Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Henry C. Taylor to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U.S.S.INDIANA, 1st Rate,

Off Santiago de Cuba,

July 6,1898.

Sir:-

     1. I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the INDIANA in the action of July 3rd with the Spanish Squadron off Santiago de Cuba.

     2. At 9:37 a.m. while the crew were at quarters preliminary to General Muster, noted two guns fired from the IOWA and general signal “Enemy’s ships escaping” flying. At once cleared ship for action and the crew were at guns in a remarkably short time; the officers and men showing an alacrity that indicated clearly their pleasure at the opportunity offered them.

     3. The Spanish squadron was seen emerging from the harbor, and in a few moments a general action ensued. The leading ship which proved to be the INFANTA Maria Teresa, flying the flag of Vice Admiral Cervera was followed by the other vessels of the squadron as follows:-VISCAYA, CRISTOBAL COLON, OQUENDO, and the torpedo boat destroyers, FUROR, and PLUTON.1 The enemy’s vessels headed to the westward and our ships headed in the same direction keeping as nearly [abreast] of them as possible.

     4. This ship fired on all of them as they came out one by one and [continued] the action later by firing principally on the Maria Teresa, OQUENDO, FUROR, and PLUTON. Several of our shells were seen to take effect on these vessels. Our secondary battery guns were directed principally on the destroyers as also were th 6” guns. The destroyers were sunk through the agency of our guns and those of the GOUCESTER which vessel had come up and engaged them close aboard.

     5. The initial fire of the last two ships was directed at this vessel and although falling very close, only striking the ship twice without an injury to ship or crew.

     6. Our ranges were obtained by stadimeter angles on Morro as the ships emerged, and then by angles on the tops of the rear ships The ranges were from 4500 to 2000 yards observed from the top. From the bridge I could see that our shooting was excellent and showed its effect. One of our 15” shells was seen to enter the Maria Teresa under the quarterdeck and explode, and that ship was observed on fire very shortly afterward.

     7. About 10:15 a.m. onserved [i.e. observed] the Maria Teresa and OQUENDO on fire and heading for the beach, the fire from their guns having ceased. We then2 devoted our special attention to prevent the escape of the destroyers which appeared more than a match for the GLOUCESTER, she being th[e] only small vessel near to engage them. They were soon seen to blow up, apparently struck by our 8” and 6-pdrs. We now fired our large guns at the VISCAYA which was at long range, she made for the shore soon after on fire and battery silenced. These ships hauled down their colors as they made for the beach. The Spanish flagship hoisted the white flag as she grounded.

     8. We now ceased firing. The COLON was observed well over the western horizon closely pursued by the BROOKLYN, OREGON and TEXAS, off shore of her. The FLAGSHIP NEW YORK, steaming full speed to the westward as soon as the VISCAYA surrendered signaled us “Go back and guard entrance of harbor”. Several explosions were observed on board the burning ships. At noon turned and stood to the eastward for our station in obedience to the above signal. Observed the HARVARD and several transport standing to the westward.

     9. About 12:30 the RESOLUTE came within hail and informed us by megaphone that a Spanish battleship was sighted to the eastward standing toward us. Later the HARVARD passed confirming the information and adding that the ship was painted white. We made out the vessel ahead and stood for her with our guns bearing. She proved to be the Austrian armored cruiser Kaiserin Maria Teresa. She sent an officer on board and requested permission to enter the harbor. I referred him to the Commander-in-Chief. She then stood on to the westward and we resumed our station.

     10. During this action we used no armor piercing shell, except the smokeless powder 6-pdrs and the good effect of the common shell is shown by the fires on the enemy’s ships and the short time taken to disable them without piercing their armor and with almost no injury to our ships.

     11. The guns and mounts worked well, only two failures of electric primers noted.

     12. During the afternoon sent boats with surgeon on shore to the burning vessels to assist in caring for the wounded. The boats returned bringing one wounded officer and 17 men as prisoner.

     13. Received also during the afternoon and night prisoners from the GLOUCESTER and HIST, in all 7 officers and 217 men, which were today transferred to the St. LOUIS.

     14. The conduct of the officers and crew was in every respect commendable, coolness and good discipline prevailed, coupled with a marked enthusiasm. This desirable condition of affairs is largely due to the efforts of the officers and I desire to commend to the Commander-in-Chief the Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander John A. Rodgers and all the officers of the ship for the part taken by the INDIANA in bringing about this great victory, and the complete destruction of the enemy’s squadron.

 Very respectfully,              

H. C. Taylor           

Captain Commanding.    

Source Note: TDS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 233. Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief,/U.S.Naval Force on North Atlantic Station.” Document features a hand drawn map showing INDIANA’s position at the beginning of the battle. Endorsement: “To accompany his/original report/W.T.Sampson/REAR ADMIRAL/COMMANDER IN CHIEF U. S. NAVAL FORCE/NORTH ATLANTIC STATION.” Stamps on endorsement page indicates document was received by the “BUREAU OF NAVIGATION.” Stamp on first page indicates the document was “RECEIVED” by the flag-ship.

Footnote 1: That is, RAdm. PascualCervera y Topete’s squadron. Infanta Maria Teresa, Vizcaya, Christóbal Colón, Almirante Oquendo, Furor and Plutón.

Footnote 2: “then,” is a handwritten interlineation of uncertain origin.

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