Above, the cruiser Oquendo reduced to a burning hulk as were all the other Spanish ships.
Over 300 Spaniards were blown to pieces or burned to a crisp in the battle.
One American was killed.
The quick victory at Santiago Bay, with no casualties, while the enemy forces were totally devastated, was used in 2003 to justify the invasion of Iraq. The military brass, Dick Cheney and George Bush used this historic example to convince weak-kneed opponents to sign up for another "Splendid Little War," in Iraq, which they predicted would be over in no time at little cost. Bad call...
Left the cruiser Vizcaya explodes and below her deck where many sailors perished in awful ways one can only imagine.
The Paths of Glory... The Road to Rack and Ruin
Living the American Dream...
And the world waits to see who will die next, and how many, as the American jackboot continues its ruthless march into Third World countries rich in oil coveted by its corporate elites.
The entrance to Santiago harbour.
3 - Morro Castle, featured in the print which poured a deadly fire into Merrimac as she entered the narrows.
1 - Where Merrimac was to have sunk.
2 - Where Merrimac ended up.
The view from Morro Castle 3 towards where Merrimac was supposed to sink and the spot where she went down.
Below the binocular view from Morro Castle of the narrows where Hobson was desperately trying to sink the Merrimac.
And right the buoy which marks the last resting place of the ship.
Days later the Spanish fleet, which had been anchored up the bay, steamed past to its own date with destiny.
Below looking west from Morro Castle, the beach where the 400 year old Spanish Empire came to an end. Along this shoreline the Spanish fleet tried to make a run for it, as the American Navy followed alongside, raking it with a merciless fire.
All the Spanish warships became burned out hulks on this beach or sank nearby.
Pinbacks celebrating the occasion and the US Admiral in charge.
|Great Canadian Heritage Treasure||
If there is a larger, more glorious battle print from the Spanish-American War of 1898, we have not seen it. Frame, print, and glass are in mint condition and were packaged in 1898.
The Bombardment and Sinking of the Merrimac in Santiago de Cuba was easily the most heroic deed of the entire war and has been wonderfully captured by Xanthus Smith.
The Spanish-American War of 1898 lasted only a few months and had been fomented by the American military-industrial complex who engineered Spain into a conflict over its Cuban colony where the locals were rebelling.
American politicians wanted Spain's territories (Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico and Cuba) and pressed Spain to give in to Cuban rebels who demanded independence. The US sent the Battleship Maine into Havana to make sure Spain got the message.
The Maine blew up in the harbour killing hundreds of US sailors. The Hearst press blamed Spain and fanned the flames of bigotry to make the US public ready for war.
The Spanish fleet under Admiral Cervera was sent to Cuba to protect the colony and holed up inside Santiago harbour, setting the stage for the most heroic event of the entire war.
|Bombardment and Sinking of the Merrimac, Xanthus Smith - 1898|
|Orig. litho - Image Size - 51 x 66 cm; 82 x 97 cm oa
Found - Toronto, ON
The US gave Spain an ultimatum to accede to Cuban wishes for independence and ordered the US Army to be ready to invade Cuba to help the rebels.
Spain declared war.
The US Army landed in Cuba. The US Navy blockaded the Cuban ports, locking Admiral Cervera's fleet up inside Santiago.
Left the narrow entrance to Santiago on which the eyes of the world were focused in July 1898.
The US Navy feared that the Spanish fleet might make a run for it, and escape from the harbour during the night and successfully evade the US blockade.
A plan to block the harbour mouth was hatched.
It involved steaming the decrepit old collier Merrimac, during the night, into the harbour neck of Santiago, and sinking her there, so that Spanish war ships inside could never get out over the wreck.
The US land army would by then take the port and capture the anchored Spanish fleet.
Suicide - Then and Now
This was to be a suicide mission; everyone knew that once the Merrimac (above a few months before her date with destiny) steamed into the narrow harbour neck she would be detected and be mercilessly pounded by all the heavy guns from both sides of the shore.
Lt. Richmond Hobson volunteered to lead the mission and was placed in charge of loading explosives aboard Merrimac.
Hobson had graduated first at the head of his class at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.
(Compare that to another Annapolis graduate, US Presidential Candidate John McCain, who, out of his class of 899 graduated as 894th.
Hey, look on the bright side; there are five worse than you... And that's enough to qualify you to become Presidential material in the US. And simply "being captured and imprisoned," not performing Hobson-like heroics under extreme fire, is enough to qualify for American hero status these days. But then that could be considered a step up; the last two US Presidents were both - like John Wayne - notorious military shirkers, and one, the most diabolical liar, and worst human rights violator, produced by European culture since World War II and Adolf Hitler.)
Hobson had no problem finding seven volunteers to face what was almost certain death.
In the middle of the night the Merrimac sailed into the entrance neck, was detected by the Spanish shore batteries and immediately came under tremendous fire from both shores.
Coolly Hobson steamed the Merrimac into the jaws of hell.
Suddenly a shot disabled her steering gear and she became unmanageable.
Hobson decided to blow the charges to sink the ship, but not all of them went off, and the ship drifted further than planned. She was supposed to sink in two minutes; it took her an hour, with the blazing hulk drifting out of position, before she went down.
The men clung to an overturned boat for the rest of the night.
At dawn a Spanish launch arrived to scoop them up as prisoners of war. Aboard was Admiral Cervera himself who shouted "Valiente," as the men hove into view, and ordered his sailors to lift them out of the water.
It was an act of battlefield gallantry and respect for the enemy which has totally disappeared in the conduct of war against the Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the aim is not so much defeating the enemy as exterminating them. And those they can't kill on the battlefield are done away with, in secret, in the many extra-legal prisons the US maintains for the purpose, in numerous countries around the world, including Cuba.
Miraculously all 8 men had survived the shellfire and the sinking. They were kept as prisoners for awhile then exchanged.
All - except Hobson - were later awarded the Medal of Honour, the highest US award for bravery. At that time, the Medal of Honour was only for ordinary men and non-commissioned officers. Hobson as an officer, had only done his duty.
The Merrimac adventure was a heroic failure. It failed to sink in the right spot, and the Spanish fleet did make a run for it.
The US Navy was ready. In the biggest naval action of the war, five of the six Spanish ships were either sunk, or run ashore, outside Santiago. The fifth scuttled herself to evade capture. Weeks later the war was over.
Hobson became a deliriously famous hero in America, later left the navy and became a congressman.
In 1935 he was given a Medal of Honour and made an admiral, for what he had done 37 years before.
As a result of the Spanish-American War the US got the prizes for which she started the war, almost all of Spain's former colonies: Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and control of Cuba.
Warmongers - In time of war, it is customary that artists and journalists turn their talents to help to roil up the populace to give the ruling class the frenzied mob mentality among the public that it can then mould to whatever purpose it want to focus them towards.
Journalists do it with print. William Randolph Hearst stocked the fires of race hate towards the "swarthy Spaniards" that made the war inevitable. The American public would approve any action against Spain after reading the Hearst papers and their brand of jingoistic ranting the press bosses demanded.
Little has changed in our day. When George Bush invented weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaeda in Iraq, to get the war he and his oil lobby friends were determined to get, all American journalists jumped aboard the jingoistic bigotry train with passion and full patriotic glee.
Warrior One - Guess who considers themselves Warrior One in the war against the Muslims...?
Rosie and Christie, you say?
Sorry, somebody is more ardent, even, than these fine candidates...
Typically, leading the charge in the Iraq war was CNN which even commissioned a humvee as Warrior One for their correspondents in Iraq, proudly emblazoning the name on the side to let everyone know that CNN journalists were in the front rank of Judaeo-Christian warriors in the war against the non-white, non-Christian, Muslims.
And their coverage back home at the anchor desks was equally passionate in reflecting this Judaeo-Christian Crusade they were on. No wonder bin Laden said, Crusaders against Jihadists all over again.
Western journalists are not only seen as warriors; they call themselves warriors...
And they wonder why guerrilla fighters target journalists?
Did CNN bosses slink away with embarrassment at this horrific breach of those vaunted principles of journalistic ethics, which they flog constantly as they propagandize their audience to death? Did cooler heads quickly paint out the grossly offensive logo? No way Jose! Hell! These are American journalists!
CNN proudly auctioned off their flagship CNN One (like George Bush's Air Force One) to the highest bidder never thinking that it will bear witness, in the historiography of international journalism, to a new low in how far down American members of the profession are willing to bend over if you pay them enough. Like Christiane Amanpour who rakes in a cool 2 million a year in salary, which accounts for why she bends over further than most in demonizing the causes of Muslims in the Middle East.
In jingoism the Canadian Establishment is never far behind the Americans. But the people of Canada are far, far, less easily led than the American populace is, and far less gullible about swallowing what their political bosses tell them to believe.
As a reporter Xanthus Smith, similarly, also does his best to give his bosses a good show to promote the war.
He shows the Merrimac aflame and sinking, as the shore battery blasts away and he features US warships pounding the shore in support.
Admiral Sampson's flagship, the armoured cruiser USS New York, dominates. Behind her is the battleship USS Oregon, and behind her is the battleship USS Iowa. In the foreground he has the monitor USS Puritan blazing away.
But, as journalists and artist do, in war time, in order to get the message out their bosses pay for, Smith also takes considerable artistic license in representing what actually took place.
The action happened in total darkness, not in daylight as shown. When dawn came there was no more gunfire, and the Merrimac had long ago sunk.
None of the American war ships were ever remotely this close to the shore batteries. They were not as brave as Xanthus makes them out to be; they fired from many miles away not metres.
Smith also draws a fanciful picture of the Merrimac which had only a single funnel. And she was a gray ship, both hull and funnel with only a black ring at the top of her stack. But then shading the truth is what journalism is all about, especially in a time of war.
Why let facts get in the way of a good story when the point was to make every red-blooded American boy eager to sign up to deal in death and destruction against the Spaniards.
In the end Xanthus was at least as helpful to his employer and as accurate as Rosie and Christie in their reporting of events in Afghanistan...
A good way to judge the antiquity of a print is to look at the back.
This one has the classic signs of an original that is 100 years old or more.
Clearly the print has been part of this frame for all that time; this is not a recent assembly by some antique dealer.
The multi-part wood and gesso Victorian frame and the wavy glass are good indicators to start.
When you see the cedar shake backing, nailed in long ago with nails, now rusted, and a rusted hanging wire, you have solid proof of its antiquity.
Cedar shakes are not recommended anymore because they can and do bleed staining onto prints over time. For valuable prints it's recommended to remove these and replace them with acid free backing. But for many collectors it's hard to take apart a fine antique like this and lose the historic provenance that the shakes and nails give you.