Reconcentrado (Spanish), one of a class of Cubans during the final Cuban rebellion against Spain. Governor-General Weyler issued a decree that all of the peasant class not actively engaged in the insurrection but at their homes or ranches, should be "reconcentrated" in or near certain towns, disobedience to this decree incurring the penalty of death. Accordingly, these people, non-combatants and mostly old men beyond the ability of army services, feeble old women, children, and babies, were forced to leave their homes and to gather in herds in and near these towns, where they were without food and shelter, "reconcentrated," to starve and to suffer from exposure to the weather and lack of all comfort. These helpless victims were popularly called "reconcentrados." General Weyler's purpose in this "measure of war" was to desolate the island in certain parts so that the "insurgents" could not get aid and food. With this in view, the abandoned homes were destroyed, and whatever remained of value to the Spaniards was confiscated. Whole districts in the most productive part of the island were thus laid waste. Sugar mills were burned and other industrial property was destroyed. Nearly 400,000 "reconcentrados" were forced to go within the Spanish lines, where no means of subsistence were provided for them. More than 200,000 died of starvation and disease, an appalling record in modern civilization.
The United States was shocked by this atrocity, and at this time could give but little aid to the sufferers, their undertakings, including Christian Herald work, being barred out or limited by Spanish authority. Later American work of "rescue in Cuba" was largely effective for this most unfortunate class. When the decree, under General Blanco, was issued to permit the reconcentrados to return to their homes, there was desolation where their homes had been. It was at this time that the American relief work, by readers of the "Christian Herald," Red Cross ministration, and other help availed this helpless class, but not to the full extent of their capacities until the American army and navy had extinguished Spanish rule in the "Pearl of the Antilles."
Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia,