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Captain Joseph B. Coghlan to Commodore George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Squadron

U.S.S. RALEIGH,         

Off Manila, Luzon,   

May 4, 1898. 


     I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this vessel of your squadron during the engagement with the Spanish squadron and shore batteries at KCavite near Manila, on the morning of May 1st, 1898:-

     1. At about 12:10 a.m., of May 1st; when passing in column, natural order, abreast of El Fraile Island at the entrance to the bay, I observed a flash as of a signal thereon, and at about 12:15 a.m., a shot was fired from ElFraile, passing, as I think, diagonally between the PETREL and this vessel. A shot was fired in return, but without effect by the starboard after 5” gun of this vessel.

     2. At 5:00 a.m., when the Squadron was nearly abreast the city of Manila, and the Flagship was turning to pass down toward KCavite, the Lunetta Battery, of apparently heavy guns, at Manila, opened fire, and continued so long as the Squadron was in action. This vessel shifted position from starboard to port (inside) quarter of the BALTIMORE, and held that position until retired at 7:35 a.m. At a few minutes after 5:00 a.m., this vessel, so soon as the Spanish vessels at Kavite bore on the port bow, opened fire with the 6” gun, and then with the 5” guns in succession as fast as they would bear. The secondary battery guns did not seem to reach the enemy, and their fire was soon stopped, and not again used until the distance was considerably lessened. At 11:20 a.m., when signal was made to re-engage, this vessel started ahead full speed, (using reserve speed) to keep up with the Flagship, but it was found to be impossible, and falling behind all the time, I cut across to gain line abreast of KCavite Battery just as the Flagship passed the BALTIMORE at that port, at which time we opened fire with all guns. At 12:00, in obedience to signal, this vessel attempted to get into the inner harbor to destroy enemy’s vessels, but getting into shoal water, 20 feet, was obliged to withdraw and so reported. While attempting to get inside, the battery was used on an enemy vessel at anchor, (supposed to be the Don Antonio de Ulloa), until she sank. Not being able to find a channel further inside, and everything in sight having been destroyed, this vessel, at 1:30 p.m., withdrew, and later anchored near the Flagship. I enclose a statement of the ammunition expended during the engagement.

     3. I am very pleased to report that the officers and crew behaved splendidly,-each and every one seemed anxious to do his whole duty, and so far as I can learn, did it. Their whole conduct was beyond praise.

     4. This vessel was struck but once, and then by a six-pounder shell which passed through both sides of the whale boat, (above her water line), and then glanced along the chase of the starboard six-pounder on our poop. The gun was not injured, and the whale boat but slightly and she is again ready for service.

     5. I am happy to report that there were no casualties of any kind.

     6. This vessel at the close of the engagement was in as good condition as when it began, and without any preparation, could have fought it over again.

     7. In conclusion permit me to congratulate you upon the very brilliant victory you achieved over a naval force nearly equal to your own and backed by extensive shore batteries of very heavy guns and this without the loss of a single life. History points to no greater achievement.

Very respectfully,

J.B. Coghlan 

Captain, U.S. Navy,


Source Note: CyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 363. Addressed below close: “Commodore Gerge Dewey, U.S. Navy,/Commander-in-Chief/U.S. Naval Force/Asiatic Station.” Document features later editing by an unknown person which includes: spelling, underlining ship names, and striking paragraph numbers.

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