Lieutenant Henry B. Wilson to Commander Richardson Clover
UNITED STATES STEAMER Bancroft,
August 2nd, 1898.
I have to report that I left the ship this morning at about 8:15 in charge of an expedition to intercept a schooner seen underway about ten miles to the Northwest and near the land. The steam launch was fitted with a 1-pdr, and manned by fourteen men armed with rifles. Upon nearing the shore a small settlement of about six houses, apparently warehouses, was seen, situated at the head of a bend or turn in the shore line, and some men were hauling a schooner in near the beach. Seeing soldiers in the party I opened fire with the 1-pdr and drove them off to the right. They having taken refuge in the tall grass there, the firing was continued until the place was well cleared. The left hand shore was also shelled.
In the village itself I satisfied myself no armed person was lurking. The launch then slowly steamed in towards the schooner, the riflemen keeping up the fire on both sides. The schooner was found aground, with a cargo of green corn, grain and rum. J. Munro (Apprentice 1 Class) swam to her with the end of a line and the launch was started ahead. The whole time the firing was being kept up by the riflemen on each side. The line parted and while endeavoring to run another the launch was fired upon from the left hand shore by soldiers concealed in the shrubbery, three volleys being fired. The launch was than turned sufficiently to bring the 1-pdr to bear and the vicinity shelled effectually, for we heard no more volleys or even single shots. During this attack W. Koulouris (Coal Passer) was shot in the left breast and killed instantly; fortunately no one else was injured. It is very probable that the Spanish met with severe loss, for the fire of the riflemen and the 1-pdr was well directed. Before the firing of the volleys, V. Nolmgren (O’Sea.) swam ashore about 25 yards, to pier, on which was a railroad track, cut adrift a small sloop, and during the firing, so handled her as to be able to throw a line to the launch, which I was manoeuvering to cover him. I then towed her out as a prize, and seeing that under the circumstances it would be impossible to get that schooner afloat, I swung the head of the launch toward her and put a number of shots in effectually disabling her. No other vessels or boats were seen.
I am pleased to add that all hands conducted themselves in a most exemplary manner during the trying moments.
H. B. Wilson,
Lieutenant, U. S. Navy.
Source Note: CbCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 41, vol. 4, p. 4. Addressed below close: “To the Commanding officer,/U. S. S. Bancroft.”