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War Stories: Spanish American

War Stories published under this topic are as follows:

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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.  2735 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American U.S.S. "Oregon" San Francisco Cal. March 19th 1898 Weighed anchor at 4.45 .m. and got under way passing between Angel island and Alcatraz. Almost every whistle in the city and every ship on the bay saluted us as we headed for the Golden Gate at a 14 knot clip, even the little government tug "Gen McDowell" added her mite from the wharf at Alcatraz while the military prisoners on the "Rock" waved their hats and we could feel that they were cheering although too far off to be heard.
  7555 Reads  Printer-friendly page



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.

  5996 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.  7238 Reads  Printer-friendly page



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.  3460 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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