Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Joseph B. Coughlan to Rear Admiral George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Squadron

COPY.

U. S. S. RALEIGH,           

Off Cavite, P. I.             

July 10,6 1898.        

Sir:-

     In obedience to your verbal orders through Lieut. Brumby1 of the 5th instant, the RALEIGH and CONCORD got underway at midnight of the 6th, and proceeded enroute to Subig Bay.2

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     We skirted the West shore of SubigBay, *  *  *  *  *  *  *   and were abreast of Grande Island at 8:40 a.m., [July 7] No flags of any kind in sight, but men, soldiers and others without arms. We rounded the N. W. end of the Island and, still seeing no flags, fired some 6-pdr. shot at spots supposed to be batteries, but got no reply unless a few Mauser shots which some of our men said they saw fall near the ship. As no one appeared to answer us, we fired one 6-inch at one house, and one 5-inch at another. These promptly brough[t] out several white flags. Firing from the ships was immediately stopped, and boats sent in to demand unconditional surrender. The Commander3 asked if they were U.S. or Insurgent prisoners. Lieut. Hugh Rodman told them they were United States forces. They immediately surrendered and began delivering arms, ammunition, etc., into the boats. Lieutenant Rodman came off and reported that they had unconditionally surrendered; that the force on the Island consisted of about 600 people-- 50 women and children, 100 sick, and about 450 men with arms.

     In the meantime as Lieutenant Rodman had signaled “surrendered.”, to avoid delay, other boats had been sent in to get arms. After getting the arms and ammunition, our vessels proceeded to Subig; learning there that the Insurgent Chief was at Olongapo, we proceeded to that place, communicated with him, and becoming convinced from the talk of himself and his advisers that the lives of the prisoners would be unsafe if entrusted to him, upon consultation with Commander Walker, I determined to lay the matter before you again before carrying out that part of your instructions. The CONCORD was sent up for that purpose.

     The prisoners had plenty of food to last them a couple of months, arms and ammunition in plenty, a well devised plan of defense, strong works against infantry, and were intelligently and with great energy constantly improving them. They had dismounted the Hotchkiss 37 mm.R.C.4 from a launch about the size of the “Barcello,5 and had it mounted ashore. The launch they had scuttled. They had put up barbed wire fences at exposed places to prevent scaling the cliffs, had sunk a line of boats or scows about twenty feet from, and parallel to the beach, these covered by good breastworks ashore. In fact, as against infantry attacks determined men could have held out for an indefinite time.

     On the 8th, about 9:30 A.M., the Insurgent Chief with three or four of his staff came on board, requesting permission to go down to Grande Island to get a Filipino or “Manila man” whom they said is a deserter from their cause. Of course I refused and told them they must wait until I got further instructions from you. They seemed to be very greatly disappointed as they said they wished to have him tried as soon as possible. They were also extremely anxious to get possession of the Priests against whom they appear to have some special grudge.

     I forgot to mention that while firing at the Island, July 7th, it was reported to me that steam was being raised on the launch spoken of as having been scuttled. Three 6-pdr shots were fired at her, two of which took effect, but seeing that there could be no one on board, we ceased. It was afterwards found that she had been scuttled some days.

     At 11.00 A.M., of the 8th, I visited the Navy Yard at Olongapo, and was received by the Chief with all honors--guard paraded and a band playing. I found a well planned by unfinished Naval Station. Good houses and grounds, and unfinished 100 ton sheers not yet set up, with quite a lot of first rate iron working tools. The site is an ideal one with slight expenditures could be made a first class Yard.

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     On July, 9th, the CONCORD having returned to Olongapo, we gave the Insurgent Chief all the captured arms and ammunition: 331 Mauser rifles, 251 Remingtons, and about 100000 or 125000 rounds of ammunition. We then proceeded to Grande Island and placed on board his Steamer, the FILIPINAS, all the prisoners:- 20 officers, 563 men, 17 women (Manila) 18 children and five priests, and turned them over to him. An Insurgent guard was placed on the Island to look out for the provisions and any stray articles not taken by the Steamer on the first trip. Aguinaldo’s Agent6 told me the women, the children and sick would be kept at OlongapoArsenal and the men probably taken above Subig.

     When embarking the prisoners, the General (Brigade) informed Lieutenant Rodmanthat they would never have surrendered to the Insurgents, but would have died first, as they were well able to resists for an indefinite time, etc. He persisted in making the point that he surrendered to the United States.

     There were four 5.9 B.L.R.7 guns, unmounted, on the Island, the emplacement only partly completed; about 150 shot and shell for same and plenty of powder--but of poor quality. (Such as was destroyed at Cavite Arsenal.) The General said he had no torpedoes.

     At 4:00 P.M., July 9th,I learned through Aguinaldo’s Agent that one of the Spanish officers had informed him that the German man-of-war had taken away all the Spanish women and children, leaving only the Filipinos.

     I retained possession of Grande Island in the name of the United States, it having been surrendered to us by the Spaniards and left it in charge of a guard of Insurgents sent there by my own request. Upon completion of the duties assigned us, the vessel this day returned to Cavite.

Very respectfully,                   

(sig) Joseph B. Coghlan,                  

Captain, U.S.Navy,     

Commanding, U.S.S.RALEIGH.

Source Note: TCy, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 364. Addressed below close: “The/Commander-in-Chief,/U. S. Naval Force on Asiatic Station.” The superscript “6” above the day in the dateline was added later to indicate the report begins on 6 July. No records have been found with the names of the Filipino insurgents involved in this operation.

Footnote 1: Lt. Thomas M. Brumby.

Footnote 2: That is, Subic Bay.

Footnote 3: Cmdr. Asa Walker of the gunboat Concord.

Footnote 4: That is, a Hotchkiss 37 millimeter revolving cannon, which was a revolving barrel machine gun.

Footnote 5: Barcelo was a composite hulled, single screw steam launch captured by the Americans at the Cavite Navy Yard after the 1 May 1898, battle of Manila Bay. It was 100 tons, 124'7" in length, had a beam of 11', and a mean draft of 6'11". DANFS.

Footnote 6: Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy, head of the Philippine insurgency. The name of his agent is unknown.

Footnote 7: That is, breech loading rifle.

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