War of 1898
|Name(s):||War of 1898 (aka "Iber-American War" or "Pan-Caribbean War" or "The Great Disaster")|
|Start of hostilities:||February, 1898|
|End of hostilities:||December, 1898|
|Winning side:||Losing side:|
North American League
Castile and Leon
|Resulting treaty/treaties:||Treaty of Baton Rouge|
|Major consequences:||End of Castilean Empire, independence of various Caribbean states, start of the rise of Florida|
Previous to the War, Castile and Leon controlled a large overseas empire in the Americas and Asia. The Empire's constituents were Filipinas (in Asia), the Floridas in North America (part of which comprised two former NAL provinces), the Central American Community in Central America, Hispanola, Porto Rico and Cuba in the Caribbean. But beginning in the 1880s and with growing fervor, independence movements had sprung up. Even worse from the royal government's point of view, such movements had foreign support. Republican would-be rebels in Tejas (then under King Georg Friedrich), as well as sympathizers in Louisianne (then under First President Samuel Dartagnan Mikennrie) and the North American League (where Whig William McKinley was General Moderator) pledged aid to the different factions. More, a troublesome quasi-colony--Mueva Sefarad—had become a conduit through which supplies were smuggled to rebels all over the Caribbean.
The hard-liners, or Carlists (so-called for, among other reasons, their support of and by King Carlos II) had a specific idea for how to deal with this problem. In their view, Mueva Sefarad needed to be taken over, by whatever means necessary. Not only would this cut any further support for the rebels, it would expand the empire, bring in income and strike fear into the monarchy's enemies. Liberals, on the other hand, thought this foolhardy and demanded widespread reform. The latter were too powerful to be ignored, but not influential enough to determine policy.
So a compromise followed. In an effort to choke off all support to the rebels, and hurt Mueva Sefarad as much as possible, the government began issuing letters of marque—in effect authorizing official pirates—to prey upon smugglers in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. MS ships in particular were targeted, sometimes without regard to the flag under which they flew.
By 1898, MS vessels were often taking the legal expedient of using NAL and Louisianne registry. Sometimes this served as a shield from the pirates (or privateers). Sometimes it did not. Public outcry in both those nations grew clamorous. The final straw was when King Georg Friedrich of Tejas declared he would offer letters of marque as well. Precisely why His Majesty did this is still a matter of debate. Perhaps it was a plea for greater prestige, or an effort to quell the would-be revolutionaries in his own realm, or maybe he hoped to increase his revenues with commissions from pirates. It is not impossible his motives were precisely as he stated them—in a show of royal solidarity.
What his action did was force the NAL to offer official protection to a convoy of MS vessels en route to Cuba. The Speaker of the House of Deputies, Tomos Kuster, was leader of the Conservative Democrats as well as the most prominent politico urging military action. In effect, Parliament went against General Moderator and authorized the so-called "Liberty Squadron" of ironclads, commanded by Commodore James Dewey (1837-1917).
Solemn League Navy battleships T.M.S. Boston and T.M.S. Baltimore as well several gunboats escorted the convoy. Pirates did not dare attack. But Dewey interpreted Parliament's orders in such a way as to actively hunt down the pirates (to be sure, this was a viewpoint shared by many Deputies and Senators at the time). Once the convoy had safely arrived in Santiago, Cuba, Dewey led his forces on a series of raids against pirate ships and safe ports. Viewed purely militarily, these were not all unqualified successes, however in general he was victorious. More, he successfully beat off attempts by local militaries to defend the pirates.
As events spiraled out of control, Carlos II had insisted upon taking charge, even traveling thousands of miles to Cuba itself. He arrived days after Dewey's squadron had departed Cuba, and grew increasingly agitated as news of the SLN raids came in. He had not yet decided on a specific course of action when two events completely changed the situation.
First, Georg Friedrich of Tejas was deposed by José Felipe Gutierrez in a republican coup. Carlos had lost what promised to be his lone ally in the region.
Second, Carlos II himself was assassinated as he attended the theatre in Havana. There is some confusion as to events. The assassin, an actor named Juan Guiteau, might in fact have been attempting to murder the King's companion, the Mayor of Cuba, for sleeping with the actor's wife. The Mayor was also shot during the brief melee, but survived. Guiteau was shot to death by royal bodyguards. Some historians have speculated that Guiteau's bullets went wild and Carlos was in fact killed by his own bodyguards (either by accident or deliberately).
His death left Castile and Leon's government in confusion, especially since his brother and successor Leopoldo I was not particularly well-known.
Events emboldened the various rebel groups, while demoralizing the royal troops. Recruitment in the former soared, as did desertion in the latter. Castile and Leon had little choice but accede to the independence of Cuba, the Floridas, Porto Rico, Hispionala and Hayti. On the other side of the world, the Filipinas successfully overthrew the royalist government as well. All of this was formalized in the Treaty of Baton Rouge before Christmas of that year.
James Dewey received the Parliamentary Medal of Honor for his actions. He was even approached to run for the General Moderator-ship in 1900 in an effort to restore the fading fortunes of the Whig Party, but lost (narrowly) to Tomos Armstrong Kuster, who even wanted to use the Continental Army to invade Florida, which Castile and Leon had seized from the NAL earlier in the century. The League, however, and Parliament balked at this.
Mueva Sefarad officially joined the NAL, which helped slake the hunger for territory of those arguing for the conquest of Florida in the halls of Parliament and the Council in the NAL. Tejas eventually restored the monarchy in 1904 after the Gutierrez regime proved a disaster. To the Castileans, however, the War of 1898 would remain El Gran Desastre -- The Great Disaster -- in which they lost their entire overseas empire apart from the Central American Community.
This page was created by Zahir.