Lieutenant Commander Frederic Singer to Commander Joseph B. Coghlan
U.S.S. RALEIGH, 2nd Rate,
In compliance with Art, 525, U. S. Navy Regulations, I have the honor to submit to you the following report of incidents regarding the Naval action fought in Manila Bay, off Canacaobay and Sangley Point near town of Kavite on May 1st, 1898, between the U. S. Naval force under Commodore Dewey and the Spanish Philippine fleet.
The U. S. fleet approached the Southern entrance to Manila Bay about midnight April 30, flagship Olympia leading, column natural order,1 followed by Baltimore, RALEIGH, Petrel, Concord and Boston, the U.S. Revenue Cutter H. Mc Cullogh, and transports Nanshan and Zafiro, following in their wake.
At 12:10 a.m., May 1st, this ship had just passed El Fraile rock when a shot fired from that point passed over and was followed by another; we answered with one common shell from star’d 5” R.F., on poop;2 vessels following also gave this battery some attention and no more guns were fired by battery at that point.
The speed in passing through the channel was five knots, then reduced by signal to four, while standing up the bay.
The fleet arrived off Manila at day light. The enemy’s fleet of seven vessels was anchored at mouth of Canacao bay to Eastward of Sangley point. Flagship headed for them and signal to commence action was made at 4:55 a.m.; the column order was preserved and this ship following the Baltimore commenced firing as soon as the 6” gun on the forecastle could be brought to bear, (about 5:35 a.m.)
Guns were fired from Manila but were too far off --all shot falling very short. The 5” guns of our port battery followed the 6” in a few moments and were handled with a great rapidity. The 6 and 1 pdrs., were directed to attend to a white launch steaming out towards the fleet and they sent her back in a few minutes --she was run ashore on beach to Westward of Sangley point.
Following Baltimore we stood past the enemy’s line to the wd, then turned with port helm, passed again, giving them and battery near Sangley point our Starboard guns. These tactics were adhered to and fleet made four ovals engaging alternately with port and starboard battery, at distances varying from about 1,200 to 4,500 yards.
At 7:35 the fleet withdrew from action in obedience to signal, steered towards middle of bay and we piped to breakfast.
During this action, as far as possible, the fire of the guns of this vessel was concentrated on the Reina Christina until near Sangley point, when the Castilla was made the target; these two vessels being the largest and on the extremes of the enemy’s line.
There were no casualties aboard the RALEIGH and no damage sustained in the hull; we were struck but once by the enemy, a shell passed through the whale boat, swung in on port side of quarterdeck, and through an awning around the boat, and then diagonally across the poop, glanced on barrel of stb’d six pdr., on poop and exploded beyond; the six pdr., was on unengaged side and its crew attending to other stations, the captain of gun was at speaking tube at for’d end of poop and had a narrow escape (he is also cox.,3 of the injured whale boat). The 6 pdr., was cast loose ready for manning and spun around on its cage stand several times. The hole in the whale boat measured 4.5” in diameter (smallest).
The enemy’s fire slackened considerably soon after the commencement of action; they seemed to be overwhelmed by the avalanche of projectiles from the R.F. guns.
The total number of projectiles fired from the RALEIGH during the action was 570 or at the rate of 4.75 per min.; of this, 300 were from the 5” R.F., guns, making their average 2.5 shell per min., two hundred and thirty were fired by the 6 and 1 pdrs., forty rounds were fired from the 6” B.L.4
The fire was much more rapid at the beginning of the action; as soon as it was observed that the enemy ceased to reply with spirit, the bugle sounded “cease firing” frequently to keep down the expenditure of ammunition.
In this correction, I desire to call your attention to the conduct of John Riley (B.M.1.C.)5 Captain of No.4, 5” R.F. gun; he was distinguished above all other gun captains by the coolness with which he handled his piece, refusing to fire except when he was certain that his shots would tell, and making them tell. I recommend him for promotion to Chief Boatswain’s Mate, and think this recognition would have a good effect on others.
At 10:40 the Reina Christina was observed to be on fire and continued to burn until she sank. At 11:20 started in again the Baltimore leading, followed by Olympia and RALEIGH and the other vessels to silence battery near Sangleypoint, which was done promptly, and at 12 Merid., in obedience to signal steamed in towards Kavite to destroy remainder of shipping. The Castilla was all aflame, and the Reina Christina had sunk; RALEIGH stood in until she took the ground shelled and sank the cruiser, D. Antonio Ulloa.6 The other Spanish vessels left afloat had withdrawn behind and were masked by Kavite arsenal too far in for us to uncover them.
At 2:35 followed Olympia and Baltimore up the Bay towards the Lunetta battery at Manila, which however, did not open fire, and we came to anchor at 2:57 p.m., off Manila; the lighter draught vessels finishing up the work at Kavite.
There was no casualty during the second action and this ship was not struck by any projectile.
Expended thirteen (13) 6”, fifty-one (51) 5”, and 7, 6 pdr., shells: total expenditure for the day:-
6” - 5” - 6 pdrs. - 1 pdr. - Total
53 - 341 - 137 - 100 - 631
SGD F. Singer,
Lt.Comdr., U.S.N., Ex.Off.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 363. Addressed below close: “To/Captain J. B. Coghlan, U.S.N,/Commanding RALEIGH.” Docketed: “Lt. Comdr. Singers Report of May 1st, 1898/Report of 1st Luietenant/U.S.S. RALEIGH/Battle of Manila.” Endorsed: “Puget Sound Naval Station/Bremerton, Wash. Apr. 10th 1900/I certify the above to be a true copy of the report of Lt. Comdr F. Singer USN as Executive Officer of the U.S.S. RALEIGH at the Battle of Manila Bay, May 1st 1898./J.B. Coghlan Capt, USN./Late Comdg U.S.S. RALEIGH.”
Footnote 1: The Encyclopedia of Nautical Knowledge defines the use of “Natural” as: “In accordance with or governed by law or design.” In this case “natural order” refers to the order of ships and their heading being arranged in advance of the battle. A.H. Lewis & William Alvin McEwen, Encyclopedia of Nautical Knowledge (Cambridge, MD: Cornel Maritime Press, 1953), 356.
Footnote 2: 5” Rapid Fire gun on the top most deck in the stern.
Footnote 3: Coxswain.
Footnote 4: Breech-Loading.
Footnote 5: Boatswain Mate 1st Class.
Footnote 6: Spanish protected cruiser Don Antonio de Ulloa.