YOUNG PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE WAR WITH SPAIN
BY PRESCOTT HOLMES
WITH EIGHTY-SIX ILLUSTRATIONS
ALTEMUS' YOUNG PEOPLE'S LIBRARY
Copyright 1900 by Henry Altemus Company
PHILADELPHIA HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY
The brief war between the United States and Spain was the outgrowth of the humanity of the American people and their love of fair play. They did not stand idly by when Spain was literally starving the people of Cuba into subjection to her will, but freely and generously sent food, medicine and clothing to the sufferers.
When Spain's cruelty to the Cubans became intolerable to the civilized world, the United States intervened in the name of humanity and right, and demanded that the oppression should cease. Spain resented this, and the war followed.
Much has been said and written regarding our conduct of the war, and the grave scandals that arose from it; but it is not the purpose of this volume to discuss these other than to say that, the work of the navy was clean and beyond question, while it is clear to every one that there was gross mismanagement on the part of army officials.
The army performed as splendid achievements as the navy, but did it under much greater difficulties. Regulars and volunteers fought side by side, and equally deserve our praise; but they were corralled in filthy camps, stowed between the dirty decks of crowded transports, and despatched to Cuba in a manner of which a cattle shipper would be ashamed. They were flung against the ingenious defences of the Spaniards, cold, wet and hungry, and to their indomitable spirit alone we owe the victories in Cuba.
The boys and girls of America cannot fail to be deeply interested in the story of the splendid deeds of our army and navy in the year of our Lord 1898, and it is for them that this history has been prepared.
YOUNG PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE WAR WITH SPAIN.
THE CAUSE OF THE WAR.
On April 21st, 1898, a war began between the United States and Spain. All the other countries of the world felt an interest in it, but did not take any part in it. They were what we call "neutral"—that is, they did not help either side.
As soon as the war was proclaimed a great wave of excitement swept through the United States, from shore to shore. Flags were hung out in every city and town; thousands of men offered to serve in the army—volunteers they were called; and many persons offered to help in other ways. The people were not glad that war had begun, but they felt that their country was doing right, and that they ought to support her efforts.
And what was the cause of the war? Spain, a large country across the Atlantic Ocean, in the southwestern part of Europe, owned some of the islands, called "West Indies," near the United States. Spain had been unjust and cruel to the people living in one of these islands, for many years. Several times the unhappy islanders tried to drive the Spanish from the island, and set up a government of their own, but Spain sent so many soldiers there that they could not get their freedom. They fought bravely, however, but matters kept getting worse and worse, and at last Spain sent a very cruel general to take charge of affairs in the island. His name was Weyler, and he determined to conquer the islanders. After a while he found he could not do it by fighting them, so he sent his soldiers to drive those who were not fighting away from their homes and farms and make them live in or near the large cities. When he had done this, the people had no way to earn money to buy food for themselves and their families, and soon they began to get sick and to die of starvation. The cruel Weyler would not give them anything to eat, and so they died by thousands.
When this dreadful state of affairs became known in the United States, kind people sent several ship-loads of food and medicines and clothing to the sufferers. This did a great deal of good, but all the poor people could not be reached and they continued to die. Finally, the United States told Spain that she ought not to have such a cruel man at the head of affairs, and after a while Spain sent another general to take his place. This new governor's name was Blanco, and he really tried to help the poor people, but Spain had very little money to send him to buy food for them, and so they went on dying. The soldiers, too, were in a very bad condition; they had not been paid for a great many months; they did not have enough to eat, and so they too sickened and died by thousands. You can see that unless something was done to help the poor people, they would all die and their beautiful island would become a wilderness.
Besides being very proud, Spain was very poor. She had spent millions of dollars trying to conquer the islanders, and had no money to buy food for the sufferers that she had driven from their homes and huddled like cattle in yards and gloomy inclosures. So she asked the United States to help feed them, and the Red Cross Society, of which I will tell you later, sent hundreds of tons of food, medicines and clothing to them. These supplies were distributed by competent persons, and the relief was very great, but very soon some of the Spaniards began to say that the United States had no business to interfere in the affairs of the island, and to stir up the people. The feeling became so strong that our representative, Consul-General Lee, notified the authorities in the United States that, the lives and property of American citizens living in the island were not safe. It was for this reason that the battleship Maine was sent to Havana, the chief city of the island. I will tell you about this ship later.
Well, in spite of all that the United States had done to help Spain, matters grew worse, and finally the United States was obliged to tell Spain that, unless she took her soldiers away from the island and let the people govern themselves, she would help them to become a free and independent nation. When Spain received this message, she regarded it as a declaration of war, and both sides prepared for the conflict.
But before telling you about the war, shall I tell you something about the island and the group to which it belongs?
The island is called Cuba. It belongs to a large group of islands known as the West Indies; a changed form of the old name, West Indias, given by Christopher Columbus, who thought that by sailing westward he had reached islands off the shore of India. If you look on a map of the Western Hemisphere, you will find the West Indies between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Most of these islands are high and rocky, seeming like a chain of mountains in the ocean, with their tops above the waves. They are in the tropical regions, and the climate is very hot in the lowlands and on the coasts, but is delightful in the high parts all the year round. There are only two seasons—wet and dry. The rainy season begins in the spring or early summer, and lasts about six months.
What grows in these islands? Delicious fruits: mangoes, oranges, cocoanuts, limes, pineapples, and bananas; many other valuable crops: coffee, tobacco, maize, rice, sugar-cane, and cotton; immense forests of mahogany and other valuable trees. This beautiful vegetation makes these lands fair to look upon. Then, too, there are many birds with gorgeous plumage. The islands have gold, silver, copper, and iron mines; there are quarries of marble; and some kinds of precious stones are found.
But this region is not a paradise. Snakes and other horrid things crawl among the beautiful trees and foliage, and poisonous insects swarm in every place. Earthquake shocks are often felt, and fearful hurricanes sweep over the islands nearly every year, doing much damage.
A gentle race of Indians dwelt in these islands at the time of their discovery, but the Spanish settlers treated the natives so cruelly that after a few years they had ceased to exist. Many of the Indians were sent to Spain and other countries and sold as slaves; the rest were made to work in the mines, and as the Indians had never been used to such work, they died from the hard labor. In later times some of the islands were bought from Spain, others were captured, others were gained by treaty, by the nations to whom they now belong.
At the beginning of the war between the United States and Spain, in 1898, Cuba, as I have already said, belonged to Spain. Spain owned another large island, Puerto Rico, which we call Porto Rico, a name meaning "rich port." But I need not say anything more about Porto Rico at present.
Cuba is the largest and most valuable of the West India Islands. It was discovered by Columbus about two weeks after his first landing at San Salvador. According to his custom, he gave it a Spanish name, but somehow the old name clung to it, and to-day the whole world knows the island by its native Indian name, Cuba. On account of its position, it is often called the "Key to the Gulf of Mexico;" and Havana, the capital, has a key upon its coat of arms. Cuba looks very small upon our maps, yet it contains nearly as much land as the State of Pennsylvania.
Perhaps I should tell you just here that Spain is a kingdom. Its ruler, King Alfonso XII., died in 1885. His widow, Queen Christina, has ruled since then, but her son will be crowned king as soon as he is old enough. The "little king," as he is often called, was twelve years old when this war began. Christina is a good and noble woman, and it is not her fault that the people in distant islands have been badly treated.
Before the United States joined in the war, the Cubans had succeeded in driving the Spaniards out of many places in the eastern part of the island, but could not get possession of the western part and the chief harbors. We have seen that the war between the United States and Spain began in April, 1898. But, two months before that time something happened in the harbor of Havana, the capital of Cuba, which caused terrible excitement in our country. You must understand that many persons belonging to the United States have business in Cuba, own property there, and even live there. Though these Americans did not take part with the Cubans against Spain, yet it seemed sometimes as if they were in danger on account of the disturbance in the island. So our country decided to send one of our battleships—a man-of-war—to stay awhile in the chief harbor of Cuba, so that the Americans might feel safer by having such a ship to help them if they should need help, as I have told you. Spain made no objections to this plan, and said she would send a ship in return to visit New York. The ship chosen from our navy was the Maine, commanded by Captain Sigsbee. On January 25th, early in the morning of a bright warm day, the Maine, with all her colors flying, and with all her men dressed in their best clothes, drew near the harbor of Havana. A Spanish pilot went out to meet her, took her carefully through the narrow entrance to the fine harbor, and anchored her near some other ships. Though the entrance is narrow, yet the harbor itself is large enough to accommodate a thousand ships. The entrance is guarded by several fortresses, one of which, called "Morro Castle," is nearly three hundred years old. It stands on a high point of land, and for this reason is called "Morro," a name that means in Spanish, headland, or promontory.
No doubt the place seemed very attractive to the men on board the Maine that bright sunny morning. The new part of Havana is pretty, the old part is quaint and interesting. There are a number of famous buildings, one of which is the Cathedral, where the remains of Columbus were treasured at that time, but they have since been removed to Spain. All the buildings are low, for low buildings are the fashion in countries that are subject to earthquakes; they are built of stone, and generally adorned with bright colors. There are wide avenues, and large parks and gardens.
If you should visit Havana, you would see many curious sights. All the houses, hotels and stores have iron-barred windows, which gives one the impression that the inmates are confined there. Many houses have large gates which open into beautiful gardens and court yards. Some of the streets have very funny names, such as "Ladies' Delight," and "Fat Stick," when the Spanish names are translated into our language; and they have bright-colored awnings stretched across, from side to side.
The fish market is one of the most noted buildings in the city. It has one long marble table running the entire length of the building, which has one end open to the harbor. Poultry and fruits are brought to the doors of the houses in baskets which are carried on donkeys or the little horses of the country. Often you can see what looks like a large bunch of grass, slowly moving over the pavements, but as it gets nearer you will see the head of a donkey sticking out of one side, while his tail alone is visible on the other side. This is the way that food for horses and mules is brought into the city; no hay is used, only green feed. The milkman does not call at the house, as with us, but instead drives his cow up to the door and supplies you direct from her with as much milk as you wish to buy. Charcoal is almost the only fuel used in cooking, and the ranges look like benches placed against the walls with holes in the tops of them. But we must return to the battleship Maine.
There was no special work for the Maine to do; she was simply to stay in the harbor till further orders. The Spanish officers called on Captain Sigsbee, and he returned their visits, according to the rules that naval officers of all countries are bound to observe. Yet it was easy for the men of the Maine to see that they were not welcome guests. The Maine had twenty-six officers, and a crew of three hundred and twenty-eight men. With her guns, ammunition, and other valuable stores, she was worth $5,000,000. She had been three years in service, having left the Brooklyn navy-yard in November, 1895.
The evening of February 10th, 1898, was dark and sultry. At eight o'clock Captain Sigsbee received the reports from the different officers of the ship that every thing was secure for the night. At ten minutes after nine the bugler sounded "taps," the signal for "turning in," and soon the ship was quiet. At forty minutes after nine a sharp explosion was heard, then a loud, long, roaring sound, mingled with the noise of falling timbers; the electric lights went out, the ship was lifted up, and then she began to sink. The Captain and some of the other officers groped their way to the deck, hardly knowing what had happened. They could do nothing; the ship was sinking fast, and was on fire in several places.
The force of the explosion was so great that it threw Captain Sigsbee out of his cabin, where he sat writing a letter, and against William Anthony, a marine who was on duty as a sentry. As coolly as though nothing had happened, Anthony saluted the Captain and then said:
"Sir, I have the honor to inform you that the ship has been blown up and is sinking."
Small boats came out from the other ships, and rescued many men from the Maine. The Spaniards helped the sufferers in every possible way, taking them to the hospitals in Havana, where they received the best care that the hospitals could give.
In that awful destruction of the Maine, two officers and two hundred and fifty-four of the crew were lost. Several of those who were rescued, died afterward.
The next day divers went down into the water to see what they could find in the wreck, and nineteen dead bodies were brought up. The Spanish officers of Havana asked Captain Sigsbee to permit the city to give the a public funeral; and a plot of ground in Colon Cemetery, outside the city, was given to the United States free of expense forever. The day of the funeral all the flags were put at "half mast," as a sign of mourning, and the stores were closed. Crowds of people joined the long funeral procession.
In the latter part of the year 1899, however, the Maine dead were brought from Havana by the battleship Texas, then commanded by Captain Sigsbee, formerly of the Maine. They were laid away in Arlington Cemetery, near Washington, on December 28th, with simple religious services and the honors of war, in the presence of the President of the United States and his Cabinet, officers of the army and navy, and many other spectators.
Besides Captain Sigsbee and Father Chidwick, who was chaplain of the Maine at the time she was blown up, three others who lived through that awful night were present. They were Lieutenant Commander Wainwright, who was the executive officer of the Maine and who afterwards sank the Furor and Pluton at Santiago; Lieutenant F.C. Bowers, formerly assistant engineer of the Maine; and Jeremiah Shea, a fireman of the Maine, who was blown out of the stoke-hole of the ship through the wreckage.
After three volleys had been fired over the dead, and the bugles had rung out the soldiers' and sailors' last good night, Captain Sigsbee introduced Shea to President McKinley. Being asked for an explanation of his escape, he responded, as he had done to Father Chidwick when he visited him in the hospital in Havana, where he lay covered with wounds and bruises, and with nearly every bone in his body broken:
"I don't know how I got through. I was blown out. I guess I must have been an armor-piercing projectile!"
The work of saving the guns and other valuable things on the Maine was carried on for some time. Among other things that the divers recovered was a splendid silver service that had been presented to the ship by the state of Maine. The keys to the magazines were found in their proper places in the captain's cabin, and his money and papers were also recovered. Finally, it was found that the hull of the great ship could not be raised, and in April the United States flag, that had been kept flying above the wreck since the night of the fatal explosion, was hauled down and the ship formally declared out of commission.
Of course, the awful disaster caused deep sorrow in the United States. There was great excitement also, for many persons thought that some of the Spaniards had wrecked the Maine on purpose. The harbor was full of "mines" or immense iron shells filled with stuff that will explode. All countries at war protect their harbors in this way.
President McKinley appointed men to examine the wreck and find out all they could about the explosion. They found that the ship was destroyed by a "mine," but could not prove that the Spaniards had purposely caused the "mine" to explode.
So there will always be a mystery connected with the horrible destruction of the Maine.
On April 10th, Consul-General Lee and such Americans as wished to do so, left Havana and returned to the United States. From that time on, it seemed to the people of the United States that war with Spain was inevitable, and preparations for it were carried on rapidly. On April 19th—which, by the way, was the anniversary of the first battle of the war of the Revolution and also of the Civil War—Congress declared that the United States must interfere in the affairs of Cuba and help the Cubans to become a free and prosperous people. This declaration was signed by President McKinley on the following day, and then our minister to Spain, Mr. Woodford, was instructed to tell the Spanish government what had been done, and also what would be done, if Spain did not promise before the 23d to withdraw her soldiers from Cuba and give up the island to the Cubans.
The message was sent by one of the submarine cables which connects America with Europe, and the operator who received it told the Spanish officials about it before sending it to its destination. So, before Mr. Woodford could deliver his message, the Spanish government sent him his passports, which was a polite hint to leave the country, and he did so, at once. This action on the part of Spain was virtually a declaration of war, and was so regarded by the President and the people of this country. On the 22d, a blockade of Cuban ports was established by the navy, and a Spanish ship was captured.
I have already told you that the Cubans, in their rebellion, had driven the Spaniards out of many places in Cuba, but had not been able to get possession of the chief harbors. So now it was thought best that our ships should blockade the large harbors of Cuba. Do you know what blockade means? It means to surround a place held by the enemy, and stay there, doing any damage that can be done, cutting the enemy off from outside help, and so, in time, if he is not strong enough to break the blockade, he must surrender, as his supply of food will give out.
On the morning of April 22d, a squadron under the command of Acting Rear-Admiral Sampson sailed from Key West to establish a blockade of the most important Cuban ports. The ships which were to be stationed off Havana reached that port on the same day; others were sent to different ports along the coast, and so the blockade was begun.
All kinds of vessels were employed in this blockading service. There were huge battleships, splendid cruisers, and gunboats that could go into shallower waters than the large ships. There were also monitors—immense fighting machines with decks but a little height above the water and big guns in circular turrets. Then there were torpedo boats—very swift vessels armed with deadly torpedoes, any one of which could sink the largest ship afloat.
Some of our large passenger steamships had been appropriated by the Government for war service, and did good work for the blockade, as they can move very fast. They flew about from place to place as "scouts" or "spies"; they carried messages; they cut the Spanish cables under water, and were useful in other ways.
The gunboat Nashville sailed from Key West with the squadron, and before the sun had fairly risen she saw the smoke of a steamer away off to the westward. She gave chase at once, and, as the vessels drew near, the stranger was flying the flag of Spain. The Nashville fired a shot across her bows, and this was the first shot in the war between the United States and Spain. The Spaniard was not inclined to stop, and it required another shot before she would stop her engines. The Nashville sent an officer in a boat to inform the steamer that she was a prize to the United States. She was found to be a Spanish merchantman, the Buena Ventura, and was sent in charge of a prize-crew to Key West. During the next thirty days, many other Spanish ships, with cargoes worth millions of dollars, were captured by different vessels of the navy. A few were released, but the larger part were condemned by a prize-court and sold.
The first action of the war was a small affair, but I shall mention it, as it was much talked about at the time. It took place on April 27th, a few days after our ships had begun the blockade. The Spaniards were building new forts at Matanzas, a port about sixty miles east of Havana. With the exception of Havana, Matanzas has the finest harbor on the northern coast of Cuba. The city itself lies between two small rivers and contains many beautiful homes. The houses are often decorated with colored tiles, and with their luxuriant gardens make a charming picture against the background of hills that rise beyond the beautiful valley of the Yumurri, which is one of the loveliest spots in Cuba. In times of peace the exports of sugar and molasses from Matanzas have been very large, but the Cuban army burned many of the finest plantations in the district.
The ships that engaged the new forts that the Spaniards were adding to the castle of San Severino and other defences of Matanzas, were the flagship New York, the monitor Puritan, and the cruiser Cincinnati. The Spaniards fired the first gun, and then the New York took up a position between two batteries and delivered broadsides right and left. Then the Puritan's big guns came into play, and then the Cincinnati poured a stream of shells into the forts. It did not take long to knock the Spanish defences into sand-heaps—only about half an hour—and then the American ships stood out to sea. As they were doing so, the Spaniards fired one more shot. The Puritan had the range and sent a twelve-inch shell in reply. It was one of the best shots of the war. It struck the Spanish gun fairly, dismounted it, and then burst, throwing the sand high in the air. The Spanish account of the engagement stated that no damage whatever was done, except the killing of one mule!
Great excitement and great anxiety were caused by the news that a large and powerful fleet was coming from Spain. Our Government could not tell whether these ships would come to a Spanish port in the West Indies, or whether they would attack one of our large cities on the Atlantic coast. We had not ships enough to protect all our ports as well as to blockade Cuba, so much care was needed to make good plans, and our naval officers were kept busy. It was most important to watch for the Spanish ships.
The "Cape Verde" fleet, as the Spanish ships were called, troubled the Navy Department of the United States day and night. They knew that it sailed from the Cape Verde Islands in the latter part of April, but that was about all they did know regarding it. At last it was seen off the Island of Martinique and then it was lost again. It was next heard from at Curacoa, an island in the Caribbean Sea, off the north coast of Venezuela, but before the American ships could reach it, the Spanish admiral had coaled and provisioned his ships at Willemstad, the chief city on the island, and was off again to sea.
There was some reason to think that the Spanish fleet might catch our great battleship Oregon, coming as fast as it could to the Eastern Coast. I must take time to tell you about the Oregon. Shortly before the war began, the Oregon was in the Pacific Ocean; but when she received a message to come to an Atlantic port, to be ready for war with Spain, she took coal at San Francisco and started—March 19th—on her long voyage. She went south through the Pacific Ocean, east through the Strait of Magellan, and then turned northward into the Atlantic Ocean. Then the closest watch was kept for the enemy; the guns were always ready, the lights were covered every night. Though Captain Clark did not know that war had really begun before that time, still he knew that there was danger. On May 24th the Oregon arrived at a port in Florida, having come 14,000 miles, through all kinds of weather, in two months' time, without breaking anything about the ship. So the Spaniards did not catch the Oregon, but later in the year she helped to catch them.
When the Oregon arrived at. Jupiter Inlet, Florida, she was as able to fight or to run as on the day she was put into commission. When she left San Francisco she had nine hundred tons of coal on board. During the voyage she consumed almost four thousand tons. Callao was the first port where the Oregon stopped. From there she ran down the Pacific coast, and after passing through the straits sailed up the eastern coast of South America to Rio Janeiro, where she was notified by the American consul that the United States and Spain were really at war. There were now two other American warships at Rio. The gunboat Marietta had joined the Oregon near the straits, and the Buffalo, which the United States had bought from Brazil, was waiting for them at Rio. I will let Captain Clark tell you the story of the remainder of the voyage, in his own way:
"Several long cablegrams were exchanged between the Government and myself. Nothing whatever in the way of instructions was issued that would hamper me or in any way abridge my responsibility for bringing the Oregon home. We sailed from Rio on May 4. I decided, when we had been at sea a little while, to leave the Buffalo and the Marietta to shift for themselves. They were so slow that I feared the Oregon might be late in arriving where she was most needed. I left these ships off Cape Frio, one hundred miles above Rio, after signaling them, 'Come to Bahia, or run ashore if attacked by overwhelming force.' I reached Bahia on the 8th, but we were told to 'Come on.' We sailed next morning, and this run to Barbadoes was the most thrilling of the entire voyage. We steamed absolutely without a light.
"Indeed, the entire trip from Sandy Point to Jupiter Inlet was a lightless voyage. In pitchlike darkness we drove along at our highest speed—seeing lights many times, but always avoiding the ships that bore them. We were out of court. We had no right of way without a light. Even if we met a vessel on our port, we gave way.
"Night and day the men stood at the guns. Not for a single moment was vigilance relaxed. The strain on the men was terrible. For four days at a time hammocks were never strung. Watch and watch about, the men lay beside the guns, sound asleep, while the men on duty stood silently above them. All the lookouts were doubled and changed with unusual frequency.
"Barbadoes was reached just before daylight, May 18, and after rushing two hundred and fifty tons of coal aboard, we sailed the same evening. Still the orders read, 'Come on.' From our consul I learned that Cervera's fleet was at Martinique, just to the north of us. This fleet had been extolled for speed and fighting qualities. I am not a rash man. I was not looking for that fleet. The situation seemed critical. Sailing just before dark, I headed northwest, apparently into the heart of the Caribbean Sea. This information, I have no doubt, was promptly communicated to Admiral Cervera. But as soon as the darkness of a moonless night had thoroughly set in, I changed the course to due south; and ran below Barbadoes and thence far to the eastward before I took the Oregon to the northward. We thus passed far to sea east of Martinique, and eventually turned into the north Atlantic beyond St. Thomas. I carefully avoided the Windward Channel and the shallow waters of the Bahamas.
"I didn't know where the Department wanted to use me. I was in the dark as to the location of the two fleets. I knew one had been at Hampton Roads and another at Key West, and the charts told me that Jupiter Inlet was in telegraphic reach of all points on the coast. From that place I had coal enough to make the run to either of the two fleets."
With scarcely a day's delay, the Oregon joined the North Atlantic Squadron, in Cuban waters, and was one of the vessels under Commodore Schley when that officer trapped the Spanish fleet in the harbor of Santiago.
When we think of the officers and men on the decks of a warship, we must not forget the force of men below the decks. The engineers, firemen and stokers do as good work, and are entitled to as much praise, as the fighting force above. In battle they are kept under the hatches, and, as a rule, never know of the progress or the result of a fight until it closes. They work in a temperature of from one hundred to one hundred and fifty degrees, by half-hour stretches. The roaring furnaces make the fire-rooms almost beyond a man's power to endure, and we should give a great deal of our praise to the brave fellows who make the power that moves the ship.
You know that we saw in the first chapter, that Spain owned another large island some miles east of Cuba—an island called Porto Rico.
This island was sighted by Columbus on November 16, 1493, and, three days later, he anchored in one of its bays. In 1510, and again a year later, Ponce de Leon visited the island and established a settlement, to which he gave the name of San Juan Bautista. Spain did not always hold it peaceably, however, for at different times the Dutch and the English tried to take it from her. The people of the island used to be terribly annoyed by pirates and buccaneers, but that was a long time ago.
The Spanish used to call San Juan the "Rich Port of John the Baptist," and it was a great source of profit to them for nearly four hundred years. Ponce is the largest city in the island, but San Juan has the advantage of a large, protected harbor. Like Havana and Santiago, San Juan has its Morro Castle, and within its walls are the buildings of a small military town,—houses for troops, a chapel, bake-house, and guard-room, with dungeons down by the sea, and underneath it.
The city of San Juan lies upon an island connected with the mainland by a bridge and a causeway. The streets are narrow, the houses are low, mostly of a single story, and are built in the old-fashioned Spanish style, with thick walls around the courtyard. The fronts are ugly and are painted all sorts of brilliant colors—pink, blue, purple and yellow. There are heavy shutters in the windows for protection, but there are no panes of glass in the town. Behind the gloomy walls are splendid gardens and courtyards, with splashing fountains, shaded by palms. The city contains a cathedral, a theatre, a city hall, the Governor-General's palace, and several fine churches, and in the center is quite a large park, with concrete walks and seats, as with us. There is no turf, however. All around this park the market women gather every morning, selling poultry, eggs, vegetables and flowers, and in the evening there is music by a military band.
It was thought that the Spanish fleet, which had caused our Government so much anxiety, might go to San Juan, the capital of the island, and so, before the Oregon arrived, and before any of the Spanish ships had been seen, Admiral Sampson took some of his vessels from Cuba to Porto Rico in hope of meeting Admiral Cervera, the Spanish commander, and his fleet. Our ships reached San Juan in the evening of May 11th, but could see nothing of the Spanish ships. Next morning our ships fired upon the forts guarding the harbor, to try the strength of the enemy. But finding the forts stronger than he thought they were, Admiral Sampson drew off his fleet. He could not spare the time, or spend his powder and shells, upon San Juan then. The important thing to do was to find the Spanish fleet. So Admiral Sampson again sailed toward Havana.
The two ports on the northern coast of Cuba that seemed most likely to attract the Spanish fleet were Havana and Matanzas. There was one port on the southern coast that seemed to be a good one for the Spanish fleet—the port of Cienfuegos. So our ships continued the blockade of Havana and Matanzas, and now Commodore Schley was sent with several vessels to watch Cienfuegos.
The city of Cienfuegos is situated some distance back from the sea, in a harbor which winds and twists about between high hills, completely obscuring it from ships a little distance from the shore. The word Cienfuegos means "a hundred fires." Close by the water's edge there stood a cable-house, where one end of a submarine cable, which reached to Santiago, some three hundred miles to the eastward, was secured. On one side of the cable-house was an old fort or lookout, such as the Spaniards used to have all along the coast. On the other side was a light-house. The Americans wished to destroy communication between Cienfuegos and Santiago, so they sent an expedition to cut the cable and destroy anything that would be of use to the Spaniards.
The ships that were sent to do this work were the Marblehead, the Nashville and the Windom. You will remember that the Nashville fired the first gun in the war with Spain. She is not a pretty boat at all. She is built differently from other vessels of her class, and her two tall funnels, or smokestacks, give her an ungainly appearance. Her commander was a splendid officer, though, and her crew were the bravest of the brave. I must tell you a little of her work after she captured the first prize of the war.
One day, while in company with the Marblehead and the Eagle, she saw a big Spanish mail steamer leave the harbor of Cienfuegos and put to sea, followed by nine Spanish gunboats. The Nashville started in pursuit of the big steamer, leaving the other American ships to attend to the gunboats. She soon overhauled the steamer, which proved to be the Argonata, and took possession of her. Her cargo was a very rich one, and among the passengers were twenty-nine Spanish soldiers and officers. These were taken on board the Nashville. Meanwhile, the Marblehead and the Eagle had disposed of the gunboats. It only took them half an hour to drive them back into the harbor, with their smokestacks shot off, and several of them in a sinking condition. The Nashville then turned over her prize to the Marblehead and started for Havana.
On her way she discovered a big gunboat, and, as the two ships drew near, the Spanish officers, who had been allowed on deck, saw that she was not an American vessel, and danced for joy. An instant later they were shoved down a hatchway and placed in the hold. As the stranger came closer it was plainly seen that she was nearly twice as large as the Nashville and more heavily armed, but the commander of the American vessel did not hesitate an instant. He cleared his ship for action and trained his guns on her. Just then she hoisted English colors and dipped them in salute to the stars and stripes that were floating above the Nashville. She proved to be the Talbot, an English ship cruising in those waters. The whole affair was a splendid display of courage on the part of the Nashville in clearing ship and showing fight to the big English gunboat. Every man on the American ship knew that if the stranger proved to be a Spanish war vessel the chances were ten to one against the Nashville; but none of them stopped to think of that, but made ready to fight her. Now we will return to Cienfuegos and see how our splendid seamen cut the Spanish cables in the very face of death.
Volunteers from the Marblehead and the Nashville manned the boats that were sent into the shallow waters to grapple for the cable. Each ship furnished a cutter and a launch, under the command of a lieutenant. The men who were to do the work were in the cutters, and each of the launches carried a small rapid-fire gun to protect the workers as much as possible. The Nashville shelled the shore and then the boats were ordered in. They went within one hundred yards of the shore and then began to grapple for the cable. As calmly as though they were fishing, the men worked with their hooks. At last the cable was caught, and soon it was brought to view. It proved not to be the Santiago cable, but about a hundred feet of its length were cut out of it, and the brave fellows grappled for another. They found it, hauled it up, and, with what tools they had, hacked it in two.
They were not unmolested, however, for Spaniards began to show themselves on the shore, and a perfect hail of bullets dimpled the water around the Americans as they worked. When a man in the boats was hit, another took his place. Sturdy arms at the oars held the boats against the strong current, while others hacked away the tough wires.
Then the guns of the ships sent an iron storm among the rocks and trees and the soft sands. They drove the Spaniards to shelter, and then they knocked the cable-house, the fort and the light-house to bits. It was not intended at first to destroy the light-house, but when it was discovered that the Spaniards used it for a shelter while firing upon the Americans, the gunners were ordered to cut it down, and in a short time nothing remained of it but a heap of ruins.
The personal bravery of the men in the boats was wonderful. Although untried in warfare, they conducted themselves like veterans in the hour of trial. Cable cutting is one of the new features of modern warfare, but that made no difference to the brave jackies and marines that volunteered for the work. One of their number was killed and several were wounded, but officers and men performed their work with the utmost coolness and bravery.
Before we leave the subject of cutting an enemy's cables, and thus destroying one of their best means of communication, I will tell you of another exploit. The St. Louis, which was one of the big ocean steamships that the Government hired during the war, was the vessel that performed it. A few days after the cables were cut at Cienfuegos, the St. Louis was ordered to Santiago to cut the cables at that point. One very dark night the boats left the big ship and began to grapple for the cables. About three o'clock in the morning they returned with a long piece which they had cut out of one of the cables. About eight o'clock the St. Louis went to work to find the other cable, and after working for three hours, the batteries on shore opened fire on her. They kept up a furious fire for three-quarters of an hour, but the St. Louis replied so vigorously that the batteries were silenced and the garrisons sent running in all directions. Then they found the cable, hauled it on board and cut it. Afterwards the St. Louis cut another cable at San Juan, the capital of Porto Rico.
Do you wonder why these three ports were thought to be the best for the Spanish fleet to enter? You know that Havana is the capital of Cuba; most of the citizens were Spaniards; thousands of Spanish soldiers were there; all the chief officers also. So it was thought that the Spanish Navy would try to unite with the Spanish Army. From Matanzas and from Cienfuegos the troops from the Spanish ships could go easily by railroad to Havana, through a part of the country still in the hands of the Spaniards. I may have told you more than you care to hear about the coming of the enemy's fleet, but I want to give you an idea of the great anxiety felt by our Government at this time, and to help you to understand what follows. You must remember that we had not vessels enough to blockade every port, so we blockaded the ports that seemed most dangerous.
Where was the Spanish fleet all this time, while our Navy was so troubled? If you look at a map of Cuba you will find that the eastern end of the island—the eastern province—is called Santiago de Cuba. The chief city of the province is on the southern coast, and bears the same name. The city of Santiago is next in importance to Havana, and is said to be the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere.
Santiago is a picturesque city, five miles from the coast. It was founded by Don Diego de Velasquez, who named it for the patron saint of Spain. Santiago, San Diego and St. Jago are really one name, which is translated St. James in our language. The city is built along a sloping hillside, and its massive buildings are tinted pink, blue, green and purple. There are plenty of red-tiled roofs, among which rise towers, steeples and palms. The houses are low and built around courtyards, where flowers and palms grow in profusion. The floors are of brick or marble. There is a plaza, or central square, and a great cathedral. The streets are narrow and dirty, and in the quarters where the poorer class live, babies and pigs roll together in the gutters, and boys and girls without a rag of clothing on them hold out their hands for alms.
The first impression of Santiago is one of filth and poverty, dilapidated buildings and general decay; but if you climb the hills that encircle the city and look over the red-topped buildings to the glistening bay, the prospect is lovely.
As you approach the mouth of the harbor from the coast, you can at first see nothing but a break in the hills; but soon you discover, perhaps, the most picturesque fort in the western hemisphere. It is the Morro Castle, one hundred years older than its namesake at Havana, perched on a rock at the entrance to the channel. This channel is very narrow, but it winds and twists about until it opens into a broad, land-locked bay—the famous harbor of Santiago—with houses running down to the water's edge.
Into this beautiful harbor, while our ships were watching other ports and looking in other directions, Admiral Cervera and his fine Spanish ships quietly sailed at daybreak on the 19th of May. It was a strange port for the Spaniards to seek, and it was a fatal one.
While Sampson was looking in one direction for Admiral Cervera's ships, Commodore Schley, with another squadron, was close upon their track. For awhile he thought they were in Cienfuegos, but when he found they were not there, he kept on up the coast. His flagship was the splendid cruiser Brooklyn, and among his ships were the Massachusetts, the Texas and the Iowa—all immense battleships. He also had a number of smaller vessels, and the swift St. Paul, another of the famous ships hired by the Government. The St. Paul was commanded by Captain Sigsbee, who, you will remember, was in command of the Maine when she was blown up in Havana harbor.
At last Commodore Schley became satisfied that the long-looked-for fleet was in the harbor of Santiago. On the morning of May 29, Captain Sigsbee, in the St. Paul, ran close enough to the mouth of the harbor to see some of the Spanish ships inside, and the long game of hide-and-seek was over. Commodore Schley at once established a strict blockade, and then sent word to Admiral Sampson that the Spanish ships had been found and that he had them safe. He very shrewdly said:
"We have bottled them up, and they will never get home!" A few days later, the two squadrons were consolidated, with Commodore Schley the second in command.
I want to tell you a little about Commodore Schley—one of the finest officers of the navy. He graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, at the head of his class, and from that time entered upon a career in which he served his country in nearly every quarter of the globe. When the Civil War broke out, he staid by the old flag when many of his brother officers went with the Confederacy, and during the war performed many gallant and meritorious services. He had seen all kinds of naval service, and was at home among conditions that required dash and courage, zeal and persistency, before he was given the command of the "Flying Squadron," and sent to find the Spanish ships.
He had done such things as to rescue seven men who were starving to death in the Arctic regions. He had been sent by the Government to do this, and, realizing that it must be done quickly, he pushed on so fast that he found the seven men alive. If he had been slower in his movements they would have been dead, for they were in the last stages of starvation and exhaustion. At another time, some of his sailors were stoned in the city of Valparaiso, and one of them was killed. Schley trained his guns upon the city and kept them there until the murderers were given up to justice. He was the right kind of a man to have around the coasts of Cuba, wasn't he?
Now I am going to tell you the names of the Spanish vessels, and give you an idea of the blockade.
Within the harbor were four large Spanish ships and two new, fast torpedo-boat destroyers, all commanded by Admiral Cervera. The ships were the Infanta Maria Teresa, named for a Spanish princess; the Vizcaya, named for a province in Spain; the Cristobol Colon, which is the Spanish name for Christopher Columbus; and the Almirante Oquendo. Many years ago Spain had a famous admiral whose name was Oquendo, and in recognition of his services the Spanish Government made a law that there should always be a ship in their navy bearing his name. That is how they had the Almirante Oquendo, which means Admiral Oquendo. The names of the torpedo-boat destroyers were the Furor and the Pluton. All these warships were splendid vessels, and were commanded by brave men. We shall hear about them later.
Our ships were outside the harbor—a few miles from its mouth, in a line like a half-circle. Our big ships were the New York, the Brooklyn, the Texas, the Iowa, the Oregon, the Indiana, and the Massachusetts. There were a number of smaller vessels, and one of them, the Gloucester, afterwards gained great fame. Our ships could not anchor, as the water was too deep, so they were always moving back and forth.
As I have told you, between the sea and the harbor, or bay, is a long, narrow channel with high cliffs on each side, and on these cliffs are forts, which guard the entrance to the harbor.
Our men could not see the Spanish ships in the harbor, but could see only the narrow channel and the hills and forts above it. Our men watched carefully, to see that no Spanish ship came out. For the first few nights of the blockade a bright moon lighted up the channel, but after the moon failed, the place was wonderfully lighted by the great "search-lights" of our ships. Four battleships took turns of two hours each in standing at the entrance of the channel and moving the "searchlights." The ships were always headed toward the shore, and steam was kept up.
And so our great gray vessels, grim monsters of the sea, waited and watched near the harbor of Santiago de Cuba.
Blockading work is very hard upon officers and men. It requires ceaseless vigilance at all hours of the day and night. Besides preventing an enemy's ships from coming out of a blockaded port, it is very important to prevent vessels with supplies from running in. During the Cuban blockade our vessels captured at least one large ship loaded with coal that was intended for Admiral Cervera's fleet. When nations are at war, they do not allow other nations to supply their enemies with anything that will help them. There are international laws about this, and if a warship belonging to a nation which is at war with another, puts into a neutral port for coal or provisions, it is only allowed to buy enough to last it to its nearest home port. It is not allowed to remain in a neutral port more than twenty-four hours, either.
The purpose of a blockade is to cut off supplies and stop all communication with the enemy by sea. When this is done, merchant vessels of all nations are therefore forbidden to pass or even to approach the line, and the penalty for disobedience is the confiscation of both ship and cargo, whether the latter is contraband or not. If a ship does not stop when hailed, she may be fired upon, and if she is sunk while endeavoring to escape, it is her own fault. Blockade running is perilous business, and is usually attempted under cover of night, or in stormy weather, and it is as full of excitement and adventure as war itself. The motive is usually either to take advantage of famine prices, or to aid the enemy by bringing supplies or carrying despatches. Neutral ships are entitled to some sort of warning that a blockade exists, and in the case of Cuba, the United States notified neutral Governments, announcing the fact, and stating exactly the extent of coast covered.
Before we were at war with Spain, the Government restrained and punished those who organized expeditions to help the Cubans. We were obliged to do this because we were a neutral nation. But after our war with Spain began, we sent all kinds of war material to the Cubans, so as to help them to fight Spain. I will tell you about one of these expeditions.
About the middle of May, the steamer Florida sailed from a port in the State for which she was named, with supplies for the Cuban army. In addition to a great quantity of provisions, clothing, shoes and medicines, she carried several thousand rifles and an immense amount of ammunition. Down in the hold were a hundred horses and mules, and among the passengers were several hundred recruits for the Cuban army.
The Florida reached the Cuban coast in safety, and was met at the appointed place by more than a thousand Cubans. It required three days and one night to unload the cargo. Small boats conveyed the stores to the eager hands that hurried them inland. The mules and horses swam ashore. Women and children flocked to the scene, bringing fruit and vegetables to exchange for coffee and meat—the first they had tasted for a long time.
When the cargo was all ashore, the Florida prepared to return to the United States. Then the Cuban soldiers ranged themselves along the shore; women and children grouped behind the ranks, and a Cuban marching song burst from happy hearts as the Florida steamed away.
A great deal of blockading duty was done by the small vessels of the fleets, the torpedo-boats and the armed tugboats. Many strange encounters took place during those nights when these little craft rolled about in the Caribbean swells, or moved along in hostile waters without a light visible on board.
The tug-boat Leyden had one of these. With her two or three small guns she held up a big ship one night, firing across her bow, and demanding, "What ship is that?" It was the same vessel that had the encounter with the Nashville, the story of which I have told you; and so the answer came back:
"This is Her Majesty's ship, Talbot."
The idea of a tug-boat like the Leyden halting a warship in this fashion was not particularly pleasing to the British Captain. Neither was he better pleased when some one on the tug-boat called out, "Good night, Talbot!" But he took it as a new experience, and solemnly replied:
"You may go, Leyden."
The spirit that animated the officers of our navy in these trying times was well expressed by Lieutenant Fremont, who commanded the torpedo-boat Porter. Fremont was the son of John C. Fremont, whom you may possibly remember as a noted explorer and pioneer in the western part of the United States, and a general during the Civil War; and he possessed the bravery and daring of his father. Some one said to him:
"Those Spanish destroyers have heavier batteries than yours. What would you do if you ran across one of them out here?"
"Well," replied Fremont, "it's my business to keep them from getting in among the fleet. I'd try to do it. I'd engage a destroyer, and if I found his battery was too heavy for me I'd close in. If a chance offered, I'd torpedo him. If not—well, this boat has made twenty-six knots. I'd go at him full speed. I think the Porter would go half way through him before we stopped."
"And then, I think, there would be a swimming match. It saves time to have your mind made up in advance in such matters."
THE BATTLE OF MANILA BAY.
The greatest event of the war between the United States and Spain took place in a strange part of the world, far from both of those countries. If you look on a map of Asia, you will find a large group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, east of the China Sea. They are called the Philippine Islands. The largest of them is called Luzon, and its chief city is Manila, on a large bay of the same name.
These islands were discovered nearly four hundred years ago, by Magellan, as we call him in English, a famous sailor and explorer. He was the first to sail through the strait that is south of South America; and so that strait is still called by his name. After passing through that strait he led his fleet on, farther west, northwest, over the Pacific Ocean, till he came to the islands east of the China Sea. Magellan took possession of them in the name of the King of Spain; for, though not a Spaniard, he was working in the interests of Spain. He gave the islands a name, but the name did not cling to them; and some time after, they were named Islas Filipinas—or, as we say in English, Philippine Islands in honor of King Philip II., of Spain. But the savage tribes dwelling in the islands did not submit tamely to Magellan's conquest, and in a fight with them he was killed. Still, the Spaniards held the islands, and established towns there, some of which have become very important. It is said that there are people from all parts of the world living in Manila.
Have you ever heard any one speak of the Filipinos? They are natives of the islands, descendants of the Spanish settlers; besides these there are the native savage tribes, still living in many places. The Filipinos had often tried to gain their independence, but had not been successful. When they heard of the rebellion in Cuba, they thought they would make another attempt against Spain, and so began a new rebellion. And this is just how matters stood when the war began between the United States and Spain.
The United States, having some ships in one of the ports of China, sent word to their commander, Commodore Dewey, to turn his attention to the Philippine Islands. So Commodore Dewey prepared his fleet in the best way possible and started for Manila. The ships sailed Wednesday afternoon, April 27th.
You must not think that Commodore Dewey had big battleships in his fleet. He had only what we call "cruisers," not big battleships. The ship on which the commander of a whole fleet sails is always the "flagship." Then, of course, each ship has its own captain and other officers. Would you like to know the names of the ships that won such fame in Manila Bay? The "flagship" was the Olympia; then there were five other cruisers: the Baltimore, the Boston, the Raleigh, the Concord, the Petrel; and a small vessel called the Hugh McCulloch. There were also two steamers carrying coal and provisions. All the fleet had been newly painted gray, to match our other vessels in this war.
During the voyage, the men were very busy getting ready for a battle, for they knew that the Spaniards had ships in Manila Bay, and that they would fire upon the new comers. Everything made of wood that might be shot and splintered, was thrown overboard; for flying splinters are very dangerous on shipboard. Tables, benches, chests, and rails were thrown into the sea. The men were told what to do in time of battle, and how to help the wounded, and the doctors arranged the rooms to be used as hospitals, so that every thing would be handy.
We have seen that the fleet sailed Wednesday afternoon, and the next Saturday morning land was sighted—the island of Luzon. On, on, the ships sped, and that evening they reached the entrance to Manila Bay. Then they stole along in the darkness, with their lights covered, so that the Spaniards might not see them. Our men were doing a daring deed. They were entering a strange bay, by night, where not one of them had ever been before; they did not know the soundings, they had no harbor pilot. The entrance to the bay was guarded by fortresses containing big Krupp guns, and there was good reason to think that there were "mines" in the water, which might blow the ships to pieces. Still, every man was ready to do his duty.
Some of the forts did discover our ships, and fired a few shots; but no harm was done, and our ships steamed on. At daybreak they drew near the city of Manila. The Spaniards were expecting them, having had notice of their approach. The Spanish ships, under Admiral Montojo, were waiting at a place called Cavite, seven miles from Manila. They were protected by batteries on the shore. Having steady guns on the shore should have been a great help to the Spaniards, as it is easier to fire a steady gun than to fire a gun on a ship that is riding up and down on the waves.
The battle began a little after five o'clock, Sunday morning, May 1st, 1898. The Spaniards fired the first shot. All the vessels of our fleet were out in the bay, but, as soon as the Spaniards began to fire, our fighting ships started forward. They did not answer the Spanish fire at first, but steamed up the bay, in a wide circle, toward the city of Manila, then turned and came back toward Cavite. The Olympia led the way. After her came the Baltimore, Raleigh, Concord, Petrel, and Boston. All had their battle-flags flying.
Uninjured by the enemy's shots, the Olympia and her train drew near the Spanish forts and ships. At a distance of a little more than four thousand yards, the Olympia fired, and the roar of her first gun was the signal to her companions to open fire. Then the firing from both sides became fast and furious. Our ships moved rapidly about, up and down, past Cavite five times. Admiral Montojo came out in his flagship, the Reina Christina, to attack the Olympia. The Olympia poured such a storm of shot at her that she was compelled to turn back toward the harbor. But the Reina Christina had met her doom. As she turned, a huge shell from the Olympia struck her, set her on fire, and killed her captain and many of her men. Admiral Montojo changed his flag to another ship and came forward again, but soon had to turn back. But a moment of great peril came to the Olympia. Two fierce little torpedo-boats came toward her, ready to hurl her to destruction. The gunners of the Olympia instantly opened such a shower of shells from the smaller guns that the surface of the water was covered with foam. The little boats, without having had time to send forth a torpedo, were overcome. One of them blew up, then sank, with her crew, beneath the waves. The other, pierced with shots, turned toward the shore and ran upon the beach, a wreck.
After more than two hours of fierce fighting, Commodore Dewey led his ships out into the center of the bay, and the battle ceased for a time. The true reason for this movement was known only to some of the officers. The men were told that they were to haul off to get a little rest and some breakfast. The men believed that they had done great damage to the Spaniards, and were eager to finish the battle at once. In fact, no one really knew then how much damage had been done to the Spanish fleet. The results were not known till afterward. Though the men were hopeful and in good spirits, Commodore Dewey and his staff thought the situation serious. Three of the Spanish ships were on fire, and the Boston had also broken out in flames. The Olympia had not enough ammunition to continue the fight two hours longer. Our ships were far from home, and could not get a supply of ammunition in less than a month's time. There was good reason to think that the Spanish forts were well supplied.
The Spaniards thought, when our ships drew away from the shore, that the Americans had been overcome and were leaving in order to bury their dead. They found themselves sadly mistaken.
Our men, strengthened by the rest and a breakfast of bread and cold meat, started again to battle a little before eleven o'clock. Soon several of the Spanish ships were on fire, and some of them sank. After the Spanish fleet had been destroyed, some of our ships attacked the forts on the shore and made them surrender. At five minutes after one o'clock the Spaniards hauled down their flag.
The Spaniards did many brave things that day, and fought desperately, but they were not good marksmen. They did not aim their guns well. They lost eleven ships, and had many men killed and wounded. Our ships were not much injured, only seven of our men were wounded, and none were killed.
When our ships drew together after the battle, and our men found that they had suffered so little, and that no one had been killed, they knew not how to control their feelings. Some of them cried like little children. But such tears are not childish. It is said that when the Spanish forts gave the signal of surrender, Commodore Dewey turned to his officers near him, and said: "I've the prettiest lot of men that ever stepped on shipboard, and their hearts are as stout as the ships."
You must notice that the city of Manila had not been taken in this battle. We shall see later about its surrender. But the battle of Manila Bay was one of the most remarkable naval battles ever fought.
When Commodore Dewey received his orders to "capture or destroy" the Spanish fleet, that was known to be somewhere about the Philippine Islands, the Asiatic squadron, as his ships were called, was lying in the harbor of Hong Kong, which is an English port. After the blowing up of the Maine, which occurred in February, you will remember, he began to put his ships in the very best possible condition for a war with Spain, which he and his officers now thought inevitable. Every emergency was provided for; all the vessels were in complete fighting trim.
Because of the neutrality laws, of which I have told you, after war was declared Dewey's ships could not stay at Hong Kong more than twenty-four hours, so he moved them to Mirs Bay, a Chinese port, and from there set out to find the Spanish fleet.
A naval officer, now retired from the service, told me not long ago, the words "capture or destroy" have been used in instructions to naval officers for three hundred years. He also spoke of his acquaintance with Dewey during the Civil War, and upon long cruises when they were shipmates; and particularly dwelt upon the ability and good judgment that characterized him as a naval officer.
When Dewey received his orders to "capture or destroy" the Spanish fleet, he is said to have remarked: "Thank the Lord! at last I've got the chance, and I'll wipe them off the Pacific Ocean." He did not know what he was to meet in the way of resistance, but there was not a man in the fleet that doubted the outcome of the encounter. He found the Spanish fleet, fought it until not a ship was left to fly the flag of Spain, and then sent word to the Spanish Governor-general that if another shot was fired at his ships he would lay the city of Manila in ashes.
The Island of Corregidor guards the entrance to Manila Bay, but it seemed to be asleep as Dewey's gray ships stole silently by. Once a shell screamed over the Raleigh, followed by another; but the Raleigh, the Concord and the Boston answered the challenge and soon all was silent. At daybreak the fleet was about five miles from Manila, the American flag flying from each ship.
Day breaks quickly in the tropics, and as the sun flashed his beams above the horizon, a beautiful picture revealed itself to the men of Dewey's fleet. Before them lay the metropolis of the Philippines, walled in part like a mediaeval town; the jangle of church bells came from lofty towers. To the right, and below the city, lay the Spanish fleet for which they had been searching.
The Spaniards fired the first gun from a powerful battery in front of the city, and the Concord sent two shells in reply, as the American fleet swept grandly past. Before them were the Spanish ships-of-war and the fortifications at Cavite; between, were shallow waters where they dared not go. Still they swept on, preserving their distances as though performing evolutions in time of peace, the Olympia in the van, drawing nearer and nearer to the ships that flew the red and yellow flag of Spain. The shore batteries again roared defiance to the invaders, but Dewey stood quietly on the bridge of the Olympia, surrounded by the members of his staff. He wore the usual white uniform of the service, and a gray cap such as travelers and bicyclers wear. A huge jet of water now sprang from the peaceful sea, showing that the Spaniards had fired a submarine mine, but no harm was done. Then Dewey gave the quiet order to Captain Gridley, who was in the conning tower:
"Gridley, you may fire when you are ready."
Then the guns of the Olympia spoke, and those of the other ships followed her example. During the five times they passed and repassed the Spanish ships and forts, their courses resembled a gigantic figure 8.
Between the entrance to the bay and the city of Manila is an arm of land or promontory, pointing upwards and towards the city. It is on the right hand side of the bay and is called Cavite. The word means a fishhook, and the promontory looks something like one. Behind Cavite and in the bay of the same name, the Spanish ships were stationed, and at the little town of Cavite was an arsenal and quite a respectable navy-yard.
When Dewey withdrew his ships to ascertain what damage the Spaniards had inflicted upon them, the Spaniards thought they had driven them off, and so they sent a dispatch from Manila to Spain saying that they had won a great victory over the Americans; but when Dewey made the second attack, after breakfast, there was not much more for him to do, for the Spaniards were well whipped. Dewey had met a foreign foe in its own waters, and added another victory to the glorious record of the navy of the United States.
After the battle, one of the signal boys on the flagship wrote a very interesting letter to his friends at home:
"... We are all nearly wild with the effects of victory. The pride of Spain is here under our feet. No doubt before this letter reaches you, you will read full accounts of the battle—a battle that was hard fought and bloodless for the victorious. Not a man in our fleet was killed. Six men were slightly wounded on the Baltimore.
"Say, it was grand! We left Mirs Bay, in China, at two a.m., Wednesday, April 27th. Saturday afternoon we sighted Subig Bay. The Boston and the Concord were sent ahead of the fleet as scouts. We expected to find the Spanish fleet and have our first engagement. We could not find them there, so the Commodore and Captains held a council of war and decided to run past the forts at night.
"It was nine-thirty that night when we sighted the entrance. We went quietly to quarters, loaded our guns, shook hands with each other and trusted to luck. I was on signal watch on the aft bridge and could see everything. Not a sound was heard. At twelve o'clock we were under the guns of the first fort. It was an island called Corregidor. I tell you I felt uneasy. The moon was well up, but not a light could be seen.
"There were two signal officers and three other boys with me. We were laughing and joking with one another to steady our nerves. When we were well under the guns a rocket was fired, and every man braced himself. Then you could hear the breech blocks closing and the officers telling the men to aim steady and to kill.
"Well, all the ships passed that fort, but there were twenty-six miles to go yet, and God and the Spaniards alone knew how many batteries, mines and torpedoes were ready to send us all to eternity.
"The Olympia passed two more forts The Baltimore was next to us. She passed all right, but when the Raleigh came under the guns of the second fort, there was a flash and I heard the shriek of the first shell. Then almost before the shell struck, there was a spout of flame from the Raleigh, and her shell killed forty men, as we learned yesterday. Two more shells were fired at us, but we were well past them. Then the men were told to lie down.
"Now, commenced the signal corps work. Soon our signal lights were flashing the order to close up. At four o'clock I was told by the signal officer to lie down and catch a nap.
"At four, coffee was given to all the men and at fifteen minutes to five, the shore batteries had shells dropping all around, but we did not fire until sixteen minutes past five. The Spanish fleet was in sight off the navy yard. Then the fight started in earnest. For a while I thought my time had come. After we made the signal 'commence firing,' we had nothing to do but watch the fight. The shells flew over our heads so quick I paid no attention to them.
"After an hour and fifteen minutes, the Spanish admiral had two ships sunk under turn. We withdrew for a short time, not knowing we had them whipped. As we were leaving, three ships were burning. At nine-twenty-five, we started again. In a short time the arsenal went up and the Government buildings were in flames.
"The battle lasted altogether three hours and some minutes. At eleven-fifteen the white flag was shown, and you might hear us cheer. The ship was hit about six times. The Spaniards lost terribly. The rebels attacked the enemy. It is something wonderful when you consider the advantage they had over us. They had eleven ships to our six. Their ships could run behind a neck of land near the navy yard. The shore batteries were firing on us from three points. But our marksmanship was too much for them; our fire was so rapid they could not stand it. They lost about two thousand men, so the rumor says. We sank four ships and burned seven. It was a grand, beautiful sight to see those ships burn.
"I was ashore yesterday, and we destroyed all the guns. I managed to get a few souvenirs. Two torpedo boats attempted to blow us up, but one was sunk and one was beached. I saw her. She was full of holes and blood was all over her bow ...
"I hope the ships at home have as good luck as us. I wrote this on captured paper with a Spanish officer's pen."
Like many other vessels in the navy, the Olympia has a complete printing outfit on board, and issues, at intervals, a very creditable sheet called the "Bounding Billow." This is its account of a Spanish shot:
"One shot struck the Baltimore in the starboard waist, just abaft one of the six-inch guns. It passed through the hammock nettings, exploded a couple of three-pounder shells, wounding six men, then across the deck, striking the cylinder of a gun, making it temporarily useless, then running around the shield it spent itself between two ventilators, just forward of the engine-room hatch. The shell is in possession of the captain."
When the news of the glorious victory in Manila Bay reached the United States, the people went wild with joy. Commodore Dewey was thanked by Congress, and afterwards was made a rear-admiral. In December, Congress revived the grade and rank of admiral and conferred it upon Rear-Admiral Dewey, and he and all of his men were presented with medals of honor made expressly for the purpose. The raising of Admiral Dewey's new flag on the Olympia was an interesting ceremony. As the blue bunting with its four white stars fluttered to the peak of the flagship, the crews of all the vessels in the fleet were at quarters; the officers in full dress for the occasion. The marines paraded; the drums gave four "ruffles" as the Admiral stepped upon the deck; the Olympiads band struck up "Hail to the Chief," and an admiral's salute of seventeen guns echoed across Manila Bay from every American ship; followed by salutes of the same number of guns from each foreign war vessel in the harbor.
While Admiral Sampson had been fixing the blockade he had also been forming plans to close the channel, and so keep any large ship from stealing out of the bay. For, although our men watched closely, there was always a chance that in a fog or storm the Spanish ships might slip out without being seen. Admiral Sampson knew that the Spaniards could remove anything that might be sunk to close the channel, but the work would take time, and meanwhile our Army might arrive on the land back of Santiago, and then our Army and Navy could help each other. Time was what was needed in order to have all things ready for forcing the Spaniards out of Santiago and taking possession of the city.
So, plans were made for sinking a coal steamer across the narrowest part of the channel, and thus blocking the way. Now you shall hear of one of the bravest deeds ever done in war.
The work of closing the channel was put into the hands of Lieutenant Hobson. The collier Merrimac was chosen as the vessel to be sunk. You have no idea how much had to be done before the Merrimac was ready. There were hours and hours of work. The crew had to take off all the things that were not to be sunk, the machinery had to be fixed in certain ways, the heavy anchors had to be placed in the right parts, and the torpedoes, which Lieutenant Hobson made for blowing holes in the vessel at the right moment, had to be fitted into their places. More than two thousand tons of coal had to be shoveled away from certain places in the hold to make room for the torpedoes and to leave spaces for the water to rush in and sink the vessel. So, much hard work was done before the good collier was ready to be forced under the waves.
There was only a small chance that the men who took the Merrimac into the channel would ever see their friends again. Death in the waves, or death in the hands of the Spaniards, was the prospect. Lieutenant Hobson said that he would not take one man more than was needed. A signal was put up on all the ships, to find out the men who were willing to go in the Merrimac. Hundreds of brave fellows sent in their names, begged to go, gave good reasons why they thought they ought to go, and were grieved to be refused. Lieutenant Hobson chose only six, but at the last minute a seventh man got his chance; so, counting Lieutenant Hobson, there were eight men going to almost certain death.
After the passing away of the old wooden ships of the navy, and before our war with Spain, it was often said that opportunities for individual bravery and daring had departed from the navy; but this was disproved in the case of Lieutenant Hobson and his men, and in many other instances. Every man in the fleet was ready to go on the Merrimac and do what he was told to do; and so long as such men man our ships our navy can never be conquered. They will fight to the uttermost and go down with their colors rather than strike them.
Thursday evening, the second of June, arrives, and the Merrimac is all ready for her last voyage. The men are on board, waiting for the time to start. Quietly and fearlessly they pass the night, but they do not sleep, they cannot sleep. Behind the Merrimac, farther out at sea, stand the faithful vessels of our fleet, huge, pale shadows in the night. The full moon lights up the channel that the Merrimac will enter after awhile when the moon is low. On both sides of the channel rise the high cliffs with their forts. Morro Castle frowns upon the scene. Beyond—far beyond, are the mountain tops.
A basket of food and a kettle of coffee had been sent on board by the flagship, and after midnight the men sit down on deck to eat their last meal on board the Merrimac.
A little before two o'clock, Friday morning, June 3d, the Merrimac starts for the channel. Each man is at his post; each knows his duty and intends to do it. The men are not wearing their naval uniforms, but are clad only in woolen underclothes, woolen stockings, with no shoes. Each man wears a life-preserver, and a belt with a revolver fastened to it.
On, on goes the vessel, swiftly, surely, heading for the channel. Suddenly shots begin to pour upon the Merrimac; the Spaniards in the forts have seen her approach. Still she plunges on, not heeding the fire from the forts. Lieutenant Hobson gives the signal to stop the engine, to turn the vessel in the right way across the channel, to fire the torpedoes, to drop the anchors. Shells from the forts are exploding all around, and the noise is terrible. But hard luck meets the Merrimac. A shot has broken her rudder, so she cannot be steered; a shot has broken the chain of one of her anchors, so the anchor is gone; some of the torpedoes will not go off, so not enough holes can be made to sink the Merrimac quickly; the tide is sweeping her into the channel farther than she ought to go.
The men, having done their work, lie flat on deck to avoid the shots, and wait anxiously for the moment when the vessel shall go down. In a few minutes the Merrimac tosses low to one side, then to the other, then plunges, bow foremost, into the waves. Now the men are thrown into the whirling water. But see! they manage to swim to the life-raft, which had been fastened by a long rope to the Merrimac and is now floating on the waves. They cling to the raft, only heads and hands above water. They keep quiet, for the Spaniards are out in small boats now, looking to see what damage has been done. The Spaniards do not see our men clinging to the flat raft. So Lieutenant Hobson and his crew stay in the water, which is very chilly in the early morning; their teeth chatter, their limbs ache. Meanwhile day dawns beautifully over the hills of Santiago.
An hour passes in this way. Now a steam-launch is seen coming toward the raft. Lieutenant Hobson hails the launch, asks for the officer in charge, and surrenders himself and his men. They are helped into the launch, prisoners in the hands of the Spaniards. The officer is Admiral Cervera.
Naval Cadet Powell, of the New York, performed a feat in many respects as heroic as that of Hobson and his men. He volunteered to take the launch of the flagship and a small crew, patrol the mouth of the harbor and attempt to rescue Hobson and his plucky crew should any of them survive after the Merrimac had been blown up. This is his story:
"Lieutenant Hobson took a short sleep for a few hours, which was often interrupted. A quarter to two o'clock he came on deck and made a final inspection, giving his last instructions. Then we had a little lunch.
"Hobson was just as cool as a cucumber. About two-twenty I took the men who were not going on the trip into the launch and started for the Texas, which was the nearest ship, but had to go back for one of the assistant engineers, whom Hobson finally compelled to leave. I shook hands with Hobson the last of all. He said: 'Powell, watch the boat's crew when we pull out of the harbor. We will be cracks, rowing thirty strokes to the minute.'
"After leaving the Texas, I saw the Merrimac steaming slowly in. It was only fairly dark then, and the shore was quite visible. We followed about three-quarters of a mile astern. The Merrimac stood about a mile to the westward of the harbor, and seemed a bit mixed, turning completely around; finally, heading to the east, she ran down, then turned in. We were then chasing him, because I thought Hobson had lost his bearings. When Hobson was about two hundred yards from the harbor the first gun was fired from the eastern bluffs.
"We were then half a mile off shore, close under the batteries. The firing increased rapidly. We steamed in slowly and lost sight of the Merrimac in the smoke, which the wind carried off shore. It hung heavily. Before Hobson could have blown up the Merrimac the western battery picked up and commenced firing. They shot wild, and we only heard the shots. We ran in still closer to the shore, and the gunners lost sight of us. Then we heard the explosion of the torpedoes on the Merrimac. Until daylight we waited just outside the breakers, half a mile to the westward of Morro, keeping a bright lookout for the boat or for swimmers, but saw nothing. Hobson had arranged to meet us at that point, but, thinking that some one might have drifted out, we crossed in front of Morro and the mouth of the harbor to the eastward. About five o'clock we crossed the harbor again, within a quarter of a mile, and stood to the westward.
"In passing we saw one spar of the Merrimac sticking out of the water. We hugged the shore just outside of the breakers for a mile, and then turned towards the Texas, when the batteries saw us and opened fire. It was then broad daylight. The first shot fired dropped thirty yards astern, but the other shots went wild. I drove the launch for all she was worth, finally making the New York. The men behaved splendidly."
How did our brave men fare as prisoners? They were taken to one of the Spanish warships, were fed and clothed, and treated as friends. Admiral Cervera sent a message to Admiral Sampson, saying that all the men were safe and would be well treated. But they were not allowed to stay long on the ship. After a few hours they were taken to Morro Castle, which they did not find a pleasant prison, though they were not badly treated. Lieutenant Hobson, by climbing up to the little window in his cell, could see our ships far out at sea. In a few days the prisoners were taken from Morro Castle to another prison in the city of Santiago. You shall hear of them again.
MORE WORK DONE BY THE NAVY.
I have not told you all the brave deeds done by our Navy soon after our ships had reached Cuba, but I will go back, for a few minutes, to the 11th of May. A very sad affair took place at Cardenas, a port about twenty miles east of Matanzas, the place where the first shots were fired. Some of our smaller vessels blockading Cardenas were bold enough to go into the harbor to fight some Spanish gunboats. Though, our men gained a victory, it was dearly bought, for our torpedo-boat Winslow was nearly destroyed, and five of her men were killed. That same day, across the island, at Cienfuegos, on the south shore of Cuba, our men succeeded in cutting the cables under the water, the story of which I have told you.
Before the Cubans began to fight the Spaniards, in 1895, Cardenas was a very pleasant city in which to live. So many Americans who had business interests in Cuba lived there, that it was frequently spoken of as the American city. Like Matanzas, it was the shipping point for a great sugar-growing district, and one of the finest sugar plantations in Cuba was in the vicinity of the city. The bay used to be a famous resort for pirates, but they were exterminated a great many years ago by war vessels of the United States. Now I will tell you the story of the Winslow.
The blockading vessels off Cardenas were the Machias, the Wilmington and the Hudson. It was determined to enter the inner harbor and attack three small gunboats which were known to be there. While preparations for the attack were being made, the Winslow came in from off Matanzas, for coal, and was given a place in the attacking force. The Winslow, Wilmington and Hudson entered the inner harbor through a small channel to the eastward, near Blanco Cay. The Winslow went in closer than the others, and almost before her plucky commander knew it, the fire of the Spanish gunboats and of some shore batteries was concentrated on this frail craft.
The Winslow was a torpedo-boat, and this class of vessels do not have very thick sides or carry heavy guns. They are very fast and the powerful torpedoes they carry can destroy the largest and heaviest ship afloat.
The Winslow returned the Spanish fire splendidly, but at last a shot crashed into her bow and disabled her boiler. Another tore away her steering gear; and then she rolled helplessly while the Spaniards made her a target for every gun they could bring to bear. Seeing her helpless condition, the Hudson came to her assistance and tried to get a line on board. After awhile she succeeded, but when she attempted to tow her away the line parted. She made a second attempt, but just at the instant the little group on the Winslow caught the line, a shell burst in their very faces. Several of the crew, including the commander of the Winslow, were wounded, and Ensign Bagley and four seamen were instantly killed. There was scarcely a man left on the torpedo-boat to make the line fast, but it was done at last, and the Hudson towed the shattered Winslow out of danger. It was a very brave thing that the officers and men of the Hudson did, and later they were thanked by Congress, and a medal of honor was presented to each of them.
I think you will be pleased to learn that the next day the Wilmington went into the harbor again, and with her big guns tore the forts and batteries to atoms, sank two gunboats and two other vessels, and burned a blockhouse.
Ensign Bagley, the first and the only line officer in the navy to fall in the war with Spain, was one of the most popular of young naval officers. While at the Academy at Annapolis he became known as an all-round athlete, but his greatest triumphs were on the foot-ball field. His record throughout his naval career was stainless, and the news of his death was received with sorrow by the people of the United States.
Now I will tell you the story of how the United States flag was raised for the first time on the island of Cuba during the war; and I will tell it in the words of Ensign Willard, of the Machias, the officer who performed the deed. It was done while the fight was going on in Cardenas harbor.
"The Machias drew too much water for the channel to the eastward, and moved up the main channel to within one mile of its narrowest part abreast of Diana Cay. This channel was supposed to be mined and the mines operated from the blockhouse and signal station on Diana Cay. This place was shelled, and, under cover of this fire, a boat's crew of nineteen sailors and marines, under my command, made a landing on the opposite side of the Cay.
"The Spanish hastily left the place, disappearing completely. A Spanish flag, signal flags, etc., and a quantity of ammunition, were captured, and the United States flag raised. Then search was made for mines and the channel dragged for two hours. Before leaving, everything at the station was burned or destroyed, including nine large row-boats. For the raising of this flag I was later awarded, through the New York 'Herald,' a prize of one hundred dollars, which was divided pro rata by me among the men who accompanied me on the expedition."
Early in June, brave work was done by our sailors at Guantanamo, a short distance east of Santiago. They took the harbor and destroyed the forts there, in order that our ships might have a place where they could get coal without going far from Santiago. The coal steamers could not supply the whole fleet, so our vessels had been going for coal all the way back to Key West, south of Florida. It was a great help to have a coaling place at Guantanamo, but our sailors had much hard work to take the place. Now I will tell you about some of this hard work, and something about two men who made it possible to land the marines and establish a coaling station in Guantanamo Bay. The men were Commander McCalla, of the Marblehead, and Captain Brownson, of the Yankee.
Long before the Spanish fleet put into the harbor of Santiago, the Marblehead was along the southern coast of Cuba, poking her nose into every inlet, cutting cables, and communicating with the Cubans. McCalla had her stripped of everything but her guns and her steering gear, and everywhere she went she became a terror to the Spaniards. She dared to go anywhere and do anything. Every man on the ship was devoted to McCalla, and every gunner on board was a crack shot, because they were kept shooting at something all the time. If they couldn't find a Spanish gunboat to shoot at, they fired at floating targets.
When it was decided to clear everything Spanish out of the bay, so our ships could use it, McCalla and Brownson were sent down there to do the work; but first I will tell you a story about Brownson, so you can see that he was just the right kind of a man to go along with McCalla.
In the early part of 1894 there was a civil war in Brazil. The entire Brazilian navy had taken sides with the insurgents and completely blockaded the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. Ships of all nations were there, waiting to enter the harbor, but the insurgents would not let them. Admiral Benham was sent there to look after American interests, with his flagship, the San Francisco; and Captain, then Commander, Brownson, was there with his ship, the Detroit. The blockade had to be broken, and Brownson was selected as the man to do it.
One morning there was a stir on board the Detroit. The awnings came down, her flag was sent aloft and her guns were shotted. Brownson ordered the anchor hoisted, and, with the men at the guns, the cruiser headed towards the city. The flags of the English, German and Italian ships were dipped in salute as she moved ahead. Two American ships, the Amy and the Good News, were anchored under the guns of two of the insurgent fleet. As the Detroit passed close by the Trajano, a marine on that ship raised a musket and fired a bullet over the heads of the sailors on the Amy, which was following close behind the Detroit.
When the shot was fired Brownson turned to a gunner and ordered him to shoot into the Trajano at the water line and about six feet from the stern. The order was misunderstood and was sent across the Trajano's bow instead.
"Trajano, ahoy!" hailed Brownson. "If you fire again I will sink you." Not a shot was fired.
"You go ahead," shouted Brownson to the Amy, "and I'll protect you"; and although there were insurgent ships all about, the Amy passed into the harbor unmolested, with the ships of other nations closely following her. Then the Detroit returned to her anchorage. Brownson had raised the blockade.
Guantanamo Bay is one of the most famous harbors on the southern coast of Cuba. It is deep, wide and smooth as a mill pond. At the entrance the harbor is broad and open, but afterwards it is narrower, and in this place the Spaniards had placed a lot of mines and two little gunboats.
When the Marblehead and the Yankee steamed into the bay they began to make trouble for the Spaniards at once. There was a blockhouse on a hill, but they quickly knocked that to pieces. Then they silenced the fire of the fort and chased the gunboats as far as they could go. Next they shelled the woods, and, having made a general cleaning out, they sent word to the fleet that they could land the marines at any time.
On June 10, a detachment of marines from the Oregon landed, and soon afterwards six hundred more were landed from the troop-ship Panther. They found plenty of evidence that the Marblehead's shells had induced the Spaniards to depart in a hurry. Watches, hammocks, two field guns, and a lot of ammunition, were lying around. There were a few buildings left, but the marines soon set fire to them. They then drove off a few Spaniards who were about, and then pitched their tents. Pretty soon they were attacked by a large body of Spaniards, but they drove them off after having several men killed and quite a number wounded. The place of encampment was named Camp McCalla, in honor of the gallant commander of the Marblehead.
Before the marines were reinforced they were fighting nearly all the time. It was the first time that most of them had been in battle, but they fought like veterans. The Spaniards were very cunning and constantly planned surprises for them, but the marines finally drove them away and held their position until reinforcements came. One of the marines, in writing home, said:
"They fight Indian fashion, and the guerillas strip off all their clothing and dress themselves with leaves and crawl along the ground like snakes, and at night it is very hard to see or hear them. Then, again, they dig holes in the ground and cover them over with brush and conceal themselves there until their prey comes along. Their signals are very hard to understand, and they sound like birds and are very deceiving.
"We have to carry our rifles and ammunition with us wherever we go. Yesterday morning, while we were eating our breakfast, they fired upon us, and we immediately pursued them. We had quite a battle and came out victorious by a big score. We killed sixty and left about fifteen or twenty badly wounded. We had a lucky escape, only two men being wounded. We stayed out all night, and were relieved by another company this morning, and we had nothing to eat for forty-eight hours; but this is not the first time that we have missed our meals—it is an every-day occurrence. We had four hardtacks, a little piece of butter and a cup of coffee.
"We were reinforced by sixty Cuban insurgents last night. They were fitted out with uniforms and rifles by the Marblehead, and they all carry that deadly-looking weapon, the machete."
The machete is the national weapon of Cuba. It looks somewhat like a sword, but instead of being pointed like that weapon, it is broader at the part farthest from the hilt. A strong man can strike a terrible blow with it. It is used all over the island as an agricultural tool as well, for it serves the purpose of a scythe or an axe.
A brave deed was done by a young officer of the Navy all by himself—a deed as brave as that done by Lieutenant Hobson. It was not really known how many Spanish ships were in the harbor of Santiago. I have told you that they could not be seen by our ships on account of the narrow entrance and high cliffs. It was very important to know how many Spanish ships there were. So Lieutenant Blue went ashore at some safe point, and climbed round the hilltops of Santiago at night, looked at the harbor, and counted the ships twice, in order to make no mistake. It was a long journey and full of danger. Lieutenant Blue might have been taken as a spy, but he reached our ships again, and made his report to Admiral Sampson.
Early in June our blockading ships made efforts to destroy the forts at the harbor of Santiago, but did not succeed, though the shells from our ships did a good deal of harm. It was on account of these attacks that Lieutenant Hobson and his crew were removed from their cells in Morro Castle and taken to another prison, as I have told you. The English Consul at Santiago, a wise and good man, told the Spanish general that Lieutenant Hobson and his men could not, in honor, be kept where they might be killed by shells from their own ships. So the prisoners were removed.