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duty, the trocha failed to restrain the alert islanders. Gomez had crossed it in his movement westward, and Maceo now followed with equal readiness. He made a feint of an attack in force on one part of the line, and when the Spaniards had concentrated to defend this point, he crossed at an unprotected spot, without firing a shot or losing a man.
Westward still went the Cubans, heedless of trochas and Spaniards. From Santa Clara they entered Matanzas province, and from this made their way into the province of Havana, bringing the war almost to the gates of the capital. Spain had now sent more than one hundred thousand troops across the ocean, though many of these were in the hospitals. As for the Cubans, the island had now risen almost from end to end, and their force was estimated at from thirty to fifty thousand men.
It was no longer a rebel outbreak that Spain had to deal with, it was a national war.
By the end of the year the Cubans were firmly fixed in Havana province, many negro field-hands and Cuban youths having joined their ranks. They fought not only against the Spaniards, but against the bandits also, of whom there were many abroad plundering from both sides alike. These were hanged by the patriots whenever captured. Maceo was the active fighter of the force, Gomez being occupied in burning sugar-cane fields and destroying railroads, so as to deprive Spain of the sinews of
In January, 1896, a new movement westward
was made, Maceo leading his men into the province of Pinar del Rio, which occupies the western end of the island. Here was the great tobacco district, one into which insurrection had never before made
Within a year rebellion had covered the island from end to end, the Spaniards being secure nowhere but within the cities, while the insurgents moved wherever they chose in the country. The sky around the capital was heavy with smoke by day and lurid with the flames of burning fields at night, showing that Gomez was busy with his work of destruction, burning the crops of every planter who sought to grind his cane.
Let us now follow the daring mulatto leader through the remainder of his career. General Weyler had now succeeded Campos, and began his official life with the boast that he would soon clear the provinces near Havana of rebels in arms. But he was hardly in the governor's chair when Maceo was back from the west and swooping down on the city of Jaruco, which he looted and burned.
Weyler sent troops into Pinar del Rio, where they found no one to oppose them, and he was soon able to inform the world by a proclamation that this province was pacified. But the ink was barely dry upon it when Maceo, having burnt the port of Batabano, on the southern coast, was back in the “pacified'' province, where he made his headquarters in the mountains and defied all the power of Spain.
Instead of seeking him here, Weyler now at
tempted to confine him by building a new trocha, cutting off that end of the island. This took two months to complete, during which Maceo continued his work almost unopposed, destroying the tobacco of loyalists, defeating every force sent against him, and leaving to Spain only four fortified cities in the southern part of the province.
Not until autumn opened did Weyler take the field, marching into Pinar del Rio at the head of thirty thousand men, confident now of putting an end to the work of his persistent foe, whom he felt sure he had hemmed in with his trocha. Between the two forces, Spanish and Cuban, the province was sadly harried, and became so incapable of supporting a large force that Maceo was obliged to dismiss the most of his men.
Leaving the slender remnant under the control of one of his lieutenants, he once more passed the trocha, this time rowing round its end in a boat and landing in Havana province. He had sent orders in advance for a concentration of the Cuban forces in this region, that he might give Weyler a new employment.
The daring partisan leader was near the end of his career, brought to his death by the work of a traitor, as was widely believed. While waiting for the gathering of the forces, he, with the few men with him, was fired on from a Spanish ambush, and fell, mortally wounded.
Thus died the most dashing soldier that the Cuban rebellion called into the field. Dr. Zertucha,
of his staff, was charged with treachery in leading him into this ambush, though that is by no means proved. Maceo was one of nine brothers, all soldiers, and all of whom had now died in the great struggle for Cuban independence. His body was recovered from the enemy after a desperate fight; his valiant spirit was lost to the cause. Yet his work had not been without avail, and the country for which he had fought so bravely was left by him on the highroad to liberty.
LIEUTENANT HOBSON AND THE SINKING OF THE “MERRIMAC.”
ABOUT three o'clock of a dark morning, whose deep gloom shrouded alike the shores and waters of Cuba's tropic isle, a large craft left the side of the “New York," the flag-ship of Admiral Sampson's fleet off Santiago, and glided towards the throat of the narrow channel leading to its land-locked harbor. This mysterious craft was an old coal-carrier named the “Merrimac. On board were Richmond P. Hobson, Assistant Naval Constructor, and seven volunteer seamen. Their purpose was to sink the old hulk in the channel and thus to seal up the Spanish ships in Santiago harbor. The fact that there were ten chances to one that they would go
to the bottom with their craft, or be riddled with Spanish bullets, did not trouble their daring souls. Their country called, and they obeyed.
Ranged along the sides of the ship, below decks, was a series of torpedoes, prepared to blow the vessel into a hopeless wreck when the proper moment came. A heavy weight in coal had been left on board, to carry her rapidly to the bottom, and there was strong hope that she could be dropped in the channel, “like a cork in the neck of a bottle," and “bottle” up Admiral Cervera and his cruisers. That it was an errand of imminent risk did not