Under Three Flags in Cuba - Foreword

Under Two Flags in Cuba was to have been published in the spring of 1898 but the manuscript, together with three hundred photographs illustrative of Weyler's regime in Cuba, and some historical letters that had passed between the Captain-General and Premier Canovas, were seized in Havana with my effects when I was deported to Spain at the beginning of the war. Thus the circulation of that work was limited to General Blanco and those of his officers who understood English.
   After witnessing the triumph of the American army at Santiago, I prepared the present work, "Under Three Flags in Cuba," during a prolonged attack of fever contracted in the campaign. But again fate, acting now through the pistol of an incensed Spanish officer, delayed publication. During my convalescence from the wound, a number of books on Cuba were issued from the pens of gifted writers. In each work the primary cause of the war is omitted, and frequent criticism of the Cubans, based entirely on misconception, has tended to raise doubts of the justification of American intervention in the Island.
   Landing in Cuba, a warm sympathiser with Spain, to write upon her military failure for a British service publication, and enjoying at various times exceptional opportunity to study the question from both a Cuban and Spanish standpoint, my heart went out to Cuba in her struggle. While I held a commission in the Cuban army, stories of my fighting prowess that appeared in various Spanish papers were absolutely false. When travelling across Cuba, I was at times involved in skirmishes, and participated in larger fights when visiting other commands, but I was an observer as much as a warrior. I have endeavoured to write the simple story without bias. Thrice a prisoner in the hands of the Spaniards, they treated me with a surprising consideration; and now that Right has triumphed and Wrong is overthrown, we can feel sympathy with the humiliated nation that, blinded by traditional pride and patriotism, cloaked and defended the policy of a corrupt faction, to its own undoing. But by that policy thousands of innocent women and children have been starved to death, and a bloody era of history has been achieved.
   On the ashes of a glorious country the United States stands as foster-parent to a new nation. Russian aggression liberated Bulgaria; American aggression, if you will, freed Cuba. But under the present regime, the Cubans have fears of the curtailment of the freedom they have given their all to achieve. As a people, they are not ungrateful; they do not ask for the cisalpine independence guaranteed at Campo Formio. But they have seen motives of patriot husbands and brothers impugned by descendants of Washington's followers, they have been condemned for the effect of environment from which they have been lifted. Thus they fear that the hierarchy of General Brooke is permanent, and joy at their release from Spain's mailed hand is marred by the dread of a rule by American bayonets.
   Thus I venture to hope that a plain story of the sufferings and sacrifices of the Cubans for their freedom may be of interest. A knowledge of their struggles will create an appreciation of their aspirations, and I would that an abler pen than mine had pictured them.
George Clarke Musgrave
October 1st 1899

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