Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Reminiscence of Ensign Henry V. Butler

15 November 1930.      

     Referring to the conversation between Admiral Dewey1 and the officer of the staff of Vice-Admiral von Diedrichs2 (mentioned on page 267 of the “Autobiography of George Dewey), The then Ensign Henry V. Butler was present and now recollects the following remarks which he believes to be substantially verbatim:

Dewey said: “Does Admiral von Deidrichs think he commands here or do I? Tell your Admiral if he wants war I am ready.”

German officer said to Lt. Brumby:3 “Mein Gott! What is the matter with your Admiral?”

Brumby said: “Nothing, he means every word he says and you better tell your Admiral exactly what it was.”

The Germans reduced the number of their ships present the next day.4

H. V. BUTLER           

Source Note: TCy, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 364.

Footnote 1: RAdm. George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Squadron.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Ernst Otto von Diederichs.

Footnote 3: Capt.-Lt. Paul Von Hintze and Lt. Thomas M. Brumby.

Footnote 4: Dewey sent a written complaint to RAdm. von Diederichs about the behavior of the suspicious movements of the German ships and how they compromised the integrity of the American blockade. Dewey wanted to make clear at this meeting that he had the right to stop and board any neutral man-of-war to establish identification. On 10 July, von Diederichs sent his deputy, Capt.-Lt. Hintze to respond to Adm. Dewey’s complaints. The outburst described above was brought about when Hintze told Dewey that he had no legal right to board any German (or neutral) ship in the Philippines. Trask, War With Spain, 380.

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