Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Frank Wildes to Commodore George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Squadron

U.S.S.BOSTON” ,2nd Rate,  

PORT CAVITE, MANILA BAY,

MAY 3rd 1898

Sir:-

     I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this vessel in the late action with the Spanish Fleet on the morning of May 1st.

     At daylight the merchant ships off Manila were seen, and soon after the Spanish Fleet close in to Cavite: this vessel was the sixth in the column and brought up the rear. Several shots were fired by the batteries in Manila, and two shots were given in reply. At 5:35 action with the enemy commenced and was continued at varying distances, steaming in a circle until 7:35 A.M., firing with a fair degree of deliberation and accuracy. At times the smoke was dense interfering very materially with manoeuvering and firing.

     The Spanish fleet and shore batteries replied vigorously and an attempt was made with an improvised torpedo boat,1 but our fire was overpowering and the enemy received heavy damage and loss.

     In obedience to signal I withdrew from action at 7:35 and gave the crew breakfast and rest.

     At 11:30 the action was renewed and continued until the enemy ceased firing and his ships were all burned, sunk or withdrawn behind the Arsenal of Cavite.

     This vessel was struck four times by enemies shot doing no material damage. Our own fire destroyed 3 of our o[w]n boats and badly damaged 3 others.2

     No casualties occurred.

     The conduct of Officers and men on this trying occasion was of the very highest quality and they bore themselves with courage and spirit and entirely to my satisfaction. It also gives me pleasure to bear witness to the courage and resolution of the Spanish Fleet and to say that they defended themselves creditably.

Very respectfully,

Frank Wildes

CAPTAIN, U.S. Navy,

Commanding

Source Note: CyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 363. Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief,/Commanding U.S.Naval Force,/on Asiatic Station.” Document reference: “24-C” Docketed: “U.S.S. BOSTON, 2nd Rate/CAVITE, P.I./MAY 3rd, 1898/ Wildes, Frank./CAPTAIN, U.S.Navy,/Commanding./Report of the part taken by/this vessel in the recent action/with Spanish fleet.”

Footnote 1: This torpedo boat was actually an unarmed Filipino launch that was attempting to flee the battle. Spector, Admiral of the New Empire, 60.

Footnote 2: The damage to Baltimore’s boats was the result of the extreme vibration created by the force of firing the ships guns.

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