Infomotions, Inc.Cuba in War Time / Davis, Richard Harding, 1864-1916



Author: Davis, Richard Harding, 1864-1916
Title: Cuba in War Time
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): cuba; trocha; insurgents; cuban; forts; american
Contributor(s): Halsey, Francis W. (Francis Whiting), 1851-1919 [Editor]
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Title: Cuba in War Time

Author: Richard Harding Davis

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[Illustration: The Death of Rodriguez]



CUBA

IN WAR TIME

BY

RICHARD HARDING DAVIS


Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society Author of "Three Gringos in
Venezuela and Central America," "The Princess Aline," "Gallegher," "Van
Bibber, and Others," "Dr. Jameson's Raiders," etc., etc.



ILLUSTRATED BY FREDERIC REMINGTON

NEW YORK. R. H. RUSSELL 1897 *[Note: Before Spanish-American War]




CONTENTS


List of Illustrations

Author's Note

Cuba in War Time

The Fate of the Pacificos

The Death of Rodriguez

Along the Trocha

The Question of Atrocities

The Right of Search of American Vessels




ILLUSTRATIONS

The Death of Rodriguez

A Spanish Soldier

Guerrillas with Captured Pacificos

A Spanish Officer

Insurgents Firing on Spanish Fort

Fire and Sword in Cuba

A Spanish Guerrilla

Murdering the Cuban Wounded

Bringing in the Wounded

Young Spanish Officer

The Cuban Martyrdom

Regular Cavalryman--Spanish

One of the Block Houses

Spanish Cavalry

One of the Forts Along the Trocha

The Trocha

Spanish Troops in Action

Amateur Surgery in Cuba

Scouting Party of Spanish Cavalry

An Officer of Spanish Guerrillas

A Spanish Picket Post

General Weyler in the Field

Spanish Cavalryman on a Texas Broncho

For Cuba Libre




NOTE


These illustrations were made by Mr. Frederic Remington, from personal
observation while in Cuba, and from photographs, and descriptions
furnished by eye-witnesses, and are here reproduced through the
courtesy of Mr. W. R. Hearst.




AUTHOR'S NOTE

After my return from Cuba many people asked me questions concerning the
situation there, and I noticed that they generally asked the same
questions. This book has been published with the idea of answering
those questions as fully as is possible for me to do after a journey
through the island, during which I traveled in four of the six
provinces, visiting towns, seaports, plantations and military camps,
and stopping for several days in all of the chief cities of Cuba, with
the exception of Santiago and Pinar del Rio.

Part of this book was published originally in the form of letters from
Cuba to the _New York Journal_ and in the newspapers of a
syndicate arranged by the _Journal_; the remainder, which was
suggested by the questions asked on my return, was written in this
country, and appears here for the first time.


RICHARD HARDING DAVIS.




Cuba In War Time


When the revolution broke out in Cuba two years ago, the Spaniards at
once began to build tiny forts, and continued to add to these and
improve those already built, until now the whole island, which is eight
hundred miles long and averages eighty miles in width, is studded as
thickly with these little forts as is the sole of a brogan with iron
nails. It is necessary to keep the fact of the existence of these forts
in mind in order to understand the situation in Cuba at the present
time, as they illustrate the Spanish plan of campaign, and explain why
the war has dragged on for so long, and why it may continue
indefinitely.

The last revolution was organized by the aristocrats; the present one
is a revolution of the _puebleo_, and, while the principal Cuban
families are again among the leaders, with them now are the
representatives of the "plain people," and the cause is now a common
cause in working for the success of which all classes of Cubans are
desperately in earnest.

The outbreak of this revolution was hastened by an offer from Spain to
make certain reforms in the internal government of the island. The old
revolutionary leaders, fearing that the promise of these reforms might
satisfy the Cubans, and that they would cease to hope for complete
independence, started the revolt, and asked all loyal Cubans not to
accept the so-called reforms when, by fighting, they might obtain their
freedom. Another cause which precipitated the revolution was the
financial depression which existed all over the island in 1894, and the
closing of the sugar mills in consequence. Owing to the lack of money
with which to pay the laborers, the grinding of the sugar cane ceased,
and the men were turned off by the hundreds, and, for want of something
better to do, joined the insurgents. Some planters believe that had
Spain loaned them sufficient money with which to continue grinding, the
men would have remained on the _centrals_, as the machine shops
and residence of a sugar plantation are called, and that so few would
have gone into the field against Spain that the insurrection could have
been put down before it had gained headway. An advance to the sugar
planters of five millions of dollars then, so they say, would have
saved Spain the outlay of many hundreds of millions spent later in
supporting an army in the field. That may or may not be true, and it is
not important now, for Spain did not attack the insurgents in that way,
but began hastily to build forts. These forts now stretch all over the
island, some in straight lines, some in circles, and some zig-zagging
from hill-top to hill-top, some within a quarter of a mile of the next,
and others so near that the sentries can toss a cartridge from one to
the other.

The island is divided into two great military camps, one situated
within the forts, and the other scattered over the fields and mountains
outside of them. The Spaniards have absolute control over everything
within the fortified places; that is, in all cities, towns, seaports,
and along the lines of the railroad; the insurgents are in possession
of all the rest. They are not in fixed possession, but they have
control much as a mad bull may be said to have control of a ten-acre
lot when he goes on the rampage. Some farmer may hold a legal right to
the ten-acre lot, through title deeds or in the shape of a mortgage,
and the bull may occupy but one part of it at a time, but he has
possession, which is better than the law.

It is difficult to imagine a line drawn so closely, not about one city
or town, but around every city and town in Cuba, that no one can pass
the line from either the outside or the inside. The Spaniards, however,
have succeeded in effecting and maintaining a blockade of that kind.
They have placed forts next to the rows of houses or huts on the
outskirts of each town, within a hundred yards of one another, and
outside of this circle is another circle, and beyond that, on every
high piece of ground, are still more of these little square forts,
which are not much larger than the signal stations along the lines of
our railroads and not unlike them in appearance. No one can cross the
line of the forts without a pass, nor enter from the country beyond
them without an order showing from what place he comes, at what time he
left that place, and that he had permission from the commandante to
leave it. A stranger in any city in Cuba to-day is virtually in a
prison, and is as isolated from the rest of the world as though he were
on a desert island or a floating ship of war. When he wishes to depart
he is free to do so, but he cannot leave on foot nor on horseback. He
must make his departure on a railroad train, of which seldom more than
two leave any town in twenty-four hours, one going east and the other
west. From Havana a number of trains depart daily in different
directions, but once outside of Havana, there is only one train back to
it again. When on the cars you are still in the presence and under the
care of Spanish soldiers, and the progress of the train is closely
guarded. A pilot engine precedes it at a distance of one hundred yards
to test the rails and pick up dynamite bombs, and in front of it is a
car covered with armor plate, with slits in the sides like those in a
letter box, through which the soldiers may fire. There are generally
from twenty to fifty soldiers in each armored car. Back of the armored
car is a flat car loaded with ties, girders and rails, which are used
to repair bridges or those portions of the track that may have been
blown up by the insurgents. Wherever a track crosses a bridge there are
two forts, one at each end of the bridge, and also at almost every
cross-road. When the train passes one of these forts, two soldiers
appear in the door and stand at salute to show, probably, that they are
awake, and at every station there are two or more forts, while the
stations themselves are usually protected by ramparts of ties and steel
rails. There is no situation where it is so distinctly evident that
those who are not with you are against you, for you are either inside
of one circle of forts or passing under guard by rail to another
circle, or you are with the insurgents. There is no alternative. If you
walk fifty yards away from the circle you are, in the eyes of the
Spaniards, as much in "the field" as though you were two hundred miles
away on the mountains.

[Illustration: A Spanish Soldier]

The lines are so closely drawn that when you consider the tremendous
amount of time and labor expended in keeping up this blockade, you must
admire the Spaniards for doing it so well, but you would admire them
more, if, instead of stopping content with that they went further and
invaded the field. The forts are an excellent precaution; they prevent
sympathizers from joining the insurgents and from sending them food,
arms, medicine or messages. But the next step, after blockading the
cities, would appear to be to follow the insurgents into the field and
give them battle. This the Spaniards do not seem to consider important,
nor wish to do. Flying columns of regular troops and guerrillas are
sent out daily, but they always return each evening within the circle
of forts. If they meet a band of insurgents they give battle readily
enough, but they never pursue the enemy, and, instead of camping on the
ground and following him up the next morning, they retreat as soon as
the battle is over, to the town where they are stationed. When
occasionally objection is made to this by a superior officer, they give
as an explanation that they were afraid of being led into an ambush,
and that as an officer's first consideration must be for his men, they
decided that it was wiser not to follow the enemy into what might prove
a death-trap; or the officers say they could not abandon their wounded
while they pursued the rebels. Sometimes a force of one thousand men
will return with three men wounded, and will offer their condition as
an excuse for having failed to follow the enemy.

About five years ago troops of United States cavalry were sent into the
chapparal on the border of Mexico and Texas to drive the Garcia
revolutionists back into their own country. One troop, G, Third
Cavalry, was ordered out for seven days' service, but when I joined the
troop later as a correspondent, it had been in the field for three
months, sleeping the entire time under canvas, and carrying all its
impedimenta with it on pack mules. It had seldom, if ever, been near a
town, and the men wore the same clothes, or what was left of them, with
which they had started for a week's campaign. Had the Spaniards
followed such a plan of attack as that when the revolution began,
instead of building mud forts and devastating the country, they might
not only have suppressed the revolution, but the country would have
been of some value when the war ended. As it is to-day, it will take
ten years or more to bring it back to a condition of productiveness.

The wholesale devastation of the island was an idea of General
Weyler's. If the captain of a vessel, in order to put down a mutiny on
board, scuttled the ship and sent everybody to the bottom, his plan of
action would be as successful as General Weyler's has proved to be.
After he had obtained complete control of the cities he decided to lay
waste the country and starve the revolutionists into submission. So he
ordered all pacificos, as the non-belligerents are called, into the
towns and burned their houses, and issued orders to have all fields
where potatoes or corn were planted dug up and these food products
destroyed.

These pacificos are now gathered inside of a dead line, drawn one
hundred and fifty yards around the towns, or wherever there is a fort.
Some of them have settled around the forts that guard a bridge, others
around the forts that guard a sugar plantation; wherever there are
forts there are pacificos.

In a word, the situation in Cuba is something like this: The Spaniards
hold the towns, from which their troops daily make predatory raids,
invariably returning in time for dinner at night. Around each town is a
circle of pacificos doing no work, and for the most part starving and
diseased, and outside, in the plains and mountains, are the insurgents.
No one knows just where any one band of them is to-day or where it may
be to-morrow. Sometimes they come up to the very walls of the fort,
lasso a bunch of cattle and ride off again, and the next morning their
presence may be detected ten miles away, where they are setting fire to
a cane field or a sugar plantation.

[Illustration: Guerrillas With Captured Pacificos]

This is the situation, so far as the inhabitants are concerned. The
physical appearance of the country since the war began has changed
greatly. In the days of peace Cuba was one of the most beautiful
islands in the tropics, perhaps in the world. Its skies hang low and
are brilliantly beautiful, with great expanses of blue, and in the
early morning and before sunset, they are lighted with wonderful clouds
of pink and saffron, as brilliant and as unreal as the fairy's grotto
in a pantomime. There are great wind-swept prairies of high grass or
tall sugar cane, and on the sea coast mountains of a light green, like
the green of corroded copper, changing to a darker shade near the base,
where they are covered with forests of palms.

Throughout the extent of the island run many little streams, sometimes
between high banks of rock, covered with moss and magnificent fern,
with great pools of clear, deep water at the base of high waterfalls,
and in those places where the stream cuts its way through the level
plains double rows of the royal palm mark its course. The royal palm is
the characteristic feature of the landscape in Cuba. It is the most
beautiful of all palms, and possibly the most beautiful of all trees.
The cocoanut palm, as one sees it in Egypt, picturesque as it is, has a
pathetic resemblance to a shabby feather duster, and its trunk bends
and twists as though it had not the strength to push its way through
the air, and to hold itself erect. But the royal palm shoots up boldly
from the earth with the grace and symmetry of a marble pillar or the
white mast of a great ship. Its trunk swells in the centre and grows
smaller again at the top, where it is hidden by great bunches of green
plumes, like monstrous ostrich feathers that wave and bow and bend in
the breeze as do the plumes on the head of a beautiful woman. Standing
isolated in an open plain or in ranks in a forest of palms, this tree
is always beautiful, noble and full of meaning. It makes you forget the
ugly iron chimneys of the _centrals_, and it is the first and the
last feature that appeals to the visitor in Cuba.

But since the revolution came to Cuba the beauty of the landscape is
blotted with the grim and pitiable signs of war. The sugar cane has
turned to a dirty brown where the fire has passed through it, the
_centrals_ are black ruins, and the adobe houses and the railroad
stations are roofless, and their broken windows stare pathetically at
you like blind eyes. War cannot alter the sunshine, but the smoke from
the burning huts and the blazing corn fields seems all the more sad and
terrible when it rises into such an atmosphere, and against so soft and
beautiful a sky.

People frequently ask how far the destruction of property in Cuba is
apparent. It is so far apparent that the smoke of burning buildings is
seldom absent from the landscape. If you stand on an elevation it is
possible to see from ten to twenty blazing houses, and the smoke from
the cane fields creeping across the plain or rising slowly to meet the
sky. Sometimes the train passes for hours through burning districts,
and the heat from the fields along the track is so intense that it is
impossible to keep the windows up, and whenever the door is opened
sparks and cinders sweep into the car. One morning, just this side of
Jovellanos, all the sugar cane on the right side of the track was
wrapped in white smoke for miles so that nothing could be distinguished
from that side of the car, and we seemed to be moving through the white
steam of a Russian bath.

The Spaniards are no more to blame for this than are the insurgents;
each destroy property and burn the cane. When an insurgent column finds
a field planted with potatoes, it takes as much of the crop as it can
carry away and chops up the remainder with machetes, to prevent it from
falling into the hands of the Spaniards. If the Spaniards pass first,
they act in exactly the same way.

Cane is not completely destroyed if it is burned, for if it is at once
cut down just above the roots, it will grow again. When peace is
declared it will not be the soil that will be found wanting, nor the
sun. It will be the lack of money and the loss of credit that will keep
the sugar planters from sowing and grinding. And the loss of machinery
in the _centrals_, which is worth in single instances hundreds of
thousands of dollars, and in the aggregate many millions, cannot be
replaced by men, who, even when their machinery was intact, were on the
brink of ruin.

Unless the United States government interferes on account of some one
of its citizens in Cuba, and war is declared with Spain, there is no
saying how long the present revolution may continue. For the Spaniards
themselves are acting in a way which makes many people suspect that
they are not making an effort to bring it to an end. The sincerity of
the Spaniards in Spain is beyond question; the personal sacrifices they
made in taking up the loans issued by the government are proof of their
loyalty. But the Spaniards in Cuba are acting for their own interests.
Many of the planters in order to save their fields and _centrals_
from destruction, are unquestionably aiding the insurgents in secret,
and though they shout "Viva Espana" in the cities, they pay out
cartridges and money at the back door of their plantations.

[Illustration: A Spanish Officer]

It was because Weyler suspected that they were playing this double game
that he issued secret orders that there should be no more grinding. For
he knew that the same men who bribed him to allow them to grind would
also pay blackmail to the insurgents for a like permission. He did not
dare openly to forbid the grinding, but he instructed his officers in
the field to visit those places where grinding was in progress and to
stop it by some indirect means, such as by declaring that the laborers
employed were suspects, or by seizing all the draught oxen ostensibly
for the use of his army, or by insisting that the men employed must
show a fresh permit to work every day, which could only be issued to
them by some commandante stationed not less than ten miles distant from
the plantation on which they were employed.

And the Spanish officers, as well as the planters--the very men to whom
Spain looks to end the rebellion--are chief among those who are keeping
it alive. The reasons for their doing so are obvious; they receive
double pay while they are on foreign service, whether they are fighting
or not, promotion comes twice as quickly as in time of peace, and
orders and crosses are distributed by the gross. They are also able to
make small fortunes out of forced loans from planters and suspects, and
they undoubtedly hold back for themselves a great part of the pay of
the men. A certain class of Spanish officer has a strange sense of
honor. He does not consider that robbing his government by falsifying
his accounts, or by making incorrect returns of his expenses, is
disloyal or unpatriotic. He holds such an act as lightly as many people
do smuggling cigars through their own custom house, or robbing a
corporation of a railroad fare. He might be perfectly willing to die
for his country, but should he be permitted to live he will not
hesitate to rob her.

A lieutenant, for instance, will take twenty men out for their daily
walk through the surrounding country and after burning a few huts and
butchering a pacifico or two, will come back in time for dinner and
charge his captain for rations for fifty men and for three thousand
cartridges "expended in service." The captain vises his report, and the
two share the profits. Or they turn the money over to the colonel, who
recommends them for red enamelled crosses for "bravery on the field."
The only store in Matanzas that was doing a brisk trade when I was
there was a jewelry shop, where they had sold more diamonds and watches
to the Spanish officers since the revolution broke out than they had
ever been able to dispose of before to all the rich men in the city.
The legitimate pay of the highest ranking officer is barely enough to
buy red wine for his dinner, certainly not enough to pay for champagne
and diamonds; so it is not unfair to suppose that the rebellion is a
profitable experience for the officers, and they have no intention of
losing the golden eggs.

And the insurgents on the other side are equally determined to continue
the conflict. From every point of view this is all that is left for
them to do. They know by terrible experience how little of mercy or
even of justice they may expect from the enemy, and, patriotism or the
love of independence aside, it is better for them to die in the field
than to risk the other alternative; a lingering life in an African
penal settlement or the fusillade against the east wall of Cabanas
prison. In an island with a soil so rich and productive as is that of
Cuba there will always be roots and fruits for the insurgents to live
upon, and with the cattle that they have hidden away in the laurel or
on the mountains they can keep their troops in rations for an
indefinite period. What they most need now are cartridges and rifles.
Of men they have already more than they can arm.

People in the United States frequently express impatience at the small
amount of fighting which takes place in this struggle for liberty, and
it is true that the lists of killed show that the death rate in battle
is inconsiderable. Indeed, when compared with the number of men and
women who die daily of small-pox and fever and those who are butchered
on the plantations, the proportion of killed in battle is probably
about one to fifteen.

I have no statistics to prove these figures, but, judging from the
hospital reports and from what the consuls tell of the many murders of
pacificos, I judge that that proportion would be rather under than
above the truth. George Bronson Rae, the _Herald_ correspondent,
who was for nine months with Maceo and Gomez, and who saw eighty fights
and was twice wounded, told me that the largest number of insurgents he
had seen killed in one battle was thirteen.

Another correspondent said that a Spanish officer had told him that he
had killed forty insurgents out of four hundred who had attacked his
column. "But how do you know you killed that many?" the correspondent
asked. "You say you were never nearer than half a mile to them, and
that you fell back into the town as soon as they ceased firing."

[Illustration: Insurgents Firing on a Spanish Fort "One Shot for a
Hundred"]

"Ah, but I counted the cartridges my men had used," the officer
replied. "I found they had expended four hundred. By allowing ten
bullets to each man killed, I was able to learn that we had killed
forty men."

These stories show how little reason there is to speak of these
skirmishes as battles, and it also throws some light on the Spaniard's
idea of his own marksmanship. As a plain statement of fact, and without
any exaggeration, one of the chief reasons why half the insurgents in
Cuba are not dead to-day is because the Spanish soldiers cannot shoot
well enough to hit them. The Mauser rifle, which is used by all the
Spanish soldiers, with the exception of the Guardia Civile, is a most
excellent weapon for those who like clean, gentlemanly warfare, in
which the object is to wound or to kill outright, and not to "shock"
the enemy nor to tear his flesh in pieces. The weapon has hardly any
trajectory up to one thousand yards, but, in spite of its precision, it
is as useless in the hands of a guerrilla or the average Spanish
soldier as a bow and arrow would be. The fact that when the Spaniards
say "within gun fire of the forts" they mean within one hundred and
fifty yards of them shows how they estimate their own skill. Major
Grover Flint, the _Journal_ correspondent, told me of a fight that
he witnessed in which the Spaniards fired two thousand rounds at forty
insurgents only two hundred yards away, and only succeeded in wounding
three of them. Sylvester Scovel once explained this bad marksmanship to
me by pointing out that to shift the cartridge in a Mauser, it is
necessary to hold the rifle at an almost perpendicular angle, and close
up under the shoulder. After the fresh cartridge has gone home the
temptation to bring the butt to the shoulder before the barrel is level
is too great for the Spanish Tommy, and, in his excitement, he fires
most of his ammunition in the air over the heads of the enemy. He also
fires so recklessly and rapidly that his gun often becomes too hot for
him to handle it properly, and it is not an unusual sight to see him
rest the butt on the ground and pull the trigger while the gun is in
that position.

On the whole, the Spanish soldiers during this war in Cuba have
contributed little to the information of those who are interested in
military science. The tactics which the officers follow are those which
were found effective at the battle of Waterloo, and in the Peninsular
campaign. When attacked from an ambush a Spanish column forms at once
into a hollow square, with the cavalry in the centre, and the firing is
done in platoons. They know nothing of "open order," or of firing in
skirmish line. If the Cubans were only a little better marksmen than
their enemies they should, with such a target as a square furnishes
them, kill about ten men where they now wound one.

With the war conducted under the conditions described here, there does
not seem to be much promise of its coming to any immediate end unless
some power will interfere. The Spaniards will probably continue to
remain inside their forts, and the officers will continue to pay
themselves well out of the rebellion.

And, on the other hand, the insurgents who call themselves rich when
they have three cartridges, as opposed to the one hundred and fifty
cartridges that every Spanish soldier carries, will probably very
wisely continue to refuse to force the issue in any one battle.

[Illustration: *Fire and sword in Cuba]




The Fate Of The Pacificos


As is already well known in the United States, General Weyler issued an
order some months ago commanding the country people living in the
provinces of Pinar del Rio, Havana and Matanzas to betake themselves
with their belongings to the fortified towns. His object in doing this
was to prevent the pacificos from giving help to the insurgents, and
from sheltering them and the wounded in their huts. So flying columns
of guerrillas and Spanish soldiers were sent to burn these huts, and to
drive the inhabitants into the suburbs of the cities. When I arrived in
Cuba sufficient time had passed for me to note the effects of this
order, and to study the results as they are to be found in the
provinces of Havana, Matanzas and Santa Clara, the order having been
extended to embrace the latter province.

It looked then as though General Weyler was reaping what he had sown,
and was face to face with a problem of his own creating. As far as a
visitor could judge, the results of this famous order seemed to furnish
a better argument to those who think the United States should interfere
in behalf of Cuba, than did the fact that men were being killed there,
and that both sides were devastating the island and wrecking property
worth millions of dollars.

The order, apart from being unprecedented in warfare, proved an
exceedingly short-sighted one, and acted almost immediately after the
manner of a boomerang. The able-bodied men of each family who had
remained loyal or at least neutral, so long as they were permitted to
live undisturbed on their few acres, were not content to exist on the
charity of a city, and they swarmed over to the insurgent ranks by the
hundreds, and it was only the old and infirm and the women and children
who went into the towns, where they at once became a burden on the
Spanish residents, who were already distressed by the lack of trade and
the high prices asked for food.

The order failed also in its original object of embarrassing the
insurgents, for they are used to living out of doors and to finding
food for themselves, and the destruction of the huts where they had
been made welcome was not a great loss to men who, in a few minutes,
with the aid of a machete, can construct a shelter from a palm tree.

So the order failed to distress those against whom it was aimed, but
brought swift and terrible suffering to those who were and are
absolutely innocent of any intent against the government, as well as to
the adherents of the government.

It is easy to imagine what happened when hundreds of people, in some
towns thousands, were herded together on the bare ground, with no food,
with no knowledge of sanitation, with no covering for their heads but
palm leaves, with no privacy for the women and young girls, with no
thought but as to how they could live until to-morrow.

It is true that in the country, also, these people had no covering for
their huts but palm leaves, but those huts were made stoutly to endure.
When a man built one of them he was building his home, not a shelter
tent, and they were placed well apart from one another, with the free
air of the plain or mountain blowing about them, with room for the sun
to beat down and drink up the impurities, and with patches of green
things growing in rows over the few acres. I have seen them like that
all over Cuba, and I am sure that no disease could have sprung from
houses built so admirably to admit the sun and the air.

I have also seen them, I might add in parenthesis, rising in sluggish
columns of black smoke against the sky, hundreds of them, while those
who had lived in them for years stood huddled together at a distance,
watching the flames run over the dry rafters of their homes, roaring
and crackling with delight, like something human or inhuman, and
marring the beautiful sunlit landscape with great blotches of red
flames.

The huts in which these people live at present lean one against the
other, and there are no broad roads nor green tobacco patches to
separate one from another. There are, on the contrary, only narrow
paths, two feet wide, where dogs and cattle and human beings tramp over
daily growing heaps of refuse and garbage and filth, and where malaria
rises at night in a white winding sheet of poisonous mist.

The condition of these people differs in degree; some are living the
life of gypsies, others are as destitute as so many shipwrecked
emigrants, and still others find it difficult to hold up their heads
and breathe.

[Illustration: A Spanish Guerrilla]

In Jaruco, in the Havana province, a town of only two thousand
inhabitants, the deaths from small-pox averaged seven a day for the
month of December, and while Frederic Remington and I were there, six
victims of small-pox were carried past us up the hill to the burying
ground in the space of twelve hours. There were Spanish soldiers as
well as pacificos among these, for the Spanish officers either know or
care nothing about the health of their men.

There is no attempt made to police these military camps, and in Jaruco
the filth covered the streets and the plaza ankle-deep, and even filled
the corners of the church which had been turned into a fort, and had
hammocks swung from the altars. The huts of the pacificos, with from
four to six people in each, were jammed together in rows a quarter of a
mile long, within ten feet of the cavalry barracks, where sixty men and
horses had lived for a month. Next to the stables were the barracks. No
one was vaccinated, no one was clean, and all of them were living on
half rations.

Jaruco was a little worse than the other towns, but I found that the
condition of the people is about the same everywhere. Around every town
and even around the forts outside of the towns, you will see from one
hundred to five hundred of these palm huts, with the people crouched
about them, covered with rags, starving, with no chance to obtain work.

In the city of Matanzas the huts have been built upon a hill, and so
far neither small-pox nor yellow fever has made headway there; but
there is nothing for these people to eat, either, and while I was there
three babies died from plain, old-fashioned starvation and no other
cause.

The government's report for the year just ended gives the number of
deaths in three hospitals of Matanzas as three hundred and eighty for
the year, which is an average of a little over one death a day. As a
matter of fact, in the military hospital alone the soldiers during
several months of last year died at the rate of sixteen a day. It seems
hard that Spain should hold Cuba at such a sacrifice of her own people.

In Cardenas, one of the principal seaport towns of the island, I found
the pacificos lodged in huts at the back of the town and also in
abandoned warehouses along the water front. The condition of these
latter was so pitiable that it is difficult to describe it correctly
and hope to be believed.

The warehouses are built on wooden posts about fifty feet from the
water's edge. They were originally nearly as large in extent as Madison
Square Garden, but the half of the roof of one has fallen in, carrying
the flooring with it, and the adobe walls and one side of the sloping
roof and the high wooden piles on which half of the floor once rested
are all that remain.

Some time ago an unusually high tide swept in under one of these
warehouses and left a pool of water a hundred yards long and as many
wide, around the wooden posts, and it has remained there undisturbed.
This pool is now covered a half-inch thick with green slime, colored
blue and yellow, and with a damp fungus spread over the wooden posts
and up the sides of the walls.

Over this sewage are now living three hundred women and children and a
few men. The floor beneath them has rotted away, and the planks have
broken and fallen into the pool, leaving big gaps, through which rise
day and night deadly stenches and poisonous exhalations from the pool
below.

The people above it are not ignorant of their situation. They know that
they are living over a death-trap, but there is no other place for
them. Bands of guerrillas and flying columns have driven them in like
sheep to this city, and, with no money and no chance to obtain work,
they have taken shelter in the only place that is left open to them.

With planks and blankets and bits of old sheet iron they have, for the
sake of decency, put up barriers across these abandoned warehouses, and
there they are now sitting on the floor or stretched on heaps of rags,
gaunt and hollow-eyed. Outside, in the angles of the fallen walls, and
among the refuse of the warehouses, they have built fireplaces, and,
with the few pots and kettles they use in common, they cook what food
the children can find or beg.

One gentleman of Cardenas told me that a hundred of these people called
at his house every day for a bit of food.

Old negroes and little white children, some of them as beautiful, in
spite of their rags, as any children I ever saw, act as providers for
this hapless colony. They beg the food and gather the sticks and do the
cooking. Inside the old women and young mothers sit on the rotten
planks listless and silent, staring ahead of them at nothing.

I saw the survivors of the Johnstown flood when the horror of that
disaster was still plainly written in their eyes, but destitute as they
were of home and food and clothing, they were in better plight than
those fever-stricken, starving pacificos, who have sinned in no way,
who have given no aid to the rebels, and whose only crime is that they
lived in the country instead of in the town. They are now to suffer
because General Weyler, finding that he cannot hold the country as he
can the towns, lays it waste and treats those who lived there with less
consideration than the Sultan of Morocco shows to the murderers in his
jail at Tangier. Had these people been guilty of the most unnatural
crimes, their punishment could not have been more severe nor their end
more certain.

[Illustration: Murdering the Cuban Wounded]

I found the hospital for this colony behind three blankets which had
been hung across a corner of the warehouse. A young woman and a man
were lying side by side, the girl on a cot and the man on the floor.
The others sat within a few feet of them on the other side of the
blankets, apparently lost to all sense of their danger, and too
dejected and hopeless to even raise their eyes when I gave them money.

A fat little doctor was caring for the sick woman, and he pointed
through the cracks in the floor at the green slime below us, and held
his fingers to his nose and shrugged his shoulders. I asked him what
ailed his patients, and he said it was yellow fever, and pointed again
at the slime, which moved and bubbled in the hot sun.

He showed me babies with the skin drawn so tightly over their little
bodies that the bones showed through as plainly as the rings under a
glove. They were covered with sores, and they protested as loudly as
they could against the treatment which the world was giving them,
clinching their fists and sobbing with pain when the sore places came
in contact with their mothers' arms. A planter who had at one time
employed a large number of these people, and who was moving about among
them, said that five hundred had died in Cardenas since the order to
leave the fields had been issued. Another gentleman told me that in the
huts at the back of the town there had been twenty-five cases of
small-pox in one week, of which seventeen had resulted in death.

I do not know that the United States will interfere in the affairs of
Cuba, but whatever may happen later, this is what is likely to happen
now, and it should have some weight in helping to decide the question
with those whose proper business it is to determine it.

Thousands of human beings are now herded together around the seaport
towns of Cuba who cannot be fed, who have no knowledge of cleanliness
or sanitation, who have no doctors to care for them and who cannot care
for themselves.

Many of them are dying of sickness and some of starvation, and this is
the healthy season. In April and May the rains will come, and the fever
will thrive and spread, and cholera, yellow fever and small-pox will
turn Cuba into one huge plague spot, and the farmers' sons whom Spain
has sent over here to be soldiers, and who are dying by the dozens
before they have learned to pull the comb off a bunch of cartridges,
are going to die by the hundreds, and women and children who are
innocent of any offense will die with them, and there will be a
quarantine against Cuba, and no vessel can come into her ports or leave
them.

All this is going to happen, I am led to believe, not from what I saw
in any one village, but in hundreds of villages. It will not do to put
it aside by saying that "War is war," and that "All war is cruel," or
to ask, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

In other wars men have fought with men, and women have suffered
indirectly because the men were killed, but in this war it is the
women, herded together in the towns like cattle, who are going to die,
while the men, camped in the fields and the mountains, will live.

It is a situation which charity might help to better, but in any event
it is a condition which deserves the most serious consideration from
men of common sense and judgment, and one not to be treated with
hysterical head lines nor put aside as a necessary evil of war.


[Illustration: Bringing in the Wounded]




The Death Of Rodriguez


Adolfo Rodriguez was the only son of a Cuban farmer, who lives nine
miles outside of Santa Clara, beyond the hills that surround that city
to the north.

When the revolution broke out young Rodriguez joined the insurgents,
leaving his father and mother and two sisters at the farm. He was
taken, in December of 1896, by a force of the Guardia Civile, the corps
d'elite of the Spanish army, and defended himself when they tried to
capture him, wounding three of them with his machete.

He was tried by a military court for bearing arms against the
government, and sentenced to be shot by a fusillade some morning,
before sunrise.

Previous to execution, he was confined in the military prison of Santa
Clara, with thirty other insurgents, all of whom were sentenced to be
shot, one after the other, on mornings following the execution of
Rodriguez.

His execution took place the morning of the 19th of January, at a place
a half-mile distant from the city, on the great plain that stretches
from the forts out to the hills, beyond which Rodriguez had lived for
nineteen years. At the time of his death he was twenty years old.

I witnessed his execution, and what follows is an account of the way he
went to death. The young man's friends could not be present, for it was
impossible for them to show themselves in that crowd and that place
with wisdom or without distress, and I like to think that, although
Rodriguez could not know it, there was one person present when he died
who felt keenly for him, and who was a sympathetic though unwilling
spectator.

There had been a full moon the night preceding the execution, and when
the squad of soldiers marched out from town it was still shining
brightly through the mists, although it was past five o'clock. It
lighted a plain two miles in extent broken by ridges and gullies and
covered with thick, high grass and with bunches of cactus and palmetto.
In the hollow of the ridges the mist lay like broad lakes of water, and
on one side of the plain stood the walls of the old town. On the other
rose hills covered with royal palms that showed white in the moonlight,
like hundreds of marble columns. A line of tiny camp fires that the
sentries had built during the night stretched between the forts at
regular intervals and burned brightly.

But as the light grew stronger, and the moonlight faded, these were
stamped out, and when the soldiers came in force the moon was a white
ball in the sky, without radiance, the fires had sunk to ashes, and the
sun had not yet risen.

So, even when the men were formed into three sides of a hollow square,
they were scarcely able to distinguish one another in the uncertain
light of the morning.

There were about three hundred soldiers in the formation. They belonged
to the Volunteers, and they deployed upon the plain with their band in
front, playing a jaunty quickstep, while their officers galloped from
one side to the other through the grass, seeking out a suitable place
for the execution, while the band outside the line still played
merrily.

A few men and boys, who had been dragged out of their beds by the
music, moved about the ridges, behind the soldiers, half-clothed,
unshaven, sleepy-eyed, yawning and stretching themselves nervously and
shivering in the cool, damp air of the morning.

Either owing to discipline or on account of the nature of their errand
or because the men were still but half awake, there was no talking in
the ranks, and the soldiers stood motionless, leaning on their rifles,
with their backs turned to the town, looking out across the plain to
the hills.

The men in the crowd behind them were also grimly silent. They knew
that whatever they might say would be twisted into a word of sympathy
for the condemned man or a protest against the government. So no one
spoke; even the officers gave their orders in gruff whispers, and the
men in the crowd did not mix together, but looked suspiciously at one
another and kept apart.

As the light increased a mass of people came hurrying from the town
with two black figures leading them, and the soldiers drew up at
attention, and part of the double line fell back and left an opening in
the square.

With us a condemned man walks only the short distance from his cell to
the scaffold or the electric chair, shielded from sight by the prison
walls; and it often occurs even then that the short journey is too much
for his strength and courage.

[Illustration: Young Spanish Officer]

But the merciful Spaniards on this morning made the prisoner walk for
over a half-mile across the broken surface of the fields. I expected to
find the man, no matter what his strength at other times might be,
stumbling and faltering on this cruel journey, but as he came nearer I
saw that he led all the others, that the priests on either side of him
were taking two steps to his one, and that they were tripping on their
gowns and stumbling over the hollows, in their efforts to keep pace
with him as he walked, erect and soldierly, at a quick step in advance
of them.

He had a handsome, gentle face of the peasant type, a light, pointed
beard, great wistful eyes and a mass of curly black hair. He was
shockingly young for such a sacrifice, and looked more like a
Neapolitan than a Cuban. You could imagine him sitting on the quay at
Naples or Genoa, lolling in the sun and showing his white teeth when he
laughed. He wore a new scapula around his neck, hanging outside his
linen blouse.

It seems a petty thing to have been pleased with at such a time, but I
confess to have felt a thrill of satisfaction when I saw, as the Cuban
passed me, that he held a cigarette between his lips, not arrogantly
nor with bravado, but with the nonchalance of a man who meets his
punishment fearlessly, and who will let his enemies see that they can
kill but can not frighten him.

It was very quickly finished, with rough, and, but for one frightful
blunder, with merciful swiftness. The crowd fell back when it came to
the square, and the condemned man, the priests and the firing squad of
six young volunteers passed in and the line closed behind them.

The officer who had held the cord that bound the Cuban's arms behind
him and passed across his breast, let it fall on the grass and drew his
sword, and Rodriguez dropped his cigarette from his lips and bent and
kissed the cross which the priest held up before him.

The elder of the priests moved to one side and prayed rapidly in a loud
whisper, while the other, a younger man, walked away behind the firing
squad and covered his face with his hands and turned his back. They had
both spent the last twelve hours with Rodriguez in the chapel of the
prison.

The Cuban walked to where the officer directed him to stand, and turned
his back to the square and faced the hills and the road across them
which led to his father's farm.

As the officer gave the first command he straightened himself as far as
the cords would allow, and held up his head and fixed his eyes
immovably on the morning light which had just begun to show above the
hills.

He made a picture of such pathetic helplessness, but of such courage
and dignity, that he reminded me on the instant of that statue of
Nathan Hale, which stands in the City Hall Park, above the roar of
Broadway, and teaches a lesson daily to the hurrying crowds of
moneymakers who pass beneath.

The Cuban's arms were bound, as are those of the statue, and he stood
firmly, with his weight resting on his heels like a soldier on parade,
and with his face held up fearlessly, as is that of the statue. But
there was this difference, that Rodriguez, while probably as willing to
give six lives for his country as was the American rebel, being only a
peasant, did not think to say so, and he will not, in consequence, live
in bronze during the lives of many men, but will be remembered only as
one of thirty Cubans, one of whom was shot at Santa Clara on each
succeeding day at sunrise.

The officer had given the order, the men had raised their pieces, and
the condemned man had heard the clicks of the triggers as they were
pulled back, and he had not moved. And then happened one of the most
cruelly refined, though unintentional, acts of torture that one can
very well imagine. As the officer slowly raised his sword, preparatory
to giving the signal, one of the mounted officers rode up to him and
pointed out silently what I had already observed with some
satisfaction, that the firing squad were so placed that when they fired
they would shoot several of the soldiers stationed on the extreme end
of the square.

Their captain motioned his men to lower their pieces, and then walked
across the grass and laid his hand on the shoulder of the waiting
prisoner.

It is not pleasant to think what that shock must have been. The man had
steeled himself to receive a volley of bullets in his back. He believed
that in the next instant he would be in another world; he had heard the
command given, had heard the click of the Mausers as the locks
caught--and then, at that supreme moment, a human hand had been laid
upon his shoulder and a voice spoke in his ear.

You would expect that any man who had been snatched back to life in
such a fashion would start and tremble at the reprieve, or would break
down altogether, but this boy turned his head steadily, and followed
with his eyes the direction of the officer's sword, then nodded his
head gravely, and, with his shoulders squared, took up a new position,
straightened his back again, and once more held himself erect.

As an exhibition of self-control this should surely rank above feats of
heroism performed in battle, where there are thousands of comrades to
give inspiration. This man was alone, in the sight of the hills he
knew, with only enemies about him, with no source to draw on for
strength but that which lay within himself.

[Illustration: The Cuban Martyrdom]

The officer of the firing squad, mortified by his blunder, hastily
whipped up his sword, the men once more leveled their rifles, the sword
rose, dropped, and the men fired. At the report the Cuban's head
snapped back almost between his shoulders, but his body fell slowly, as
though some one had pushed him gently forward from behind and he had
stumbled.

He sank on his side in the wet grass without a struggle or sound, and
did not move again.

It was difficult to believe that he meant to lie there, that it could
be ended so without a word, that the man in the linen suit would not
get up on his feet and continue to walk on over the hills, as he
apparently had started to do, to his home; that there was not a mistake
somewhere, or that at least some one would be sorry or say something or
run to pick him up.

But, fortunately, he did not need help, and the priests returned--the
younger one, with the tears running down his face--and donned their
vestments and read a brief requiem for his soul, while the squad stood
uncovered, and the men in hollow square shook their accoutrements into
place, and shifted their pieces and got ready for the order to march,
and the band began again with the same quickstep which the fusillade
had interrupted.

The figure still lay on the grass untouched, and no one seemed to
remember that it had walked there of itself, or noticed that the
cigarette still burned, a tiny ring of living fire, at the place where
the figure had first stood.

The figure was a thing of the past, and the squad shook itself like a
great snake, and then broke into little pieces and started off
jauntily, stumbling in the high grass and striving to keep step to the
music.

The officers led it past the figure in the linen suit, and so close to
it that the file closers had to part with the column to avoid treading
on it. Each soldier as he passed turned and looked down on it, some
craning their necks curiously, others giving a careless glance, and
some without any interest at all, as they would have looked at a house
by the roadside or a passing cart or a hole in the road.

One young soldier caught his foot in a trailing vine, and fell forward
just opposite to it. He grew very red when his comrades giggled at him
for his awkwardness. The crowd of sleepy spectators fell in on either
side of the band. They had forgotten it, too, and the priests put their
vestments back in the bag and wrapped their heavy cloaks about them,
and hurried off after the others.

Every one seemed to have forgotten it except two men, who came slowly
toward it from the town, driving a bullock cart that bore an unplaned
coffin, each with a cigarette between his lips, and with his throat
wrapped in a shawl to keep out the morning mists.

At that moment the sun, which had shown some promise of its coming in
the glow above the hills, shot up suddenly from behind them in all the
splendor of the tropics, a fierce, red disc of heat, and filled the air
with warmth and light.

The bayonets of the retreating column flashed in it, and at the sight
of it a rooster in a farmyard near by crowed vigorously and a dozen
bugles answered the challenge with the brisk, cheery notes of the
reveille, and from all parts of the city the church bells jangled out
the call for early mass, and the whole world of Santa Clara seemed to
stir and stretch itself and to wake to welcome the day just begun.

But as I fell in at the rear of the procession and looked back the
figure of the young Cuban, who was no longer a part of the world of
Santa Clara, was asleep in the wet grass, with his motionless arms
still tightly bound behind him, with the scapula twisted awry across
his face and the blood from his breast sinking into the soil he had
tried to free.


[Illustration: Regular Cavalryman--Spanish]




Along The Trocha


This is an account of a voyage of discovery along the Spanish trocha,
the one at the eastern end of Cuba. It is the longer of the two, and
stretches from coast to coast at the narrowest part of that half of the
island, from Jucaro on the south to Moron on the north.

Before I came to Cuba this time I had read in our newspapers about the
Spanish trocha without knowing just what a trocha was. I imagined it to
be a rampart of earth and fallen trees, topped with barbed wire; a
Rubicon that no one was allowed to pass, but which the insurgents
apparently crossed at will with the ease of little girls leaping over a
flying skipping rope. In reality it seems to be a much more important
piece of engineering than is generally supposed, and one which, when
completed, may prove an absolute barrier to the progress of large
bodies of troops unless they are supplied with artillery.

I saw twenty-five of its fifty miles, and the engineers in charge told
me that I was the first American, or foreigner of any nationality, who
had been allowed to visit it and make drawings and photographs of it.
Why they allowed me to see it I do not know, nor can I imagine either
why they should have objected to my doing so. There is no great mystery
about it.

Indeed, what impressed me most concerning it was the fact that every
bit of material used in constructing this backbone of the Spanish
defence, this strategic point of all their operations, and their chief
hope of success against the revolutionists, was furnished by their
despised and hated enemies in the United States. Every sheet of armor
plate, every corrugated zinc roof, every roll of barbed wire, every
plank, beam, rafter and girder, even the nails that hold the planks
together, the forts themselves, shipped in sections, which are numbered
in readiness for setting up, the ties for the military railroad which
clings to the trocha from one sea to the other--all of these have been
supplied by manufacturers in the United States.

This is interesting when one remembers that the American in the Spanish
illustrated papers is represented as a hog, and generally with the
United States flag for trousers, and Spain as a noble and valiant lion.
Yet it would appear that the lion is willing to save a few dollars on
freight by buying his armament from his hoggish neighbor, and that the
American who cheers for Cuba Libre is not at all averse to making as
many dollars as he can in building the wall against which the Cubans
may be eventually driven and shot.

If the insurgents have found as much difficulty in crossing the trocha
by land as I found in reaching it by water, they are deserving of all
sympathy as patient and long-suffering individuals.

A thick jungle stretches for miles on either side of the trocha, and
the only way of reaching it from the outer world is through the
seaports at either end. Of these, Moron is all but landlocked, and
Jucaro is guarded by a chain of keys, which make it necessary to reship
all the troops and their supplies and all the material for the trocha
to lighters, which meet the vessels six miles out at sea.

A dirty Spanish steamer drifted with us for two nights and a day from
Cienfuegos to Jucaro, and three hundred Spanish soldiers, dusty, ragged
and barefooted, owned her as completely as though she had been a
regular transport. They sprawled at full length over every deck, their
guns were stacked in each corner, and their hammocks swung four deep
from railings and riggings and across companionways, and even from the
bridge itself. It was not possible to take a step without treading on
one of them, and their hammocks made a walk on the deck something like
a hurdle race.

[Illustration: One of the Block Houses-From a photograph taken by Mr.
Davis]

With the soldiers, and crowding them for space, were the officers'
mules and ponies, steers, calves and squealing pigs, while crates full
of chickens were piled on top of one another as high as the hurricane
deck, so that the roosters and the buglers vied with each other in
continual contests. It was like traveling with a floating menagerie.
Twice a day the bugles sounded the call for breakfast and dinner, and
the soldiers ceased to sprawl, and squatted on the deck around square
tin cans filled with soup or red wine, from which they fed themselves
with spoons and into which they dipped their rations of hard tack,
after first breaking them on the deck with a blow from a bayonet or
crushing them with a rifle butt.

The steward brought what was supposed to be a sample of this soup to
the officer seated in the pilot house high above the squalor, and he
would pick out a bean from the mess on the end of a fork and place it
to his lips and nod his head gravely, and the grinning steward would
carry the dish away.

But the soldiers seemed to enjoy it very much, and to be content, even
cheerful. There are many things to admire about the Spanish Tommy. In
the seven fortified cities which I visited, where there were thousands
of him, I never saw one drunk or aggressive, which is much more than
you can say of his officers. On the march he is patient, eager and
alert. He trudges from fifteen to thirty miles a day over the worst
roads ever constructed by man, in canvas shoes with rope soles,
carrying one hundred and fifty cartridges, fifty across his stomach and
one hundred on his back, weighing in all fifty pounds.

With these he has his Mauser, his blanket and an extra pair of shoes,
and as many tin plates and bottles and bananas and potatoes and loaves
of white bread as he can stow away in his blouse and knapsack. And this
under a sun which makes even a walking stick seem a burden. In spite of
his officers, and not on account of them, he maintains good discipline,
and no matter how tired he may be or how much he may wish to rest on
his plank bed, he will always struggle to his feet when the officers
pass, and stand at salute. He gets very little in return for his
efforts.

One Sunday night, when the band was playing in the plaza, at a
heaven-forsaken fever camp called Ciego de Avila, a group of soldiers
were sitting near me on the grass enjoying the music. They loitered
there a few minutes after the bugle had sounded the retreat to the
barracks, and the officer of the day found them. When they stood up he
ordered them to report themselves at the cartel under arrest, and then,
losing all control of himself, lashed one little fellow over the head
with his colonel's staff, while the boy stood with his eyes shut and
with his lips pressed together, but holding his hand at salute until
the officer's stick beat it down.

These soldiers are from the villages and towns of Spain; some of them
are not more than seventeen years old, and they are not volunteers.
They do not care whether Spain owns an island eighty miles from the
United States, or loses it, but they go out to it and have their pay
stolen, and are put to building earth forts and stone walls, and die of
fever. It seems a poor return for their unconscious patriotism when a
colonel thrashes one of them as though he were a dog, especially as he
knows the soldier may not strike back.

The second night out the ship steward showed us a light lying low in
the water, and told us that was Jucaro, and we accepted his statement
and went over the side into an open boat, in which we drifted about
until morning, while the colored man who owned the boat, and a little
mulatto boy who steered it, quarreled as to where exactly the town of
Jucaro might be. They brought us up at last against a dark shadow of a
house, built on wooden posts, and apparently floating in the water.
This was the town of Jucaro as seen at that hour of the night, and as
we left it before sunrise the next morning, I did not know until my
return whether I had slept in a stationary ark or on the end of a
wharf.

[Illustration: Spanish Cavalry-From photographs taken by Mr. Davis]

We found four other men sleeping on the floor in the room assigned us,
and outside, eating by a smoking candle, a young English boy, who
looked up and laughed when he heard us speak, and said:

"You've come at last, have you? You are the first white men I've seen
since I came here. That's twelve months ago."

He was the cable operator at Jucaro; and he sits all day in front of a
sheet of white paper, and watches a ray of light play across an
imaginary line, and he can tell by its quivering, so he says, all that
is going on all over the world. Outside of his whitewashed cable office
is the landlocked bay, filled with wooden piles to keep out the sharks,
and back of him lies the village of Jucaro, consisting of two open
places filled with green slime and filth and thirty huts. But the
operator said that what with fishing and bathing and "Tit-Bits" and
"Lloyd's Weekly Times," Jucaro was quite enjoyable. He is going home
the year after this.

"At least, that's how I put it," he explained. "My contract requires me
to stop on here until December of 1898, but it doesn't sound so long if
you say 'a year after this,' does it?" He had had the yellow fever, and
had never, owing to the war, been outside of Jucaro. "Still," he added,
"I'm seeing the world, and I've always wanted to visit foreign parts."

As one of the few clean persons I met in Cuba, and the only contented
one, I hope the cable operator at Jucaro will get a rise in salary
soon, and some day see more of foreign parts than he is seeing at
present, and at last get back to "the Horse Shoe, at the corner of
Tottenham Court Road and Oxford street, sir," where, as we agreed,
better entertainment is to be had on Saturday night than anywhere in
London.

In Havana, General Weyler had given me a pass to enter fortified
places, which, except for the authority which the signature implied,
meant nothing, as all the cities and towns in Cuba are fortified, and
any one can visit them. It was as though Mayor Strong had given a man a
permit to ride in all the cable cars attached to cables.

It was not intended to include the trocha, but I argued that if a
trocha was not a "fortified place" nothing else was, and I persuaded
the commandante at Jucaro to take that view of it and to vise Weyler's
order. So at five the following morning a box car, with wooden planks
stretched across it for seats, carried me along the line of the trocha
from Jucaro to Ciego, the chief military port on the fortifications,
and consumed five hot and stifling hours in covering twenty-five miles.

[Illustration: One of the Forts along the Trocha-From a photograph
taken by Mr. Davis]

The trocha is a cleared space, one hundred and fifty to two hundred
yards wide, which stretches for fifty miles through what is apparently
an impassable jungle. The trees which have been cut down in clearing
this passageway have been piled up at either side of the cleared space
and laid in parallel rows, forming a barrier of tree trunks and roots
and branches as wide as Broadway and higher than a man's head. It would
take a man some time to pick his way over these barriers, and a horse
could no more do it than it could cross a jam of floating logs in a
river.

Between the fallen trees lies the single track of the military
railroad, and on one side of that is the line of forts and a few feet
beyond them a maze of barbed wire. Beyond the barbed wire again is he
other barrier of fallen trees and the jungle. In its unfinished state
this is not an insurmountable barricade. Gomez crossed it last November
by daylight with six hundred men, and with but the loss of twenty-seven
killed and as many wounded. To-day it would be more difficult, and in a
few months, without the aid of artillery, it will be impossible, except
with the sacrifice of a great loss of life. The forts are of three
kinds. They are best described as the forts, the block houses and the
little forts. A big fort consists of two stories, with a cellar below
and a watch tower above. It is made of stone and adobe, and is painted
a glaring white. One of these is placed at intervals of every half mile
along the trocha, and on a clear day the sentry in the watch tower of
each can see three forts on either side.

Midway between the big forts, at a distance of a quarter of a mile from
each, is a block house of two stories with the upper story of wood,
overhanging the lower foundation of mud. These are placed at right
angles to the railroad, instead of facing it, as do the forts.

Between each block house and each fort are three little forts of mud
and planks, surrounded by a ditch. They look something like a farmer's
ice house as we see it at home, and they are about as hot inside as the
other is cold. They hold five men, and are within hailing distance of
one another. Back of them are three rows of stout wooden stakes, with
barbed wire stretching from one row to the other, interlacing and
crossing and running in and out above and below, like an intricate
cat's cradle of wire.

One can judge how closely knit it is by the fact that to every twelve
yards of posts there are four hundred and fifty yards of wire fencing.
The forts are most completely equipped in their way, but twelve men in
the jungle would find it quite easy to keep twelve men securely
imprisoned in one of them for an indefinite length of time.

The walls are about twelve feet high, with a cellar below and a vault
above the cellar. The roof of the vault forms a platform, around which
the four walls rise to the height of a man's shoulder. There are
loopholes for rifles in the sides of the vault, and where the platform
joins the walls. These latter allow the men in the fort to fire down
almost directly upon the head of any one who comes up close to the wall
of the fort, where, without these holes in the floor, it would be
impossible to fire on him except by leaning far over the rampart.

Above the platform is an iron or zinc roof, supported by iron pillars,
and in the centre of this is the watch tower. The only approach to the
fort is by a movable ladder, which hangs over the side like the gangway
of a ship of war, and can be raised by those on the inside by means of
a rope suspended over a wheel in the roof. The opening in the wall at
the head of the ladder is closed at the time of an attack by an iron
platform, to which the ladder leads, and which also can be raised by a
pulley. In October of 1897 the Spanish hope to have calcium lights
placed in the watch towers of the forts with sufficient power to throw
a searchlight over a quarter of a mile, or to the next block house, and
so keep the trocha as well lighted as Broadway from one end to the
other.

As a further protection against the insurgents the Spaniards have
distributed a number of bombs along the trocha, which they showed with
great pride. These are placed at those points along the trocha where
the jungle is less thickly grown, and where the insurgents might be
expected to pass.

Each bomb is fitted with an explosive cap, to which five or six wires
are attached and staked down on the ground. Any one stumbling over one
of these wires explodes the bomb and throws a charge of broken iron to
a distance of fifty feet. How the Spaniards are going to prevent stray
cattle and their own soldiers from wandering into these man-traps it is
difficult to understand.

[Illustration: The Trocha-From a photograph taken by Mr. Davis]

The chief engineer in charge of the trocha detailed a captain to take
me over it and to show me all that there was to see. The officers of
the infantry and cavalry stationed at Ciego objected to his doing this,
but he said: "He has a pass from General Weyler. I am not responsible."
It was true that I had an order from General Weyler, but he had
rendered it ineffective by having me followed about wherever I went by
his police and spies. They sat next to me in the cafes and in the
plazas, and when I took a cab they called the next one on the line and
trailed after mine all around the city, until my driver would become
alarmed for fear he, too, was suspected of something, and would take me
back to the hotel.

I had gotten rid of them at Cienfuegos by purchasing a ticket on the
steamer to Santiago, three days further down the coast, and then
dropping off in the night at the trocha, so while I was visiting it I
expected to find that my non-arrival at Santiago had been reported, and
word sent to the trocha that I was a newspaper correspondent. And
whenever an officer spoke to the one who was showing me about, my
camera appeared to grow to the size of a trunk, and to weigh like lead,
and I felt lonely, and longed for the company of the cheerful cable
operator at the other end of the trocha.

But as I had seen Mr. Gillette in "Secret Service" only seventeen times
before leaving New York, I knew just what to do, which was to smoke all
the time and keep cool. The latter requirement was somewhat difficult,
as Ciego de Avila is a hotter place than Richmond. Indeed, I can only
imagine one place hotter than Ciego, and I have not been there.

Ciego was an interesting town. During every day of the last rainy
season an average of thirty soldiers and officers died there of yellow
fever. While I was there I saw two soldiers, one quite an old man, drop
down in the street as though they had been shot, and lie in the road
until they were carried to the yellow fever ward of the hospital, under
the black oilskin cloth of the stretchers.

There was a very smart officers' club at Ciego well supplied with a bar
and billiard tables, which I made some excuse for not entering, but
which could be seen through its open doors, and I suggested to one of
the members that it must be a comfort to have such a place, where the
officers might go after their day's march on the mud banks of the
trocha, and where they could bathe and be cool and clean. He said there
were no baths in the club nor anywhere in the town. He added that he
thought it might be a good idea to have them.

The bath tub is the dividing line between savages and civilized beings.
And when I learned that regiment after regiment of Spanish officers and
gentlemen have been stationed in that town--and it was the dirtiest,
hottest and dustiest town I ever visited--for eighteen months, and none
of them had wanted a bath, I believed from that moment all the stories
I had heard about their butcheries and atrocities, stories which I had
verified later by more direct evidence.

From a military point of view the trocha impressed me as a weapon which
could be made to cut both ways. What the Spaniards think of it is shown
by the caricature which appeared lately in "Don Quixote," and which
shows the United States represented by a hog and the insurgents
represented by a negro imprisoned in the trocha, while Weyler stands
ready to turn the Spanish lion on them and watch it gobble them up.

It would be unkind were Spain to do anything so inconsiderate, and
besides, the United States is rather a large mouthful even without the
insurgents who taken alone seem to have given the lion some pangs of
indigestion.

If the trocha were situated on a broad plain or prairie with a mile of
clear ground on either side of it, where troops could manoeuvre, and
which would prevent the enemy from stealing up to it unseen, it might
be a useful line of defence. But at present, along its entire length,
stretches this almost impassable barrier of jungle. Now suppose the
troops are sent at short notice from the military camps along the line
to protect any particular point?

Not less than a thousand soldiers must be sent forward, and one can
imagine what their condition would be were they forced to manoeuvre in
a space one hundred and fifty yards broad, the half of which is taken
up with barbed wire fences, fallen trees and explosive bomb shells.
Only two hundred at the most could find shelter in the forts, which
would mean that eight hundred men would be left outside the breastworks
and scattered over a distance of a half mile, with a forest on both
sides of them, from which the enemy could fire volley after volley into
their ranks, protected from pursuit not only by the jungle, but by the
walls of fallen trees which the Spaniards themselves have placed there.

A trocha in an open plain, as were the English trochas in the desert
around Suakin, makes an admirable defence, when a few men are forced to
withstand the assault of a great many, but fighting behind a trocha in
a jungle is like fighting in an ambush, and if the trocha at Moron is
ever attacked in force it will prove to be a Valley of Death to the
Spanish troops.

[Illustration: Spanish Troops in Action]




The Question Of Atrocities


One of the questions that is most frequently asked of those who have
been in Cuba is how much truth exists in the reports of Spanish
butcheries. It is safe to say in answer to this that while the report
of a particular atrocity may not be true, other atrocities just as
horrible have occurred and nothing has been heard of them. I was
somewhat skeptical of Spanish atrocities until I came to Cuba, chiefly
because I had been kept sufficiently long in Key West to learn how
large a proportion of Cuban war news is manufactured on the piazzas of
the hotels of that town and of Tampa by utterly irresponsible newspaper
men who accept every rumor that finds its way across the gulf, and pass
these rumors on to some of the New York papers as facts coming direct
from the field.

It is not surprising that one becomes skeptical, for if one story
proves to be false, how is the reader to know that the others are not
inventions also? It is difficult to believe, for instance, the account
of a horrible butchery if you read in the paragraph above it that two
correspondents have been taken prisoners by the Spanish, when both of
these gentlemen are sitting beside you in Key West and are, to your
certain knowledge, reading the paragraph over your shoulder. Nor is it
unnatural that one should grow doubtful of reported Cuban victories if
he reads of the taking of Santa Clara and the flight of the Spanish
garrison from that city, when he is living at Santa Clara and cannot
find a Cuban in it with sufficient temerity to assist him to get out of
it through the Spanish lines.

But because a Jacksonville correspondent has invented the tale of one
butchery, it is no reason why the people in the United States should
dismiss all the others as sensational fictions. After I went to Cuba I
refused for weeks to listen to tales of butcheries, because I did not
believe in them and because there seemed to be no way of verifying
them--those who had been butchered could not testify and their
relatives were too fearful of the vengeance of the Spaniards to talk
about what had befallen a brother or a father. But towards the end of
my visit I went to Sagua la Grande and there met a number of Americans
and Englishmen, concerning whose veracity there could be no question.
What had happened to their friends and the laborers on their
plantations was exactly what had happened and is happening to-day to
other pacificos all over the island.

Sagua la Grande is probably no worse a city than others in Cuba, but it
has been rendered notorious by the presence in that city of the
guerrilla chieftain, Benito Cerreros.

Early in last December _Leslie's Illustrated Weekly_ published
half-tone reproductions of two photographs which were taken in Sagua.
One was a picture of the bodies of six Cuban pacificos lying on their
backs, with their arms and legs bound and their bodies showing
mutilation by machetes, and their faces pounded and hacked out of
resemblance to anything human. The other picture was of a group of
Spanish guerrillas surrounding their leader, a little man with a heavy
mustache. His face was quite as inhuman as the face of any of the dead
men he had mutilated. It wore a satisfied smile of fatuous vanity, and
of the most diabolical cruelty. No artist could have drawn a face from
his imagination which would have been more cruel. The letter press
accompanying these photographs explained that this guerrilla leader,
Benito Cerreros, had found six unarmed pacificos working in a field
near Sagua, and had murdered them and then brought their bodies in a
cart to that town, and had paid the local photographer to take a
picture of them and of himself and his body guard. He claimed that he
had killed the Cubans in open battle, but was so stupid as to forget to
first remove the ropes with which he had bound them before he shot
them. The photographs told the story without any aid from the letter
press, and it must have told it to a great many people, judging from
the number who spoke of it. It seemed as if, for the first time,
something definite regarding the reported Spanish atrocities had been
placed before the people of the United States, which they could see for
themselves. I had this photograph in my mind when I came to Sagua, and
on the night that I arrived there, by a coincidence, the townspeople
were giving Cerreros a dinner to celebrate a fresh victory of his over
two insurgents, a naturalized American and a native Cuban.

The American was visiting the Cuban in the field, and they were lying
in hiding outside of the town in a hut. The Cuban, who was a colonel in
the insurgent army, had captured a Spanish spy, but had given him his
liberty on the condition that he would go into Sagua and bring back
some medicines. The colonel was dying of consumption, but he hoped
that, with proper medicine, he might remain alive a few months longer.
The spy, instead of keeping his word, betrayed the hiding place of the
Cuban and the American to Cerreros, who rode out by night to surprise
them. He took with him thirty-two guerrillas, and, lest that might not
be enough to protect him from two men, added twelve of the Guarda
Civile to their number, making forty-four men in all. They surrounded
the hut in which the Cuban and the American were concealed, and shot
them through the window as they sat at a table in the light of a
candle. They then hacked the bodies with machetes. It was in
recognition of this victory that the banquet was tendered to Cerreros
by admiring friends.

[Illustration: Amateur Surgery in Cuba]

Civilized nations recognize but three methods of dealing with prisoners
captured in war. They are either paroled or exchanged or put in prison;
that is what was done with them in our rebellion. It is not allowable
to shoot prisoners; at least it is not generally done when they are
seated unconscious of danger at a table. It may be said, however, that,
as these two men were in arms against the government, they were only
suffering the punishment of their crime, and that this is not a good
instance of an atrocity. There are, however, unfortunately, many other
instances in which the victims were non-combatants and their death
simply murder. But it is extremely difficult to tell convincingly of
these cases, without giving names, and the giving of names might lead
to more deaths in Sagua. It is also difficult to convince the reader of
murders for which there seems to have been no possible object.

And yet Cerreros and other guerrillas are murdering men and boys in the
fields around Sagua as wantonly and as calmly as a gardener cuts down
weeds. The stories of these butcheries were told to me by Englishmen
and Americans who could look from their verandas over miles of fields
that belonged to them, but who could not venture with safety two
hundred yards from their doorsteps. They were virtually prisoners in
their own homes, and every spot of ground within sight of their windows
marked where one of their laborers had been cut down, sometimes when he
was going to the next _central_ on an errand, or to carry the
mail, and sometimes when he was digging potatoes or cutting sugar cane
within sight of the forts. Passes and orders were of no avail. The
guerrillas tore up the passes, and swore later that the men were
suspects, and were at the moment of their capture carrying messages to
the insurgents. The stories these planters told me were not dragged
from them to furnish copy for a newspaper, but came out in the course
of our talk, as we walked over the small extent which the forts allowed
us.

My host would say, pointing to one of the pacificos huddled in a corner
of his machine shop: "That man's brother was killed last week about
three hundred yards over there to the left while he was digging in the
field." Or, in answer to a question from our consul, he would say: "Oh,
that boy who used to take care of your horse--some guerrillas shot him
a month ago." After you hear stories like these during an entire day,
the air seems to be heavy with murder, and the very ground on which you
walk smells of blood. It was the same in the town, where any one was
free to visit the _cartel_, and view the murdered bodies of the
pacificos hacked and beaten and stretched out as a warning, or for
public approbation. There were six so exposed while I was in Sagua. In
Matanzas they brought the bodies to the Plaza at night when the band
was playing, and the guerrillas marched around the open place with the
bodies of eighteen Cubans swinging from the backs of ponies with their
heads hanging down and bumping against the horses' knees. The people
flocked to the sides of the Plaza to applaud this ghastly procession,
and the men in the open cafes cheered the guerrilla chief and cried,
"Long live Spain!"

Speaking dispassionately, and with a full knowledge of the details of
many butcheries, it is impossible for me to think of the Spanish
guerrillas otherwise than as worse than savage animals. A wild animal
kills to obtain food, and not merely for the joy of killing. These
guerrillas murder and then laugh over it. The cannibal, who has been
supposed hitherto to be the lowest grade of man, is really of a higher
caste than these Spanish murderers--men like Colonel Fondevila,
Cerreros, and Colonel Bonita--for a cannibal kills to keep himself
alive. These men kill to feed their vanity, in order that they may pose
as brave soldiers, and that their friends may give them banquets in
hotel parlors.

If what I say seems prejudiced and extravagant it may be well to insert
this translation from a Spanish paper, _El Pais_:

"There are signs of civilization among us; but the truth is that we are
uncultured, barbaric and cruel. Although this may not be willingly
acknowledged, the fact is that we are committing acts of savagery of
which there is no counterpart in any other European country."

[Illustration: Scouting Party of Spanish Cavalry]

"Let us not say a word of the atrocities perpetrated at the Castle of
Montjuich; of the iniquitous and miserable massacre of the Novelda
republicans; of the shootings which occur daily in Manila; of the
arbitrary imprisonments which are systematically made here. We wish now
to say something of the respect due to the conquered, of generosity
that should be shown to prisoners of war, for these are sentiments
which exist even among savage people.

"The Cuban exiles who disembark at Cadiz are sent on foot to the
distant castle of Figueras. 'The unfortunate exiles,' a letter from
Carpio says, 'passed here barefooted and bleeding, almost naked and
freezing. At every town, far from finding rest for their fatigue, they
are received with all sorts of insults; they are scoffed and provoked.
I am indignant at this total lack of humanitarian sentiment and
charity. I have two sons who are fighting against the Cuban insurgents;
but this does not prevent me from denouncing those who ill-treat their
prisoners. I have witnessed such outrages upon the unfortunate exiles
that I do not hesitate to say that nothing like it has ever occurred in
Africa.'"

I do not wish what I have said concerning the Florida correspondents to
be misunderstood as referring to those who are writing, and have
written from the island of Cuba. They suffer from the "fakirs" even
more than do the people of the United States who read the stories of
both, and who confound the sensation-mongers with those who go to find
the truth at the risk of their lives. For these latter do risk their
lives, daily and hourly, when they go into these conflicts looking for
the facts. I have not been in any conflict, so I can speak of these men
without fear of being misunderstood.

They are taking chances that no war correspondents ever took in any war
in any part of the world. For this is not a war--it is a state of
lawless butchery, and the rights of correspondents, of soldiers and of
non-combatants are not recognized. Archibald Forbes, and "Bull Run"
Russell and Frederick Villiers had great continental armies to protect
them; these men work alone with a continental army against them. They
risk capture at sea and death by the guns of a Spanish cruiser, and,
escaping that, they face when they reach the island the greater danger
of capture there and of being cut down by a guerrilla force and left to
die in a road, or of being put in a prison and left to die of fever, as
Govin was cut down, as Delgardo died in prison, as Melton is lying in
prison now, where he will continue to lie until we have a Secretary of
State who recognizes the rights of the correspondent as a
non-combatant, or at least as an American citizen.

The fate of these three American correspondents has not deterred others
from crossing the lines, and they are in the field now, lying in swamps
by day and creeping between the forts by night, standing under fire by
the side of Gomez as they stood beside Maceo, going without food,
without shelter, without the right to answer the attacks of the Spanish
troops, climbing the mountains and crawling across the trochas,
creeping to some friendly hut for a cup of coffee and to place their
despatches in safe hands, and then going back again to run the gauntlet
of Spanish spies and of flying columns and of the unspeakable
guerrillas.

When you sit comfortably at your breakfast in New York, with a
policeman at the corner, and read the despatches which these gentlemen
write of Cuban victories and their interviews with self-important Cuban
chiefs, you should remember what it cost them to supply you with that
addition to your morning's budget of news. Whether the result is worth
the risk, or whether it is not paying too great a price, the greatest
price of all, for too little, is not the question. The reckless bravery
and the unselfishness of the correspondents in the field in Cuba to-day
are beyond parallel.

It is as dangerous to seek for Gomez as Stanley found it to seek for
Livingston, and as few men return from the insurgent camps as from the
Arctic regions.

In case you do not read a New York paper, it is well that you should
know that the names of these correspondents are Grover Flint, Sylvester
Scovel and George Bronson Rae. I repeat, that as I could not reach the
field, I can write thus freely of those who have been more successful.


[Illustration: An Officer of Spanish Guerrillas]





The Right of Search of American Vessels


On the boat which carried me from Cuba to Key West were three young
girls, who had been exiled for giving aid to the insurgents. The
brother of one of them is in command of the Cuban forces in the field
near Havana. More than once his sister had joined him there, and had
seen fighting and carried back despatches to the Junta in Havana. For
this she and two other young women, who were also suspected, were
ordered to leave the island.

I happened to sit next to this young lady at table on the steamer, and
I found that she was not an Amazon nor a Joan of Arc nor a woman of the
people, with a machete in one hand and a Cuban flag in the other. She
was a well-bred, well-educated young person, speaking three languages.

This is what the Spaniards did to these girls:

After ordering them to leave the island on a certain day they sent
detectives to the houses of each on the morning of that day and had
them undressed and searched by a female detective to discover if they
were carrying letters to the Junta at Key West or Tampa. They were
searched thoroughly, even to the length of taking off their shoes and
stockings. Later, when the young ladies stood at last on the deck of an
American vessel, with the American flag hanging from the stern, the
Spanish officers followed them there, and demanded that a cabin should
be furnished them to which the girls might be taken, and they were then
again undressed and searched by this woman for the second time.

For the benefit of people with unruly imaginations, of whom there seem
to be a larger proportion in this country than I had supposed, I will
state again that the search of these women was conducted by women and
not by men, as I was reported to have said, and as I did not say in my
original report of the incident.

Spanish officers, with red crosses for bravery on their chests and gold
lace on their cuffs, strutted up and down while the search was going
on, and chancing to find a Cuban suspect among the passengers, ordered
him to be searched also, only they did not give him the privacy of a
cabin, but searched his clothes and shoes and hat on the main deck of
this American vessel before the other passengers and myself and the
ship's captain and his crew.

In order to leave Havana, it is first necessary to give notice of your
wish to do so by sending your passport to the Captain General, who
looks up your record, and, after twenty-four hours, if he is willing to
let you go, vises your passport and so signifies that your request is
granted. After you have complied with that requirement of martial law,
and the Captain General has agreed to let you depart, and you are on
board of an American vessel, the Spanish soldiers' control over you and
your movements should cease, for they relinquish all their rights when
they give you back your passport.

At least the case of Barrundia justifies such a supposition. It was
then shown that, while a passenger or a member of a crew is amenable to
the "common laws" of the country in the port in which the vessel lies,
he is not to be disturbed for political offenses against her
government.

When the officers of Guatemala went on board a vessel of the Pacific
Mail line and arrested Barrundia, who was a revolutionist, and then
shot him between decks, the American Minister, who had permitted this
outrage, was immediately recalled, and the letter recalling him, which
was written by James G. Blaine, clearly and emphatically sets forth
the principle that a political offender is not to be molested on board
of an American vessel, whether she is in the passenger trade or a ship
of war.

Prof. Joseph H. Beale, Jr., the professor of international law at
Harvard, said in reference to the case of these women when I first
wrote of it:

"So long as a state of war has not been recognized by this country, the
Spanish government has not the right to stop or search our vessels on
the high seas for contraband of war or for any other purpose, nor would
it have the right to subject American citizens or an American vessel in
Cuban waters to treatment which would not be legal in the case of
Spanish citizens or vessels.

"But the Spanish government has the right in Cuba to execute upon
American citizens or vessels any laws prevailing there, in the same way
as they would execute them upon the Spaniards, unless they are
prevented by the provisions of some treaty with the United States. The
fact that the vessel in the harbor of Havana was flying a neutral flag
could not protect it from the execution of Spanish law.

"However unwise or inhuman the action of the Spanish authorities may
have been in searching the women on board the _Olivette_, they
appear to have been within their legal rights."

[Illustration: A Spanish Picket Post]

The Spanish Minister at Washington has also declared that his
government has the right of search in the harbor of Havana. Hence in
the face of two such authorities the question raised is probably
answered from a legal point of view. But if that is the law, it would
seem well to alter it, for it gives the Spanish authorities absolute
control over the persons and property of Americans on American vessels,
and that privilege in the hands of persons as unscrupulous and as
insolent as are the Spanish detectives, is a dangerous one. So
dangerous a privilege, indeed, that there is no reason nor excuse for
not keeping an American ship of war in the harbor of Havana.

For suppose that letters and despatches had been found on the persons
of these young ladies, and they had been put on shore and lodged in
prison; or suppose the whole ship and every one on board had been
searched, as the captain of the _Olivette_ said the Spanish
officers told him they might decide to do, and letters had been found
on the Americans, and they had been ordered over the side and put into
prison--would that have been an act derogatory to the dignity of the
United States? Or are we to understand that an American citizen or a
citizen of any country, after he has asked and obtained permission to
leave Cuba and is on board of an American vessel, is no more safe there
than he would be in the insurgent camp?

The latter supposition would seem to be correct, and the matter to
depend on the captain of the vessel and her owners, from whom he
receives his instructions, and not to be one in which the United States
government is in any way concerned. I do not believe the captain of a
British passenger steamer would have allowed one of his passengers to
be searched on the main deck of his vessel, as I saw this Cuban
searched; nor even the captain of a British tramp steamer nor of a coal
barge.

The chief engineer of the _Olivette_ declared to me that in his
opinion, "it served them just right," and the captain put a cabin at
the disposal of the Spanish spies with eager humility. And when one of
the detectives showed some disinclination to give back my passport, and
I said I would keep him on board until he did it, the captain said:
"Yes, you will, will you? I would like to see you try it," suggesting
that he was master of his own ship and of my actions. But he was not.
There is not an unwashed, garlicky, bediamonded Spanish spy in Cuba who
has not more authority on board the _Olivette_ than her American
captain and his subservient crew.

Only a year ago half of this country was clamoring for a war with the
greatest power it could have selected for that purpose. Yet Great
Britain would have been the first to protect her citizens and their
property and their self-respect if they had been abused as the
self-respect and property and freedom of Americans have been abused by
this fourth-rate power, and are being abused to-day.

Before I went to Cuba I was as much opposed to our interfering there as
any other person equally ignorant concerning the situation could be,
but since I have seen for myself I feel ashamed that we should have
stood so long idle. We have been too considerate, too fearful that as a
younger nation, we should appear to disregard the laws laid down by
older nations. We have tolerated what no European power would have
tolerated; we have been patient with men who have put back the hand of
time for centuries, who lie to our representatives daily, who butcher
innocent people, who gamble with the lives of their own soldiers in
order to gain a few more stars and an extra stripe, who send American
property to the air in flames and murder American prisoners.

The British lately sent an expedition of eight hundred men to the west
coast of Africa to punish savage king who butchers people because it
does not rain. Why should we tolerate Spanish savages merely because
they call themselves "the most Catholic," but who in reality are no
better than this naked negro? What difference is there between the King
of Benin who crucifies a woman because he wants rain and General Weyler
who outrages a woman for his own pleasure and throws her to his
bodyguard of blacks, even if the woman has the misfortune to live after
it--and to still live in Sagua la Grande to-day?

If the English were right--and they were right--in punishing the King
of Benin for murdering his subjects to propitiate his idols, we are
right to punish these revivers of the Inquisition for starving women
and children to propitiate an Austrian archduchess.

It is difficult to know what the American people do want. They do not
want peace, apparently, for their senators, some through an ignorant
hatred of England and others through a personal dislike of the
President, emasculated the arbitration treaty; and they do not want
war, for, as some one has written, if we did not go to war with Spain
when she murdered the crew of the _Virginius,_ we never will.

[Illustration: General Weyler in the Field]

But if the executive and the legislators wish to assure themselves,
like "Fighting Bob Acres," that they have some right on their side,
they need not turn back to the _Virginius_ incident. There are
reasons enough to-day to justify their action, if it is to be their
intellects and not their feelings that must move them to act. American
property has been destroyed by Spanish troops to the amount of many
millions, and no answer made to demands of the State Department for an
explanation. American citizens have been imprisoned and shot--some
without a trial, some in front of their own domiciles, and American
vessels are turned over to the uses of the Spanish secret police. These
would seem to be sufficient reasons for interfering.

But why should we not go a step farther and a step higher, and
interfere in the name of humanity? Not because we are Americans, but
because we are human beings, and because, within eighty miles of our
coast, Spanish officials are killing men and women as wantonly as
though they were field mice, not in battle, but in cold blood--cutting
them down in the open roads, at the wells to which they have gone for
water, or on their farms, where they have stolen away to dig up a few
potatoes, having first run the gauntlets of the forts and risked their
lives to obtain them.

This is not an imaginary state of affairs, nor are these supposititious
cases. I am writing only of the things I have heard from eye witnesses
and of some of the things that I have seen.

President Cleveland declared in his message to Congress: "When the
inability of Spain to deal successfully with the insurgents has become
manifest, and it is demonstrated that her sovereignty is extinct in
Cuba for all purposes of its rightful existence, and when a hopeless
struggle for its re-establishment has degenerated into a strife which
is nothing more than the useless sacrifice of human life and the utter
destruction of the very subject-matter of the conflict, a situation
will be presented in which our obligations to the sovereignty of Spain
will be superseded by higher obligations, which we can hardly hesitate
to recognize and discharge!"

These conditions are now manifest. A hopeless struggle for sovereignty
has degenerated into a strife which means not the useless, but the
wanton sacrifice of human life, and the utter destruction of the
subject-matter of the conflict.

What further manifestations are needed? Is it that the American people
doubt the sources from which their information comes? They are the
consuls all over the island of Cuba. For what voice crying in the
wilderness are they still waiting? What will convince them that the
time has come?

If the United States is to interfere in this matter she should do so at
once, but she should only do so after she has informed herself
thoroughly concerning it. She should not act on the reports of the
hotel piazza correspondents, but send men to Cuba on whose judgment and
common sense she can rely. General Fitzhugh Lee is one of these men,
and there is no better informed American on Cuban matters than he, nor
one who sees more clearly the course which our government should
pursue. Through the consuls all over the island, he is in touch with
every part of it, and in daily touch; but incidents which are
frightfully true there seem exaggerated and overdrawn when a
typewritten description of them reaches the calm corridors of the State
Department.

More men like Lee should go to Cuba to inform themselves, not men who
will stop in Havana and pick up the gossip of the Hotel Ingleterra, but
who will go out into the cities and sugar plantations and talk to the
consuls and merchants and planters, both Spanish and American; who can
see for themselves the houses burning and the smoke arising from every
point of the landscape; who can see the bodies of "pacificos" brought
into the cities, and who can sit on a porch of an American planter's
house and hear him tell in a whisper how his sugar cane was set on fire
by the same Spanish soldiers who surround the house, and who are
supposed to guard his property, but who, in reality, are there to keep
a watch on him.

He should hear little children, born of American parents, come into the
consulate and ask for a piece of bread. He should see the children and
the women herded in the towns or walking the streets in long
processions, with the Mayor at their head, begging his fellow Spaniards
to give them food, the children covered with the red blotches of
small-pox and the women gaunt with yellow fever. He should see hundreds
of thousands of dollars' worth of machinery standing idle, covered with
rust and dirt, or lying twisted and broken under fallen walls. He will
learn that while one hundred and fifty-six vessels came into the port
of Matanzas in 1894, only eighty-eight came in 1895, and that but
sixteen touched there in 1896, and that while the export of sugar from
that port to the United States in 1894 amounted to eleven millions of
dollars, in 1895 it sank to eight millions of dollars, and in 1896 it
did not reach one million. I copied these figures one morning from the
consular books, and that loss of ten millions of dollars in two years
in one little port is but a sample of the facts that show what chaos
this war is working.

[Illustration: Spanish Cavalryman on a Texas Broncho]

In three weeks any member of the Senate or of Congress who wishes to
inform himself on this reign of terror in Cuba can travel from one end
of this island to the other and return competent to speak with absolute
authority. No man, no matter what his prejudices may be, can make this
journey and not go home convinced that it is his duty to try to stop
this cruel waste of life and this wanton destruction of a beautiful
country.

A reign of terror sounds hysterical, but it is an exact and truthful
descriptive phrase of the condition in Cuba. Insurgents and Spaniards
alike are laying waste the land, and neither side shows any sign of
giving up the struggle. But while the men are in the field fighting
after their fashion, for the independence of the island, the old men
and the infirm and the women and children, who cannot help the cause or
themselves, and who are destitute and starving and dying, have their
eyes turned toward the great republic that lies only eighty miles away,
and they are holding out their hands and asking "How long, O, Lord, how
long?"

Or if the members of the Senate and of Congress can not visit Cuba, why
will they not listen to those who have been there? Of three men who
traveled over the island, seeking the facts concerning it, two
correspondents and an interpreter, two of the three were for a time in
Spanish hospitals, covered with small-pox. Of the three, although we
were together until they were taken ill, I was the only one who escaped
contagion.

If these other men should die, they die because they tried to find out
the truth. Is it likely, having risked such a price for it that they
would lie about what they have seen?

They could have invented stories of famine and disease in Havana. They
need not have looked for the facts where they were to be found, in the
seaports and villages and fever camps. Why not listen to these men or
to Stephen Bonsai, of the _New York Herald_, in whom the late
President showed his confidence by appointing him to two diplomatic
missions?

Why not listen to C.E. Akers, of the _London Times_, and
_Harper's Weekly_, who has held two commissions from the Queen?
Why disregard a dozen other correspondents who are seeking the truth,
and who urge in every letter which they write that their country should
stop this destruction of a beautiful land and this butchery of harmless
non-combatants?

The matter lies at the door of Congress. Each day's delay means the
death of hundreds of people, every hour sees fresh blood spilled, and
more houses and more acres of crops sinking into ashes. A month's delay
means the loss to this world of thousands of lives, the unchecked
growth of terrible diseases, and the spreading devastation of a great
plague.

[Illustration: For Cuba Libre]

It would be an insult to urge political reasons, or the sure approval
of the American people which the act of interference would bring, or
any other unworthy motive. No European power dare interfere, and it
lies with the United States and with her people to give the signal. If
it is given now it will save thousands of innocent lives; if it is
delayed just that many people will perish.

THE END.





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