Front Door to Cuba

Did Flor Crombet and Antonio Maceo Fight a Duel?

Flor Crombet

Flor Crombet joined the Ten Year War at the age of 17 years, fighting at the side of Antonio Maceo for most of the War, and earning the respect and admiration of his fellow rebels. Maceo and Crombet developed a deep friendship throughout the war and later in exile, though not without its conflicts.

Crombet was much less known in Cuba than Maceo, which made it easier for him to get in and out of the island after the end of the Ten Year War. Even when he used his own name, Crombet was able to enter the island through the port of Havana and participate in the Little War (1878-80), which ended before Maceo could get to Cuba.

Maceo and other rebels were en route to join the Little War when they learned that it was over, and that José Maceo and Calíxto Garcia had been arrested after a promise of safe passage out of the island.

In the 1880s, Crombet and Maceo collaborated with Gómez and Calixto García (after he escaped from prison with José Maceo) to revive the war effort for independence from the Spanish empire. Their efforts often led to frustration and inner fighting, and to an incident (August 1886) in which Maceo challenged Crombet to a duel.

Their disagreement came after the loss of a shipment of rebel weapons which had cost a great deal of time, money and effort to acquire. Crombet had been transporting the weapons on an American merchant ship when they noticed a rapidly approaching Spanish war ship. Antonio MaceoThe captain, fearing the Spanish government, ordered that the rebel weapons be tossed overboard, confronting Crombet and his men with firearms. The weapons were dumped into the ocean, and the captain said that the only reason he let Crombet and his men live, was his respect and devotion for Maceo and Gómez.

Thanks to Gómez' intervention, the duel never took place, but this incident marked the temporary end of the war effort.

Maceo and Crombet's friendship was eventually re-kindled. At the time of Maceo's farming colony (early 1890s) Crombet and his family built a home close to Maceo's in Nicoya, Costa Rica.

Crombet was killed shortly after landing in Cuba at the beginning of the War of Independence in 1895.

Maceo was killed in battle in late 1896, after the historic Western Invasion that brought the Mambises from one end of the island to the other.

Return to 1886

[Photo top right: Flor Crombet. Bottom left: Antonio Maceo.]

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