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"1898 Could Spain not lose their fleet in Cuba?" Topic

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Tango0112 Oct 2019 9:22 p.m. PST

"…As a first option I propose the following situation: Cervera is not obliged to leave for American waters. He is protecting the Spanish mainland waters and the Canary Islands while waiting for the ships in the shipyard or those that are not enlisted as it should be reinforced. This was the Admiral's original plan, before Minister Bermejo and the government did not allow it. This option removed the Americans from their waters or forced them to carry out a blockade of Cuba and a defense of their own coasts and merchant traffic by dividing their forces.

The second choise is that once sent to American waters Cervera manages to reach Santiago de Cuba, as he actually did. Once there, instead of being locked, he manages to save the Restormel, carbon and leave immediately for Havana or San Juan … either option was better than being in Santiago, in the strongest area of the insurrection and in the more unhealthy zone.

The third option is that Cervera is still in Santiago, but instead of leaving before the pressures of Minister Auñón and the captain general of Cuba Blanco, he remains in the port defending the city with his sailors … much was sold to us that once lost the Santiago fleet immediately surrendered, but the truth is that it lasted two more weeks and the Americans were already beginning to notice the consequences of the weather and diseases. Blanco could also try to lift the site…."

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Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP13 Oct 2019 5:30 a.m. PST

I've alway believed that the Spanish in Cuba really did not have their heart in the fight. Kinda like they needed to put on a show before surrendering.

If they would have taken the squadron and start raiding the U.S. east coast, the invasion of Cuba would have been delayed by months putting it into the yellow fever season.

StarCruiser13 Oct 2019 8:26 a.m. PST

I believe that the Spanish commanders knew that they would last long trying to raid the coast. There weren't very many ships stationed there to start with.

The situation in the Philippines was even worse with many of the ships simply being obsolete and/or worn out…

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Oct 2019 8:28 a.m. PST

Let's face facts here. The Spanish fleet was in no condition to go to war against a weaker opponent never mind one very much stronger than they were. The political governance at the time was living in the past and incapable of accepting that they could not stop the US from taking their colonies by force. Had other European nations been bothered enough to intervene other outcomes may been have been possible but no nation carded enough or saw any gain for them in confronting the US.

Different tactics may have done more damage to the US but would have had no real effect on the final outcome. The US was determined to steal the colonies from Spain and rightly believed the rest of Europe wouldn't care enough to stop them.

Tango0114 Oct 2019 11:27 a.m. PST

Good facts!.


Father Grigori16 Oct 2019 9:21 p.m. PST

@Gildas: I think you're probably right about the result being inevitable. The one caveat would be excessive casualties on the US side, whether from fighting or disease. If the Santiago garrison had held out until the yellow fever season, then there's a chance – and only a chance – that the US would have had to lift the siege.
Had Cervera's ships been based in the Canaries, they still couldn't have done much to the blockade, but they could have damaged transatlantic US shipping. The combination of large scale casualties in Cuba plus financial losses through a guerre de course strategy might just have dampened desire in the US for the war. A long shot, but possible.

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