Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant William H.H. Southerland to Commodore George C. Remey, Commandant, Key West Naval Base

U. S. S. Eagle,        

At Sea,                

July 16 12, 1898.1

Memorandum for Commodore Remey for information of Navy Department:

     The Eagle sighted, and chased and caused the Spanish steamer Santo Domingo to run ashore off Piedras Point, in the bight westward of the Isle of Pines, on July 12th 1898.

     A White river steamer ran alongside her, apparently to discharge her, but was driven off by the Eagle’s fire and went to Batabano with officers, passengers and crew of the San Domingo, but none of her stores.

     San Domingo was taken possession of as a prize, but being hard and fast aground, Eagle set her completely on fire that night, and visited her each of the three succeeding days and found her still burning.

     On the 17th inst., five days after the Santo Domingo was fired, this vessel, in company with the Nashville, visited the scene of the wreck, the Eagle boarding her. Her entire after part, which was filled with grain, was one burning coal flaming up in spots.

     The forward part was no longer burning, but was filled with water, the 12-inch guns having apparently fallen [from] the burned skids to the vessel’s bottom. The frames and beams of the vessel were marked in all directions and she was as complete a wreck as could be imagined.

     The screw threads of the breach of each 4.72-inch Breech loading rifle were almost entirely hacked away.

     She was armed with two 4.72.inch Hontoria Breech loading rifles and had a crew of four (4) officers and seventy-eight (78) men and carried sixty-six (66) passengers. She had two 12-inch Breech loading rifles in her hold and was literally packed with munitions of war, live-stock, and food supplies and clothing, corn, wheat, potatoes, bacon, ham, onions, blankets, etc., etc.

     Her guns were loaded and magazines open when boarded. A large number of the Eagle’s 6- pounder shells struck her creating great havoc, but not setting her on fire.

     Vessel and cargo could not have been valued at much under one million dollars.

     A detailed report will be made when Eagle arrives in port.2

I have the honor to be,          

Very respectfully      

(Signed) W.H.H. Southerland,

Lieut- U.S.N. Com’d’g.

Source Note: TCyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 234. Addressed below close: “Commodore Remey U.S.N./Commandant of Naval Base,/Key West, Fla.” Docketed on back of final sheet: “U.S.S. Eagle/Off Isle of Pine/July 16, 1898./Southerland, William H.H./Lieutenant, U.S.N./Commanding./Regards destruction of/Spanish steamer Santo Dom-/nigo.” Endorsement: “1st Endorsement./Naval Base, Key West,/U.S.F.S. Lancaster,/July 19, 1898./Respectfully forwarded for the/information of the Department./Geo. C. Remey/Commodore Commanding.” Document features a “BUREAU OF NAVIGATION,” stamp dated 23 July 1898, with the numbers “128773.”

Footnote 1: Someone crossed though the “16” and handwrote “12” above it.

Footnote 2: Southerland’s detailed report is in Southerland to William T. Sampson, 19 July 1898, DNA, RG 313, Entry 44.

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