Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Fred M. Munger, Revenue Cutter Service, to Commodore John C Watson, Commander, First Blockading Squadron

U. S. Steamer “Manning”,     

Off Matanzas,            

May 13, 1898.     

Sir:-

     In accordance with the instructions contained in circular letter #5, dated U.S.S.Dolphin, May 14th, 1898,1 I have the honor to report that on the evening of May 11th, while at anchor at Key West, I received your verbal orders, through Captain Chester,2 U.S.N., to get underway immediately and accompany the transport Gussie, having  on board a company of troops under command of Captain Doest,3 U.S.A., our destination being Bahia Honda, and object to land three Cuban scouts and their horses, and to make other reconnaissances along the North shore of Cuba. Owing to delay on the part of the “Gussie” and to a severe squall, we failed to meet outside of the entrance to Key West, where I was waiting for her until 10 P.M. As previously arranged in case of such an accident I proceeded to a point off our destination, arriving there at daylight to await her arrival. As there was considerable delay in her arrival, I stood to the Northward and Eastward and met the “Gussie” at 7.15 A.M., just communicating with the Dolphin, being at a point about ten miles north of Havana, I proceeded with the Gussie, accompanied by two newspaper tugs, the Dewey and Tuten.4 As Captain Dorst had his Cuban pilots, I allowed him to lead keeping close on his port quarter. He stood into the coast about ten miles west of Havana, and coasted about one mile off. Spanish cavalry were in evidence all along, several companies of which I shelled. It was decided to land on the west side of Cabanas, and accordingly, at noon the three scouts with their horses and about fifty soldiers to protect them were landed. After the troops had thrown out their pickets, a company of about one hundred Spanish cavalry was discovered and attacked by our soldiers, one Spanish Lieutenant and one of his men being killed. I at once shelled the Chapparal in which the Spaniards were concealed and they retired.

     The scouts with their horses succeeded in getting into the interior and the troops were reembarked; one boat from this vessel in charge of Lieutenant Wiley5 assisting. During the time of launching and reembarking, this vessel was kept in position, with crew at quarters. Frequent shelling of the vicinity of our troops being necessary. By agreement with Captain Dorst the two vessels were to continue in company during the night and attempt another landing at daylight of the 13th near Mariel, or about 15 miles west of Havana. During a severe squall we became separated and at daylight this vessel was at the point of rendezvous, but the Gussie did not arrive until about 9 A.M. At the point selected we were fired upon by several pieces of artillery, so far back that the shot barely reached the water, and from a small fort or blockhouse apparently having one gun, the shot from which fell in close proximity to this vessel. I returned the fire silencing the fort. The Gussie hauled off to the N.E. and I accompanied her.

     In both of these encounters with the enemy the U.S.S.Wasp was present, we being within her patrol limits, she taking part in the shelling and doing good work. After a conference on board of the Mayflower between Captain Dorst, Commander McKenzie6 and myself, it was decided that a Cuban pilot and a scout should be sent on board of this vessel; the scout to be landed about eight miles east of Matanzas early in the night of the 13th and be taken off the next morning before daylight, he to obtain information as to the practicability of landing the supplies for the insurgents, then on board of the Gussie. The scout was sent in at the point decided upon in a boat, in charge of Lieutenant Daniels,7 but there were such strong indications of the enemy patrolling the coast, that the scout refused to land. On conveying this information to Captain Dorst the next day (14th inst.) he decided to abandon further attempts to land and accordingly started for Tampa, Fla., while I reported as per previous instructions to the Senior Officer on this station, Comdr. Merry of the Machias.8 While on this service 71 rounds of 4” and 148 rounds of 6 pdr. ammunition were expended.

     I have ammunition on hand at this date as follows; viz:-

     4” Shrapnel - 38 rounds.

     4” A.P.Shell - 145 rounds.

     4” Common Shell - xxxxxxxxxxx. 196 rounds.

     6 Pdr. A.P.shell - 1414 rounds.

     Maxim-Nordenfeldt 1 pdr shell - 2171 rounds.

Very respectfully,

     Fred M.Munger,

          Captain R.C.S.

Source Note: TCy, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 229. Addressed before opening: “Commodore J. C. Watson, U.S.N.,/Comdg. Cuban Div., U.S.Naval Force,/On North Atlantic Station.”

Footnote 1: Watson’s Circular No. 5 of 14 May 1898, has not been found.

Footnote 2: Capt. Colby M. Chester.

Footnote 3: Capt. Joseph H. Dorst, United States Army.

Footnote 4: That is, Triton.

Footnote 5: Lt. Walter A. Wiley, Revenue Cutter Service.

Footnote 6: Cmdr. Morris R. S. Mackenzie.

Footnote 7: Lt. David Daniels.

Footnote 8: Dorst’s expedition landed a large supply of guns, ammunition, and other supplies for the Cuban insurgents at Banes, Cuba, sometime between 10 and 15 May. Nelson A. Miles, “The War with Spain,” North American Review, vol. 168 (May, 1899), 525.

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