In 1898, Spain and USA declared war on each other. This happened after USA decided to support the people of Cuba who were trying to gain their independence from Spain. The war mainly took place in Philippines and in Cuba. At both places, US forces tried to take the control of major cities from the Spanish armies.
The Battle of San Juan Hill was fought as part of the American efforts to take control of the city of Santiago. Santiago was one of the most important cities of Cuba under Spanish rule and it was where most of the Spanish power was centered.
The Battle of San Juan Hill took place at the San Juan Hill located near the city of Santiago in Cuba. The battle was fought on July 1, 1898.
The American soldiers were led by Major General William R. Shafter and Major General Joseph Wheeler. In total, they commanded nearly 8500 American soldiers and 3000 Cubans.
The Spanish force was considerably smaller in number. At the San Juan Hill, only around 800 Spanish soldiers defended their position against the American attack. General Arsenio Linares was the commander of the Spanish forces although he didn’t directly take part in the battle.
The main aim of the American army was to take control of Santiago, the most important Spanish city in Cuba. The Spanish, on the other hand, knew that the US forces would try to take control of the city. In order to resist that effectively, General Arsenio asked less than a thousand soldiers to defend the San Juan Hill located outside the city.
Another small group of Spanish soldiers was sent to guard another hill, the Kettle Hill, located close to the San Juan Hill. Although these Spanish soldiers were badly outnumbered when the US forces attacked them, they had the advantage of being on the heights of the hills.
On the top of the San Juan Hill, around 800 Spanish soldiers had dug up into defensive positions. On July 1, 1898, the US soldiers tried to climb the hill. The Spanish soldiers responded by opening fire and caused a heavy number of casualties in the US army. However, despite heavy losses, the US soldiers continued their attack and before the day ended, they were able to gain control of the San Juan Hill. The Spanish counter-attacked and tried to take back the control of the hill but their attempt failed.
The battle was a victory for the United States of America, although it was a costly victory. The US forces suffered around 150 deaths and 1000 wounded soldiers. The Spanish suffered 110 dead and 350 wounded soldiers. However, although this was a costly victory, it finally led to the capture of the city of Santiago which ultimately brought an end to Spanish power in Cuba and effectively gave the Cuban people independence from Spanish rule.