APPENDIX D. CORRECTIONS
It has been suggested to me that when Bucky O'Neill spoke of the vultures tearing our dead, he was thinking of no modern poet, but of the words of the prophet Ezekiel: "Speak unto every feathered fowl . . . . . ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the princes of the earth."
At San Juan the Sixth Cavalry was under Major Lebo, a tried and gallant officer. I learn from a letter of Lieutenant McNamee that it was he, and not Lieutenant Hartwick, by whose orders the troopers of the Ninth cast down the fence to enable me to ride my horse into the lane. But one of the two lieutenants of B troop was overcome by the heat that day; Lieutenant Rynning was with his troop until dark.
One night during the siege, when we were digging trenches, a curious stampede occurred (not in my own regiment) which it may be necessary some time to relate.
Lieutenants W. E. Shipp and W. H. Smith were killed, not far from each other, while gallantly leading their troops on the slope of Kettle Hill. Each left a widow and young children.
Captain (now Colonel) A. L. Mills, the Brigade Adjutant-General, has written me some comments on my account of the fight on July 1st. It was he himself who first brought me word to advance. I then met Colonel Dorst - who bore the same message - as I was getting the regiment forward. Captain Mills was one of the officers I had sent back to get orders that would permit me to advance; he met General Sumner, who gave him the orders, and he then returned to me. In a letter to me Colonel Mills says in part:
I reached the head of the regiment as you came out of the lane and gave you the orders to enter the action. These were that you were to move, with your right resting along the wire fence of the lane, to the support of the regular cavalry then attacking the hill we were facing. "The red-roofed house yonder is your objective," I said to you. You moved out at once and quickly forged to the front of your regiment. I rode in rear, keeping the soldiers and troops closed and in line as well as the circumstances and conditions permitted. We had covered, I judge, from one-half to two-thirds the distance to Kettle Hill when Lieutenant-Colonel Garlington, from our left flank called to me that troops were needed in the meadow across the lane. I put one troop (not three, as stated in your account*) across the lane and went with it. Advancing with the troop, I began immediately to pick up troopers of the Ninth Cavalry who had drifted from their commands, and soon had so many they demanded nearly all my attention. With a line thus made up, the colored troopers on the left and yours on the right, the portion of Kettle Hill on the right of the red-roofed house was first carried. I very shortly thereafter had a strong firing-line established on the crest nearest the enemy, from the corner of the fence around the house to the low ground on the right of the hill, which fired into the strong line of conical straw hats, whose brims showed just above the edge of the Spanish trench directly west of that part of the hill.** These hats made a fine target! I had placed a young officer of your regiment in charge of the portion of the line on top of the hill, and was about to go to the left to keep the connection of the brigade - Captain McBlain, Ninth Cavalry, just then came up on the hill from the left and rear - when the shot struck that put me out of the fight.
* Note: The other two must have followed on their own initiative.
** Note: These were the Spaniards in the trenches we carried when we charged from Kettle Hill, after the infantry had taken the San Juan block-house.
There were many wholly erroneous accounts of the Guasimas fight published at the time, for the most part written by newspaper-men who were in the rear and utterly ignorant of what really occurred. Most of these accounts possess a value so purely ephemeral as to need no notice. Mr. Stephen Bonsal, however, in his book, "The Fight for Santiago," has cast one of them in a more permanent form; and I shall discuss one or two of his statements.
Mr. Bonsal was not present at the fight, and, indeed, so far as I know, he never at any time was with the cavalry in action. He puts in his book a map of the supposed skirmish ground; but it bears to the actual scene of the fight only the well-known likeness borne by Monmouth to Macedon. There was a brook on the battle-ground, and there is a brook in Mr. Bonsal's map. The real brook, flowing down from the mountains, crossed the valley road and ran down between it and the hill-trail, going nowhere near the latter. The Bonsal brook flows at right angles to the course of the real brook and crosses both trails - that is, it runs up hill. It is difficult to believe that the Bonsal map could have been made by any man who had gone over the hill-trail followed by the Rough Riders and who knew where the fighting had taken place. The position of the Spanish line on the Bonsal map is inverted compared to what it really was.
On page 90 Mr. Bonsal says that in making the "precipitate advance" there was a rivalry between the regulars and Rough Riders, which resulted in each hurrying recklessly forward to strike the Spaniards first. On the contrary. The official reports show that General Young's column waited for some time after it got to the Spanish position, so as to allow the Rough Riders (who had the more difficult trail) to come up. Colonel Wood kept his column walking at a smart pace, merely so that the regulars might not be left unsupported when the fight began; and as a matter of fact, it began almost simultaneously on both wings.