SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by this ship in the action of yesterday during and following the sortie of Admiral Cervera’s squadron.
The ship bad started at 8.50 for the army landing at Siboney, the commander in chief having an appointment with the general commanding the army. A few minutes after the crew had been called to quarters for Sunday inspection, firing was heard and a ship was seen leaving the harbor entrance; the helm was at once put over, the crew called to general quarters, signal “Close in toward harbor entrance and attack vessels” made, orders given to spread all fires, and the ship headed back for the enemy, whose ships were seen successively coming out at a high speed. The flagship Infanta Maria Teresa was first, then another armored cruiser of the same class (which turned out to be the Vizcaya), followed by the Cristobal Colon, an armored cruiser (Oquendo), and the torpedo-boat destroyers Furor and Pluton.
The nearer ships had immediately engaged, and by the time we were off the entrance one, the flagship, was already afire and was soon, ashore. The Indiana and Gloucester were actively engaged with the torpedo boats. This ship fired some 4-inch shell at the one nearer the port toward which she was headed and seemed attempting to return, but she was already practically out of the fight. The boiler of the more advanced one had blown up, showing a vast column of condensed steam. During this time the batteries, whose line of fire we bad crossed close to, repeatedly fired upon us, but without effect. No return was made to this fire. A shell from the west battery fell within 200 yards of the ship when we were over 4 miles to the westward and we had thought ourselves entirely out of range. This ship stood on, leaving the Gloucester which had shown herself so capable, to look after the survivors in the torpedo boats. By this time a second cruiser was ashore and burning I (the Almirante Oquendo), while the third, the Vizcaya, and the Cristobal Colon were still steaming rapidly westward. The Indiana was now signaled (11.26 a.m.) to return to the blockading position to look after anything which might be there. Very shortly the Vizcaya turned shore-ward, smoke began to issue from her afterpart, and by the time that she was ashore on the reef at Acerraderos (15 miles west of Santiago) she was ablaze. The Iowa had signaled a little before that she had surrendered, and stopped off this place, where she gave much assistance in the rescue of the Vizcaya’s people.
This ship stood on in chase of the Cristobal Colon, with ahead of us the Brooklyn, Oregon, Texas, and Vixen, the Oregon being much nearer inshore of the two headmost ships, but not in gunshot. We were rapidly increasing our speed.
It was evident, however, that the Colon would give us a lengthy chase and at noon the crew left quarters and went to dinner.
About 12.50 the Oregon opened fire, and some of her shell were observed to strike beyond the Colon. This made her capture a foregone conclusion, and shortly after 1 o'clock she turned in toward shore and soon struck her colors. She had been beached at a small inlet known as Rio Torquino. By the time we arrived a boat was alongside her from the Brooklyn, and Captain Cook, the boarding officer, came alongside this and reported. This ship then sent a boat to take possession, the commanding officer going in the boat. I was received by the commodore of the squadron, the captain, Capt. de Navio Don Emilio Moreu and Capt. de Navio, of the first class, Don Jose de Paredes y Chacon (which latter had been civil governor of Santiago and had only just been attached to the squadron). I arranged for the transfer of the crew and officers, a division to each ship present and the engineer force to be left aboard. While aboard, however, the Resolute arrived and it was arranged to transfer the whole number to her.
I had taken with me the fleet surgeon, an engineer officer, and the carpenter to examine and make secure everything necessary. The engineer officer reported to me that she was making water aft. I had previously had soundings taken and found 8 feet at the bow and 70 at the stern, so that but a small portion of the ship was ashore. I returned as quickly as possible to the flagship to report the situation. The Oregon was signaled to take charge and, the men were hastened on board, a number being sent also from this ship. Our work of closing watertight doors, etc., was of no avail. A large number of sea valves had been treacherously opened and the valves so broken as to make it impossible to close them. The ship thus slowly settled. At 7.30 she came afloat and came out into deeper water. The officer in charge (Lieutenant-Commander' Cogswell) had let go an anchor, but as it was clear that if she went down in water of the depth in which she was she could never be recovered, this ship's stem was placed against her quarter, and later, a line being taken from our own bow to hers, the Colon was forced inshore. It was by this time dark, but using a searchlight we were enabled gradually to force the ship in on the beach, the chain being paid out at the same time. She thus sank in a very moderate depth of water, and it is very probable she may be saved.
At 11 p. m. the flagship returned to Santiago, leaving the Texas and Oregon in charge of the prize.
Though the ship was not able to come to action with any of the larger ships on account of her distance to the eastward, every nerve was strained to do so, and all was done that could be done. Our speed had rapidly increased so that we were going 16 knots at the end. We were immediately astern while all others were considerably to seaward.
We were thus in a position to prevent a possible doubling to the rear and escape to the southeast.
The officers and crew, as they always have done, acted in the most enthusiastic and commendable manner. They have worked into so complete a system that the ship is practically instantaneously ready for action, and while [all] are deserving of commendation and credit, I think it no derogation from the deserts of others to particularly name Lieutenant-Commander Potter, to whom as. executive officer somuch of the ship's efficiency is due, and Chief Engineer McConnell, who has kept the machinery in the admirable order which has enabled us at all times to develop the ship's full speed.
F. E. CHADWICK,
Captain, U. S. N., Commanding.
The COMMANDFR IN CHIEF U. S. NAVAL FOROF,
North Atlantic Station.
U. S. FL AGSHIP NEW YORK, 1ST RATE,
Guantanamo Bay, July 29, 1898.
SIR:As supplementary to my report dated July 4 of the action of the 3d, I beg to state that at the close of the chase of the Colon our speed had increased to not less than 17 knots, instead of 16, as mentioned in my ninth paragraph.
We were making at the close from 104 to 108 turns. One hundred and four turns with a clean bottom would give l7 1/3 knots. One hundred and eight turns with a clean bottom would give 18 knots. An allowance of 1 knot off for foul bottom is more than ample, as the ship was flying light, having in but a moderate amount of coal and very few stores. Under such circumstances there can be no question that this ship would have quickly overhauled the Colon had she continued her flight and would have insured her capture bad there been an accident of, any sort to the other ships in pursuit.
F. E. CHADWICK,
Captain, U. S. N., Commanding.
The COMMANDER IN CHIEF.
Clerk of the Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of the Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, Vol IV (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1899) 438, 520-522.