Contributed by Patrick McSherry
Below is a follow-up report written by Capt. George F. Elliott of Company C of the First Marine Battalion (Reinforced). This report was written to correct errors found in the report of Capt. Bowman McCalla of the U.S.S. MARBLEHEAD. concerning the Battle of Cuzco Well.
Headquarters First Battalion of
Camp Heywood, Seaveys Island
Kittery, Me., September 16, 1898
SIR I Respectfully call your attention to the errors in the official report of Capt. B. H. McCalla, United States Navy, in regard to the military status taken by the battalion of marines under my command at the Cuzco fight, near Guantanamo Bay, June 14, 1898.
As this report will be filed for general publication with other archives of Government relating to the Spanish war, it should be correct.
Captain McCalla states in his report as follows:
‘Cubans under the command of himself (Colonel Laborde) and of Lieutenant-Colonel Tomas, supported by two companies of marines under the command of Captain Spicer and Lieutenant Elliott, routed a force of 300 Spaniards.’
The facts are these: Two companies if marines formed a battalion under my command, and the companies were commanded, as stated in my report, by Captain Spicer and First Lieut. L. C. Lucas.
My command was not a supporting body for the Cubans, and before leaving camp, after conversation with you on the subject, I left with the understanding that I was to act with the Cubans so far as in my judgment it was for the good of the expedition, but that I was not under the command of either of the insurgent commanders.
The word ‘support,’ as used, is a military misnomer, for the marines numbered 225 and the Cubans 50 in the fight, and although the latter were brave enough, their quality as efficient fighting men was on a par with that of the enemy.
My report states that there were 500 of the enemy engaged, and it is now known that the force was a little larger, and not 300, as stated by Captain McCalla.
I believe Captain McCalla’s report was made from the statements received from Colonel Laborde, and if he had believed mine, made to you and forwarded to him for his information, incorrect, he had many opportunities to call my attention to the facts at the time, but he left me for months believing it accepted unquestioned while controverting it in his own.
G. F. Elliott
Captain, United States Marine Corps.
Col. R. W. Huntington,
United States Marine Corps, Commanding First Battalion of Maines.
Clerk of Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899) Vol. 2, 1341.