Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Squadron, to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

United States Naval Force on Asiatic Station

FLAGSHIP OLYMPIA,

CAVITE,P.I.,

          SEPTEMBER 19, 1898.

Sir:

1.   In accordance with paragraph f, Article 260, U.S.Navy Regulations,1 I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCE ON ASISTIC STATION during the period from July 1,1897 to August 31, 1898:

2.   The Squadron was under the command of Rear Admiral F.V. McNair,2 U.S.Navy, until January 3, 1898, when I relieved him.

3.   It has included the following vessels during the period covered by this report:

     OLYMPIA, Flagship.

     BOSTON.

     MONOCACY.

     PETREL.

     YORKTOWN, left the station (at Yokohama) October 2,1897.

     MACHIAS, left the station (at Aden) January 9,1898.

     CONCORD, arrived on station (at Yokohama) February 9,1898.

     RALEIGH, arrived on station (at Aden) January 5,1898.

     McCULLOCH, revenue cutter, attached to station (at                  Hongkong) April 17,1898.

     BALTIMORE, arrived on station (at Yokohama) April 11,1898.

     NANSHAN, collier, purchased (at Hongkong) April 6,1898.

     ZAFIRO, supply vessel, purchased (at Hongkong)

          April 11,1898.

     MANILA, captured (at Cavite) May 1,1898.

     CALLAO, captured (at Cavite) May 1,1898.

     CHARLESTON, arrived on station (at Cavite) June 30,1898.

     CITY OF PEKING, transport and storeship, arrived on station       (at MANILA) June 30,1898; left station (at MANILA)            July 30,1898.

     MONTEREY, arrived on station (at MANILA) August 6,1898.

     BRUTUS, collier, arrived on station (at MANILA)

          August 4,1898.

     MONADNOCK, arrived on station (at MANILA) August 16,1898.

     NERO, collier, arrived on station (at MANILA)

          August 16,1898.

4.   During the first part of the fiscal year the routine work of the Squadron was carried on; nearly all the ports on the China and Japan coasts being visited, and especial attention being paid to Chemulpo on account of the disturbed condition of Korea.3

5.   On February 26,1898, orders from Department were received to assemble the Squadron at Hongkong, and all the vessels except the MONOCACY were sent there with the greatest possible dispatch.4 The NANSHAN and ZAFIRO were purchased and filled with coal and provisions, and all vessels were kept ready to move at twenty-four hours notice.5

6.   On April 25th, the Squadron, now consisting of the OLYMPIA, BOSTON, RALEIGH, BALTIMORE, CONCORD, PETREL, McCULLOCH, NANSHAN and ZAFIRO, proceeded to MirsBay, China, in consequence of the neutrality proclamation of the Governor of Hongkong;6 and, on the 27th, sailed for the Philippines.

7.   On the night of April 30th, the Squadron entered MANILA Bay through the Boca Grande, uneffictively opposed by the batteries at that entrance, which fired only a few shots.

8.   At daybreak on May 1st, engaged the Spanish squadron at Cavite and the shore batteries at Cavite and MANILA; the engagement resulting in the destruction of the Spanish squadron and the capture of the Cavite batteries and Naval Arsenal, with the armed transport MANILA and numerous small vessels and tugs.7

9.   On May 3rd, the RALEIGH and BALTIMORE proceeded to the entrance of the Bay and took the batteries there without resistance, paroling the garrisons.

10.  A strict blockade of MANILA was now established, the Squadron having complete possession of the Bay with headquarters at Cavite, where the Arsenal was occupied and put in order and the workshops used for small repairs.

11.  This Arsenal contains excellent machine shops, with good facilities for making repairs of small extent, also numerous store-houses and living quarters in good condition. There are two slips for hauling out small vessels. The Arsenal has been put in excellent order by Commander E.P.Wood,8 U.S.Navy, and has been made a valuable adjunct to the fleet, being used for repairs to the vessels of the fleet, the transports and the numerous tugs and launches. Native laborers and mechanics have been employed. Much credit is due to Chief Engineer R.T.Hall,9 U.S.Navy, who has had charge of the Steam Engineering Department, and has conducted it with energy and ability.

12.  On May 12th, the Spanish gunboat CALLAO entered the Bay and was taken, her crew being paroled. The CALLAO and MANILA were commissioned as tenders to the Flagship.

13.  The first detachment of the army arrived on June 30th, convoyed by the BALTIMORE which had been sent to Cape Engano for the purpose. The CHARLESTON accompanied this expedition, having, on June 21st, taken possession in the name of the United States, of Guam and the LadroneIslands.10 The troops of this, as of other expeditions, were landed with the assistance of the Squadron.

14.  On July 7th, the RALEIGH and CONCORD proceeded to Subic Bay and captured Isla Grande, at its entrance, without serious resistance.11

15.  There being no cable communication, the McCULLOCH and ZAFIRO made frequent voyages to Hongkong with dispatches.

16.  On August 13th, having previously summoned the Spanish Governor General12 to surrender, the army and the fleet under my command made a joint attack upon the city of MANILA, resulting in its capture without loss or damage to the fleet.13

17.  The blockade was then raised and the port opened to commerce. The Pasig River, which had been obstructed with sunken vessels by the Spanish, was cleared, and the lights and aids to navigation re-established. This work was carried on by Captain Glass of the CHARLESTON,14 who had been appointed Captain of the Port.

18.  The RALEIGH, OLYMPIA, CONCORD and BOSTON have been sent to Hongkong to dock; the other vessels to follow shortly.

19.  Detailed statements of the movements of the various vessels are contained in the cruising reports on file in the Department.15

20.  The number of tons of coal consumed and cost thereof are as follows:

Vessel.

Tons.

Cost.

Number of tons of which cost not given.

OLYMPIA and tenders.

7376.5

$ 96802.04

BALTIMORE

4947.0

49978.23

BOSTON

2568.7

33566.18

1143.3

CHARLESTON

1784.8

20769.38

CONCORD

1114.0

10799.96

378.2

McCULLOCH

367.5

3722.54

569.5

MONADNOCK

4001.9

34698.48

427.3

MONOCACY

794.0

7366.00

MONTEREY

3035.0

24375.70

101.0

PETREL

1002.4

9341.52

130.0

RALEIGH

5921.6

38640.68

1252.2

TOTAL

32813.4

$330060.71

4001.5

 

21.  The vessels generally are in excellent condition. They have been docked at the interval required by regulations except when war service has interfered. The boiler tubes of the BOSTON give out frequently and the boilers are limited to 70 pounds pressure. The MONOCACY is in the same condition as at last report, and by order of the Department she is kept in the Yangtze River. The RALEIGH is in good condition except the engines and boilers which have been under almost constant repair. Owing to the faulty construction of her firerooms, the heat below is such that she will never be efficient in this regard. The BALTIMORE is in good condition except the boilers which are only fair.

22.  The efficiency of the vessels as shown by their behavior in action is excellent.

23.  The squadron routine has been carried out except when war service interfered. Regular target practice was held according to prescribed methods during the first half of the fiscal year, after which it was discontinued, the ammunition being needed for war purposes. Especial attention has been paid to sub-calibre practice. The marksmanship in action was excellent.16

24.  Discipline has been very good. The following table shows the number of enlistments, discharges, desertions, general and summary courts-martial, and petty punishments:

Vessel.

Enlist-

ments.

Discharges.

Deser-

tions.

G.C.M.

S.C.M.

Petty Pun-

ishments.

OLYMPIA

70

71

13

1

8

963

BALTIMORE

18

8

24

1

12

379

BOSTON

11

18

8

3

15

430

CHARLESTON

4

2

0

0

9

136

CONCORD

3

1

0

0

2

154

McCULLOCH

19

14

2

0

3

17

MONADNOCK

14

13

22

0

7

395

MONOCACY

40

29

10

0

9

170

MONTEREY

42

27

42

3

20

484

PETREL

8

5

11

5

9

257

RALEIGH

40

16

23

3

19

849

TOTAL

269

204

155

16

113

4234

 

25.  The sanitary condition has been remarkably good. A number of the vessels were for some time in a port where smallpox and plague were epidemic but they escaped entirely although the contagion reached other men-of-war in the harbor. During four months in MANILA there has been almost no sickness. The following table shows the percentage of sick, number of deaths, number sent to hospital and number invalided home:

Vessel

% Sick. 

Deaths.

Hospital.

Home.

OLYMPIA

1.25

4

36

6

BALTIMORE

1.24

0

18

2

BOSTON

2.16

2

9

4

CHARLESTON

2.88

0

12

0

CONCORD

2.58

0

3

0

McCULLOCH

8.80

2

7

4

MONADNOCK

1.16

0

22

2

MONOCACY

2.17

1

19

1

MONTEREY

1.19

0

18

1

PETREL

2.48

1

0

2

RALEIGH

5.77

2

15

2

TOTAL

12

159

24.

I have the honor to be,              

Very respectfully,               

George Dewey                

Rear Admiral,U.S.Navy,      

Commanding U.S.Naval Force on Asiatic Station.      

Source Note: CbCy, DLC-MSS, PGD. Addressed below close: “The Secretary of the Navy,/Navy Department,/Washington,D.C./(Bureau of Navigation).” Document reference: “No.513-D.” Document on “United States Naval Force on Asiatic Station.” stationary.

Footnote 1: Article 260 Paragraph (f) of the United States Navy regulations of 1896 states the Commander-in-Chief:

. . . shall each year transmit to the Secretary of the Navy in time to reach Washington by the 1st of October a report for publication, covering all subjects necessary for a complete military review of his command and its operations, during the preceding fiscal year, and especially the following:

(aa) The movements of all ships, and character of work performed; the amount of coal consumed, and the cost thereof.

(bb) The general condition and efficiency of all ships; a      description of all military drills; a full description of      all target practice; an account of all torpedo practice; and a detailed description of all tactical maneuvers with the lessons of war they are intended to illustrate.

(cc) The discipline of the command with a summary of enlistments, discharges, desertions, courts-martial, and petty punishments.

(dd) The sanitary condition of the command, with the percentage of sick, number of deaths, and number sent to the hospital and invalided home.

Regulations for the Government of the Navy of the United States, 1896 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1896), 61-62.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Frederick V. McNair.

Footnote 3: Chemulpo is present-day Incheon. Russia leased the city’s Port Arthur Harbor for 25 years in late 1897, coming into direct conflict with British interests in northern China and Manchuria and creating fear of war. William R. Braisted, The United States Navy in the Pacific, 1897-1909 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958), 18.

Footnote 7: See: Dewey to Long, 4 May 1898.

Footnote 8: Cmdr. Edward P. Wood.

Footnote 9: Chief Eng. Reynold T. Hall.

Footnote 12: Governor General Fermín Jáudines y Álvarez.

Footnote 13: During the capture of Manila the United States Army lost 6 men dead and 92 wounded. Trask, War with Spain, 417. 

Footnote 14: Capt. Henry Glass.

Footnote 15: For cruising reports see the Area 10 Files of the Naval Records and Library Collection, at the National Archives in Washington, DC. DNA, AFNRC, M625.

Footnote 16: For a report of the gunnery of the Asiatic Squadron, see, Ellicott, Gunfire. Despite what Dewey wrote here, American marksmanship in the Battle of Manila Bay was not “excellent” as only 141 of the 5,859 American shots struck their targets (2.4 percent). Craig L. Symonds, The Naval Institute Historical Atlas of the U.S. Navy. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001), 110

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