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Lieutenant Commander Raymond P. Rodgers to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U. S. S. I O W A, 1st Rate.      

Off Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.

June 15th, 1898.

S i r:-

     I have the honor to make the following report of the engagement of the batteries at Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, this morning, in which the IOWA took part.

          1. In obedience to the instructions contained in your Order of Battle, dated yesterday,1 the men were given an early breakfast at 4:00 O’Clock, and the ship was cleared for action at 4:30.

     At 4:52 went to General Quarters. At this time the vessel was about 4,000 yards distant from the Morro;2 it bearing North by West.

          2. All the crews of guns not actually engaged were sent below, within the case-mate armor.

          3. At 5:14, upon signal from the Flagship,3 this vessel headed to the north-eastward, and closed upon the NEW ORLEANS as much as the position of the OREGON would permit.

          4. At 5:23 the IOWA commenced firing. The guns engaged were:

     All the turret guns and the four-inch rapid fire guns.

     At 5:32 ceased firing in obedience to signal.

(a.) The ranges employed during this interval varied between 3300 and 3100 yards.

     At 5:37 again commenced firing, and

     At 5:45 ceased firing, in obedience to signal.

(b.) The ranges employed during this interval were between 2800 and 2700 yards.

          5. During this interval the fire of this ship was much interfered with by the position occupied by the NEW ORLEANS, which had stood across the line and lay for some time, nearly stopped, directly in our line of fire.

     At 5:51, again commenced firing and continued until 5:56; when the firing ceased in obedience to signal.

(c.) The ranges employed during this interval varied between 2700 and 2600 yards.

          6. At 6:06 the Flagship signalled to withdraw and resume blockading station. This vessel then hauled off to the southward and steamed slowly to its prescribed station, south of the Morro.4

          7. During the engagement the port battery alone was engaged. The fire was directed entirely against the eastern battery.

          8. The enemy’s fire was fairly strong during the first interval referred to above; but during the second and third intervals its fire became slackened, and during the third interval the eastern battery may be said to have been silent, and it remained silent while the vessels were standing out to their blockading stations.

          9. While the vessels were withdrawing, and while the OREGON was in line with the Punta Gorda battery, this battery fired several shots at the squadron. Some of the projectiles struck abreast of this ship and astern of the OREGON.

          10. No casualties occurred on board this ship; nor was its hull or fittings in any way injured.

          11. The following ammunition was expended:-

9, 12 - inch Semi A.P. Shell;5 with reduced charges.

16, 8 – inch Common Shell; four with full charges, and twelve with reduced charges.

37, 4 – inch Cartridges; with Common Shell.

          12. There are no accidents to the battery to report, except in the case of the two 12 – inch guns in the forward turret.

     The elevating gear of the right gun of the forward turret worked stiffly, and after the second round was fired it jammed and could not be worked. This gun is now out of action. The elevating gear is being overhauled; but at the present moment the time required for its repair cannot be definitely stated.

     The left gun, at the third round fired by it, carried away its dash pot. The dash-pot head was driven through its collar, the top of the threads stripping.

     The broken dash pot is being removed, and will be replaced by one of the old dash-pots; so that it is probable that this gun will be ready for service to-night.

     I append, hereto, the report of Lieutenant L. S. Van Duzer, the Officer of this Division concerning the injuries to these two guns.6

          13. The numerous cases of failures of the dash-pots and the recent failures of the elevating apparatus of these 12 – inch turret guns indicate that they are, in these respects, too light in design. A set of new, and stronger, dash-pots is required for these guns at the earliest moment.

Very respectfully,

R.P. Rodgers

Lieut.-Comdr., U.S.Navy


Source Note: TL, DNA, RG 313, Entry 48. Addressed below close: “THE COMDR.-IN-CHIEF,/NORTH ATLANTIC STATION.” Document reference: “No. 116.” Docketed on separate sheet: “U.S.S. IOWA./Off Santiago/June 16/98./Rodgers, R.P./Lieut-Comdr/USN Comdg/Reports action/this date/(1 Enc.).”

Footnote 2: For the locations mentioned in this report, see: Map of the West Indies.

Footnote 3: The flagship was the New York.

Footnote 4: In his account of this engagement, Lt. José Müller y Tejeiro of the Spanish Navy wrote:

“At 5.45 the hostile fleet opened fire. At 6.15 Punta Gorda commenced firing, but stopped shortly after. The greater part of the projectiles dropped close to the Spanish fleet. At 6.30 the fire became more intense. . . . At 6.40 Punta Gorda again opened fire; ten shots. At 7 the firing ceased. . . It was reported from the Morro that the ships which had been firing were eight in number; that the fire had been directed against the castle and the Socapa, both of them answering; that at the Morro battery a gunner had been killed and an officer with five soldiers (all belonging to the artillery) wounded; that at the Socapa two sailors and been killed and four sailors and Ensign [Fernando] Bruquetas wounded, the latter for the second time; and that one of the Hontoria guns had been put out of action by debris obstructing it, but that the enemy had not succeeded in dismounting a single gun. . . . The debris was removed from the Hontoria gun, which was again made ready for firing.” Müller y Tejeiro, Battles and Capitulation of Santiago de Cuba, 65.

Footnote 5: The elevating gear is “that machinery secured to the carriage, which, working on the breech end of the gun-slide, elevates or depresses the gun’s muzzle. On firing, the gun’s muzzle makes a violent effort to move in the vertical plane, describing a small angle, which is called the jump.” The gun “being pivoted at its trunnions, the jump brings a strain upon the elevating gear. When the jump occurs, a spring takes up the shock without injury to the mechanism and returns the gun to its first position.” In heavy turret-mounts “a hydraulic cylinder called the ‘dash pot’ is associated with the spring.” (William F. Fullam and Thomas C. Hart, Text-book of Ordnance and Gunnery, Revised and Arranged for the Use of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, Second Edition, (Annapolis, MD: The United States Naval Institute, 1905), 166.

Footnote 6: The report of Lt. Louis S. Van Duzer has not been found.

Footnote 7: This means that Rodgers, the Executive Officer of Iowa, commanded the battleship in this engagement in place of Capt. Robley D. Evans.

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