Lieutenant George H. Norman Jr. to Commander Richard Wainwright
Santiago de Cuba, July 4, 1898
I have the honor to report that on the morning of July 3rd after the sinking of the destroyer “Pluton” and the crippling of the destroyer “Furor” I went in charge of the first whale-boat to the rescue of the living on the “Furor” having as crew the following men: Jaggi, coxswains, Evans, Quentin, Tierney, Daley, Lorli[e]rs, Lawrence and Rozzle. On approaching the “Furor” I could see that her sides had been riddled with shot holes ranging in size from those made by rifle bullets to some four inches in diameter. These and a rent in her starboard free board a foot or two long and from an inch to three inches in width constituted all the damage which her outer hull seemed to have suffered during the action. I with several of my men went upon her deck. Upon this were lying many dead. A great many more could be seen through the hatches in the spaces below. The vessel was afire in every part and I withdrew with our boat carrying off with us all the living of the “Furor’s” crew then aboard her, eight in number and returned aboard the “Gloucester.”
After the “Gloucester” had steamed to the eastward to a point a mile beyond where we had driven the destroyer “Pluton” on the rocks. I went away in charge of the gig to the rescue of the crew of the “Infanta Ma Teresa” who could be seen crowded on the bows of their ship - the after part and waist being a fire and burning fiercely. I had as crew of the gig: Dahl (coxswain); Evans (quartermaster), Thompson (boatswains mate), Kastall (seaman), and Wagee and Cooksey (landsmen). The “Teresa” had been run aground and lay two hundred yards from shore. As I approached I could see some of her crew- about a dozen- already upon the beach, surrounded by a little band of Cubans. Mr Edson in charge of another of our boats, having carried a line from the bow of the Teresa to the shore, we immediately set about disembarking her crew, letting those that were badly wounded be lowered by rope to our boats, but compelling the uninjured to come down and out on the life line until they could drop into one of our boats
with which we kept a few yards from the ships sides. By using one of our boats to receive the men, and the other to ferry them to the surf we got ahead rapidly and, in less than three hours had landed all the living from the ship, to the number of four hundred and eighty. Of these many were wounded but they and all the rest had to be put over in the water when forty yards from the shore and dragged through the surf to the beach. I received in the first boat load from the deck of the “Teresa” a Spanish officer who could speak some English. By retaining him in my boat I was able in some measure to direct the actions of those on the ship. Through him I received the promise of the officers set ashore that they would, so many of them as I wished, return to the “Gloucester”, as soon as the work of rescue was finished. All through the time that we were rescuing the crew of the “Teresa” small explosions were constantly occurring on and between her decks, the fire was rapidly working forward and those still left in the ship were urging us to hurry in our work of rescuing them as they feared an explosion of the forward magazine. After the crew of the “Teresa” had been gotten ashore I backed my boat in on the life line as near the surf as possible and sent a man ashore with orders for Admiral Cervera, the fleet captain, and the other officers next in rank to come into my boat, which they quickly obeyed - two of our own men dragging them along the life line through the surf to our boat’s side. I then returned with these and the officer whom I had kept with me throughout as an interpreter, as prisoners, to the “Gloucester”. Throughout the long pull Admiral Cervera and his officer expressed much gratitude for our rescue of them and their crew, and considerable anxiety for the safety of those we had left on the beach, who, though over four hundred in number, being unarmed and nearly naked were at the mercy of the Cubans who had gathered about them.
As soon after my return with my prisoners to the ship, as the cutter could be provisioned I was again sent away with an armed party consisting of: Bond (chief boatswains mate) Thompson (boatswains mate, Collins (gunner’s mate) Noble (quartermaster) [Lykke, Mulcahey, Tierney, Hillman, Halverson (seaman) Lewis (ordinary seaman) and Loelers and Rozzle (landsmen) to rescue from the Cubans the Spanish whom we had earlier taken off the ship. On reaching the shore I found that the Spanish fearing an explosion of their ships magazines had retreated from the water front and were gathered behind the shoulder of a hill which reached down to the eastern end of the beach. Some few however were still on the beach carrying the wounded to a more sheltered place. There were also a half dozen dead lying on the sand who had succumbed from their wounds after being gotten ashore. These were later buried. Having loaded my stores and placed over the boat an armed sentry. I with a guard and the colors proceeded to where the main body of Spaniards had gathered and found a small body of armed Cubans watching over them. I then in the presence of these Cubans had the Spanish formally surrender to me, through their commanding officer, the third officer of the Infanta Ma Teresa, and one from the Oquendo, many of whose crew had by that time straggled over from where the latter lay wrecked, a mile further down the coast. The Cubans were then informed through one of the Spanish officers, as an interpreter, that I with my armed party would take exclusive charge of my prisoners and the Cubans withdrew, threatening, I was told by the Spanish officers, to come back in force. I then went out to the beach and seeing the “Harvard” in the offing sent her a wig-wag message that I had five hundred prisoners in need of provisions and protection. She sent a boat and on its return with my report to the “Harvard” sent there other boats and the work of transferring the Spaniards from the shore to the “Harvard” immediately began. The “Indiana” also sent two surgeons, a steam launch towing a pulling boat, and medical supplies. In this boat and our cutter the surviving of our wounded, after being attended by the surgeons, were carried to the “Harvard,” -- the boats being beached to permit of getting the wounded out through the surf. The uninjured Spanish were sent, sometimes dragged, through the surf which by this time however had fallen somewhat with the wind, and packed in boats of the “Harvard” which carried them out to that ship, the last boat load leaving the beach at some time after 10 o’clock at night. A little later the “Gloucester’s” boat having got away with the last of the wounded, I with those of the “Gloucester’s” party left ashore went in one of the “Harvard’s” boats to the “Harvard.” Our boat was hoisted upon her deck, and my party taken board, fed and given dry clothing.
The following morning - July fourth- we were lowered out off Sabone and returned to the “Gloucester,” which was lying alongside.
I there three expeditions of July 3d the conduct of the several boats crews was in each case most creditable. Without the coolness and unflagging zeal which they displayed the rescue of a large portion of those we saved and the success of the work assigned to us would have been impossible. I feel I should make particular mention of the good work done by Bond, chief boatswain’s mate; Boatswain’s mate Dahl and Thompson; quartermasters Evans and Noble; and Loilers, Lykke, Hillman, Mulcahey, Collins, Rozzle and Halverson. Of these I beg leave to report as especially deserving commendation: Bond, Dahl, Thompson, Noble and Jaggi, their general bearing and the example they set the other men being worth of the highest praise.
Of the action of the morning of July 3d I have to report that throughout the engagement the three guns in my division: Nos 1, 3 and 5 worked satisfactorily with the exception that the shield bolts of both six pounders were broken, necessitating the removal of the shields.
The crews of these guns displayed great courage and coolness during the actions. Their prompt obedience to orders and steadiness under fire cannot be too much praised. No 1, Bond captain, deserves especial mention as does also the good gunnery shown by Dahl captain of gun No 5 and Whilelock captain of guns No 3. Of others in the crews serving their guns I wish to report for special excellence of conduct and previous interestedness in the care of the guns; Thompson, Mulcahey, Hillman, Harbor and Kastell.
George H. Norman J.
Lieutenant U.S. Navy