Lieutenant Charles W. Hazeltine to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
U. S. S. “Hist,”
off Santiago de Cuba, Cuba,
July 4, 1898.
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the actions of this vessel in the battle of July 3, off Santiago de Cuba.
1. At. 9:35 A. M., while immediately astern of the Flagship “New York,” following her to Altares, and, when about 5 miles to the eastward of Morro Castle, the enemy was discovered leaving the harbor.
2. Turned immediately with the port helm, and steamed full speed to the westward, in wake of Flagship. About 9.45, Flagship made Gen. Signal: “Close in to mouth of harbor and attack enemy.” At 9:45 beat to General Quarters. Speed at first 7 knots, increasing gradually to 11.
3. While running past the forts, the “Hist” was fired at 6 times, several shells striking very near.
4. About 10:40 A. M., passed the “Gloucester” close inshore, and about 3 miles to the westward of Morro, standing by the wrecks of the Spanish destroyers “Pluton” and “Furor.”
5. Made out the two vessels, ashore and burning, in Juan Gonzales Bay, to be the Infanta “Maria Theresa” and “Almirante Oquendo;” and the “Hist” was headed inshore towards them, to pick up the survivors.
6. While thus standing in, the “New York Herald” despatch boat “Golden Rod” came up and hailed, requesting that we take Surgeon Simons of the “Iowa” - who had been ashore with the Army the previous day, and whom they had on board - to his ship, as he feared there had been many casualties.
7. Dr. Simons was sent on board, and the “Hist” was again headed to the westward, and steamed full speed the nine miles to Aseraderos, where the “Vizcaya” lay beached and in flames, and off which lay the “Iowa”. About 5 miles to westward of Juan Gonzales Bay, passed the “Indiana” standing to the eastward.
8. About 11:45, after sending Surgeon Simons on board the “Iowa”, I was directed by Capt. Evans to stand inshore to the wreck of the “Vizcaya”, and assist in the rescue of her crew.
9. The “Vizcaya” was reached at 11:55. Found the Torpedo Boat “Ericcson” standing by her, also a number of the “Iowa’s” boats. Immediately lowered our four boats and sent them to the rescue.
10. The first 23 picked up by our boats were placed on board the “Ericcson”, which shortly after steamed out to the “Iowa,” and thence to the eastward.
The “Iowa”, after taking on board a number of prisoners, recalled her boats, and also steamed off to the eastward.
11. During the next 5 hours, the “Hist” lay close to the burning wreck, and rescued 143 more from the ship, water and shore. Nearly all were nude, and very hungry, claiming to have had no food for the previous 24 hours. They were immediately furnished with clothing, food and drink.
12. Of the 166 picked up, some 20 were wounded, 5 or 6 desperately. Several had been given first aid by Cubans on shore. All possible medical assistance was given them.
13. About 2 P. M., the “Resolute” passed to the westward, displaying signals: “Enemy ship in sight”; and, soon after, made out a battle-ship flying the Austrian colors, and also an international signal “D. C. J.; signifying “Austrian Colors.”
14. The Cubans on shore at Aserraderro did not fire on the Spaniards. In fact, when our boats were taking the Spaniards from the beach, the Cubans rendered valuable assistance. Lieut. Colonel Juan Vailliant, commanding Cuban Camp at Aseraderro, paid a visit to the “Hist.”
15. About 5:30 P. M., after having taken on board the last survivor, the “Hist” was headed to the Eastward, and steamed full speed for Santiago, arriving off there about 7 o’clock. Reported to Captain Taylor of the “Indiana”, and requested a Surgeon, who was immediately sent. I was then directed to report to Captain Evans, of the “Iowa”, who ordered that the prisoners, including the wounded, be transferred to the “Indiana”. This was accomplished by 11:15;
16. At 11:45 p.m. the “Brooklyn” came up, and, after hailing, sent on board Flag Lieutenant Sears, for immediate transportation to Altares, with despatches for Commodore Schley. Landed Lieutenant Sears at 2.30 A. M., and, at 4.30, left Altares for Santiago. Placed Lieut. Sears on the “Brooklyn” at 6 o’clock, and at 6.30 A. M., July 4, joined the Flagship “New York” off Santiago.
17. I respectfully invite your attention to the meritorious services rendered by Lieut. (J. G.) F. H. Hunicke, and Asst. Engineer E. S. Kellogg. These officers had charge of the boats, and , for an hour or more, laid alongside the Vizcaya, taking men from her bow, side and stern, and from the water, during all of which time she was on fire fore and aft, and the explosions on board were almost incessant- thus making this work exceedingly hazardous. The Petty Officers and entire Crew took turns in manning the boats for this dangerous duty.
Charles W. Hazeltine,
Lieutenant,U. S. Navy,