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On this webpage you can read a chapter of
Stories of Heroism

William Mace

published by
Rand McNally & Company
New York, 1909.

It's all right to copy it or use it any way you want.

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 p388  The Men Who Fought Spain, Conquered the Philippines, and Made Cuba Free

George Dewey, the Hero of Manila Bay

205. The Battle of Manila Bay. George Dewey was born in Vermont, in 1837. As a boy, Dewey was full of life and fun, and led the boys of Montpelier in sports and pranks. He went to Norwich University and afterward to the Naval Academy at Annapolis.

He was graduated with honor, and was placed on the frigate "Wabash," then in the Mediterranean. He was made lieutenant (1861) and placed on board the ship "Mississippi." The Civil War broke out in this year, and Dewey went to the Gulf of Mexico to fight under Farragut.

Dewey took part with Farragut's fleet in running past the forts below New Orleans. Twice, too, they ran by the batteries to aid Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Grant while besieging Vicksburg.

In 1865, he was made lieutenant-commander for brave conduct. At the close of the war he was stationed on the flagship "Colorado," and sailed in European waters.

For two years Dewey was an instructor in his old school at Annapolis. After his term at the Naval Academy he served on board various ships; sometimes  p389 he was busy getting recruits for the Navy. Finally came his promotion to commodore. When war between Spain and the United States threatened, Dewey was given command of the Asiatic fleet.

While in the harbor of Hong-kong, China, with his fleet of six war ships, President McKinley sent him this dispatch: "Proceed at once to the Philippine Islands. Commence operations, especially against the Spanish fleet. You must capture or destroy the vessels. Use utmost endeavor."

Immediately his fleet put to sea. He entered Manila Bay, and crept, under cover of the night, past the first line of forts. The American vessels were going into the bay with "all lights out." In an unlucky moment, one of the war ships sent up some sparks. At once the Spanish cannon let loose. Dewey's ships answered, and kept moving ahead. In spite of sunken mines, torpedoes, and unknown dangers, Dewey kept right on toward the town of Cavite. The Spanish ships were protected by forts. Five times the American broadsides tore through the Spanish ships. In a few hours the work was done.

 p390  Twelve Spanish ships lay helpless wrecks, and over two hundred Spaniards were killed. Not a man was killed nor a vessel lost on the American side. In a few months, Manila surrendered to the American forces.

Public sentiment called upon Congress to show honor to Dewey. Accordingly, the rank of Admiral was given to him.

The possession of the Philippines has brought the Pacific coast of America into closer contact with the continent of Asia. San Francisco in California, Portland in Oregon, and Seattle in Washington, especially, have been greatly benefited by the addition of the Philippines to our country.

The Capture of Cervera's Fleet

206. The Great Victory in Cuban Waters. The war with Spain had not been going on long, when a Spanish fleet under Admiral Cervera sailed toward the West Indies. Which way is Cervera's fleet going? Will he go direct to Cuba, and break the American blockade, or will he sail northward, and attack the many defenseless cities on the Atlantic coast of the United States?  p391 These were serious questions. Cervera, however, steamed straight for the splendid harbor of Santiago Bay, where his fleet could ride in safety under the guns of a fort.

Cervera had time to get coal for his vessels and food for his sailors, and to put his vessels in good fighting shape, before Commodore Schley discovered the Spanish ships and blockaded them with the American fleet. If Cervera would only stay in the harbor till an American army could take Santiago, then his fleet could be captured very easily.

But would he remain in the harbor? This uncertainty led Lieutenant Hobson to invent the plan of blowing up a vessel just where the mouth of the harbor is narrowest in order to obstruct it. Hobson, with a few bold men, took the coaling vessel "Merrimac," and when all was ready, steered her straight for the entrance.

The Spaniards finally saw the "Merrimac" coming. What a rain of shot and shell. But she kept right on. Her rudder was shot away, and Hobson had to sink the ship lengthwise, instead of across, the channel. When all was ready, the torpedoes were  p392 exploded, and the "Merrimac" settled down in the channel. Hobson and his brave men had to swim for their lives. They were finally rescued by Admiral Cervera himself. He pronounced them brave fellows for their daring deed, and made them prisoners of war.

More than a month now passed by. The American land forces under General Shafter, fifteen thousand strong, were advancing on the city of Santiago. Meanwhile the fleet commander, Commodore Sampson, arrived and took command of the blockade. What would Cervera do? Would he remain, and share the fate of the city, or would he make a dash for liberty?

The war ship "Texas" was nearest the mouth of the harbor, on the morning of July 3, when, suddenly, black smoke was seen, then the bow of a vessel pushed itself into view, coming out of the harbor. The electric gongs on the "Texas" sounded, and every man flew to his place. "The enemy is trying to escape" signaled several of the ships. Commodore Sampson, in his flagship, the "New York," had gone to the headquarters of the army, and Commodore Schley took charge of the fleet as the battle began.

The "Brooklyn," the "Iowa," the "Oregon," and the "Indiana" dashed at the enemy. Admiral Cervera's flagship, the "Infanta Maria Teresa," led the Spanish ships. Coming out at full speed, she let fly a shell at the "Texas." The guns of the "Texas" then opened on her.

 p393  The Spanish ships came out with all the steam their boilers could bear. They drove forward for their lives. But American seaman­ship and better marksman­ship soon told the story.

Every one of the six Spanish ships was blown up, was run ashore while on fire, or was captured. Six hundred men were killed, and thirteen hundred were taken prisoners. Only one man among the Americans was killed, and one badly wounded.

It was a great victory. The band on the "Oregon" played the "Star Spangled Banner." Other crews gave three cheers. The men on the "Texas," led by Captain Philip, bared their heads and silently thanked God.

The army around Santiago, having won the positions it attacked at El Caney and San Juan, was now impatient to storm that place. But two weeks after the great naval battle negotiations were opened with the Spanish general, Toral, and he surrendered.

This put an end to the war in Cuba. Spain ceded Porto Rico and the Philippine Islands to the United States. For the Philippines Spain was paid twenty million dollars.

 p394  Suggestions Intended to Help the Pupil

The Leading Facts. 1. Dewey went to the Naval Academy, and was placed on the Wabash. 2. Went with Farragut's fleet in the Civil War. 3. Afterwards was instructor at Annapolis. 4. Received orders to go to the Philippines. Sailed into Manila Bay, and defeated the Spaniards in a great naval battle. 5. Dewey became the idol of the American people. 6. Admiral Cervera's fleet sailed for Santiago Bay, where the American fleet tried to bottle it up. 7. The Spaniards sailed out and the Americans pursued, sank, burned, or captured the entire fleet.

Study Questions. 1. Tell the story of George Dewey until he joined Farragut. 2. Mention some experiences he had during the Civil War. 3. Why was 1896 a great year for Dewey? 4. Repeat McKinley's dispatch to him. 5. Picture the scene in Manila Bay. 6. Estimate the effect on Europe. 7. How did Congress honor Dewey? 8. What is the meaning of the Philippines for us?

9. What questions did the coming of Cervera's fleet raise? 10. What problem did his fleet set for the Americans? 11. What was Hobson's aim? 12. Picture the scene of Hobson's exploit. 13. How many land troops did General Shafter have? 14. Picture Cervera's "dash for liberty." 15. What was the meaning of this second great victory over the Spanish? 16. How was peace made?

Suggested Readings. George Dewey: Morris. The War with Spain, 150‑169; Barrett, Admiral George Dewey, 55‑152, 230‑251.

Capture of Cervera's Fleet: Morris, The War with Spain, 180‑214, 267‑285.

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