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steamer that was in shallow water, obstructed by fish weirs, an ideal place for torpedoes and mines. At the first volley, which was opened at long range, ten boats loaded with men were seen to leave the steamer and land upon the beach. Our position was particularly favorable for enfilading two Spanish men-of-war behind the mole at the arsenal, and this was improved to the best advantage by all the division, whose work was most excellent. Every shot seemed to tell; stones and clouds of dust flew from the walls of houses, and the shells passed through the roofs, bursting beyond.
“At 12:25 not a Spanish flag was seen in the Canacao Bay except from the staff of the sunken cruiser Don Antonio de Ulloa submerged behind Sangley Point. This vessel went down with her colors flying in the most gallant manner. The Reina Christina, that had so bravely borne the brunt of battle, was a mass of fire, sinking near the bastion of Cavite, while the Castilla was burning rapidly in Canacao Bay. The remainder of the Spanish fleet had sought shelter behind the arsenal, and several of them were also on fire. The guns of the batteries at Sangley Point were silent and a white flag appeared on the sheers of the arsenal.
“ The Concord continued to shell the steamer, and in order to hasten operations, boats were hoisted out and provided with combustibles for the purpose of burning; but before she had got any distance it was seen that our shells had set her on fire.
“At 1:45 we were ordered to join the Petrel at Cavite, where she was destroying the vessels at the arsenal. As we neared her, she signaled, 'Have destroyed eight vessels,' and she had six small vessels, tugs and launches in tow as prizes. When we anchored, white flags were seen flying from various points on shore and there was no longer any resistance. The battle was won, and all the vessels of the Philippine fleet had been destroyed.
“The Boston joined us at five o'clock, and we guarded the approach of Canacao Bay for the night, while the remainder of the squadron anchored near the city. The sun went down upon a 'wide and woeful sight;' the beautiful cruisers Reina Christina and Castilla were outlined from trucks to water line in flames that burst out in great columns of rose-colored smoke as the fire reached some explosive. The Isla de Mindanao was a mass of fire on the shores of Las Pinas, while behind the arsenal tongues of flames shot high above the walls.
“All night the calm moon looked down upon this scene of devastation, silvering alike the cross upon the quaint old church of Cavite, the grey walls of the fort and the shattered hulks in the bay. Our crew remained at the guns all night, and early in the morning a launch flying a flag of truce came out. In it were an aide-de-camp and his orderly, and they were taken to the flagship. Later in the morning the General commanding at Cavite and his staff passed us in mournful procession. They had been to the flagship to surrender. Our men stood at attention as they neared, and saluted, which the Spanish officers returned with punctiliousness.
“The Spanish force at Cavite was about 2000 men belonging to the navy, with a good many soldiers whose numbers we cannot ascertain. Their loss was estimated from 900 to 1200 killed and wounded. The arsenal was abandoned in
great haste, only a few taking time to get away their personal effects, and large quantities of stores, provisions and ammuni
tion fell into our hands. The REINA CHRISTINA.
church and hospitals of Cavite were filled to overflowing with dead and wounded, and ten Spanish surgeons and some Sisters of Mercy remained to take care of them. The following is a list of the vessels destroyed or captured : Burned and sunk in action : Reina Christina, flagship of Admiral Montejo; Castilla, cruiser; Don Antonio de Ulloa, cruiser; Isla de Mindanao, mail steamer armed. Scuttled and burned after the action: Don Juan de Austria, cruiser; Isla de Cuba, gunboat; Isla de Luzon, gunboat; Gen. Lezo, gunboat; Marquis del Duero, gunboat; Elcano, gunboat; Velasco, gunboat; Argos, hydrographical vessel. Captured since the battle: Manila, armed transport; Callao, gunboat; also several tugs and launches. All the batteries in the bay had been dismantled. Our casualties consisted in four slightly wounded, on board the Baltimore. Some shots struck our vessels, but without doing the least harm.”
A SPANISH VERSION OF THE BATTLE OF MANILA BAY. As General Otis said to one of the writers of this book: “All histories lie. One man sees a battle and describes it ; another man sees it and describes it. Their accounts differ entirely.” Therefore, it may be interesting to know how this battle seemed to the beaten foe. For this reason we quote from the Diario de Manila of May 4, 1898, the following description of the great sea-fight as seen by a Spaniard. The translation is by the chief officer of the Olympia, G. P. Colvocoresses :
THE NAVAL COMBAT AT CAVITE. As the sun rose above the mists and clouds that overhung our shores on the morning of May 1st., the inhabitants of Manila saw with surprise and dismay the enemy's squadron in well-ordered line of battle on the waters of the bay. Who could have imagined that they would have had the rashness to stealthily approach our shores, provoking our defenders to an unavailing display of skill and valor, in which, alas ! balls could not be propelled by heart throbs, else the result might have been different?
The sound of shots from our batteries and those from the enemy's ships, which awakened the citizens of Manila at five o'clock on that May morning, transformed the character of our usual peaceful and happy surrounding. Frightened at the prospects of dangers that seemed greater than they were, women and children PLACE OF EXECUTION, Cavite. in carriages, or by whatever means they could, sought refuge in the outskirts of the city, while all the men, from the highest to the lowest, the merchant and the mechanic, the soldier and the peasant, the dwellers of the mainland and those of the coast, repaired to their posts and took up arms, confident that never, except by passing over their dead bodies, should the
soil of Manila be defiled by the enemy, notwithstanding that from the first it was apparent that their armored ships and powerful guns were invulnerable to any effort at our command.
The walls of the public square, the towers of the church, the upper stories of houses and every place that commanded a view of the bay was thronged by citizens whose duties as regulars or volunteers did not assign them to posts within the city or on the decks of our ships. All were eager to observe the least detail of the enemy's vessels, which in perfect line of battle advanced toward Cavite, parallel to the Manila shore, as if steaming out of the harbor. Shots from the batteries and plaza produced no impression on the cruisers. The spectators on the shore, with and without glasses continued to scan the advancing enemy; they may have been brave, but had no occasion to prove it since the range of their guns and the deficiencies of our artillery enabled them to do us all the harm they wished with impunity.
Those who comprehended the undisturbed movements of the enemy, seemingly so inoffensive, were filled with rage and desperation, realizing that there was no remedy, and only a choice between honorable death or remaining in impassive cowardice. A soldier of the first battalion of sharpshooters who saw a squadron so far out of range of our batteries, said, glancing up to heaven, “If Holy Mary would only transform that water into land then the Yankees would see how we could fight;" and a Malay squatting near by exclaimed, “Let them land and we will crush them under heel.” Meanwhile the enemy proceeded with speed and safety in perfect formation toward Cavite with a decision born of security. At about 4:15 A. M. absolute silence reigned. All was ready. Ideas of death and danger vanished at approach of conflict, and the battle flags waved proudly from the masts of the national vessels. Majestically (for why should we not admit it), and in perfect order of battle the nine Yankee vessels bore down on our line. The Olympia Aying the Admiral's flag led the way to Cavite at full speed and behind her defiled the other vessels. As the enemy's squadron approached Cavite the crew of the mail steamer Isla de Mindanao heard on board the Spanish vessels the order to clear ship for action, and the three cheers for the king, for the queen and for Spain, and responded with frantic enthusiasm.
At 5:00 A. M. the Olympia opened fire, which was instantly replied to by the battery mounted on the angle of the works of the ports, and pursued her way to Cavite, pointing her armored prow at the Christina and the Castilla, and opening a murderous fire upon both vessels. This was followed by the broadsides of the six vessels that accompanied her. The Baltimore's fire took particular effect upon our EFFECT OF SHELL, CHURCH AT CAVITE. ships, and this cannonade continued until 7:45 A. M. At this time we saw the Austria advance against her enemies with the intention of boarding the Olympia and if a tremendous. volley had not checked her career of vengeance perhaps both vessels would now be at the bottom of the bay.
The captain of the Christina seeing that the efforts of his consort had failed, started full speed ahead to within two hundred meters of the Olympia, intending to engage her at close quarters. A hail of grape-shot swept the deck and shelters, filling the ship with dead and wounded. Heroes and martyrs that the motherland will never forget as long as she exists! A thick column of smoke burst out of the forward store-room of the Christina indicating that an incendiary projectile, of the kind prohibited by divine and human laws, had taken effect in the cruiser. Without ceasing her fire she retired toward the shore and was scuttled. The
indignation of the sailors of the Christina was raised to the highest pitch at seeing the Castilla on fire from the same incendiary causes.
Our principal vessels were now out of the combat, and as several of the Yankees were badly injured by our vessels and batteries, they withdrew toward Mariveles, ceased firing, and occupied themselves in repairing damages until ten o'clock, when they commenced their second attack, which was to complete their work of destruction. In the second combat the fire of the arsenal was silenced and the cannonade continued upon our ships that were burning in all directions. A gunboat that seemed to have no more daring object than the destruction of the Isla de Mindanao detached herself from the enemy's squadrons and riddled the vessel with balls.
The Spanish vessels that had not succumbed to the flames or the shots of the enemy were run aground, as they could not be disposed of in any other way. This was the last stroke. We could do no more. The combat at Cavite was ended and our last vessel went down flying her colors.
It is impossible to picture the bloody scene presented by the waters of Cavite on that Sabbath morning. We will not attempt a description that would be weak and imperfect and unworthy of the heroic deeds that should be perpetuated in the pages of history. To mention those who distinguished themselves in this combat would be to transcribe the names of the crews from captain to cabin boy. For them our words of praise, for them our congratulations, for the living our laurels, for the dead our prayers, for all our deepest gratitude.
For more than an hour and a half cannonading had continued, keeping in suspense the hopes of those on the opposite shore of the bay, who with their hearts took part in this unequal struggle, in which, as ever, the Spanish sailors went down with their ships rather than strike their colors. Anxiously we asked, “ What is going on at Cavite?" Froin Manila we could see by the aid of glasses the two squadrons almost confounded and enveloped .
THREE OF THE SUNKEN SPANISH SHIPS. in clouds of smoke. Owing to the inferiority of our batteries it was evident that the enemy was triumphant, and, secure in his armored strength, he was a mere machine requiring only motive power to keep in action his destructive agencies. Only the cheers of our intrepid boarders and the glitter of their cutlasses could have checked this automatic confidence, but alas! we could not reach them. Who can describe the heroic acts, the prowess, the deeds of valor performed by the sailors of our squadron as rage animated themı? All who were beneath the folds of the banner of Spain did their duty as becomes the chosen sons of the fatherland. They slacked not their fire nor yielded to superior force, and preferred to perish with their ships rather than live with them in the hands of the enemy.
DISPUTED POINTS. Since the battle of Manila Bay or Cavite, as it is sometimes called, several questions have been disputed. The first point about which discussion has been raised is which entrance to Manila harbor the ships entered. Some said that it was by way of the Boca Chica or “ little mouth," others that it was by way of the Boca Grande or “great mouth.” This question is settled by the description given by the Lieutenant-Commander of the Olympia in the earlier part of this chapter, viz., that it was by way of the Boca Grande.