Spanish American War

Lithograph of various scenes of the Spanish-American War, Date/Artist Unknown. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Spanish-American War Timeline - Major Battles

For three months and three weeks in 1898, the United States battled Spain in a war that effectively ended the Spanish Empire while simultaneously establishing a position in the Caribbean and the Pacific for the United States colonial empire. Yes, we kinda have and had one. There had been three years of fighting by Cuban revolutionaries for independence, an attack of the U.S. Maine, and ambitions to oust the Spanish from the New World that prompted it. By the end, after the Treaty of Paris of 1898 ended the war, the United States had ersatz control, in one form or the other, over Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii (coup leading to annexation), Guam, and the Philippines. The Philippines were purchased for $20 million.

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  • Battle Timeline

  • Spanish American War


    February 15, 1898 - Sinking of Battleship Maine, Havana, Cuba
    Troops: USA 355; Spain NA.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 261 killed, 78 wounded; Spain 0.
    Mysterious sinking of warship during the Cuban revolution, but prior to the beginning of the Spanish-American War. Prompted, by April 25, after diplomatic efforts for Spain to cede Cuba to the United States failed, a declaration of war by both sides.

    May 1, 1898 - Battle of Manila Bay, Philippines
    Troops: USA 9 ships; Spain 13 ships, 6 shores batteries, 3 forts.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 10; Spain 348, 8 ships sunk.
    First major battle of war ends with the Spanish fleet in the Philippines destroyed by Admiral Dewey's U.S. naval force and the end of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines after Dewey landed the Marines at Cavite one day later.

    May 12, 1898 - First Battle of San Juan, Puerto Rico
    Troops: USA 10 ships; Spain 2 ships, 2,500 infantry.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 9; Spain 63, including 23 civilians.
    Bombardment of two Spanish forts, Fort San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro, in San Juan by U.S. warships leads to damage of forts in first major action of Puerto Rican campaign. There would be two subsequent battles for San Juan on June 22 and 28 during the American blockade of the port.

    June 6-10, 1898 - Battle of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
    Troops: USA/Allis 923; Spain 5,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 29; Spain 208 plus 18 captured.
    Victory by American and Cuban forces in battle to establish a naval base in Cuba leads to subsequent victories at Santiago and San Juan.

    June 24, 1898 - Battle of Las Guasimas, Santiaga, Cuba
    Troops: USA/Allis 1,764; Spain 1,500.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 79; Spain 21.
    First land battle of war occurs when Spanish attack the advancing columns of Major General Joe Wheeler in jungles around Santiago. Considered a USA victory, because the Spanish continued to withdraw, although they repulsed two frontal assaults.

    July 1, 1898 - Battle of El Caney, Santiago, Cuba
    Troops: USA/Allies 8,653; Spain 620.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 441; Spain 176, 160 captured.
    Inconclusive battle against the southwest flank of Spanish defenses of Santiago as Spain held off advancing troops for twelve hours, preventing reinforcement to San Juan Hill.

    July 1, 1898 - Battle of San Juan Hill, Santiago, Cuba
    Troops: USA/Allies 11,412; Spain 521-800.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 1,095-3,024 depending on source; Spain 228, plus 39 captured.
    Difficult battle to capture the San Juan Heights with future President Theodore Roosevelt leading the Rough Riders and the African-American troops of the Buffalo Soldiers engaged in heavy action. Battle led to United States victory despite heavy casualties.

    July 3, 1898 - Battle of Santiago de Cuba
    Troops: USA 8 ships; Spain 6 ships.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 2; Spain 474 plus 1,720 captured.
    Decisive American victory in naval battle effectively gives Cuba its independence from Spanish rule when Spanish fleet is destroyed. Would lead to the Siege of Santiago and the end of the war.

    July 3-17, 1898 - Siege of Santiago, Cuba
    Troops: USA/Allis 17-19,000; Spain 13,500.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 1,614; Spain 2,000, plus 11,500 captured.
    Last major battle in Spanish-American War in Cuba when Fifth Corps of United States sieges the city instead of assaulting. Two week event leads to surrender of the city.

    August 8-9, 1898 - Battle of Fajardo, Puerto Rico
    Troops: USA NA; Spain NA.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 46; Spain 58.
    Battle near end of war leads to American withdrawal from their position at the Cape San Juan lighthouse. Action was considered inconclusive.

    August 13, 1898 - Battle of Manila, Philippines
    Troops: USA 10,700, Philippine Revolutionaires 30,000; Spain 13,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 6; Spain 49.
    Considered a mock battle with secretly planned conflict to give Manila to the Americans and not the Philippine Revolutionaries. Would lead to Philippine American War in 1899. T-Shirts and Gifts

    Full Text, Treaty of Peace Between the United States and Spain; December 10, 1898

    The United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain, in the name of her august son Don Alfonso XIII, desiring to end the state of war now existing between the two countries, have for that purpose appointed as plenipotentiaries:

    The President of the United States, William R. Day, Cushman K. Davis, William P. Frye, George Gray, and Whitelaw Reid, citizens of the United States;

    And Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain,

    Don Eugenio Montero Rios, president of the senate, Don Buenaventura de Abarzuza, senator of the Kingdom and ex-minister of the Crown; Don Jose de Garnica, deputy of the Cortes and associate justice of the supreme court; Don Wenceslao Ramirez de Villa-Urrutia, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Brussels, and Don Rafael Cerero, general of division;

    Who, having assembled in Paris, and having exchanged their full powers, which were found to be in due and proper form, have, after discussion of the matters before them, agreed upon the following articles:

    Article I. - Spain relinquishes all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba. And as the island is, upon its evacuation by Spain, to be occupied by the United States, the United States will, so long as such occupation shall last, assume and discharge the obligations that may under international law result from the fact of its occupation, for the protection of life and property.

    Article II. - Spain cedes to the United States the island of Porto Rico and other islands now under Spanish sovereignty in the West Indies, and the island of Guam in the Marianas or Ladrones.

    Article III. - Spain cedes to the United States the archipelago known as the Philippine Islands, and comprehending the islands lying within the following line:

    A line running from west to east along or near the twentieth parallel of north latitude, and through the middle of the navigable channel of Bachi, from the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) to the one hundred and twenty-seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence along the one hundred and twenty seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4 [degree symbol] 45']) north latitude, thence along the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4 [degree symbol] 45') north latitude to its intersection with the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119 [degree symbol] 35') east of Greenwich, thence along the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119 [degree symbol] 35') east of Greenwich to the parallel of latitude seven degrees and forty minutes (7 [degree symbol] 40') north, thence along the parallel of latitude of seven degrees and forty minutes (7 [degree symbol] 40') north to its intersection with the one hundred and sixteenth (116th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence by a direct line to the intersection of the tenth (10th) degree parallel of north latitude with the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, and thence along the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the point of beginning.The United States will pay to Spain the sum of twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) within three months after the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty.

    Article IV. - The United States will, for the term of ten years from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty, admit Spanish ships and merchandise to the ports of the Philippine Islands on the same terms as ships and merchandise of the United States.

    Article V. - The United States will, upon the signature of the present treaty, send back to Spain, at its own cost, the Spanish soldiers taken as prisoners of war on the capture of Manila by the American forces. The arms of the soldiers in question shall be restored to them.

    Spain will, upon the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty, proceed to evacuate the Philippines, as well as the island of Guam, on terms similar to those agreed upon by the Commissioners appointed to arrange for the evacuation of Porto Rico and other islands in the West Indies, under the Protocol of August 12, 1898, which is to continue in force till its provisions are completely executed.

    The time within which the evacuation of the Philippine Islands and Guam shall be completed shall be fixed by the two Governments. Stands of colors, uncaptured war vessels, small arms, guns of all calibres, with their carriages and accessories, powder, ammunition, livestock, and materials and supplies of all kinds, belonging to the land and naval forces of Spain in the Philippines and Guam, remain the property of Spain. Pieces of heavy ordnance, exclusive of field artillery, in the fortifications and coast defences, shall remain in their emplacements for the term of six months, to be reckoned from the exchange of ratifications of the treaty; and the United States may, in the meantime, purchase such material from Spain, if a satisfactory agreement between the two Governments on the subject shall be reached.

    Article VI. - Spain will, upon the signature of the present treaty, release all prisoners of war, and all persons detained or imprisoned for political offences, in connection with the insurrections in Cuba and the Philippines and the war with the United States.

    Reciprocally, the United States will release all persons made prisoners of war by the American forces, and will undertake to obtain the release of all Spanish prisoners in the hands of the insurgents in Cuba and the Philippines.

    The Government of the United States will at its own cost return to Spain and the Government of Spain will at its own cost return to the United States, Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines, according to the situation of their respective homes, prisoners released or caused to be released by them, respectively, under this article.

    Article VII. - The United States and Spain mutually relinquish all claims for indemnity, national and individual, of every kind, of either Government, or of its citizens or subjects, against the other Government, that may have arisen since the beginning of the late insurrection in Cuba and prior to the exchange of ratifications of the present treaty, including all claims for indemnity for the cost of the war.

    The United States will adjudicate and settle the claims of its citizens against Spain relinquished in this article.

    Article VIII. - In conformity with the provisions of Articles I, II, and III of this treaty, Spain relinquishes in Cuba, and cedes in Porto Rico and other islands in the West Indies, in the island of Guam, and in the Philippine Archipelago, all the buildings, wharves, barracks, forts, structures, public highways and other immovable property which, in conformity with law, belong to the public domain, and as such belong to the Crown of Spain.

    And it is hereby declared that the relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, to which the preceding paragraph refers, can not in any respect impair the property or rights which by law belong to the peaceful possession of property of all kinds, of provinces, municipalities, public or private establishments, ecclesiastical or civic bodies, or any other associations having legal capacity to acquire and possess property in the aforesaid territories renounced or ceded, or of private individuals, of whatsoever nationality such individuals may be.

    The aforesaid relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, includes all documents exclusively referring to the sovereignty relinquished or ceded that may exist in the archives of the Peninsula. Where any document in such archives only in part relates to said sovereignty, a copy of such part will be furnished whenever it shall be requested. Like rules shall be reciprocally observed in favor of Spain in respect of documents in the archives of the islands above referred to.

    In the aforesaid relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, are also included such rights as the Crown of Spain and its authorities possess in respect of the official archives and records, executive as well as judicial, in the islands above referred to, which relate to said islands or the rights and property of their inhabitants. Such archives and records shall be carefully preserved, and private persons shall without distinction have the right to require, in accordance with law, authenticated copies of the contracts, wills and other instruments forming part of notorial protocols or files, or which may be contained in the executive or judicial archives, be the latter in Spain or in the islands aforesaid.

    Article IX. - Spanish subjects, natives of the Peninsula, residing in the territory over which Spain by the present treaty relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty, may remain in such territory or may remove therefrom, retaining in either event all their rights of property, including the right to sell or dispose of such property or of its proceeds; and they shall also have the right to carry on their industry, commerce and professions, being subject in respect thereof to such laws as are applicable to other foreigners. In case they remain in the territory they may preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain by making, before a court of record, within a year from the date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty, a declaration of their decision to preserve such allegiance; in default of which declaration they shall be held to have renounced it and to have adopted the nationality of the territory in which they may reside.

    The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants of the territories hereby ceded to the United States shall be determined by the Congress.

    Article X. - The inhabitants of the territories over which Spain relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty shall be secured in the free exercise of their religion.

    Article XI. - The Spaniards residing in the territories over which Spain by this treaty cedes or relinquishes her sovereignty shall be subject in matters civil as well as criminal to the jurisdiction of the courts of the country wherein they reside, pursuant to the ordinary laws governing the same; and they shall have the right to appear before such courts, and to pursue the same course as citizens of the country to which the courts belong.

    Article XII. - Judicial proceedings pending at the time of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty in the territories over which Spain relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty shall be determined according to the following rules:

    1. Judgments rendered either in civil suits between private individuals, or in criminal matters, before the date mentioned, and with respect to which there is no recourse or right of review under the Spanish law, shall be deemed to be final, and shall be executed in due form by competent authority in the territory within which such judgments should be carried out.

    2. Civil suits between private individuals which may on the date mentioned be undetermined shall be prosecuted to judgment before the court in which they may then be pending or in the court that may be substituted therefor.

    3. Criminal actions pending on the date mentioned before the Supreme Court of Spain against citizens of the territory which by this treaty ceases to be Spanish shall continue under its jurisdiction until final judgment; but, such judgment having been rendered, the execution thereof shall be committed to the competent authority of the place in which the case arose.

    Article XIII. - The rights of property secured by copyrights and patents acquired by Spaniards in the Island of Cuba and in Porto Rico, the Philippines and other ceded territories, at the time of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, shall continue to be respected. Spanish scientific, literary and artistic works, not subversive of public order in the territories in question, shall continue to be admitted free of duty into such territories, for the period of ten years, to be reckoned from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty.

    Article XIV. - Spain will have the power to establish consular officers in the ports and places of the territories, the sovereignty over which has been either relinquished or ceded by the present treaty.

    Article XV. - The Government of each country will, for the term of ten years, accord to the merchant vessels of the other country the same treatment in respect of all port charges, including entrance and clearance dues, light dues, and tonnage duties, as it accords to its own merchant vessels, not engaged in the coastwise trade.

    Article XVI. - It is understood that any obligations assumed in this treaty by the United States with respect to Cuba are limited to the time of its occupancy thereof; but it will upon termination of such occupancy, advise any Government established in the island to assume the same obligations.

    Article XVII. - The present treaty shall be ratified by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, and by Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain; and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Washington within six months from the date hereof, or earlier if possible.

    In faith whereof, we, the respective Plenipotentiaries, have signed this treaty and have hereunto affixed our seals.

    Done in duplicate at Paris, the tenth day of December, in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight.

    [Seal] William R. Day
    [Seal] Cushman K. Davis
    [Seal] William P. Frye
    [Seal] Geo. Gray[Seal] Whitelaw Reid
    [Seal] Eugenio Montero Rios
    [Seal] B. de Abarzuza[Seal] J. de Garnica
    [Seal] W. R. de Villa Urrutia
    [Seal] Rafael Cerero

    Note: Image above: Battle of Guasimas, Santiago, June 24, 1898 with the U.S. Colored Cavalry supporting the Rough Riders, Date Unknown, Lithograph by Kurz and Allison. Courtesy Library of Congress. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons via various sources; Office of the Historian, U.S. State Department; Treaty source: Avalon Project, Yale Law School, from A Treaty of Peace Between the United States and Spain, U.S. Congress, 55th Cong., 3d sess., Senate Doc. No. 62, Part 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899), 5-11.

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