Captain Caspar F. Goodrich to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
Off Manzanillo, Cuba,
August 13th, 1898.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the movements and operations of this vessel and her consorts up to 8.00 o’clock this morning:
2. On the afternoon of the 9th, the NEWARK left Guantanamo and was joined shortly after off the entrance to that port by the U.S.S.RESOLUTE, carrying the battalion of marines under Colonel Huntington. We proceeded to Santiago de Cuba, where we communicated with the St. Louis, and then continued to the westward. On Wednesday afternoon, the 10th instant, we fell in with the HIST and SUWANEE off Cape Cruz. Lieut. Comd’r Delahanty of the SUWANEE, having preceded us to this point; communicated with the HIST and learned from her commanding officer, Lieutenant Young, that the condition of affairs at Manzanillo was such as to warrant the belief that an attack by the force under my command would result in a speedy capitulation of the garrison and city. This he reported to me as being in entire accordance with a letter addressed to you by Commander Todd of the WILMINGTON, which he had been permitted to read on board your flagship. Lieut. Young, who had on board a competent pilot, assured me that it was entirely practicable to approach to within about two miles of Manzanillo in a ship drawing as much water as does the NEWARK.
3. Inasmuch as the force detailed by you for the contemplated operations at the Isle of Pines was not all at hand and as the WOMPATUCK could, in all probability, not leave Guantanamo until the 12th or possibly the 13th, it appeared to me well to occupy this time of waiting in an attempt at securing Manzanillo and its garrison.
4. We waited off Cape Cruz that night in order to be joined by the ALVARADO and OSCEOLA, and then on the morning of the 11th, started for Cuatro Reales channel, the following ships accompanying the NEWARK: RESOLUTE, SUWANEE, HIST, OSCEOLA and ALVARADO. In order to minimize the chances of accident that would be incurred in navigating waters only imperfectly charted, I sent the HIST with her pilot ahead. On her starboard beam was the SUWANEE. In rear of these two came the OSCEOLA. In rear of the OSCEOLA came the RESOLUTE and lastly the NEWARK, with the ALVARADO close aboard; all keeping the lead going constantly. By a preconcerted system of signals, the presence of shoal water or other danger could be instantly communicated from the leading ships in ample time to stop the progress of the RESOLUTE and NEWARK, heavy draft vessels.
5. We experienced no difficulty, whatever, in getting through Cuatro Reales; the least water found by the NEWARK being five and one half fathoms. At dark that day we anchored inside of the Great Barrier Reef in ten fathoms of water, about forty miles distant from Manzanillo.
6. Yesterday morning, the 12th instant, my little flotilla got under way at half past four and proceeded to the vicinity of Manzanillo. The RESOLUTE, SUWANEE, HIST and OSCEOLA anchored well outside of the northern entrance. I hoisted a flag of truce on the NEWARK and proceeded to an anchorage about three miles distant from the town, whence I sent the ALVARADO, also bearing a flag of truce, to present to the Military Commandant a demand for surrender, a copy of which I have the honor to enclose. This demand was placed in his hands by Lieut. Blue at thirty-five minutes past noon. The reply was to the effect that the Spanish military code forbade a surrender except as the sequence of a siege or other military operation.
7. The town being fortified, is exempt from the privileges and immunities attached to defenceless places. Nevertheless as you will perceive from my demand, sufficient time was given to permit non-combatants to leave the city. At three o’clock I signalled to the out-lying vessels to take the stations off the town which had been assigned and at 3.35, hauled down the flag of truce on the NEWARK and proceeded toward Manzanillo, until the shoalness of the water forbade her further approach. At 3.40 fire was opened from this ship on the batteries and was maintained with tolerable steadiness until 4.15 o’clock, with an accuracy surprising in view of the short time during which she has been commissioned. The other vessels followed shortly after.
8. At 4.15 P.M., having been supposed white flags hoisted on the Spanish gunboat Cuba Espanola and the Commandant’s quarters, I made signal “Cease firing” and sent the ALVARADO in under flag of truce. At the same time the SUWANEE, HIST and OSCEOLA, all under the immediate orders of Lieut. Comd’r Delahanty, were approaching the town from the southward through the middle channel. When these vessels were within 1000 to 1500 yards of the batteries, the Spanish authorities opened fire on them at 4.35, paying no attention to the flag of truce on the ALVARADO, which (as I have since been informed) they failed to perceive. The ALVARADO hauled down her flag of truce and joined the other gunboats in returning the fire. At 4.50 opened fire again from the NEWARK. The Cuban forces at this time appeared to the northward of the town and began discharging volleys which were returned apparently by Spanish artillery. The NEWARK threw a number of 6” shells in this direction in order to assist the Cubans. The SUWANEE, OSCEOLA, HIST and ALVARADO soon returned to the neighborhood of the flagship and we all anchored at about 5.30 P.M. for the night. From that time until daylight this morning one 6” shell was fired from the NEWARK at the batteries at irregular intervals; one shot being fired during each half hour. Daylight revealed a large number of white flags flying over the blockhouses and batteries of Manzanillo and the approach of a boat from shore bearing a flag of truce. The Captain of the Port came off and delivered to me a cipher dispatch from the Secretary of the Navy, reading as follows: “Protocol of peace signed by the President; armistice proclaimed.” My disappointment was, as may be imagined, very great, for I had every reason to believe that the garrison was entirely ready to surrender. I had hoped that the fleet under your command might have won one more laurel and gained one more important victory before the conclusion of peace.
9. A few projectiles fell close to this ship, but the enemy’s attention was naturally directed chiefly against the gun-boats. I am happy to report no casualties or injuries beyond three shots from Mauser rifles through the SUWANEE’S ensign. What was possibly the last shot of the war was a 6” projectile fired from the NEWARK at 5.20 A.M., today. It gives me great pleasure to speak in the highest terms of the officers of this ship and of the remarkable gun practice she displayed.
10. I enclose reports of the commanding officers. It is impossible for me to exaggerate their loyalty, zeal and bravery, which have been too often proved during the war to render eulogy on my part necessary. Subjected as they were to close fire from guns of various calibres from old fashioned smooth bores to Krupp 14-pdrs and volleys of Mauser bullets, they stuck to their post and upheld the honor of the flag. I earnestly commend your favorable consideration Lieutenant Commander Delahanty, Lieutenant Young, Purcell and Blue, commanding the SUWANEE, HIST, OSCEOLA and ALVARADO, respectively.
11. A part of the contemplated plan of operations was the landing of some or all of the marines of Colonel Huntington’s command. This officer’s regret at the loss of an opportunity to win additional distinction for his corps and himself was only equalled by his careful study of the necessities of the case and his zealous entrance into the spirit of the enterprise.
12. Commander Eaton was, as is his wont, most ready and efficient and with his ship was extremely helpful towards others. It was only the nature of his ship and her personnel which, under my positive orders, kept him from a more prominent place in the action.
Your obedient servant,
C. F. Goodrich