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It was decided to make the main attack on the fortifications of San Juan heights only after mature consideration. To attack Santiago by the harbor entrance offered such insuperable difficulties that it was rejected in advance. The attempt to storm the abrupt steeps at this point, crowned as they were with the batteries of the Morro, Socapa, and Punta Gordo, would have meant a fearful loss of life and a very probable repulse. In addition, to carry the positions here would necessitate a division of the attacking forces always a dangerous thing to do under any conditions. The proposal to attack on the west side of the city was also rejected, as it had nothing in its favor not possessed by the east, and furthermore was not accessible to any good landing places. The approaches on the east, however, though strongly defended by the fortifications at Aguadores, San Juan and El Caney, permitted operations over more or less feasible country, over which the army could act as a unit, and possessed fairly good roads connecting with available harbors. Of the forti

fications in this region, those at San Juan heights were the most important, and the occupation of these by the American forces would menace the whole city.

The attack on El Caney was intended to be merely a part of the general movement against San Juan. The plan was to capture this in an hour or so, and then throw Lawton's men southward to the aid of Wheeler and Kent in the movement against San Juan heights. Captain Grimes' battery of light artillery had been stationed on a hill near El Pozo at dawn of July 1 with orders to begin firing on San Juan as soon as he heard the sound of Lawton's guns at El Caney. Accordingly at 8 the battery opened fire on the Spanish blockhouse just opposite its position, the distance being about 2,500 yards. An artillery duel soon followed, for the black powder used by the American guns revealed the position of the battery to the Spanish gunners. This duel lasted throughout the battle, ceasing at 2 P. M.

Under cover of this action by Grimes' guns, the two divisions of the army (Kent and Wheeler) were ordered to advance along the Pozo road towards the position of the enemy, after which they were to extend their men in a long line, in front of the fortifications. The attack on the same, however, was not to be made until reinforced by Lawton and Bates. Owing to the fact that very inadequate efforts had been made in determining the position of roads and

trails, only one road was apparently been instrumental in giving a clue to

available in executing this preliminary maneuver. The difficulty of advancing 8,500 men over one route, a Cuban road in particular, became evident as soon as it was attempted. Wheeler's cavalry division, under command of General Sumner at the time, advanced from El Pozo at 7 A. M., but was halted a short distance from that point to await orders. Here it was detained for an hour, all the time under fire from the Spanish batteries. Instructions were then given to move to San Juan creek and hold the same in front of Little San Juan Hill. This was successfully carried out, but with considerable loss.

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During the execution of this a balloon, under the command of Colonel Derby, came up the road, forcing open Wood's brigade and cutting it in two, thereby delaying the movement. The artillery fire of the enemy opened upon the balloon and continued for more than an hour, thereby subjecting part of my my command massed and the rest moving by the flank to long shrapnel fire. Many officers and men were wounded here by exploding shells and small arms firing of the enemy. After completing the deployment the command was so much committed to battle that it became necessary either to advance or else retreat under fire.”*

This balloon has given rise to severe criticism, and unquestionably its use in the neighborhood of masses of men was a grave error. While it may have

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the positions of the enemy and in finding trails through which the forces could approach San Juan, the manner it was handled assuredly proved disastrous to the men who were preparing to advance against that point.


The difficulties, however, of the cavalry division were inconsiderable in comparison with those of the infantry. Delayed by the operations of the cavalry, it was well towards noon that General Kent's forces got well under way towards the front. advance was held by Brigadier-General Hawkins, who proceeded by the main Pozo road with two regiments (6th and 16th Infantry), while the remainder of his command was ordered to advance over a trail discovered by the balloon corps. In the lead of this second detachment was the 71st N. Y. Volunteer regiment, a battalion of which, as soon as it emerged into the open, became subject to a galling fire from the Spanish trenches, and thoroughly disorganized, recoiled upon those in their rear. Kent says:

"At this critical moment, the officers of my staff formed a cordon behind the panic-stricken men and urged them again to go forward. I finally ordered them to lie down in the thicket and clear the way for others of their own regiment who were coming up behind. This many of them did, and the 2d and 3d battalions came forward in better order and moved along the road toward the ford. * The head of Wikoff's brigade reached the forks at 12.30 P. M. and hurried on the left, stepping over prostrate forms of men of the 71st. This heroic brigade, consisting of the 13th, 9th and 24th U. S. Infantry, speedily crossed the stream and were quickly deployed to the left of the lower ford. While personally superintending this movement Colonel Wikoff was killed, the command of the brigade then devolving upon Lieutenant-Colonel Worth, 13th Infantry,

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