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Chapter 24

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
A Short History of the United States Navy

George R. Clark et al.

published by
J. B. Lippincott Company,
Philadelphia & London 1939

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 26
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p426  XXV
War with Spain: The Battle of Manila Bay

Causes of the War

The intervention of the United States on behalf of Cuba, against the mother country Spain, was the logical result of many years of misrule in the island. The unwise and sometimes cruel governors were responsible for constant insurrections, which provoked filibustering on the part of American sympathizers and caused almost incessant friction between our country and Spain. In 1854 the seizure of the American ship Black Warrior, on a charge of violating the custom-house regulations, seriously menaced our peace. Again, in 1869, the seizure and long detention of the American steamer Colonel Lloyd Aspinwall, on the apparently unfounded charge of landing arms for the insurgents, excited public feeling. And in 1873, when the Spaniards captured the filibuster Virginius (claiming American registry) and summarily shot several Americans in her crew, there was a burst of indignation throughout the United States. In each case war was averted by Spain's making a tardy reparation, but the settlement served only to postpone the final conflict.

In 1876 General Campos was sent to Cuba. Adopting a conciliatory tone, he brought peace to the island, which lasted from 1878 to 1895. Then an insurrection occurred which he was unable to suppress. He resigned, in consequence, and was succeeded by General Weyler in February, 1896. This governor determined to rule with an iron hand. He decreed the death penalty for numerous petty offenses, and by his reconcentration policy  p427 huddled the people into the cities so that plantations were left uncultivated. Cuba now entered upon a terrible era of famine and desolation. President Cleveland offered, through Secretary Olney, to help Spain in bringing peace to the island, but the offer was refused. Relief, in the form of food and supplies, was sent to Cuba by our Government and by charitable associations. Weyler was recalled in October, 1897, and the new Spanish ministry under Sagasta sent General Blanco, an honest but weak governor, to bring order out of chaos. Blanco offered autonomy to the Cubans, but could not induce the insurgent leaders to listen to him. The good intentions of Spain came too late.

The distress in the island became greater. Consul-General Lee reported to Washington, in May, 1897, that from 600 to 800 Americans were among the destitute. President McKinley made a public appeal for funds, which resulted in contributions amounting to $200,000. The American Red Cross Society took charge of the relief work. Meanwhile, Congress was from time to time debating whether or not to recognize Cuba as a belligerent, or even as an independent state. In our country at large, the activity of Cuban agents and sympathizers in the United States, and the inflammatory editorials of certain of our newspapers, increased the popular feeling against Spain. Moreover, affairs in Havana had assumed so threatening an aspect that Consul Lee feared for the safety of our citizens in that city. Hence the battle­ship Maine, which had been lying for some time at Key West in readiness for an emergency call, was sent to Havana, where she arrived on January 25, 1898.

A succession of events followed that had an important bearing in fanning into flame the smoldering fires of war. On February 9, 1898, a private letter, written by the Spanish minister at Washington to the editor of a  p428 Madrid newspaper, had, through theft in the Havana post office, come into the hands of the insurgents. In this communication the diplomatist had declared that Sagasta's policy of conciliation was "a loss of time and a step in the wrong direction." Commenting on a message of President McKinley, he had characterized the American executive as "weak and catering to the mob," and had used other objectionable language. The publication of this letter aroused the wrath of the American people. Instead of peremptorily recalling her representative, Spain allowed him to resign, and sent another in his place. This scant reparation for a serious offense did not help matters. To cap the climax, a few days later the people of the United States were horrified to hear of the blowing up of one of their finest battle­ships in Cuban waters.

On February 15, 1898, the Maine, after an uneventful three weeks at Havana, was lying in apparent security moored to a buoy 500 yards from the arsenal; about 250 yards distant lay the Ward Line steamer City of Washington, and a little farther off the Spanish cruiser Alphonso XII. At 9.45 that evening, without the slightest warning, there was an explosion under the keel of the Maine, so violent as to shake the whole water front of the city, put out the adjacent electric lights, and throw down many telephone poles. The unfortunate ship had been wrecked in a moment's time, and her total destruction followed in a great flame that shot up from her magazines, illuminating the whole harbor, and showing to the hurrying people on shore the locality of the disaster.

All of the officers but two were saved, but of the ship's company of 353 men only forty-eight escaped uninjured, and the number of the dead in the end reached 266.

A naval court of inquiry entered upon an exhaustive investigation of the affair, sending down divers to examine  p429 the hull of the Maine, then fast sinking into the mud of Havana harbor. These divers found evidence that the cause of the explosion had been external, the bottom of the hull having been driven upward to the level of the gun deck. The decision of the court was that, in its opinion, "the Maine was destroyed by a submarine mine, which caused the partial explosion of two or more of her magazines."

A hasty investigation made subsequently by the Spanish authorities led to the opposite verdict, that the cause of the disaster was internal, and that the destruction of the Maine was due to the explosion of her own magazines. But this decision had no effect on American public opinion.​a

The real causes of the war were the conditions in Cuba and the long-standing wrongs to our trade and citizens. But, as is often the case in wars, the great causes lie dormant until some acute crisis, as in this case the destruction of the Maine, stretches public patience to the breaking point. General Woodford, the American minister to Spain, was advised to defer decisive action regarding the unfortunate event, in order to give the United States a brief interval to prepare the navy, and especially the army, for the threatening war.

Events Preceding Hostilities

On the 9th of March, both Houses of Congress, by a unanimous vote, appropriated fifty million dollars "for the national defense to be expended at the discretion of the President." That this was none too soon was disclosed when the application of the fund was undertaken. Our coasts were practically undefended. Our navy needed large provision for increased ammunition and supplies,  p430 and even for additional ships to cope with any sudden attack from the navy of Spain.

The battle­ship Oregon, which was on the Pacific coast at the time of the destruction of the Maine, was at once put into drydock. She was of little use in the Pacific and would make a great addition to the Atlantic naval strength in case of war. Her famous trip of 15,000 miles around the Horn begun on March 6, caused the Washington authorities considerable alarm. The Oregon learned of the existence of war on April 30, when she reached Rio de Janeiro. As the destination of a Spanish fleet under Admiral Cervera was a matter of conjecture, Captain Charles E. Clark had considerable anxiety lest his vessel, deemed so essential to our needs on the Atlantic coast, should be caught by a whole squadron. On May 25, however, with his ship in excellent condition, he reached the coast of Florida. But we have been anticipating the events that culminated in war.

The proposals of Spain to the Cuban people, offering autonomy and other measures of relief, had been rejected by the Cubans, and the insurrection continued. Whereupon President McKinley, seeing no prospect of a change, sent a special message to Congress on April 11, 1898:

"The war in Cuba is of such a nature that short of subjugation or extermination a final military victory for either side seems impracticable. The alternative lies in the physical exhaustion of the one or the other, or perhaps of both. The prospect of such a protraction and conclusion of the present strife is a contingency hardly to be contemplated with equanimity by the civilized world, and least of all by the United States, affected and injured as we are, deeply and intimately, by its very existence.

"The only hope of relief and repose from a condition which can no longer be endured is the enforced pacification of Cuba. In the name of humanity, in the name of  p431 civilization, in behalf of endangered American interests which give us the right and duty to speak and to act, the war in Cuba must stop.

"I ask Congress to authorize and empower the President to take measures to secure a full and final termination of hostilities between the Government of Spain and the people of Cuba, and to secure in the island the establishment of a stable government, capable of maintaining order and observing its international obligations, insuring peace and tranquillity, and to use the military and naval forces of the United States as may be necessary for these purposes."

The response of Congress to this message was, on the 19th of April, by a vote of 42 to 35 in the Senate and 311 to 6 in House of Representatives, the passage of a joint resolution declaring —

"First, That the people of the Island of Cuba are, and of right ought to be, free and independent. Second, That it is the duty of the United States to demand, and the Government of the United States does hereby demand, that the Government of Spain at once relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba and withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters. Third, That the President of the United States be, and he hereby is, directed and empowered to use the entire land and naval forces of the United States, and to call into the actual service of the United States, the militia of the several States, to such an extent as may be necessary to carry these resolutions into effect. Fourth, that the United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said island except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determination when that is accomplished to leave the government and control of the island to its people."

In accordance with this joint resolution, President  p432 McKinley immediately forwarded, on April 20, to General Woodford an ultimatum to which a "full and satisfactory response" was required by noon of April 23. The Spanish minister at Washington, on hearing of this joint resolution and the instructions to Woodford, at once demanded his passport. On April 21, before our minister at Madrid could deliver the ultimatum, he was informed by the Spanish Government that diplomatic relations between the countries were at an end.

Meanwhile Rear-Admiral Sicard, commanding the North Atlantic Squadron, had kept his men busy for two months at target practice, in anticipation of war, and had brought his command to a high standard of efficiency. During this time he kept his squadron off Key West in order to be near Cuba in case of a declaration of war. On April 21, on account of ill health, he was relieved by Captain William T. Sampson, now made an acting rear-admiral. Sampson was at once ordered to proceed to Cuba to institute a blockade of the north coast of the island for a distance ranging between forty miles west of Havana and fifty miles east of that city. He was also to blockade on the south side of Cuba the port of Cienfuegos, which had railroad communication with the capital. This blockade was published to the world next day, April 22, by President McKinley's proclamation. On April 25, an act declared that war between the United States and Spain existed and had existed from and including April 21. A Spanish fleet, which had been mobilized at the Cape Verde Islands under Admiral Cervera, left this rendezvous on April 29 for unknown parts. Two days later came Admiral Dewey's crushing blow to the power of Spain in the East, which relieved the military tension somewhat on the Atlantic coast. In this rapid sequence of events the United States, in the early days of the war, played an extremely cautious game. This country  p433 credited Spain with ample preparations for a war that had been threatening for some months. The inefficiency of the Castilian Government and its military weakness became apparent only after the first moves in the great game had been made.

On paper the naval strength of Spain was greater than that of the United States. It was said at the beginning of hostilities that Spanish warships in commission numbered 137, to eighty‑six in the American service. But such figures are deceptive. The United States had, besides vessels of less tonnage, six armored ships of 8000 tons or more. In this number were the four first-class battle­ships Iowa, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Oregon, each of which was of 10,000 tons or more. Spain had nothing equal to these. The flower of the Castilian Navy consisted of nine armored men-of‑war, ranging from 6840 to 9900 tons. The rest of the Spanish Navy comprised, for the most part, old iron and wooden ships.​1 But the disparity between the figures on paper and the real facts was not known even among some leading Spanish officials. Lieutenant Jose Muller y Tejeiro, the second in command of the naval forces of the Province of Santiago, says, if we may anticipate: "No one wanted to believe that they [Cervera's ships] were the only ones that Spain was going to send, since they were called the 'first division,' and at least two more divisions were expected. The only ones who had no illusions, who knew what to expect, who were acquainted with the true condition of affairs, were those who had arrived in the ships. From the admiral down to the last midshipman, they knew perfectly well that there were no more fleets, no more divisions, no more vessels, and that these six ships (if the destroyers may be  p434 regarded as such) were all that could be counted on to oppose the American fleet."2

Since this was not a matter of common knowledge, the American Navy made its preparations to meet a superior foe. It is greatly to the credit of the United States, as it is to the discredit of Spain, that the former was ready for the emergency and the latter was not. At the first real intimation of war, the officers at Key West drilled their crews night and day, especially at target practice, while the Spaniards let the valuable time between February and April slip by in procrastination. Hence, if it be said that the enemy had to fight against great odds, we may answer that the disgrace of Spain was all the greater. Besides, American officers at the beginning of hostilities had no idea of the weakness of the Spanish Navy, or if they did, they acted as if the enemy's paper statements were truths.

The War in the Philippines

An encounter had taken place April 27, at Matanzas, Cuba, where a detachment of the blockading squadron shelled the harbor forts, but the first engagement of importance occurred four days later in the Philippines, a colonial possession of Spain since the days of Magellan. As in Cuba, the rule of Spain in the East was a long story of misgovernment and rebellion. In 1896 a formidable revolt broke out, and Blanco, the captain-general at Manila, did not succeed in suppressing it. Other Spanish generals followed Blanco with similar lack of success, and early in 1898 General Basilio Augustin was put in command of the Spanish forces in the Philippines. Meanwhile the leader of the Filipinos, Aguinaldo, opened negotiations  p435 with the United States through the American consul at Singapore; the insurrection in these islands, in the end, however, served only to complicate the problem for the United States.

Commodore Dewey, with his squadron consisting of the Olympia, flagship, the Baltimore, the Boston, the Raleigh, the Concord, the Petrel, and the McCulloch, was lying in the cosmopolitan harbor of Hong Kong, when, on April 24, he was notified by the Navy Department of the beginning of the war, and was ordered to proceed at once to the Philippine Islands and to capture or destroy the enemy's vessels.

(facing p426) 
[image ALT: A formal photograph of an old man with a handlebar moustache in full dress naval uniform. He has a proud and determined air. He is the 19c American naval commander George Dewey.]

Dewey had not been idle while lying in this neutral port. For weeks he had been preparing for the threatening conflict. He had dismantled the unserviceable Monocacy, a wooden vessel, and had distributed her crew among his other men-of‑war. He purchased, right at hand, two ships of considerable size — the Zafiro and Nanshan — loaded them with coal and provisions, and also filled the bunkers of all his other vessels with coal. And, finally, he dressed his white squadron in a war‑coat of drab.

As the law of nations allows belligerents a stay of only twenty-four hours in a neutral port after war has been declared, Dewey was requested by the British Government to leave Hong Kong. He therefore withdrew to Mirs Bay, about thirty miles distant. As the latter port is in Chinese territory, and as China had not at this time announced her position of neutrality, the American commodore could take refuge here until he had completed his preparations. From Mirs Bay, on April 27, he set forth upon his quest for the Spanish fleet.

On arriving at the Philippine Islands, Dewey sent his scouts into every harbor and inlet likely to be tenanted by the  p436 enemy. Subig Bay, where it was half hoped the Spanish admiral would be found, was empty of war vessels. Still skirting the Luzon coast, Dewey's ships arrived off the entrance to Manila Bay at midnight, April 30.

With an opening on the China Sea to the westward, the Bay of Manila is in shape not unlike a vast balloon. In this entrance, ideally placed by nature to guard the approach to Spain's richest spot in her Oriental colonies, tower the islands of Corregidor and Caballo. Twenty‑six miles to the northeast lies the city of Manila, the commercial centre of the vast Philippine group.

Ten miles to the south and west of Manila is Cavite, on an arm of land which points outward, completely sheltering a large sheet of water, where the Spanish Admiral Montojo had anchored his fleet. Cavite was the seat of Spanish naval activity in the East. It contained a dock, an arsenal, and a marine railway.

Dewey's hardihood in entering hostile waters during the hours of darkness will be best understood when it is remembered that throughout the Eastern seas it was the belief that the defenses of Manila were impregnable, so ample had been the precaution of Spain. Strong testimony to Dewey's heroism is the fact that he went to his work anticipating all the dangers that his own skill, prudence, and scientific knowledge could suggest. He naturally supposed that Spain's chief city in the East was prepared for such an onset as he meditated. He gave his enemy credit for the plans of defense that he himself would have adopted, had their positions been reversed. Before entering Manila Bay, he called his captains together and made known his plan of operations. The ships were to slip past the islands and into the bay under cover of the darkness, and when inside they were to engage the enemy wherever found.

 p437  The Battle of Manila Bay

[image ALT: A detailed map of Manila Bay, showing also the city of Manila and Lagoon Bay, as well as the naval and troop forces of Spaniards and Americans in the Battle in 1898.]

With all lights extinguished, on a night of misty darkness, the commodore led the way, followed by the remainder of the line. When the lights of Corregidor were plainly visible, and while under the very sweep of its guns, "All hands" was called and coffee served. The fleet was passing without challenge, when suddenly a shower of sparks from the McCulloch's funnel was followed by the boom of a gun from the enemy, then another, and still a third. To this last the Boston and the McCulloch replied. Flashing and booming from the island continued for a few minutes longer — then silence.

The perils of torpedoes and mines still remained to the groping vessels; the possibility of being rammed by the Spanish fleet was present in every mind, yet Dewey's squadron kept on. Afterward, an officer, in analyzing the sensations of that time, said: "This invisible fleet ahead was a test out of which no man came without a sigh of relief. It is a hard thing to whisper an order, I know, so perhaps it is not to be wondered at that there should have been a break or vibration in men's voices as they passed the necessary word from mouth to mouth. We were all keyed up, but it was not long before the fighting string in every man's heart was twanging and singing like a taut bow."

After safely anchoring his supply ships out of range, Dewey led his fleet in a circle to the eastward to meet the Spanish admiral, who had aligned his ships at Cavite with the intention of compelling a standing fight.

Admiral Dewey reported under date of May 4, 1898:

"The squadron then proceeded to the attack. The flagship Olympia, under my personal direction, led, followed at a distance by the Baltimore, Raleigh, Petrel, Concord, and Boston, in the order named, which formation  p439 was maintained throughout the action. The squadron opened fire at 5.41 A.M."

The enemy had been firing without effect at the Americans for half an hour before Commodore Dewey had his vessels in the formation he desired. At the end of this time he turned to the captain of the Olympia and said, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley!" Almost simultaneously with the quickly uttered permission to return the enemy's fire, the roar of the Olympia's guns sounded as the flagship presented her side to the line of fire, and each ship in turn took up the refrain. Dewey's plan was to begin firing when at a range of 5000 yards, to pass the Spanish ships, gradually lessening the range to 2000 yards, and then to countermarch in a line approximately parallel to that of the enemy's fleet. His vessels would thus turn an alternate side in firing, enabling every battery to come into play in succession, thereby easing the strain on each. Such a plan was not counted on by the Spanish admiral, who had anticipated a combat ship to ship, and it reflects the highest credit upon Dewey's strategy.

Again referring to the American commodore's account of the action, we find:

"The enemy's fire was vigorous, but generally ineffective. Early in the engagement two launches put out towards the Olympia with the apparent intention of using torpedoes. At 7.00 A.M. the Spanish flagship, Reina Cristina, made a desperate attempt to leave the line and came out to engage at short range, but was received with such a galling fire, the entire battery of the Olympia being concentrated upon her, that she was barely able to return to the shelter of the point. The fires started in her by our shells at this time were not extinguished until she sank.

 p440  "The three batteries at Manila had kept up a continuous report from the beginning of the engagement, which fire was not returned by this squadron. The first of these batteries was situated on the south mole head, at the entrance to the Pasig River. The second was on the south bastion of the walled city of Manila, and the third at Malate, about one and a half miles farther south. At this point I sent a message to the Governor-General to the effect that if the batteries did not cease firing, the city would be shelled. This had the effect of silencing them."

Admiral Montojo's report gives the following view from the Spanish side:

"Although we recognized the hopelessness of fighting the American ships, we were busy returning their fire. The Reina Cristina was hit repeatedly. Shortly after 6.30 o'clock I observed fire forward. Our steering gear was damaged, rendering the vessel unmanageable, and we were being subjected to a terrible hail of shot and shell. The engines were struck. We estimated we had seventy hits about our hull and superstructure. The boilers were not hit, but the pipe to the condenser was destroyed. A few minutes later, I observed the after part on fire. A shell from the Americans had penetrated and burst with deadly effect, killing many of our men. The flag lieutenant said to me: 'The ship is in flames. It is impossible to stay on the Cristina any longer.' He signaled to the gunboat Isla de Cuba, and I and my staff were transferred, and my flag was hoisted on her. My flagship was now one mass of flames; I ordered away all the boats I could to save the crew."

Commodore Dewey, continuing his report, says:

"At 7.35 I ceased firing and withdrew the squadron for breakfast. At 11.16 A.M. [the squadron] returned to the attack. By this time the Spanish flagship, and almost the entire Spanish fleet, were in flames. At 12.30 P.M. the squadron  p441 ceased firing, the batteries being silenced, and the ships sunk, burned, or deserted. At 12.40 P.M. the squadron returned and anchored off Manila, the Petrel being left behind to complete the destruction of the smaller gunboats that were behind the point of Cavite. This duty was performed by the Commander E. P. Wood in the most expeditious and complete manner possible."

Says an eye‑witness of the battle,

"Every ship in the Spanish fleet, with one exception, fought valiantly; but to the Don Antonio de Ulloa and her commander, Robion, should be given the palm for that form of desperate courage and spirit which leads a man to die fighting. The flagship and the Boston were the executioners. Under their shells the Ulloa was soon burning in half a dozen places, but her fighting crew gave no sign of surrender. Shot after shot struck her hull until it was riddled like a sieve. Shell after shell struck her upper works, but there were no signs of surrender. The main deck crew escaped, but the captain and his officers clung to the wreck. On the lower deck the gun crews stuck to their posts like the heroes they were. . . . Her commander nailed the Spanish ensign to what was left of the mast, and the Don Antonio de Ulloa went down, not only with her colors flying, but also with her lower guns still roaring defiance."

Having completed his work of destruction, Dewey now turned to a task of mercy — that of caring for the wounded. These he established in hospitals on shore. To Admiral Montojo he sent the following message: "I have pleasure in clasping your hand and offering my congratulations on the gallant manner in which you fought."

Of the annihilated Spanish squadron, the Reina Cristina, a steel cruiser of 3500 tons, built in 1886, was the only vessel that might be considered formidable. The Isla de Cuba and the Isla de Luzon were small cruisers  p442 of 1030 tons each, and the Don Antonio de Ulloa and the Don Juan de Austria were old iron ships in need of repairs. The Castilla, of 3342 tons, was a wooden relic of older days. She rapidly became, under the fire of the American vessels, a burning slaughter house. Montojo should have dismantled her and mounted her guns ashore. Besides these vessels, the Spaniards had two gunboats, the General Lezo and the Marques del Duero, of 500 tons each, two transports, the Manila and Isla de Mindanao, and four little torpedo boats. "In offensive and defensive power the squadron was far inferior to Dewey's fine quartette of cruisers, but it had a great advantage in position, fighting in its own waters, where it knew the ranges, and had the aid of batteries on shore."3

According to Admiral Montojo's report, the enemy lost 381 killed and wounded. The damage done to the American squadron was inconsiderable. Several of the vessels were struck, and even penetrated, but the slight injuries admitted of speedy repairs, and the squadron was soon after the battle in as good condition as before. There were none killed, and only seven men very slightly wounded.

Although Dewey had a more power­ful force than the Spanish, he had the disadvantage of advancing into strange waters, where, for all he knew, torpedoes and mines were laid. He had also the shore batteries to contend against, which made the opposing weight of metal more than equal to his. "The Spanish admiral," says a contemporary journal, "though he must have been aware that the American squadron was somewhere in the vicinity, could not bring himself to believe that the American commodore would have the audacity to steam into a mined harbor in the night time, with forts on both sides,  p443 and the Spanish squadron ready to receive him. But Dewey took the chances, and his being beforehand was half the victory. Many men, equally as brave in action, would have delayed to reconnoitre, and thereby have given time for the enemy to make additional preparations to receive him."

Some of the qualities of character that contributed to Dewey's success were referred to soon after the war by one who knew him well:​b "Dewey has been a life-long student of everything connected with the sea. He is a constant reader, but in his studies he seldom goes outside of nautical science, or some collateral branch, such as naval history. He made a study of harbors, too, and is a thorough geographer. I attribute his success at Manila in part to his knowledge of the harbor. He undoubtedly knew just what he was doing and where he was going when he made that midnight dash which seems to be so amazing to people who don't know him."

Although Dewey had seized the cable connecting the Philippine Islands with the rest of the world, he was prevented from using it by Spain's contract with the company at Hong Kong. Hence he had to send dispatch boats back and forth to Hong Kong to communicate with Washington. During the battle, the Spanish general Augustin had sent a dispatch to his home Government which gave the impression that the victory was Spain's, and this was the only news the Americans had until May 7, when Dewey's cablegram, sent from Hong Kong, told a different story. This was received with great joy in the United States, and immediately upon its arrival the Secretary of the Navy congratulated Commodore Dewey upon the overwhelming victory. He also communicated to the American commander that the President had appointed him an acting rear-admiral. Congress  p444 shortly after passed a resolution giving the victor a vote of thanks and a sword.

As a result of the battle, Dewey was in possession of the arsenal at Cavite, and of the fort on Corregidor, but he decided not to bombard the defenses nearer the city until he had troops to hold what the navy might capture. He was also short of ammunition. In answer to his request for supplies and troops, the Washington authorities at once dispatched the cruiser Charleston, loaded with ammunition, and on May 11 the War Department put General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Merritt in command of the new Philippine army corps to be organized immediately. The Charleston was ordered to capture en route the Spanish island Guam, a task which it easily accomplished. The first instalment of troops arrived at Manila on June 30, the same day that the Charleston reached her destination. Of the monitors Monterey and Monadnock, which had also been dispatched on the long journey across the Pacific, the former arrived in time for the bombardment of the Philippine capital, which will be taken up in a later chapter.

Dewey's victory of May 1 destroyed Spain's power in the East. Its completeness everywhere caused surprise, and not only aroused tremendous enthusiasm for the navy at home, but strongly impressed Europe with the growth of American sea power. The victory gave promise of a speedy conclusion of the war.

The Authors' Notes:

1 These figures were taken from Brassey, Naval Annual, 1898, pp332, 340. Compare also the Naval Pocket Book, p750, and Titherington, History of the Spanish-American War, pp99‑100.

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2 Tejeiro, Battles and Capitulation of Santiago de Cuba, published by the Office of Naval Intelligence, War Notes, No. 1, p28.

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3 Titherington, History of the Spanish-American War, p136.

Thayer's Notes:

a Four full-scale investigations have since been undertaken — 1911, 1974, 1998, 2002 — and strictly speaking the cause of the explosion remains unknown, the investigations having reached divergent conclusions. Most of the evidence, however, has been taken to point not to a mine, but to an internal fire in the ship's coal bunkers.

[decorative delimiter]

b His son George Goodwin Dewey, as quoted in Edward Shippen: Naval Battles of the World (1898).

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Page updated: 18 Mar 13