Skip to main content

Captain Henry Glass to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

U. S. S. Charleston,   

At Sea, June 24, 1898, Lat. 14° 37’ N., Long. 137° 58’ E.

     Sir: I have the honor to report that in obedience to the Department’s telegraphic order of May 24, 1898, this ship sailed from Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, on the 4th instant for Manila with the transports City of Pekin[g], Australia, and City of Sydney under convoy. When clear of land, I opened the confidential order of May 10, 1898, and changed course for the Island of Guam, next day informing Commander Gibson,1 in charge of transports, and Brigadier-General Anderson2 commanding expeditionary force, of the change in my orders and that the transports would accompany the Charleston.

     Arriving off the north end of the Island at daylight, June 20, I first visited the port of Agaña, the capital of Guam, and of the Mariana group, and finding no vessels there of any kind, proceeded to San Luis D’Apra, where it was expected that a Spanish gunboat and a military force would be found, a rumor to that effect having reached me while at Honolulu. Arriving off the port at 8.30 a. m., it was found that Fort Santiago, on OrotéPoint, was abandoned and in ruins, and I steamed directly into the harbor, having ordered the transports to take a safe position outside and await instructions. A few shots were fired from the secondary battery at Fort Santa Cruz to get the range and ascertain if it was occupied. Getting no response, ceased firing and came to anchor in a position to control the harbor, and it was then found that this fort also was abandoned.

     The only vessel in port was a small Japanese trading vessel from Yokohama.

     An officer had just shoved off from the ship to board the Japanese vessel, and obtain information as to the condition of affairs on shore, when a boat was seen approaching the ship, through the reefs at the head of the harbor, flying the Spanish flag and bringing two officers, the captain of the port, a lieutenant-commander in the Spanish navy, and the health officer, a surgeon of the Spanish army.3 These officers came on board, and in answer to my questions, told me they did not know that war had been declared between the United States and Spain, their last news having been from Manila, under the date of April 14. I informed them that war existed and that they must consider themselves as prisoners. As they stated that no resistance could be made by the force on the island, I released them on parole for the day, to proceed to Agaña and inform the governor4 that I desired him to come on board ship at once, they assuring me that he would do so as soon as he could reach the port.

     While awaiting the return of these officers, an examination was made of the harbor, the only dangers to navigation were buoyed, and the transports came in during the afternoon.

     At 5 p. m. the governor’s secretary, a captain in the Spanish army came on board,5 bringing me a letter from the governor, in which he stated that he was not allowed by law to go on board a foreign vessel and requested me to meet him on shore for a conference. This letter is appended, marked A.6

     As it was too late to land a party, from the state of the tide on the reef between the ship and the landing place, I directed the secretary to return and say to the governor that I would send an officer ashore with a communication for him early the next day.

     A landing force was organized to be ready to go ashore at 8.30 a. m. the next day, when the tide would serve, the force being composed of the marines of this ship, those sent out in the Pekin, and two companies of the Second Oregon Infantry Regiment, placed at my disposal by General Anderson.

     At 8:30 a. m. on June 21 Lieut. William Braunersreuther was sent ashore, under flag of truce, with a written demand for the immediate surrender of the defenses of the Island of Guam and all officials and persons in the military service of Spain. (Copy hereto appended, marked B.)7

     Mr. Braunersreuther was directed to wait half an hour only for a reply, to bring the governor and other officials on board as prisoners of war in case of surrender, or in case of refusal or delay beyond the time given, to return and take command of the landing force, which he would find in readiness, and proceed to Agaña. (Copy of order appended, marked C.)8

     At 12.15 p. m. Mr. Braunersreuther returned to the ship, bringing off the governor and three other officers, his staff, and handed me a letter from the governor acceding fully to my demand. This letter is appended, marked D.9

     Mr. Braunersreuther’s report of his actions on shore is appended, marked E. Appended, marked F, is a list of persons and property captured. As the natives are quiet and inoffensive and thoroughly well disposed, I approved Mr. Braunersreuther’s course with regard to them after they had been disarmed.10

     Having received the surrender of the Island of Guam, I took formal possession at 2.45 p. m., hoisting the American flag on Fort Santa Cruz and saluting it with 21 guns from the Charleston.

     From a personal examination of Fort Santa Cruz, I decided that it was entirely useless as a defensive work, with no guns and in a partly ruinous condition, and that it was not necessary to expend any mines in blowing it up.

     The forts at Agaña, San Luis D’Apra, and Umata are of no value and no guns remain in the island except four small cast-iron guns of obsolete pattern at Agaña, formerly used for saluting, but now condemned as unsafe even for that purpose. Appended, marked G, is a plan of Fort Santa Cruz.

     No Spanish vessel of war has visited Guam during the last eighteen months.

     No coal was found on the island.

     From want of berthing space on board the ship, I considered it advisable to send the prisoners to the army transport City of Sydney, which vessel had ample accommodations for the officers and men, and this was done by arrangement with Brigadier-General Anderson. (Copy of my letter appended, marked H.) Appended, marked I, is receipt from Lieut. Commander T. S. Phelps, jr.,11 on duty on the City of Sydney, in whose charge the prisoners were placed for transportation to Manila.

     Having completed the duty assigned, the Charleston sailed on the 22d instant from San Luis D’Apra for Manila, with the transports in company.

     I would respectfully invite the attention of the Department to the officer-like conduct and excellent judgment displayed by Lieutenant Braunersreuther in his discharge of the important duties intrusted to him.

     The chief engineer of the ship being ill at the time she reached Guam, I accepted the services of P. A. Engineer H. G. Leopold, who, on the probability of an engagement, volunteered for duty in charge of an engine room under his junior Passed Assistant Engineer McKean, acting as chief engineer.12

     Going into the port of San Luis D’Apra, Mr. T. A. Hallett,13 third officer of the steamer Australia, being familiar with the place, volunteered to act as pilot and performed the duty efficiently.

     Very respectfully,

Henry Glass,      

Captain, U. S. N., Commanding.

Source Note Print: Report of the Bureau of Navigation, 1898, 151-53. Addressed below close: “The Secretary of the Navy,/Navy Department, Washington, D. C.”

Footnote 1: Cmdr. William C. Gibson, commander of the armed transport City of Peking. For the “confidential order”, see: Long to Glass, 10 May 1898.

Footnote 2: Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Anderson.

Footnote 3: The captain of the port was Lt. Antonio García y Gutiérrez; the surgeon was José Romero.

Footnote 4: The last Spanish Governor of the Mariana Islands was Juan Marina Vega

Footnote 5: The governor’s secretary was Capt. Pedro Duarte.

Footnote 8: For the order to Braunersreuther, see, Report of the Bureau of Navigation, 1898, 154.

Footnote 9: See, Ibid., 155.

Footnote 10: The native soldiers surrendered their arms and uniforms to Lt. Braunersreuther and were then allowed to return home. Ibid., 156. For the other enclosures listed by Glass, with the exception of appendix G, see, Ibid., 155-57.

Footnote 11: Thomas S. Phelps, Jr.

Footnote 12: Passed Assistant Engineers Harry G. Leopold and Josiah S. McKean.

Footnote 13: Thomas A. Hallett, the third officer.

Related Content