madrid: "The enemy keeps advancing through the lines north and south of Havana. A numerous separatist force is in San Jose de las Lajas, a town situated twenty-nine kilometers from Havana. It comes destroying all. They burn the railroad stations. There are also parties in Guara. Similarly insurrectionary forces are in Melena del Sur, not far from Batabanó. Numerous families reach Havana fleeing from nearby villages. The panic is extraordinary."

January 6. On "Three Kings' Day," the rebels enter Vereda Nueva, and are received with cheers of "Viva Cuba Libre!" and "Viva Maceo!"

January 7. Martínez Campos resigns his post as captain general, and Spain assigns General Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau as his replacement. In the meantime, Sabas Marín becomes the acting captain general.

Near the northwestern border of Havana, Gómez and Maceo hold a strategy conference. They agree to split their forces, Maceo will continue into Pínar del Rio, and Gómez will remain in Havana, with the largest portion of the forces.

January 8. Maceo's troops cross the trocha from Havana into Pínar del Rio.

January 10. Gómez issues a public circular announcing that the rebel army will respect the peaceful population and agriculture.

January 22. The ultimate goal of the western invasion is achieved. At three in the afternoon, Maceo's troops arrive in Mantua, the westernmost town on the island. The people gather on the street to see the famed rebel, and the troops form a parade to make a grand entrance, led by the newly formed cavalry of natives from the province. At official ceremonies held the following day, Maceo is offered a champagne toast, which he declines, saying, "I do not drink any kind of liquor." He is later offered a cigar from Vuelta Abajo, which he, again graciously refuses, stating, "I am sorry not to be able to please you, but I do not smoke."

February 11. General Valeriano Weyler Y Nicolau arrives in Cuba. His highest military priority is the destruction of Maceo.

February 17. Weyler announces the policy of re-concentration. Inhabitants living outside fortified areas are given eight days to move into the towns occupied by the Spanish troops. After that time, anyone caught outside the concentrated areas is to be considered an enemy sympathizer and killed.

February 19. Gómez and Maceo meet in Soto to discuss Weyler's policy of re-concentration.

March 5. Maceo returns to Matanzas, outmaneuvering a powerful column sent by Weyler against him.

March 10. Maceo joins Gómez at El Galeón. It is agreed that Maceo will continue moving westward, and Gómez will continue operating in the central part of the island. This is their last meeting.

March 20. In a battle at El Rubí, despite a lack of ammunition, Maceo's column forces a numerically superior opponent to retreat.

April 18 - 26. Waiting for supplies, Maceo takes refuge in the Tapia Mountains. The Spaniards repeatedly attack this natural defense position, but are repelled each time. Learning that an expedition with war materials from the U.S. (on the ship "Competitor") Maceo outmaneuvers the enemy. At Cacarajícara, a battle against a column of nearly 1,000 soldiers, led by General Suárez Inclán, cuts down his company to 170 men. At a critical point in the battle, Rebel Colonel Juan E. Ducasse arrives with rifles, reinforcements, and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The enemy is forced to retreat.

May 23. Maceo attacks the fortified town of Consolación del Sur, leaving it in flames.

May 25. Maceo achieves another victory, this time over the forces of General Valdés, the supreme commander of the province.

June. After learning that the U.S. and Spain are discussing the possibility of granting Cuban autonomy and not independence, Maceo writes to Perfecto Lacoste: "The (North) Americans and Spaniards can make whatever agreements they wish, but Cuba will be free in a short while and can laugh at the negotiations which do not favor its independence."

June 6. From Havana, London Times correspondent Colonel Charles E. Akers, writes:
"With an army of 175,000 men, with materials of all kinds in unlimited quantities, beautiful weather, little or no sickness among the troops, in a word, with everything in his favor, General Weyler has been unable to defeat the insurrectionists.
In the province of Pinar del Río, at some eighteen miles from the center of the Spanish lines, is encamped since last March the rebel General Antonio Maceo with his army. Here the rebels are almost in view of 60,000 Spanish soldiers. There is no pretense of not knowing the position of Maceo since a Spanish general indicated to me the precise point where the insurrectionist encampment was. The frequently repeated Spanish boast that Maceo will not be able to cross the trocha is already worn out and useless. Undoubtedly, whenever it suits the insurrectionary leader, he will succeed in breaking the line, and meanwhile, it is enough for him to stay where he is and compel more than a third of the entire Spanish army to remain on the defensive."

June 19. Weyler's forces attack Maceo at San Gabriel de Lombello.

June 24. On the fifth day of battle (at San Gabriel de Lombello), Maceo sustains his 24th battle wound when a rifle bullet breaks a bone in the lower portion of one of his legs. He is taken to the house of a rebel civilian in the Rosario Mountain range for 9 days to recover.

July. Early in the month, Jose Maceo resigns his post as Commander of the Oriente province (in order to allow Calixto Garcia to take over).

July 5. José Maceo is killed at the battle of Loma del Gato.

August 7. Composer Ernesto Lecuona is born in Guanabacoa.

September 18. Maceo meets the expedition of Colonel Francisco Leyete Vidal and obtains 500,000 rounds of ammunition, one thousand rifles, two thousand pounds of dynamite, one cannon with 100 cannon shells and three American artillerymen. He is also joined by Máximo Gómez' young son, Francisco "Panchito" Gómez Toro.
Foner: "The happy shouts and vivas of the mambises over the arrival of the war material abruptly ended when they notice General Maceo's face. He had been handed a copy of the Boletín de Guerra of July 15 which featured the news that on July 5, Jose Maceo had been killed in battle at Loma del Gato in Oriente. It may seem incredible that it took so long for the news to reach Maceo. Actually, it was an indication of the indifference of the revolutionary government to their greatest warrior. They had simply neglected to inform Maceo. Indeed, the only communication Maceo received from government officials during the entire campaign in the West was not congratulations for his remarkable achievements against the enemy, but a criticism for making a number of appointments and conferring ranks 'without first submitting them to the Governing Council for their approval.'" [From: The Spanish-Cuban-American War and the Birth of U.S. Imperialism, Vol. 1]

September 23 - 24. In Montezuelo, Maceo defeats larger Spanish forces, suffering 68 rebel casualties.

September 25. Another victorious clash for Maceo's troops at Tumbas de Estorino.

October 1. At Ceja del Negro, Maceo's troops are trapped by three Spanish columns. After three days of fighting, the rebels are victorious, but suffer 277 casualties. Maceo is left with 200 fighting men.

October 14. De Truffin writes: "At present being better organized and well supplied with arms and ammunition, they (the rebels led by Maceo) have altered their tactics, and are offering resistance to the royal troops. Five rather serious clashes have taken place in the last few days. The bitterness with which both sides fought is an indication that the war has entered an entirely new and more active phase."

October 27. In San Cristóbal, Maceo makes his last address to his troops. He urges them to take courage and to prepare for whatever sacrifices are necessary to win independence.

October 29. In El Roble, Maceo receives a letter from Máximo Gómez requesting his urgent return to Camagüey. He learns that Gómez has been removed from his post as General-in-Chief of the revolutionary armies.

November 9. In an encounter with Weyler's forces in the valley of Tapia, Maceo looses 77 soldiers.

November 25. Maceo interviews three soldiers who claim to have knowledge of a weak spot in the Trocha, but is not satisfied with their answers.

December 4. Maceo and 17 men circle the trocha by sea in the port of Mariel, which requires four trips of the small boat. At times they come within sight of a Spanish garrison, and later they take refuge in La Merced, an abandoned sugar mill.

December 6. Still waiting for a rebel unit with horses, Maceo gives the order to begin marching toward the sugar mill Garro.

December 7. Antonio Maceo is killed in the battle of Punta Brava in Western Cuba. Also killed is Panchito Gómez Toro.

December 7. In his annual report, U.S. Secretary of State Olney estimates the total value of American investments in Cuba as follows:
Cienfuegos district - $12,000,000
Matanzas - $9,000,000
Sagua district - $9,229,000
Santiago mines - $15,000,000. (Jenks)

December 8. Antonio Maceo and Panchito Gómez are buried in Cacahual, in Santiago de las Vegas.

1897

February 7. Dr. Ricardo Ruiz, a Cuban-born, naturalized American citizen, is arrested in his home in Cuba, accused of having participated in the derailment, capture and robbery of a passenger train.

February 9. Gómez sends a letter to U.S. President Grover Cleveland.

February 17. Dr. Ricardo Ruiz is found dead in a 6 x 8 cell in a Cuban prison. His death is widely reported in the New York World and the New York Journal.

May. By now, the Spanish offensive has lost much of its momentum.

September. A constitutional convention takes place in La Yaya, and a new government is elected, including General Bartolomé Masó as President and Domingo Méndez Capote as Vice-President.

December. As the rebels declare success, President McKinley refuses to recognize Cuban Independence.

December 17. In the Journal of the Knights of Labor, J. Syme-Hastings writes about Anotnio Maceo.

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