Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Schley, Winfield Scott (supplement)

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Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography
Schley, Winfield Scott (supplement)
Edition of 1900. See also Winfield Scott Schley on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer. A less informative article on Schley appears in Volume V.
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SCHLEY, Winfield Scott, naval officer, b. in Frederick county, Md., 9 Oct., 1839. He was appointed a cadet from his own state in 1856, was graduated at the U. S. naval academy, served on board the frigate “Niagara” in 1860-'1, was attached to the frigate “Potomac,” of the Western Gulf squadron, in 1861-'2, and subsequently took part, on board the gunboat “Winona” and the sloops “Monongahela” and “Richmond,” in all the engagements that led to the capture of Fort Hudson, being promoted lieutenant in July, 1862. He served on the “Wateree” in the Pacific in 1864-'6, quelling an insurrection of Chinese coolies on the Middle Chincha islands in 1865, and later in the same year landing at La Union, San Salvador, to protect American interests during a revolution. He was instructor at the naval academy in 1866-'9, served on the Asiatic station in 1869-'72, taking part in the capture of the Corean forts on Salee river, after two days of fighting, in June, 1871, and was again at the naval academy in 1874-'6, being promoted commander in June, 1874. In 1876-'9 he was on the Brazil station, and during the cruise sailed in the “Essex” to the vicinity of the South Shetland islands in search of a missing sealer, and rescued a shipwrecked crew on the islands of Tristan d'Acunha. In 1884 he commanded the relief expedition that rescued Lieut. Adolphus W. Greely and six of his companions at Cape Sabine in Grinnell Land, passing through 1,400 miles of ice during the voyage. He was commissioned chief of the bureau of equipment and recruiting at the navy department in 1885, and promoted captain in March, 1888, his first sea-service with that rank being on the “Baltimore,” a protected cruiser which was placed in commission in 1890. He retained command of this vessel for three years, and then for the same period was a lighthouse inspector. In 1895 Capt. Schley was assigned to the “New York,” and he remained in charge of the armored cruiser for two years, when he was appointed chairman of the lighthouse board. Early in 1898 he was promoted to the rank of commodore, and when war was declared against Spain he was selected to command the flying squadron, with the “Brooklyn” as his flagship, on which he remained during the continuance of hostilities. The decisive naval combat of the war occurred on 3 July. The Spanish fleet, attempting to leave the harbor of Santiago, was met by the American squadron under command of Admiral Sampson, then temporarily absent. In less than three hours all the Spanish ships were destroyed by Schley, second in command, the two torpedo-boats being sunk and the “Maria Teresa,” “Almirante Oquendo,” “Vizcaya,” and “Cristobal Colon” driven ashore. The Spanish admiral and about fifteen hundred men were taken prisoners, while the enemy's loss of life was deplorably large, some six hundred perishing. In the American squadron but one man was killed, on the "Brooklyn," and one man seriously wounded. Although the American ships were repeatedly struck, not one was seriously injured. With the catastrophe of Santiago Spain's effort upon the ocean virtually ceased. A spasmodic effort toward the end of June to send her Mediterranean fleet under Admiral Camara to relieve Manila was abandoned, the expedition being recalled after it had passed through the Suez canal. Later Schley was appointed one of the commissioners to superintend the evacuation of Puerto Rico, returning to this country in November. In December he was presented in Philadelphia with a diamond-hilted sword, when he said: “Let me hope, with you, that in God's providence it may never be drawn without reason, but if it ever should be so willed that it must be, it will never be sheathed except in your greater honor.” In March, 1899, he was advanced to the grade of rear-admiral, and in September was assigned to the command of the South Atlantic squadron. In May he was elected commander of the New York state commandery of the military order of the Loyal legion, and presided at the October meeting held at Delmonico's. Admiral Schley is the author of an interesting volume, jointly with James Russell Soley, entitled “The Rescue of Greely” (New York, 1886).