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 13,1898.

Subject...Thanking President.

General situation.

Scarcity provisions.

Troops required.

Officers & men Manila.

Loading Manila ordnance

Capture of Callao.

Coal.

Foreign warships here.

Gun parts for Baltimore

     Sent to Hongkong May 15.

The Squadron thanks the President for his message in your telegram of May 7th.1 Am maintaining strict blockade of Manila by sea and believe rebels are hemming in by land although they are inactive and making no demonstrations.

Great scarcity of provisions in the city. I believe the Spanish governor2 will be obliged to surrender soon on this account.

Can take Manila at any moment.

To retain possession and thus control Philippine Islands would require, in my best judgment, well equipped force of 5000 men, although the U.S.troops sent by Pekin3 will be very useful to relieve the Squadron of guarding Cavite. The U.S.troops should make provision for extremely hot moist climate.

The Spanish forces are estimated 10000 men.

Rebels are reported 20000 to 30000 men. Would suggest the Charleston or Pekin bring few officers, U.S.N., and about 100 men, part engineer’s department, to man transport Manila and captured vessels.

Am loading Manila with ordnance from the Spanish men-of-war.

I propose to assign Lieutenant Commander Singer4 to command.

Captured on May 12th the Spanish gunboat Callao attempted to run blockade.

Released on parole Officers and men. We have plenty of coal for the present and can purchase more in Chinese ports.

Will hold frequent communications with Hongkong.

One British, one French, two German, and Japanese men-of-war here observing.5 The Baltimore requires immediately on Mark IV for 5-in B.L.R., a supply of extractors for Hotchkiss 3-pdr and 6-pdr R.F.G. also locks the most recent design for gun battery.6

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, PGD. Document: “Sent to Hongkong May 15.”

Footnote 1: President William McKinley sent his thanks and the thanks of the United States to Dewey and the Asiatic Squadron. See: Long to Dewey, 7 May 1898.

Footnote 2: Governor General Basilio Augustín y Dávila.   

Footnote 3: City of Peking.

Footnote 4: Lt. Cmdr. Frederic Singer.

Footnote 5: The British vessel was probably the gunboat Linnet; the French warship was the cruiser Bruix; the two German ships were the cruisers Irene and Cormoran; and the Japanese ships were the cruisers Akitsushima and Matsushima.

Footnote 6: B.L.R. stands for Breech Loading Rifle; R.F.G. stands for Rapid Fire Gun. The Baltimore’s guns were damaged during the battle of Manila Bay, 1 May 1898, and the locks suffered chronic failures. See: Lt. Comdr. John Briggs to Capt. Nehemiah M. Dyer, 3 May 1898.

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