Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant James M. Helm to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

(Copy)

U. S. S. Hornet,                  

Off Manzanillo, July 18, 1898.

Sir:-

     1.   In compliance with Article 475 U.S.N.Regs.1 I have the honor to report as follows:

     About 3 a. m. 18th of July 1898 the Hornet left Guayabal in company with squadron under command of Commander C.C.Todd,2 U.S.N.,and composed of the Wilmington,Helena,Scorpion,Hist,Hornet Wompatuck and Osceola.

     2.   At about 6:45 a.m. signal was made to separate by preconcerted plan,the Wilmington and Helena entering Manzanillo by North channel, Scorpion and Osceola by middle channel, Hist,Hornet and Wompatuck by South channel.

     3.   The Hist, Hornet and Wompatuck fired on adjacent keys while entering,to clear out soldiers. All arriving within firinf [i.e., firing] distance of Manzanillo about the same time, firw [i.e., fire] as opened on shipping about 5:20 at long range,the range being reduced gradually.

     4.   The following vessels were destroyed: Gun vessels, “Maria Ponton”, Delgado Perado”, “Jose Garcia” and “Cuba Espanol3 burned also transport “Gloria4 and merchant steamer “Purissima Concepcion”. The “Estralia” “Guantanamo”, “Guardien” and “Sentinel Delgado” destroyed and beached in shallow water.5 Perhaps other vessels that I do not know of.

     5.   It was not intended to do any damage to the city,but vessels being anchored close in, considerable injury was probabl done to water front by shells going high.

     6.   The Hornet fired at and is known to have struck each and all of these vessels several times,the aim of the gun captains being remarkably good.

     7.   According to plans of Senior Officer there was to be no attempt made to reduce the shore batteries, but toward close of the engagement, the Hornet being close in,was opened on by them with a vigorous fire. The Hornet returned same briskly.

     8.   At 11:20 Wilmington hoisted general recall and all vessels retired by same channels which they entered, the Hornet turning under fire ovf [i.e., of] the batteries.

     9.   The Hornet fired 429-6pdr. shells, 259-1 pdr. and 60 .303 cal. from Hotchkiss Automatic guns.

     10.  There was no damage either to vessel or personnel. Ammunitions and guns worked well. Wind W.N.W. and light. Sea smooth. Ship worked well.

     11.  Ensign Fewell6 commanded forward division and had general supervision. Ensign Earle7 connec [i.e., conned] ship. Naval Cadet Owen8 commanded after division.

     12.  Every officer and man did his duty as I understand it.

Very respectfully,          

J.M. Helm,             

Lieut. U. S. N.   

Commanding.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 44. Addressed below close: “Rear Admiral/W.T.Sampson,U.S.N./Commander-in-Chief,/U.S.Naval Force,/N.A.Station.”

Footnote 1: It appears that Helm was referring to Article 437 that mandated captains of ships involved in a battle or action make a report on the service of the vessel and its crew in that battle along with an “accurate and explicit" account of the conditions when the battle was fought and “all munitions” expended. Regulations for the Government of the Navy of the United States, 1896 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Officer, 1896), 63, 98. Article 475 concerned liberty and monthly money lists. Ibid., 102.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Chapman C. Todd, who commanded the gunboat Wilmington.

Footnote 3: The gunboat Cuba Española was not destroyed. Helm misidentified some of the gunboats. They were: Pontón Maria, Delgado Parejo, and Cuba Española. See: Capt. Caspar F. Goodrich to RAdm. William T. Sampson, 13 August 1898,

Footnote 4: Elsewhere, this vessel is identified as El Gloria. See: Todd to Sampson, 18 July 1898. The correct spelling for merchant steamer is Purisima Concepción.

Footnote 5: The correct spelling for these small gunboats are: Estrella, Guantánamo, Guardián. This is the only mention the editors have found of the Sentinel Delgado. Possibly he was referring to the Spanish auxiliary gunboat Centinela.

Footnote 6: En. Christopher C. Fewel.

Footnote 7: En. Ralph Earle.

Footnote 8: Cadet Alfred C. Owen.

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