Battle of Cardenas 1898

What was happening in 1898?

The Spanish-American War began in April, 1898. This was started over the issue of Cuba. Cuba was ruled by Spain at the time and the Cuban people had revolted against the Spanish colonial rule in 1895. Initially, USA remained neutral to this but in 1898, USA finally decided to side with the Cuban people.

This led to a war between Cuba and Spain. This war was fought in many parts of the world, including Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines. Some of the most important and decisive battles were fought in Cuba where most of the Spanish and American forces clashed. The Battle of Cardenas was one of the naval battles fought between the two sides near Cuba.

Background of the Battle of Cardenas

As the war started, the American navy’s objective was to block Cuba so that no Spanish ships could reach the country to aid the Spanish soldiers. At the same time, the U.S. navy tried to destroy any Spanish ships in the waters of Cuba so that America would have complete control over the Cuban coasts.

In May 1898, a small fleet of American vessels was informed that a few Spanish gunboats were moored in the harbor on Cardenas. So the American fleet decided to advance towards Cardenas and destroy these gunboats. This is what led to the Battle of Cardenas.

When and where did the battle take place?

The Battle of Cardenas took place off the harbor of Cardenas in Matanzas, Cuba. It was fought on May 11, 1898.

Commanders on both sides

The commanders on the Spanish side included Teniente de Navio Mariano Meteu. The Spanish strength comprised of 2 small gunboats and 1 armed tug.

The American fleet comprised of 1 torpedo boat, 2 gunboats and 1 cutter. It was commanded by Captain Chapman C. Todd and Lieutenant John Bernadou.

The Fighting

On May 11, 1898, the American fleet reached near the Cardenas. The fleet spotted a steamer and slowly advanced towards it in order to check whether it was an enemy ship. When the American gunboats were still about 1500 yards away, the steamer opened fire. The first American vessel to be hit was the torpedo boat.

The Spanish gunboats inflicted significant damage on this vessel. By this time, the rest of the American vessels were in position. These vessels started firing on the Spanish vessels and one of the Spanish vessels was significantly damaged in this firing. The fighting lasted only about an hour and a half by which time the Americans were forced to withdraw.

Result and Aftermath

The Battle of Cardenas was a significant victory for the Spanish side. During the fighting, the American torpedo boat was heavily damaged. At the same time, Americans casualties included 5 dead and 3 wounded. On the Spanish side, 1 armed tug boat was damaged and the Spanish casualties included 2 wounded. The Spanish were successful in repelling the American attack and in being able to save all of their gunboats which would continue to be active throughout the rest of the war.

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