San Juan (crs)
In 1508, Juan Ponce de León founded the original settlement Caparra (named after the province Caceres, Spain, the birthplace of then-governor of Spain's Caribbean territories Nicolás de Ovando), which today is known as the Pueblo Viejo sector of Guaynabo, just to the west of the present San Juan metropolitan area. A year later, the settlement was moved to a site then called Puerto Rico, Spanish for "rich port" or "good port", after its similar geographical features to the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. In 1521, the newer settlement was given its formal name, San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, in honor of John the Baptist, following the tradition of christening the town with both its formal name and the name which Christopher Columbus had originally given the island. The ambiguous use of San Juan Bautista and Puerto Rico for both the city and the island led to a reversal in practical use by most inhabitants: by 1746, the name for the city (Puerto Rico) had become that of the entire island, while the name for the Island (San Juan Bautista) had become the name for the city. San Juan, as a settlement of the Spanish Empire, was used by merchant and military ships traveling from Spain as the first stopover in the Americas. Because of its prominence in the Caribbean, a network of fortifications was built to protect the transports of gold and silver from the New World to Europe. Because of the rich cargoes, San Juan became a target of the foreign powers of the time. The city was witness to attacks from the English led by Sir Francis Drake in 1595 (in what is known as the Battle of Puerto Rico) and by George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, in 1598. Artillery from San Juan's fort, El Morro, repelled Drake; however, Clifford managed to land troops and lay siege to the city. After a few months of English occupation, Clifford was forced to abandon the siege when his troops began to suffer from exhaustion and sickness. In 1625 the city was sacked by Dutch forces led by Captain Balduino Enrico (also known as Boudewijn Hendricksz/Bowdoin Henrick), but El Morro withstood the assault and was not taken. The Dutch were counterattacked by Captain Juan de Amezquita and 50 members of the civilian militia on land and by the cannons of the Spanish troops in El Morro Castle. The land battle left 60 Dutch soldiers dead and Enrico with a sword wound to his neck which he received from the hands of Amezquita. The Dutch ships at sea were boarded by Puerto Ricans who defeated those aboard. After a long battle, the Spanish soldiers and volunteers of the city's militia were able to defend the city from the attack and save the island from an invasion. On October 21, Enrico set La Fortaleza and the city ablaze. Captains Amezquita and Andre Botello decided to put a stop to the destruction and led 200 men in an attack against the enemy's front and rear guard. They drove Enrico and his men from their trenches and into the ocean in their haste to reach their ships. The British attack in 1797, during the French Revolutionary Wars, led by Sir Ralph Abercromby (who had just conquered Trinidad). His army laid siege to the city but was forced to withdraw in defeat as the Puerto Rican defenses proved more resilient than those of Trinidad. Various events and circumstances, including liberalized commerce with Spain, the opening of the island to immigrants as a direct result of the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815, and the colonial revolutions, led to an expansion of San Juan and other Puerto Rican settlements in the late 18th and early 19th century. On May 8, 1898, United States Navy ships, among them the USS Detroit, USS Indiana, USS New York, USS Amphitrite, USS Terror and USS Montgomery, commanded by Rear Admiral William T. Sampson arrived at San Juan Bay. The USS Yale captured a Spanish freighter, the Rita in San Juan Bay, thus being the first hostile encounter between the warring sides in Puerto Rico. On May 9, Yale fought a brief battle with an auxiliary cruiser of Spain, name unknown, resulting in a Spanish victory. Around this time, Captain Ángel Rivero Méndez was assigned the command of the Spanish forces in the fortress of San Cristóbal in San Juan. On May 10, the Yale returned to San Juan Bay, Rivero-Méndez ordered his men to open fire upon the USS Yale using an Ordoñez 15 centimeter cannon, thus becoming the first attack against the Americans in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War. For his actions, Captain Rivero-Mendez was awarded the "Cruz de la Orden de Merito Militar" (The Cross of the Order of the Military Merit) first class. The residents of San Juan were furious with Rivero and blamed him for the destruction caused to their city by the American bombardments. Nothing came of those accusations and Capt. Rivero-Méndez was ordered to turn over the keys of all the military installations in San Juan to Captain Henry A. Reed of the U.S. Army after the Treaty of Paris of 1898 was signed. On July 25, General Nelson A. Miles landed at Guánica (in southwestern Puerto Rico) with 3,300 soldiers in what was known as the Puerto Rico Campaign. The American troops found some resistance and engaged the Spanish and Puerto Rican troops in battle, the most notable of these the Battles of Yauco and Asomante. All military actions in Puerto Rico were suspended August 13, 1898, after President William McKinley and French Ambassador Jules Cambon, acting on behalf of the Spanish government, signed an armistice. Spain ceded the island to the United States later the same year by signing the Treaty of Paris. Camp Las Casas, located in the district of Santurce, served as the main training camp for the Puerto Rican soldiers prior to World War I and World War II; the majority of the men trained in this facility were assigned to the "Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry" which was renamed the 65th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army by the Reorganization Act of June 4, 1920. The 65th Infantry was deactivated in 1956 and became the only unit ever to be transferred from an active Army component to the Puerto Rico National Guard.
Identifier: 577, Last Accessed: 2018-04-16 16:41:18
Copyright: © A. O. Newberry & Co. 2007-2018
All rights reserved.
Last Modified: Fri Jul 29 2016 09:10:20.