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THE AMERICAN FLEET AT MANILA.
Take a hold o' the wings o' the mornin'
VE NE of the most wonderful events of history is the American
occupation of the Philippines. When the Spanish-American war began, these islands were hardly thought of in the problem. The archipelago was to most of us simply a few blotches on our geographies; and Admiral Dewey was a Commodore at the close of an honorable but obscure career. The big headlines were all about Santiago and Havana, Ponce and
Porto Rico, Sampson, Schley and the Rough Riders. Suddenly from a clear sky and an unvisited sea, rose clouds and constellations; nations were confused; American patriotism and glory were put on pinnacles; and the deeds of a simple, quiet gentleman with a company of American Jacktars were placed in the pantheon of history along with those of Farragut and mighty Nelson.
It was expected by the civilized world that this war would keep its limits in the West Indies. In fact one of the great nations made a move to have the United States understand that the trade of the world was not to be interfered with outside the zone affected by the principles at stake in the island of Cuba. The theater of war has changed. The West Indies are no more interesting than Van Dieman's land; and the focus of American history and the cynosure of statesmen is the remote archipelago, lying in the China Sea, seven thousand miles from our western coast. Nor was the change in scene the only miracle. The change in the attitude of the nation was greater than the distance that separates Havana from Manila. The war began in the sacred name of liberation for a fettered people, dragging their chains in pain and sweat. To-day in jungles of Luzon, by the rivers of Panay, and along the shores of Cebu a sullen people dispute us inch by inch, straining every human effort to be free from the governarce of the liberators. To the Filipinos in their long contest for liberty, we appear as the European oppressor appeared to our forefathers who wrought out human rights at Valley Forge and Bunker Hill. Flying with their wives and children to the hills, burning their homes with their own hands; killed by the thousand in the rice-fields and the cane-brakes; driven like wild beasts back to mountain lair—the mightiest nation in the world can not but dread the audacity of their despair.
The problem is as grave as any that ever put swordcuts of thought on human brows. These islands lie in fair summer seas. They are rich in furrowed field
and forest height; in the river beds that gleam and the hills that are crowded with waiting metals. Yet their history has been and is to-day a history of blackness and darkness; a history of work and want, of ignorance and fear. No star, no hope as yet shines out for them. In the ruthless game of nations where the pawns are men, the Filipinos must play a losing game. The chains of Spain must be exchanged for the strong government which America, however unwillingly, in the evolution of history, must place upon these islands. The history of how this has come about is one of the romances of the nineteenth century.
There was a time when England trembled at Philip the Tyrant, called the Second of Spain. He was a supreme bigot and thief. He stole, among his many thefts, 114,000 square miles of island real estate in the Malay archipelago, and called them the Philippines. Spain never conquered them; Luzon, the largest, was never colonized; Mindanao, the second
largest, was never explored. Some of the flora and fauna of these
- islands are at this moment no better known than
those of Mars. A fastidious gentleman in
the American navy said to a friend that
he was getting oid and would like
just one voyage more before he
retired. This man was ap
pointed to a rather obscure
post in the Pacific. The
Pacific is quite large, and the
old gentleman might have
been lost in one of its many
monsoons. He had a sma 11
fleet, but it was well equipped.
Nobody knew a great deal about
this American sailor. He had been
in the Civil War, and had tied a certain
Farragut to the main top of the Hartford. At
last the fastidious sailor turned up at Hongkong with
about twenty dress suits. He was a perfect gentleman. Very difficult to snub this man. A German prince tried it once, but was severely taken down. A message of import having arrived shortly after our sailor reached China, he sailed away towards the Malay archipelago. The next heard from him was a story so astonishing that the world was shaken. It was said that this American gentleman, with his slim fleet, had entered a defended harbor at night, silenced its guns, and destroyed utterly and beyond remedy the feet which guarded the entrance. Wilder than all was the incredible story that he had not lost a single man in the action. The man of many suits had played well. King Philip's real estate suffered a considerable jar. America had long been a sinister omen for Spain. In 1783 the United States were declared free; in that year Bolivar was born. By the time Bolivar died, Spain had lost South America. The Antilles alone were left her in the west. She could not reform. On February 15, 1898, the Maine was destroyed at Havana, and the war was on.
THE BATTLE OF MANILA BAY. On the 24th of April, 1898, the Secretary of the Navy of the United States sent the following cablegram:
DEWEY, HONGKONG, CHINA. War has commenced between the United States and Spain. Proceed at once to the Philippine Islands. Commence operations at once, particularly against the Spanish fleet. You must capture vessels or destroy them.
That same day the British Commander of Hongkong, owing to the fact that his government had declared its neutrality, gave notice to the American squadron that it would have to clear port inside of twenty-four hours. The American fleet left Hongkong, China, under the command of Commodore Dewey in the flagship Olympia on Friday, April 25th, bound for the Philippine Islands, fully equipped as to ammunition, coal and provisions, and with an extra supply carried along in the transports Nanshan and Zafiro, recently put under the American flag. After a short stop at Mirs Bay the fleet got under way for the seat of future operations in the following formation: Olympia, Baltimore, Raleigh, Concord, Petrel and Boston, and after arriving off the Island of Luzon steamed slowly in the direction of Manila Bay. On the afternoon of Saturday, April 30th, the Boston, Concord, and later the Baltimore, were sent ahead to reconnoiter Point Subig. INTERIOR FT. SAN ANTONIO. Finding no sign of the enemy, our ships again assembled in the original formation, with the transports convoyed by the despatch boat, McCulloch, forming a separate column to the right. For the further operations of the fleet in the battle of Manila Bay, we quote from an article prepared for CAMPAIGNING IN THE PHILIPPINES, by Lieutenant-Commander G. P. Colvocoresses, executive officer of the Olympia.
“When the United States squadron was off Subig Bay on the afternoon of April 30th the captains were assembled on board the flagship, and on returning to their vessels it was learned that we go immediately to Manila Bay, anchor and
be prepared to bombard the arsenal at eight o'clock in the morning. We proceeded at a speed of eight knots in the following formation, single column, four hundred yards distance: Olympia (flying the broad pennant of George Dewey), Baltimore, Raleigh,
Petrel, Concord and the Boston, Effect of SHELLS ON PORT SAN ANTONIO.
the despatch boat, McCulloch and the transports Nanshan and Zafiro. The ships were cleared for action and the crews were at their guns. The entrance to Manila Bay was made at midnight. There were known to be batteries there, and it was probable that
Photo by Bishop.
the channels had been mined. Corregidor Island is at the mouth of the bay, and on either side of it are channels named Boca Chica and Boca Grande, two and one-half and six miles wide respectively. It was a beautiful starlight
· night. A gentle breeze tem
pered the intense tropical heat. A young moon, occasionally veiled by clouds, was in the zenith, and the sea was smooth. Silently and in
perfect order the squadron SAN JUAN DE AUSTRIA.
entered the Boca Grande, and suddenly a light gleamed from the summit of Corregidor, probably signaling our approach. As we passed a large rock called El Fraile, a rocket was fired, followed by the boom of a gun over the still waters, and a shot hurtled between the main and mizzen masts of the Concord. It was immediately replied to and the Raleigh had the honor of firing the first shot. We had been fired upon by a battery of four seven-inch guns on El Fraile. The squadron continued up the bay, the stillness occasionally broken by the cry of the lookouts announcing a light upon the distant shore.
“At the first break of dawn we could make out the shipping of the city of Manila, apparently consisting only of merchant vessels. At 5:05 A. M. a battery near the city opened on the squadron, and immediately a number of shots were exchanged with it. The Spanish range, however, proved too short. Our transports here left us in order to keep out of fire, and the increasing daylight disclosed the shadowy forms of the Spanish men-of-war at Cavite on the eastern shore of the bay about five miles distant-phantom-like they appeared gliding about in the mist. The smoke was pouring from their stacks and it was evident that they were forming in line of battle. This line extended from behind and beyond a long low sandy spit known as Sangley Point, which partly encloses the little bay of Canacao, in the rear of which is Cavite, where the arsenal is situated. The point was defended by batteries which protected the left flank of the line. The vessels behind it were fairly sheltered from fire, while the right flank was extended into such shallow water that it could not be turned. The Spanish vessels were in close order, and as the mist lifted, the proud red and yellow banners of Castile and Leon could be seen grandly floating from each masthead.
“Our fleet in splendid order turned to the right and went for the foe at full speed, the Stars and Stripes fluttering in the breeze, and the signal
Phota by Bishop. 'Commence Action' flying from the yards of the ISLA DE CUBA. Olympia; only one other signal, ‘Close Up,' was made during the first part of the combat. It was a grand moment, and as we advanced the Spaniards opened fire. The zip-zip of their shells increased; soon a reply was given as each of our vessels came within range, and the steady booming of the guns became a deafening roar. Everyone was almost deaf, and altogether begrimed with smoke before the action was over.
“A supposed torpedo-boat was seen, making for our leader, but it was obliged to turn back and was beached and abandoned. No torpedo-boat in the world could have passed that shell-swept interval of a mile and a half. Our squadron defiled before the Spanish line, pouring in its shower of death with terrible effect from the port battery; and turning, it continued the same steady shower with the starboard guns. Seven separate times our ships performed this evolution as if on parade, and the Spaniards met our fire with the greatest bravery. They had fully a hundred guns playing upon us from their vessels and batteries; but their aim was poor, and the power of their artillery was inferior to ours, although they had a number of five-inch and six-inch breech-loading rifles. The effect was soon apparent; a large lead-colored cruiser which was taken to be the Reina Christina presented the best target, and suffered terribly. Her ensign was shot away, but it was soon rehoisted, and it was evident that she was on fire, as we could see the firehose playing aloft. A Spanish vessel went to her relief and appeared to be taking men from her. Two gunboats particularly distinguished themselves, steaming up and down behind the point and keeping a steady fire upon us. These vessels were the Isla de Cuba and the Isla de Luzon.
BATTLE OF MANILA BAY. “At 7:40 A. M. firing ceased by signal from the commander-in-chief, and we withdrew from action, the men going to breakfast. They had stood at their guns all night. The commanding officers were ordered to repair on board the flagship and a council was held. Affairs looked grave; the extent of damage done the enemy was not fully known; and the hot cannonade had expended a great quantity of our ammunition. The spirit of men and officers was most admirable. For two hours and a half they had served the guns with unflinching zeal and bravery, and cheered at every telling shot, and now as their captains passed in their gigs, they manned the rails and shout after shout rent the air. Sullenly the Spanish guns joined in the uproar.
“No time was lost, and again our squadron stood in for the enemy and renewed the contest with redoubled animation. The Spanish fire was slack. One of their ships suffered an explosion and was wrapped in flames and smoke. The Baltimore's fire told heavily against the remaining guns of the Sangley battery. The Concord received orders to go inside the Spanish line and destroy a large