Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/616

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595
SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR OF 1898

on the Chinese coast. Ordered (April 25) to begin operations, particularly against the Spanish fleet, which he was directed to capture or destroy, Dewey left Mirs Bay on the 27th, and arrived off Luzon, in the Philippines, on the 30th of April. The Spanish admiral Montojo anchored to the eastward of the spit on which are the village and arsenal of Cavite, in a general east and west line, keeping his broadside to the northward. His force consisted of the "Reina Cristina," the "Castilla" (an old wooden steamer which had to be towed); the "Isla de Cuba" and "Isla de Luzon" (protected cruisers of 1050 tons); the "Don Juan de Austria" and the "Don Antonio de Ulloa" (gunboats of about 1150 tons), and the "Marques del Duero" (of 500 tons). There were six guns (3 breech-loaders) in battery at or near Cavite.

Dewey stood on during the night, and passed into the Boca Grande (about 5 m. broad), paying no attention to rumours of torpedoes in a channel so broad and deep, and at MaaUa" midnight passed El Fraile (a large rock, if 2½ m. from the south side), from which two shots were fired at him, and he was also fired at by the "Cavite" and one of the city batteries. When he sighted the Spanish squadron to the southward Le ordered his transports and the revenue cutter "Hugh M'Culloch" out into the hay, and stood down in column with the "Olympia," "Baltimore," "Raleigh," "Petrel," " Concord " and " Boston " at 400-yd. intervals. When within 5000 yds. he ported his helm, and at 5.41 a.m. opened fire. He stood westwards along the Spanish line, using his port batteries, turned to starboard and stood back, gradually decreasing his distance to 2000 yds. At 7 o'clock the Spanish flagship attempted to come out and engage at short range, but was driven back by the American fire. The Spanish squadron was now in very bad plight, but the seriousness of its condition was not fully known to the American commander. At 7.35 Dewey withdrew, gave his men breakfast, and had a consultation of commanding officers. Before he re-engaged at 11. 16 the "Cristina" and " Castilla " had broken into flames, so that the remainder of the action consisted in silencing the Cavite batteries and completing the destruction and demoralization of the smaller Spanish ships, which the "Petrel" was ordered in to burn. The victory was complete. All the Spanish ships[1] were sunk or destroyed. The injury done the American ships was practically nil. The Spanish lost 167 killed and 214 wounded, out of a total of 1875. The Americans had 7 slightly wounded out of 1748 men in action. Dewey took possession of Cavite, paroled its garrison, and awaited the arrival of a land force to capture Manila.

The blockade of Havana had progressed without incident, beyond the capture of a number of Spanish steamers and sailing vessels,[2] and the shelling of some new earthworks Blockade. at Matanzas on the 27th of April; but on the nth of May a small action was fought at Cardenas, in which the Americans were repulsed and Ensign Worth Bagley, the first American officer to lose his life in the war, was killed. On the same day a partially successful attempt was made, under a heavy fire from the shore, to cut the cable between Cienfuegos and Havana.

Cervera had left the Cape Verde Islands on the 29th of April with four armoured cruisers, the "Almiiante Oquendo," "Infanta Maria Theresa" and " Vizcaya " (sister ships of 7000 tons) and the " Cristobal Colon " (same size; differently equipped) and three torpedo-boat destroyers — a type not then represented in the American navy — "Furor," "Terror" and "Pluton." On hearing (May 1) of Cervera's departure, Sampson went east 1000 m. to San Juan, Porto Rico, with the armoured cruiser "New York," the battleships " Iowa " and " Indiana," the cruisers "Montgomery " and " Detroit," and one torpedo-boat. In going east he calculated on using a speed of 10 knots, on getting to San Juan on the 8th, about the time the Spaniards would reach its longitude, and if they were not there, on returning off Havana before they could get to Havana harbour. He wished to prevent Cervera's refitting at San Juan, from which place the American coast would be within easy reach, New York being only about 1400 m. away. But the speed of the American squadron fell short of Sampson's expectation; he reached San Juan on the 12th, stood in to see if Cervera was in the harbour, and opened fire upon the fortifications. He did not press the attack since Cervera was not present, and at once started back for Havana without news of Cervera, who was then in fact off Martinique, with orders to go to San Juan. When he heard that Sampson was at San Juan, he steamed to Curasao, where he arrived on the 14th of May and where the authorities allowed him to coal. He reached Santiago de Cuba early on the 1 9th without being sighted en route by any of the American scouts, though several were in the vicinity. Sampson thought the Spanish squadron might have returned to Spain.[3] But he learned that the enemy had net turned back, on the night of the 15th, when a telegram from the navy department directed him to proceed with all despatch to Key West. He got there on the afternoon of the 18th, and found the flying The Search squadron ("Brooklyn" (flag), " Massachusetts," forCerrera's " Texas," and " Scorpion "), which left on the next Squadron. morning (19th) for Cienfuegos, then regarded by the navy department as the certain objective of the Spanish squadron. The battleship " Iowa," the gunboat " Castine," the torpedo- boat " Dupont " and the collier " Merrimac " sailed to join Schley on the 20th, and gave him a force sufficient to meet Cervera. Sampson was advised by the department (on the 20th) to " send by the ' Iowa ' to Schley to proceed off Santiago de Cuba with his whole command, leaving one small vessel off Cienfuegos," but he directed Schley in an order of the 21st if he was satisfied that Cervera was not at Cienfuegos, to proceed with all despatch to Santiago, and if the Spanish squadron was there, to blockade it.

Commodore Schley arrived off Cienfuegos on the 22nd, and held to the opinion that Cervera was there until the 24th, when Commodore M'Calla of the "Marblehead" communicated with the insurgents some miles westwards, and learned the truth. Schley sHrted that evening for Santiago, 300 m. distant, but on the afternoon of the 26th was 20 m. south of the port. Early on the 27th Schley received a despatch from the navy department suggesting that the Spanish squadron was in Santiago and bidding him see " that the enemy, if therein, does not leave without a decisive action." Schley replied "... cannot remain, off Santiago present state squadron coal account . . . much to be regretted cannot obey orders of department. . . forced to proceed for coal to Key West by way of Yucatan Passage"; in the controversy that arose out of these events Schley's critics insisted that the " Iowa " and the " Massachusetts " bad at this time enough coal to carry them three times the distance from Santiago to Key West.

Sampson with the " New York " had arrived early on the 28th of May off Key West. When Schley's telegram, which had much disturbed the Washington officials, was forwarded to Sampson, he secured permission to go at once to Santiago with the "New York" and "Oregon" (which had arrived at Key West on the 26th of May in excellent condition after her voyage of nearly 16,000 m. from the Pacific) to turn back Schley's heavier ships. Before he started he received a telegram from Schley stating that he would remain off Santiago. It is now known from the documents published by Admiral Cervera that the Spanish squadron, in the interval preceding the 28th, when Schley arrived in sight of the port, was on the point of leaving Santiago. On the morning of the 29th two Spanish cruisers were seen a short distance within the entrance, and on the 31st Schley, with the " Massachusetts," " Iowa " and " New Orleans," stood in and made an attack upon these and the batteries at long range (8500-11,000 yds.). On the 30th Sampson, leaving a squadron on the north side under Commodore Watson, stood for

  1. Three of the best were afterwards raised and repaired by American engineers.
  2. 'The " Buenaventura," the first prize of the war, was taken by the gunboat " Nashville " off Key West on the 23rd of Aprii.
  3. A telegram (not received by Cervera) had been sent to Martinique on the 12th of May, authorizing the squadron's return.