Lieutenant Frank H. Newcomb (R.C.S.) to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long
U. S. Steamer “Hudson, (2)”
Key West, Fla.
May 13 1898
I have the honor to submit the following report of the participation by this vessel in the engagement with the Spanish forces at Cardenas on the 11th instant.
At 11.30 am, while off the main entrance to Cardenas Bay, the “Hudson” was ordered by the senior officer1 present to accompany the U.S.S. “Wilmington”, and the U.S.T.B. “Winslow” inside. All three vessels started immediately, and after some preliminary soundings to determine the best water, passed through Blanco Channel into the Bay and headed for Cardenas. About 1 pm, when abreast of CorojalPoint, the “Hudson” was ordered by Comdg Officer, U.S.S. “Wilmington”2 to “go out and look at small craft.” Steamed over toward Diana Cay and skirted the western shore of the Bay. Discovered no vessels, and observing that the “Wilmington” and “Winslow” were nearing Cardenas, at 1.35 pm steamed toward them at full speed. At 1.45 when a little over a mile distant from our vessels saw firing commence from the shore, which was immediately returned by our ships. At 1.50 when within range of the shore guns, the “Hudson” opened fire upon them with her two 6 Pdrs. Observing that the “Winslow” was quite close in shore and exposed to the full strength of the enemy’s guns, ran up alongside of the “Wilmington”, and asked if we should go to her assistance (“Winslow”). Received the answers “Yes”, and immediately steamed into the immediate vicinity of the “Winslow”, Keeping up a constant and rapid fire from the “Hudson’s” battery upon the enemy’s guns on shore. At 2.20 Comdg Officer “Winslow”3 reported his vessel totally disabled and requested to be towed out of range. Owing to the shoal water and the rapid drift toward shore of the “Winslow” (the wind was on shore) it was fully 30 minutes before the “Hudson” succeeded in making a line fast from the “Winslow”, and starting ahead with her. The enemy Kept up a constant fire during this time, which appeared to be especially directed toward the “Winslow”, which was returned at every opportunity by the Winslow and “Hudson”. The “Winslow” was towed alongside the “Wilmington”, from which vessel a boat was sent with a medical officer,4 who transferred the dead and wounded5 from the “Winslow” to the “Wilmington”. Finally, at about 3.30 pm, all three vessels steamed out of the Bay, the “Winslow” in tow of the “Hudson”. At about dark found the U.S.S. “Machias” outside, when the “Winslow” was anchored. At 9:15 pm the “Hudson” started for Key West with dispatches for the senior officer commanding that station,7 and carrying the dead and wounded from the “Winslow”. Reported to the Senior Officer commanding at Key West at 7.10, on the morning of the 12th instant.
The only damage resulting to the “Hudson” during the engagement, were a few slight marks from small projectiles two of the fireroom ventilators, and a few bullet marks upon the outside of the pilot house plating. 135 shells were fired from the two 6-Pdrs during the action.
Frank H Newcomb
1st Lieut. R.C.S. Comdg.
Source Note: ALS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 229. Addressed before opening: “Hon. Secretary of the Navy/Washington, D.C.” Addressed below close: “The Senior Officer/Comdg Naval Station/Key West, Fla.” Docketed: “U.s. Revenue Cutter Service/Steamer Hudson (2)/Port of Key West, Fla./May 13, 1898/Frank H Newcomb/1st Lieut. R.C.S. Comdg./SUBJECT/Report of the participation of/Hudson in engagement/with Spanish forces at/Cardenas on 11th instant./No. of Inclosures,/Naval Base,/U.S.F.S.Miantonomoh,/Key West, Fla.,/May 13, 1898./Respectfully forwarded to the/Department/George C Remey/Commodore Commanding.” Stamp: “BUREAU OF NAVIGATION” stamp dating to 16 May 1898 with the number “111566,” in the middle of the stamp is. Note: The letter was written on the stationary of the United States Revenue Cutter Service and the first page features the seal of the Revenue Cutter Service, two anchors crossed behind a circular seal with another circle inside of it. The outer circle had “REVENUE CUTTER SERVICE 1780” in type along the interior edge and the inner circle features a shield with emblazoned with scale.
Footnote 1: Comdr. John F. Merry.
Footnote 2: Comdr. Chapman C. Todd.
Footnote 3: Lt. John B. Bernadou.
Footnote 4: Wilmington Medical Officer
Footnote 5: The casualties on the Winslow were reported by Commo. George C. Remey to the Secretary of the Navy John D. Long on 13 May 1898. Remey reported:
Ensign Bagley was fatally wounded and died before he could be brought on board the Wilmington. John Varvares, Oiler, and John Deneefe, first class fireman, were killed on board the Winslow. Two other men were fatally wounded, one of them, J.V. Meek, first class fireman, died in a boat while being transferred to [the Wilmington]; the other, Josiah Tunell, Ship’s Cook first class, after being brought on board. Remey to Long, 13 May 1898, DNA, AFNRC, May 1898, M625, Roll 229.
Footnote 6: Commo. George C. Remey, Commandant, Key West Naval Base.