In 1895, Cubans revolted against the Spanish colonial rule. Initially, USA decided to stay neutral but in 1898, an American battleship off the coast of Cuba exploded and sank. The people in American blamed Spain and the government of USA soon declared war on Spain.
This led to the Spanish-American War which began in April, 1898. The war was fought in many theaters, including Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The Battle of El Caney was one of the battles fought between American and Spanish forces in the Cuban theater.
Once the war began, American objective in Cuba was to defeat the Spanish forces and take control of important Cuban cities and towns. The Battle of El Caney was fought for the control of the town of El Caney. The American army was steadily advancing towards the important city of Santiago and this town was along the way. A group of Spanish soldiers decided to take defensive positions near the town and stop the American advance. This led to the Battle of El Caney.
The Battle of El Caney took place on July 1, 1898. It was fought near the town of El Caney in Cuba.
The American army was commanded by Brigadier General Henry Ware Lawton. He commanded around 6500 American soldiers and 3,000 Cubans.
The Spanish soldiers were led by General Joaquin Vara del Rey y Rubio. He commanded a total of 520 regular and around 100 irregular soldiers.
The Spanish army, although smaller in size, occupied a strong position at the start of the battle. Although the American army had superior artillery guns, the Spanish soldiers had fast and modern rifles and howitzers. So when the American army attacked their positions, they were able to repulse the attack successfully.
This took place a number of times and each time, the Spanish soldiers were able to repulse the American attacks while inflicting heavy casualties on the American army. Although General Vara del Rey was wounded and then killed during the fighting, the Spanish stubbornly held their positions and continue to fight back.
The battle continued until the evening with the American army finally making a breach in the Spanish strongholds. This allowed American soldiers to make one final assault and take over the Spanish positions.
Although the American army was finally able to take control of the Spanish strongholds, a large part of the Spanish army retreated successfully. 600 American soldiers were killed and another 360 wounded in the battle. On the Spanish side, 38 soldiers were killed and 138 wounded while another 160 were captured.
The American objective in the battle was to quickly defeat the Spanish and after taking control of El Caney, advance to help other American army positions around the General Joaquin Vara del Rey y Rubio. But the Spanish soldiers successfully resisted for 12 hours before giving up their positions.