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War Stories: Spanish American

War Stories published under this topic are as follows:

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Spanish American The day first of July, at six o'clock in the morning, the enemy army main force commanded by General Shafter, composed at least of 15,000 men, with plenty of modern artillery, without counting the insurrects groups, attacked the lines of the city towards the East and Northeast, that is, El Caney, defended by General Vara de Rey with 520 men and two Plasencia type guns and the position of San Juan, occupied by two companies of 250 soldiers.
Note: by Spanish Navy Officer José Muller Tejeira, 1898.  6812 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American HEADQUARTERS THIRTY-FOURTH MICHIGAN VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, In Camp near Santiago de Cuba, August 15,1898. The ADJUTANT-GENERAL, Washington, D. C. SIR: In compliance with General Orders, No. 72, I have the honor to make the following report: We arrived at Siboney on the morning of July 1. Owing to the want of proper facilities for unloading it was late in the afternoon before the entire command was disembarked, our baggage and tentage being left on board of the HARVARD. At 9.30 o'clock in the evening I received orders to move with my regiment and the Ninth Massachusetts with all possible haste and report to General Shafter. At 10 o'clock we left Siboney in heavy marching order, the men carrying 100 rounds of ammunition and three days' rations. Owing to the mud and the horrible condition of the roads, and the blockade caused by supply trains going to the front and ambulance trains carrying wounded to Siboney meeting in narrow passes, it was 3 o'clock on the morning of July 2 before I reached General Shafter's headquarters. Reporting to him, I received orders to continue with my command to the front to support General Wheeler. The worn-out condition of my command and the blockages of the path made it impossible for me to reach General Wheeler until 8 a. m. On reporting to General Wheeler, we were ordered to support General Bates on the extreme left of our line. While in this position 7 of my men were wounded. At 3 o'clock p. m. the Thirty-fourth Michigan was ordered back to support General Kent in our center. The Ninth Massachusetts remained with General Bates's brigade. At 10 o'clock on the night of the 2d of July the Spanish forces assaulted our lines, but were repulsed with great loss. The stubbornness and gallantry displayed by the forces in the trenches made it unnecessary for us to take any part in the firing, but the men showed their willingness and eagerness to do their share. On the 5th Major Latimer and his battalion (Companies H, E, D. G) were ordered to report to engineer corps to repair bridges and road to Siboney, and also to do outpost duty. On the 8th Lieutenant Colonel Bennett, with two companies (A and C), was ordered to El Caney to protect life and property of refugees from Santiago. He returned to the regiment the following day. Major Hodskin, with two companies (B and M), was stationed at El Poso as an outpost. The balance of the regiment were ordered Shafter's headquarters, where they were employed in helping commissary department, and did guard duty. On July 10, I was ordered to take six companies (F, K, A, B, C, M) of my command and to guard the left flank of the army against any flank movement that might be made by the enemy. From then until the surrender of General Toral these six companies were on outpost. On July 15 Major Latimer, with Companies H, D, E, G, I, L, received orders to report with my command to General Bates's provisional division. This order was carried out on the next day, the regiment then being together again for the first time since July 5. Very respectfully, JOHN P. PETERMANN, Colonel, Commanding.
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Spanish American FROM OUR OWN SOLDIER BOYS. Tampa, Florida, June 5th, 1898 Capt. T.W.Collier, Raton, New Mexico. My Dear Captain: To-day being Sunday and the ‘rough riders’ being religiously inclined, divine services were well attended. As a matter of course the officers were all present and a goodly number of the troopers. Promptly at nine o’clock Chaplain Brown ascended the pulpit, (a bale of hay in the shade of a large pine tree), and opened the service by singing that familiar hymn, “My Country ‘tis of Thee.” Taking for his text, “Put ye in the sickle for the harvest is ripe” the chaplain delivered an able and instructive sermon, after which the services were closed by singing the hymn, “God be with you ‘till we meet again.” Monday, June 6th This morning we had regimental drill, lasting over two hours. Many and difficult movements were successfully executed after which the Colonel complimented the boys on their rapid improvement. At two o’clock this afternoon, Colonel Wood announced that the seventy men out of each eight troops (there are eighty men in each troop) should break camp and pack up immediately and prepare to embark for Cuba. This news was received with great rejoicing by the troops that were ordered to go. The troops that were to be left behind could not help showing a feeling of sadness, but they cordially congratulated the lucky ones. Troop G, being made up of good material is, of course, one of the eight troops above mentioned. Our captain, (Captain Llewellen) selected the seventy men who are to go with us, and I am proud to say that not one of the Raton boys in the troop is to be left behind. All are to go. They have behaved remarkably well, have been obedient and attentive to their duties. They are indeed a credit to the “Gate City.” Tuesday, June 7th. Everything is quiet in camp this morning. We are patiently awaiting the order to march. We expect to go aboard the transports this afternoon. Wednesday, June 8th. We are on board the transport “Yucatan.” It is a beautiful day with a good breeze blowing. There are several vessels loaded with troops. In all there are about 25,000 soldiers. It is indeed a grand sight. As each vessel is loaded she is drawn out of the channel by a steam tug, amid the waving of flags, the blowing of whistles and the cheers of several thousands of people. The most hearty good will prevails. The men are wild with glee at the prospect of going to Cuba. I don’t know whether we will sail to-night or not. I hope we will, as all are very anxious to go. Thursday, June 9th. We are still in the bay, all of the transports are loaded and anchored here in the bay. It was reported that some Spanish war ships were seen last evening off the coast of Florida, within six hours sail of us. We will not sail until it is found whether or not the report is true. If the report is true it must be that only a small portion of the Spanish fleet is shut up in the harbor of Santiago. I will write you as often as possible and keep you posted as to our where-abouts. So long as we remain here mail can be sent ashore on dispatch boats. The boat is about to go now so I will have to quit. I am feeling fine. The boys all join me in sending kindest regards to the people of Ratonin general. P.S. Please mention in THE RANGE that mail for the regiment may be sent to Tampa. It will be forwarded from here to whatever place the regiment may be stationed. Mail for our boys should be sent to Troop G, 1st U.S.V. Cavalry. D.J.Leahy The Raton Range, July 21, 1898: San Juan Heights A Description of the Fight by One of Raton’s Soldiers who was There! By Lieut. DAVID J. LEAHY. To CAPTAIN T. W. COLLIER: At 3:30 o’clock, p.m., June 30th, the order to break camp was given. At about 4:30 the march was commenced toward Santiago with “G” Troop in the lead. After traversing many rough roads and crossing two streams, we went into camp at 9:30 p.m. Our camp was on the eastern slope of a ridge thickly overgrown with high grass and Spanish bayonets. The battery consisting of four field pieces being placed in our front about 70 yards distant. Coffee was made and supper eaten and the boys quietly turned in being somewhat tired after their long and tedious march. At 4:30 in the morning we were quietly awakened by Lieut. Woodbury Kane, who was officer of the guard, no reveille being sounded on account of our close proximity to the Spanish lines. Breakfast, consisting of coffee and hard tack was quickly prepared and eaten, after which the order was issued to roll up bedding preparatory to commencing the march. Just before sunrise the Grimes battery (the same that opened the fight at the Battle of Gettysburg at the same hour on the same day thirty five years ago) fired the first shot into the Spanish lines. After six shells had been fired by our batteries, suddenly, and without any warning, we heard the whirl of a Spanish shell. Their aim was true and the fuse had been well timed, for the shell burst immediately over us, and we began discussing the advisability of moving. Our time for consideration was brief, for in less than two minutes another shell landed among us, wounding several of our men, among whom were Ash and McSparron of Troop “G.” We were then ordered to march to the left a distance of 200 yards. This took us out of range of the artillery fire of the Spaniards and we quietly watched the battle between the big guns. After a few hours firing the Spanish batteries ceased replying and the supposition was that they were silenced. Almost simultaneously with the beginning of the battle by the Grimes battery, Gen. Lawton’s division on El Caney two and one half miles to our right. In a short time information came to us that Gen. Lawton was heavily engaged and we were ordered to march to his assistance. While marching toward the left to El Caney, we found that the Spaniards had taken up a strong position on San Juan Heights, two parallel ridges, one about 250 yards in the rear of and nearer Santiago than the other. We were about 400 yards distant from the first ridge and partially concealed by underbrush when we were fired upon by the Spaniards from the ridge. Orders were given to be down but not to return the Spanish fire, as their exact position was not yet known. Here we were compelled to remain for a period of three hours, the bullets whistling over our heads amongst the trees and some of them cutting the grass close beside us. It was indeed a trying position, but none of the boys murmured. It was while in this position that Capt. O’Neil of Troop “A” was killed and Lieut. Haskell of “F” Troop was mortally wounded. Finally the order to move forward was given and was indeed readily obeyed. Our next position was on the road leading to the left of the ridge. Here a halt was called while the field officers surveyed the ground and decided upon the movement to be made by each troop. In front of the Spanish works and between us and them was an open field 300 yards in width. Having but four pieces of artillery, it was decided that the ridges could be captured only by making a charge. The order to charge was given and with loud cheers the men leaped forward. We had no shelter and were in plain sight of the Spaniards, yet the men pressed eagerly forward, the main work of the officers being to keep the fastest runners back in the line. They ran forward, cheering wildly, and when within 80 yards of the trenches the Spaniards broke and ran. It was then the sharp reports of the Krag-Jorgesen Rifles could be heard and many a Spaniard fell backward and found his last resting-place in the trench he had so lately occupied. The coolness of our men was remarkable, and that their aim was true, the number of Spaniards that lie in close proximity to the trenches is the best evidence. After being driven from the first ridge, the Spaniards fled to the second ridge, there taking up a similar position to that occupied on the first one. On reaching the top of the ridge a halt was called to re-form our ranks which were somewhat broken during the charge. Some of our men were killed and many wounded, but we had gained the ridge and as soon as the Stars and Stripes were planted on the works on which the Spanish flag was flying a few minutes before a ringing cheer went up from thousands of throats. Our ranks having been re-formed, it was decided to drive the Spaniards from the second ridge. We started forward on double time. It was at this juncture that a Mauser bullet pierced my right arm, breaking the bone and turning me completely around. Serj. (Rol) Fullenwider, who was near me seeing that I was wounded, helped me over the crest of the hill and beyond the reach of the Spanish bullets. He then cut away my sleeve and helped to bind up the wound, then returning to the troop while I was taken to the hospital by one of the hospital stewards. About five minutes after being wounded, an exultant cheer reached my ears and I knew the second ridge had been taken and the Battle of San Juan Heights was ended. The Americans had again won and the Spaniards were again defeated. D. J. LEAHY
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Spanish American

Manila, June 8, 1899
Messers Horton, Bassett, Bell and Roberson:
Dear Friends and Comrades:
Your kind combination favor, after having been badly mutilated and miscarried, reached us late last month at San Fernando; a most welcome missive we assure you; and if we could receive more such evidences of good will and friendship from our Anthoney friends, the terrors of war would lose much of its terror.

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Spanish American I was just closing a letter to my family when I felt the crash of the explosion. It was a bursting, rending, and crashing sound, or roar of immense volume, largely metallic in character. It was succeeed by a metallic sound - probably of falling debris - a trembling and lurching motion of the vessel, then an impression of subsidence, attended by an eclipse of the electirc lights and intense darkness within the cabin.
Note: recounted by Captain Charles D. Sigsbee, USS MAINE, Commanding Officer.  10861 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered befell just before we charged. Bucky O'Neill was strolling up and down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer ought never to take cover - a theory which was, of course, wrong, though in a volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our regimental toast on the transport running, " The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted."
Note: by Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Riders,(1st United States Volunteer Infantry).  6268 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American “Naturally the destination of the expedition had not been made known to the command. So, as we sat in groups under the ship’s awning, or strolled around deck, gazing at the ships ahead and to the rear of us, we were free to suggest ports we might be headed for and to discuss the advantages and defects of each. There were three of these ports that had their champions in this irresponsible discussion; namely, Havana, San Juan, or some other port on Porto Rico, and Santiago. As the fleet only moved from five to seven knots an hour there was ample time for these and endless other discussions concerning our great adventure. For the first day or two there were only four or five gun boats to guard the fleet, and we wondered what would be the result should a daring Spanish torpedo boat charge in on us; but in a day or two other naval crafts joined the convoy and we concluded that an attempt on the fleet might give us some relief from the monotony that was beginning to pall on us. We trusted our convoy. The ALAMO, on which we were billeted, had a number of pontoon boats on deck; therefore we reasoned that we would be among the first to disembark and have a go at the Spaniards. I little dreamed the that these same pontoons were to be used to keep the bare feet of Garcia’s ragged soldiers from getting wet embarking for the battlefield, and that they would be instrumental in my being among the very last to get ashore. On the 15th we turned east through the Nicholas Channel and we knew we were not going to Havana. On the 19th we rounded Cape Maysi, ending all uncertainty as to our destination. On the 20th we arrived in front of Santiago, just two months from the day we left our station. (Fort Reno, Oklahoma) From one of my letters, dated June 20, 8 o’clock, P.M. I take the following: “We are lying in front of Santiago. The Headquarters ship Sehuranca, with General Shafter aboard, visited the American fleet in front of Santiago Bay about 10 o’clock, A.M. to consult with Admiral Sampson, and has not yet returned. In the meantime, the transports have been lying off shore all day rolling about in the heavy swell of the Caribbean sea.” Again on June 21st, “We have done nothing all day but float about in front of Santiago, just within sight of land. You can imagine the growling and complaining and restlessness on board.” Then June 23rd, “Still floundering on the Caribbean swells; never the less, it has been a day of exciting incidents. I went on deck about 5 o’clock A.M. and found we were near land. Between us and the coast were several gunboats and cruisers. We soon reached the general rendezvous and all ships began to move shore – ward toward a small mining village with no harbor, but with a steel dock leading out to ore chutes for loading iron ore into steamers. The name of the village is Daiquiri (pronounced Di – ki – ree).” The disembarkation commenced at once; the men being discharged into ship’s boats, to be towed in strings of half a dozen or so by steam launches. We hoped to be among the first to land, but were disappointed.”
Note: by Lt. Eli Al. Helmick.  2748 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American When we left our anchorage at Hong Kong for Mirs Bay we passed close to an English army hospital-ship lying in the stream. The patients gathered on the port-side, and, with the doctors and nurses, gave three hearty cheers as we steamed slowly by. It did our hearts good, and from all our ships ringing Yankee voices answered them in kind.
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Spanish American U.S.S. Maine Havana, Cuba Dear Father, I received your loving letter a few days ago and was pleased to hear from you. I would have written sooner but owing to us having to been ordered to sea so soon. I didn't have any chance. We are now in Havana Cuba. We arrived here yesterday after a five hour run around a place called Dry Tartogos a small Florida reef. We were out to sea when the orders came for us to proceed to proceed at once to Havana. We are the first American ship that has been here in six years. We are now cleared for action with every gun in the ship loaded and men stationed around the ship all night. We are also ready to land a battalion at any moment. By the looks of things now I think we will have some trouble before we leave. We steamed the whole length of Cuba and about every mile you can see puffs of smoke and the Spainards firing on the rebels. There are three German ships (?) loading. here was Old Moro Castle stands at the entrance of the harbor, there are thousands of Spanish inside you can see them all sitting on the walls at any time of the day. This is a landlocked harbor but I think we could get out of it all right although we are in a pretty dangerous position at the present time and we hardly know when we are safe. Well dear Father I will now have to close sending my best love and wishes to all and hoping that I may be alive to see you all again. I remain you loving son. Charles U.S.S. Maine in the charge of Council General of the United States Havana, Cuba
Note: by Charles Hamilton, Apprentice, 1st Class, Battleship Maine.  3450 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American SIR: At 9 a. m., July 3, I gave orders and arrangements were made for general muster at 9.30 a. m. At 9.30 a. m. the enemy were telegraphed by the Iowa as Coming out. At the same time they were discovered by the quartermaster on watch, N. Anderson, of this ship, and reported to the officer of the deck.
Note: account written July 7, 1898.  7278 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American "A regiment of the Second Brigade was jamming itself through the trail, and then came some of the Sixteenth Infantry's bandsmen. In battle, bandsmen followed a regiment and carried off the wounded. The band leader and the drum major were swearing earnestly. A soldier stumbled and dropped. His rifle fell from his hand. On the instant a bandsman darted forward, throwing his tenor horn into the brush. He grabbed the rifle and unbuckled the dead man's cartridge belt. It was this sort of thing that the drum major was swearing about - half the bandsmen had discarded their instruments and picked up rifles and cartridge belts. 'You hear me, pick up that goddamn horn! You hear me!' The bandsman paid no attention. 'You pick up that goddamn horn!' shrilled the drum major. ' An' that's an order!' The bandsman looked at him. 'Not by a goodamsite, Dan' he said. 'You think I'm agoin to get shot at an' not shoot back!' 'Goddam!' ejaculated the drum major. He darted at another bandsman, who was unbuckling a cartridge belt from a soldier who had been wounded - and who was helping him do it. The band had few instrumens left; but for every missing horn or fife there was a Krag rifle and a belt of cartridges. A fortnight later I saw some of those instruments; they had bullet holes in them, they were dented and battered and roughly straightened out."
Note: by Private Charles Johnson Post.  2728 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American

Santiago De Cuba

July 18, 1898

Dear Parents,

Received your welcome letter and was so glad to find all well. I am in the best of health, but my God, how the men around me suffer! There are 30 to 40 in the Company sick. It is the fever, and I thank God every day that He has spared me so far. He has heard your prayers, my dear Mama. As I have no paper, I will give you a brief sketch of what has happened on the Island and go into details some other time.

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Spanish American Friday Jan. 1st 1897 Dear Sir, Some time ago, about Dec. 20th I wrote a letter to a friend of mind, Dr. Guitierez at Key West, in which I described our passage of the Trocha and Maceo's death, which I requested him, after reading, to forward to the "World", for publication, but I am afraid, the Spaniards have the letter, as I intrusted it to Lieut. Col. Pacio to forward, and his fate just now is unknown. I will therefore write about it once more. On December. 4th at 2 p.m. Gen. A. Maceo, accompanied by about 30 persons on his staff, assistants and a few cavalrymen commanded by Comandante Varios, left San Felipe at the foot of the Gobernador (a large conspicuous hill); and as my clothes had not come, although I had dispatched 2 messengers, the General told me to come without them. About 6 p.m. we got to the beach, between Cabanas and Mariel, where the boat was hidden in the woods; but there was a very strong northerly wind and very heavy sea, so as to make it very dangerous, if not impossible to launch the boat. We therefore picked the boat up on our shoulders, even the General taking hold several times, and carried it about a mile and a half across a neck of land, launching it inside the harbor of Mariel, not more than 2 miles outside the town, about 10 p.m. Gen. A. Maceo, Gen. Pedro Diaz, Panchito Gomez [son of major General Maximo Gomez (Daley)] and I were the first 4 to cross, with one guide and two boatmen. We landed after a passage of about 20-25 minutes at a little wharf near what I took to be some bathhouses, and all of us picking up a load, started a march of about 2˝ miles, when we stopped at a deserted house. The guide went back, and shortly returned with the 2nd group, namely Brigadier General Miro, Col. Nordarse, Dr. Zertoucha, Com. Justis and Ramon Umaha. By 2 a.m. the rest, namely, Com. Piedra and Beaberes [don't know the correct spelling (Daley)], one captain and 5 assistants had joined us and we went about ˝ mile further, to a safer point, where we waited for daylight. About 6 a.m. on the 5th we started on the march and about 7 a.m near La Merced, met Lieut. Vazquez and some of his men, who took us to a house, where we camped all day. Next day Dec. 6th we left about noon, mounted on the horses of Vazquez's men, as our horses had not come yet; met Lieut. Col. Baldomero Acosta with men and horses 2 p.m. and camped at Gara 4 p.m.-9 p.m. Then resumed the march and camped at Baracoa [Havana province (Daley)] at midnight. At 4 a.m. Dec. 7th resumed the march and met Brigadier Silverio Sanchez, encamped with about 300 men, at 8 a.m. at San Pedro. As we had not had much sleep and there was nothing to eat, most of us (the Grl. Staff) went to sleep and the General had his hammock put up as well. We naturally had all confidence in Brig. Sanchez, but he did not have any exploradores and when suddenly about 2 p.m. without any warning, heavy firing commenced at our advance guard, all was for a moment confusion. Not enough, to be without exploration, but the advance guard was so near the camp, that when the fire opened, the bullets entered and passed beyond the camp. Naturally we all mounted as quick as possible, and the General, Miro, Diaz, Nodarse, I and 3-4 more were riding in a group, when immediately outside the little wood, in which was the camp, we met our retreating and, at no great distance, saw the enemy advancing and firing en guerilla. The General gave his horse the spurs and drawing his machete, shouted to the retreating men "Atras! al machete!". The men and others who were all the time coming from the camp to the front, seemed electrified, and with enthusiastic shouts wheeled their horses and charged, while the enemy precipitately retreated about 200 yards where he took position behind a strong stonewall about 4 feet high and, even dismounting his cavalry, opened a terrific fire by volleys. The General at this moment told me to collect what men I could, and charge the enemy's right flank (on our left) while he himself charged on the left. I collected about 35-40 men, and seeing the stonewall not extended very far, also knowing it to be impossible for a small cavalry to take a wall like that from infantry by a direct charge, I went about 500 yards further to our left and then charged around the end of the wall. I broke their first line of fire, but was losing men fast, and when I fell wounded with 3 bullets, my men put me on another horse and retreated. As I went back, I saw the General [Antonio Maceo (Daley)], with small group, not more than 6-8, charging, away on our right, and it seemed but a moment, when all but 2 or 3 where on the ground. Commander Manuel Sanchez, was charging at the General's side, when a bullet entered the chin of Maceo, coming out at the back of the neck. The General fell forward on his horse's neck and Sanchez catching his arm exclaimed: "General, no soy cobarde!" Maceo could not speak, but gave him a terrible look and at this moment Sanchez received a bullet through his right leg which after traversing his horse also entered the stomach of the General. Maceo fell but a short distance from the stonewall and it seems it was impossible for our people to advance and get his body. Some of the Spaniards advanced and robbed both him and Panchito Gomez, but they never got their bodies as the fire of our men drove then back. Near dark about 5 p.m. the enemy retreated and our people then got the bodies. And I here wish to protest against the horrible custom of the Spanish to kill the wounded. They say Panchito Gomez committed suicide and I saw a picture in one of the Spanish papers, where he puts the revolver to his brain. But that are all lies. First and foremost he had no revolver; on Dec. 2nd before we crossed, we have a nice little fight near San Felipe, and Panchito was wounded in the left shoulder and also lost his revolver. Second he had no bullet wound in the head. He had besides his old wound in the shoulder, only one bullet wound in the left side of the stomach; but they found him alive with that by the side of the General and gave him a pinch (thrust) with the point of a sword in the right breast, a cut in the hollow of the left arm, and a horrible machetazo, that laid open the whole back of his head and left side of the neck. All of us who crossed with the General were wounded except Gen. Diaz and Zertucha and Com. Justis who was killed. I received a bullet in the right knee, one through the right arm and another in the left side, but the last 2 light wounds that are about well. The bullet in the knee is one of those confounded copper bullets that make a hole size of your thumb, and besides it hurts the bone. I believe you want to know also about some of the atrocities of the soldiers towards Pacificos, and I could write lots, that I have personally witnessed, but I refer you to Mr. George Bronson Rhea, who has a host of well authenticated instances at your disposal. Still if you wish for some more, let me know, and I will supply them. As for the talk of the papers and Grl. Weyler about his speedy pacification of the island do no believe a word of it. In Pinar del Rio are at least 6000 armed Cubans, besides 4-6000 more with machetes. They have a splendid General (Rius Rivera) there and at present plenty to eat. I was there sometime and never went hungry, besides had the satisfaction there, to see Weyler with 25,000 men unable to force our position for 5 days, when we had not more that 80 men. Of course everyone deplores the loss of Maceo, but I find nobody discouraged; on the contrary everybody, soldiers as well as leaders are strong in the determination, to fight till their island is free. They all have still great hopes of American intervention, but even without that, they will fight on, trusting to tire out Spain, and especially Spaniard finances. Let me know if you wish to know more. Yours, El Coronel Carlos Gordon
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Spanish American "The WINSLOW arrived off Cardenas from Matanza at 9 a.m. on the 11th, having left her station on the blockade to obtain an additional supply of coal, the amount of fuel in her bunkers being reduced to 5 tons. I was directed to apply to Captain Todd, commanding the U.S.S. WILMINGTON, for necessary supplies. On boarding the U.S.S. WILMINGTON I was informed by her commanding officer of his intention to enter Cardenas Harbor on the afternoon of that day. I was directed to receive on board a Cuban pilot, Santos, to take with me the revenue cutter HUDSON to sound this channel, and, in company with the HUDSON, to sweep the channel for torpedoes. This work I completed by noon, except for sweeping the channel which could not be done on account of the grounding of the HUDSON. That vessel touched lightly but managed to work off without injury. The WINSLOW, therefore, dragged the channel with grapnels and returned to the WILMINGTON, reporting to captain Todd upon the practicality of the entrance. The entrance was begun at 12.30, high tide, the HUDSON on the starboard side and the WINSLOW on the port side of the WILMINGTON. As it was thought possible that gunboats might attempt to escape, the HUDSON was sent along the western side and the WINSLOW along the eastern side of the bay to intercept them in event of such movement. Not finding them the three vessels met off the town at a distance of about 3,500 yards. When in this position the WINSLOW was signaled to approach the WILMINGTON within hail and I was directed by Captain Todd to go in and investigate a small gunboat then observed for the first time, painted gray with black smokestack, apparently not under steam and moored to a wharf, to the left of which arose a compact mass of buildings close to the water front. Torpedoes were set for surface runs, the fans upon the war-noses were run up so as to provide for explosion at short range for use alongside the gunboat, and all preparations were made for immediate action. At a distance of about 1,500 yards, at which time the WINSLOW was advancing at about 12 knots, which seems her maximum speed in quiet shoal water, the first gun of the engagement was fired from the bow of the Spanish gunboat, marked by a clear puff of white smoke. This shot, which passed over the WINSLOW, was at once replied to by that ship and was the signal for the commencement from the beach of a rapidly sustained fire, characterized primarily by a total absence of smoke. At the commencement of this firing I received a flesh wound in the left thigh. As the action advanced a cloud of haze collected on shore at the location of this battery and when closer I detected one or two gun flashes from among the buildings but at no time could I detect the exact position of the guns. My uncertainty as to the position of the enemy was attested to by the commanding officer of the HUDSON and by officers commanding gun divisions on the WILMINGTON who inquired of me shortly after the action what I made out to be the enemy's exact position. At this time the wind was blowing from the ships toward the shore. The first shot that pierced the WINSLOW rendered her steam and hand-steering gear inoperative and damaged them beyond repair. Efforts to work the hand-steering gear from aft were frustrated by the wrecking of that mechanism and the rupture of both wheel ropes; relieving tackles failed to operate the rudder. For a short time the vessel was held on her bows in position by use of her propellers. She then swung broadside to the enemy. A shell now pierced her engine room rendering one engine inoperative. I directed my attention to maintaining fire from her 1-pounder guns, to keep the vessel constantly in movement, so as to reduce the chances of her being hit, to endeavoring to withdraw from short range, and to keeping clear of the line of fire of the WILMINGTON and HUDSON. The use of the remaining engine, had the effect of throwing her stern toward the enemy upon backing, while going ahead, threw her bow in the same direction. Under the heavy fire of the WILMINGTON, the fire of the enemy slackened. The Spanish gunboat was silenced and put out of action early in the engagement. The WINSLOW now being practically disabled, I signaled to the HUDSON to tow us out of action. She very gallantly approached us, and we succeeded in getting a line to her. Previous to this, the alternate rapid backing and steaming ahead of the WINSLOW had had the effect of working her out from under the enemy's batteries, and in this way a distance of about 300 yards was gained. Finding that we were working our way out in this manner, I directed Ensign Bagley to concentrate his attention upon the movement of the ship, watching the vessel so as to keep her out of the WILMINGTON's way, and to direct the movements of the man at the reversing gear, mechanical communication from deck to engine room being impracticable. This necessitated Mr. Bagley making repeated short trips from the deck to the foot of the engine room ladder while directing the vessel's course, and at the moment of being on deck he stood abreast the starboard gun close to a group of men who had been stationed below, but who had been sent on deck from the disabled machinery. A shell hitting, I believe, a hose reel, exploded instantly, killing Ensign Bagley and two others and mortally wounding two. This accident, which occurred at the close of the action, was virtually its end; the enemy fired a few more shots, but was soon completely silenced by the heavy fire of the WILMINGTON. The conduct of Ensign Bagley and the men with him, as well as that of the crew who survived the fight, is beyond commendation. After seeing the dead and wounded removed from the WINSLOW and conveyed on board the WILMINGTON, I turned over the command of the ship to Gunner's Mate G. P. Brady, my own injury preventing me from performing active duty for the time being."
Note: by Lt. J. B. Bernadou, Commander, USS WINSLOW.  3475 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American U. S. S. POTOMAC,

Caimanera, Cuba, August 23, 1898.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the work done on the wreck of the Maria Teresa since the last inspection made by Lieutenant-Commander Pillsbury, on August 15, 1898.
  5769 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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