This report on the Effect of the Gun-Fire of the United States Vessels in the Battle of Manila Bay, by the Intelligence Officer of the U.S.S. Baltimore, has lately been received. In transmitting it Admiral Dewey calls attention to the value of the information contained.
The conclusions drawn by Lieutenant Ellicott at the end of his report are particularly interesting.
Commander, U.S.N., Chief Intelligence Officer.
Navy Department, March 27, 1899.
A. S. Crowninshield, Rear-Admiral, U. S. N.,
Chief of Bureau of Navigation.
U.S.S. Baltimore, Iloilo, P. I., January 1, 1899.
Sir:—I have the honor to submit the following report on the effects of the gun-fire of the United States fleet upon the Spanish war vessels in the battle of May 1, 1898, and respectfully request that it be forwarded to the Office of Naval Intelligence. The report is based upon a personal examination of all the vessels, personal conversations with officers who served on them in the action, and extracts from Admiral Montojo's official report.
This vessel was the flagship of Admiral Montojo during the greater part of the first engagement. She received a large concentration of gun-fire and was placed hors de combat by conflagrations fore and aft, the destruction of her personnel, the destruction of her steering gear, and the bursting of a shell in her super-heater. She was then sunk by the Spaniards and abandoned in shoal water under the north wall of Cavite heading eastward, where she burned, with bulwarks awash. During the conflagration there were frequent heavy explosions. The injuries visible above water afterwards were as follows:
One large shell across bulwarks at break of forecastle, cutting away starboard lower boom.
One large shell swept bridge, apparently from starboard to port, and destroyed starboard search-light. This may have been the shell described by Admiral Montojo as destroying the steam steerer.
In the forward smokestack the following shells: One 8-inch low, one 8-inch high, one 6-pounder low, one 6-pounder high; and in forward escape pipe one 5-inch and one 6-pounder midway.
In ventilator forward of after smokestack, one 6-pounder waist high and one 6-pounder midway.
The after smokestack fell 60 degrees to port, probably caused by the large shell mentioned by Admiral Montojo as exploding in the super-heater. This stack was struck, apparently while still upright, by one 8-inch shell low, two 6-pounders near the top, and one 5-inch midway.
Underneath topgallant forecastle one 8-inch shell entered near the deck and close under break of forecastle, going from port to starboard and forward at an angle of 45 degrees, and burst under the forecastle, a large fragment passing out on starboard side.
Two 5-inch shells also penetrated under the forecastle on port side well forward, 6 feet above deck, and burst.
One 5-inch shell entered on starboard side in same locality and passed out on port side without exploding.
The mizzenmast, although much burned, showed evidences of having been pierced six times, and the fore and main masts once, by shells of various calibers.
The starboard after-launch's davit was shot away, as if by a large shell.
An 8-inch shell pierced the shield of the port forward 16-centimeter gun, above and to left of the breech, and exploded, slipping the elevating arc band just its width to the rear and wrecking the elevating wheel, rod, and pinion on left side of gun. A fragment of this shell wrecked the elevating gear on the right side of the opposite gun. The portion of the shield penetrated sloped at an angle of about 30 degrees with the axis of the shell. The bursting of the shell about 2 feet in rear of its point of impact was coordinated by a huge hole torn upward in a sheet-iron bulwark rail arched over the sponson embrasure.
Admiral Montojo reports additional injuries as follows:
A shell burst on the forecastle, disabling all the crews of the four rapid-fire guns and driving splinters from the foremast which wounded the helmsman, who was steering on the bridge.
A shell burst on the orlop deck, setting fire to the lockers of the crew, who fortunately succeeded in putting out the fire.
The enemy…covered us with a hail of rapid-fire projectiles.
About half past 7 a shell completely destroyed the steam steerer.
Another shell exploded aft, putting nine men out of action.
…Another carried away the mizzen truck and gaff, bringing down the ensign and my flag, which were immediately replaced.
Another shell burst in the wardroom…and destroyed the wounded who were there under treatment.
Another burst in the after ammunition room, filled the compartments with smoke, and prevented the coupling of the hand-wheel. It being impossible to keep down the fire, this ammunition room had to be flooded when the cartridges were beginning to explode.
Amidships…a large shell had penetrated the super-heater, putting out of action a gunner's mate and twelve men who were serving the guns.
Another disabled the starboard bow gun.
…The fire forward was renewed by a shell which penetrated the side
and burst on the orlop.
When many men had already been saved…a shell killed her heroic captain…who was directing the rescue of the crew.
Summing up, it is in evidence or officially recorded that the Cristina was struck by five 8-inch, five 5-inch, and thirteen other large shells, and by seven 6-pounder and nine other projectiles, or thirty-nine projectiles in all. These are not all, as Admiral Montojo reports having been covered by a hail of rapid-fire projectiles, and in conversation has estimated that the Cristina was hit about seventy times.
This vessel had developed such weakness in steaming to Subig Bay some days before the battle that she was not underway on the 1st of May, but in the beginning of the engagement was moored head and stern in the line of battle, her port broadside bearing. A string of iron lighters loaded with sand was moored in prolongation of Sangley Point to protect her water-line. During the engagement her bower chain was cut by a shell and from the impact of another shell she swung around till her starboard broadside was presented. Being a wooden vessel she was readily and repeatedly set on fire. About 10 o'clock, while the United States squadron was drawn off, her flag came down, either by design or accident, and she burst into flames fore and aft. She then sank until her main deck was awash, and her bulwarks and upperworks were completely consumed by flames. Her forward smokestack fell 60 degrees toward the starboard quarter, probably weakened, like the Cristina's, by the explosion of a large shell. Next to the Cristina she received the greatest injury from gun-fire. Injuries visible to inspection are as follows:
One 5-inch shell dismounted 37-millimeter gun on port forward bridge over sponson.
One 6-inch cut fore and aft beam over port forward gun sponson.
Seven small shells passed through forward smokestack.
Five small shells passed through forward drum room.
A large shell tore a 4-foot hole in the port side below the main deck and just abaft the port midship gun.
There is a similar injury on the starboard side, nearly opposite.
One 5-inch shell through the after smokestack.
Three 5-inch shells, close together, entered port side under main deck, abaft after smokestack.
One 6-pounder in after smokestack.
One 6-pounder in after escape pipe.
Two 5-inch entered port side between mainmast and after sponson.
One 5-inch passed through shield of 37-millimeter gun on port after bridge, over sponson, dismounting gun.
One 6-pounder cut forward part of upper edge of port after gun-sponson embrasure.
One 1-pounder cut forward vertical edge of same.
One 5-inch raked outside of starboard after sponson.
One 6-inch entered starboard side, under main deck, under midship gun.
There are two jagged holes, 4 feet and 1 foot in diameter, on starboard side under main deck, abreast after smokestack.
One 5-inch on starboard side under main deck, just abaft forward sponson.
One 5-inch through after side of forward starboard sponson.
One 5-inch through port after sponson, forward side, near deck.
Two scars of small shells on port after 16-centimeter gun shield.
Several small holes in after smokestack as if from fragments of a bursting shell.
Total, two 6-inch, twelve 5-inch, and four other large shells; three 6-pounders and sixteen other small shells; thirty-seven shells in all. Survivors tell of three 8-inch shells which burst on the orlop deck forward, amidships, and aft, causing fires which could not be controlled. This raises the known hits to forty.
Admiral Montojo states:
The Castilla…had all her guns put out of action except one on the poop… Riddled by shot and in flames from the enemy's shells, she was sunk and abandoned by her crew.
Survivors state that they were rescued by boats from shore which came off in obedience to a prearranged signal.
Don Antonio de Ulloa.
This vessel was not in repair on May 1, parts of her machinery being on shore. She was moored head and stem on the left of the Spanish line, in Cañacao Bay, just behind Sangley Point, her starboard broadside bearing, the port guns having been removed to be emplaced on shore. The low sandy point was expected to form some protection to her hull. She was only manned by men enough to fight her starboard battery, about half of her normal complement. She received but little gun-fire in the first engagement, but was riddled and sunk by the leading American ships in the second, and was abandoned with colors flying. She listed heavily to starboard just before settling, but righted on the bottom and lay with her poop awash, superstructure and forecastle above water. She had sent down yards and topmasts and these spars were on .shore, except the fore yard, which had been untrussed but not sent down. The slings of this yard were cut during action and the yard fell across the forecastle on the sheet bits, breaking the beam at the break of the forecastle. The other injuries visible above water are as follows:
One 6-pounder entered under forecastle from forward, passed through the midship waist ventilator and burst in front of pilothouse, near deck.
One 8-inch raking shell entered at break of topgallant forecastle just under the deck and burst.
One 8-inch burst just under the superstructure deck, port side, on line with after end of pilot-house, a long half fragment passing out through the skin of the ship.
One 5-inch came over starboard rail a little farther aft and passed out through port bulwarks.
Six 6-pounders came over same way between superstructure and poop, and passed out through hammock nettings on port side.
One 8-inch passed clean through both sides, starboard to port, just under after break of superstructure deck and near mainmast.
One 6-inch came in starboard rail abaft mainmast and passed out through port hammock netting.
Seven large shells, probably 5-inch, ripped across superstructure deck, coming from direction of starboard bow.
One 8-inch across forecastle from starboard to port dismounted starboard 6-pounder gun, cutting away the mount.
One 6-inch shell passed through the shield of this gun.
Three 6-pounders from starboard to port passed through mount of port 6-pounder gun.
One small raking shell gouged skin of ship just forward of port sponson.
One large shell ripped poop in front of mizzenmast.
One large shell cut starboard binnacle stand.
Three large shells ripped poop deck, coming from direction of starboard bow.
Two large shells burst under poop, one near break and one aft, forcing up the deck.
The left side of after 4.7-inch gun-shield and the sponson rail were cut through by a 6-inch shell.
Total hits observable: Four 8-inch, three 6-inch, one 5-inch, and fourteen other large shells; ten 6-pounder and one other small shell; thirty-three projectiles in all.
Admiral Montojo states:
The Ulloa…was sunk by the holes made along her water-line by the enemy's projectiles.
Don Juan de Austria.
This vessel was sunk by the Spaniards behind Cavite arsenal, in Bacoor Bay, about two cables off shore abreast the west arsenal gate, after retiring from battle at the end of the first engagement. She was anchored by the port anchor and sank heading east, her topgallant forecastle above water and poop awash. After being abandoned, and while sinking, she was set on fire by a party from the Petrel sent for that purpose, and burned from the after engine-room bulkhead to the stem. Her starboard guns remained trained on the bow, and port ones on the beam.
Twelve empty 6-pounder cartridge shells lay at starboard forecastle gun and nine at the port one. A full box of 1-pounder ammunition remained on starboard side of superstructure near the pilot-house.
The injuries to this vessel were as follows:
Two 6-pounders, or smaller, scarred foremast.
One 6-pounder and one 5-inch entered port side under topgallant forecastle and burst without causing fire.
One 6-inch or 8-inch passed through superstructure deck under the bridge on port side and burst in the captain's galley, causing no fire, there being no woodwork in its neighborhood.
Another similar shell coming from same direction (one and one-half points abaft the beam) struck the superstructure deck near the corner of the pilot-house, glanced up and demolished the steering wheel and gear and engine telegraphs.
Two 6-pounders passed through the pilot-house, one from port to starboard low, and one from starboard to port halfway up.
One 5-inch cut through the mizzenmast about halfway up.
One 5-inch entered under port hawse pipe and burst, damaging port torpedo tube.
One 6-pounder entered at waterway under superstructure on main deck, port side.
One 5-inch entered port hammock netting abreast the mainmast.
One 6-pounder struck the rail abaft the port after 4.7-inch gun.
No further injuries were found after the vessel was raised. Summing up, she was hit by the following shells: Two 6-inch or 8-inch, four 5-inch, five 6-pounders, and two other small shells; thirteen projectiles in all.
The Austria has two bow torpedo tubes. When raised a 14.2- inch Schwartzkopff torpedo was in the upper starboard outboard rack abreast the tube, and another lay on the deck in rear of the starboard tube without a head.
The Austria assisted in rescuing the men from the Castilla before retiring behind the arsenal.
Isla de Luzon.
This vessel and the Isla de Cuba maneuvered together on the Spanish right flank, more retired than the other vessels, circling together at considerable speed. The Luzon retired behind the arsenal at the end of the first engagement, anchoring near the Austria, and was sunk by her own crew. Her stern settled upon a submerged wreck, keeping the cabin above water and the topgallant forecastle awash. After sinking her head lay northeast, she being about a cable's length southwest of the Austria. She was set on fire and burned by the same party which burned the Austria, the damage by fire being almost identical.
One 4.7-inch common shell, nose fuzed, remained in a rack between the after guns.
The injuries by gun-fire were as follows:
One large shell crossed her rail in wake of the two forward guns, disabling both guns.
One shell cut the chain topping lift of the fore gaff, letting the peak fall across the bridge.
The Luzon assisted the Cuba in rescuing men from the Reina Cristina before retiring behind the arsenal.
Admiral Montojo states that—
The Luzon had three guns dismounted and some small injuries to her hull.
There seem, therefore, to have been three hits in all. No additional injuries could be discovered when this vessel was raised.
Isla de Cuba.
Admiral Montojo transferred his flag to this vessel when the Cristina was abandoned. After rescuing a part of the latter's crew she stood in behind the arsenal and was anchored by the starboard anchor a cable's length southwest of the Luzon, heading southeast. She was sunk by the Spaniards and burned by the Petrel's party in the same manner as the Austria and Luzon. Her main-battery guns remained trained on the bow. This vessel used armor-piercing shells from her after 4.7-inch guns, and these being the only guns of that caliber firing armor-piercing shells in the engagement, it must have been one of these which struck the Baltimore.
The injuries to the Cuba were as follows:
One 6-pounder through the pilot-house, starboard to port.
One shell cut away both forward vangs abreast the pilot-house rail.
One 6-pounder passed through under the topgallant forecastle without exploding.
One 6-pounder glanced from left side of starboard after 4.7-inch gun-shield.
One 6-pounder struck conning tower shoulder high, but did not penetrate.
Total hits, four 6-pounders and one unknown caliber; five in all.
The Cuba showed no additional injuries when raised.
Marques del Duero.
The Duero was in action in the left wing of the Spanish line and under steam. She assisted in rescuing the survivors of the Cristina and retired like the others behind the arsenal, where she was anchored close to the shore, about 800 yards west of the Cuba, heading east, and was there scuttled and abandoned. A party from the Petrel burned her. She was entirely gutted by fire and lies with bulwarks awash. She shows the following injuries from gun-fire:
One 8-inch shell entered close under topgallant forecastle deck, starboard side, and probably exploded.
One 6-inch very close to the latter, probably exploded; there being no evidences of egress by either of these shells.
One 6-pounder passed through midship-gun sponson, starboard side, forward of gun-shield.
One 6-pounder passed through after bulwarks, starboard side, down through deck and out port side near break of poop.
Admiral Montojo reports:
The Duero had one engine crippled, as well as her 12-centimeter bow gun and one of her sponsons.
Thus there seem to have been five hits in all.
This vessel was undergoing extensive repairs and lay at moorings near the east water-front of Cavite arsenal. Her main deck in wake of the boilers had been removed to take out the latter, which were on shore. A new superstructure deck had been laid, but was unfinished. She had no steering gear in place. She took no part in the action. All her guns had been removed to be mounted in shore batteries. She was sunk by the Spaniards after the first engagement and then burned by a party from the Petrel. She lies on an even keel, heading westward, with bulwarks awash, and was not seriously injured by fire. There are evidences of the explosion of a quantity of small-arm ammunition on her deck aft, probably when she was burned. She was struck by one stray shell, which crossed her stern from port to starboard, carrying away the taffrail and kedge-anchor fluke on starboard quarter.
Admiral Montojo states that this vessel was under repair and not in action. After the second engagement she was found anchored in Bacoor Bay, by the port anchor about 2 cables south of the Luzon, heading south and settling. She was burned by a party from the Petrel, her after magazine exploding with great violence, as well as some ammunition on deck. Her midship guns were missing and, although she had a bow torpedo tube, there were no evidences of torpedoes on board. The elevating gear of her 9-centimeter bow gun had been damaged by a projectile. She lies with main deck about 2 feet under water.
The Argos was a hydrographic survey vessel lightly armed and not in the fight. She remained anchored behind the arsenal about 800 yards west of the Velasco, and was scuttled by the Spaniards and burned by a party from the Petrel. She settled till her bulwarks were awash, heading east. One large shell struck her starboard bulwarks at break of forecastle, passing outward.
SUMMARY OF HITS IN EVIDENCE OF OFFICIALY REPORTED
Name of vessel.
Number of hits.
Probably not more than half.
Don Antonio de Ulloa
Don Juan de Austria
Isla de Cuba
Isla de Luzon
Marques del Duero
Of these, thirteen were 8-inch, six 6-inch, and twenty-two others 5-inch or larger; thirty-one were 6-pounders and twenty-nine others smaller calibers.
The Spanish ships had removed all light spars, slung gaffs, and snaked rigging, but they went into action without unshipping awning stanchions, ridge ropes, or canopy frames, and they carried many of their boats. They were all painted gray except the Castilla. She was still white except her gun sponsons, which were gray, and her smokestacks yellow.
The killed and wounded, as nearly as I have been able to ascertain by painstaking inquiry, were as follows:
Isla de Cuba
Isla de Luzon
Don Juan de Austria
Don Antonio de Ulloa
Marques del Duero
The following points in connection with my examination seem to be brought out or emphasized:
- The sides of iron and steel-built cruisers do not arrest projectiles enough to explode them.
- The incendiary effect of bursting 8-inch shells is great, and far greater than would seem proportionate to that of lower calibers.
- At ranges over 2500 yards the gun-shields of cruisers are in no sense a protection, but insure the annihilation of the gun's crew and the disabling of the gun if struck by a large projectile.
- Warships of the present day will generally be placed hors de combat by conflagration and the destruction of their personnel before they are sunk by gun-fire.
John M. Ellicott,
Lieutenant, United States Navy, Intelligence Officer.
To the Commanding Officer, U. S. S. Baltimore.