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The Battle of San Juan Hill, part 2
Definitive American Assault
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Capture of the Spanish Blockhouse
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The Spanish last defensive line in San Juan Hill
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Province of Oriente, Cuba 1898
At a 12:00 hours cease fire, General Linares receives a message from General Vara de Rey announcing to him that resists in the position of El Caney. Before the hazard of the fact that San Juan Hill can be to cut the retreat by Americans, the general Linares is located to 800 ms to the left of the position, in the path of El Pozo, with a company of the Talavera regiment. Other company is located somewhat more far in the high of Veguilla. Behind, in reservation, is displayed a Spanish cavalry squadron.
Fire is resumed at 13:00 hours. Supporting Grimes battery, the two American batteries of reservation open fire against San Juan Hill. The Wheeler and Kent divisions form columns for a front-end assault. Advance in a tight formation, but Spanish fire causes many casualties. General Wikoff, chief of the Kent division second brigade is killed; his substitute, Colonel Worth, is badly injured; in the five minutes follow, the new chief of the brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Liscum, is also injured. The stream of casualties is numerous. The first battalion of American infantry, regiment no.17, flees in disbandment. In spite of this, the Americans continue ordering wave after wave of soldiers, with certain value, attempting to conquer the hill, while their artillery crushes Spanish positions. Major General Shafter waves of the front-end assault and proceeds to surround the hill, because he does not know that the Spanish garrison is almost annihilated. General Linares orders that the cavalry and 100 sailors of the Cervera fleet reinforce the garrison, but they never arrived. The Americans continue advancing by the flank, and General Linares decides assault on command of 400 soldiers, without achieving to contain them.

San Juan Hill is a cemetery. Nearly all the garrison has been annihilated; his chief, Colonel Vaquero resulted torn by the artillery; spares the ammunition of the guns; the Spanish artillery has exhausted the ammunition and only has grapeshot boats. But, in spite of all, the garrison resists. From the flank right, the Wheeler division submits to a violent fire to the Spanish advocates. The Talavera Regiment that is sent in his aid, is rejected. Since the action started they had 70% casualties. In the Hill remain gunners and 40 infantry soldiers with few bullets. The gunners withdraw after sabotaging their own weapons. A few minutes later all ammunition has been used and Captain Patricio de Antonio orders to arm all bayonets. The remains of the garrison of San Juan Hill withdrew to the forest but only 8 men arrived. At 16:00 hours the hill is occupied by American troops.
In spite of the apprehension of San Juan and El Caney, the Americans are sat ravaged. Believing that such positions were keys of the Spanish defensive system, the reality was they were advanced positions of certain strategic value. To break definitely the defenses of Santiago, the late afternoon of July 1st, the Americans started on the position of Canosa which was defended by the Colonel Caula engineers, with two infantry companies, a sailors company and the remains of the garrison of San Juan. The Americans start wave after wave of attack, being rejected with large casualties. This assault resulted in the injury of General Linares and Colonel Caula death. The Spanish situation is desperate, there no longer remain reserves. The General Toral, which swaps to Linares, attends hospitals and with 150 injured soldiers goes to reinforce Canosa positions. But this group of injured and sick rejects the last American assault.

At sundown, the Ship’s Captain Bustamante, chief of Staff for Cervera`s fleet, with command of 100 sailors, attempts to recapture San Juan. The lack of light had them believing that the American troops in San Juan were scarce. They Advance slowly towards the hill. Fatigued hits them at the forest boundary and Captain Bustamente is killed. With some deaths the detachment flee. The 1st July, night falls leaving 600 Spanish and 2.000 Americans dead.
by Luis Alberto Gomez Muñoz and Francisco José Díaz, A Memory of the Maine
Article ID 137
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