Puerto Príncipe – Cuba

By Joseph Alden Springer

U.S. Consular Clerk at Havana


With Drawings by the Author


Editor’s Note: Puerto Príncipe is now known as Camagüey, the capital of the province of the same name in central Cuba. When this travelogue was written the Ten Years’ War for independence from Spain, which started in and around Puerto Príncipe in 1868, was apparently at a lull. The writer brings an unique American first-hand point of view to an area of the country away from the Capital. The hand-written manuscript was found in the National Archives by Aurelio Giroud. A few changes were made while transcribing the manuscript. They included the addition of footnotes, and many changes to punctuation.


The writer of the following paper had occasion during the past summer to make a special visit on some private business to Puerto Príncipe, the tierra adentro[1] of Cuba. As it was a part of the Island that he had never visited, a veritable terra incognita of which he had but faint ideas—and those not all favorable ones, on account of its being in the centre of the insurrection—he determined to occupy the spare time that might otherwise hang heavily on his hands in keeping notes of his trip with the ultimate idea of printing them; acquiring as much useful and interesting information as possible concerning a district which was, before the Cuban insurrection, considered one of the richest on the Island, and which has since done and sacrificed so much to sustain the struggle of the Cubans for their independence.  Considering that this part of the country has been but little visited by travellers since the outbreak of the insurrection, and by none has it been fully described, and the subject itself, from the very interest of it being the base of all Spanish operations in the Central Department growing on his attention, the writer has devoted considerable time and taken much pains to have his information correct; and from various sources of personal observation and other data, has compiled the following article which he trusts will be perused with interest by the readers of this magazine.[2]


On a pleasant morning last May, 1874, I took passage at Havana on board the steamer Cuba, bound to Santiago de Cuba, but touching at Nuevitas, my point of destination.  The steamer was advertised to leave at 12 o’clock and before that hour I was on board and had taken a stateroom which, by proper “management”—a tip and a wink to the camarero[3]—I had secured to myself alone, and was then ready for the voyage.  But the Government had a large quantity of stores and provisions to ship by this steamer, intended for the troops at Santiago de Cuba, and other places on our route, and consequently with proverbial and provoking disregard for punctuality, the steamer did not get ready to start until late in the afternoon.

The bell rung, and those who had come aboard to see their friends off hurried ashore. The steamer backed out from the wharf, and after a few necessary maneuvers, fairly commenced her voyage.  Directly we had passed out of the narrow entrance of the harbor and left the Morro Castle to our right behind us, the table was spread and that agreeable music to a hungry stomach, the dinner bell, was heard.  The table, extending over the whole length of the skylights on the upper deck, was wide and well furnished with a profusion of dishes, and although the cooking was intensely Spanish—oil, olives, and garlic abounding, with decanters of strong, fiery Catalán wine at every elbow to wash all down with—yet four hours of impatient waiting to be off, the salt sea air, smooth water, and good appetite compelled me to do the viands justice.  Upon taking my seat I glanced up and down the table to see who were to be my compañeros de viaje[4], knowing that dinner was about the only occasion on which all the passengers would be together at table.  A delicate, sallow-complexioned Cuban lady, who although accompanied by several servant maids, lugged about a bouncing Negro child of some five years of age whom she couldn’t have fondled more if it had been her own; a Spanish Colonel with spectacles on nose and spurs on his heels; a half dozen or so of Spanish officers, one of whom just from Spain had his wife and little daughter with him, and all in awe of the Colonel; a priest, who afterwards was dreadfully seasick and read his breviary all the voyage; several yellow and sea-sickly individuals; and the writer hereof, made up the complement of passengers.

At no time was the coast altogether out of our sight, and the weather was delightful, the sea so smooth and deeply blue, and the breezes so refreshing that the voyage was altogether a pleasant one.  The second night out we passed the Spanish war steamer Isabel la Cátolica which had sailed from Havana early in the morning of the same day we did, bound for Santiago de Cuba, with troops on board, part of whom were to be landed at Nuevitas.

Early on the third day of our voyage we passed Martenillos Point, on which there is a lighthouse, and close to which could be easily discerned the hulk of the Spanish coasting steamer Triunfo, belonging to Don Ramón de Herrera—the well known Colonel of the 5th Battalion of Havana Volunteers—which was lost on the 7th of May last by running on a reef and while conveying General Cayetano Figueroa, just then appointed to relieve General Portillo in the Command of the Central Department, and 170 libertos—or Negro troops. As the steamer but grounded on a reef, and thanks to pleasant weather, no lives were lost.

Rounding this point, in a short while we arrived at the entrance to the harbor of Nuevitas.  On the low sandy beach close to our left, lay the broken iron frame of the Spanish steamer Cataluña, also belonging to Don Ramón de Herrera, lost a year ago Christmas.

The entrance to the Bay of Nuevitas is long and narrow, it being 15 miles from its mouth up to the town. Vessels drawing 22 feet of water can come into the harbor, but 16 feet is allowed to be the average depth. About midway off the channel sits San Hilario, a circular fort of masonry, built in 1831, with several pieces mounted en barbette[5], and surrounded by a stockade, has been erected as a protection to the entrance.  Several barracks and other outbuildings are connected with the fort, from the top of which idly fluttered a ragged Spanish flag. After continuing the devious course of the channel for about two hours, we finally arrived at our wharf—of which there are four, like so many long arms stretched from the town—at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

But before leaving the steamer at this point of my narration, I wish to bear witness to the comfort of traveling in a Cuban coasting steamer, and especially the Cuba. 


Although the fare to Nuevitas may be considered rather high—two doubloons or $34 gold (to Santiago de Cuba it is three doubloons)—the fare is excellent, and the general welfare of the passengers is fully looked after, at least judging from my own experience which was something like the following:

            At about 6 o’clock in the morning the camarero, Antonio, would come to my stateroom, and after a polite “Buenos Días” hand me a cup of coffee, and a plate of sweet crackers.  After discussing this I would be only to glad to leave my berth—with its hard pillows and cane seat bottom, covered only by a single sheet in lieu of mattress, which although leaving a beautiful foetwork on the sleeper’s back and shoulders, would keep him cool during the night—and go on deck to breathe fresh morning air. On the table on deck would always be found several suspicious bottles, some long-necked, some straw-covered, and one a square case bottle of the Bell brand, all open to public inspection.  Nevertheless, at 8 o’clock precisely, Antonio would pass around to the passengers a tray of chin-co-tel or would bring any other kind of an “eye opener” one would fancy. At 9 o’clock, or a little later, breakfast—the bill of fare comprising everything. If you disliked the strong Spanish wine, French claret or ale would be brought instead without extra charge.  At midday, the bell would again ring for the passengers to “take an observation” of the sun’s altitude, which would be done through a cut-glass tumbler. Dinner at 5, tea at 9 o’clock, and polite and prompt attention to one’s wishes made those kill-times of a traveler at sea, the pleasures of a good appetite and strong digestion, passed most agreeably.


But to return from this digression.  Learning that I was too late to take the daily train to Puerto Príncipe, I inquired my way to the house of Mr. S., a merchant to whom I had letters, and was just in time to join him at dinner. After dinner, the Spanish Colonel, who had been my fellow passenger, made his appearance to call on Mr. S. and shortly afterwards we all sallied out for a walk around the town.



Nuevitas, or San Fernando de Nuevitas—to give its full name—is a city now of about 6,000 inhabitants, although in 1868 it counted scarcely 2,500. But this increase in population is due to numerous families who have been compelled to come in from the country, where they lived on their cattle farms or subsisted by selling the produce raised on their small estates or by charcoal burning,[6] and take refuge in the city from the dangers and privations of the insurrection.  This increase of population has given no increase in wealth.  On the contrary. I was told that hundreds of families are in the most abject poverty, only keeping starvation from their doors by occasional labor on the wharves, the raising of a few vegetables, or the sewing of soldiers’ clothing.

Nuevitas had many difficulties to contend with in its foundation and settlement, and the present site is the third within three centuries.  The first was about two miles to the northeast of the city as it now is, at the place called Pueblo Viejo (Old Town) formerly Puerto del Príncipe, and was the scene of repeated depredations by the pirates of the Antilles.  It is now situated upon several hills and high ground within the shelter of the bay of some 16 to 20 feet of average depth. It was the first port on the Island visited by Columbus (on November 18, 1492) during his first voyage of discovery, and called by him Puerto Príncipe.

In November 1511, Diego de Velazquez was sent by Columbus, son of the great Admiral and Governor at the time of Santo Domingo,[7] with an expedition of four ships and 300 men, to conquer and settle the Island.  Here in 1514, in the same port Columbus had named del Príncipe he planted a colony and gave to it the name of Santa María.  But in the course of time, in consequence of the plague of insects—the mosquitoes and jejen[8] (midge) of the period were too much and too many for the sensitive Spaniards—and the frequent invasions of the pirates—who commenced their depredations about 1538—the town was transferred to the Indian village of Caonao. But the inhabitants were not yet secure against the pirates for the celebrated Morgan afterwards in 1666 sacked the place committing horrible atrocities.

The frequent invasions of the pirates—of which Morgan’s attack over a century later was the most disastrous—had finally induced the colonists to remove still further into the Island, until in 1516 they reached the Indian town of Camagüey[9], situated between two small rivers—which to this day retain their Indian names of Tínima and Hatibonico. And here they rested and built the town for which they retained the same name: Santa María de Puerto Príncipe, or to give it an English equivalent, St. Mary’s of Princeport. In the course of time it became known only by the latter and somewhat anomalous name of Puerto Príncipe.  The Indian name of the district is, however, still retained and it is known to the Cuban insurgents of today as the Department of Camagüey. For many years Camagüeyano has been the distinctive term for those born within the district.  It is to the Cacique of Camagüey that Columbus on his first voyage in 1492 sent an embassy, in the belief that he was the Kublei Khan, or the Emperor of Cathay (China). It is historical that Columbus died in the belief that he had discovered the Indies and never knew even that Cuba was an island. In fact this knowledge was not acquired until 1508 when Cuba was circumnavigated by Sebastian de Ocampo.

For nearly a century after Morgan’s attack, the settlement on the coast gave but little signs of life.  In fact it was almost completely abandoned or given up to a few fishermen.  The return of a number of families from the interior in 1775 again built up the town. In the course of time, the migration of the Spaniards from Florida in 1783, and of the French from Santo Domingo in 1795—to whom are due, respectively, the introduction of the honey bee and the coffee bean—the natural increase in population, and the advantages of the port caused the founding of another settlement on the shores of the same bay.

The construction of a railroad from Puerto Príncipe to Nuevitas as an outlet for the production of the district was commenced in 1837, and gave great impulse to the commerce of both places.  This road has the honor of being the first ever constructed in Spanish dominions, although it was not finished completely to Nuevitas until 1866.  The port at which formerly the business of the district was done was Guanaja on the sound or bay of Sabinal some 30 miles to the west of Nuevitas.

The other smaller settlements dependent upon Nuevitas are Bagá and San Miguel de Nuevitas, both small towns founded about 1817 by colonists from New Orleans.

It is from Bagá that the second military Trocha[10] of the war, to extend across the island, is in process of construction and has already been completed as far as Gaimaro.  Regarding this Trocha I shall have something to say further on.

Nuevitas has also received its share of the suffering caused by the insurrection.  Its commerce which in 1868 was 22,000 hhds of sugar, 15,000 hhds of molasses, a vast number of hides, a great quantity of wax and honey, and a considerable amount of tobacco—nearly double its exports of five years previously or in 1863—is now naught.  No sugar at all is exported and the small quantity of molasses—an occasional cargo that is shipped—comes in launches a few hogsheads at a time from Puerto Padre and other out-ports.

On the 25 of August, 1873, the insurgents who had for some time previously been in the vicinity, entered town.  The force which the place was usually garrisoned was 500 men but on this occasion there were not more than 300 counting volunteers.  The attack was made at ten o’clock at night by a strong body of insurgents under the command of Máximo Gómez, who drove in the sentinels guarding the trenches and stockades at the outskirts of town near the railroad cutting and swarmed all over the town.  The small force defending the place together with some marines and volunteers took refuge in the Customs House, which they defended, and the taking of which the insurgents did not persist.  The patriots kept possession of the town until six the next morning, in the mean time sacking stores, setting fire to some of the buildings and having everything their own way.

The Customs House is situated on the street fronting the bay.  The principal warehouses, stores, British and American Consulates are also on this street, called Calle de la Marina, and it is clear that the rebels had possession of the whole town.  A private letter of that date gives an account of the alarm of the inhabitants as so great that for a number of nights afterwards they abandoned their houses at nightfall and slept on the wharves, in boats and vessels.  But two or three persons lost their lives on the occasion while the rebels were quite unmolested and their principal object was plunder, securing quite a booty.  Máximo Gómez, with his staff and the reserve of his force calculated at 600 cavalry, was on a hill near the town and issued his orders with thence.

Ever since the attack, the inhabitants live in daily fear of a repetition.  It is well known that the insurgents are not at any time far distant and come and go whenever they please, and that their movements are rapid.  A line of forts, connected by a stockade of light poles for they are nothing else (about 12 feet high and two or three inches thick) with here and there an occasional redoubt,[11] has been erected around the city along the upper part of the hills looking towards the country as a protection against future attacks. These forts some eleven or twelve in number are placed at a distance of half a mile apart.  A number of them are circular in shape built of masonry some thirty feet in height and twenty in diameter at the base.  A steep ladder leads to the narrow entrance about midway up and the walls are thickly pierced with loopholes for musketry. On the top a small brass piece about three feet long and a sentry box are stationed.  Sixteen men under a sergeant make up the garrison of the fort.  At night these men are reinforced by 12 more, generally volunteers.  A patrol makes the rounds every two hours.  Several detachments of volunteers sleep on their arms in the Casino and other public buildings.  The greatest vigilance is exercised against another attack which it is supposed may be made any day.

But my friend the Colonel, whom I have lost sight of during this long description, but who gave me much information—being well informed on all matters pertaining to the history of the place and of the insurrection—and ourselves, continued our walk chatting on various subjects until we reached that part of the town near the railroad—where the insurgents had entered on the occasion previously referred to. Here is built one of the circular forts in the line of defense around Nuevitas.  It is connected with the line built along the railroad to Puerto Príncipe. Thanks to the three stars on the Colonel’s cuffs  indicating his rank, the sergeant in command arranged his men in line, saluted, and made a brief report: “No hay novedad, mi Coronel.[12]  The Colonel received it as a matter of course, made a few enquiries, and then we all mounted the steps into the interior of the fort. The fort is divided into two stories, the lower being used for the storeroom, sick bay, and magazine.

The second story is pierced all around with loopholes, but thirty men in it would make a large crowd. From this story we ascended a short steep ladder, and through a trap door came out on the top, from which we obtained a beautiful view of the setting sun and the scenery so peculiar to Cuba.  Along the railroad track which extended before us, straight as an arrow—it has but one slight curve in the whole fifty miles—we could see another fort about a mile off, the second which protects the railroad and the zone of cultivation.  To our right was the sheer water of the Maynabo Sound and the furthest fort of the Nuevitas line of defense, close to the water’s edge.  These forts extending all around the city—eleven altogether—are all connected by the stockade already described.  They were built by private subscription among the merchants and others of Nuevitas at a cost of about $2,000 each, but are manned and armed at the expense of the government.

The next day at noon, while still occupied jotting down in my notebook the particulars of the various information I had received from the Colonel, he came for me and advised me to hurry up, for the explorador would leave at 12 precisely. Here was a chance for another question while leisurely putting up my notebook, knowing from experience about Spanish punctuality: It is aways 12 o’clock until one o’clock strikes, I put it. The explorador is an engine with a fender attached containing a force of twenty or more soldiers, sent a mile ahead of the regular train, to clear or “explore” the way.  A few minutes walk took us to the station, and after embarking some two hundred soldiers who had landed during the night from the Isabel la Cátolica which arrived the same afternoon as ourselves, we entered a car and the train soon started for Puerto Príncipe.  Every car is clad with a heavy shield of timber three inches thick, bolted on and coming up each side of the car to nearly the top of the windows, leaving but a small aperture for either view or ventilation.  Consequently the heat and suffocation are unbearable, and the doors are allowed to remain open to get a draft through the car, but it affords little relief.

The train stopped every ten or twelve miles to take in wood or water, or to leave men or provisions at the military camps or forts on the way. At Minas, which is situated about half way, it stopped a full half hour, to leave the soldiers who had been detailed for the place as laborers on the works of the line. Here an accident happened. The poor soldiers who had arrived during the previous night had no rations issued to them nor food of any kind.  Some had managed to get a little wine, which did them more harm than good, making them noisy and unruly.  In stepping from the car before they came to a stop, one poor fellow fell beneath the wheels and was fearfully mangled.

The cars were pushed aside and there he lay, a mass of bruises and broken bones moaning and crying “me muero,” “I die.” An officer brutally told him to die already and stop making so much noise about it, and then calling for a litter, had the sufferer picked up and removed.  I learned that he did die before he was carried half a dozen steps, so severe were his injuries.

Minas takes its name from the proximity of some cooper mines, now unworked It is a place of about 1500 inhabitants, principally country people, who have “presented” themselves to the Government and to whom it has given lots of land and implements for cultivation as a means of their support, as to assure their loyalty. But I was informed that nevertheless small parties are constantly going back into the insurrection.  The place is built up altogether of thatched houses, and the only business done is that naturally arising at a military depot and camp.

The mines, which were said to have been rich in the yield of copper, and the exploitation of which was due to enterprising Americans, are now now longer worked.  It is believed that if the facilities for transportation were easier and cheaper, copper could again be produced at a profit “when this cruel war is over.”

Some 1500 soldiers are stationed here, engaged in the labor of building forts and fortifying the line. This number added to the 1500 required to garrison all the forts, makes a force of 3,000 men constantly engaged to hold the line of railroad between Puerto Príncipe and Nuevitas and keep the insurgents in check.  Nevertheless I am told they pass it in small parties almost daily, but do not hazard useless attacks upon the forts.

These forts, nearly fifty in all, are stationed a mile apart.  Some are stockaded and others have the addition of a ditch.  Some are built of palm tree logs or slabs and others again of brick, but almost all present the peculiarities of the one shown in the accompanying sketch.

Just before reaching Puerto Príncipe, the Colonel, who throughout the trip had been talking away to my great interest—abusing the insurgents, their plans and operations, but giving me considerable information regarding affairs—called my attention to a fort, the last before arriving the city, as having been formerly the residence of Ignacio Agramonte, the insurgent chieftain who was killed at the head of a charge of cavalry at Jimaguayú on the 11th of May, 1873.

This fort, converted into such from a plain country residence—its upper walls built up and loopholes pierced through the masonry. I determined to make a sketch of it and did so on a later occasion at the cost of a little adventure which I will here relate:

I walked along the railroad track to within a short distance of the safe side, took up a favorable position and began my sketch.  After a while my movements seemed to have attracted attention and two civiles sauntered out and looked over my shoulder making polite but critical observations as I progressed.  Their presence made me nervous and I hurried to finish my sketch.  Then putting up my book, I begged them “to remain with God,” and started back to the city.  A backward glance revealed the two worthies with heads together and a minute later I was called upon to come back. Very politely they regretted to have to deliver up my “picture” for the inspection of the Primero or Sergeant in Charge. “Certainly, but bring it back quick and meantime I’ll make a sketch of this country tienda.” After a few minutes delay, the Sergeant came out with the sketch in hand, took a good scrutiny of me. Then to my rather impatient inquiry if there could be any objection to my keeping the rude design I had made gave it a critical examination, and seeing nothing about it to resemble a plan of military fortification gave it up, begging pardon for the trouble I had been caused, which was due to the exceptional times. I again availed myself of a Spanish figure of speech and consigned the whole party “to the care of God.”  They returned my politeness by wishing me “God be with ye” or goodbye.  I started back on the track fully expecting another hail, but determined on this occasion to be deaf.


After four hours of the uncomfortable traveling in the cars which I have described, we arrived at Puerto Príncipe. Just before reaching the station the engine gave four prolonged shrieks as a signal to the city that the steamer from Havana had arrived at Nuevitas and mail might be expected. This I learned was the custom, three shistles announcing the arrival of a steamer from Santiago de Cuba, four from Havana and seven for two steamers arriving, one from each place.

A number of the Colonel’s friends were on the platform to welcome him, and while they were throwing their arms around him and patting him on the small of the back, an orthodox Spanish embrace, I took my leave, got a volanta, and drove to a Hotel.



Puerto Príncipe, or to quote again its full name: Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe, is a city situated in one of the widest parts of the Island of Cuba, a distance of 325 miles in a southeast by east direction from Havana. Thirty miles from its old port of Guanaja on the north coast, 60 miles from Santa Cruz on the south coast, and 45 miles from Nuevitas with which it is connected by a railway.  Its population in 1868 was estimated to be about 35,000 souls and the present population cannot be much less, for unless there has been a great exodus of its inhabitants into the insurrection, yet many of those who had fixed residences in the country have been compelled to come into the city to live.

The district was preeminently the cattle and breeding farm of the Island, which constituted its principal wealth. Before the war nearly two million head of cattle roamed over its rich pastures and its mules and horses were preferred to any others.  The district never was remarkable for production, either of a textile or fabrile nature, on account of want of water carriage.  It was only comparatively late that attention was paid to cultivation of sugar molasses. The figures given on previous pages as from Nuevitas is understood to be the production of the entire district.  In 1868 there was calculated to be about 150 sugar plantations of more or less extend, and nearly as many tobacco vegas within the jurisdiction. Now the blight of war rests upon everything: of the sugar plantations, all have been abandoned save one close to the city called Canet. Formerly it made 1000 hhds. for a crop, but now it can barely make 300, not enough to supply the district. The tobacco fields are destroyed, not a pound of honey or wax is gathered, and general ruin has settled over this department.  The inhabitants formerly were noted for their gay and lively dispositions, and if not immensely rich, were all well off.  Now what few that have not gone into the insurrection have a listless, apathetic and poverty-stricken look.  The city was formerly a basin of supplies for the plantations and cattle ranchers, and the principal inhabitants passed their time between their country and town houses, riding fine and blooded horses.  Now no business or any account is done, and the houses one sees are the sorriest of nags.

The area of the city comprises of some hundred or more acres and its streets, narrow and crooked, are laid out in a bewildering maze forcing one to believe that, like those of Boston tradition, they have been determined by the cow-paths.  The houses are low, with the Cuban peculiarities of tiled roofs, heavy doors and gated windows—although the same remark may apply to all houses of Spanish architecture—and are almost without exception built of brick—which is in fact the only building material used—there being no quarries but numbers of tejares or brickyards in the vicinity.  The bricks are long, wide, thickly covered between as is to save material, and then plastered over.  The walls are painted, blue and buff being the prevailing colors. There are but few houses of two stories in height.  The sidewalks, or what passes under that name—for they are exceedingly narrow and of uneven height—are also of brick, set on end, and often through use half worn through.  I obtained a photograph of one of the streets—Calle de San Juan—which will show some of their peculiatiries and which in fact was the only photographic view I could find on any part of the city. No interest has been taken in views of that nature, and despairing of obtaining any at all, I had recourse to my own pencil to depict some of the public buildings. But few streets are paved or macadamized, but all are generally clean and seldom muddy on account of the porous sandy nature of the soil which eagerly drinks up the heavy rains of this period of the year.  There are no wells. The greater part of potable water is caught and preserved in cisterns or tinajones, large earthen jars kept on the roofs or in couryards of the houses.  The streets are not lighted at night at the public expense, but it is the general custom for everyone to hang before his door a glass lantern with a petroleum lamp. The principal streets are consequently well lighted, while others remain in total darkness.

The sidewalks are uneven in height and the streets so narrow that most of the walking is done in the street itself.  The houses are, Cuba fashion, closed during the day. But as evening comes on doors and windows are opened, and the ladies freshly and simply dressed and generally wearing flowers in their hair sit at them to enjoy the cool of the evening and receive their visitors.  On many of the grated windows I noticed the dried up remains of the elaborate palm branches used on the festival of Palm Sunday, which must hve made that holiday most attractive.  I witnessed the processions of Corpus Christi and some other religious holidays during my stay.  After leaving the Church, at every block or two en route, there would be erected rich and glittering altars in front of private houses before which the procession would generally stop and perform a short ceremony. Little children gaily dressed, scattered flowers along the way.  The Host was carried by richly robed priests, who walked under a cloth of silver baldachin.  The Governor and City Council, a number of officers in uniform, the school children and the members of one or two regional societies took part in the procession, followed by a detachment of cavalry and infantry volunteers.

The rivers Tínima and Hatibonico, between which the City is situated, would not  in the United States reach the dignity of creeks.  But after a heavy rainfall swell so rapidly as to completely overflow even their arches, as shown in the accompanying sketches.  Their beds may be estimated from the span of the bridges.  During my stay in the city it rained often and heavily.  The Hatibonico on one occasion not only rose above the arches of the bridge, but overflowed its banks into the streets adjoining.  Both bridges are solidly built and entirely of brick.  Near that over the Tínima river the country is flat and plain. Close by is situated the casa quinta, or country house and tannery of the Simoni family, now used as a fort and guarded by a detachment of volunteers. It is showing the usual neglect and vandalism; the fences torn down, horses feeding in the garden, loop holes pierced through the walls, and the house gradually gone to ruin.

Many of the rich inhabitants who had not joined the insurrection have yet been ruined by its consequences.  Along with the poorer class the suffering is from poverty is great. During the long walks I made around the city and especially the suburbs where the houses are of poorer and meaner character, it was sad to see through the half-open door of many: lying upon the floor a bunch of plantains, half a squash, a few fruits, and perhaps half a dozen eggs; waiting for a purchaser.  The number of ragged and naked children of all shades of color I saw during my rambles was something to wonder.  Many of the women support themselves by sewing on soldiers’ clothing.  The pricing for making shirts in April was $1 in Spanish currency, per dozen; and half of that to be taken in trade.  But General Figueroa, who had recently taken command of the district, insisted that the different establishments should pay $1.50 per dozen in cash.  With gold at 260 as it is now, the misery of such wages is apparent, and when it is considered that eggs cost 12 cents, a roll of bread 10 cents, a sweet 20 or 30 cents, sugar 25 cents per pound, and beef  $3 to $4 , and everything else in the same proportion; it is a wonder that the poorer class can live at all.

During my stay, for amusements, I attended a performance at the Teatro Principál and several Balls at the Casino Español.  The performance at the theatre was given by a number of clever amateurs in aid for the fund for wounded soldiers. The house was very well filled, principally by Spanish officers in the parquette, a few ladies in the boxes, and the “military” in the upper circles.  To judge from the sound made by their feet over the uncarpeted wood floors like a squadron of Calvary, the acoustic qualities of the building are excellent.  The theatre outside has an imposing exterior, but the entrance doors are disproportionately small.  Inside it will seat nearly 1000 people, has four tiers, and is lit by coal oil lamp sconces hung in front of the boxes. The play, which was something about “Love and Interest,” went off acceptably but the performance did not commence until nearly nine o’clock.

The Theatre was built in 1849, entirely of brick and plastered over, and opened its first season with an Italian Opera Company.  Parodi, Corbesi, Alamo, Lorini, Patti when a child; the tenors Tiburini, McCaferri, Musiani and others in opera; and the Spanish drama interpreted by Matilde Diez, Ossorio, Valero, etc. have in former times delighted the pleasure-loving Camagüeyanos. But with the war came a change.  The Theatre was deserted for a while, then utilized for a short time as barracks for Volunteers, and now the building now shows signs of neglect in its broken blinds, plaster dropping from walls and ceilings, and the empty niches formerly adorned by statues of the Spanish Drama Lope de Vega, Moratín, and others.

The first Ball at the Casino had been postponed several times on account of rain and finally given the evening previous to St. John’s day.  This day and in fact the whole month has in former years—and especially before the insurrection—been celebrated with one long round of pleasure. The custom seems to have been peculiar to Puerto Príncipe alone of all the Island. It has been described as the Carnivals of Rome, Venice, and Paris rolled into one and lasting a month.  The description given to me of former glorious San Juans made even the pageants of Mardi Gras in New Orleans pale before it.

Balls and parties lasting for days altogether, cavalcades, masks, processions in costumes of mythologic or historic tunes, reunions on every side, good cheer, good humor and good temper abounding, and a profuse and lavish display and expenditure, made this month the gayest of the year and Puerto Príncipe the jolliest place in the Island. But now, how changed! The custom has probably died out forever – I saw nothing to resemble the former festivity of this period. They now have the regimental bands, dressed up outré costumes of cheap colored calico and high comical paper hats, which went about playing and collecting funds for wounded companions; and a few dancing parties in private houses. The Balls given at the Casino were very well attended, Spanish uniforms abounding. The simple dresses of the ladies gave them fresh charm and I noticed many beautiful faces.  The Colonel said, however, after a critical stare around the room through his spectacles, that the pretties ones had all gone away since the insurrection or else would not attend the Spanish Casino, having lost relatives and friends on the war; and that, in short, like everything else since that event, San Juan was played out.

The Casino Español—Spanish Club—of Puerto Príncipe is, like the remainder of the Casinos in the Island—some thrity five in all—in certain measure dependent upon the Casino Español at Havana. Like them, it is considered the centre and representative of the Spanish element. It is used as a place of social meeting, amusement, and other purposes of a club, and—when occasion offers—for the expression of political opinion. It has refreshment and billiard rooms on the ground floor.  On that above, a reading room, a small stage, and quite spacious saloons are handsomely provided with elegant furniture including two grand pianos.  The walls are profusely decorated with mirrors eight and ten feet square in heavy gilt frames. The tawdry red and yellow of the Spanish colors form curtains and valances for the doors and windows, and the Spanish coat of arms is conspicuously displayed.  The main saloon is further adorned with an allegorical painting representing the city with the portrait of a particularly fierce-looking bestarred and laboned  individual, which the Colonel said was that of Don Pedro Caso, a former General Commander of the Department.

The Casino occupies a building which was once the property and residence of Salvador Cisneros, Marqués de Santa Lucía, now known as the President of the Cuban Republic.[13] Afterwards this building was the location of the Sociedad Filarmónica which before the insurrection was distinguished for the high position of its members—principally the Cuban families—and the artistic merit of its musical and dramatic entertainments. Many of its members joined the insurrection and the society was repressed. The building was unsed in 1869 as a hospital for the wounded soldiers of Col. Lesca’s column, and the Guias de Rodas, a body of volunteers acting as a bodyguard for Captain General Rodas was also billeted in it. The Casino was established in 1870.

Upon ascending the staircase the first objects to attract one’s attention, standing in a corner of the saloon at the head of the steps, are a sword in a glass case and a small cannon, which on examination proves to be made of leather.  I thought them of sufficient interest to merit a sketch.  The sword is a plain but heavy Toledo Cavalry Sabre, without a scabbard The glass case in which it is contained bears a card with the following inscription:

Espada cojida al enemigo por el Batallón Peninsular Cazadores de Pizarro al mando del Primer Gefe, Teniente Coronel Don Juan Francisco Moya, en el potrero San Antonio de Consuegra, el dia 11 de Mayo de 1872, que el Excmo. Señor Capitán General Don Pedro de Lea y satisfaciendo los deseos del Sr. T. Col. Moya, regala al Casino Español de Puerto Príncipe — Junio 13, 1872.


Which may be thus translated:


Sword captured from the enemy by the Peninsular Battalion Chasseurs de Pizarro, under the command of its first officer Lt. Col. Juan Francisco Moya on 11 May 1872 at the pasture San Antonio de Consuegra, an which the Commander General Don Pedro de Lea, counting upon the consent of His Excellency the Captain General and the wishes of Lt. Col. Moya, presents to the Casino Español of Puerto Príncipe — Jule 13, 1972.


The cannon is about three feet long, three inches in diameter, at the mouth an inch thick, and is made throughout of leather; truly, there’s nothing like leather.  It appears to have been made by binding and twisting bands of raw leather hide around the center piece—which is entire and smooth throughout its bore—into a sort of basket twist until the piece was bout an inch thick and a few bands of plain hoop iron added to fix it to its wooden carriage. Not a very formidable piece on appearance, but capable with a small charge of throwing a shell or grenade some distance. I was informed by the Colonel that the insurgents made a number of such pieces, but that they soon became worthless on account of the deterioration and rotting of the leather. The piece in question, as is stated on a card attached in the same high-sounding phraseology, was captured from the enamy at the Najasa Ridge on the 31st of December 1871 by the Batallion of San Quintin commanded by Col. Luis de Cubas and presented to the Casino “in proof of the union which exists among Spaniards whenever the defense of their flag is at stake.”

The Casino has about 300 paying members and is much frequented in the billiard and coffee rooms by Spanish officers, whilst the library and reading room bears evidence of shameful neglect.



 I had invited the Colonel to take a drive with me for the purpose of getting him to point out the different public buildings.  So one pleasant afternoon we engaged an immense wheeled volanta with a ridiculously small animal of the mule species for motive power and a ragged negro boy as engineer, and off we started.

I had expressed a desire to see the various churches so we commenced with them, first going to the Plaza de Armas near which is situated the Casino Español, and passing the Post Office and Government House on our way, looked at the Iglesia Mayor, or First Church. This was the site of the first church built in the city, which was destroyed by fire in 1616 and rebuilt in 1617, although not receiving its present and completed form until 1794. It is now used as a military hospital and contained about 200 sick and wounded soldiers.

Next we went to the Convent and church of Nuestra Señora de la Merced[14] on Market Square. This convent was founded in 1601, but it is now used as barracks for Spanish soldiers. The church is one of the finest on the Island but was not finally completed until 1759. It boasts one of the highest towers of any church in Cuba and the only wood in its construction is in the doors and windows. It was remodeled and repainted in 1844 and is the custodian of valuable silver altar pieces, a silver throne for Our Lady, and a silver Holy Sepulchre said to be made of much artistic merit and value.

The church of La Soledad[15]—built in 1776—being close to our hotel we could see daily, so we drove to the church of Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje—built in 1774—to which in 1812 the public Cemetery was attached. Here we left the carriage for a while to look on with amusement at efforts of a drill sergeant to teach the mystery of the goose step to a very awkward squad of liberto troops, all of whom were armed with the heavy machete[16]. We also strolled into the Cemetery and I was agreeably surprised to see the elegant and tasteful resting places of the dead so different from the repulsive tiers of ovens—or niches, as they are called—of the Havana cemetery and generally others in the Island. Monuments, marble figures, carved gravestones, tombs in shape of domed mosques, stone slabs over graves surrounded by iron railings, memorial tablets let into the church walls in the cemetery, and other mementos of the dead, all in good taste; and the melancholy sound of the wind through the tall pines made a pleasant impression in one who expected to meet again the formal and stereotypical form of ovens, one above the other, of the receptacles for the dead prevailing in other Cuban cemeteries. I walked about and noticed such names as Agramonte, Aguero, Betancourt, Varona, Mola and other familiar enough in the annals of the Cuban Insurrection.

We next visited the Plaza San Juan de Dios, where is situated the Church and Hospital of the same name, built in 1728. Here, in May 1873, at the door of the Hospital as shown in the sketch, the body of the Cuban hero, Ignacio Agramonte—slain in battle—was deposited as a trophy of war and exposed to the gaze of the populace for two days. A rumor was current at the time that the body was not interred, but burned in the cemetery on the night of the 15th of May, being first saturated with petroleum and placed on a funeral pyre of wood. But I could not and dared not ascertain if the story was true.  The Colonel , however, admitted that the Spanish soldiers are practical cremationists and had on various occasions burnt the bodies of the dead, but added that it had always been done for sanitary reasons.

Continuing our drive the Colonel pointed out the Governor’s residence, Comandancy General, etc., and we shortly arrived to the Plaza and Church of San Francisco, founded in 1599 by Franciscans. All the convents and religious orders were suppressed in 1842 and this one was used for a while as infantry barracks.  It is now devoted to educational purposes and maintains a college conducted by the Escolapian Fathers. Flags and streamers were flying from its belfry and windows in anticipation of a coming religious festival.

Leaving the square and winding through a number of narrow streets we crossed over the Hatibonico to drive along the wide avenue of La Caridad.  Directly on our right was the small and now abandoned church of La Calendaria, built in 1806.  The Government has, however, put it to some use by occupying it as a storehouse. The Caridad, as the street is known, is a wide one, bordered by mango trees, with a narrow walk and another row of mango trees and benches running through the middle. Under the portals of the houses to our right and left, we noticed the sling hammocks and bivouacs of a column of Spanish soldiers which had come I during the previous night and had been billeted along the road. At the end of the avenue is the church Nuestra Señora de la Caridad,[17] erected in 1809. The church is well built and has a large and well-paved square and is situated in the middle of a large open space lined with mango trees. Here it is considered the correct thing to attend mass Saturday morning and crowds of ladies and their admirers religiously keep up the practice.

Returning on our track, we visited the church of San José, built in 1805, situated near the Plaza de Vapor and the Military Hospital. This latter building, on account of its size and purpose, attracted my attention and on a later occasion I visited and walked through. It had at the time some 1,500 sick, mostly febrile diseases and diseases of the intestinal functions. Comparatively few wounded, but many soldiers suffering from ulcer on feet and legs produced by exposure and the hardships of the march.  Large as the building seems to be, it was inadequate for the number of sick and the Government had been obliged to convert some storehouses nearby into auxiliary hospitals. As the close of June there were over 1,700 sick and wounded in the hospitals. 

One one side of the Plaza del Vapor is the railroad station—a veritable large wooden shanty and a collection of them—and on the other the Public Jail. Here the American Dockray was confined and on trial for his life on a charge of insidencia[18].  I took considerable interest in the gentleman’s case and ascertained the following facts. Mr. F. A. Dockray, a gentleman who had held several government offices in the United States and especially in Florida, came to Cuba January 1st on a business trip.  About the latter part of that month, in a spirit of adventure and recklessness of consequence, he left Manzanillo covertly and entered insurgent lines. After remaining with the insurgents some three months, being constantly with the chiefs of the Cuban Republic and present at the battled of Naranjo and Guásimas where it is alleged he took an active part, he succeeded in leaving them and presented himself on April 3rd at Nuevitas to the U.S. Consular Agent, who accompanied him to the Governor for the purpose of obtaining a passport to Havana.  Dockray was arrested and a number of suspicious papers found on him along with several letters addresses to prominent insurgents in the United States, facts which highly compromised him. Court martial was ordered in his case and he was condemned to death. I afterwards learned that the Spanish government has commuted his sentence to the next lower penalty, and he was sent to Spain to undergo a sentence of ten years in the galleys at Ceuta, unless fortunate enough to get pardoned out before.


I had got tired of seeing churches—which all seemed to present much of the same appearance, although the Colonel said there were two or three more to see—so with a glance at the Calvary barracks with its fine row of Indian laurel trees in front, and the Beneficiencia—or Foundling Asylum—founded by a lady—Catalina Betancourt in 1791—we drove to the Casino to obtain the luxury of an iced drink. Afterwards we walked in the square and listened to the playing of the band. On such evenings this spot is much frequented by the ladies and by Spanish Officers—civilians are rare.

A few days later I accepted the Colonel’s offer of a horse and in the company of several other officers we rode out early one morning and visited a number of the forts which surround Puerto Príncipe and are intended to guard it from encroachments of the insurgents, and protect the zone of cultivation. Riding over the Caridad Bridge and along the avenue we soon reached Fuerte Punta Diamante,[19] about half a mile beyond the Caridad Church on the Santiago de Cuba road. This is quite a large earthwork of some pretension, surrounded by a palisade and ditch. It is garrisoned by between 200 and 300 men and armed with a brass sixteen pounder and a twelve pounder Krupp. I was told that the insurgents were so daring and came so near on one occasion that a party of them fell upon a soldier who had gone out from the Fort to forage. In full sight of his comrades, they cut him to pieces with their machetes and then galloped off. 

Taking bridle paths, we passed Forts Garrido and Respiro de Agramonte near the road. Although called forts, these fortifications are properly small block houses and will hold some twenty to fifty men. Fort Puello came next, but I did not care to explain that I had already seen this fort, and came to near being shut up in it.

To the north of the city are Forts Guayabo, mounting a twelve pounder Krupp and Rodas, both earthworks surrounded by ditches and garrisoned by some fifty men. Following an intricate velada, or bridle path for two miles or more we came upon Fort Polvorin to the west of the city, near the highway to Havana. Before crossing the Tínima Bridge, having made nearly the circuit of the city, we passed a second Fort Punta de Diamante and crossing the bridge the Quinta Simoni where a detachment of Volunteers were stationed.

Towards the south side of the city there are forts Serrano, de los Voluntarios, and a third Punta Diamante besides a number of fortines, or small fortified posts. But as the sun was high and hot and ourselves heated and hungry, we left those to visit on some other occasion and clabbered back to the Hotel Español for breakfast.



Several days more passed, and having concluded business which brought me to this part of the Island, I made preparations to return to Havana.  It was necessary to call at the office of the Comandancia Mayor to have my passport endorsed.  Here I was fortunate to meet my friend the Colonel, who introduced me to Lt. Col. Galbis—Chief of Staff commanding General Figueroa and his right hand man—a talented, energetic and very pleasant officer and gentleman.  Several other officers were present and smoking cigars and lolling in rocking chairs, and it seems that I happened upon a regular tertulia[20], for an animated discussion—which my entrance but momentarily interrupted—was going on among them. The subject was the reports then current concerning disaffection among the insurgents; the deposition of Salvador Cisneros and assumption by Máximo Gómez of the Presidency of the Cuban Republic; and the bloody encounters reported to have occurred, in consequence thereof, between the two factions of Gómez and Sanguili.  As I had hitherto purposely and carefully refrained from the discussion of any political or military affairs—as I had found some difficulty in obtaining information on such, for foreigners seemed to be looked upon with suspicion—I considered myself fortunate at the opportunity to listen to the unrestrained utterance of the opinions of those who it would seem ought to be considered authorities on the question.

It is impossible for Gómez to “aspire to that position,” said the Colonel, “he is not a Cuban and the Constitution of the insurgents forbids other than native-born to be elected President of the so-called Republic.  Besides, Salvador Cisneros, the fab and foolish Marquis de Santa Lucía, only styles himself ad interim” or Acting President, “in place of Aguilera. Máximo Gómez is a Dominican, and a double-dyed traitor. When Spain had the war with Santo Domingo in 1864, Gómez betrayed his native country and accepted service with us with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was in Cuba for a while, but when the insurrection broke out, thinking it offered a wider field for his ambition, he hastened to join it.  His idea is military glory and the advancement of the African race—he is half Negro anyway—and should it be possible for him to succeed in his nefarious attempts, Cuba could become a second Santo Domingo or Haiti, become africanized in fact.  And General Lesundis’ saying will prove true: ‘Cuba will become wholly African when she ceases to be wholly Spanish.’

“If by any fortuitous circumstance—let us suppose it for the sake or argument, for as a fact no good Spaniard will admit its possibility—the enemies of Spanish national integrity should succeed in their designs and Spain— wrecked with internal strife and struggling fortunes—is forced to give up the Island of Cuba.” Here a general murmur of dissent ran around the circle.

“We will suppose it for sake of argument,” continued the Colonel, “the Cubans are utterly incapable of self-government and anarchy would eventually arise among them. As the only remedy for salvation and the continuance of their independence, annexation to the United States would be resorted to. In either case slavery is doomed, and what would be the result? Haiti and Santo Domingo. With perhaps the repetition of the barbarous atrocities committed there by the negroes upon the whites. Of Jamaica with its commerce, energy and agriculture run to seed.  The blacks already outnumber the whites in Cuba and would become the master race once liberty is granted them.  The Cuban Republic already has guaranteed the abolition of slavery, and if Cuba should belong to the United States, slavery could not of course exist.  Free labor will never flourish.

“Does Spain really want to finish the insurrection,  then let her abolish slavery in Cuba. Yes, but that would be the immediate ruin and loss of Cuba to Spain. Very true, and what then? Slavery is doomed anyway, but not so long as the present situation exists.

I see but one possible remedy, and that is Cuba freed by the Spaniards themselves.”

Here the Colonel broached a tender point: The possibility of the Spaniards in Cuba seizing Cuba for their own, and seceding from the mother country. It is a notorious fact that Prim, Topete and the leaders of the Revolution of September 1868, if they had failed in their attempts to overthrow the Government, had the intention of making an effort to establish themselves in Cuba as an independent government.  And the Revolution of September in Spain, and the Insurrection of October in Yara, have been supposed synonymous events.

When the Colonel got to this point of his harangue a dozen eager voices interrupted him. I could distinguish nothing in the babel of sounds which arose. The Chief took the opportunity to beckon me into an inner office to receive my pass. I thus lost the continuation of the Colonel’s remarks, but I thought the doctrine of secession a “happy thought” for Cuba.

While the Chief was occupied in signing my pass I noticed on a sofa in the corner of the room a number of leather pouches, or mail bags, which he informed me had been captured from insurgent couriers. I did not think it discreet of me to ask him the fate of their bearers, but could easily guess at it. He laughlighly told me that he called the contents of the bags—opening and exhibiting several of the papers, letters, military reports—his novels , for previous to retiring for the night he generally read a quantity of them, and thus acquired sometimes very useful information; a few grains of wheat from a bushel of chaff.

Seeing that my attention was drawn to a map of the District lying up on a table with a number of others, he politely showed them all to me. Every foot of land in the entire district seemed to have been mapped out, and himself perfectly familiar with it all. He pointed out the position of the Spanish forces, the strongholds of the Cubans in the Cubitas and Najasa ranges, and at the Chorrillo where, he said, was to be found what there was of the Cuban Government. Although the Spanish columns had for some time been actively employed and almost daily made reconnaissance in the District, he declared that they never could find but a few struggling insurgents.  The bulk of the Cubans—and he asserted that altogether there were but three thousand in arms—kept out of sight.  From their elevated points of their encampments they could always distinguish the march of the Spanish troops and take pains to keep out of their reach, unless a favorable opportunity would occur for them to take a swoop in force upon some almost defenseless convoy and in the surprise of the attack do whatever damage they could. Máximo Gómez with about 800 men and 200 cavalry was reported to be in the vicinity but it seems that he does not wish again to try his fortunes in pitched battles after his defeats at Naranjo and Guásimas last February. I did not think it at all necessary to interrupt the Chief and say that I understood that the published reports of those encounters gave the advantage to the insurgents.

It is the policy of the insurgents to stick strictly to a guerrilla warfare for they cannot afford to risk their men against the better armed Spaniards.  So they patiently wait for a chance to fall upon a lesser force than themselves.  On the 3rd of July an encounter of this nature took place resulting in a loss to the Spanish forces, according to their own official report, of 77 killed and wounded, of whom 56—I was privately informed—had been cut to pieces by the dreaded machete. It appears that they were the guard of a convoy which had carried out slaves and provisions to a Spanish encampment near San Antonio Camujiro, and on the return the carts were suddenly set upon within half a league of the city by some 200 of the insurgent cavalry with the aforementioned result.

The Chief also pointed out on the map the positions of the two Trochas and explained the construction of the eastern one from Babá to la Zanja, which has been completed as far as Guaimaro.  The trocha is not as is generally supposed from the usual translation of the word—a ditch—but imply a wide belt of clearing through the almost impenetrable thickets and forests of Cuba.

The eastern trocha extends from San Miguel de Nuevitas to Guaimaro, a distance of 20 leagues, and is a clearing of about 40 yards in width with a double stockade along the whole length.  At every kilometer or thousand yards a fort or small blockhouse is built after the fashion of the one show on the preceding sketch. Halfway between each tower, as these forts are called, are fortines, or redoubts, lunnettes. Between San Miguel and Guaimaro there are 54 of these so-called forts. From Guayo to the Jiquí river there is a railroad 12 leagues long laid down.  The difficulties of the construction of the trocha are very great, and committing the large engineering force continually engaged thereon, there are fully 3,000 men employed in the garrison and protection of the line.

The Chief considered the policy which had caused the construction of the trocha from San Miguel to Guáimaro an erroneous one.  In his opinion, the true trocha should have been from Puerto Príncipe to Santa Cruz on the south coast—which could have been made at the same outlay as only the half-completed trocha from Bagá to Zanja—and had the already guarded railroad line from Puerto Príncipe to Nuevitas for its continuation to the north coast. Recent events have borne out this opinion, for as I write I learn that owing to the present rainy season, active operations have been suspended and as a strategic measure the Government has abandoned the town of Sioanicú and the villate of Guáimaro.  Both places have been destroyed—their inhabitants taking refuge in Puerto Príncipe—the forts blown up and houses burnt together with large quantity of government provisions.

After thanking the Chief for his information and politeness we returned to the other apartment where the discussion of matters and things in general appeared to be still going on amid a cloud of tobacco smoke and exuberant gestures. Here I took leave of the Colonel and the party and next morning I left for Nuevitas by the early train, and that afternoon thence to Havana by the Steamer Saratoga, which touched on the return trip from Santiago de Cuba.

Nothing further of special note to attract my attention occurred during the passage to Havana—where we arrived in two days—save the vagaries of a crazy lieutenant one of the passengers who spouted patriotic doggerel to the delight of the other passengers; the daily playing of a fine military band; and the sufferings of a number of sick and wounded Spanish soldiers—in the fire part of the steamer—who were being transferred from Santiago de Cuba to Havana.

Thus ended my trip to Puerto Príncipe and I was glad enough to return to Havana, having gained wider experience and extended knowledge of the Island and the difficulties the Spanish Government has to contend with to put down the insurrection of Cuba.


J.A.S. (Jos. A. Springer, U.S. Consular Clerk at Havana)



[1] The Interior

[2] In the original manuscript, a magazine’s name had been crossed out and replaced with the words “this magazine.”  It is not known if this paper was actually published.

[3] Steward or cabin-boy

[4] fellow travelers

[5] A barbette artillery carriage holds the gun over the edge of the emplacement at all times.


[6] The making of charcoal, then sold for cooking fuel

[7] On the island of Hispanola in the present-day Dominican Republic

[8] A gnat-like fly.

[9] About 30 miles inland.

[10] Trocha translates to trench or ditch. This particular one was to stretch from the north to the south coast, cutting the island in half.

[11] Reinforcing earthwork

[12] “There is nothing new, Colonel”

[13] The Republic was declared by the insurgents fighting against Spain.

[14] Our Lady of Mercy

[15] Church of Our Lady of Sorrows

[16] A large knife, typically used to cut sugar cane.

[17] Our Lady of Charity

[18] Duplicity

[19] Fort Diamond Point

[20] Discussion or debate club