Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant Edward M. Hughes to Commander Edward P. Wood

U.S.S.“PETREL

Off KCavite, Manila Bay,

May 2d, 1898.

Sir:-

     In accordance with the requirements of Article 525, U.S.Navy Regulations,1 I have the honor to submit the following report concerning the part taken by this vessel in the general action fought yesterday, off  KeCavite, in Manila Bay.

     The ship was gradually cleared for action, this work having been begun in Hongkong when the fore and fore topsail yards, fore trysail gaff, ladders, diving outfit, part of the running rigging, etc., were placed on board the transport “NANSHAN”, and completed the day before the squadron entered Manila Bay. In the operation of preparing the ship for action, certain articles and material in the Equipment and Construction departments were necessarily thrown overboard; among these may be mentioned all of the varnishes, inflammable paints and oils, tar, turpentine, etc., lumber, two boat’s strongbacks, one turpentine chest, one ice chest, one large hammock-box, the carpenter’s bench, etc.2 During the action the discharge of the after 6-inch guns shattered the gig and first whaleboat, and they were out adrift, carrying with them their outfits complete. These boats have been temporarily replaced by two taken from the enemy.

     No description of the manoeuvres during the action is included in this report. As regards the “PETREL”, the first shot was fired at 5:22 A.M., and the last one before hauling off for breakfast, as fired at 7:30 A.M. The times of beginning and finishing the firing during the second part of the action were respectfully 11:30 A.M. and 12:30 P.M., at which latter time the Spanish flag on the Arsenal sheers in KeCavite was hauled down.

     The return of ammunition expended will be made by the Ordnance officer, but approximately, about one third of the entire supply on board for the 6-inch guns was expended, including a large proportion of common shell and full charges. So far as could be observed, the fuses acted exceedingly well, all the shell bursting. Some complaint was made by the officers commanding gun divisions that the primers frequently failed, both electric and percussion.

     The bearing of all on board was satisfactory in the extreme, and I can specially call attention to no one in this connection. With little excitement, a quiet enthusiasm and the utmost steadiness prevailed throughout the ship’s company. The practice of the gun-captains was excellent, being both deliberate and precise.

     After the action was over, in obedience to your instructions, boat’s crews from this vessel burned the following Spanish ships lying in KeCavite harbor; the protected cruiser “Don Juan de Austria”, 1,160 tons, “Isla de Luzon”, 1,050 tons, “Isla de Cuba”, 1,050 tons, the gunboats “General Leza”, 520 tons, “Marques del Duevo”, 500 tons, “El Correo” and one (not engine), name unknown.3

     On rejoining the squadron the “PETREL” towed from KeCavite to the enchorage off Manila two small tugs - The “Rapido” and “Hercules” - and three steam launches which were this morning turned over to the flagship.

     No casualties occurred on board. The Vessel was not hit, save for a scratch on the stem, and no repairs will be necessary. That part of the equipment sacrificed in clearing for action should be replaced.

     Very respectfully,

Edwd M Hughes

Lieutenant U.S.N,

Executive Officer.

Source Note: CyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 363. Addressed below close: “To the/Commanding Officer,/U.S.S. “PETREL.” Document was edited to include lines under ship names and for spelling of certain words.

Footnote 1: Article 525 requires the submission of an after action report.

Footnote 3: That is, General Lezo, the transport Manila, and gunboat Elcano.

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