Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet, Order of Battle

O R D E R o f B A T T L E.

***o0o***

_U.S.Flagship New York,  Santiago de Cuba,  Cuba, June 15, 1898.

     An examination indicates that the Spaniards have been adding to the defences to the East and West of the entrance. Apparently there are mounted on the left of the Western Battery1 two ship’s guns, and on the right hand of the same Battery two or three old guns. On the Eastern Battery,2 to the right of the Light-house, are mounted three old guns, and possibly several smaller, rapid-fire guns.

     2. The Squadron will be prepared tomorrow morning, at early day-light, to shell both of these batteries.

     3. There will be no special formation for this purpose; but vessels will, at early dawn, carefully adjust their positions and blockading distances of three miles, and go quietly to general quarters—the men having been called early enough to have had their early coffee. The “N E W Y O R K” and the “N E W O R L E A N S” will exchange blockading positions.

     4. When signal 18 is made, vessels will move towards the harbor entrance at a speed of five knots. Arrived at a distance of 3000 yards, each ship will stop and turn to present her broadside, the “N E W Y O R K”, “N E W O R L E A N S”; “O R E G O N” and “I O W A” turning with port helm, and the “B R O O K L Y N”, “T E X A S”, and the “M A S S A C H U S E T T S” with starboard helm. This stopping and turning will be done without signal; but all vessels should endeavor to arrive on the firing line at the same moment. After turning, distance should be closed to 400 yards, using the engines again, if needed. The vessels will retain the positions thus taken as nearly as possible, moving in closer, if necessary, in order to see their targets and render their fire effective.

     5. On signal from the Commander in Chief, al[l] vessels will open fire, or fire will be opened in case the enemy begins.

     6. Bearings will be taken carefully, and distances obtained with all practicable accuracy.

     7. The “V I X E N” will take position inshore on the western side, and the “S C O R P I O N” on the eastern side, and look out for the musketry fire from shore. They will be slightly outside the flank ship, and where they can, infilade any infantry fire directed upon the ships.

     8. The fire will be deliberate, and, after the batteries are silenced, will be carefully directed to their destruction. Ammunition will not be thrown away. Careful instructions will be given to gun-captains not to fire unless they can see their mark, which, in this case, will be the enemy’s guns.

     9. The “V E S U V I U S” and the “P O R T E R” will remain on the East side, out of range of the batteries.

     10. At signal 19 the vessels will resume their day blockading stations.3

Very respectfully,

W. T. S A M P S O N ,            

Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy,   

Commander in Chief, U.S.Naval Force,

North Atlantic Station.

Source Note: TCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 36. Addressed below close: “The Commanding Officer,/U. S. S.”

Footnote 1: For the location of the western batteries, which were situated near Morro Castle, see: Map of Harbor and Forts of Santiago de Cuba.

Footnote 2: For the location of the eastern batteries, which were situated on or near the Socapa Heights, see, Ibid.

Footnote 3: On the same day, Sampson issued an addendum to these orders: “Reduced charges will be used in all guns of 8 inch calibre and above with the corresponding sight marks to increase the angle of fall of the projectiles and the probability of destroying the batteries.” DNA, RG 313, Entry 36. On the results of this bombardment, see: Squadron Bulletin No. 4, 16 June 1898.

Related Content