Synopsis of Naval War College Plan of Operations by Captain Henry C. Taylor
Synopsis of War College Plan for
Cuban campaign in a war with Spain
It is premised that our forces in Asia and the Pacific will demonstrate against the Philippines –
Our force in Europe should form part of our Cuban campaign, for observation and later to reinforce main body –
No serious demonstrations against old Spain, until the Cuban Campaign is settled, should be undertaken – Its military effect as a diversion would be inconsiderable, its political effect would be to consolidate Spain's national spirit, and our ships thus employed will be needed in Cuba.
For the Cuban campaign all the military resources of the U.S. afloat + ashore must be developed and put in use instantly. The necessity for this must be recognized, and upon this basis – of all the resources of the Country – the plan of campaign must be founded. We must consent to possible over preparations rather than to under estimate our war needs – only thus can we be sure to avoid checks + delays, which when confronted by a feeble enemy, constitute military reverses, as much as do battles lost when engaged with the superior enemy –
This being understood, the War College plan proposes a rapid series of movements, carefully studied + concerted beforehand, having for object the completion of certain military acts, before Spain can bring upon the scene her heavy fighting ships, and any large force of troops to add to those already in Cuba –
These acts + movements are
10 – The immediate
blockade attack of Havana + adjacent harbors by our heavy ships.
20 – The scouring of the Cuban coast by our cruisers, to destroy hostile craft; the establishment of blockade by armed merchant steamers throughout the Island; the capture of Cienfuegos and other points, and their occupation by our Army, in order to secure coaling stations in order to secure coaling stations + rendezvous for our blockading vessels.
Attack Havana with our fleet and if resistance is feeble, occupy it with our fleet, and land our troops to hold it.
40 - If fighting at Havana
resists strongly cease bombardment, and occupy Bahia Honda and Cabanas Harbors ── or Matanzas if Army prefers it ── and land advance corps of 30000 men of all arms, under whose shelter and that of the fleet, two more Corps = 60000 as soon as ready will land, and more if needed. These troops to advance upon Havana by land, assisted by the fleet on its seaward flank –
With vigorous preparation, and harmonious concert of action between the Army + Navy, these movements can be either completed or their completion assumed soon afterwards within 30 days that passed from the declaration of war; and Spain cannot in less than that time reach Cuba with a respectable force, demanding the attention of our heavy ships. The importance of completing these demonstrations before the enemy arrives in force is plainly apparent.
50 Local Naval defence for our own ports must be organized to supplement the Army forts + submarine mines ── in case the enemy's fleet should attempt to surprise them ── until our fleet can be recalled from off Havana. The fear of this should not be allowed to retain vessels of the fleet in our Northern ports.
The above represents the general idea of the War College plans.4 All military resources of the country must be brought into play at once. Only then can the matter be quickly settled, and real economy of life + treasure insured.
A passive blockade of Cuba to await the starving out of the Spanish troops there; the reduction of the Island by the Navy without the help of the Army; or by the Army without the Navy ── these methods which are sometimes suggested, have a certain ingenuity, and are attractive because they seem to offer large returns, for small expenditure of life + treasure ── but to the War College it does not appear that such methods are based upon the principles of warfare as deduced from Naval and Military History.
There are no royal roads, no shortcuts to victory. Force must be brought against force in order to win. In no other way does it appear to in the opinion of the War College can war be successfully waged.