HEADQUARTERS SECOND CAVALRY BRIGADE,
In Trenches about Santiago de Cuba, July 6, 1898.
Cavalry Division, Fifth Army Corps.
(Through headquarters First Brigade, Cavalry Division
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report relative to the Second Cavalry Brigade in the assault on the works to the east of Santiago de Cuba, and the action on the heights, during the afternoon and night of the 1st of July. The brigade was composed of troops A. B, C, D, E, F, G, and L also headquarters and band, of Tenth United States Cavalry, under command Lieut. Col. T. A. Baldwin. Tenth Cavalry; troops A. B, C, D. E. G. L and K. First United States Cavalry. under command of Lieut. Col. C. D. Viele, First Cavalry. and troops A, B, D, E, F, G, K, and L, First United States Volunteer Cavalry. under command of Lieut. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, First United States Volunteer Cavalry. On the morning of July 1, 1898, the brigade was camped at El Poso, about 3 miles from Santiago de Cuba, in support of Grimes's battery of artillery, which was in position on a ridge just above the old sugar mill. Early in the morning we received orders to prepare for a move to the front in support of a move which Lawton's division was making upon Santiago by way of Caney. At 7 a. m. Captain Grimes's battery opened fire on the Spanish works. which fire was rapidly returned by Spanish artillery using smokeless powder, with the result that they promptly located our position by the clouds of smoke from our guns and inflicted quite a severe loss upon both the brigade and battery, the First Volunteer Cavalry being the principal sufferers. The brigade moved down the road toward Santiago in rear of the First Cavalry Brigade, with instructions to deploy to the right after crossing the San Juan, and continue to extend to the right, reaching out toward General Lawton's left, and holding ourselves in rear of the First Brigade as a support. On reaching the stream the First Volunteer Cavalry. which was in lead, crossed the stream with comparatively slight loss. and deployed to the right in good order, but at about this time a captive balloon was lead down the road in which the troops were massed, and finally anchored at the crossing of the stream, the approach and anchoring of this balloon served to indicate the line of approach of our troops and to locate the ford, and the result was a terrific converging artillery and rifle fire on the ford, which resulted in severe loss of men.
Under this fire the First United States Cavalry and the Tenth United States Cavalry crossed the stream and deployed to the right, where they were placed in position in rear of the First Brigade. We lay in this position some time, partially covered by small rises of ground, but, generally speaking, exposed to a heavy dropping fire from the forts and blockhouses. After remaining in this position for about one hour and a half the order to advance was given, and the brigade advanced in as good order as possible, but more or less broken up by the masses of brush and heavy grass and cactus, passing through the lines of the First Brigade, mingling with them, and charging the hill in conjunction with these troops, as well as some few infantry who had extended to the right. Our first objective was the hill with a small red-roofed house on it. This was promptly taken, and after short delay the brigade went forward to the right of the main hill, covered with heavy intrenchments, and took it under very heavy fire. Swinging around to the right and flanking and taking the angle to the right of the hill, our right finally rested about 800 yards to the right of the road passing into Santiago de Cuba. Here we held on under heavy fire all night, the enemy making repeated and fierce attempts to regain his lost position and works. The brigade intrenched itself as best it could, and before morning had covered itself fairly well. All during the 2d and a portion of the 3d the enemy 'kept up a constant fire and made repeated attempts to regain his lost position on our front.
In regard to the conduct of the brigade as a whole, I can only say that it was superb. That dismounted cavalry should have been able to charge regular infantry in strong position, supported by artillery and the general lay of the land, seems almost incredible, yet this is exactly what the Cavalry Division of the Fifth Army Corps did in this fight, passing over a long zone of fire and charging steep hills topped with works 2d blockhouses. Some idea of the severity of the enemy's fire may be gained from the fact that of the five officers of the brigade staff four were killed and wounded and one exhausted by the intense heat.
In an action where everyone so well performed his full duty it is difficult to select cases of especial merit. I desire, however, to mention the following: Lieut. W. E. Shipp, brigade quartermaster, killed while leading a charge; Capt. M. J. Heney, shot through the leg while delivering an order; Capt. A. L. Mills, shot through the head while assembling men for a second charge; Lieut. J. H. Parker, Thirteenth United States Infantry, for marked gallantry while in charge of the Gatling-gun battery; Lieut. J. B. Hughes, Tenth Cavalry. for conspicuous bravery in handling his Hotchkiss battery; Lieut. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, for conspicuous gallantry in leading a charge on one of the hills; Sergt. William Brittain, Troop G, First United States Cavalry, for great gallantry in supporting and waving the regimental standard to encourage and lead on the First under heavy fire, he having been wounded, Cadet E. Haskell, United States Military Academy, for gallantry in action, coolness, and courage, after being shot through the body.
Lieutenant-Colonel Viele and Lieutenant-Colonel Baldwin handled their regiments with skill and courage, and by their example encouraged and steadied their men. Major Wint, Tenth Cavalry, displayed great courage, and was severely wounded while repelling a charge on our front during the night of the 1st of July.
I have the honor to submit herewith reports from Lieutenant-Colonel Viele, Lieutenant-Colonel Baldwin, and Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt; also reports from one of the surgeons and various company commanders of the regiments comprising the brigade. I desire also to invite attention to the coolness, courage, and gallantry of Capt. Wm. O. O'Neil, First United States Volunteer Cavalry, killed in action. Maj. Webb Hayes, Fifth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, temporarily on duty with the brigade, did gallant service; was cool and collected under fire; he was slightly wounded.
The brigade took into action 75 officers and 1,446 men, and lost 21 officers killed and wounded: 217 men killed and wounded; a loss of 28 per cent of officers and 15 per cent of enlisted men.
I desire also to state that Captain McCormick, Seventh United States Cavalry, on temporary duty with First Volunteer Cavalry, rendered efficient and gallant service during the action until finally overcome by heat. The intense heat of the day and almost entire absence of wind added much to the difficulty of the work.
Colonel First U. S. Volunteer Cavalry,
Commanding Second Brigade, Cavalry Division