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After Action Report
3d Brigade, 1st Division
Fifth Army Corps

Elements of the 24th Infantry served as part of this brigade during the period

Fort San Juan, before Santiago de Cuba, July 5, 1898.

(Through commanding officer, Third Brigade.)

SIR: Inasmuch as the Third Brigade had no commander at the time of the assault on Fort San Juan, July 1, 1898, due to the fact that the three senior officers fell within a space of about ten minutes, I have the honor to submit tile following report of the day's engagement: The brigade left camp, as hort [sic] distance east of the division hospital, at about 7 a. m., under orders delivered to me by an aid of the division commander. These orders were to proceed on the Santiago road, passing the Second Brigade in camp, catch up with the rear of the First Brigade, already on the road, and follow said brigade until further orders. The road was evidently badly congested somewhere at the front, for our progress was slow. When the head of the brigade was about three fourths of a mile to the westward of the position of Captain Grimes's Battery it was absolutely blocked by the congestion in front, and we found we were under fire. Several men of the Third Brigade and of the troops immediately in front were here wounded, and one man of the Ninth Infantry killed.

At this point I was directed by the brigade commander, Colonel Wikoff, to ride rapidly to the rear, find the division commander if possible, report the condition of affairs, and ask for directions for getting the brigade into line where they could move to the front and return the fire they were receiving. The brushwood was so dense to the front and on the flanks of the brigade that no idea could be formed as to the position of the enemy or the ground to be occupied by the brigade.

I rode rapidly to the rear to a point opposite tile battery on the hill, where I found Colonel McClernand, adjutant-general of the corps, and reported to him the situation and the purpose for which I bad been sent to the rear. Colonel McClernand replied that General Kent was at some point toward the front ahead of the Third Brigade; that the brigade should move to the left, cross the creek, and form line where they could return the fire, and that he had a note to send to General Kent on this subject. He prepared the note and directed me to ride rapidly forward and deliver it to General Kent.

I found General Kent at a point on the road where a trail branches toward the left, on the west side of the creek (the point where Colonel Wikoff has since been buried). The General told me that Colonel Wikoff had turned to the left with the head of the brigade. He read the note and promptly gave me the following instructions: "Hurry forward to your brigade commander; tell him to move across the creek by the trail, put the brigade into line on the left of the trail, and begin the attack at once." As I was mounting the General pointed toward the trail, where members of the Seventy-first New York Volunteer Infantry were lying thickly in the brushwood, and said to me: "Tell the brigade to pay no attention to this sort of thing; it is highly irregular."

I galloped forward to the creek, crossing over hundreds of the Seventy-first New York who were lying in the road, and reported to Colonel Wikoff, on the west side of the creek, where he was establishing a line with two companies of the Thirteenth Infantry, which had already crossed the creek. The First Battalion of the Thirteenth infantry was almost immediately in line under the creek bank and proceeded, under the personal direction of Colonel Wikoff, to cut away the wire fence in their front, using bayonets for the purpose. The Second Battalion of the Thirteenth was similarly formed to the left of the First Battalion. The First Battalion moved promptly forward into the long grass by successive lines of skirmishers and rushes. The first line upon reaching a slight ridge in the field, 100 yards from the creek bank, took position lying down and was rapidly joined by the other lines in succession. The Second Battalion pushed promptly forward. prolonging the line to the left. A terrific fire was continuously poured from the entire line upon the works on the top of the hill in front —Fort San Juan.

Just as the Second Battalion of the Thirteenth had formed under the bank of the creek, the head of the column of the Ninth Infantry appeared at tile crossing, and orders were delivered by me to Lieutenant-Colonel Ewers, commanding, to cross the creek, hurry to the left under cover of the right bank of the creek, put the regiment into line on the left of the Thirteenth, and push forward at once. After one battalion of the Ninth had crossed and proceeded to the left the head of the column of the Twenty-fourth Infantry appeared at the crossing, and orders were delivered by me, exactly the same as those delivered to Lieutenant-Colonel Ewers, to Lieutenant-Colonel Liscum, commanding the regiment, except that he was directed to put his regiment in to the left of the Ninth. After the First Battalion of the Twenty-fourth had crossed the creek there was a slight delay in the arrival of more troops at the crossing, and Lieutenant Tayman, adjutant Twenty-fourth Infantry, having reported to me with a message from Lieutenant-Colonel Liscum, I directed him to proceed back on the trail as rapidly as possible and hurry forward to the crossing the other battalion of the Ninth infantry and the other battalion of the Twenty-fourth Infantry.

It was just at this stage of the action that Colonel Wikoff received a bullet wound through the chest from side to side, which caused his death. He had daringly exposed himself from the beginning the action, moving about well up on the high ground, superintending in person the formation and advance of the first line. He was not only exposed to the fire delivered to the line in front of him, but to a hot fire being constantly directed at the creek crossing in front of which he stood most of the time. As soon as I could move Colonel Wikoff to the cover of the creek bank, secure first aid for him, and receive his messages, I reported to Lieutenant-Colonel Worth, Thirteenth Infantry, that Colonel Wikoff had fallen, and that he (Colonel Worth) was the senior officer of the brigade, and asked him if he did not desire some other officer to act as assistant adjutant-general. He replied, "Oh, no. Go right on."

While I had been attending to Colonel Wikoff the Second Battalion of the Ninth Infantry had arrived, crossed the creek, and lay in line under cover of the right bank, directly in rear of the Thirteenth Infantry; I have never known whether by anyone's order or not.

The Second Battalion of the Twenty-fourth were arriving at the crossing, and were hurrying down the creek bottom to the left. At this time, about five minutes after I had reported to Colonel Worth, he (Colonel Worth) was seriously wounded, and I hurried toward the left to find Lieutenant-Colonel Liscom to inform him that he was the senior officer of the brigade. Failing to find Colonel Liscom, I notified all troops I passed that the movement was to be forward over the field at once. The whole line moved rapidly across the field and up the hill, the Thirteenth Infantry somewhat in advance, well toward the right, and directly toward the blockhouse and trenches. I went up the bill just to the left of the blockhouse, just in front of the troops of the Ninth Infantry and the Twenty-fourth Infantry. I passed General Hawkins midway on the hill, and reported to him that the Third Brigade was advancing rapidly, and that we had no commanding officer--I had learned in the meantime from an officer of the Twenty fourth Infantry that Colonel Liscom had fallen and had been sent to the rear. Again, after reaching the top of the hill, I reported to General Hawkins for orders, and he directed me to have the regiments formed as rapidly as possible, along and behind the crest of the hill, and wait for further orders. While the formation was in progress I found Lieutenant-Colonel Ewers, Ninth Infantry, reported to him as senior officer of the brigade, and he at once assumed command.

The following are the losses in the brigade during the action as determined to this date (July 5). All but a very few of the casualties occurred before the brigade reached the top of the hill. The exact number of casualties after reaching the top of the hill can be readily ascertained.

Enlisted men.
Colonel Wikoff, Twenty-second Infantry
Ninth Infantry
Thirteenth Infantry
Twenty-fourth Infantry


The main road for some distance before reaching the trail turning to the left, and this trail down the left bank of the stream were both through dense underbrush, and one could see nothing of the position of the enemy, nor form any idea of the directions to be followed for line of battle until, having crossed the creek, he came onto the open ground above the right bank of the stream. I was assisted most materially in comprehending the situation, and consequently in directing troops to their positions, by a message received from Colonel Liscom and a note from Lieut. C. R. Noyes, Ninth Infantry, both to the effect that if more troops could be thrown to their left the position for a flank movement up the hill would be secured. The position attacked and assaulted by the Third Brigade consists of a large brick house heavily fortified with earth and rock, four trench of considerable length each, and several short trenches. The works are located at the top of a hill, the average slope of which is about 45 degrees from the horizontal. The average slant height of the hill is estimated at 110 yards. The shortest distance passed over by troops in open ground between the creek bank and base of the hill is 550 yards. The space covered on the hillside by the ascent of the Third Brigade is from a point directly below the blockhouse to the left of the spur leading toward the pond, to a point about 100 yards to the left of the junction of road with base of hill. This road may be described as first main road leading from creek to base of hill left of fortified position and connecting with ramp road to top of bill. There seems to have been difficulty in transmitting to organizations the orders delivered to the regimental commanders, evidenced by the fact that officers had to be sent to the rear to communicate these orders to troops after heads of regiments had crossed the creek and passed to the left, and to the fact that company commanders reached the crossing and called across for orders. This state of affairs can be easily understood when the thickness of the brushwood is considered, and the fact that the entire brigade stumbled through and over hundreds of men of the Seventy-first New York Volunteer Infantry.

I deem it my duty to invite special attention to the promptness and order with which the first regiment out the ground (the Thirteenth Infantry) formed line and moved to the front, and to the gallant and heroic attack made by this regiment from the open ground while the other two regiments were being crossed and moved to the left.

Lieutenant-Colonel Liscom and Lieutenant-Colonel Ewers displayed great energy and promptness in placing troops to the left of the Thirteenth. By an error in judgment of distance, or some other cause, Colonel Liscom's First Battalion was in the immediate left of the Thirteenth Infantry, with Colonel Ewers's First Battalion immediately left of the Thirteenth Infantry, with Colonel Ewer's First Battalion immediately to Colonel Liscom's left. This brought a part of the Twenty-fourth Infantry under a very galling fire as they crossed the field, and doubt accounts to a great extent for the heavy loss in this regiment. The First Battalion of the Ninth Infantry, being a little farther to the left, was not so much exposed to the direct fire of the enemy and the losses were lighter. After the Thirteenth Infantry moved forward to ascend the hill the Second Battalion of the Ninth Infantry moved out from behind the creek bank across the field and up the hill directly toward the blockhouse. Organizations of the brigade along its entire length reached the crest of the hill in time to join with the Thirteenth in a fire against the retreating Spaniards.

When the head of the brigade reached the creek crossing there was firing to the right and slightly to the front, evidently from the Sixth and Sixteenth Infantry. The firing at the creek crossing from the enemy was very hot from the time the head of the brigade reached that point until the troops had all crossed.

Lieutenant Koehler, Ninth Infantry, Lieutenant Malone, Thirteenth Infantry, of the brigade staff, rendered valuable. assistance in transmitting orders, both to the line in front and to the troops coming up, repeatedly exposing themselves to the murderous fire being directed against our line and at the crossing. Lieutenant Tayman, adjutant Twenty-fourth Infantry, rendered valuable service in communicating instructions to the troops on the trail, thus insuring their prompt arrival at the crossing. Lieutenant Tayman reports to me that after delivering these messages he rallied a battalion of the Seventy-first New York Volunteers from the trail on the left bank of the creek, brought them across the creek and to the top of the hill. I saw Lieutenant Tayman and a battalion of the Seventy-first New York at the top of the hill a few minutes after the Third Brigade had reached the top. I have invited Lieutenant Tayman to make a brief report of what he did under the orders to go back on the trail with messages. This report will be forwarded if received.

The following is the order of march of the Third Brigade on July 1 in proceeding to the front: Thirteenth Infantry at head of column; Ninth Infantry next; Twenty-fourth Infantry at rear.

The following is the order in which the troops arrived at the crossing and crossed the creek: The Thirteenth Infantry; First Battalion of the Ninth Infantry; First Battalion, Twenty-fourth Infantry; Second Battalion, Ninth Infantry; Second Battalion, Twenty-fourth Infantry. This alternating of battalions of the Ninth Infantry and Twenty-fourth Infantry may have been due to the difficulty of getting instructions to the rear, and to the incumbrance and confusion on the trail caused by the Seventy-first New York Volunteers.

The officers sent with orders to the rear to the troops on the trail were directed, in addition to delivering these messages, to caution the Seventy-first not to fire, as our troops were in their front.

Some systematic firing was heard during the action from hill on the left bank of the creek. This is supposed to have been from troops of the Second Brigade.

There were occasionally shots which came from the rear, without doubt, and were not directed over our troops. Casualties caused by shots from sharpshooters in trees seem beyond question to have occurred.

A sketch of the battle ground is being prepared to append to this report. If not completed in time to accompany the report it will be submitted later.

Aside from officers who carried orders and directions directly from me and the officers to whom I directly communicated orders, I have not considered it within my province to make direct personal mention. This I have left for regimental and battalion commanders, as they had better opportunities for continued observation of the troops of their commands.

The points on the hill at which each company of the brigade made the ascent have been respectively established, but as I was a witness to the arrival at the summit of less than one-third of these companies, I have not deemed it necessary to enumerate them.

The space occupied by the brigade is bounded on the left by the road heretofore described as leading from the creek to the ramp road up the hill, and this road is bounded on either side by barbed-wire fence. The direction of this road is such that the space was rapidly contracted as the line moved forward to the base of the hill. In this move the Thirteenth Infantry obliqued considerably to the right, thus giving space for the other regiments to move forward without undue crowding. The space was further extended by three companies of the Ninth Infantry breaking through the road fences near the base of the hill and moving up the hill to the left of the road.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Wendell L. Simpson,
First Lieutenant and Adjutant Ninth Infantry, Acting Assistant-Adjutant General.