Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant Carl W. Jungen to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U. S. S. Wompatuck,

Off Cape Cruz, Cuba,

July 1st, 1898.

Sir:-

    In accordance with Article 437 of the U. S. Navy Regulations, I have the honor to make the following report of the participation of this vessel in the reconnoisance made on June 30, 1898 in company of the HIST, AND HORNET,1 in the harbor of Manzanillo, Cuba, viz:-

    1. The Wompatuck followed the lead of the HIST, into the harbor of Manzanillo arriving at the entrance at 3:15 p. m.

    2.  The vessels noted by me as being in the harbor, and evidently prepared to receive us were the torpedo boat, and three (3) small gun vessels mounting a bow and stern gun each; there were under way; one (1) old steam cruiser, and one (1) old sailing vessel, probably a guard ship, were moored so that there batteries commanded the harbor entrance and front. The gun vessels and torpedo boats were under way, and in column heading about in the same way that we headed when we ran by. In addition to the floating defenses, a number of field pieces had been run down to the water front, exact number I could not state, but four were seen before any firing began. From the reception we met with I judge that twenty guns of 3 and 6 pdr. calibre were directed upon us, in addition to one six inch B. L. R.2 and some 8 or 9 inch smooth bores.

    3.  As soon as the HIST got within range of the gun vessels they opened fire, to which she promptly replied. The Wompatuck opened fire at 2000 yards, the range varying from that to 1800 yards, never less.

    4.  The fire of the enemy was a galling one, and very fair, as the hits which the vessels on our side received, prove.

    5.  After firing seven rounds from the bow 3 pdr. of this vessel the pedestal sheared the rivets of the holding down flange, throwing this gun out of action. In order to bring both of the stern guns to bear, starboard helm had to be used, and the risk of grounding had to be taken. This threw the Wompatuck out of column, but it enabled her to keep up a brisk fire, and a well directed one.

    6.  The firing began at 3:25 p. m. and practically ceased at 4:20, as after that time only a few scare shots were fired to discourage the enemy from pursuing us.

    7.  Shortly after the HORNET got well into action, she received a shell through her steam pipe disabling her, though she continued turning her engines over and ranged ahead.

    8.  Seeing that she was disabled, I stopped and backed down to her, and handed her a tow line, which I had prepared on clearing for action. The two [sic] line was not well secured on the HORNET and as soon as a strain was brought upon it, it rendered around the capstan, and the Wompatuck was obliged to stop and back again, and at the suggestion of Lieut. Helm, the Wompatuck was placed alongside of the HORNET, though this masked nearly all the guns on her engaged side. During this performance the Wompatuck fired her stern guns all the time, as did the HORNET.    

    9.  While taking the HORNET in tow the Wompatuck grounded, but easily got off.

    10. When the enemy discovered that the Wompatuck was taking the HORNET in tow, the fire of the enemy was concentrated upon these two vessels, until the tow could be got under way, the fire of the enemy was hot and very uncomfortable, and it was during this time that the Wompatuck was hit three times and a six inch shell exploded near her quarter. The hits were as follows: one shell, 3 or 6 pdr. struck pilot house rail, bending it and cutting half way through, and exploding on shell passed over deck house within four feet of where I was stand[ing] and through the port metallic boat, rippling out two thwarts3 and cutting the oars and boat hooks in two; a third shell struck the starboard quarter above the guard and glanced off; neither of the last two exploded.

        As the tow was steaming away, a sloop loaded with soldiers appeared on the unengaged side, from under the Cay, and opened small arm fire on the two vessels. A well directed 6 pdr. from the HORNET sunk her.

    11. During the action which lasted fifty two minutes, one gun vessel was sunk and one disabled.

    12. The Wompatuck received no damage, except to her port boat, and there were no casualties.

    13. In closing this report it gives me great pleasure to commen[d] to your favorable notice the conduct of Mate Frederick Muller for his coolness, and for the prompt execution of all orders, at a critical time; nor can I speak too highly in praise of the crew, every man of which stood to his post and that under a most galling fire. They conducted themselves with honor to themselves, their country and their flag.

    14. The hull and the equipment of the vessel are in a generally good condition, but the boiler and engine require a general overhauling, as soon as circumstances will permit.

    15. Ammunition expended yesterday, 221 rounds 3 pdr.

Very respectfully

C. W. Jungen,

Commanding.

Source Note: TCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 44. At top center: “(Copy).” Addressed below close: “Commander-in-Chief,/U. S. Naval Force,/North Atlantic Station.” Lack of spacing between words and other minor typographical errors have been gently corrected.

Footnote 1: Lt. Lucien Young of Hist; and Lt. James M. Helm of Hornet.

Footnote 2: “B.L.R.” is an abbreviation for Breach Loading Rifle.

Footnote 3: A “thwart” is a bench seat across the width of a boat.

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