Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Nehemiah M. Dyer to Commodore George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Squadron

U.S.S. BALTIMORE

Manila, P.I.

May 41 th, 1898.

Sir:-

1.   I have the honor to make the following report, as required by Act 437 Navy Regulations,1 of the engagement of this ship with the Spanish fleet and shore batteries at Sangley Point, KCaviteBay, on the 1st inst.

2.   At early daylight the fleet had reached a point close up to the shipping off the city of Manila when the signal was made “prepare for general action”- Spanish batteries near old Manila opened fire at long range at about the same time - Flagship2 leading with port helm bore down on the right of the Spanish line of vessels formed in a somewhat irregular crescent at ancor, extending from off Sangley Point to the N.E. and in readiness to receive us - their left supported by the batteries on Sangley Point.

3.   Following your lead in close order our fire commenced with the port battery at about 5.40 A.M. at a distance of about 5000 yds

4.   Our column passed down the enemy’s line turning with port helm as their left was reached, engaging them with starboard battery on the return-this manoeuvre was performed three times at distances from the enemys ships varying from 2,600 to 5,000 yards, when you signaled to “withdraw from action” at 7.35.

5.   Upon reaching a convenient distance in the bay you signaled “Let the people go to breakfast” and at 8.40 “Commanding Officers repair on board the Flagship”.

6.   While on board the Flagship I received an order to intercept a steamer, coming up the bay, reported to be flying Spanish colors.

7.   Soon after starting on this duty I discovered the colors of the stranger to be British and so reported by signal - you having in the meantime made General signal to get underway and follow your motions- this ship being at the time some two2 miles to the S.S.W. of the Flagship on her way to intercept the supposed Spanish steamer.

8.   At 10.55 you made General signal “designated vessel will lead” with Baltimores distinguishing pennant, and in a few minutes signal to “Attack the enemys batteries or earthworks” and for fleet to “close up” - in obedience to which order this ship led in, with port starboard helm, to a position off the Canacoa and Sangley Pointbatteries and opened fire with starboard battery at a distance of about 2,800 yards closing into 2,200 between which and 2,700 our best work was done- slowing the ship dead slow, stopping the engines as range was obtained, delivering rapid and accurate fire upon the shore batteries and a gunboat just inside of SangleyPoint, since proven to have been the Donantoniode Ulloa-3 practically silencing the batteries in question before the fire of another ship became effective, owing to the lead we had obtained in our start for the supposed Spanish steamer.

9.   The fire of ships and batteries having been silenced and the white flag displayed on the arsenal buildings at KCavite, you signaled, at 1.20, to “prepare to anchor” and at 1.30 “Anchor at discretion”.

10. The victory was complete.

11.  The wind was light and variable during the first engagement, and from the N.E., force 2 to 3 during the second.4

12.  The firing devices gave considerable trouble, extrastere, star springs, and firing pins bending and breaking, and wedge blocks jammming - Electric firing attachments gave trouble by the grease and dirt incident to firing, insulating the connections, so much so that shortly after the engagement commenced they were abandoned for percussion but [with] coolness and steadiness replaced defective parts in the shortest possible time.

13.  The ammunition supply was ample, and the test was conclusive so long as electric hoists are uninjured.

14.  The behavior of Officers and men was beyond all praise ,the accuracy and rapidity of their fire you were an eye witness of, the steadiness and cool bearing of all on board, who came under my observation, was that of veterans.

15.  The fact that this ship was so rarely hit, gave few opportunities for conspicuous acts of heroism or daring, but the enthusiasm and cool steadiness of the men gave promise that they would have been equal to any emergency.

16.  I shall report later such detail of individual merit as had been mentioned by officers of division or that some under my own observation.

17.  I enclose5

     (a) Report of Executive Officer,

     (b) Surgeon report of casualties,

     (c) Carpenters report of damage,

     (d) Report of ammunition expended.

very respectfully,

N.M. Dyer

Captain U.S. Navy

Commanding   

Source Note: CyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 363. Addressed below close: “The Commander-In-Chief,/U.S. Naval Force,/Asiatic Station.” Document reference: “151-2 C.O.” Docketed: “Dyer, N.M./Report as required by Art 437 Navy Regulations 4 Enclosures.” Notation on page with docketing: “Respectfully returned to the Bureau of Navigation Charles O’Neil, Chief of Bureau of Ordnance Endorsed: A.S. Crowninshield”

Footnote 1: Navy Regulation 437 requires that after every battle, commanding officers prepare a:

. . .full report thereof as proscribed in ART 275. These reports must be accurate and explicit and contain all important details; the movements of ships should be illustrated; the force and direction of the wind and state of the sea given; the bearing, distance, and outlines of the land, if any is in sight, stated; and the efficiency of the ship and all munitions of war carefully noted.

Regulations for the Government of the Navy of the United States (Washington: Government Printing Officer, 1896), 98.

Footnote 2: The armored cruiser Olympia.

Footnote 3: Don Antonio de Ulloa.

Footnote 4: The speed of wind is measure on the Beaufort Scale.

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