A Biography of

Major General Calixto Ramón García Iñiguez

Contributed by Larry Daley

Click here to read Maj. Gen. Garcia's Official Report of the War in Cuba


This is a brief biography of the life of Cuban Major General Calixto Ramón García Iñiguez.


General Garcia’s struggles against Spanish tyranny lasted from 1868 to 1898.  When he died General Garcia was first buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full U.S. military honors.  Archbishop Ireland spoke highly of him in his funeral mass.  The Masons erected a bronze tablet where he died at the Raleigh Hotel in Washington.  The Cuban general was very large, strong, educated, hot tempered man but always logical in battle he is known as the strategist.  He was descended from a well known Spanish family with a warrior tradition.  His grandfather Calixto Garcia de Luna e Izquierdo, had fought with the Spanish in the critical Battle of Carabobo in what is now Venezuela (1821) and losing one hand was one of a small number of Spanish survivors.  His grandfather, who dropped the aristocratic de Luna part when he took refuge in Cuba, was jailed for demanding emancipation for the slaves, constitutional freedom for all, and it is reported trying to hang a priest who opposed this, on March 18, 1837.

.There is a semi-mythical report that General Calixto Garcia Iñiguez was descended from King Calixto Garcia-Iñiguez through his mother Lucia Iñiguez Landon.  This king was the son of Iñigo Arista (and hence Iñiguez) founder of the Arista (named from the oak and meaning strong in battle) dynasty of Pamplona.  King Calixto Garcia Iñiguez is recorded as captured and ransomed by the Vikings in 852. There is no complete English language biography of General Calixto Garcia.  Even the books in Spanish cited in the biography only tell selected parts of his life and long military career.  A summary (some corrections from sources cited at end of article are included within brackets) of the general’s  life is found in his obituary in Harper’s Weekly (December 24, 1898 p. 1263):

“Destiny, as we all know, is a sarcastic creature, and it happens often that folks die just when it seems to observers that they have got ready to live. It was certainly so with General Calixto Garcia, who died of pneumonia, in Washington, on December 11 (1898).  It is only a few weeks since he came from Cuba at the head of the special Cuban commission which was empowered to communicate the views of the Cuban leaders to our government.

General Garcia was fifty-eight (59) years old, and for more than half his life his chief concern had been the overthrow of Spanish rule in Cuba.  He was born in Holguin, in 1840 (August 4, 1839), and was one of the instigators of the Cuban rebellion of 1868.  For five years he was active and successful in fights and forays against the Spaniards, but in September 1873 (September 6, 1974) he was surprised with twenty (16) men by 500 (sic).  Seeing that there was no chance to get away, and unwilling to be captured alive, he put the muzzle of his (0.45 caliber) pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger.  The ball, instead of going through his brain, came out of his forehead between his eyes, and he recovered.  He was sent to Spain and held prisoner until the peace of Zanjon was signed in 1877 (1878).  Then he went to Paris, and hence to New York and back to Cuba, and presently took part with Maceo in what was called “the little war” (1879-1880).  Captured again, his life was spared, and he was sent back to Spain, where he lived for seventeen (15) years under police supervision in Madrid.  There he supported his family, which grew large, by teaching.”

“When the last revolution broke, out in 1894, he grew restless again, and finally slipped away from Madrid and reached New York in November, 1895.  He commanded the Hawkings filbustering expedition which came to grief, but after two more unsuccessful attempt reached Cuba in March 1896.  His record as Cuban leader after that is a matter of general knowledge.  His cooperation with the American Forces in the Capture of Santiago fairly brought him in at the death of the Spanish rule that he fought so long.”

“Of the three Cuban generals of greatest note in the last revolution (Antonio Maceo and Máximo Gómez) only Gomez now survives.”

Website Bibliography
Article Bibliography:

________This Busy World.  Harper’s Weekly XLII (issue 2192) p. 1263.

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