Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

North Atlantic Fleet Squadron Bulletin No. 2

U. S. Flagship New York, 1st Rate,     

Off Santiago de Cuba, Cuba,      

June 14, 1898.    

SQUADRON BULLETIN No. 2.

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          The “NEW ORLEANS” was ordered to fire at new work on the West Battery; she was replied to by both East and West Batteries. She silenced the East Battery, and practically the West. A number of shells fell near the “NEW ORLEANS” and the Flagship, but no harm was done.1

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          The “VESUVIUS” fired three shell, 2-10 and 1-8 inch; one fell just short of the crest of the hill on which the West Battery is situated; one went over this hill into the harbor, or in a line of the situation of the Spanish Torpedo boats, and the third struck the crest of the hill of the West Battery. All exploded with a terrific force.2

     Two shots were fired by the West battery; it was stated that one went over the “MASSACHUSETTS”.

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          Reports from Guantanamo go to show that probably half the deaths and the wounded so far reported, were due to accident.

     Desultory fighting still continues.3

     The contingent of sixty Cubans which has been armed, clothed and fed, have rendered most effective service.Commander Mc. Calla and the Marine Officers speak in the highest terms of their conduct.4

     A considerable body of Cubans is expected at Guantanamo to-day; they will be supplied with food and clothing from the “St. PAUL”, and partially with arms. These men have been sent down un-armed, as it was requested that their rifles be left behind for the use of others in the field.

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Source Note: TD, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 231.

Footnote 1: According to Spanish officer and diarist Jose Mueller y Tejeiro: At 5.15 the enemy opened fire on the mouth of the harbor; it ceased at 6.50. The projectiles fell toward Cajuma Bay, close to the Vizcaya. Only one ship kept up the fire on the Morro [i.e., East battery] and Socapa [i.e., West battery], both batteries answering it. At the latter battery Ensign Bruquetas and two sailors were slightly wounded.” Müller y Tejeiro, Battles and Capitulation of Santiago de Cuba, 62.

Footnote 2: Vesuvius carried three 15-inch pneumatic guns, mounted forward side-by-side. In order to train these weapons, the ship had to be aimed, like a gun, at its target. Compressed air projected the shells from the "dynamite guns." The explosive used in the shells themselves was actually a "desensitized blasting gelatin" composed of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine. It was less sensitive to shock than regular dynamite but still sensitive enough that compressed air, rather than powder, had to be utilized as the propellant. While the guns could fire three shells in quick succession, reloading and firing again required more time that Sampson thought advisable to keep the ship in such an exposed a position so Vesuvius fired no more than three shells per night. Psychologically, Vesuvius' bombardment caused great anxiety among the Spanish forces ashore, for her devastating shells came in without warning, unaccompanied by the roar of gunfire usually associated with a bombardment. DANFS; Chadwick, The Spanish-American War, 379-80. In his discussion of Vesuvius, Müller y Tejeiro noted that the range of its “projectiles is very short and she has not protection.” Müller y Tejeiro, Battles and Capitulation of Santiago de Cuba, 63.

Footnote 3: For more on the operations and casualties suffered in the Guántanamo campaign, see: Lt. Col. Robert W. Huntington to Col. Charls Heywood, 17 June 1898.

Footnote 4: Cmdr. Bowman H. McCalla.

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