Lore of the Week - Cuba and the Confederate States of America
September 19, 2017
Shortly after the War Between the States ended, another war broke out, this one in Cuba on October 10, 1868. Cuban born planters and wealthy natives lead an uprising intent on independence from Spain. Inspired by yet another country seeking independence, one Brigadier General Thomas Jordan of the Confederate Army offered his leadership to the Cuban rebels without permission from the CSA government. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the leader of the Cuban Rebellion accepted his offer and General Jordon was initially appointed as chief of staff of the Cuban insurgent army and shortly after, General-in-Chief of the Cuban Liberation Army. He took 300 men and supplies for 6000 with him to Cuba, effectively stolen from the CSA.
Both the Spanish and Confederate governments were furious. The Spanish threatened war in response to this invasion, and demanded Jordan be recalled. Meanwhile the Confederate government charged Jordan and his men with theft of government property and desertion. Frantic orders were sent to Jordan to return to the CSA, but he continued on until 1870 when he fled to the United States to avoid prosecution in the CSA.
As the war in Cuba continued, more Confederate veterans were considering going to Cuba to aid in their independence. In 1874, the Confederate government passed laws stating that any veteran or current soldier of the Confederate Army or Navy cannot serve in a foreign military unless it is the Republic of Texas. To enforce this law, and prevent movement between Cuba and the CSA, the Confederate Navy established a blockade between the Florida Keys, the Gulf of Mexico, and Cuba.
With the end of the Ten Years War in 1878, Cuba became a haven for pirates and smugglers, with Havana being the largest and most commonly known safe harbor. Cuban pirates disrupted Caribbean civilian trade and fishing fleets, evading capture and pursuit in the reefs and islands. Smugglers shipped supplies and war materials from the USA to Cuba, in support of the rebels, by hiding in the Florida swamps until they could run the CSA blockade. By July 1879, the CSA had a treaty with Spain to capture and destroy any smuggling operations in and out of Cuba in exchange for monetary aide. The CSA bombarded Havana from ironclads sitting in Havana Port destroying hundreds of civilian vessels and houses.
August 1879, Cuban rebels struck again, this time with equipment and money provided by the United States. The CSA blockade is being maintained on behalf of Spain, and the United States is providing arms to the rebels. Mexico and Texas appear to be staying out of the conflict for now. The bitter civil war in Cuba drags on, threatening to spill over into other islands and nations that border the Gulf of Mexico.
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