Porto Rico

By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.

SAWWhile the campaign in Cuba was still in progress, General Miles made plans to capture the Island of Porto Rico. He reported to the War Department that he intended to land at Point Fajardo on the northeast coast. Actually he landed at three places on the southern coast. The reason for this action was that he knew the Spaniards would find out the plan as known to the War Department and prepare a stiff defense.

General Miles sailed from Guantanamo, Cuba, July 21, 1898, only four days after the armistice at Santiago, with a small army of less than 4,000 men. He landed with one detachment at Port Guanica, which he commanded in person, and took possession without losing a man. General Wilson occupied Ponce on July 28, when the Spanish garrison withdrew toward San Juan to the north. General Brooke arrived at Arroya with a small brigade and occupied that place. The command now moved across the island in four widely separated columns, defeating several enemy detachments along the way. Before this small army completed its work, the campaign was brought to a close by the suspension of hostilities between the United States and Spain.

Troop B, Second Cavalry, was fortunate in being selected to accompany the expedition to Porto Rico. This troop, under Captain Hoppin, embarked on the transport Whitney at Tampa, Florida, July 23, 1898, and joined General Wilson’s force at Ponce. It was assigned to escort and courier duty at the headquarters of the expedition. A detachment of the troop under Lieutenant Paine was ordered to report to General Stone on August 6, as an escort and to assist in building a road toward the north from Adjuntas to Utuado. On this day a detachment from the troop was attacked by the Spaniards while doing reconnaissance work near Arecibo on the north coast.

August 12 the troop left Ponce as an escort to a rapid-fire gun and a Gatling gun detachment to report to General Henry, in command of the brigade at Utuado. Just before it reached that place the next day a courier overtook the troop bearing news of the signing of the peace protocol between the United States and Spain. Lieutenant Lochridge was sent to Lares with a detachment of Troop B on August 15 to inform the Spanish garrison of the signing of the protocol. As our troops entered the town the troops from the garrison marched out from the opposite side. Several squads were sent into the country around Utuado to arrest marauders and to pacify the country. After returning to Ponce August 27, scouting parties were sent to Yanico, Barras, and Guyamo. During this time the troop suffered from typhoid fever, malaria, and dysentery, and several men were sent home to be discharged for disability. The troop embarked for Savannah, Georgia, on November 26, 1898, and rejoined the regiment, which was now at Huntsville, Alabama.

The headquarters and troops of the regiment which were not sent to the West Indies remained at Tampa, Florida, until August 3, 1898, when they were sent to Fernandina, Florida. The Fourth Army Corps was transferred from the latter place, which was unhealthful for the troops, to Huntsville, Alabama, August 11, and Troop G, Second Cavalry, was sent with it as a guard and escort at corps headquarters.

The part of the regiment encamped at Fernandina, Florida, had a large sick list and needed a change of climate. At the same time the Fourth Corps left that place, the Second Cavalry was ordered to Camp Wikoff, Long Island, where it arrived by rail August 15. At this place it was joined by Rafferty’s squadron from Santiago, Cuba, which arrived at Montauk Point August 28. It was noticeable that the men who had been stationed at Tampa were in much better health than the squadron from Cuba. Although the campaign in the Southern part of the United States and the West Indies was very short, the sick list was appalling and many men either died or had their health ruined.

It was decided to send the regiment back to the South during the winter months and Camp Wheeler (later A. G. Forse) at Huntsville, Alabama, was selected as the new camp. The regiment arrived there October 5, where Troop G was already located at the headquarters of the Fourth Corps. Troop B joined from the Porto Rican expedition December 3. The whole regiment was now in the same camp, but Troop G was detached at Corps Headquarters.

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