Because of the context of the nation in this AAR, there may be topics and wordings that some may find offensive. Please be aware that these are only written as they apply to the history of the nation and are in no way my personal views or beliefs on the subject.
11:30 PM, Local Time, February 14th, 1899
Royal Palace of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
“Joined the war to support the independence of Cuba my ass!” Roared Cánovas, pounding the luxurious table as he spoke. “The damned Confederacy planned for this all along!”
“Mr. Cánovas!” Exclaimed the Queen Regent. “We are all distraught over this news, but please, your language.”
The former prime minister bowed his head. “My apologies, your highness. But this, this insult!” He waved a paper to emphasize his point. “This is too much. Everyone in this room knew that there was little hope of holding Cuba, or Puerto Rico, after this war was finished. But for those treacherous dogs in Richmond to annex them before the fighting is over!”
“Well,” retorted his successor, “Perhaps if you had actually listened to their complaints instead of torturing and executing those who spoke out, we wouldn’t have had this war at all!” Práxedes Sagasta jabbed a finger at Antonio Cánovas. “Thanks to you, we have lost our lands in the Caribbean!”
“You would have given them away for free, you coward!”
The room fell silent as all eyes shifted towards the Queen. “Gentlemen, unless you have forgotten, we are here to discuss what we must do to prevent this from coming to pass. The Confederacy may have excepted the rebels appeals for statehood, but they do not control Cuba. Not yet. But if we continue to stand here, and accuse one another of the blame behind this tragedy, they will take control. You are my government; therefore, it is your task to stop this blatant attack upon our sovereignty from occurring.” Maria Christina of Austria adjusted her dress. “Now, Admiral Auñón, what can we do to support our troops in Cuba.”
Ramón Auñón shifted nervously. “Your highness, much of our fleet was stationed in Cuba and the Philippines. With the destruction of those squadrons, we only have a handful of ships left, and I must insist that they be kept here to defend our home waters. Any attempt would leave our ports and shipping exposed, and I fear that the men would not follow orders to sail.”
That set off mutterings through the room. “Are you suggesting that your sailors would mutiny, Admiral?” Asked Sagasta.
“I am suggesting that, yes.” The admiral looked at the assembled heads of the government. “I assume that none of you have given any thought to the fact that most of our army and navy is made up of conscripted peasants, have you?” The silence was deafening. “Gentlemen, an officer can order a peasant to do many things and expect them to follow those orders, but commanding him to die for a hopeless cause is not one of them. I have also been made aware of several concerning elements of the navy that are suggesting that mutiny is not enough.”
“Admiral,” said Cánovas slowly, “They aren’t taking about rebellion, are they?”
“I am afraid that is exactly what they are discussing. Unfortunately, the situation is balanced on a razors edge. If I move against the ringleaders, it will only spark the explosion.”
“I also share Admiral Auñón’s concerns, your Highness.” Stated General Fernando Primo. The old soldier had been called back from the Philippines before the war and was acting as a defacto head of the army. “My staff have raised concerns over similar groups in our army. I think its only thanks to the presence of their superior officers that they haven’t made their move.”
The blast threw them to floor, sending flying shards of glass from the shattered windows whipping inwards. The collective heads of the Spanish government lay on the ground, dazed and confused, as shrieks and gunshots began to echo into the night that was already starting to glow with fires.
“Superior officers, General?” Questioned Sagasta sarcastically as he got up, bleeding from a sizable gash in his forehead. “Such as yourself and the Admiral, perhaps? Are there any other concerns you would like to raise, or are you waiting until Armageddon?”
The door was flung open, and members of the Royal Guard poured into the chamber. “Your Highness.” Their captain said as he rushed to help her up. “Allow me.” “Thank you, captain.” Replied the Queen as she was helped to her feet. “What has happened?”
“The barracks are burning, your Highness, and there is a mob in the streets.” Captain Fermín Anbessa, head of the Royal Guard, stated. “They are starting to march towards the palace, and I fear the garrison is with them. We must get you and the king to safety.”
Captain Fermín Anbessa, head of the Royal Guard
6:45 PM, Local Time, February 14th, 1899
Outer Harbor, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Occupied Territory
The light drizzle pattered away at the stones of the courtyard as shells impacted into the walls of the fort. From one of the more protected ramparts, a handful of men peered through binoculars across the narrow channel at their opponent.
Vizcaya had served as the flagship of the Spanish Caribbean squadron prior to her scuttling, and many of her armaments had been to heavy to dismount from the warship for the army to use them. Instead of letting them go to waste, she had been driven aground and then deliberately sunk in the channel across from Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca in order to bring her guns to bear on any enemy that tried to force the harbor or storm the fort.
She had performed excellently in that role, providing deadly point-blank fire onto the Cuban and Confederate forces that had attacked San Pedro, and had continued to fire into the fort after the Spanish colors had been struck and the Stars and Bars were raised in their place. But the constant pounding of Confederate artillery had taken their toll, and what was left of the already crippled warship had been reduced to impotence. But the crew were still onboard, they were still firing back with at least a pair of 5.5” guns, and the Royal Standard and war ensign remained flying from the broken stub of the aft mast.
A particularly close shell forced General William McDowell to duck away from the wall, as did the rest of his staff. “They have gotten damn good over the past hour, sir.” Joked one of his officers. “That one was only off by a few dozen feet.” McDowell snorted at that. “Must have changed out their gun crews again. Any word from the navy about getting some heavy artillery down here?” He shouted to his telegraph crew.
“No Sir. Last word was that they had scraped together a squadron a few weeks ago.”
“Well bugger me.” The artillery general muttered. He was not supposed to be in charge of an army, but when Stuart had gotten himself killed and Hanson had gotten himself relieved, he had been next in seniority. Admittedly, there was no one better to direct a concentrated bombardment against a stationary target. But he could only bring 4” guns to bear, and those were a bit small to be going up against twelve inches of steel. Furthermore, he had run out of the small stock of armor piercing shells. High explosive shells were all well and good for blowing away exposed infantry, but they were not good against an armored warship.
“Sir,” Interrupted his second in command, who was looking away from Vizcaya and out to sea. “You wanted to know when the Navy would get here, right?” “Don’t you dare tell me…”
“I’ve got a pair of very large and very angry looking battleships coming up the coast, and they’ve got the battle jack up, Sir.”
McDowell raised his own binoculars up and stared south. There was a pair of battleships out there, as well as a handful of smaller ships. Every single one had the Confederate battle flag flying from their masts. “Well I’ll be damned.” He muttered. “They’re late.”
Midnight, Local time February 14th, 1899
Royal Palace of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Marko ducked down into cover as the hail of gunfire slammed into the door frame next to him, sending shards or razor-sharp stone skittering across the floor.
Marko had been on duty that night, one of the small six-man group that was stationed at the gate to the palace. Enrique and Savoldo had been walking the wall to the south when the mob rushed the gate, and he could only assume they were dead. Andrés had gone for help and hadn’t returned. Pedro had been firing out the north window when someone rammed a pitchfork through his chest. Miguel, who had been with him at the door, hadn’t been as fortunate to duck like Marko. Watching as his friend’s head smashed like a dropped melon was going to haunt him for the rest of his life. Which was probably going to be over in the next few minutes.
He waited for the fire to drop off before leaning back out and unloading his Mauser’s five round magazine into the crowd. One of the bullets hit an ancient looking peasant woman in the chest. She dropped like a rock, but her body was quickly trampled as the mob rushed forward again. Only one rifle was not going to be enough to stop them.
Marko met the first man through the door, a grizzled Moroccan in a faded and tattered army uniform, with a bayonet to the neck. He whipped the twelve-inch blade out with a jerk and clubbed the second man in, a young, well-dressed student, with the butt of his rifle. His temple caved inward and he fell, twitching. The third man, another soldier, grabbed his rifle before he could swing again. They struggled for a brief instant, before he let go with his right hand and drove his fist into the traitor’s jaw. The bastard stumbled back over the two bodies on the floor, shook his head, and then charged again.
Headfirst into a revolver round.
Marko stepped over the corpse to empty the five remaining chambers into the mass at the door, driving them back and giving him a moment to catch his breath. He fumbled another stripper clip of rounds, the second to last, into his rifle.
Those treacherous dogs. Those rotten, swill drinking bastards. The garrison had turned traitor and joined the mob. They were trying to get past him. They were trying to storm the palace. He could hear the shouts further back in the crowd. Cries of “Kill the Austrian sow!” and “Burn the tyrants!” But the one cry that enraged him, the one that poured icy fire into his veins?
“Hang the King!”
Hang the King.
Hang the fourteen-year-old boy who never had a chance to rule over these people.
The boy who spent hours in his studies and lessons so he would be a good ruler. The boy who ran and rode and swam for miles to build up his sickly frame so he wouldn’t be an embarrassment to his nation. The boy who hated the ministers who had ruined his country, devastating it before he could even walk.
The boy who went to his classes dressed in the same guards uniform that Marko wore. The boy who listened, enthralled, to the war stories of the veteran troops who protected him day and night. The boy who marched and drilled with the Captain so he could become a soldier too. The boy who loved the men of the Guardia Real like they were his own uncles.
The boy who took the time out his busy, royal day, to walk up to the new man and ask what his name was. Who had smiled when he had replied “Marko.”
They would burn in hell before they would get past him.
He calmly exhaled and squeezed.
Each bullet found its mark, each cutting down a villain who wanted to harm his little King. They made it to the door again, and again his bayonet tasted blood as he drove it into the heart of another peasant. He shot and stabbed and clubbed and punched, again and again and again, until it all faded into red and then, eventually, into black.
When the ravenous horde finally broke through the gate and charged up the road to the palace, they left thirty of their own crumpled around the body of the guardsman.
7:25 PM, Local Time, February 14th, 1899 Outer Harbor, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Occupied Territory
Captain Antonio Eulate looked back his ship burned. When the Confederate battleships sailed into view, he had known his valiant stand was over. Clutching the gaping tear in his shoulder, he had given the last order in his command, telling his men to spike the guns, light the fires, and abandon the Vizcaya. Now he sat in the stern of the last boat as it rowed towards the captured fort with a white flag up, watching as flames flowed up from his cruiser.
She had been kicked and beaten from the start of her career. Just like all of the other ships in the navy she had been crewed by malcontent conscripts who had given the barest minimum for her. She had been tossed across the globe, from one rebelling colony to another, with her sailors catching every disease and sickness known to mankind, plus a few new ones they had discovered along the way.
Then she had been given the unenviable and impossible task of trying to catch Confederate blockade runners as they shipped weapons to the rebels. She had failed in that task, having been badly maintained despite his best efforts. She had a small kelp forest growing on her hull and rusty guns that jammed. When her vents failed, she boiled them all alive in the heat and humidity of Cuba. Her crew managed to catch every disease in the world again while they ported in Santiago de Cuba, including a nasty spread of syphilis.
Then the duel with the Confederate cruisers.
She had been the flagship of the fleet, but her gunnery had been anything but accurate. Her first real battle had torn her apart. Dozens of her long-suffering crew were killed, her aft turret was all but gone, she was blackened and smoke stained from the fire that had raged for hours before they had put it out. She had only survived because of the destroyer’s torpedo attack, but she was to badly damaged to fight again.
For her sacrifices, for the dead she had consigned to the sea, she was abandoned by the fleet when they had tried to escape the harbor. The few light guns that could be dismounted were removed for the army to use, and then she had been unceremoniously towed to the harbor mouth by her sister, Almirante Oquendo, and was left there to beach herself. One of the most powerful warships in the Spanish Navy, reduced to stationary gun battery.
She and her crew had done well in that role at least. They had stood guard over the mouth of the harbor while the rest of the fleet was chased down and sunk. They had kept the Confederate Navy away from the city with inaccurate, but rapid, gunfire. When the Cuban and Dixie troops stormed the fort, she had rained shell after shell into the advancing wave of men. She had kept firing for hours, despite injuries among her crew, the loss of most of her weapons, and a continuous bombardment of enemy guns.
Then the enemy battleships came over the horizon.
Vizcaya had lost.
She had been defeated.
But she would never surrender.
With a roar and a flash, the fires found the magazine. Vizcaya vanished into an expanding ball of fire and a scattering of metal splinters.
Captain Eulate raised his good arm to shield his eyes from the sudden light. When he looked again, his ship was a smoldering hulk slipping quietly into the surf. He tentatively raised a hand and gave a sad wave.
“Adios, mi hijo.”
Detonation of the Spanish cruiser Vizcaya, taken from the Confederate battleship Stephan Mallory February 14th, 1899
2:37 AM, Local time February 15th, 1899
29 miles North by North West of Madrid, Spain
“Hold up here.” Called Fermín Anbessa. “Wait for the rest of the men.”
His troops, many of them injured and tired after galloping for nearly two hours, jerkily dismounted from their exhausted horses. Anbessa grimaced. Their mounts were not going to last much longer if they kept that pace. The town of Buitrago del Lozoya, and, more importantly, its loyal garrison and thick walls, was only a few more miles away. But the horses were already foaming at the mouth from their run, and it was unlikely-
The soldier turned at the cry, facing his young monarch as he stumbled down of his panting mount. “Captain Anbessa! We have to go back!”
“Your majesty,” Anbessa began.
They stopped the carriages in the city! We have to go back!” Alfonso was rushing through his sentences as he stumbled forward. “We have got to go back, captain! They have mother!”
“Your majesty,” Anbessa barked. “We are not going back into a city that wants you dead!”
That brought the king up short. His captain had never shouted at him like that before.
“They have my mother, Captain. We are going back!”
“I said no, damn it!”
The stunned silence was deafening in the dark forest clearing. His men, and his king, were looking at him with wide eyes. He used that amazement to his advantage. “We are going to del Lozoya. When we get there, I am going to take command of the garrison and move further north. We are going get as many troops who are still loyal together and in one place. Once we are safe then, and only then, are we going to try and retake our nation. Am I clear?”
Hasty shouts of “Yes, Captain” echoed in the night.
“Good. Let the horses rest and see to the wounded. Lieutenant Iago, make a count of the men. I want to know who is still with us. Your majesty, come with me.” Alfonso looked around with wide eyes as the men he had been protected by for his entire life ignored him and went about their tasks. He stumbled after his captain, who was quickly walking away into the woods.
“Captain, stop. I said stop!”
Anbessa ignored his king’s cries and kept walking, knowing the boy was still following him thanks to the sound of breaking branches. He only stopped when he reached the bank of a small stream that ran through the forest.
“Captain.” The king stumbled into the tiny clearing, catching himself before he fell into the slowly flowing water. He glared at the soldier and haughtily brought himself up, mustering every bit of royal bearing he had. “We are going back to Madrid, Captain. That is an order.” It would have looked better if he was taller. Or bulkier. Or wearing anything other than scuffed and torn night clothes.
“No.” His guard said, not facing him.
The young monarch, already red in the face from the run, became redder still. “I order you to take us back!”
“No, your majesty. We are not.”
“I am your king, damn you!” He yelled, stomping his foot on the forest floor. “We are going back right now!”
“No!” Anbessa roared, wheeling to face the suddenly pale teenager. “I swore an oath to protect the king and the royal family!” Alfonso stumbled back as his captain stepped forward. “I will not risk your life in an attempt to save your mother. It would be foolish, stupid, and idiotic.” The taller man clenched his jaw. “And I am not about to go against her orders.”
The king looked lost. “She, she ordered you?”
“To keep you safe.” Anbessa stated quietly. “Safe and alive at all costs. Even if it meant losing her.”
“No.” Alfonso whispered, his eyes tearing. “No. No, no, no! Please Feri. We have to go back!”
“Damn it Alfonso! I am not about to get you killed!” Anbessa shouted. The king jumped, startled. He jumped again when the man crouched down, placing a hand on each shoulder. “You are the king. You have to stay alive. Nothing else matters. No one else matters. You have to stay alive, for our nation.” He shook the king gently. “Please, Alfy. Promise me that you will stay alive.”
Tears were falling now. “I… I ca-”
“Promise me!” Anbessa demanded, shaking him again. “Promise me that you will stay alive!”
“I promise.” Alfonso cried, trembling. “I promise, Feri.”
The soldier paused, then roughly embraced his king. “Thank you, Alfy.” He whispered, feeling the tears soak his uniforms shoulder as the boy cried.
“I want mom.” Alfonso sobbed. “I want my mom.”
“I know Alfy.” Anbessa whispered. “I know.”
“I’m sorry, Alfy.” The guard said softly as he clutched the boy king in the twilight. “I am so, so sorry.”
Last Edit: Jun 14, 2019 14:07:02 GMT -5 by ieshima
“It is our turn now. So long. The captain and crew of SS Beaverford”
Final message transmitted from the cargo liner SS Beaverford before turning to engage panzarschiffe Admiral Scheer. Her sacrifice, sadly forgotten, saved the remaining ships of convoy HX 84.