Sent with a dual commission from an English newspaper and an American journal, George Clarke Musgrave landed in Cuba “a warm sympathiser with Spain.” For two years, though, he lived and served with the revolutionaries, learned of their cause and experienced their suffering. Appointed as a Captain on General Garcia’s staff, he repeatedly crossed the lines carrying despatches from the insurgent Cuban Government to the Americans. Danger and hardship became his companions and he was twice imprisoned, three times wounded, barely rescued from a spy’s death and finally arrested and deported to Spain under threat of execution. Following intervention by the British government he was eventually released from prison in Cadiz, from where he journeyed back to England and on to America to join the United States forces at Tampa Bay for the invasion of Cuba at the start of the Spanish-American war. Thus equipped, he gives us “a plain story of the sufferings and sacrifices of the Cubans for their freedom.”
This detailed review of the insurrection from the arrival of General Weyler to the USS Maine disaster and the ultimate advent of the American forces is thorough, vivid, picturesque and full of incident. The sketches of troops and commanders, lifestyles and politics, characters and manners, are finely drawn and illuminating, as are the comments on the abject failings of the commissariat of the American Army in Cuba and the crushing indictment of the oppressive Spanish rule.
The war in Cuba left the world with a much changed opinion of the Cuban patriots. They had prevailed against all the forces which Spain could bring against them. The stories of torture, of murder, and of the imprisonment and rescue of Evangelina Cisneros match anything in the history of crime, and bring a spotlight to bear on the cruelty perpetrated by the Spanish aggressors. The later chapters are devoted to the war and chronicle the action from the arrival of the US forces to the final capitulation of Spain at Santiago, depicting in intimate detail the horrors and the heroism of this brief but bloody war, and paying graceful compliment to “the amazing valour of the American soldier” and “the stupendous challenges faced in taking Santiago.