Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commodore George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Station, to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

United States Naval Force on Asiatic Station.

FLAGSHIP, OLYMPIA,

HONGKONG, MARCH 31, 1898.

Sir:

     1.   On receipt of your telegram of February 26th,1 the OLYMPIA, RALEIGH and PETREL were at this port, and the BOSTON and CONCORD were at Chemulpo,2 Korea. The two latter vessels were ordered here at once and arrived five days later.

     2.   Since that time the vessels have been kept full of the best coal obtainable, provisioned and ready to move at twenty-four hours notice. From inspections made during the past month, I find the squadron in a high state of efficiency.

     3.   I have been in communication with reliable persons in Manila3 and am able to give you what I believe to be a true account of the defenses of that place, which are as follows:

          (a)  The cruiser “RienaChristina” of 3520 tons.

          (b)  The wooden cruiser “Castilla”, of 3342 tons.

(c)  The gun-boats “Don Juan de Austria” and “Isla de Luzon” of 1130 and 1030 tons respectively.

(d)  About twelve armed tugs and launches for river service.

(e)  A battery of five or possibly six VI-inch guns on Corregidor Island, at the entrance to Manila Bay, 27 miles from the city. These guns have only been mounted during the last month. There is a clear channel on each side of this island, one two and the other five miles in width.

(f)  A small and weak battery at Kavite,4 the naval station, seven miles by water from the city.

(g)  Batteries similar to the last along the water front of the city itself, and a small fort at the entrance to the Pasig River.

(h)  About 15,000 soldiers of all arms in all the Islands, of which half are in the vicinity of Manila. The islands are now in a state of insurrection, and my informants state that even the Spanish soldiers, which constitute only a small part of the whole, are disaffected. Both ships and forts are in need of ammunition.

4.   I believe I am not over-confident in stating that with the squadron now under my command the vessels could be taken and the defenses of Manila reduced in one day.

5.   There is every reason to believe that with Manila taken or even blockaded, the rest of the islands would fall either to the insurgents or ourselves, as they are only held now through the support of the Navy and are dependent upon Manila for supplies.

6.   Information has just reached me that there are 5000 armed rebels encamped near Manila, who are willing to assist us.5

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

George Dewey

Commodore, U.S. Navy,

Commanding U.S. Naval Force on Asiatic Station.

Source Note: CyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 362. Addressed after close: “The Secretary of the Navy,/Washington, D.C./[Bureau of Navigation].” Copy sent to the Bureau of Navigation. Document reference: “No.128-D.” Copy on: “United States Naval Force on Asiatic Station,” stationary.

Footnote 2: Chemulpo is modern day Incheon.

Footnote 3: Dewey is referring to American and British ship captains and the United States Consul at Manila Oscar F. Williams. Williams sent coded cables and letters almost daily to Dewey throughout the month of March 1898, detailing the situation in Manila. For example see: Williams to Dewey, 11 March 1898.

Footnote 4: Cavite.

Footnote 5: Williams was the source of this information. See: Williams to Dewey, 30 March 1898.

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