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

From...COM’D’R-IN-CHIEF

To...Secretary of Navy.

Date...Cavite, May 20, 1898.

Subject...General situation.

Scarcity provisions.

Aguinaldo.   

Mines not practicable.

Bark Saranao.  

Bennington & Yorktown.

Troops       

Provisions for Squad-

ron.

Sent to Hongkong by Japanese

man-of-war.1

  Situation unchanged.

Strict blockade is continued.

Great scarcity prevails in Manila.

Foreign subjects fear an outbreak of the Spanish soldiers.

Arrangements have been made for them to be transferred to Cavite by the foreign men-of-war if necessary.

Aguinaldo,2 rebel commander-in-chief, was brought down by the McCulloch, organizing forces near Cavite and may render assistance that will be very valuable.

I do not consider submarine-mines practicable here on account of great depth and width of bay entrance. If attacked by superior force, the Squadron will endeavor to give good account of itself.

The American bark Saranao was captured off Iloilo.3

Upon the arrival of the Charleston with ammunition, I expect to re-capture and to clear the islands of small Spanish gunboats. When is the Charleston expected to arrive?4

I request you will send to the Asiatic Station the Bennington and the Yorktown if possible.5

Will be more useful than the Philadelphia

How many troops are coming here Pekin?

When expected to arrive?6

I request send provisions for the Squadron, 2000 men, for three months, also small stores.

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, PGD.

Footnote 1: Probably the protected cruiser Matsushima.

Footnote 2: Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy.

Footnote 3: Saranac was captured by the Spanish gunboat Elcano on 26 April, in the waters Iloilo carrying coal for the Asiatic Squadron. In an act of subterfuge, Saranac carried papers demonstrating it had been transferred to the British service and was subsequently released from Spanish custody. The Elcano was subsequently captured and taken into the possession of the United States Navy. Lt. Carlos Gilman Caulkins, “Historical Professional Notes on the Naval Campaign of Manila Bay in 1898,” The Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute, Vol. XXV, No. 2, June 1899, 268. 

Footnote 4: Charleston set sail for Manila the very next day with no certain projected arrival date. See: William A. Kirkland to Long, 16 May 1898.

Footnote 5: Bennington and Yorktown where never sent, but the monitor Monterey left for Manila on 7 June.  

Footnote 6: That is City of Peking. For Secretary Long’s response, see: Long to Dewey, 29 May 1898.

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