Spanish–American War

THE SPANISH FLEET MAKES A DASH FROM THE HARBOR. — ITS TOTAL DESTRUCTION. — ADMIRAL CERVERA A PRISONER. — GREAT SPANISH LOSSES. — AMERICAN FLEET LOSES BUT ONE MAN.

When the event was least expected the Spaniards made a desperate dash from the harbor, seeking freedom but finding only death.

July 3d the land forces of General Shafter were closing in on Santiago. There had been hard fighting for two days, in which both sides had shown dogged courage, but the Spaniards had been beaten back into the city, which the Americans almost completely invested. Though Shafter had but few heavy siege guns, many of the shells from his field artillery fell in the streets of the town and produced a panic there.

Admiral Cervera had landed some of his rapid-fire guns in aid of General Linares, and his marines fought with the Spanish soldiers. But as the American advance continued he saw that he would be caught in a trap and ground to pieces between Shafter and Sampson. So he made up his mind to the desperate chance of slipping out and trying to run past the American squadron.

The Protected Cruiser "Olympia," Admiral Dewey's Flagship.

Admiral George Dewey.

Acting Rear Admiral W. T. Sampson.

Rear-Admiral Montgomery Sicard.

Commodore W. S. Schley.

Captain A. S. Barker,
Late of the "Oregon"; now of the "Newark."

Captain "Jack" Philip,
Of the battle-ship "Texas."

Commodore J. Crittenden Watson.
Second in Command of the Gulf Squadron.

Ensign Worth Bagley Of The "Winslow."
the First American Officer killed by the Enemy.

Cadet George T. Pettengill.
Who fired the first Shot of the War.

Captain F. W. Dickins.
Chief of Bureau of Navigation.

Commodore John A. Howell.
Commanding Inner Line of Coast Defenses.

Brig.-Gen. H. C. Hasbrouck.
Commandant of Fort Monroe.

Captain C. E. Clark.
Of The Battle-ship "Oregon."

Admiral F. M. Bunce.
Commandant of Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Bombardment of Spanish Ports and Fleet at Santiago De Cuba, July 6, 1898.

"Maria Teresa" and "Vizcaya" burning on the Beach near Santiago.

The Flagship "New York," followed by the "Vixen," closing on the "Cristobal Colon," while the Latter was being run ashore west of Santiago.

Effect of a Single Spanish Shot on Upper Deck of the Battle-Ship "Texas".

Part of Crew of "Texas"
Band of the "Oregon" playing Funeral March after the Defeat of the "Colon".

Engineer Battalion unloading Tools at Siboney.

"St. Louis." A Transport. "Suwanee." "Vixen."
Auxiliary Cruisers protecting Landing.

Commodore Watson's Fleet for Service in Spanish Waters.

At 9.30 on the morning of the 3d the lookout on the "Texas" saw smoke rising above Morro Castle. Immediately after, the black prow of a warship appeared in the channel coming out at full speed. It was the "Almirante Oquendo." Instantly the "Texas" broke out with bunting signaling to all the vessels of the fleet that the Spaniards were coming out. On every side rung out the bugles and clattered gongs calling the crews of the American ships to quarters. Admiral Sampson with the "New York" was far away, and Commodore Schley with the "Brooklyn" commanded the fleet. The odds were not so greatly in favor of the Americans, for the Spaniards had four armored cruisers and two torpedo-boat destroyers, while the Americans had five battle-ships, one armored cruiser and a yacht. The superiority of the Spaniards in rapid-fire guns was very great.

The "Brooklyn," thinly clad with armor, dashed first into the fray and was soon engaged with four armored vessels, each her superior; the "Iowa," "Texas" and "Oregon" rushed to her aid. It was soon apparent that the Spaniards were more intent on running than fighting. Nevertheless, they kept up a rapid fire, but showed the bad marksmanship which characterized Montojo's gunners at Manila. One shell from the "Oquendo" crashed through the pilot-house of the "Texas" just after Captain Philip had left it for the securer retreat of the conning tower, and one exploded in the smokestack. These were about the most effective shots aimed by the enemy.

A correspondent of the New York "Journal" and the "Sun" stationed aboard the "Texas" sent the most graphic account of the battle which has at this date, July 6, been printed. Some extracts from it will give a clear account of the fighting:

"Almost before the leading ship was clear of the shadow of Morro Castle the fight had begun. Admiral Cervera started it by a shell from the 'Almirante Oquendo,' to which he had transferred his flag. It struck none of the American vessels. In a twinkling the big guns of the 'Texas' belched forth their thunder, which was followed immediately by a heavy fire from our other ships. The Spaniards turned to the westward under full steam, pouring a constant fire on our ships, and evidently hoping to get away by their superior speed.

"The 'Texas,' still heading in shore, kept up a hot exchange of shots with the foremost ships, which gradually drew away to the westward under the shadow of the hills. The third of the Spanish vessels, the 'Vizcaya' or 'Infanta Maria Teresa,' was caught by the 'Texas' in good fighting range, and it was she that engaged the chief attention of the first battle-ship commissioned in the American Navy. The 'Texas' steamed west with her adversary, and as she could not catch her with speed she did with her shells.

"The din of the guns was so terrific that orders had to be yelled close to the messengers' ears, and at times the smoke was so thick that absolutely nothing could be seen. Once or twice the 12-inch guns in the turrets were swung across the ship and fired. The concussion shook the great vessel as though she had been struck by a great ball, and everything movable was splintered. The men near the guns were thrown flat on their faces.

"Meanwhile the 'Oregon' had come in on the run. She passed the 'Texas' and chased after Commodore Schley, on the 'Brooklyn,' to head off the foremost of the Spanish ships. The 'Iowa' also turned her course westward, and kept up a hot fire on the running enemy.

"At 10.10 o'clock the third of the Spanish ships, the one that had been exchanging compliments with the 'Texas,' was seen to be on fire and a mighty cheer went up from our ships. The Spaniard headed for the shore and the 'Texas' turned her attention to the one following. The 'Brooklyn' and 'Oregon,' after a few parting shots, also left her contemptuously and made all steam and shell after the foremost two of the Spanish ships, the 'Almirante Oquendo' and the 'Cristobal Colon.'

"Just then the two torpedo-boat destroyers 'Pluton' and 'Furor' were discovered. They had come out after the cruisers without being seen, and were boldly heading west down the coast. 'All small guns on the torpedo boats' was the order on the 'Texas,' and in an instant a hail of shot was pouring all about them. A 6-pounder from the starboard battery of the 'Texas,' under Ensign Gise, struck the foremost torpedo boat fairly in the boiler.

"A rending sound was heard above the roar of battle. A great spout of black smoke shot up from that destroyer and she was out of commission. The 'Iowa,' which was coming up fast, threw a few complimentary shots at the second torpedo-boat destroyer and passed on. The little 'Gloucester,' formerly a yacht, then sailed in and finished the second boat."

The "Gloucester" of which the correspondent speaks was in command of Lieutenant-Commander Wainwright, who had been the executive officer of the "Maine." For two months after the disaster to that vessel Wainwright lived on a United States ship in the harbor of Havana, refusing to set foot on shore until he could go "with a landing party of marines." In his attack on the torpedo-boat destroyers—vastly superior to his craft in weight and armament—he threw prudence to the winds and fought with a fierceness bred of bitter hatred for the Dons. His was the most stirring display of personal courage shown on a day when all were brave.

To return to the correspondent's account:

"Gun for gun and shot for shot the running fight was kept up between the Spanish cruisers and the four American vessels. At 10.30 o'clock the 'Infanta Maria Teresa' and 'Vizcaya' were almost on the beach, and were evidently in distress. As the 'Texas' was firing at them a white flag was run up on the one nearest her. 'Cease firing,' called Captain Philip, and a moment later both the Spaniards were beached. Clouds of black smoke arose from each, and bright flashes of flame could be seen shining through the smoke. Boats were visible putting out from the cruisers to the shore. The 'Iowa' waited to see that the two warships were really out of the fight, and it did not take her long to determine that they would never fight again. The Iowa' herself had suffered some very hard knocks.

"The 'Brooklyn,' 'Oregon' and 'Texas' pushed ahead after the 'Colon' and 'Almirante Oquendo,' which were now running the race of their lives along the coast. At 10.50 o'clock, when Admiral Cervera's flagship, the 'Almirante Oquendo,' suddenly headed in shore, she had the 'Brooklyn' and 'Oregon' abeam and the 'Texas' astern. 'The Brooklyn' and 'Oregon' pushed on after the 'Cristobal Colon,' which was making fine time and which looked as if she might escape, leaving the 'Texas' to finish the 'Almirante Oquendo.' This work did not take long. The Spanish ship was already burning. At 11.05 o'clock down came a yellow and red flag at her stern. Just as the 'Texas' got abeam of her she was shaken by a mighty explosion.

"The crew of the 'Texas' started to cheer. 'Don't cheer, because the poor devils are dying,' called Captain Philip, and the 'Texas' left the 'Almirante Oquendo' to her fate to join in the chase of the 'Cristobal Colon.'

"That ship in desperation was plowing the waters at a rate that caused the fast 'Brooklyn' trouble. The 'Oregon' made great speed for a battle-ship, and the 'Texas' made the effort of her life. Never since her trial trip had she made such time.

"The 'Brooklyn' might have proved a match to the 'Cristobal Colon' in speed, but she was not supposed to be her match in strength.

"It would never do to allow even one of the Spanish ships to get away. Straight into the west the strongest chase of modern times took place. The 'Brooklyn' headed the pursuers. She stood well out from the shore in order to try to cut off the 'Cristobal Colon' at a point jutting out into the sea far ahead. The 'Oregon' kept a middle course about a mile from the cruiser. The desperate Don ran close along the shore, and now and then he threw a shell of defiance. The old 'Texas' kept well up in the chase under forced draught for over two hours.

"The fleet Spaniard led the Americans a merry chase, but she had no chance. The 'Brooklyn' gradually forged ahead, so that the escape of the 'Cristobal Colon' was cut off at the point above mentioned. The 'Oregon' was abeam of the 'Colon' then, and the gallant Don gave it up.

"At 1.15 o'clock he headed for the shore, and five minutes later down came the Spanish flag. None of our ships was then within a mile of her, but her escape was cut off. The 'Texas,' 'Oregon' and 'Brooklyn' closed in on her and stopped their engines a few hundred yards away.

"Commodore Schley left the 'Brooklyn' in a small boat and went aboard the 'Cristobal Colon' and received the surrender. Meantime the 'New York,' with Admiral Sampson on board, and the 'Vixen' were coming up on the run. Commodore Schley signaled to Admiral Sampson; 'We have won a great victory; details will be communicated.'

"Then for an hour after the surrender in that little cove under the high hills was a general Fourth of July celebration, though a little premature. Our ships cheered one another, the captains indulged in compliments through the megaphones, and the 'Oregon' got out its band, and the strains of the 'Star-Spangled Banner' echoed over the lines of Spaniards drawn up on the deck of the last of the Spanish fleet, and up over the lofty green-tipped hills of the Cuban mountains.

"Commodore Schley, coming alongside the 'Texas' from the 'Cristobal Colon' in his gig, called out cheerily, 'It was a nice fight, Jack, wasn't it?'

"The veterans of the 'Texas' lined up and gave three hearty cheers and a tiger for their old commander-in-chief. Captain Philip called all hands to the quarter-deck, and with bared head, thanked God for the almost bloodless victory.

"'I want to make public acknowledgment here,' he said, 'that I believe in God the Father Almighty. I want all you officers and men to lift your hats and from your hearts offer silent thanks to the Almighty.' "All hats were off. There was a moment or two of absolute silence, and then the overwrought feelings of the ship's company relieved themselves in three hearty cheers for their beloved commander."

By this victory the naval power of Spain was effectively and finally crushed. She lost four fine armored ships and two large destroyers. In killed, wounded and prisoners her loss exceeded eighteen hundred men, while but one American was slain. Among the prisoners was Admiral Cervera, whose dignified bearing in the presence of disaster won for him the high regard of the Americans, his foes. The value of the property lost to bankrupt Spain exceeded thirteen million dollars, and it is probable that before these words reach the reader the final price of Cervera's daring dash will be paid by the surrender of Santiago.

THE STATE OF CUBA. — PERTINACITY OF THE REVOLUTIONISTS. — SPAIN'S SACRIFICES AND FAILURE. — SPANISH BARBARITIES. — THE POLICY OF RECONCENTRATION. — AMERICAN SYMPATHY AROUSED. — THE STRUGGLE IN CONGRESS. — THE ASSASSINATION OF THE "MAINE." — REPORT OF THE COMMISSION. — THE ONWARD MARCH TO BATTLE.

Ashort time after the inauguration of William McKinley as President of the United States in March, 1897, it became apparent that the disordered condition of Cuba under Spanish rule was destined inevitably to become an issue which the United States must help to settle. For two years a great part of the island had been in open and determined revolt against Spanish rule. Though the forces of the King had been able to hold the seaports, thus cutting off the insurgents from regular communication with the outer world and making impotent their efforts to secure recognition from foreign powers, the patriots under Maceo and Gomez held control of the interior, established a government of their own, enforced order, and levied taxes. Enormous sacrifices were made by the Spanish people to re-establish sovereignty in the island. More than 300,000 troops were sent thither to be cruelly cut down by plague and pestilence. A nation, long on the verge of bankruptcy, incurred uncomplainingly prodigious additional indebtedness to save for its boy king—Alphonso XIII. was at this time but twelve years old—its most precious possession in the west, the Pearl of the Antilles. Queen Isabella of Spain pawned her jewels that Columbus might have the means to press his voyage of discovery into unknown seas, but in the closing years of this century the people of Spain pawned their national assets, put even themselves and their posterity in pawn to hold for Spain the last relics of the empire which Columbus won for her.

Though we were forced to draw the sword upon Spain in the cause of humanity and human liberty, the man of reason, and of a sense of justice, will not withhold from the people of that sorely chastened nation admiration for their loyalty and the sacrifices they made in their national cause.

But the Spanish people were cruelly betrayed by their own rulers. The generals whom they sent to Cuba gave less thought to the suppression of the insurrection than to filling their own pockets. Out of the millions and millions of pesetas set aside by an already impoverished people for the needs of war, a great part was stolen by generals and by army contractors. The young conscripts, sent from Spain to a land where the air is pestilential to the unacclimated, were clothed and shod in shoddy; their food invited disease, and when they fell ill it was found that the greed of the generals had consumed the funds that should have provided sufficient hospital service. Comparatively few fell before the bullets or machetes of the insurgents—for, as we shall see, the revolutionists adopted the tactics of Fabius—but by thousands they succumbed to fevers of every kind. Death without glory was the hapless lot of the Spanish conscript.

The Patriot generals, Maximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo, met this situation with consummate skill. The military problem which confronted them was one which chiefly demanded self-restraint. They were lamentably destitute of arms and munitions of war. Cartridges were a dearly prized acquisition, and it is worth noting, as an indication of the venality which corrupted the Spanish army, that a considerable share of the insurgent ammunition was obtained by direct traffic with the Spanish soldiers. But in the main the Patriots were armed with heterogeneous firearms and the machete—a heavy, sword-like knife, used, in peace, for cutting cane. The latter at close quarters was a formidable weapon, and the insurgents became singularly proficient in its use; developing a style of machete play almost as exact and scientific as the school of the rapier in ancient France.

This disparity in weapons, however, made it imperative that the insurgents should avoid pitched battles with the invaders, who were armed with Mauser rifles, that do deadly work at two miles' distance. Accordingly, Gomez and Maceo confined themselves to harrying the Spanish army of occupation on every side and destroying all vestiges of Spanish authority outside the large towns. Warfare of this sort inevitably develops into the most cruel, the most barbarous of conflicts. So it was in this case. That Cuba might be made desolate, unable to pay anything toward the price of its own subjection, the insurgents relentlessly destroyed standing crops, burned great fields of standing sugar cane, destroyed mills, dynamited railroads, tore up roads, and demolished aqueducts. That the peaceful inhabitants—the pacificos—might not give aid or comfort to the revolutionists, General Weyler caused them to be driven from their farms and herded in the towns still under Spanish rule. There they stayed, in squalid huts or under thatched sheds, AND STARVED. Systematically, with devilish ingenuity, Spain planned to crush Cuba, not by fighting the revolutionists, but by starving women and children, old men and peaceful farm hands. It is estimated, and conservatively, that more than 500,000 people had been starved to death before the United States interfered.

Indeed, it was upon the hapless pacificos that the horrors of war chiefly descended. They were ruined, but that was the least. Their property, the honor of their women, and their lives were held to be the legitimate spoil of any Spanish soldier, and the tacit legalization of loot, rapine, and murder was taken full advantage of. More inhuman even than the regular soldiery were the guerrillas, licensed free companions, who roamed the island ever in search of spoil. The deeds of these wretches beggar description, and so foul was the repute of their corps that prisoners from their number taken by the Cubans were instantly put to death. It is just to say here that the testimony of Americans who served with Gomez and Maceo proves that those leaders enforced humane and orderly conduct upon their followers. The death penalty was more than once imposed upon useful and brave soldiers, who had been guilty of outrage. Nothing could more vividly indicate the moral difference between the Cuban and the Spaniard than the contrast between their methods of prosecuting the war. Though outlawed, the Revolutionists observed with scrupulous exactness the rules of civilized warfare, while the Spaniards murdered helpless prisoners, even killing the wounded in their beds, had recourse to torture and to nameless mutilation, in order to wreak their hatred, and let loose a swarm of bandits and ruffians to prey upon the defenseless people of the island.

Out of warfare such as this, waged on an island only a few hours' sail from our coast, and in which were heavy American interests, it was inevitable that invasion of American rights should proceed, and the wrath of the American people be awakened. Our citizens owned large plantations in Cuba, which were destroyed either by the Spaniards or the insurgents. Many Americans living in the island or visiting there, were arrested by the Spanish authorities, and one, at least, Dr. Ruiz, was murdered in Morro Castle, while another a newspaper correspondent, was cut to pieces by guerrillas. For Spanish outrages upon the lives or property of American citizens, claims aggregating $60,000,000 were on file with the United States Department of State before the declaration of war. The general sympathy of the American people with the insurgents, as well as the hope of profit, led to repeated efforts by our citizens to smuggle arms and munitions of war to the Cubans, and in time it became necessary to employ a great part of the United States navy in police duty on the high seas for the purpose of stopping the filibusters. This service in behalf of Spain was exceedingly repugnant to the American mind, and contributed greatly to the growing feeling of irritation toward Spain.

History in coming ages, however, will relate, to the unending horror and glory of the American people, that humanitarian considerations, rather than regard for imperiled interests, brought the United States into a war which most emphatically their people did not desire. The great New York newspapers, day by day, printed circumstantial accounts of the frightful sufferings in Cuba. One journal secured a great number of photographs of scenes amid the starving reconcentrados, which, greatly enlarged, were publicly exhibited in all parts of the Union. These pictures, showing the frightful distortions of the human body as the result of long starvation, showing little children, mere skeletons, looking mutely down on the dead bodies of their parents, brought home to the mind of the people the state of life in a neighboring land as no writing, however brilliant, could. A cry went up from every part of the United States that a Christian duty was imposed upon our nation to interfere for the alleviation of such horrible suffering. Charity came to the rescue with free contributions of provisions, and Congress made a heavy appropriation of money for the relief of the Cubans. But everywhere the opinion grew that philanthropy alone could not right this great wrong, but that the strong hand of the United States must reach forth to pluck out the Spaniard from the land he ravaged. And when a number of Senators and Representatives in Congress made journeys to Cuba, and returning, described in formal addresses at the Capitol the scenes of starvation and misery, this opinion hardened into positive conviction.

Then, almost as if planned by some all-knowing power, came a great and inexplicable disaster, which made American intervention inevitable and immediate.

During the latter years of the Cleveland administration the representatives of American interests in Cuba urged that a United States ship-of-war should be permanently stationed in Havana harbor. The request was reasonable, the act in thorough accord with the custom of nations. But, fearing to offend Spain, President Cleveland avoided taking the step and President McKinley for months imitated him. In time this act, which in itself could have had no hostile significance, came to be regarded as an expression of hostility to Spain, and all the resources of Spanish diplomacy were exerted to prevent any American warship from entering Havana harbor. Ultimately, however, the pressure of public opinion compelled the Executive to provide for representation of American authority in the disordered island, and the battle-ship "Maine"—a sister ship to the "Iowa," a picture of which appears elsewhere in this volume—was sent to Havana.

The night of February 15 the "Maine" lay quietly at her anchorage in the Havana harbor. Her great white hull, with lights shining brilliantly from the ports aft where the officers' quarters were, gleamed in the starlight. On the berth deck the men swung sleeping in their hammocks. The watch on deck breathed gratefully the cool evening air after the long tropic day. Captain Sigsbee was at work in his cabin, and the officers in the wardroom were chatting over their games or dozing over their books. The lights of the town and of the ancient fortress of Morro shone brightly through the purpling light. Not far away the Spanish man-of-war "Alfonso XIII." lay at her moorings, and an American merchantman, brightly lighted, was near. The scene was peaceful, quiet, beautiful. True, in the minds of many officers and men on the American warship there was a lurking and indefinable sense of danger. Their coming had been taken by the Spaniards in Havana as a hostile act. Though all the perfunctory requirements of international courtesy had been complied with, salutes interchanged, visits of ceremony paid and returned, there was yet in the Spanish greeting an ill-concealed tone of anger. In the cafés Spanish officers cursed the Yankees and boasted of their purpose to destroy them. On the streets American blue-jackets, on shore leave, were jostled, jeered, and insulted. Yet the ill-temper of the Spaniards, though apparent, was so ill defined that no apprehension of a positive attack was felt. As is the practice on men-of-war, however, the utmost vigilance was maintained. Only the employment of a boat patrol and the use of torpedo nettings were lacking to give the "Maine" the aspect of a ship in an enemy's harbor.

Then came the disaster that shocked the world. A disaster in which it is impossible not to suspect the element of treachery. A disaster which if purely accidental, occurring to a hated ship in a port surrounded by men who were enemies at heart, was the most extraordinary coincidence in history. The story is brief. Not until this war is ended and the authority of the United States is employed to clear up the mystery, can the real narrative of the destruction of the "Maine" be told.

This much we know: At about half-past nine those on the "Maine" who lived to tell the tale heard a sudden dull explosion, with a slight shock, then a prolonged, deep, furious roar, which shook the ship to its very vitals. The people on the other ships in the harbor saw the whole forward portion of the "Maine" suddenly become a flaming volcano belching forth fire, men, huge pieces of steel, and bursting shells. Portions of the ship's hull rained down on decks a thousand yards away. When the first fierce shock of the explosion was past, it was seen that the "Maine" was on fire and was rapidly sinking.

How wonderful is the power of discipline upon the human mind! On the great battle-ship, with hundreds of its men blown to pieces or penned down by steel débris to be drowned in the rapidly rising waters, there was no panic. Captain Sigsbee, rushing from his cabin door, is met by the sergeant of marines who serves him as orderly. Not a detail of naval etiquette is lacking. Sergeant William Anthony salutes:

"I have to report, sir, that the ship is blown up and is sinking," he says, as he would report a pilot boat in the offing.

The captain reaches the deck to find his officers already at work, the men who have not been injured all at their stations. Boats are lowered and ply about the harbor to rescue survivors. Though the flames rage fiercely, and the part of the ship which they have not yet reached is full of high explosives, there is no panic. At the first alarm every man has done what years of drill and teaching have taught him to do. The after-magazines have been flooded, the boats' crews called away. Even preparations for a fight had been attempted. Lieutenant Jenkins, hearing the first explosion, sprang so quickly for his station at a forward gun that he was caught in the second explosion and slain. Though a bolt from heaven or a shock from hell had struck the "Maine," it brought death only—not fear nor panic.

The work of rescuing survivors and caring for the wounded was pushed apace, for the ship sunk rapidly, until only her after-superstructure was above the water. Boats from the Spanish man-of-war joined in the work of mercy and her officers, as though conscious that the suspicion of treachery was first in every man's mind, exerted themselves in every way to show solicitude for the wounded and sorrow for the disaster. When all was done that could be done, and the roll of the ship's company was called, it was found that 266 brave Americans were lost in Havana harbor—a friendly port. Some lie there yet, penned down beneath the gnarled and scorched steel which formed the gallant "Maine"; others lie in lonely graves on the adjacent shore, where, before this war is ended, the American flag shall be raised above them to be their avenger and their monument.


It will be necessary to outline in only the most terse and condensed form the political and military events which succeeded the destruction of the "Maine" and led up to the declaration of war. The news of the great disaster was received at home with horror, speedily turning to anger. The Government, rightly desiring to proceed calmly and in accordance with regularly ascertained facts, strove to calm the public temper, but with little success. It gave out as Captain Sigsbee's first report of the disaster a cable message, which contained no charge of treachery, advised caution, and urged a suspension of judgment. But presently it became rumored about Washington that this dispatch was, in fact, sent under orders; that the captain's first report formally charged the Spaniards with blowing up the ship. In the newspapers the discussion raged and theories of the disaster were plentiful, but, after long weeks of careful study of the evidence, the Naval Board of Inquiry presented the following report:

When the "Maine" arrived at Havana, she was conducted by the regular Government pilot to buoy No. 4, to which she was moored in from five to six fathoms of water.

The state of discipline on board, and the condition of her magazines, boilers, coal-bunkers, and storage compartments, are passed in review, with the conclusion that excellent order prevailed, and that no indication of any cause for an internal explosion existed in any quarter.

At eight o'clock on the evening of February 15 everything had been reported secure, and all was quiet. At 9.40 o'clock the vessel was suddenly destroyed.

There were two distinct explosions, with a brief interval between them. The first lifted the forward part of the ship very perceptibly; the second, which was more open, prolonged, and of greater volume, is attributed by the Court to the partial explosion of two or more of the forward magazines.

The evidence of the divers establishes that the after-part of the ship was practically intact, and sank in that condition a very few minutes after the explosion. The forward part was completely demolished.

Upon the evidence of a concurrent external cause the finding of the Court is as follows:

At frame 17 the outer shell of the ship, from a point eleven and one-half feet from the middle line of the ship and six feet above the keel when in its natural position, has been forced up so as to be now about four feet above the surface of the water; therefore, about thirty-four feet above where it would be had the ship sunk uninjured.

The outside bottom plating is bent into a reversed V-shape, the after-wing of which, about fifteen feet broad and thirty-two feet in length (from frame 17 to frame 25), is doubled back upon itself against the continuation of the same plating extending forward.

At frame 18 the vertical keel is broken in two and the flat keel bent into an angle similar to the angle formed by the outside bottom plates. This break is now about six feet below the surface of the water and about thirty feet above its normal position.

In the opinion of the Court, this effect could have been produced only by the explosion of a mine situated under the bottom of the ship, at about frame 18, and somewhat on the port side of the ship.

The conclusions of the Court are:

That the loss of the "Maine" was not in any respect due to fault or negligence on the part of any of the officers or members of her crew.

That the ship was destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine, which caused the partial explosion of two or more of her forward magazines; and,

That no evidence has been obtainable fixing the responsibility for the destruction of the "Maine" upon any person or persons.

Partial View of the Wreck of the "Maine."

To-day, in the midst of war with Spain, we have no more definite, no more authoritative knowledge of the cause of this disaster than this. Spain, indeed, through her official commission, decided that the explosion was wholly internal, but the American people is not convinced. Battleships are not in the habit of blowing themselves up, and it is the expectation that the establishment of American authority in Cuba will be followed by the unraveling of this murderous plot. Undoubtedly an anecdote told of Captain Robley D. Evans (Fighting Bob) of the navy expresses the popular conviction:

"The admiral in command of the United States fleet at Key West should have sailed for Havana on getting news of the 'Maine's' destruction," said Evans. "He should have reduced the forts, seized the city, discovered the assassins, and hanged them."

"But that would have been defiance of the orders of the Navy Department," responded his auditor, aghast.

"Perhaps so," admitted Evans, "but the man who did it would have been the next President of the United States."

While the "Maine" Court of Inquiry was in session measures looking toward war were rapidly taken. March 9, a bill, which had passed both houses of Congress without a dissenting voice, became a law, appropriating $50,000,000 to be expended for the national defense. Out of this sum the Navy Department bought two Brazilian cruisers building in England, which were rechristened the "New Orleans" and "Albany." A flotilla of yachts, seagoing tugs, and merchantmen was bought and refitted. The great American liners "St. Paul," "City of Paris," "City of New York," and "St. Louis" were chartered and made into auxiliary cruisers. All Europe was ransacked for purchasable warships and torpedo boats, with the result of proving that no nation, however rich, can equip itself with a navy in an emergency. Not one battle-ship was available for purchase, and only four cruisers, of doubtful quality. And while this work of preparation was going hurriedly on the country was drifting into war with what seemed at the time inexplicable slowness, but to the calmer backward glance of history will appear dangerously swift in the face of our great lack of preparation. What might be termed the milestones on the march to battle were these:

April 5.—Consul General Fitz Hugh Lee recalled from Havana.

April 11.—Message of the President on Cuba, recommending that we have power to intervene forcibly without "recognizing at this time the independence of the present insurgent government."

April 13.—The House passed a resolution directing the President to intervene in Cuba at once, and authorizing him to use the land and naval forces of the United States to stop the war.

April 16.—The Senate passed a joint resolution, as a substitute for the House resolution, declaring the island to be free, recognizing the republic, demanding relinquishment of authority in Cuba by Spain, and withdrawal of Spanish forces; directing the President to call out the militia in addition to regular land and naval forces, and, finally, disclaiming any intention to annex the island.

April 19.—Senate resolution adopted by the House, with the proviso recognizing the republic of Cuba stricken out. Both houses agreed to the report in this form.

April 20.—Ultimatum to Spain, cabled at 11 A.M.—a formal demand that Spain at once relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba, and withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters.

President signed Cuban joint resolutions at 11.24.

Señor Polo y Bernabé, the Spanish Minister, was notified. He at once requested his passports.

April 21.—General Woodford, the American Minister at Madrid, left Spain.

The President directed the Secretary of the Navy to order the vessels of the North Atlantic squadron to proceed without delay to Cuban waters to blockade Havana and other ports of the island.

April 23.—President McKinley signed the proclamation calling for 125,000 volunteers.

April 25.—Formal declaration of war recommended by the President, and a bill "declaring that war exists between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain," passed by both houses.

And so the United States embarked on its first war with any European Power, save England—a war forced upon us by every consideration of humanity—a war which shall be of great advantage or of great harm to our Republic, according as its fruits are wisely or wrongly administered.

THE OPENING DAYS OF THE WAR. — THE FIRST BLOW STRUCK IN THE PACIFIC. — DEWEY AND HIS FLEET. — THE BATTLE AT MANILA. — AN EYE-WITNESS' STORY. — DELAY AND DOUBT IN THE EAST. — DULL TIMES FOR THE BLUE-JACKETS. — THE DISCOVERY OF CERVERA. — HOBSON'S EXPLOIT. — THE OUTLOOK.

Strangely enough the first warlike stroke at Spain was not delivered in or about Cuba, where the quarrel arose, but in the other hemisphere, in the far-away waters of the Asiatic Pacific, where the American flag is almost a stranger and the power and wealth of the great American Republic are unknown. In the Philippine Islands Spain retains one of the colonies with which she once encircled the globe. More than 7,000,000 people—a peace-loving, kindly, intelligent race—are there ruled by the Spaniards, and as the rule was of the characteristic Spanish kind, with all the accompaniments of slaughter, dishonor, and extortion, the natives—as in Cuba—were in a chronic state of rebellion. One uprising, which had assumed very considerable proportions, was reported by the Spaniards as suppressed just before our declaration of war. That event, however, aroused the revolutionists again and, as we shall see, they were of the greatest service to us as allies.

When war was declared an American squadron of six warships lay at Hong Kong. The vessels were the "Olympia," protected cruiser; "Raleigh," "Baltimore," and "Boston," cruisers; "Concord" and "Petrel," gunboats, and the revenue cutter "McCulloch." Not a very powerful fleet—not a battle-ship nor even an armored cruiser among them—but the ships carried crews of as sturdy Yankee blue-jackets as ever trained a gun, and when the time came for daring an enemy's fire the little "Petrel" was as dashing and defiant as the stoutest of steel-clads could be. In command of the squadron was Admiral George Dewey, a Vermonter, who served with Farragut and had his baptism of fire at the forts below New Orleans. In time of peace the war record of a subaltern is quickly forgotten, and Dewey patiently climbed the ladder of promotion until 1898 found him a commodore and in command of the Asiatic squadron, without anybody's remembering particularly that this officer in far Hong Kong had seen fighting and knew how to bear himself under fire. It is a significant fact that when he had won the first great victory of the war, and the newspapers were searching everywhere for stories illustrative of his character, it was discovered that he had chiefly impressed himself on the Washington mind by his excessive punctiliousness in matters of dress.

Four days after the declaration of war there was a commotion on the ships of Dewey's squadron. The signal to weigh anchor flew from the foremast of the "Olympia," and everybody knew that the admiral had received fighting orders. For some days past the ships had been in their battle rigging. The white paint had been covered by a dull greenish-gray. All woodwork, railings, and unnecessary hamper had been stripped off and sent ashore. The officers' baggage was reduced to the barest necessities. Nothing was left anywhere on board which could be turned into a cloud of flying splinters by a shell, or which cumbered the decks to the inconvenience of the gunners. The warships which, in time of peace, were as bright and sparkling as a well-kept yacht, had put on the sullen, vicious air of war.

Dewey's objective point when he set sail from the harbor of Hong Kong was the Asiatic squadron of Spain, under the command of Admiral Montojo. There was every reason to believe that he would find the enemy under the protecting guns of the forts that guarded the harbor of Manila. In themselves the Spanish ships were no match for the American fleet. Three good ships had Admiral Montojo—the "Reina Cristina," the "Castilla," and the "Don Antonio de Ulloa"; but his others were old-fashioned and lacking in modern armament. But should they take positions under the guns of the Spanish forts, at the end of a channel plentifully guarded by mines and torpedoes, the disparity in forces would disappear. As it occurred this was precisely what they did, giving Admiral Dewey opportunity to put into practice tactics which it seems he had studied for months in anticipation of exactly such an emergency.

On the night of April 30 the American ships arrived at the entrance of Manila harbor, unseen by the sentries on the forts. It was known that Montojo was inside, and every light was extinguished and every noise hushed on the Yankee ships, for the admiral had planned a midnight entrance to the stronghold. The ships were stripped for action, boats covered with canvas, nettings spread to prevent splinters from flying, partitions removed, and ammunition hoists and bullet shields put up. At midnight the entrance to the harbor began, the ships steaming in single column at about six knots an hour, with the "Olympia" leading. Strangely enough not a single torpedo or mine in the channel was exploded, though the Spaniards discovered the advance of the ships and opened fire from the forts. The first shot in answer was fired by a gunner on the "Boston," without orders. He saw the flash of a gun on a shore battery and instantly fired his piece without altering its elevation. That dismantled a gun in the Spanish works and killed thirty men.

For a few hours after passing the forts the wearied blue-jackets slept at their guns. With the approach of day came the signal from the flagship to prepare for action. In the gray dawn the Spanish fleet could be seen about two miles distant, at such a point that their fire could be re-enforced by the guns of the forts. A most graphic story of the action that followed, as seen from the view-point of "the man behind the gun," whom Captain Mahan eulogizes, is told by Chief Gunner Evans of the "Boston," from whose narrative I quote the following paragraphs:

Dewey at Manila.

"We were steaming very slowly, but increasing speed as the dawn increased. In the gray daylight we could make out a line of ships anchored in front of the city. Then we steamed ahead faster. The ships ahead proved to be merchantmen, and at daylight we could discern the Spanish fleet further down the bay, and then it was 'Full ahead!' The Spanish fleet did not advance to meet us, and apparently made no move on the defensive. Possibly our audacity had for the moment paralyzed them. But it was not for long. In twenty minutes or so they opened a terrific cannonading at long range. The batteries and forts around Manila opened fire at the same time. Every man on the ship was now wide awake and at his post. I knew that it would not be long before there would be some hot work, and I served my men with a cup of coffee and a piece of hardtack, and a little later gave them each a drink of whisky and water.

"According to orders, we did not respond to the Spanish guns until our ships came into position. Then the flagship opened fire, and then I followed with two hours of cannonading which I do not believe has ever been equaled in naval warfare. The shots from the 'Olympia' were the prearranged signal for the other ships to do the same.

"We soon discovered that the batteries of Cavité were very heavily mounted, and the ordnance included several ten-inch guns, and we were not long in finding out that the 'Don Antonio de Ulloa' and the 'Reina Cristina,' the flagship, carried much heavier guns than we thought. We began to fear that our ships had met their match. As hot as the battle was, the heat of the sun was equally so, and I had my men who were bringing up the ammunition throw off every vestige of clothing except their shoes.

"The Spanish guns had opened upon us at 5.10 A.M., and it was fully 5.40 before we began to reply. But when we did, we made every shot tell, for our gunners demonstrated that their opponents were no match for them in accuracy, although the Spaniards had every advantage and should have known the exact range of every point in the harbor, while of the American fleet not a single gunner had ever as much as been in the harbor before.

"By 6.30 we had circled three times, and were starting for the fourth when the Spanish admiral came out in the 'Reina Cristina' and gallantly assailed us; but we made it hot for him. I don't know how in the world he escaped with his life. While he was standing on the bridge a shot from one of our ships—I think it was the 'Concord'—blew the bridge clean over; in fact, shot it right from under him, but the Admiral was apparently uninjured, for a few minutes later I saw him walking the deck as calmly as though he was on parade. It was getting too hot for him, and he evidently saw that his ship was no match for us, and he turned to get back to his fleet.

"Just as the 'Reina Cristina' swung around an eight-inch shell from the port battery, which I was tending, struck her square astern, and set her on fire. By this time other gunners had got the range, and if ever a ship was riddled it was the 'Reina Cristina.' I do not think it was fifteen minutes from the time the shell from the 'Boston' struck her when she went down with, it is said, over two hundred men. The Admiral, however, had escaped in a small boat and made for the 'Isla de Cuba,' where he again hoisted his flag.

"After we had circled five times, we withdrew. The smoke was so dense that we could hardly distinguish friend from foe. Our men had worked three long hours with scarcely a mouthful of food. I had, however, kept my men well supplied with whisky and water. I gave each a small drink about every twenty minutes.

"After we had withdrawn, and the clouds of smoke had lifted enough so that we could see, Admiral Dewey signaled the ships to report the number of killed and wounded. It would have done your heart good to have heard the shouts and cheers that went up as ship after ship ran up the signal to indicate that she had no killed and none wounded worth reporting. It was one of the most thrilling moments of the entire battle.

"It was a wise move on Admiral Dewey's part in withdrawing at that moment, for our men were rapidly becoming exhausted. For my own part I do not think I could have held out another half hour, and neither could my men. We were not only wearied physically, but the nervous strain was something awful. I called my men into the gunroom and served each with a good stiff drink of whisky and told them to take all the rest they could get. I went into the chartroom, as it was about the coolest place on the ship, and threw myself on the chart table. I was too nervous to sleep and too exhausted to move. I just lay there sort of dazed.

"Soon after ten o'clock we advanced again, and the 'Baltimore' opened the fight. As many of the Spanish ships had been disabled, what we most feared now was the forts. The 'Baltimore' sailed right into the very teeth of the guns, any one of which could have annihilated her, and only bad marksmanship of the Spanish gunners saved her from destruction, and she did not retreat until she had practically silenced the fort.

"My ship, the 'Boston,' was perhaps struck oftener during the battle than any of the American ships, but in every instance it was small shot or shell, making a glancing blow that did no particular harm. After the first hour or so of the battle, if we had received a damaging shot, the chances are that we would have all gone down, for out of all the ship's boats, only two were of any value, the others having been shattered to pieces.

"We were circling in line with the other ships when the 'Isla de Cuba' swung around to give us a broadside. The guns in the port battery got the range on the 'Isla de Cuba,' and sent in a shot that struck in amidships and made her tremble from stem to stern. I was watching at the porthole at the time. The other guns of the 'Boston' followed the example of the port gunner, and for a few minutes it seemed that the 'Isla de Cuba' was crumbling to pieces like a falling building in an earthquake. We turned, and the starboard guns did equally good work, and when the Spanish flag came tumbling down we let out a yell that was heard around the world, figuratively speaking, if not literally.

"I can never forget the scene after the battle. The forts were smoking, and scattered all through the bay were the hulks of once magnificent Spanish ships. Some were drifting helplessly about, as though the men on board seemed not to know what to do and had lost their heads entirely. Rigging was trailing in the water and only remnants remained of the lifeboats. Over at one end of the bay was the wreck of the once magnificent 'Reina Cristina.' Further along were smoking hulks, and here and there could be seen only the masts and rigging above water.

"To add to the horror of the scene, hundreds of corpses came floating by, and it seemed as though the bay was full of dead Spaniards, although I believe less than a thousand were killed. I really think that the sight in the harbor that afternoon impressed men more with the horrors of war than did anything which occurred during the actual battle.

"During all the fight my men, except for a little while during the interval for breakfast, were stripped to the bare skin and wore only their shoes. The thermometer was over one hundred, and to this was added the heat of the fire of the guns, until it made one's blood fairly boil."

The plan of action was for the fleet to revolve in a great circle or ellipse before the delivering their fire from starboard and port batteries alternately. The first shot from the "Olympia" was a 250-pound shell, aimed at the Cavité fort, and discharged with a shout from all hands, "Remember the Maine!" After two hours' fighting the fleet withdrew for breakfast, returning to action in about two hours, and after the Spanish surrender the little "Petrel" was sent in to destroy, by boats' crews, the ships in the inner harbor.

Commodore Dewey's official report of the action is a model of modesty and brevity. It came in these two cable messages:

MANILA, May 1.—Squadron arrived at Manila at daybreak this morning. Immediately engaged the enemy, and destroyed the following Spanish vessels: "Reina Cristina," "Castilla," "Don Antonio de Ulloa," "Isla de Luzon," "Isla de Cuba," "General Lezo," "Marquis de Duero," "Cano," "Velasco," "Isla de Mindanao," a transport, and water battery at Cavité. The squadron is uninjured, and only a few men are slightly wounded. Only means of telegraphing is to American Consul at Hong Kong. I shall communicate with him.

DEWEY.

CAVITÉ, May 4.—I have taken possession of naval station at Cavité, on Philippine Islands. Have destroyed the fortifications at bay entrance, paroling the garrison. I control bay completely, and can take city at any time. The squadron is in excellent health and spirits. Spanish loss not fully known but very heavy. One hundred and fifty killed, including captain of "Reina Cristina." I am assisting in protecting Spanish sick and wounded; 250 sick and wounded in hospital within our lines. Much excitement at Manila. Will protect foreign residents.

DEWEY.

It is little short of marvelous that no lives were lost on the American ships—though a month later Captain Gridley of the "Olympia" died from the effect of the concussion of his own guns. The vessels were handled with a daring amounting almost to bravado, yet so poor was the marksmanship of the Spaniards that little or no damage was suffered. It is to be kept in mind that, despite the disparity in the armament of the fleets, the Spanish works at Cavité mounted guns of twice the weight of any that Dewey's ships bore. Yet, when the action was over, the American vessels were practically uninjured, and perfectly capable of fulfilling the threat sent by Admiral Dewey, that if another shot was fired he would lay Manila in ashes.

At the time these words are written, that threat alone keeps order in Manila bay. Dewey with his ships is there, holding the town at the muzzles of his guns and waiting for the re-enforcements of troops, which were dispatched to his aid from San Francisco almost a month after his victory—an unconscionable delay. Some 25,000 troops will be sent to his aid, and with the insurgents, who were greatly encouraged and strengthened by the American victory, will forever destroy Spain's power in the Philippines.


In the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, where it was expected the fighting would come first and be most decisive, the war lagged languidly for weeks. For a few days the jackies found some excitement and some hope of profit in capturing unsuspecting Spanish merchantmen, but soon the dull and deadly monotony of the peaceful blockade settled down upon the fleet, and Sampson's men grilled grimly under a blazing sun by day and slept uneasily by their guns at night, week after week, without a touch of battle to vary the dull round. The Spanish ships "Vizcaya" and "Oquendo," which had been in the harbor of Havana when war was declared, had slipped away, and there was no enemy afloat in the neighborhood save puny gunboats and torpedo boats that clung close to the protecting guns of the fortresses. Blockading is the most trying duty the blue-jacket has to discharge. Destitute wholly of glory, the element of danger is still ever present in a form which is particularly trying to the nerves. Every night brought danger of an attack by torpedo boats. These swift and sinister craft might at any time dart out of Havana harbor, discharge their fatal bolt, and send a good ship to the bottom as speedily as went the "Maine." That the Spaniards at no time even seriously attempted a torpedo-boat attack on the blockading squadron seems to reflect on their courage. But what they lacked apparently in courage they made up in shrewdness. For weeks the best efforts of our board of strategy and our board of naval intelligence were baffled by the mysterious movements of the Spanish fleet under Admiral Cervera. This squadron, which numbered among its vessels the powerful armored cruisers "Vizcaya," "Maria Teresa," "Cristobal Colon," and "Almirante Oquendo," was reported now at the Canaries, then at Cadiz, then dashing through the Suez Canal to overwhelm Dewey at Manila, then off the coast of New England,—whereat Boston and Portland were mightily alarmed,—then bound South to capture or destroy the "Oregon,"—which was painfully making the voyage around Cape Horn,—then at Martinique, and, in short, at every conceivable point of menace. As a result of these conflicting reports, two American fleets were reduced to impotence. The "flying squadron" of fast cruisers under Commodore Schley was kept for weeks at moorings in Hampton Roads ready to be dispatched for protection of our northern coasts, while the squadron of battle-ships under Admiral Sampson was made to steam hither and yon in the Caribbean Sea looking for an enemy's fleet which much of the time lay snugly on the other side of the Atlantic. Accordingly, up to June 15, the results of naval operations in West Indian waters were almost nil. Powder had been burned indeed as when, on April 27, the Spanish works at Matanzas were bombarded and silenced by the "New York," "Puritan," and "Cincinnati," of Admiral Sampson's squadron, and on May 13 the works at San Juan, Porto Rico, were similarly tested. Deeds of conspicuous gallantry, too, were done, as when Ensign Worth Bagley lost his life while gallantly engaging Spanish gunboats and shore batteries with the torpedo boat "Winslow" at Cardenas. But these actions, though seized upon eagerly by a public hungry for war news, were inconclusive and trivial. The shore batteries were quickly repaired and strengthened, and the great object of capturing Havana seemed at the middle of June even further off than it had when war was declared.

Nevertheless, May and June saw a marked progress in the work of preparation for active hostilities. The army was mobilized and a great camp established at Tampa, Fla. Schley's flying squadron, finally relieved from apprehension as to the course of the Spanish fleet, left Hampton Roads to increase the naval strength in West Indian waters. The great battle-ship "Oregon," after a record-beating voyage around Cape Horn, in which her machinery met and withstood every imaginable strain, arrived at the rendezvous. And finally it was definitely learned that Admiral Cervera, with Spain's principal effective fleet, was actually in West Indian waters, and had entered the port of Santiago de Cuba for coal and repairs. There he was trapped by an exploit which has conferred new glory on the United States Navy and has added a new name to the roster of dashing heroes like Somers and Gushing.

The harbor of Santiago de Cuba is one of the most easily defended in the world. Steep hills rise abruptly from either side of the harbor's mouth, which is scarce half a mile wide, with a channel so narrow that two vessels could scarcely pass in it. Into the brow of the hills are built batteries which, with plunging shot, command the entrance completely. An abrupt turn in the interior shore line makes the whole inner bay invisible from without, so for days the officers and men of the United States blockading fleet outside were ignorant whether Cervera's entire fleet was cooped up within. To send in a boat to make a reconnoissance would have been suicidal, for the channel, difficult at all times, was blocked by mines and torpedoes. For this reason, too, there could be no repetition of Dewey's exploit at Manila.

Accordingly, Admiral Sampson was confronted with a problem which seemed likely to tax the patience rather than the daring of his men. There seemed to be no opportunity for more exciting duty than a long blockade, unless the Spaniards should conclude to come out and fight—a most unlikely decision for them to reach. The forts, in all probability, could be reduced by the ships' cannon, but, even with that done, to enter the harbor in single file, so that the undisturbed fire of Cervera's fleet could be directed upon the Americans, ship by ship, as they entered the bay, would have been a most hazardous undertaking. The situation was not made more pleasing to the admiral by the fact that he was not sure of having all the Spanish ships in the trap. Some might not have entered Santiago, but might be at that very time devastating portions of the coast of the United States.

While the admiral was considering the problem thus presented to him, there appeared at his cabin a young lieutenant, Richmond P. Hobson, a graduate of the Naval Academy in 1889. The scientific side of naval duty had always chiefly attracted this young man. Graduating at the head of his class, he studied naval construction for two years in British dockyards. Above all things a student, a contributor to magazines, a delver into mathematical and structural problems, this young officer outlined to the admiral an exploit of reckless daring and volunteered himself to perform it.

The "Zealandia" leaving San Francisco with Troops for the Philippines.
(Drawn, after a Photograph, by WILLIAM RITSCHEL).

It was folly, urged Hobson, to keep the entire American fleet watching at the door to that harbor. The Spaniards, doing nothing and daring nothing themselves, were still reducing Admiral Sampson's powerful squadron to complete impotence. If the entrance to the harbor were obstructed one or two ships would serve to prevent the Spaniards from escaping, and the remainder of the American fleet would be released to take part in more vigorous warfare. By sinking a vessel, an old collier heavily laden, in the channel this could be accomplished, and Hobson volunteered to perform the feat. It was an invitation to almost certain death, for the fire of three batteries and part of the Spanish fleet, besides the explosion of the mines, must be braved before the narrow spot in which the ship was to be sunk could be reached. But Hobson thought he could do this, scuttle his ship, and escape with his men by swimming to a launch which should accompany him at a distance.

"Do you really expect to escape alive?" asked one of the officers as he outlined his project.

"Ah! that is another thing," replied the lieutenant. "I suppose the Estrella battery will fire down on us a bit, but the ships will throw their searchlights in the gunners' faces and they won't see much of us. Then, if we are torpedoed, we should even then be able to make the desired position in the channel. It won't be so easy to hit us, and I think the men should be able to swim to the dingey. I may jump before I am blown up, but I don't see that it makes much difference what I do. I have a fair chance of life either way. If our dingey gets shot to pieces, we shall then try to swim for the beach right under Morro Castle. We shall keep together at all hazards. Then we may be able to make our way alongside, and perhaps get back to the ship. We shall fight the sentries or a squad until the last, and we shall only surrender to overwhelming numbers."

The plan being approved by the admiral, volunteers were asked from the fleet, by signal, to accompany Hobson. Practically the whole fleet responded. One man was wanted from each ship, but on the "Brooklyn" 150 and on the "Texas" 140 pleaded to be taken. Finally these seven were selected:

Osborn Deignan, a coxswain of the "Merrimac"; George F. Phillips, a machinist of the "Merrimac"; John Kelly, a water-tender of the "Merrimac"; George Charette, a gunner's mate on the flagship "New York"; Daniel Montague, a seaman of the cruiser "Brooklyn"; J. C. Murphy, a coxswain of the "Iowa"; Randolph Clausen, a coxswain of the "New York."

To man the launch which was detailed to follow the "Merrimac "—the ship chosen—four men and Naval Cadet Joseph W. Powell were taken. In the end they, too, proved to be heroes.

The steel steamer "Merrimac," loaded with 2,000 tons of coal, was then given to Hobson and prepared for sinking. An eye-witness, who followed the "Merrimac" as nearly as safety would permit, thus tells the story in the New York Sun :

"Cadet Powell and his crew saw the 'Merrimac' head straight for Estrella Point, which is on the east side of the harbor, back of the Morro. They knew that just before she reached that point the engines were to be stopped and the momentum allowed to carry her on. Then the flimsy wooden props holding the bonnets of her sea-valves in place were to be kicked aside, the helm put hard to starboard, and the starboard bower anchor let go. This would steer the ship directly across the channel and check her headway.

"At the same time seven reduced eight-inch charges, containing eighty pounds of brown powder in copper cases and protected by pitch from water, were to be set off separately. These charges were suspended about ten feet below the water-line at intervals of thirty feet, and connected by a series of dry batteries. As the ship steered across the channel the forward port powder charge was to be exploded. Then, as the stern swung into position, the anchor lashed on the starboard quarter was to be let go and the other six charges exploded in succession. A catamaran and lifeboat were slung aft on the starboard side ready for the seven men to drop into them.

"The crew in the steam launch watched the course of the old collier with eyes strained. The moon had sunk behind the horizon. It was 3.20 o'clock. On, on the heroes went. Lieutenant Hobson stood on the bridge of the old collier, dressed in full uniform. The other six men were at their posts, clad in tights, to aid their escape in case they had to swim a long distance.

"The watchers saw her head straight for Estrella Point, saw her swing hard across the channel, apparently undiscovered, heard five of the seven charges explode, and then began a screaming, flashing, death-dealing fire from the Spanish ships and batteries that hid the rest from view.

"The battery on Dead Man's Point, square in the center of the harbor, opened the fire and soon directed its guns against the launch. In the face of this hell, with ten-and twelve-inch guns blazing at them at this short range, Cadet Powell and the crew of his launch continued to search for the men of the 'Merrimac.'

Morro Castle, Santiago De Cuba.
Copyright, 1898, by J. Murray Jordan.

"They saw then the guns of the 'Cristobal Colon,' Admiral Cervera's flagship, and of the old cruiser 'Reina Mercedes,' which had been considered gunless, trained on them and thundering in their ears. "Still they searched with never as much as a faint cry for help or the sign of a single arm raised in mute appeal to guide them. Those on the battle-ship looking into the mouth of the harbor saw only a sheet of flame which, with the roar of the guns, lasted thirty-five minutes. By this time dawn had tinged the land and sky with light, and the tiny launch could be seen loitering by the shore. On the west side of the harbor, in the center of the channel, just where Hobson had promised to sink his vessel, could be seen the tops of the 'Merrimac's' masts. The harbor was blocked."

Hobson and his gallant men were not lost. A shot from one of the batteries destroyed the boat in which they had expected to reach the launch, but on a raft they escaped from their sinking vessel, only to be captured by the Spaniards. With sailor-like chivalry and hearty admiration for a gallant deed Admiral Cervera sent word to the fleet of their safety and offered to exchange them as soon as the necessary formalities could be complied with.


The closing words of this chapter must be penned just as the decisive action of the war seems to be at hand. Cervera is hemmed in at Santiago with a vastly superior force confronting him. The batteries at the harbor's mouth have been demolished by the fire of the fleet. At Caimanera, thirty miles away, the United States flag is flying on the shore and a battalion of United States marines—"soldiers and sailors, too"—are there installed and have twice beaten back the attack of Spaniards in double their number. On great transports General Shafter's army of 20,000 men is steaming from Key West to Caimanera, where the invasion of Cuba will begin. The order has gone forth to reduce Porto Rico, and by the time these words reach the reader, General Coppinger's army may be landed there. Fitzhugh Lee, the gallant, is held in reserve for Havana, where he served his country as Consul General during the trying days that led up to the war. Hesitation and doubt have vanished. The dreary days of delay are over. The end is near—the end of Spanish misrule in the West Indies.