Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant Commander George P. Colvocoresses to Commander Asa Walker

U.S.S. Concord, 3rd Rate,

Manila Bay,     

May 3rd, 1898.

Sir:

     I have the honor to submit the following report of the action in Manila Bay.

     At 12.25 A.M., May 1st, 1898 the Concord,  being in her assigned position in the column1 and cleared for action, entered the Boca Grande; while passing El Fraile a rocket was fired and soon followed by a shot from a battery on shore. This ship returned the fire; a second shot from the battery passed between our main and mizzen mast and over: we fired again after which the battery did not reply.

     At 12.45 A.M. we fired at a moving light on the starboard quarter and it was extinguished.

     At 5.05 A.M. while approaching the anchorage off Manila we were fired upon by a shore battery and two shots were exchanged; we also fired at a supposed torpedo boat that ran out from KCavite and was sunk by the Olympia’s guns. Another boat made for the Olympia but meeting a warm reception turned, ran on the beach, and was abandoned.

     The squadron in splendid order turned to the right2 when off the city and advanced on the Spanish fleet which appeared in line of battle off Sangley Point in Carñacao Bay, they opened upon us at once but most of their shots fell short. As we steamed past the enemy’s lines each vessel of our squadron delivered fire from her port battery and the effect was soon apparent; the ensign of a cruiser, which we took to be the Reina Christina, was shot away but hoisted again, and she took fire at 7.25 A.M. apparently from the effects of a shell from the Concord’s third division, and the fire hose could be seen playing aloft.

     Three complete turns were made by our squadron in front of the enemy’s line, the ship’s firing whenever the guns would bear.

     At 7.40 A.M. we ceased firing in obedience to signal from the commander-in-chief and at 8.10 A.M. the crews went to breakfast. At this time several of the enemy’s ships were in flames and explosions took place on board one of them, some were sinking and others withdrawing for protection behind Cañacao and KCavite.

     At 8.30 in obedience to a signal from the flag(+)ship, “Concord go in and see what ships are on fire,” this vessel promptly proceeded towards the Spanish line, but the order was annulled.

     At 9.25 a loud report was heard which came from one of the Spanish cruisers and was followed by flames and smoke.

     At 11.45 A.M. our squadron again stood in for the enemy, when signal was made for the Concord to destroy a large transport3 that was anchored well inside in shallow water and where there were a number of fish-weirs; in passing we fired with great effect at the curtain of the fort at KCavite and at two Spanish vessels. At this time the battery work of all our divisions was most excellent exhibiting all the coolness and purecision of ordinary target practice. On arriving within 2500 yards of the transport we commenced firing with main and secondary batteries and at the first round about ten boats loaded with men were seen to leave her and land on the beach.

     At 12.25 not a Spanish flag was flying in the harbor except from the staff of the sunken cruiser Don Antonio De Ulloa, submerged behind Sangley Point; the Reina Cristina was a mass of flames and sunk near the Castoin Castion at KCavite and the Castilla was burning rapidly in CañacaoBay, the remaining vessels of the Spanish fleet sought refuge behind the arsenal and several of them were on fire; the guns at KCavite and Sangbay batteries had almost ceased firing and a white flag appeared on the shoars at the arsenal.

     The Concord continued firing at the transport in obedience to signal and to hasten operations the first cutter and whale boat in charge of Ensign Kaiser4 and Davidson,5 armed for cutting out, were got in the water, the former from the skid-beams, with the greatest promptitude and provided with inflammables, but before they got any distance it was discovered that the transport was on fire and the boats were recalled and hoisted in. At 1.45 we started to rejoin the squadron but were ordered to go to Petrel at KCavite, where she had been sent to destroy the vessels at the arsenal. She signaled as we anchored, “Have destroyed eight vessels here.” White flags were flying at various points on shore and there was no longer any resistance. The Boston joined us at 5.30.

During the engagement a number of shot and shell passed over and near us, but neither the vessel nor her crew received damage from the enemy.

The blocks of the whale boats falls and a chest hanging over the quarter, several panes of glass and some crockery were injured by the concussion of our own guns.

The zeal, energy and steadiness displayed by all the men and officers while under fire are deserving of the greatest praise and the thorough and efficient working of the battery, the promptness of the ammunition supply, the completeness of preparations for the care of the sick and wounded, and the perfect working of the engines and mechanical devices reflect the highest credit upon each of the officers of divisions and heads of departments of the ship under your command.

                   Respectfully, Your obedient servant.,

                                  G.P. Colvocoresses,

                             Lieut. Comdr., U.S. Navy.

                             and Executive Officer.

Source Note: CyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 363. Addressed below close: “To/Commander. Asa Walker,/Commanding “Concord”.”

Footnote 1: Concord was the fifth ship in the line. The order was: Olympia, Baltimore, Raleigh, Petrel, Concord, and Boston.

Footnote 2: The fleet initially headed due east and then turned due south.

Footnote 3: The transport ship was Mindanao.

Footnote 4: Ens. Louis A. Kaiser.

Footnote 5: Ens. William C. Davidson.

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