(from the collections of the Library of Congress)
Cuban Military Records
In the struggle for independence from Spain, cubans fought three revolutionary
conflicts as follows. Click on the second item in the menu at left for
a brief history of these conflicts.
Guerra de Los Diez Años - The Ten-Years War (1868-1878)
Unlike for the Cuban War of Independence, there is no centralized list
of all Cuban participants in the Ten-Years
War. Many of them did return to fight again during the War of Independence
in 1898. Many of the military records were shipped back to Spain after
the end of Spanish Colonial rule and reside in the Spanish Military Archive
Two of our readers,
and Eugenio de J. Perez Ferrer, have compiled and generously made
available a data base of more than 2350 Officers, Deputies, and other
members of the Goivernment of the Republic in Arms during the Ten Years
War. This document is available through the following link:
During the Ten Years War, the Spanish authorities executed eight university
medical students for alegedly scratching the tombstone of a Spanish newspaperman.
The names and genealogical information of the eight medical students is
available from the following link:
Also during the Ten Years War, the Spanish authorities captured the
arms runner ship Virginius and executed most
of the US and British crew and all the Cuban revolutionary officers on-board.
The story of this sorry event and names of the captured and executed
is available form the following link:
Guerra Chiquita - The Small War (1879-1880)
We do not know of the availability outside of Cuba of any records of
Cubans that participated in The
Small War, other than the leaders mentioned in history
books. Many of the military records were shipped back to Spain after
the end of Spanish Colonial rule and reside in the Spanish Military Archive
in Segovia. Some records may also be held at the Archivo
Nacional de Cuba.
Guerra de Independencia - The War of Independence (1895-1898)
Shortly after the end of the Cuban
War of Independence, a list of all the soldiers and officers who participated
in the conflict was prepared, primarily to serve as the basis for veteran's
pensions. The original records are presumably in the Archivo Nacionál (National Archive) of Cuba. Fortunately the list was also compiled and
published in the following book:
Yndice Alfabético y Defunciones del Ejército
Libertador de Cuba - Guerra de Independencia, iniciada el 24 de Febrero
de 1895 y terminada oficialmente El 24 de Agosto de 1898 (Alphabetic Index and Deaths of the Cuban Liberation Army - Cuban War
of Independence, started 24 February 1895 and officially ended 24 Aug
1898), Carlos Roloff. Habana, Impr. de Rambla y Bouza, 1901. [LOC Call
number F1786.C95, LDS microfilm number 1844674]
The entries in the above book have been transcribed
to a data base by a dedicated group of volunteers from our CUBA-L list. The data base is accessible through the following links:
Also from the same reference, we have transcribed
the lists of soldiers who died during the War. You can access these
lists by means of the following link:
During the Cuban War of Independence, Spain confined many Cuban prisoners
of war and political prisoners in several penitentiaries in Cuba, Spain
and Spanish possessions in North Africa. We have compiled a partial data
base of these individuals which can be reached by the following link:
If any of your ancestors attained the rank of General in the Cuban Liberation
Army in any of the above conflicts, their names should also appear in
our list of
A short biography of each of the listed names appears
Cuban National Archives - Other Documents and Lists
April 2006 - A Cuban historian, Ms. Marial Iglesias Utset, with access to the Cuban National Archives, has kindly answered our questions and provided the following information:
EE: - Are the original application forms that were filled out by the veterans for the Roloff book still kept? In what physical state are they? Can they be reviewed by visitors to Cuba? Do they contain additional data from that published by Roloff?
MIU: - In Roloff's time, what were compiled were lists (I don't think there were application forms), that completed the already existing regimental lists (although Maximo Gomez says in a letter at the end of the war that only 10% of the archives were kept), those lists were used to distribute the 75 pesos and disband the army and later were incorporated in the book that we all know.
EE. - Once in a while, some descendant of a veteran writes me stating that their ancestor's name does not appear in the Rolloff book (or its appendix). Are there additional lists?
MIU: - Yes, there are several lists. First there are lists preceding Roloff's, made by the corresponding regiments, still in times of war. Some are kept at the ANC in various sections. Then there are the lists for the collection of the 75 pesos with which the soldiers were discharged in 1899, and which formed the basis for the Roloff book. By that date (1899) yoiu can also find lists of appointments of officers in the volumes of published proceedings of the Assembly of Representatives, where the ranks were awarded. Later, now in the Republic era, the lists created by the Revision Commission (Comision Revisora) appear.
The Revision Commission was created to ammend the errors in Roloff and, above all, to follow the express dictate of Maximo Gomez, to reduce to 40,000 the total number of members of the army, and thus lighten the amount of public debt, contracted by the Republic for the payment of the soldier pensions. I remember reading a letter from Maximo Gomez, where he sarcastically stated that if he had counted with 70,000 people in the army during the war, he would have gone in person and removed Wayler from the Palace of the Capitan Generals in Habana. Thus, many included in the Roloff registry do not appear in these later lists, published I believe between 1902 and 1903 in the Gaceta Oficial (Official Gazzette).
The original applicatin forms of the Revision Commission are deposited in the National Archive, but because of their bad physical state, are not available for consultation. I had the opportunity, some two years ago to review several of them and they do contain additional information, not only the date that the soldier or officer entered the army but also the dates of the awards of ranks and the signatures of the superior officers who certified them, whether the soldier or officer was wounded in campaign, whether he received a pass to another troop or to leave Cuba, etc., etc. In addition, the record indicates the amounts paid the soldier, according to the time spent in the army and his rank.
Later, and almost until 1908, there appear lists with claims for veterans pensions, also in the Gaceta. The lists published in the Gaceta, often include names that were not in Roloff, or the same names appear but with different ranks. Ideally you need to check both sources simultaneously. In 1902, the Revision Commission went from town to town, requesting the application forms, that were filled out not only by the veterans, but also by the widows and relatives of soldiers who died in the war. The form was complex and had to be validated by the immediate superiors of the applicant, so that if the applicant was illiterate, as were many of the line soldiers, this would be an obstacle to obtain the certificate of payments. Many members of the army lived in rural places and were unable to travel to the towns where the Commission was located and were left without filling out the forms, because of this, in following years there were numerous claims.
However, not appearing in Roloff, or in these lists, published after the Republic was formed, of the Revision Comission does not mean not having been in the army. By the same token that many who joined at the last minure were able to register, many mambises, particularly the more humble ones (many of them illiterate) , had difficulties in proving their participation and were left off the lists.
EE: - The Ten Years War or Big War (Guerra de los Diez Años o Guerra Grande) lacks a similar list of those who participated in it. Is there in the National Archives a publication or list of the veterans of this war?
MIU: - I don't know of any published list. There are original lists in the archives of the army but also from Spanish sources, such as war prisoneres, executed or deported, or of people whose belongings were expropriated due to their beliefs for independence, disloyalty, etc. etc., but they are incomplete and are spread among several sources in the ANC. Nevertheless, there has recently been publsihed in Cuba (by a center of military studies) a dictionary of military history in 3 volumes (see references). The first is biographic and includes the biographies of officers (up to Lieutenant Colonel) of both wars of independence. The data is not always precise, but it does include biographies of officers of the Big War and should still be a useful reference. It even includes biogrphies of several women.
EE: - Thank you very much.
Spanish Military Records
If any of your ancestors served in the Spanish military, there is probably
a wealth of information available about them, such as personal files ("Expedientes
Personales"), and Service Records ("Hojas de Servicio"). If your ancestor
was an officer and married while in the military service, the personal
files probably will contain a marriage file ("Expediente Matrimonial"),
containing a wealth of information about the officer and his intended
spouse, such as birth certificates, death certificates of any previous
spouses, letters of reference and descriptions of real estate or other
sources of wealth of his intended spouse. (In order for an officer to
marry, he had to make a petition to the Queen/King to this effect, which
included supplying all the aforesaid documents, which then became part
of this personal file).
Soldiers Repatriated to Canaries
After the Cuban War of Independence, many Spanish soldiers were repatriated back to Spain. The following document, results of research by Jose "Cheo" Velazquez Mendez, Professor of History and newspaper chronicler from Garachico, Tenerife. lists 145 individuals who were repatriated back to the Canaries from Cuba and the Phillipines. Each individual is listed, followed by his birth place. Mr. Velazquez requests that you let him know if you recognize any names and can provide any additional information. You can write him directly at
Soldiers Repatriated to Canaries - 1899
You can search for the existence of Service Records prior to 1809 in
the following LDS Church microfilms:
Hojas de Servicio de Militares en Cuba 1765-1809, Secretaria
de Guerra, Simancas (Service Records of Soldiers in
Cuba, War Secretariat, Simancas)
||LDS INTL Film #
You can search for service and retirement Records also in the following
Indice de Documentos de la Secretaria de Guerra, Simancas (Index of Documents of the War Secretariat, Simancas). [LDS Book Number
For a complete history and description of the extensive holdings at the
Simancas Archives you can consult the following book:
Guia del Investigador, Archivo General de Simancas (Guide for the Investigator, General Archive of Simancas), Angel de
la Plaza Bores, Ministerio de Cultura, Direccion General de Bellas Artes
y Archivos, Direccion de Archivos Estatales, Madrid, 3rd Ed 1986 [ISBN
You can search for the existence of personal files in the following index:
Archivo General Militar de Segovia - Indice de Expedientes
Personales , Vols 1-9, Instituto Luis de Salazar y Castro,
Madrid, Ediciones Hidalguia, 1959-1963. [LDS FHL Book number 946M23s].
The content of the volumes is as follows:
If you find your ancestor in the index, you then must write (in Spanish),
giving the information you found in the index to:
Servicio General Militar de Segovia
Archivo General Militar de Segovia
Plaza Reina Victoria Eugenia s/n
40003 Segovia, Segovia
They will then inform you of the available documents and
the cost of reproduction. You must then send them a postal money order
or bank draft for the amount, after which they will make the certified
copies and send them to you.