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Antonio Maceo - Cuban Hero

Lt. Gen. José Antonio de la Caridad Maceo y Grajales (June 14, 1845 - December 7, 1896), known as the “Bronze Titan” - an allusion to both his military genius and his skin color - is remembered for his unwavering allegiance to the cause of Cuban freedom.


Also known as “The Greater Lion”, he was one of the greatest heroes of the Cuban War of Independence.


Gen. Maceo was one of nine children born to Marcos Maceo and his wife

Mariana Grajales Cuello. Mariana was herself known as the "Mother of Cuba" because of her bravery and unwavering dedication to Cuban independence.


The Maceo family viewed Spanish domination as the cause of existing economic hardship, racism and slavery on the island and the entire family was committed to the cause of independence.


When Maceo’s father, Marcos Maceo was on his deathbed, he summoned his sons and had every one of them take the oath that as long as breath remained in their bodies they would fight against Spain for the independence of Cuba. History shows that they kept this promise. The family as a whole sacrificed everything it owned.


Weeks after the initial revolt against Spain took place on October 10, 1868, Antonio and his brothers joined the war. Antonio was quickly made a Commander and promoted to Lt. Colonel by 1869.


In what became the Ten Year War (1868 - 1878), the first of the wars for Cuban Independence, Maceo participated in over 500 battles against the Spanish Empire, fighting side by side with the Mambi Army, most of whom were of African or Chinese descent.


At least two of Gen. Maceo’s brothers died in the Ten Year War. First he suffered the death of his youngest brother Julio Maceo who died at age 16 in 1870, and then that of his brother Miguel Maceo in 1874.


With Gen. Maceo refusing to surrender to Spain by signing “El Pacto de Sanjon” (a peace accord which would have ended the war but would not have abolished slavery), the Ten Year War ended in a stalemate in 1878.


The ending of the Ten Year War forced Gen. Maceo into exile where he survived numerous assassination attempts by the Spaniards up until the beginning of the final War for Cuban Independence in 1895. Maceo led the Liberating Army into Havana in what's known as The Western Invasion. During The Western Invasion his troops, mostly Afro-Cubans on horseback, covered more than 1,000 miles in 92 days and fought the enemy in 27 separate encounters. It is considered one of the great military feats of the century.


It took thirty years of intermittent war (1868–1878, 1879–1880, and 1895–1898) to achieve independence from Spain. During that time, Gen. Maceo participated in more than 900 battles and was wounded 26 times. He lost his father and 3 brothers in the war but Maceo never lost a battle until the day he died.


In at least one account, it is said that his dying words were, “Long Live Cuba!”


Shown in photo below, a portrait of Gen. Antonio Maceo on a 1958 Cuban Peso.


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