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War Stories: Spanish American

War Stories published under this topic are as follows:

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Spanish American "On June 15, 1898, the dynamite cruiser VESUVIUS, of which so much had been expected, was at last tested, with what result it remained for the Spaniards cooped up in Santiago harbor to report. The swift craft crept unobserved to within 600 yards of the mouth of the harbor, and, after discharging 1,500 pounds of ammunition at the Spanish ships and the fortification within, escaped unharmed. A Cuban pilot and Ensign L. C. Palmer, who had made the trip ashore and were acquainted with the location of the ships of Admiral Cervera's squadron and the batteries, went aboard the vessel, and she was ordered to the mouth of the harbor. The last order issued to her from the flagship was to be very deliberate. The VESUVIUS took up her position and fired three shots in as many minutes, one from each of her aerial dynamite tubes. The report was a peculiar one, sounding like a cough. There was no recoil perceptible. The first shot struck near the ridge of the hills, and exploded with a tremendous roar, not unlike the thunder of a shell. There was, however, very little flame. The light emitted was rather in the nature of a glow. An immense volume of red earth was blown straight up into the air to a height of 200 feet. The effect of the second shot, which struck higher up on the cliff, was similar to that of the first. The third shot went over the hill, and probably reached the supposed location of the torpedo boats in the harbor. Only two shots were fired in answer by the forts, and these were apparently delivered at random. The VESUVIUS backed out at a high rate of speed, although she was moving with her engines reversed. She swept by the lighthouse tender that was lying to seaward, which was getting away from the fire of the forts, passing her as though she was lying at anchor. The men on the VESUVIUS were delighted with their work and anxious to try their guns again. They expected and were eager to go straight into the harbor, but the effect of the shots were not such as justified an attempt to pass the lower batteries, and VESUVIUS did not repeat her attack."
Note: by General Marcus J. Wright.  3425 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American Before Santiago July 14, 1898 Brigadier-General Wood Commanding Second Brigade, Second Division Sir: Pursuant to your order, I have the honor to submit the following report on the Sims-Dudley pneumatic gun. The gun has now been in action three times, namely, at the Battle of Santiago, on July 1, and at the subsequent bombardment of that city on July 10 and 11. In all 20 shots have been fired, resulting in the destruction of three Spanish guns, the extensive demolition of trenches, and presumably a considerable loss of life to the enemy. It may therefore be asserted that as a destructive agent the gun is a success, and justifies the claims made for it by its makers in this respect. The test, however, to which the gun has been put has been equally serviceable in laying bare certain faults in material and construction, which not only mar the efficiency of the gun, but add greatly to the danger attending its operation. Briefly summarized, these faults are as follows: First, the extreme fragility of the breech mechanism, due to the lightness of construction and character of metal used. This was demonstrated after the first shot, when the extractor failed to work and has since proved useless. This alone has been an effectual bar to rapid fire, and has greatly reduced the efficiency of the piece. Subsequently, the brass handle on the firing pin broke off, owing to a flaw in the metal composing the pin, and finally the lower end of the trigger broke, owing to the crystallized condition of the steel of which it was made. I have further noted a tendency on the part of the firing tube to slip back through the bands designed to hold it in its position relative to the pressure chamber, and while I have retarded this by tightening the bands, still it is a serious fault, inasmuch as if allowed to go unnoticed it would eventually cause a break at the breech, which could not result otherwise than in serious loss of life to those in the vicinity. All of these defects can easily be remedied by the makers, as can also the defect in the powder cartridge, the shell of which is so light that it expands and jams on explosion, and ma be said to have been the initial cause of many of the difficulties to which the gun has been subject. These shells must be given more weight and rigidity. As to the equipment of the gun for field service, I would suggest that it be rigged as nearly as possible like our light artillery pieces, with such modifications as are necessitated by the difference in construction of the pieces. The small trial wheels as at present arranged are quite useless. I am, sir, your obedient servant, HALLETT ALSOP BORROWE Sergeant, First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Dynamite Gun Detachment
Note: by Sergeant Hallett Alsop Borrowe, USV.  3384 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American We are out today on the scout on the mountain, about thirty miles from Guantanamo, and probably will not see camp again for about ten days. I have eight men with me, and have made a report of our position and that of the enemy and have sent the same to our captain at Guantanamo.
At present I am under orders of the noted Cuban, General Garcia, and he will give me a guide of ten or twelve Cubans when I return to our camp.
Note: by Marine Sergeant Bloomfield W. Riddle.  6964 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American The first ship that went out was the flagship MARIA TERESA, followed by the VIZCAYA, COLON, OQUENDO, and finally the destroyers, all under full steam.
When, the ships went out the engines were under such high pressure that the enemy was surprised, and has subsequently expressed great admiration on that account.
Note: written for the Spanish newspaper La Corresponcia, August 22, 1898.  6091 Reads  Printer-friendly page



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.  10119 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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