Captain Nicoll Ludlow to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
U. S. S. TERROR, 2nd Rate,
Lat. 17 58’ North,
Lon. 67 25’ West,
August 31, 1898.
S I R :
1. I have to submit the following report of the condition and employment of the TERROR during the current month:
2. On the morning of August 1st, received telegraphic orders from Captain Higginson to proceed with the TERROR to Ponce. The St. Paul arrived off Guanica just before the departure of the TERROR. As she had troops on board, I ordered her to Ponce. While en route for that port, the TERROR fell in with the DIXIE and MASSACHUSETTS both bound for Guantanamo, and I communicated by hail with Captain Higginson. Upon reaching Ponce, shortly before 6 p. m., found the CINCINNATI, COLUMBIA, St. Paul and ST. LOUIS, WASP, and SATURN there. Captain Sands being sick, the senior officer’s pennant was hoisted on board the TERROR. Being informed that General Miles had requested that all vessels arriving with troops be instructed the proceed to Arroyo, I sent the St. Paul and ST. LOUIS there, accompanied by the WASP. Having learned that the COLUMBIA had grounded July 30th in entering Ponce, I ordered a board, with Commander Train as senior member, to investigate the circumstances connected with this incident. Their report was not received during the period in which I was senior officer present.
3. I called upon Major General Miles, commanding U. S. Army, and offered to render all possible assistance from the TERROR and the other naval vessels present in landing troops and army supplies from the many transports in the port. Lieutenant W. J. Maxwell, from the COLUMBIA, was appointed beach-master, with two other officers to assist him, and all the available boats of the squadron were utilized. A steam cutter and pulling boat from the TERROR were constantly engaged upon this work; also, other boats from time to time. On the second instant the transport MASSACHUSETTS grounded in entering the port. I immediately ordered the PRAIRIE to get up steam and endeavor to tow her off. The efforts of the PRAIRIE proving ineffectual, the SATURN was late detailed to assist in this work, and by my orders, Lieutenant Stoney of the PRAIRIE was directed to take charge on board the MASSACHUSETS, lighter her, and endeavor, by the use of her engines, to aid the vessels that were attempting to tow her off.
4. Upon my arrival in Ponce, I established quarantine regulations for the port and appointed Surgeon Oliver Diehl of this vessel, as health officer. All incoming vessels, of whatever class, were boarded immediately upon anchoring, day or night, by Dr. Diehl, and submitted to sanitary inspection; and this work was continued until that officer was relieved in this duty by P. A. Surgeon Spratling on August 8th.
5. It having come to my knowledge on August 3d that the transport ROUMANIA had grounded in entering Guanica, I immediately ordered the COLUMBIA to proceed there and try to pull her off. Upon the following day the COLUMBIA returned, having successfully performed this mission, and shortly afterwards, the ROUMANIA anchored in Ponce. I sent an officer on board the ROUMANIA to advise the officer in command of the troops that General Miles had directed that all transports carrying troops should proceed to Arroyo. Later in the day the ROUMANIA proceeded to Arroyo.
6. On August 4th, the NIAGARA and St. Paul arrived. The latter, having discharged her troops at Arroyo, was ordered to proceed to Tompkinsville, in obedience to telegraphic instructions from the Department, and left the same day. During the forenoon of August 4th, I was relieved as senior officer present by Captain Sands of the COLUMBIA, who had come off the sick-list.
7. A preliminary survey of Brillante Bank, or Tasmanian Shoal, on the eastern side of the approach to Port Ponce, was made by Lieutenant Qualtrough on August 9th and 10th, plotted on a chart and sent to the senior officer present. On August 11th, the collier SATURN grounded on the reef near the light-house at the entrance to the roads at Ponce, Whilst attempting to tow off the army transport MANITOBA, which was aground near the same place where the COLUMBIA and transport MASSACHUSETTS had previously struck. Assistance was rendered from the TERROR to the MASSACHUSETTS, SATURN, and MANITOBA. In the case of the SATURN, a very large working party from the TERROR was engaged for several days upon this work. On August 12th, a stranded steam cutter belonging to the army hospital-ship RELIEF, was salved by a boat’s crew from the TERROR, under Lieutenant J. F. Hubbard, the boilers being first removed by Carpenter Martin. This steam cutter was returned to the RELIEF. On the following day, the propeller of the army tug GYPSUM KING, which had been fouled by a hawser, was cleared by a submarine diver from the TERROR.
8. In obedience to orders from Captain Fred Rogers, proceeded to Guanica August 19th, remaining there until to-day, sailing at 6 a. m., accompanied by the PURITAN, AMPHITRITE, MONTGOMERY, and HANNIBAL, bound for Nicolas Mole, en route for Newport, R. I.
9. I deem it proper to invite your attention to the very considerable amount of work which devolved upon the crew of this ship while at Ponce. The work of landing troops and army stores was particularly arduous, and continued, practically, during our entire stay there. A steam cutter and a pulling boat were engaged in this work every day from 5 a. m. until late at night--frequently until nearly midnight. These men were necessarily exposed to the sun’s rays, without shade protection, and at times were compelled to get their meals at irregular hours. The character of this, and the other work herein referred to, in connection with grounded vessels, etc., brought about a rapid deterioration in the health of the officers and crew, who had become debilitated from long exposure to an unhealthful climate, combined with comparatively poor food, and living quarters entirely unsuited for the climatic conditions which prevail in the tropics in midsummer. During the month of August, three men and one officer, Gunner Peter Hanly, have been invalided home from the TERROR. The number of sick rapidly increased, until on the 25th instant there were 18 on the list, 12 more under treatment, and most of the others more or less broken down from overwork and the enervating climate. It is probable that the existence of a mangrove swamp to windward of the anchorage at Ponce contributed to bring this about. In Guanica, the almost entire absence of any current is also a bad feature. The diseases most prevalent were Malaria, Diarrhoea, Dysentery and Colic; Had the ship not been ordered north, it would have been absolutely necessary to proceed to a port having hospital facilities.
10. The condition of the TERROR is as below stated:- HULL: Foul. Have been 7 months out of dock, the last 3 in tropical waters. A considerable coating of barnacles has become attached to the hull, and the speed of the vessel is very materially reduced in consequence. In the interior, there are numerous leaks through the armor-shelf. The main deck is rotten in places and needs re-calking. There are also many leaks through the iron deck. There is a leak through the deck under the after air compressor, allowing oil and water to drip continually into the paymasters and ward-room storerooms. The starboard propeller had a large piece broken out, and this was temporarily repaired by patching at the New York yard. A new propeller has been cast and is now awaiting the ship at the navy yard, New York.
Auxiliary machinery: Good. The auxiliary air-compressor is entirely inadequate to the work required of it. A new one, considerably larger than this has been made and is now awaiting the ship at the New York yard.
Captain, U. S. N.,