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Victory, Stalemate and Defeat During the Spanish Caribbean Insurgencies of 1868-1878

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Technical Report

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Air Command And Staff College Maxwell Air Force Base United States

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Under similar initial conditions on almost every aspect, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic underwent insurrections against Spain but each had different outcomes. Although there are multiple accounts and interpretations on what happened during the individual insurgencies, there is no work that studies what made the insurgencies successful or not. This research paper argues that there is one central factor that ultimately determined success. The single factor that is common across all three insurgencies is military experience or military training. The Puerto Rican insurgency carried out by a mass of peasants and slaves failed almost immediately. The 10 year Cuban insurgency resulted in a stalemate carried out by trained belligerents. The Dominican insurrection was aided by trained veterans and ultimately resulted in victory. Conclusively, the insurgents who possessed military experience and training were able to achieve victory, those who did not, failed. No previous study on this specific topic was found. This study is the first to analyze what made the insurgencies of the Spanish Caribbean effective or not, and shows how they relate to each other. Therefore, the study serves two purposes. First, it provides a military historical perspective of the Spanish Caribbean insurgencies. Second, it serves as a case study for the military professional on island insurgencies against colonial Spain.

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