Brigadier General Antero Rubín commanded nearly 1,500 men and 2 guns, distributed as follows:
* 3 companies of the 1st "Provisional de Puerto Rico" infantry battalion,
* 5 companies of the 11th "San Fernando" infantry battalion
* 5 companies of the 4th "Talavera Peninsular" infantry battalion
* 2 companies of movilizados (Spanish levied loyalists)
* 2 platoons of engineers and 1 platoon of mountain artillery equipped with two 75 mm Krupp guns
These forces were deployed in three echelons: 3 companies of Puerto Rico and 1 company of movilizados covering the crossroads of the Siboney trails, with 2 other companies (San Fernando) guarding the surrounding heights; 3 companies (San Fernando), the engineers, and the artillery holding the Asiento de Sevilla; and 5 companies of Talavera and 1 company of movilizados at La Redonda under Colonel Bory, covering the trails to Justicí and El Pozo.
The American side included the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, or "Rough Riders", under Leonard Wood, the 1st U.S. Regular Cavalry, and the 10th U.S. Regular Cavalry (this consisted of Afro-American soldiers, then called Buffalo soldiers). Supported by artillery, the American forces numbered in all more than 1,200 men.
The first sign the Americans had of the enemy's proximity was a Cuban independentist soldier laid down dead by the road. The engagement began with shots by U.S. artillery. Spanish infantry returned fire, nailing the advancing American units to the ground with rifle volleys. The Spaniards were armed with superior 1893 model Mauser repetition rifles that fired round after round of smokeless or "dry" gunpowder, making them exceedingly difficult to target in return.
Wheeler's forces moved to encircle the Spaniards' first echelon, assaulting its front and right flank, but were repulsed. Then came a pause, and both sides reinforced the battle line, the Spaniards sending forward 2 companies of San Fernando and the artillery. After midday the ...