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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND

 

Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898


Asiatic Squadron.

On the 24th of April the following telegram was sent by the Department to Commodore Dewey, in command of the Asiatic Squadron:

WASHINGTON, April 4, 1898.

Dewey, Hongkong:

War has commenced between the United States and Spain. Proceed at once to the Philippine Islands. Commence operations at once, particularly against the Spanish fleet. Yon must capture vessels or destroy. Use utmost endeavors.

LONG.

On the 27th this squadron, composed of the Olympia (flag), Baltimore, Raleigh, Petrel, Concord, Boston, and McCullock, sailed from Mirs Bay, China.

On the morning of May 1 it entered the harbor of Manila, successfully passing the forts and mine defenses guarding the entrance to the bay, and destroyed the Spanish fleet under the guns of the forts at Cavite.

The Reina Christina, Castilla, Don Antonio de Ulloa, Don Juan de Austria, Isla de Luzon, Isla de Cuba, General Lezo, Marques del Duero, El Correo, Velasco, and Isla de Mindanao (transport) were burnt or sunk, and the tugs Rapido and Hercules and several small launches were captured. Admiral Dewey has contracted for the raising of the Cuba, Luzon, and Austria, and this work is now in progress.

The Spanish loss, as given in the report of Admiral Montejo, was, including those at the arsenal, 381 men killed and wounded. Not a man was lost in our fleet, and but nine slightly wounded. No damage was done our ships.

This victory gave to our fleet the complete control of the bay of Manila. The naval station at Cavite was taken possession of and its fortifications were destroyed. The Admiral reported that the city could be taken at any time when a sufficient number of troops were on hand to hold it.

Aside from the mere fact of having won without the loss of a single life such a brilliant and e1ectrifying victory at the very outset of the war, with all the confidence which it infused throughout the country and into the personnel of every branch of the service, it removed at once all apprehension for the Pacific coast. The indirect pecuniary advantage to the United States in the way of saving an increase of insurance rates and in assuring the country of freedom from attack on that coast is incalculable.

It was at once determined to reenforce the Asiatic Squadron and to send troops to take and occupy the city of Manila.

Early in June the Charleston, which had previously sailed from San Francisco, was joined at Honolulu by the chartered steamer City of Pekin and on the 4th sailed with her and with the army transports Australia and City of Sidney for Manila, carrying the first detachment of troops. The Charleston proceeded to Guam, one of the Ladrone Islands, arriving there June 20. Demand was made for the immediate surrender of the defenses of the island of Guam and all officials and persons in the military service of Spain. The surrender followed and the American flag was hoisted.

With a view to further reenforce the Asiatic Squadron, the Montery sailed, with the collier Brutus, from San Diego on June 11, and the Monadnock, with the collier Nero, from San Francisco on June 25.

Admiral Dewey continued to exercise in the Philippines a wise discretion, which constantly strengthened the power of the United States in those islands, and on August 13, after the arrival of General Merritt, the city of Manila surrendered to the Army and Navy.

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11 February 1998