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Spanish American War

Spanish American War

The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States that ended with Spain's colonial empire in the Western Hemisphere.

During the reign of Ferdinand VII the Spanish colonies in North and South America would eventually be lost. By 1824 sixteen new republics had become independent, and all that remained of the great Spanish empire were Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and the Pacific island chains of the Carolines, the Marianas and the Marshalls.

On the night of the 15th of February l898 the USS Maine battleship was shattered by an explosion that sunk the ship and two-thirds of her crew in Havana harbour. Encouraged by widespread sympathy for those who were seeking Cuban independence from Spain's colonial rule, the emotionally charged Maine tragedy forced the already strained Spanish-American relations to breaking point, precipitating a short war (known as the Spanish American War) that was swiftly decided by two naval engagements.

On the 1st of May the US Pacific Squadron under Commodore George Dewey steamed in to Manila Bay in the Philippines, destroying the Spanish fleet. Barely two months later, Admiral William Sampson echoed this feat with an overwhelming victory over the Spanish in a battle off Santiago, Cuba.

In addition to the crushing victories staged by Sampson and Dewey, naval operations included the blockade of the Cuban coast, the bombardment of Spanish fortifications at San Juan, on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, by battleship USS Iowa, armoured cruiser USS New York and other ships, and gunfire support of marine and army landings in Cuba and Puerto Rico. America emerged from the Spanish-American War as a major naval power, yet for Spain the end of the war was the end of an empire and a critical entry into the 20th century.

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