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The second point at issue was the reason for the withdrawal of the American fleet between the first and second fight. Some maintained that it was for the purpose of giving the men their breakfast. Others assert that it was in order to count the ammunition, which, it was feared, was running short.
To settle these points beyond all dispute and also to make this book an absolutely correct history, the writer of this chapter visited Admiral Dewey on the Olympia on May 15, 1899. The Admiral was most courteous and obliging in the matter, and put at our disposal the best sources of information. He said, “there was talk of a lack of ammunition.” Referring to the article of Mr. Joseph L. Stickney in Harper's Monthly for February, 1899, Admiral Dewey said that the account therein given was accurate as to its details of the withdrawal of the fleet. We quote Mr. Stickney's language:
It has always been assumed in the United States that, from start to finish, there was nothing felt on our side except a buoyant certainty of victory. It will do no harm now to tell the real facts.
It will be remembered that the battle began at six minutes past five o'clock on the morning of May 1st; tlrat Commodore (now Rear-Admiral) Dewey led the line of American war-ships into action in his flagship Olympia ; that after a fierce fight, lasting two hours and a half, the attacking fleet retired from the battle into the center of Manila Bay, and did not renew the attack until nearly four hours later.
When we hauled off from the fighting line, at 7:36 o'clock, the situation had become apparently serious for Commodore Dewey. We had been fighting a determined and courageous enemy for more than two hours without having noticeably diminished the volume of his fire. It is true, at least three of his ships had broken into flames, but so had one of ours—the Boston. These fires had all been put out without apparent injury to the ships. Generally speaking, nothing of great importance had occurred to show that we had seriously injured any Spanish vessel. They were all steaming about in the bight back of Sangley Point, or in Bakor Bay, as actively as when we first sighted them in the early dawn. So far, therefore, we could see nothing indicating that the enemy was less able to defend his position than he had been at the beginning
On the other hand, our condition was greatly altered for the worse. There remained in the magazines of the Olympia only eighty-five rounds of five-inch ammunition, and though the stock of eight-inch charges was not proportionately depleted, it was reduced enough to make the continuance of the battle for another two hours impossible. When it is remembered that Commodore Dewey was more than 7000 miles from a home port, and that under the most favorable conditions a supply of ammunition could not be obtained in less than a month, the outlook was far from being satisfactory. The Commodore knew that the Spaniards had just received an ample supply of ammunition in the transport Mindanao, so that there was no hope of exhausting their fighting power by an action lasting twice as long. If we should run short of powder and shell, we might become the hunted instead of the hunters.
I do not exaggerate in the least when I say that, as we hauled off into the bay, the gloom on the bridge of the Olympia was thicker VIEW OF THE SUNKEN SPANISH SHIPS FROM CAVITE. than a London fog in November. Neither Commodore Dewey nor any of the staff believed that the Spanish ships had been sufficiently injured by our fire to prevent them from renewing the battle quite as furiously as they had previously fought. Indeed, we had all been distinctly
A COMPARATIVE VIEW OF THE AMERICAN AND THE SPANISH FIEETS ENGAGED AT MANILA.
Four 8-in., ten 5-in., 24 R. F...
Reina Christina ............
Steel Cruiser ............
Six 6.2-in., two 2.7-in., 13 R. F. | Four 5.9, two 4.7, two 3.4, 1
two 2.9, 12 R. F........... Four 4.7, 5 R. F ..., Four 1.7, two 2.7, 21 R. F .. Six 4.7, 8 R. F ............ Six 4.7, 8 R. F .... Three 6-in., two 2.7, 2 R. F.... One 6.2, two 4.7,1 R. F One 3.5, 1 R. F........
352 349 159 179 156 156 147
1875 1887 1887 1887 1881 1875 1885
Two torpedo boats and two transports, practically not in action.
*El Correo is mentioned in Admiral Dewey's list of May 4, but is omitted in that given in his despatch of July 9.
disappointed in the results of our fire. Our projectiles seemed to go too high or too lowjust as had been the case with those fired at us by the Spaniards. Several times the Commodore had expressed dissatisfaction with the failure of our gunners to hit the enemy. We had begun the firing at too great a distance, but we had gradually worked in further on each of the turns, until we were within about 2500 yards at the close of the fifth round. At that distance, in a smooth sea, we ought to have made a large percentage of hits; yet, so far as we could judge, we had not sensibly crippled the foe. Consequently Commodore Dewey hauled out into the open bay at the end of the fifth round to take stock of ammunition and devise a new plan of attack.
As I went aft the men asked me what we were hauling off for. They were in a distinctly different humor from that which prevailed on the bridge. They believed that they had done well, and that the other ships had done likewise. The Olympiu cheered the Baltimore and the Baltimore returned the cheers with interest. The gun-captains were not at all dissatisfied with the results of their work. Whether they had a better knowledge of the accuracy of their aim than we had on the bridge, or whether they took it for granted that the enemy must have suffered severely after so much fighting. I do not know, but, at any rate, they were eager to go on with the battle, and were confident of victory. I told one of them that we were merely hauling off for breakfast, which statement elicited the appeal to Captain Lamberton, as he came past a moment later.
“For God's sake, captain, don't let us
stop now. To hell with breakfast!”
When I told the Commodore that I
intended to attribute our withdrawal
to the need for breakfast, he inti
mated that it was not a matter of much
inportance what reason I gave, SO
long as I did not give the true one.
And so the breakfast episode went to the
world as a plausible excuse for what
seemed like an extraordinary strategic
manoeuver-one which has been the
subject of more comment than almost
any other event during the battle.
Many people have said to me that it
would be a pity to spoil so good a story
by telling the truth; but, as the Commo
dore will be sure to let the cat out of the
bag some day, I may as well let her have
her freedom now. Of course we WALLS OF FORT SAN ANTONIO.
learned the truth about the effect of our fire when we saw, soon afterward, the flames rising from the Reina Christina and the Castilla, and heard the explosion of their ammunition, and the former's magazine. We could not understand why the Castilla did not blow up. She burned fiercely, and was in a bright glow even as late as Monday night, having been on fire since Sunday forenoon. It is probable that her magazine had been flooded before the Spaniards abandoned her, so that no explosion accompanied her destruction. Although built partly of wood, the Castilla was also to a great extent a steel vessel; and when we boarded her, after the flames had left nothing but her bare bones, her sponsons and gun platforms were found to be so littered with pieces of our shells that it was impossible to walk there without displacing some of them. Nothing gave a better idea of the storm of projectiles that must have struck this ship than these heaps of rusty fragments.
THE GERMAN FLEET IN MANILA BAY There is still another matter that has interested the American public very greatly—the actions of the German fleet in Manila Bay. Personally after grave investigation the writer thinks that the Germans have at no time had serious
thoughts of opposing the American control of the Philippine Islands, or of causing any friction between the United States and Germany. The German commander was undoubtedly using what in other countries is called diplomacy, but in
our country is called "bluff.” Ifthe bluff had worked the officer would have been promoted; it failed and he was
recalled. VIEW OF THE BAY FROM CAVITE.
About the relations of the German fleet and ours Mr. Stickney in the article already quoted, says:
And speaking of the Germans, it may be well to point out that, while they made themselves as offensive as they dared, and while they acted in a very disagreeable way from the first, Commodore Dewey refrained from taking any notice of their discourtesy until he should be able to do so in such a manner as to admit of no reply.
It would require too much space to repeat all the annoyances to which the Germans lent themselves during the early part of their stay in Manila waters. Their ships came into and went from the harbor at all hours of the day and night. When a steamer made her appearance to seaward, a German vessel would run out to examine her with great promptitude. After one such instance, which occurred at a time when Vice-Admiral Von Diederich's flag-lieutenant was on board the Olympia Admiral Dewey said to the German officer: “One might almost think your ships were blockading Manila, and not mine." The lieutenant chuckled complacently, as though he thought it was a compliment to the activity of his commander-inchief, but he was wholly unable to comprehend that, when Dewey became so sweetly suave, it was a good time to look out for squalls.
One night one of the German steam-launches came steaming toward our feet at full speed. She was picked up by the search-lights of our squadron fully a mile away, and was kept in the focus of their rays until she came alongside. Our officers almost universally believed that the object of her unnecessary and untimely visit was to discover whether it would be possible for a Spanish torpedo-boat to get within range of our vessels without being discovered by us.
Then the Princess Wilhelmina, lying off Subig Bay, notified the insurgents that she would not permit them to attack the Spanish troops at that point. At another time one of the German ships tried to sneak into the anchorage off the city of Manila at night, all her lights being extinguished, and her course being an unusual one. She was detected, and promptly“ brought to" by a shell across her bows from the United States cruiser that was on picket duty that night. Our courteous and courtly Commodore made no sign. He was waiting until he could put an end to the whole annoyance with one crushing blow. At last the opportunity came. He learned, on unquestionable authority, that one of the German vessels had landed provisions in Manila, thereby violating neutrality. I was not present when he sent his message to Admiral von Diederich, and therefore I do not speak from personal knowledge concerning it; but I learned the facts from a perfectly authentic source, as follows: “Orderly, tell Mr. Brumby I would like to see him," said Admiral Dewey, one forenoon. “Oh, Brumby," he continued, when the flag-lieutenant made his appearance on the quarter-deck, “I wish you to take the barge and go over to the German flagship. Give Admiral von Diederich my compliments, and say that I wish to call his attention to the fact that the vessels of his squadron have shown an extraordinary disregard of the usual courtesies of naval intercourse, and that finally one of them has committed a gross breach of neutrality in landing provisions in Manila, a port which I am blockading."
The Commodore's voice had been as low and sweetly modulated as if he had been sending von Diederich an invitation to dinner. When he stopped speaking, Brumby, who did not need any better indication of the Commodore's mood than the usually formal and gentle manner of his chief, turned to go, making the usual official salute, and replying with the customary, “Ay, ay, sir."
“And, Brumby," continued the Commodore, his voice rising and ringing with the intensity of feeling that he felt he had repressed about long enough, “tell Admiral von Diederich that if he wants a fight, he can have it right now!”
Brumby went with his message, and the Commodore paced the quarter-deck in silence for a considerable time, evidently working off some of the high pressure that had brought forth his emphatic message to the German Admiral. The latter sent back the extraordinary reply that he had not known anything about these actions of his captains, and that they would not be repeated. When one considers the rigidity of discipline that is supposed to exist in the German navy, the character of Admiral von Diederich's apology is all the more incomprehensible.
But whatever may have been the new methods adopted by Admiral von Diederich to prevent his captains from violating neutrality and showing bad manners, they were entirely efficacious. There was never the least further need to refer to the possibility of giving Commodore Dewey the job of disciplining them.
IMPRESSIONS OF ADMIRAL GEORGE DEWEY. On a beautiful May morning, a year after the events recorded in this chapter, I went down the harbor of Manila to visit the grand old man of the fleet, and to authenticate this part of our history. I found him an agreeable, chivalrous, courteous gentleman endeared to his countrymen by simplicity and honor. After giving me the information that I needed, and the confirmation of the data on which this chapter is based, the Admiral sat down on the quarter-deck and, looking away towards Cavite and the sunken ships of Spain, began to think about his home-going to America. He deeply appreciated the warmth and unanimity of the love his country bears him. But he said he was afraid of the great strain so many receptions would be upon his health.
The Admiral, though over sixty, still looks hale and stout, every inch a man, every wit a “gentleman unafraid.” He thought that now, after his many voyages and battles, he would like to go up and rest among the green hills of Vermont. He wanted, he said, to settle down in Montpelier, his old New England home.
“ If the folks up in Montpelier will give me a reception in the town hall, that will be enough," said this worldloved man. One could see that, after his long and honorable career, and after his superb successes, the old man longed for the spot of earth where he had been a boy. He looked at the far, fair mountains of Mariveles, and the green crown of Corregidor, but not to him like the wind-swept hillsides of dewy New England were these Southern scenes.
I spent the whole forenoon on board the Olympia, the officers and men showing me the wonders of their trig little cruiser. And one said this was where the