Battle of San Juan Hill

The Spanish-American War and the Battle of San Juan Hill

The Spanish-American War, led by Teddy Roosevelt, is best known for the Battle of San Juan Hill. The goal of the conflict was to seize Santiago de Cuba, impose American authority over Cuba, and depose Spanish rule over the island. After a conflict that lasted nearly four months, Cuba came under American authority. However, the conflict extended beyond the Americans' attempt to assert their superiority over the Spaniards to include American commercial interests in annexing Cuba. In order to balance the need to admit new states into the Union, the issue of annexing emerged in 1854. (Konstam 49). Additionally, the decision by the Americans to pursue their control of Cuba was driven by the statements by Spanish officially that referred to the Americans as weak. Such prompted the Americans to show their might by taking over the Cuban ports. Therefore, the battle of San Juan Hill is a hallmark of the show of American imperialism and the need to advance their control over regions where they had economic interests.

The Battle of San Juan Hill and Social Darwinism

The battle of San Juan is premised on the Social Darwinism. According to the social Darwinism philosophy, the stronger countries had to exert their rule over the weaker nations with the intent of having an assured source of raw materials for their factories and slaves to provide labor to their farms. Cuba had potential tobacco farms that were crucial for the cigar industry of the United States. Additionally, the battle of San Juan Hill was within the government policy that seeks to expand the territories of the United States with the intent of providing markets for the goods that were produced by the United States.

The American Forces and the Capture of Santiago de Cuba

The events of July 1st, 1898 led to the insurgence of the American forces within Cuba with the intent of capturing Santiago de Cuba with under the command of William Shafter. The other general who led the American troops in July 1898 includes Jacob Kent and Samuel Sumner who led the 1st division and Cavalry division respectively. The weapons that were used by the Americans were more technologically advanced compared to those that were used by the Spaniards. As such, it was evident that the Americans had the upper hand in winning the war against the Spaniards.

Challenges Faced by the American Forces

At the commencement of the War, the Spaniards were viewed as being better equipped for the battle compared to the Americans. At the Blood Ford, the majority of the American military leaders such as Emerson Liscom and Charles Wikoff were gunned down by the bullets of the Spaniards. Additionally, the Americans were less prepared at the commencement of the Blood Ford battle with troops waiting for instructions from Lawton division, which came late. General Shafter was not timely with the orders on how the American forces were to advance against the Spanish troops with many casualties being reported at the commencement of the San Juan Hill attack.

American Victory and Contributing Factors

Victory for the United States troops was majorly affirmed by the relatively higher number of soldiers that they had for the war compared to that of the Spaniards. The higher number of soldiers and the sophistication of the military equipment that the Americans possessed enabled them to exert their control over the island. The excellent planning by the American forces also contributed to the victory of the United States in the war. The establishment of the Rough Riders by Roosevelt, with the members of Rough Riders having experience in military battles and drawn from natives, blacks and cowboys made the force stronger than that of Spain (Showalter 197). Additionally, the Americans were backed by the Cubans in their quest to subdue the Spanish troops from having control over Cuba. Cuba has expressed the need of being independent of Spain and the entry of US in Cuba to fight the Spaniards was an avenue for their independence. Therefore, the revolt of the Cubans against the Spaniards was a contributory factor to their failure in the war. Americans waged war against the Spaniards in Manila and San Juan, thus, limiting the options of Spaniards to call for reinforcement when they felt that they were being subdued.

The Role of Buffalo Soldiers and Yellow Journalism

The buffalo soldiers and their organization in the war are credited to be part of America's success in the war. The buffalo soldiers dig trenches that they used as hideouts, and for launching attacks then surging towards the hill despite the crest of the Spanish forces (Mills 72). The positioning of the black-powered artillery prices close to the San Juan Hill blockhouse was an effective strategy that enabled the American troops to attack the Spaniards. Yellow Journalism is also known to have facilitated inadequate planning by the United States military. Part of the reason why the American forces chose the battle is pegged on the need to act in the aftermath of the Cuban civil war. The yellow journalism that was majorly driven by the New York World and the New York Journal which was majorly bearing distorted information. Information is often central to the planning process of any war, and the distortion of information could lead an inaccurate planning by the military.

The Incompetence of the Spanish Army

The disorganization of the Spanish army officers and commanders was also contributory to their defeat. The Spanish army running out of ammunition is a sign of incompetence of their forces. Running out of ammo forced the Spaniards to retreat, thus, enabling the American troops to advance their quest for the lands leading to the San Juan Hill. Effective planning for any war often requires excellent communication and accurate projection of the military equipment and quantity of ammunition that could be needed for the war before its commencement. The decision by General Valeriano Weyler of Spain to put the Cubans fighting for their independence in the concentration camps where they were subjected to harsh treatment lead to more revolt from the Cuban natives against the Spanish forces. As such, during the time of the battle, the Spanish troops were overwhelmed and fatigued, thus, making them vulnerable to the American attacks. Furthermore, the Spanish army was majorly used to small-scale battles, such as, the Indian battles, therefore, were inadequately prepared for the large-scale wars that were being staged by the Americans forces. The inadequate experience of the Spanish troops is a significant reason why the Americans subdued them within four months. The Americans suffered more casualties in the war owing to the resilience of the Spaniards in the battle. Therefore, the only limiting factor that the Spanish forces experienced in the war was the relatively smaller number of troops that they aligned during the war. Concisely, a more experienced force could have led to Spain maintaining their rulership over Cuba.

Works Cited

Konstam, Angus. San Juan Hill 1898: America's emergence as a world power. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013.

Mills, Cliff. The Buffalo Soldiers. Mitchell Lane Publishers, Inc., 2015.

Showalter, Dennis. "Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge up San Juan Hill. By Mark Lee Gardner." (2017): 197-198.

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