Commander Adolph Marix to Commander Charles C. Todd
(C O P Y)
U. S. S. Scorpion, (25)
Off Manzanillo, Cuba,
July 1, 1898.
I have the honor to report that at 4 P.M. today, and immediately after our arrival off this port, the Scorpion and Osceola entered the harbor to attack the four Spanish gunboats that were seen inside.
2. After entering the harbor between the 2nd and 3rd southernmost of the Manzanillo Cays, we went ahead full speed; and when about 2000 yards from their vessels and about 1400 yards from the shore abreast of us, 5 vessels, 6 shore batteries, and musketry all along the shore opened fire upon us simultaneously and kept up and incessant fire throughout the whole engagement. They seemed to have plenty of ammunition.
The firing of the enemy was good throughout: too high at first, but rapidly improving. After we had been under fire about twenty minutes they had evidently got our range, and shot and shell struck all around and between both vessels. At this time I decided to turn around and steam out. We were then less than 1000 yards from the shore, and the Gatling gun of the Osceola was doing good work to keep down the musketry fire.
3. Our firing was deliberate, and must have done considerable damage; but we could not get at the gunboats, because they kept in shoal water and carefully kept bow on presenting very small targets. One of our 6” shells was seen to strike the receiving ship square in the bows. I regret that we could not steam right past the city and endeavor to sink the gunboats as we went along; but we knew nothing about the channel and had to return by the one we had found by the use of the lead and the appearance of the water.
4. We were opposed by five vessels: viz:- one receiving ship housed over with guns forward; one gunboat of about 1000 tons; two of from 500 to 400 tons; and one very small gunboat. On shore by five batteries, the principal one being above the city about half way up the hill. This was the only we made out before we entered the harbor. Three other batteries were along the water front between us and the city, and the fifth one abreast of our entrance. I do not believe that they had any modern guns of large calibre, but they certainly had some large guns, and quite a number of smaller modern guns.
5. It is remarkable that no one was struck and neither ship hurt. This ship was struck on the outside slightly, in twelve places, the nose of the shell entered the galley; and the deck was torn in several places by pieces of shell.
6. After leaving the harbor we remained outside, close to the entrance, until dark, but they did not come out.
Source Note: TCyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 233. Addressed below close: “The Senior Officer,/Blockading Station Off Cape Cruz.” Docketing on separate page. At top of that page, rectangular “BUREAU OF NAVIGATION,” stamp dated “Jul 12 898” with the reference number: “144536.” Then: “U.S.S. Scorpion, (25)/Off Manzanillo, Cuba,/July 1, 1898/Marix, A./Lieut Comdr U.S.N.,/Comndg./Report of an engagement at/Manzanillo Cuba, July 1, 1898.”