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Ten-Years War



Interesting Facts About the Mambí Army


Cuban calvary

Calvary of General Gomez' Army, Remedios Cuba
(from the Collection of the US Library of Congress)


cuban shield Origin of the name "Mambí"

According to the noted Cuban Historian Carlos Márques Sterling, the word "Mambí" is of Afro-Antillan origin and was applied to revolutionaries from Cuba and Santo Domingo (now Dominican Republic) in the XIX Century.

According to the fiction writer Elmore Leonard, in his adventure novel Cuba Libre, the word Mambí comes from Eutimio Mambí, a leader who fought the Spaniards in Santo Domingo 50 years previously. The Spanish soldiers, noting the similar machete yielding tactics of the Cuban revolutionaries, started referring to them as "the men of Mambí", which later was shortened to "Mambís" or "Mambíses".

In Cuba the word "Mambí" is reserved exclusively to denote the patriotic soldiers that fought against Spain in the Cuba War of Independence 1895-1898.


cuban shield Women in the Mambí Army

During the course of our transcription, several people noted with surprise that some of the soldiers had female names. A few even had titles of "Señora" so there is no doubt that they were women (see A #104 and B #5391). I don't recall any mention of women in the Cuban Revolutionary Army in my youth or in history books, but if you think about it it is really not at all surprising.

Some of the women (see A #104) were part of the "Sanidad Militar" (Medical Corps). Others formed part of regular Army units. Some of them achieved officer rank (see A #104 and B #5391 for two Capitans).

At the time of the Cuban Revolution, the policy of the Spanish Government, established by the brutal general Valeriano Weyler, was to collect all the inhabitants of rural zones and forcefully move them to urban centers. This was the infamous "Reconcentración" which led to mass starvation and deaths in large numbers.

Faced with such a situation it is not surprising that entire families, women included, would join the Revolution. (one example of a brother and a sister fighting together is B #6180 and 6186, another of 3 brothers and a sister is L #35677, 35680, 35683 and 35684). It is reasonable to assume that if the males in one family would join the Revolution, that the rest of the family would be placed in danger of retribution from the Spanish authorities and the "Voluntarios" (Spanish sympathizers which formed militias to fight the Cuban revolutionaries).


cuban shield First Names From Another Era

One of the fun things of doing the transcriptions is seeing the unusual first names of some of the Soldiers and their fathers and mothers. Many of these names were popular at one time but have fallen in disuse. Some of the more unusual ones we ran into while transcribing pages were:

Men's Names Women's Names
Agripino Cirilo Idelfonso Antolina
Aguedo Clodomiro Indalecio Baldomera
Americo Eduvigis Limbano Belen
Antoliano Eleuterio Loreto Bernarda
Apolonio Estanislao Meliton Buenviaje
Aquilino Eufemio Modesto Casimira
Belonio Eustasio Narciso Chumba
Bernabe Evangelista Prisciliano Cipriana
Bolivar Evaristo Prudencio Cresencia
Bonifacio Ezequiel Sabino Eufemia
Buenaventura Faustino Serapio Fabiana
Candelario Feliciano Silverio Fermina
Candido Fermin Trino Hilaria
Catalino Filidor Venancio Lupersia
Ceferino Florentino Vereno Lutgarda
Celestino Genaro Vidal Petronila
Cipriano Gumersindo   Quirina

I'm sure you can find others even more unusual by sorting on the "Name", "Father" or "Mother" columns.


cuban shield Links to Pictures and Other Sites

Here are some links to pictures, history and stories of the Cuban War of Independence:


cuban shield Books About the War of Independence

Although there are many books on the Spanish-American War from the US point of view, not many cover the years of struggle of Cubans against the Spanish Colonizers. A few selected books are shown in our list of Published References about Cuban History.


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Interesting Facts about the Mambi Army - Updated 03-May-2015

Copyright © 2007-2015 - Ed Elizondo
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