December 11th in Cuban History

Joining 100 men in an uprising led by Donato Mármol, Calixto García's military skill was recognized in the siege of Bayamo.

13 Dec December 11th in Cuban History



A publication of the Cuban Studies Institute




December 11th — Calixto García Íñiguez (1839-1898).  Revolutionary general, second in command to Máximo Gómez Báez in both the Ten Years’ War and the Independence War of 1895-1898.  Born in Holguín, the second of eight children, he was apprenticed to his uncle in Havana and then had to return to the family business, frustrating his ambition to study law.  After his marriage to Isabel Vélez Cabrera, the Ten Years’ War began.  Joining 100 men in an uprising led by Donato Mármol, his military skill was recognized in the siege of Bayamo.  When Mármol’s forces advanced from Santa Rita ranch and took Jiguaní, he won the accolades of “Lion of Santa Rita” and “Hero of Jiguaní.”  After numerous other successful engagements, rebel commander Máximo Gómez appointed him brigadier general.  Calixto García was later made chief of Eastern Forces.  Near the war’s end García tried to shoot himself when surrounded by superior Spanish forces, but he was taken prisoner and recovered.

Set free by the Peace of Zanjón, he traveled to New York.  There he immediately founded the pro-independence, Junta Cubana de Nueva York.  When the Guerra Chiquita broke out, he sailed to Cuba but was captured when he had barely landed on the east coast.  Once again, he was exiled to Spain, where he was eventually set free and worked as a bank employee and English teacher.  He returned to Cuba on the renewal of the independence struggle in 1895 and was made chief of Oriente province.  In 1897 President McKinley sent Navy Lieutenant Rowan to his camp, El Aserradero, to determine what the Cuban rebels’ posture would be in the impending Spanish-American War.  Admiral Sampson and General Shafter organized a combined land-sea operation against Santiago de Cuba, which fell on June 16, 1898, largely through the admirable cooperation of García and his troops.  Despite telling a New York Herald reporter in September that no Cuban government existed, he agreed in October to head the delegation of the Asamblea de Representantes del Ejército Cubano and then, without consulting his fellow delegates, suggested $3,000,000 as an adequate sum to pay off the rebel army.  He did, however, protest vigorously when it became clear that the United States intervention in Cuba would be of indefinite duration.  But he then fell ill, and died of pneumonia in Washington, D.C., on December 11, just a few hours after the Treaty of Paris was signed.


Jaime Suchlicki is Director of the Cuban Studies Institute, CSI, a non-profit research group in Coral Gables, FL. He is the author of Cuba: From Columbus to Castro & Beyond, now in its 5th edition; Mexico: From Montezuma to the Rise of the PAN, 2nd edition, and of the recently published Breve Historia de Cuba.

Frank Rodriguez Junior
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