The term "filibuster" affords an interesting example of the way in which words and their uses become twisted into something altogether different from their original meaning. It comes from a Dutch word, several centuries old, vrijbuiter, or free vessel or boat. It got somehow into English as "freebooter," and into Spanish as filibustero. The original referred to piracy. Two or three centuries later, it meant an engagement in unauthorized and illegal warfare against foreign States, in effect, piratical invasions. In time, it came into use to describe the supply of military material to revolutionists, and finally to obstruction in legislative proceedings. In his message of June 13, 1870, President Grant said that "the duty of opposition to filibustering has been admitted by every President. Washington encountered the efforts of Genet and the French revolutionists; John Adams, the projects of Miranda; Jefferson, the schemes of Aaron Burr. Madison and subsequent Presidents had to deal with the question of foreign enlistment and equipment in the United States, and since the days of John Quincy Adams it has been one of the constant cares of the Government in the United States to prevent piratical expeditions against the feeble Spanish American Republics from leaving our shores."

In 1806, Francisco Miranda, a Venezuelan patriot whose revolutionary activities preceded those of Simon Bolivar, sailed from New York on what would have been called, some years later, a filibustering expedition. His three vessels were manned chiefly by Americans. There are always those whose love of excitement and adventure, sometimes mixed with an active sympathy for an under dog, leads them to engage in such an enterprise. This one was productive of no important results. There were plenty of American pirates and privateers in earlier days, but I have found no record of any earlier actual expedition whose purpose was the creation of a new republic. But during the next hundred years, including the considerable number of Americans who have engaged in the present disorder in Mexico, such enterprises have been numerous. Among the most notable are the several Lopez expeditions to Cuba, about 1850, and the Walker expeditions to Lower California, Nicaragua, and Honduras, a few years later. The steamer Virginius, to which reference is made in another chapter, was engaged in filibustering when she was captured, in 1873, and many of her crew and passengers unlawfully executed, by Spanish authority, in Santiago. But that was only one of many similar enterprises during the Ten Years' War in Cuba. It is very doubtful if the war could have continued as it did without them. During our own Civil War, we called such industries "blockade-running," but it was all quite the same sort of thing. The Confederate army needed arms, ammunition, medicine, and supplies of many kinds. On April 19, 1861, President Lincoln proclaimed a blockade of the ports of the seceded States, with a supplementary proclamation on the 27th that completed the line, and thus tied the South hand and foot. In his History of the United States, Elson notes that raw cotton could be bought in Southern ports for four cents a pound while it was worth $2.50 a pound in Liverpool, and that a ton of salt worth seven or eight dollars in Nassau, a few miles off the coast, was worth $1700 in gold in Richmond before the close of the war, all because of the blockade.

There is, naturally, a lack of detail regarding the many expeditions, large and small, of the Ten Years' War, but they began soon after the opening of hostilities. In his Diary, Gideon Welles notes, under date of April 7, 1869, the prevalence of "rumors of illegal expeditions fitting out in our country to aid the Cuban insurgents," and states that "our countrymen are in sympathy with them." In December, of that year, President Grant reported that a number of illegal expeditions had been broken up, but did not refer to those that had succeeded. In October, 1870, he issued a general proclamation, without specific reference to Cuba, warning all persons against engagement in such expeditions. During the years of the war, Spanish warships, at different times, seized American vessels, a proceeding which led to some active diplomatic negotiation, and which, on several occasions, threatened to involve this country in war with Spain. The problem of the industry variously known as filibustering, blockade-running, gun-running, and the shipment of contraband, has two ends. There is, first, the task of getting the shipment out of one country, and, second, the task of getting it into another country. While it is generally classed as an unlawful enterprise, there frequently arises a difficulty in proving violation of law, even when goods are seized and the participants arrested. There is, perhaps, a moral question involved also. Such shipments may be a violation of the law. They are generally so regarded. But they may be, as in the case of the struggling Cubans, struggling against actual and generally admitted wrongs, the only means of serving a worthy and commendable end. There is no doubt that, in Cuba's revolution of 1895, Americans who knew about the work were prone to regard a successful expedition to the island with satisfaction if not with glee. They were inclined to regard those engaged as worthy patriots rather than as law-breakers.

Under date of February 23, 1898, the House of Representatives requested the Secretary of the Treasury to inform that body "at the earliest date practicable, if not incompatible with the public service, what has been done by the United States to prevent the conveyance to the Cubans of articles produced in the United States, and what to prevent 'filibustering,' and with what results, giving particulars, and at what expense to the United States." A reply was sent on the 28th. It makes a very good showing for the activities of the officials responsible for the prevention of such expeditions, but from all I can learn about the matter, it is quite incomplete. There were a number of excursions not set down in the official records. Sailing dates and time and place of arrival were not advertised in the daily papers.

The official statement shows that sixty reports of alleged filibustering expeditions were brought to the attention of the Treasury Department; that twenty-eight of them were frustrated through efforts of the Department; that five were frustrated by the United States Navy; four by Spain; two wrecked; one driven back by storm; one failed through a combination of causes; and seventeen that may be regarded as successful expeditions. The records of the Cuban junta very materially increase the number in the latter class. The despatch of these expeditions was a three-cornered battle of wits. The groups engaged were the officials of the United States, the representatives of Spain, and the agents of the revolution. The United States employed the revenue service and the navy, aided on land by the Customs Service, the Secret Service, and other Federal officers. The official representatives of Spain employed scores of detectives and Spanish spies. The Cuban group sought to outwit them all, and succeeded remarkably well in doing so. A part of the story has been told, with general correctness, in a little volume entitled A Captain Unafraid, described as The Strange Adventures of Dynamite Johnny O'Brien. This man, really a remarkable man in his special line, was born in New York, in 1837, and, at the time this is written, is still living. He was born and grew to boyhood in the shadow of the numerous shipyards then in active operation along the East River. The yards were his playground. At thirteen years of age, he ran away and went to see as cook on a fishing sloop. He admits that he could not then "cook a pot of water without burning it," but claims that he could catch cod-fish where no one else could find them. From fisherman, sailing-master on private yachts, schooner captain, and officer in the United States Navy in the Civil War, he became a licensed East River pilot in New York. He became what might be called a professional filibuster at the time of the revolution in Colombia, in 1885, following that with similar experience in a revolt in Honduras two years later. The Cubans landed a few expeditions in 1895, but a greater number were blocked. In March, 1896, they applied to O'Brien and engaged him to command the Bermuda, then lying in New York and ready to sail. Captain O'Brien reports that her cargo included "2,500 rifles, a 12-pounder Hotchkiss field-gun, 1,500 revolvers, 200 short carbines, 1000 pounds of dynamite, 1,200machetes, and an abundance of ammunition." All was packed in boxes marked "codfish," and "medicines."

The Bermuda sailed the next morning, March 15, with O'Brien in command, cleared for Vera Cruz. The Cubans, including General Calixto Garcia, who were to go on the expedition, were sent to Atlantic City, there to engage a fishing sloop to take them off-shore where they would be picked up by the Bermuda on her way. The ship was under suspicion, and was followed down the bay by tugboats carrying United States marshals, customs officers, and newspaper reporters. O'Brien says: "They hung on to us down through the lower bay and out past Sandy Hook, without getting enough to pay for a pound of the coal they were furiously burning to keep up with us. I don't know how far they might have followed us, but when we were well clear of the Hook, a kind fortune sent along a blinding snow-storm, which soon chased them back home." General Garcia and his companions were picked up as planned, and that part of the enterprise was completed. The vessel was on its way. A somewhat roundabout route was taken in order to avoid any possible overhauling by naval or revenue ships. The point selected for the landing was a little harbor on the north coast about thirty miles from the eastern end of the island. The party included two Cuban pilots, supposed to know the coast where they were to land. One of them proved to be a traitor and the other, O'Brien says, "was at best an ignoramus." The traitor, who, after the landing, paid for his offence with his life, tried to take them into the harbor of Baracoa, where lay five Spanish warships. But O'Brien knew the difference, as shown by his official charts, between the Cape Maisi light, visible for eighteen miles, and the Baracoa light, visible for only eight miles, and kicked the pilot off the bridge. The landing was begun at half-past ten at night, and completed about three o'clock in the morning, with five Spanish warships barely more than five miles away. The United States Treasury Department reported this expedition as "successful." The vessel then proceeded to Honduras, where it took on a cargo of bananas, and returned, under orders, to Philadelphia, the home city of its owner, Mr. John D. Hart. Arrests were made soon after the arrival, including Hart, the owner of the vessel, O'Brien, and his mate, and General Emilio Nunez who accompanied the expedition as the representative of the junta. The case was transferred from the courts in Philadelphia to New York, and there duly heard. The alleged offenders were defended by Horatio Rubens, Esq., of New York, the official counsel of the junta. One of the grounds of the defence was that the defendants might be guilty of smuggling arms into Cuba, but with that offence the courts of the United States had nothing to do. The jury disagreed. The indictments were held over the heads of the members of the group, but no further action was taken, and two or three years later the case was dismissed by order of the Attorney General of the United States.

This expedition fairly illustrates the science of filibustering in its elementary form, a clearance with some attendant risk; a voyage with possibility of interference at any time; and a landing made with still greater risk and danger of capture. The trip had been made so successfully and with such full satisfaction to the promoters that the junta urged O'Brien to remain with them as long as there should be need for his services, and he agreed to do so. A department of expeditions was organized under the general control of Emilio Nunez, with O'Brien as navigator. Credit for the numerous successful expeditions that followed lies in differing degrees with Nunez, Palma, Rubens, O'Brien, Hart, Cartaya, and others less well known in connection with the enterprises. But for the work they did, the risks they ran, Cuba's revolution must have failed. All of them risked jail sentences, and some of them risked their lives in ways perhaps even more dangerous than fighting in the field. The success of the Bermuda expedition, carried out by what may be called direct evasion, quite seriously disturbed the authorities in this country, and excited them to greater precautions and wider activity. Whatever may have been their personal feelings in the matter, it was their duty to see that the laws of the country were enforced as far as they could be. The players of the game for the Cubans met the new activities with complicated moves, many of which puzzled the watching officials, and landed a number of expeditions. Meanwhile, minor expeditions continued. The official report notes that on March 12, 1896, the Commodore, a 100-ton steamer, sailed from Charleston with men, arms, and ammunition, and landed them in Cuba. The Laurada, a 900-ton steamer, was reported by the Spanish Legation as having sailed on May 9, meeting three tugs and two lighters, off the coast, from which were transferred men and arms. The report states that "some of the men landed in Cuba, but the larger part of the arms and ammunition was thrown into the sea," which may or may not have been the case. On May 23, the tug Three Friends left Jacksonville, took on men and arms from two small vessels waiting outside, and landed all in Cuba. A month later, and again two months later, the Three Friends repeated the trip from Florida ports. On June 17, the Commodore made another successful trip from Charleston.

While these and other minor expeditions were going on, the department of expeditions in New York was busy with a more extensive enterprise. An order was placed for 3000 rifles, 3,000,000 rounds of ammunition, 3 12-pound Hotchkiss field-guns and 600 shells, machetes, and several tons of dynamite. The steamer Laurada was chartered, and the ocean-going tug Dauntless was bought in Brunswick, Georgia. A part of the purchased munitions was ordered to New York, and the remainder, two car loads, shipped to Jacksonville by express. Ostensibly, the Laurada was to sail from Philadelphia to Jamaica for a cargo of fruit, a business in which she had at times engaged. Her actual instructions were to proceed to the vicinity of Barnegat, about forty miles from New York, and there, at sea, await orders. The arms and ammunition came down from Bridgeport on the regular boat from that city, and were left on board until night. There was no particular secrecy about the shipment, and detectives followed it. But when, at dark, the big gates of the dock were closed and locked and all seemed over for the day, the watchers assumed that nothing would be done until the next day, and went away. But, immediately after their departure, a big lighter slipped quietly into the dock across the wharf from the Bridgeport boat, a swarm of men appeared and, behind the closed gates, in the semi-darkness of the wharf, rushed boxes from steamer to lighter. The work was finished at midnight; a tug slipped up and attached a hawser to the lighter; and the cargo was on its way to Cuba. Johnny O'Brien was on the tug. The Laurada was met off Barnegat, as arranged, and the cargo and about fifty Cubans put on board of her. She was ordered to proceed slowly to Navassa Island where the Dauntless would meet her. General Nunez and O'Brien returned to New York on the tug, and while the detectives suspected that something had been done, they had no clue whatever to guide them. Nunez and O'Brien started immediately for Charleston, with detectives at their heels. The Commodore, a tug then owned by the Cubans, lay in the harbor of that city, with a revenue cutter standing guard over her. She was ordered to get up steam and to go through all the motions of an immediate departure. But this was a ruse to draw attention away from the actual operations. Rubens, meanwhile, had gone to Jacksonville where he busied himself in convincing the authorities that the tug Three Friends was about to get away with an expedition. With one revenue cutter watching the Commodore in Charleston, the other cutter in the neighborhood was engaged in watching theThree Friends in Jacksonville, thus leaving a clear coast between those cities. In Charleston were about seventy-five Cubans waiting a chance to get to the island. O'Brien states that about twenty-five detectives were following their party. Late in the afternoon of August 13, while the smoke was pouring from the funnels of the Commodore, the regular south-bound train pulled out of the city. Its rear car was a reserved coach carrying the Cuban party, numbering a hundred or so. Detectives tried to enter, but were told that it was a private car, which it was. They went along in the forward cars. At ten o'clock that night, the train reached Callahan, where the Coast Line crossed the Seaboard Air Line. While the train was halted for the crossing, that rear car was quietly uncoupled. The train went on, detectives and all. The railroad arrangements were effected through the invaluable assistance of Mr. Alphonso Fritot, a local railway man whose authority enabled him to do with trains and train movement whatever he saw fit. He was himself of Cuban birth, though of French-American parentage, with ample reason, both personal and patriotic, for serving his Cuban friends, and his services were beyond measure. By his orders, when that train with its band of detectives had pulled away for Jacksonville, an engine picked up the detached car and ran it over to the Coast Line. A few miles away, it collected from a blind siding the two cars of arms and ammunition shipped some days before, from Bridgeport. A little further on, the line crossed the Satilla River. There lay the Dauntless, purchased by Rubens. Steam was up, and a quick job was made of transferring cargo and men from train to boat. Another tug brought a supply of coal, and soon after sunrise another expedition was on its way to Cuba. All this may be very immoral, but some who were on the expedition have told me that it was at least tremendously exciting.

On August 17, the passengers and cargo were landed on the Cuban coast near Nuevitas. The tug then proceeded to Navassa Island to meet the Laurada. Half of the men and half of the cargo of the steamer were transferred to the tug, and all were safely landed in a little cove a few miles west of Santiago. The landing was made in broad daylight. There were a number of Spanish naval vessels in Santiago harbor, and the city itself was filled with Spanish troops. The tug then returned for the remainder of the Laurada's passengers and cargo, all of which were landed a few days later at the place of the earlier landing. TheLaurada went on to Jamaica and loaded with bananas, with which she sailed for Charleston. Arrests were made as a result of the expedition, and the owner of the ship, Mr. John D. Hart, was convicted and sentenced to sixteen months in the penitentiary. After serving four months of his term, a pardon was secured. He is said to be the only one, out of all those engaged in the many expeditions, who was actually convicted, and his only offence was the chartering of his ships to the Cuban revolutionists. The Dauntless was seized on her return to Jacksonville, but was soon released. An effort was made to indict O'Brien, but there was too much sympathy for the Cubans in Florida, where the effort was made. A number of minor expeditions were carried out in the next few months, by the Dauntless, the Three Friends, and theCommodore, the latter being wrecked in the last week in December.

In February, 1897, another complicated manoeuvre was successfully executed. This involved the use of the Bermuda, the Laurada, and no less than seven smaller auxilliary vessels, tugs, lighters, and schooners. Rut the Laurada landed the cargo on the north-eastern coast of the island. As O'Brien tells the story, this successful expedition so angered Captain-General Weyler, then the ruler of the island, that he sent a message to the daring filibuster, through an American newspaper man, somewhat as follows: "Tell O'Brien that we will get him, sooner or later, and when we do, instead of having him shot along with his Cuban companions, I am going to have him ignominiously hanged from the flag-pole at Cabana, in full view of the city." Cabana is the old fortress across the bay, visible from nearly all parts of Havana. To this, O'Brien sent reply saying: "To show my contempt for you and all who take orders from you, I will make a landing within plain sight of Havana on my next trip to Cuba. I may even land an expedition inside of the harbor and take you away a prisoner. If we should capture you, which is much more likely than that you will ever capture me, I will have you chopped up into small pieces and fed to the fires of theDauntless." A few months later, this little Irishman, whom Weyler denounced as a "bloodthirsty, dare-devil," and who may have been a dare-devil but was not bloodthirsty, actually carried out a part of this seemingly reckless threat. He landed a cargo within a mile and a half of Morro Castle.

By this time, vessels of the United States navy were employed, supplementing the work of the Revenue Service. This, of course, added both difficulty and danger to the work. In March and April, several expeditions were interrupted. For the Spanish blockade of the Cuban coast, there was only contempt. Captain O'Brien told a naval officer that if the navy and the revenue cutters would let him alone he would "advertise the time and place of departure, carry excursions on every trip, and guarantee that every expedition would be landed on time." In May, 1897, two carloads of arms and ammunition were shipped from New York to Jacksonville, but, by the authority of Mr. Fritot, they were quietly dropped from the train at a junction point, and sent to Wilmington, N.C. Their contents were transferred to the tugAlexander Jones, and that boat proceeded nonchalantly down the river. Soon afterward, an old schooner, the John D. Long, loaded with coal, followed the tug. Two revenue cutters were on hand, but there was nothing in the movements of these vessels to excite their interest. Off shore, the tug attached a towline to the schooner that was carrying its coal supply, its own bunkers being crammed with guns and cartridges. Off Palm Beach, General Nunez and some sixty Cubans were taken from a fishing boat, according to a prearranged plan. Two days later, at an agreed upon place, they were joined by theDauntless which had slipped out of Jacksonville. The excursion was then complete. About half the cargo of the Jones was transferred to the Dauntless and was landed, May 21, a few miles east of Nuevitas. A second trip took the remainder of the cargo of the Jones and most of the Cuban passengers, and landed the lot under the very guns, such as they were, of Morro Castle, and within about three miles of the Palace of Captain-General Weyler. All that time, a force of insurgents under Rodriguez and Aurenguren was operating in that immediate vicinity, and was in great need of the supplies thus obtained. Some of the dynamite then landed was used the next day to blow up a train on which Weyler was supposed to be travelling, but in their haste the Cubans got one train ahead of that carrying the official party. The row that Weyler made about this landing will probably never be forgotten by the subordinates who were the immediate victims of his rage.

These are only a few of the many expeditions, successful and unsuccessful, made during those three eventful years. The Treasury Department report of February 28, 1898, gives seventeen successful operations. As a matter of fact, more than forty landings were made, although in a few cases a single expedition accounted for two, and in one or two instances for three landings. The experiences run through the entire gamut of human emotions, from absurdity to tragedy. The former is illustrated by the case of the Dauntless when she was held up by a vessel of the United States navy, and boarded by one of the officers of the ship. He examined the tug from stem to stern, sat on boxes of ammunition which seemed to him to be boxes of sardines, stumbled over packages of rifles from which butts and muzzles protruded; and failed utterly to find anything that could be regarded as contraband. The mere fact that a vessel is engaged in transporting arms and ammunition does not, of necessity, bring it within reach of the law. But that particular vessel was a good deal more than under suspicion; it was under the closest surveillance and open to the sharpest scrutiny. The temporary myopia of that particular lieutenant of the United States navy was no more than an outward and visible sign of a well-developed sense of humor, and an indication of at least a personal sympathy for the Cubans in their struggle. Tragedy is illustrated by the disaster to the steamer Tillie. One day, late in January, 1898, this vessel, lying off the end of Long Island, took on one of the largest cargoes ever started on a filibustering expedition to Cuba. The cause is not known, but soon after starting a leak developed, beyond the capacity of the pumps. A heavy sea was running, and disaster was soon inevitable. The cargo was thrown overboard to lighten the ship and the vessel was headed for the shore on the chance that it might float until it could be beached. The water in the ship increased rapidly, and extinguished the fires under the boilers; the wind, blowing a high gale, swung into the northwest, thus driving the now helpless hulk out to sea. Huge combing waves swept the decks from end to end. O'Brien tells the story: "We looked in vain for another craft of any kind, and by the middle of the afternoon it seemed as though it was all up with us, for there was not much daylight left, and with her deck almost awash it was impossible that the Tillie should keep afloat all night. The gale had swept us rapidly out to sea. The wind, which was filled with icy needles, had kicked up a wild cross-sea, and it was more comfortable to go down with the ship than even to think of trying to escape in the boats." At last, when there seemed no longer any hope of rescue, the big five-masted schooner Governor Ames came plunging through the heaving seas, and, by masterly seamanship and good fortune, backed by the heroism of her commander and crew, succeeded in taking off all except four, who went down with the ship. But the work went on. There is not space here to tell of the several vessels whose names, through the engagement of the craft in these enterprises, became as familiar to newspaper readers as are the names of ocean liners today. A few months later, the United States Government sent its ships and its men to help those who, for three hard years, had struggled for national independence.