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Spanish-American War

Eastern Squadron General Order No. 16

North Atlantic Station.


Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,       

Squadron General Order No. 16.        August 1, 1898.

     1.—After consultation with the Commander-in-Chief of the EASTERN SQUADRON1 the following orders of cruising for the two Squadrons have been decided upon, until the Squadrons part company.

     2.—Compass errors will be determined twice daily. This is especially important for the Scouts and Column-leaders.

     3.—Until the Colliers and Supply vessels join, the Badger will take position at the rear of the port column and the Mayflower at the rear of the starboard column.

     4.—Distances need be only approximately kept, as a principal object must be economy of coal consumption. Therefore steam must be used to the best advantage and a certain latitude as to position in column will be allowed. But the ships must not straggle, and the column-leaders shall not be passed except by authority.

     5.—The carrying of running and speed lights will be regulated by signal.

     6.—In fog or thick weather the leading scouts will close in on their lines of bearing to keep the heads of the columns in sight, but will not close to less than 500 yards.

     7.—When running and speed lights are not carried, or are carried only by the leading scouts and column-leaders, all vessels will carry astern a red oil lantern so screened as to show only 2 points on each quarter. In changing course to starboard, a second red light, similarly screened, will be put above the first, and if to port a white light will be placed above the standing red light. These latter lights will be shown while the ship is swinging and will be taken in when the ship is steadied on the new course.

     8.—The signals to indicate the discovery of an enemy’s or suspicious vessel will be the same as those heretofore employed, viz.: two red Very lights, followed, if the vessel discovered is a torpedo-boat, by one green Very light.2

     9.—The speed of the Fleet will be nine knots.

     10.—The rendezvous in case of separation will be signalled from time to time, and a vessel so separated should make every effort to reach the rendezvous at the same time as the Fleet.

     11.—In passing through narrow waters, wind or tide will often cause the ships of a long column to sag, and bring the rear vessels into dangerous water. Captains must guard the safe navigation of their vessels at such times by heading up enough to preserve the original direction of the line of bearing.

     12.—The Orders of Cruising are arranged for convenient and rapid change to an Order of Battle. Should the enemy be met in force the colliers and supply vessels will be stopped or sent to the flank by signal, after which they will be kept together and moved by their senior officer. The scouts, their special duty finished, will close in and join the column of cruisers. The battleships will fight in column, flanking and concentrating their fire when opportunity offers, but remaining in column. The cruisers will operate as a flanking or doubling column according to circumstances.


Rear Admiral,     

Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Naval Force,

North Atlantic Station.     

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 2. Attached to document are diagrams of the cruising orders, including “Order of Battle. Those diagrams can be found in the images section of the Eastern Squadron documents section.

Footnote 1: Commo. John C. Watson, Commander, Eastern Squadron.

Footnote 2: Very’s signals refer to signals produced by firing Very’s rockets.

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