He knew, and it was certain—and in fact it did happen—that virtually all the American troops are going to get malaria. And as many as 25 percent of ‘em would be down at any one time, and by “down” I mean flat on the back, unable to operate at all. And then in July the yellow fever was gonna start.
The growing death toll convinced General Shafter to accept a conditional surrender of Santiago. Spain could not afford to ship its own army back from Cuba. Shafter agreed to send home 23,000 Spanish soldiers at U.S. expense. Disease would take the lives of more than two thousand U.S. troops, nearly five times the number of fatalities from combat.