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     Sixteen Americans and one Canadian of the Lincoln Battalion headquarters staff felt their hearts beat faster late in the afternoon of February 16, 1937. They were on their way to their first battle against the fascists. The Spanish drivers of their two small trucks had difficulty maneuvering around the shell and bomb holes in the road. All eyes were scanning the road ahead, searching for the Republican troops holding the front.

     At 5:15 p.m. they saw soldiers standing along the road waving to them to come on. As the trucks slowly drew up abreast of the soldiers, the Spanish drivers swore, “Fascists!” Since there was neither time nor space to turn around, they floored their accelerators. The soldiers who had waved at them now fired at the trucks. Bullets were also coming from the nearby hills on both sides.

     One shot damaged the steering mechanism on the first truck and the driver was barely able to keep in on the road. At the first bend, it rolled over on its side, and the second truck ran into it. Those who were not wounded or injured and who had rifles took up positions alongside the trucks or in the ditch along the road to fire at the large number of fascist soldiers running down the hill toward them from both sides.

     Five Americans, who had only a pistol among them, made a run for it, bent over, along the road in the direction the truck had been going. Seeing soldiers coming off the hill on their left, they took refuge in a culvert, while one tried to hold the soldiers off with the pistol. According to a fascist sergeant, Santos Clemente Garcia, interviewed in 1982, one of his men was able to roll a grenade into the culvert, killing all five.

     Of the fourteen who remained with the trucks, thirteen were killed and one was taken prisoner. (Geiser, 12)


     Among the American casualties were twenty-eight-year-old Steve Dabelko and twenty-one-year-old Leon Sloan Torgoff, both former evening session students at the City College of New York. Sailing for Spain in the early part of 1937, both men reached the Lincoln Battalion, an American unit in the International Brigades, just in time to take part in its first major offensive at Jarama. Steve and Leon were just a few of roughly sixty students, alumni, and faculty of City College and its downtown School of Business and Civic Administration (the future Baruch College), who left the United States to fight in the Spanish Civil War. (Chea, 2) These men, in turn, were a segment of about 2,800 Americans who joined 40,000 men of more than 50 nationalities who fought for the Spanish Republic. (Carroll, 12)
     This exhibit will take a look at the struggle called by some “the last good fight,” and a select group of individuals from City College and its downtown School of Business and Civic Administration who left New York to fight in that war.

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