The Combat of the Cuzco
The combat of El Cuzco was the most important military action realized until that moment by Cuban-North Americans forces against the Spanish army at the suburbs of Guantánamo Bay, and the first victory of the allied armies against the Spanish colonialism in all around Cuba.
The marine stenography of Guantánamo was the first that lodged on its bosom Americans troops, and the mambisa hosts leaded by Thomas, the first ones of all the Liberator Army that participated on terrestrial military united operations.
At 10 minutes past 5 in the morning on June 14th, 1898, the mambisa reveille broke the silence of the down and immediately afterward it was ordered array. In front of his soldiers, the Commanding of the Regiment Guantánamo, Enrique Thomas, pronounced the following words: “This is the first force that is going to fight next to the Americans for our independence and how much I want to tell yow, I consider is understood by your patriotism”.
Invested with the authority of principal leader of the terrestrial operations, Thomas solicited two hundred men to the North American Lieutenant-Colonel William Ray, who at the command of Captain George Elliot were put into his orders. The one hundred Cubans were distributed among the three groups in that was divided the force that would assault the Spanish positions in El Cuzco.
In spite of the movement of the troops, it must be consigned that the Spaniards did not perceive their motion. Considering themselves safe up to that time, emboldened by the actions of the former days and observing the inactivity almost permanent of Yankees, they did not wait for this attack.
When the first phase of the plan had been executed and were prepared the conditions in order to start the attack of the allied forces, an incident imperiled the operation. A marine platoon let Thomas Know that they had the stable purpose of getting back, because at that time – 11 in the morning – they had not had lunch yet. The Cuban officer leaded to the North American Captain, that leaded his forces personally and informed the funny comportment of his men.
Before the answer of that (…) it could not be demanded the accomplishment to some men whit who the Nation, at those hours have not complied yet’’ Thomas replied to him: ‘’Captain, if the half of my soldiers at critical moments like these, turn backwards like these, turn backwards in frond of the enemy whit the other half I shoot them with no meditation at all’’.
Overcome this obstacle and convinced the Yankee Captain of the necessity of continuing the advance, the scenography was ready to start the armed operations.
In spite of the attacking forces had on their favous the dominion of the most prominent altitudes, from which they effected shots of musketry with lots of precision, the support of the artillery of Delfín ships and surprise factor, the colonial forces, integrated by regular soldiers, volunteers and guerrilla men, resist firmly the assault from the flanks.
When the artillery preparation ended, the compound forces were threw to the assault of the valley and the altitudes of El Cuzco giving by initial result a combat of positions defending the colonialists with gentleness their trenches and the encampment. However, the attack was so constant and solid, that they were seen obligated to disperse themselves and abandon the altitudes. The disordered dispersions of the Spanish forces - its leader colonel Luis Millas had abandoned the battle field when the first shots were heard-extended the scenography of the combat. There were formed small groups that tried to look for an exit to the North, route where they had greater possibilities of breaking the semi blockade in which they had fallen.
The actions were violently developed and at moments they were staged hand to hand, showing both opponents tenacity on they pawn, until the Spanish groups was decimated, except some units that got to escape to Cayo Toro Fort. In the areas near the Spanish encampment the combat was transformed in an individual hunting party, that is why the operations were extended around five hours, starting from them the shots stopped, ending the combat.
The end of the actions caused de recognition of the scenography of the facts. The same Thomas tells that when the operation finished he asked Captain Elliot forty marines in order to set the route to were the defeated Spanish forces were retired, arrest prisoners among the soldiers dispersed among the underbrush, occupy spoils of was and quantify the droppings of both parts. The Yankee officer answered “(…) that the soldiers were very tired and they had not eaten and the American Government did not need either guns or was stores; Thomas by means of his translator pointed him out :”(…) that he does not need them, either he or his men, that he would go alone or with the men of my force that were over there”.
Beside Lieutenant José Demetrio Pérez, sergeant Patrón and a small mambisa Unit, Thomes went out on recognition, which were resulted 22 prisoners, 40 armaments, park and a first aid kit. That way the combat of El Cuzco ended conturing victory of the Cuban-North American arms upon the Spaniards.
Guantánamo Bay become since this moment a center of naval operations, from where is as offered protection of all kind to the ships that operated during those days on the environs of the roads of Santiago and the Carib.
With the conquest of El Cuzco was broken the main defensive system of the peninsular army in Gtmo. Bay and its suburbs however the Spaniards kept their position in Caimanera, at strategical points of the scabrous Sierra del Maguey and Puerto Escobdido, places to where the survivors of the combat were leaded.
After the combat of El Cuzco the allied forces took definitively the strategically initiative in warlike operations that was developed around the bay, and the North American were felt saves in their positions. Starting form then, the Spaniards did not incur in the encampment of the allied forces anymore.