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,                     

MANILA, P.I., AUGUST 16, 1898.   

Sir:

     I have the honor to report that:

     1.   On August 7, 1898, Major General Merritt1 and I sent to the Spanish Governor General and Captain General at Manila2 a joint notice that operations might begin against the city at any time after forty-eight hours. A copy is enclosed marked “A”.3

     2.   On the same date a reply was received, a copy of translation of which is enclosed marked “B”,4 the original being in possession of General Merritt.

     3.   On August 9th, General Merritt and I sent a joint formal demand for the surrender of the city and Spanish forces. A copy is enclosed marked “C”.5

     4.   On the same date a reply was received, declining to surrender but requesting the time necessary to communicate with Madrid. A copy of translation is enclosed marked “D”,6 the original being in the possession of General Merritt.

     5.   On August 10th, we replied declining to grant the time requested. A copy is enclosed, marked “E”.7

     6.   All of these communications were sent and received from Manila through the kindness of Captain Chichester,8 of H.B.M.S. IMMORTALITE and Mr. H.A.Ramsden,9 British and United States Acting Consul.

     7.   On August 13th, the U.S.land and naval forces made a joint attack on Manila resulting in the surrender of that city on the same date. This is made the subject of a separate report.10

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: TCy, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 364. Addressed below close: “The Secretary of the Navy,/Washington, D.C.” Document reference: “No.437-D.” Document on “United States Naval Force on Asiatic Station,” stationary. Stamp: Document has rectangular “BUREAU OF NAVIGATION,” stamp dating it to 28 September 1898, with the numbers “141623.” Docketed: “Flagship OLYMPIA,/Manila P.I./AUG 13,1898/Dewey, George/Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy/Forwarding correspondence/reg. surrender of/Manila./5 Enclosures.

Footnote 1: Maj. Gen. Wesley Merritt.

Footnote 2: Governor General FermínJáudines y Álvarez.

Footnote 3: Dewey believed that the Spanish surrender was imminent as early as 29 July 1898. He wrote to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long that fear of the insurgents taking the city was the only thing that stood in the way of the Spanish surrender. Something both Dewey and Merritt were working to resolve. See, Dewey to Long, 29 July 1898, DLC-MSS, PGD. Poised to invade the surround city the two American commanders jointly wrote to Governor  Jáudines:

We have the honor to notify Your Excellency that operations of the land and naval forces of the United States against the defenses of Manila may begin at any time after the expiration of forty-eight hours from the hour of receipt by you of this communication, or sooner if made necessary by an attack on your part.

     This notice is given in order to afford you an opportunity to remove all non-combatants from the city. See, Dewey to Jáudines, 7 August 1898, DNA, AFNRC, M625, Roll 364.

Footnote 4: Jáudines responded:

     I have the honor to inform Your Excellencies that at half past twelve today I received the notice with which you favor me, that after forty-eight hours have elapsed you may begin operations against this fortified city, or at an earlier hour if the forces under your command are attacked by mine.

     As your notice is sent for the purpose of providing for the safety of non-combatants I give thanks to Your Excellencies for the human sentiments you have shown, and state that finding myself surrounded by insurrectionary forces, I am without places of refuge for the increased numbers of wounded, sick, women and children who are now lodged within the walls. See, Jáudines to Dewey, 7 August 1898, Ibid.

Footnote 5: Dewey and Merritt wrote:

     The inevitable suffering in store for the wounded, sick, women and children, in the event that it becomes our duty to reduce the defenses of the walled city town in which they are gathered, will, we feel assured, appeal successfully to the sympathies of a General capable of making the determined and prolonged resistance which Your Excellency had exhibited after the loss of your Naval forces and without hope of succor.

     We therefore submit, without prejudice to the high sentiments of honor and duty which Your Excellency entertains, that surrounded on every side as you are by a constantly increasing force, with a powerful fleet in your front and deprived of all prospect of reinforcement and assistance, a most useless sacrifice of life would result in the event of an attack, and therefore every consideration of humanity makes it imperative that you should not subject your city to the horrors of a bombardment. Accordingly we demand the surrender of the City of Manila, and the Spanish forces under your command. See, Dewey to Jáudines, 9 August 1898, Ibid.

Footnote 6: Jáudines responded:

     Having received an intimation from Your Excellencies that, in obedience to sentiments of humanity to which you appeal and which I admire, I should surrender this city and the forces under my orders; I have assembled the Council of Defense which declares that your request cannot be granted, but taking account of the most exceptional circumstances existing in this city which Your Excellencies recite and which I unfortunately have to admit, I would consult my Government if your Excellencies will grant the time strictly necessary for this communication by way of Hong Kong. See, Jáudines to Dewey, 10 August 1898, Ibid.

Footnote 7: Dewey and Merritt refused to permit this and wrote:

     We have the honor to acknowledge the communication of Your Excellency of the 8th instant, in which you suggest your desire to consult your Government in regard to the exceptional circumstances in your City, provided the time to do so can be granted by us.

     In reply we respectfully inform Your Excellency that we decline to grant the time requested. See, Dewey to Jáudines, 10 August 1898, Ibid.

Footnote 8: Capt. Edward Chichester.

Footnote 9: British Consul at Manila Henry A. Ramsden.

Footnote 10: This correspondence is not the full story of the fall of Manila. Once it was clear that Manila would surrender Dewey and Merritt made arrangements with Jáudines to stage a mock naval bombardment and an attack on the city to allow the Spanish military to assert that they had put up a defense while at the same time, saving Manila from destruction and preventing the insurgents from capturing the city. On the morning of 13 May, Dewey’s fleet bombarded the abandoned Fort San Antonio Abad for an hour and then the U.S. Army troops advanced on the city while the Navy awaited the raising of a white flag. See: Dewey to Long, 18 August 1898; and Trask, War with Spain, 416-18.

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