The naval battle of Admiral Cervera’s squadron in Santiago de Cuba

The naval battle of Admiral Cervera's squadron in Santiago de Cuba

HAVANA, Jul. 3. The famous naval battle in the bay of Santiago de Cuba on July 3, 1898, still occupies the historiographical judgment on one side and the other of the Atlantic Ocean. The Liberation Army had by then the strategic initiative.

After the approval of the Joint Declaration, the United States Army had already begun operations in Cuba. The dispatch of Admiral Pascual Cervera Topete’s squadron occurred at the worst of times.

The Doctor of Historical Sciences, the Cuban essayist and professor Gustavo Placer Cervera, recalled the repeated criterion of “an ordered sacrifice” by the politicians of the peninsula. The decision would have been based on the idea of saving the prestige of Hispanic weapons in the face of eventual defeat, and the final fall of the last possessions in America.

The renowned researcher, the author of numerous studies on maritime operations, maintained that Admiral Cervera was fully aware of the naval superiority and the favorable tactical position of the North American squadron, given the foreseeable clash at the mouth of Santiago Bay.

The Cuban historian Gustavo Placer Cervera highlighted the unfeasibility of the proposal by Fernando Villaamil, killed in the action, to attack ports in the eastern United States to disperse the enemy forces, and also the well-known suggestion by Joaquín Bustamante, Cervera’s subordinate, of an eventual night outing, risky due to possible accidents and without any possibility in front of the powerful searchlights of the Yankee army.

Although no other option would have changed the course of the Spanish-Cuban-North American War, then it was also ruled out that the peninsular sailors became infantrymen for an eventual defense of Santiago de Cuba in the expected land battle.

In an action that took place almost like a target shooting, Spain’s casualties were 343 dead, 151 wounded, 1,889 prisoners (including Admiral Cervera), and six ships lost, while the United States only reported one dead and two lightly wounded. , a battle that marked the end of Spanish colonial rule in this part of the world.