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Commander Joseph G. Eaton to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet


U. S. S. Resolute,            

Guantanamo Bay,July 4th,1898.


     I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of this ship on Sunday,July 3rd.

     Arriving off Santiago at 6 A. M.,I reported in person on board the flagship to the Chief of Staff,1and from him received orders to remain in the vicinity until further order. While lying to the north-east of the line,just to the Eastward of the Indiana,we sighted the leading vessel of the Spanish fleet coming out. The same time the Iowa fired a shot.

     We at once headed the ship to the eastward,but had not got her steady on her course,before a 10” shell struck about forty feet from the starboard side of the ship abreast the pilot house,and a minute later a 6” shell struck about 70 ft. astern the ship. The next five minutes,a number of projectiles struck the water beyond and about her.

     Making all the speed possible I headed for Altares in order to communicate with the Commander-in-Chief. Before reaching Altares,I met the Flagship New York coming to the westward,and communicated to that the Spanish fleet were coming out and standing to the western pa[rt] of the line.

     Having then received your orders to proceed to Guantanamo I headed in that direction,signaling to the Harvard as we passed Altares that the Spanish fleet were coming out.2

     At 1020 when off Daiquiri,sighted a large man-of-war,painted a dingy white,with two funnels and two military tops, standing to the westward. On proceeding nearer,made out what I took to be the Spanish flag,together with a signal which I could not read.3

     Heading the ship to the southward to pass round him,the stranger put his helm to starboard and apparently stood after us to sea. Being convinced by this maneuver on his part that he was an enemy,I at once headed to the westward,and running down to the fleet of army transport warned them to sea.

     In repassing Altares,I also signaled to the Harvard that an enemy was coming from the eastward.

     Continuing my course to the westward,I crossed the entrance to Santiago Harbor,and the Socapa battery fired two shots at us; first from a large gun passed directly over the pilot house,and the second,apparently a 6” shell passed over the forecastle of the ship.

     Shortly after passing the Southern entrance,I sighted a wreck burning on the beach,and a little later discovered the Gloucester standing by a second wreck,apparently to save her crew. These wrecks together with the three others that we sighted were all blazing fiercely and two of them blew up with a loud report and a large volume of smoke shortly after we passed them.

     At 12:45 communicated with the Indiana and told her of the man-of-war I had sighted off Daiquiri. Captain Taylor4 ordered me to proceed at once to the Commander-in-Chief with the information.

     At 1:15 communicated with the Iowa and notified Captain Evans5 that I had sighted a Spanish man-of-war off Daiquiri,and at his request,assisted in recalling some of his boats from the wrecks near by.

     I then proceeded to the westward and found the flagship with her consorts,lying off the Cristobal Colon,6which was aground at the mouth of a small stream. Here I received 508 Spanish prisoners,of whom 494 were enlisted men and 14 were officers. I also received a guard of 25 Marines,and commissioned officer to assist in guarding the prisoners.

     At 11 P. M. I got under way and proceeded to Guantanamo Bay,where I arrived at 7:30 A. M. to-day. The prisoners are now on board this ship,waiting your orders,and thus far have given us no trouble.

     I desire to add that during our run to the westward,while warning these ships and hastening to communicate with the Commander-in-Chief the engines made at times 81 revolutions per minute,showing a speed in excess of 16 knots; which is in excess of any that she made while in the employ of the Old Dominion Steamship Co. I consider it my duty to commend to you the efficiency of the engineer force on this occasion. Congratulating you upon the complete victory won by yourself and the squadron under your command, I am, very respectfully,

J.G.Eaton, Comdr. Commanding.

Source Note: Cy, RG 313, Entry 44. Addressed below close: “Commander-in-Chief.”

Footnote 1: Armored cruiser New York. Sampson’s Chief of Staff was Capt. French E. Chadwick.

Footnote 2: Resolute at the time of the battle carried 13 tons of wet gun cotton and 12 tons of powder, enough to cause a massive explosion and completely destroy the ship if ignited. Report of the Bureau of Navigation, 1898, 555.

Footnote 3: Resolute sited the Austro-Hungarian cruiser Kaiserin Maria Teresa. The day of the battle, Secretary of the Navy John D. Long sent notice of the Austrian ships likely arrival. He wrote:

Austrian man-of-war “Maria Theresa” left Kingston, Jamaica, for Santiago. Inform Sampson and warn vessels of similarity between Austrian and Spanish colors. DNA, RG 80, Entry 194, vol. 1, 249.

Footnote 4: Capt. Henry C. Taylor.

Footnote 5: Capt. Robly D. Evans.

Footnote 6: That is, Cristóbal Colón.

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