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SIGNING THE PEACE PROTOCOL, AUGUST 12, 1898
27th he entered Ponce, next to San Juan the most important port of the island, and from that point conducted his operations with swiftness and smoothness, such that in less than three weeks, every Spanish post outside of San Juan was rendered untenable. The campaign was so near completion that it gave the United States an undeniable claim to the island. Everywhere the soldiers were welcomed with the greatest friendliness by the native population, who, like the Cubans, knew the oppressiveness of Spanish rule.
Owing to the greater distance and broken cable communication, the President's order suspending hostilities did not reach Manila until the afternoon of August 16, the delay saving Admiral Dewey and General Merritt the disappointment that had come to General Miles, for on the 14th they had finally compelled the capitulation of Manila and received the surrender of 13,000 Spanish troops. The attack was made at 9 A.m. August 13 (Manila time), a few hours, actual time, after the signing of the protocol.
Thus the war closed with part of Cuba, nearly all of Porto Rico, and the principal city of the Philippines in the hands of the Americans. The expedition of Commodore Watson, having achieved its object, principally through the newspapers, remained at home.
A WAVE OF CRITICISM
"HE war was remarkable for the speedy ac
complishment of its purposes and the small number of casualties on the American side. In the two naval engagements, each completely destroying an entire fleet, only one man was killed and the injury to the American ships was trifling. From April 21 to August 12, the entire losses in the navy were only 18 killed in battle, including those who subsequently died from their wounds, and 67 who died from diseases or injuries, out of a total of about 25,000 men. The losses of the army, in Cuba, Porto Rico, and Manila, were only 345 killed in action, including those who died from wounds. There were 2565 deaths from disease, making a total of 2910 deaths in an army whose maximum strength was 274,717, or a little more than one per cent. Secretary Alger figured that in the first five months of the Civil War the ratio of deaths per 1000 was 17.29, while in the Spanish War it was only 10.59, and that the ratio of deaths from disease was 14.96 per 1000 in the same period of 1861, but only 9.34 in 1898. He adds that “the records of any army in the world do not show
as small a mortality percentage from disease as the Army of the United States during the war with Spain.
Yet, in all fairness to the Secretary of War, it must be admitted that a mortality of even one per cent was far higher than was necessary. Since the Civil War great progress has been made, not only in surgery, but in knowledge of infection and the requirements of general sanitation. Of the 2485 enlisted men who died of disease, only two fifths contracted their illness through exposure at the front. In the United States, 1514 men died in camp, more than a third of them from typhoid fever. These men were chosen, at the time of their enlistment, as physically sound, after the most rigorous medical examination. Their sojourn for a few months in a well-chosen and well-regulated Southern camp should have been a beneficial experience for healthy young men. The habits of regularity, simple but nourishing food, and plenty of exercise in the open air should have increased their strength and fitted them for a campaign in the tropics, where camp life could not easily have been made ideal. Such was doubtless the intention. At the beginning of the war, on April 25, the Surgeon-General of the army issued a circular of instructions to the medical officers, pointing out
1 Russell A. Alger, The Spanish-American War.