Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

North Atlantic Fleet Squadron Bulletin No. 20

Squadron Bulletin.

U. S. Flagship New York.         Off Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.

SATURDAY, JULY 2, 1898.

THE day was chiefly marked by a very animated bombardment in the morning by the fleet, beginning at 5.49 and lasting until 7.45. The ships were, beginning at the eastward, the Gloucester, New York, Newark, Indiana, Oregon, Iowa, Massachusetts, <Texas>, Brooklyn, <<Suwanee and>> Vixen. It was specially desired to fire at the Punta Gorda Battery1 and particular attention after silencing the batteries was paid to this point by the battleships which were directed close to the entrance.

The Morro suffered very severely, being extensively damaged on the South. East. corner. The flagstaff was shot away, it was thought by the Oregon, though the Indiana may have a claim to the exploit, both being close under the Castle2 at the time. The bombardment was with a view to demonstrate at the same time the Army attacked, but the proposed assault was not made.3

The Chief of Staff paid a visit to Sibouney4 with a view to arranging for a consultation between the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet and the Commanding General,5 and while there saw some 200 prisoners brought in. Perhaps three-fourths were Cubans, being of those known as Mobilzados,6 but all Spaniards and Cubans showed emaciation from want of food. They were in pitiable plight in every way.7

Some 400 wounded of our Army men were in the improvised hospitals (tents) near the beach.

Lieutenant Young8 arrived in the Hist. This vessel, with the Hornet and Wompatuck, had had a very lively fight at Manzanillo with the Spanish gunboats at that point, and one off Neguero Bay near there; this latter was apparently beached and blown up. The three vessels entered Manzanillo Bay and found five or six armed vessels at anchor and soldiers at many points ashore; one gunboat was reputed blown up in the Bay. The Hornet had a shot through her steam-pipe and had to be towed out by the Wompatuck. She returned here, however, under her own steam. Though subjected to a very heavy fire there were no casualties from this, the only injuries to the men being the scalding of F. Madsen, S. Bakker, and P. Griffin, of the Engineer force aboard the Hornet.9

The Hornet captured the small steamer Benito Estenger, leaving Manzanillo and two schooners loaded with provisions and attempting to run the blockade.10

<<The Newark, with the broad pennant of Commodore Watson,11 left for Guantanamo for coal and repairs to gun mounts.>>

Source Note: Printed, DNA, RG 313, Entry 56. This bulletin was produced on a printing press on New York (the flagship of RAdm. William T. Sampson’s North Atlantic fleet) and was distributed to the vessels. It is listed as number 20 in, Squadron Bulletins, 38-40. The word in single angle brackets was a handwritten addition. The words in double angle brackets were taken from the printed version of this bulletin.

Footnote 1: The Punta Gorda battery was part of the fortifications protecting the entrance to the harbor at Santiago de Cuba. It was on the east side of the entrance, just beyond Cay Smith and where the entrance began to widen.

Footnote 2: The fortification at the Santiago de Cuba harbor entrance was familiarly known as El Morro, however, its official name was Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca (also Castillo del Morro or San Pedro de la Roca Castle).

Footnote 3: Historian Graham Cosmas suggests that Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter did not plan an assault, but, instead, was contemplating a troop withdrawal. Army for Empire, 215-16.

Footnote 4: That is, Siboney, Cuba.

Footnote 5: The Chief of Staff was Capt. French E. Chadwick; the Commander-in-Chief was RAdm. William T. Sampson; and the Commanding General was Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter.

Footnote 6: That is, Movilizadoes, which were volunteer troops akin to militiamen. David Sartorius, Ever Faithful: Race, Loyalty, and the Ends of Empire in Spanish Cuba. [Durham, N.C., Duke University Press, 2013], 204.

Footnote 7: There were shortages of food and supplies in Santiago de Cuba even before the American fleet began its blockade and conditions only worsened as the blockade and the siege continued. See, Víctor M. Concas y Palau, The Squadron of Admrial Cervera, Office of Naval Intelligence, War Notes No. VIII, Information from Abroad (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1900), 52-53 and 60.

Footnote 8: Lt. Lucien Young.

Footnote 9: For more information on this engagement at Manzanillo, see: Carl W. Jungen to Sampson, 1 July 1898.

Footnote 10: In addition to the steamer Benito Esgenger, Hornet on 30 June captured the British vessel E.R. Nickerson and the Spanish sailing vessel Farragut. See: Prize List for Vessels of the North Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 11: Commo. John C. Watson, Commander, Eastern Squadron.

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