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Order of Battle for Raid on San Juan

North Atlantic Station


U. S. FLAGSHIP New York (1st Rate),

                             At Sea:--Latitude, 20--33 N.

                                     Longitude,73--37 W.

Order of Battle.                                May 7, 1898.


     Finding the Spanish vessels in the harbor of San Juan de Porto Rico.

     Anticipating this condition the Squadron will pass near Salinas Point and will then steer about East to pass just outside the reefs off Cabras Island. The column will be formed as follows:



                        New York,



     The Detroit will go ahead of the Iowa, distant 1000 yards.

     The Wompatuck will keep on Iowa’s starboard bow, distant 500 yards.

     The Detroit and Wompatuck will sound constantly after the land is closed and will immediately signal if ten fathoms or less are obtained, showing at night a red light over the stern, and in the day-time a red flag aft.

     The Montgomery will remain in rear of the column, and will stop outside of the fire from the Morro,1 and will look out for the torpedo-boat destroyers. If Fort Canuelo opens fire she will silence it.

     The Porter will take station under cover of the Iowa on the port side.

     The Niagara will remain to the Westward off Salinas Point.

     While approaching, a sharp lookout will be kept upon the coast between Salinas Point and Cabras Island for the torpedo-boat destroyers.

     When near Cabras Island--one half mile to one mile-- the Detroit will rapidly cross the mouth of the Harbor and will lie close under the Morro to the Westward, screened from the fire of Morro’s Western battery.

     If the old guns on the North face of Morro are used she will silence them. The two cruisers will look out especially for the Spanish torpedo-boat destroyers coming out of harbor.

     The Porter, when the actions begins, will cross the harbor mouth behind the Iowa and will get close under the cliff to the Eastward of the Detroit and will torpedo any Spanish armored cruiser trying to get out of the harbor, but will not attack a destroyer.

     The Wompatuck will tow one of her boats, with a mast stepped and a red flag flying, and will have the boat’s anchor on board the tug so arranged that she can slip the boat and anchor it at the same time. She will anchor this boat in about ten fathoms of water, with Fort Canuelo and the Western end of Cabras Island in range. (See blue-print.)2

     There will be two objects of attack, viz.:--the batteries upon the Morro and the men-of-war in the port. If it is clear that the Spanish vessels are lying in the port, fire will be opened upon them as soon as they can be seen over Cabras Island, the motions of the flagship being followed in this regard. If it should become evident, however, that neutral men-of-war are in the line of fire, a flag of truce will probably be sent in before the vessels are opened upon.

     The Porter will hold herself in readiness for this service.

     Care will be taken to avoid striking the hospitals on Cabras Island.

     If it becomes necessary to silence the Morro batteries a portion of the fire will be directed to this object; but the principal object is to destroy the ships.

     After passing the harbor mouth the Iowa will turn a little to starboard toward the town and then will turn out with starboard helm and will again pass the port, and will, after passing Cabras Island to the Westward, turn again with starboard helm and pass as at first.

     Should this plan be changed and it be decided to hold the ships in front of the entrance the signal “STOP” will be made at the proper time.

     The INDIANA, New York, and the monitors will follow the motions of the flagship, and will remain in column. The course after Fort Canuelo is brought in range with the West end of Cabras Island will be E. x S.

     Should nightfall come with the port still in the enemy’s hands and their ships inside, the cruisers will take up positions just outside the harbor, the Montgomery to the Eastward and the Detroit to the Westward, their batteries ready and men at the guns. They will show no lights.

     The other ships will in succession sweep the entrance to the harbor and the channel leading in to the anchorage with search-lights to keep the torpedo-boat destroyers from coming out.

     In case the enemy should attempt to escape from the port the fire will be concentrated on the leading ship. Should the attempt be made at night the search lights in use will be turned on her bridge and conning tower and held there. Attention will be specially given to this as it is of essential importance in the event of such attempt to sink the leading vessel in the channel.

     Arrangements will be made for illuminating all sights not telescope.




     The vessels will form in column:





                        New York,



     1st four vessels column of battleships; other three column of cruisers.

     Porter alongside Iowa.

     The Niagara and Wompatuck will keep out of the range of fire.

     All the vessels will keep in column and follow the motions of the Commander-in-Chief, except as in hereinafter directed.

     Should the enemy be in line, the Commander-in-Chief will probably manouvre to flank the line. Should he be in column the Commander-in-Chief will probably manouvre to force him into a parallel column, steering the same course, when the battle may be fought out with the guns. Should the enemy at any time being in column, turn his ships to the flank (forming line) and attempt to charge, this moment will be met without signal by at once turning all ships 45° away from the enemy, forming a bow and quarter line and bringing the approaching enemy on the quarter and giving him the fire of all the guns. In this event quarter torpedoes should be held in especial readiness. As the enemy draws aft the ships should be so turned as to keep the enemy on the quarter and under fire of all the guns.

     The cruisers, the New York, Detroit and Montgomery are to look out especially for the three torpedo-boat destroyers, to keep them from attacking the battleships and monitors, and destroy them.

     These torpedo-boat destroyers will probably form for battle behind the armored cruisers, i.e. in rear, if they are in line, and on the off flank, if they are in column, and will await their opportunity of using their torpedoes under cover of the smoke, especially if a “charge through” takes place. As soon therefore as the enemy has taken a column formation parallel to and steering in substantially the same direction as our column, the cruiser should operate as an independent column, and should attack the enemy’s other flank and bring his destroyers between two fires.

     Signal 17 “Cruisers attack” will be made when the Commander-in-Chief wishes the cruisers to be detached from the rear of the column, but if signals cannot be seen the Commanding Officer of the New York3 will use his discretion and the Detroit and Montgomerywill follow the New York. The cruisers will, so far as possible, be held together and maneuvered in column.4

     Attention is called to the signals page 81, Tactical Signal Book, for “Plans of Action.” Opposite signal 17 will be entered “Cruiser attack.”

                                     WILLIAM T. SAMPSON,

                                        Rear Admiral

                             Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Naval Force,

                                      North Atlantic Station

Source Note: D, DNA, RG 313, Entry 56.

Footnote 1: A “morro,” is a coastal fortress.

Footnote 2: Blueprint was not attached and has not been found.

Footnote 3: Capt. French E. Chadwick.

Footnote 4: On 10 May 1898, Sampson sent out a modification to the Third Plan of Action. Sampson ordered that:

. . .should the enemy, being in column, turn his ships to the flank (forming line) and attempt to charge, the movement will be met without signal by at once turning all ships forty-five degrees TOWARDS the enemy (instead of AWAY from him) keeping him under fire of all the guns. As the enemy draws aft, the ships will continue to turn, and if it becomes evident that he means to “charge through,” the ships will be headed directly for his line to meet the charge and avoid being rammed. In such event torpedoes and guns will be in readiness to use in passing. This change is rendered advisable by the much reduced speed of the Squadron. See, Sampson’s Supplementary to Order of Battle, 10 May 1898, DNA, RG 313, Entry 56.