Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant William H.H. Southerland to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

C O P Y.

U. S. S.Eagle,                    

Off Cienfuegos, Cuba,      

June 29th, 1898.       

S I R :-

     I yave the honor to report that this vessel was in an engagement with a force of Spanish cavalry off the mouth of the Rio Hondo this forenoon.

     At six o’clock this morning  this vessel arrived off the mouth of the Rio Hondo, about twenty-three miles to the southward and eastward of Cienfuegos Light house, for the purpose of landing a Captain and two privates of the Cuban Army, by order of Commander C.H. Davis,1U.S.N., Commanding  U.S.S.Dixie, and S.O.present.2

     At eight o’clock, while cruising back and forth near the river mouth, awaiting the appearance of a Cuban force in answer to our steam whistle signals, shots from the shore were heard and projectiles were seen to strike the water short of us. No signs of an enemy could be seen for about ten minutes---several shots in the meantime having struck the water within fifty yards of us, when a large force of cavalry was sighted on a plateau back of the beach. This vessel immediately opened fire with her starboard forward and after 6-pounders and Colt’s automatic. The first shot fell in the midst of a large group of the enemy and must have done considerable execution. It caused them to mount and proceed at full speed towards the interior. In the meantime the Yankton,3 which was passing outside of this vessel bound to Trinidad, was signaled as to what was going on. She joined this vessel and opened fire, making very good shooting. The fire was continued from both vessels until the enemy disappeared over a ridge some 5000 yards distant. Shortly after our fire ceased the Dixie came near and I reported all the circumstances to Commander Davis, and also that we had just seen another body of men some distance back of the beach. He then directed me to land the Cubans at a point thirteen miles to the westward of Cienfuegos for which place this vessel was immediately headed.

     Shortly after leaving the Dixie she opened fire on the shore, from which I presume another body of the enemy had appeared.

     Eighty-six 6-pounders A.P. shells were fired during the action.4

I have the honor to be                         

Very respectfully,                        

W. H. H. SOUTHERLAND,                

Lieutenant, U.S. Navy,           

Commanding.            

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 44. Addressed below close: “The Commanding in Chief,/U.S. Naval Force,/N.A. Station.”

Footnote 1: Cmdr. Charles H. Davis.

Footnote 2: “S.O.” is an abbreviation for Senior Officer.

Footnote 3: Yankton was commanded by Lt. Cmdr. James D. Adams.

Footnote 4: “A.P.” is an abbreviation for armored piercing.

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