Calixto Garcia and William Ludlow in Cuba 1898

One of the most important actions in the struggle for independence in the so-called War of 1895 was the attack and takeover of the former Victoria de las Tunas, which began on August 28, 1897, 126 years ago today, by the Mambí troops under the command of Major General Calixto García Íñiguez, military chief of the Eastern Department, with areas of operation such as Bayamo, Manzanillo, Las Tunas, Palma Soriano, Holguín, Niquero, and others no less important.

However, due to its strategic location between Oriente (Eastern region) and Camagüey, the Spaniards gave special importance to the military plaza of Victoria de Las Tunas, equipped with 14 forts and castles, ditches, wire fences, cannons, and hundreds of soldiers, a reason for which the colonialists came to consider it impregnable, since to take it would require no less than 10 thousand mambises.

However, Major General Calixto García, with the help of his intelligence service, drew up a strategic plan that would allow him, with only about 1,200 men, to lay siege to the city and take it, starting the attack at dawn on August 28, 1897.

An important factor in the attack on Victoria de las Tunas was the extraordinarily valuable information provided by the secret agent María Machado, daughter of the Spanish General Emilio March. The girl managed, at the risk of her own life, to send Calixto García the maps of the city and its strategic points; as well as all the necessary information to carry out the operation to attack and take Las Tunas, which lasted three days.

As a result of the battle, the Spaniards had 200 dead and 400 prisoners; in addition, the Cuban troops captured two cannons, 1,200 rifles, a million rounds of ammunition, 10 wagons of medicine, and a large quantity of equipment and food, which had a great international impact and marked the beginning of the end of Spanish colonialism on the Island.

The Mambí artillery used its first dynamite cannon, with the peculiarity that one of its artillerymen was the young José Francisco Martí Zayas Bazán, son of the Cuban Apostle (José Martí); while one of the most sensitive victims of the insurgents in the battle was that of Colonel Ángel de la Guardia, who accompanied the Cuban National Hero on the day of his death in Dos Ríos.

After the attack and the capture of Las Tunas, Calixto García was appointed Lieutenant General of the Liberation Army, replacing the Bronze Titan Antonio Maceo, who fell in battle on December 7, 1896.