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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND

 

Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898


Operations of the Blockade

The blockade was of an extremely arduous character, unrelieved by the exhilaration of combat. Many devoted officers crews, from the beginning of the war to the end, rendered most valuable and conscientious service without opportunity for winning distinction in battle.

On April 27 Admiral Sampson, having received information that Spaniards were adding to the defenses of Matanzas, proceeded off port with his flagship, and, in company with the Puritan and Cincinnati, shelled the battery. This occasion is notable]e principally as the first time our ships were under fire. On April 29 the Eagle, reconnoitering off the entrance to Cienfuegos, was engaged by of the enemy's vessels in that port; after a short engagement withdrew, serious injury to one of them, the torpedo gunboat having been inflicted. The Marblehead immediately afterwards the fortifications and gunboats and inflicted damage.

On May 11 boats from the Marblehead and Nashville cut two cables off Cienfuegos under a heavy infantry fire, during which they were supported by the guns of the Marblehead and Nashville, and later the Windom. In this action one man was killed and eleven men were wounded. On the same date the Machias, Wilmington, Winslow, and the revenue cutter Hudson were engaged at Cardenas. The Winslow, when well within the harbor, suddenly found herself under the fire of masked shore batteries. Many of the enemy's shells struck her, disabling her port main engine, forward boiler, and steering engine, and setting one compartment on fire. Ensign Worth Bagley, her executive officer, and four of her crew were killed. Her commanding officer was wounded and the vessel, with the rest of the crew, was only saved from entire destruction by the gallant action of the commanding officer of the Hudson, who took his vessel in under a severe fire and towed the Winslow out. In connection with the same expedition, a force was landed on Diana Cay, in Cardenas Bay, to explode the harbor mines, which were understood to be controlled from a station on that cay. The station having been hurriedly abandoned, the American flag was hoisted over it. This, so far as the records of the Navy Department show, was the first raising of the American flag in Cuba during the war.

On the 13th of June the Yankee had an engagement with a gunboat and batteries off Cienfuegos. On June 15 the Texas, Marblehead, and Suwanee proceeded into Guantanamo Harbor and, after engaging and silencing the adjacent fort and battery, took possession of the harbor. On June 22 the St. Paul engaged the torpedo boat Terror, supported by the gunboat Isabel II, off San Juan, and drove them both into port, the former being so seriously injured that she had to be run on shore when inside. On June 29 the Eagle and Yankton had an engagement with a force of Spanish cavalry off the mouth of the Rio Hondo. On June 30 the Hist, Wompatuck, and Hornet, while making a reconnoissance between Cape Cruz and Manzanillo, were engaged with the enemy's vessels, field batteries, and infantry at Manzanillo. The Hornet was struck many times, and had her main steam pipe cut, being thereby absolutely disabled. The Wompatuck gallantly towed the Hornet out of danger. Another action occurred at Manzanillo on July 1, in which the same Spanish gunboats were engaged on one side and the Scorpion and Osceola on the other.

On the morning of July 5 the Alphonso XII was run ashore and destroyed off Port Mariel, to the westward of Havana, while attempting to escape from the Hawk.

On July 12 the Eagle chased, forced ashore, captured, and destroyed the Spanish armed steamer Santo Domingo to the westward of the Isle of Pines. On July 15 the Annapolis was engaged with the batteries near Barracoa. On July 18 the Wilmington, Helena, Scorpion, Hist, Hornet, Wompatuck, and Osceola engaged the gunboats and shore batteries at Manzanillo, and succeeded in destroying gunboats in that harbor. On the same date the Annapolis, Wasp, Leyden, and Topeka took possession of the Bay of Nipe, during which the Spanish cruiser Jorge Juan was attacked and sunk.

On the 12th of August the Newark, accompanied by the Resolute, carrying the First Battalion of Marines, and the Suwanee, Hist, Osceola, and Alvarado, proceeded to Manzanillo, where a demand for the surrender of the place was made. This refused, the place was bombarded. At daylight on the morning of the 13th a large number of white flags were seen floating from the block houses and batteries, and a boat came out from the shore carrying a flag of truce. The captain of the boat delivered to the senior officer present the cipher dispatch of the Department stating that the President had signed the protocol of peace and had proclaimed an armistice.

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11 February 1998