- Battle of the Aguadores
Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of the Aguadores
July 1, 1898
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
result=Tactical Spanish victory
Republic of Cuba
combatant2=flagicon|Spain|1785 Kingdom of Spain
Henry M. Duffield
strength1=1,200–2,500 regularsTrask, p. 235]
The Battle of the Aguadores was a sharp skirmish on the banks of the
Aguadores Rivernear Santiago de Cuba, on July 1, 1898, at the height of the Spanish-American War. The American attack was intended as a feint to draw Spanish defenders away from their nearby positions at San Juan Hill and El Caney, where the main blows fell later that day. [Trask, p. 233]
The Spanish did not shift any forces to Aguadores after all. [Trask, p. 235] By the time the Americans arrived, the west end of the only bridge had been dismantled and the river gorge was impassible. Small arms fire checked the American advance at the river crossing, and after a short pummeling, Duffield withdrew to Siboney.
Transport in the heavily wooded coastal area proved inadequate, and the National Guard of the 33rd Michigan had to take the train twice to within one mile of the river. 1st and 2nd Battalions could not both fit on the train at the same time. The resulting noise to their front that early in the morning alerted the Spanish that an attack was forthcoming.
The morning attack began with a naval
artillerybarrage from a small squadron off the coast. At 9:00 a.m., USS "New York" opened fire, followed by two smaller cruisers, the USS "Suwanee" and USS "Gloucester". A chance shot from the "Suwanee" struck down the banner atop the small Spanish fort, but the naval bombardment otherwise had little material effect; with no way to adjust the fire onto the rifle pits below the crest or on the fortified houses on top, no targets could be hit. Spanish artillery units hunkered down and waited out the naval gunfire.
Spanish gunfire from modern Mauser rifles supported by directed artillery, meanwhile, bit into the approaching American infantry, which halted on the east bank above its objective of the
railroadbridge near the Morro batteries. In the cover of the brush above the river, the Americans' .45/70 Trapdoor Springfields gave away their position every time they fired, in contrast to the Spanish, who enjoyed smokeless powder weapons. Brigadier GeneralDuffield kept up a desultory fire for much of the afternoon. Unable to advance any further, and not knowing if they had drawn off any defenders from the Santiago Heights, he ordered his men to break off at 3:30 p.m. They had drawn rations and ammunition at 1:30 a.m. and had been continuously moving or fighting in the thick brush since. The first to leave, as always in the U.S. military, were the wounded on the first train out.
* [http://www.spanamwar.com Spanish-American War Centennial website]
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