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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott




Simultaneously the big blockaders crowded toward them and opened a heavy fire, while stokers shoveled desperately below to get up steam. To the surprise of other vessels, Schley's ship, the _Brooklyn_, after heading towards the entrance, swung round, not with the enemy, but to starboard, just sliding past the _Texas'_ bow. This much discussed maneuver Schley afterward explained as made to avoid blanketing the fire of the rest of the squadron. The _Oregon_, which throughout the blockade had kept plenty of steam, "rushed past the _Iowa_," in the words of Captain Robley Evans, "like an express train," in a cloud of smoke lighted by vicious flashes from her guns. In ten minutes the _Maria Teresa_ turned for shore, hit by 30 projectiles, her decks, encumbered with woodwork, bursting into masses of flame. The concentration upon her at the beginning had shifted to the _Oquendo_ in the rear, which ran ashore with guns silenced 5 minutes after the leader.

Shortly before 11, the _Vizcaya_, with a torpedo ready in one of her bow tubes, turned towards the _Brooklyn_, which had kept in the lead of the American ships. A shell hitting squarely in the _Vizcaya's_ bow caused a heavy explosion and she sheered away, the guns of the _Brooklyn, Oregon_, and _Iowa_ bearing on her as she ran towards the beach. The _Colon_, with a trial speed of 20 knots, and 6 miles ahead of the _Brooklyn_ and _Oregon_,

appeared to stand a good chance of getting finally away. The _New York_, rushing back toward the battle, was still well astern. But the _Colon's_ speed, which had averaged 13.7 knots, slackened as her fire-room force played out; and shortly after 1 p.m. she ran shoreward, opened her Kingston valves, and went down after surrender. She had been hit only 6 times.

In the first stage of the fight the little yacht _Gloucester_, under Lieutenant Commander Wainwright, had dashed pluckily upon the two destroyers, which were also under fire from the secondary batteries of the big ships. The _Furor_ was sunk and the _Pluton_ driven ashore.

There is hardly a record in naval history of such complete destruction. Of 2300 Spaniards, 1800 were rescued as prisoners from the burning wrecks or from the Cuban guerillas on shore, 350 met their death, and the rest escaped towards Santiago. The American loss consisted of one man killed and one wounded on the _Brooklyn_. This ship, which owing to its leading position had been the chief enemy target, received 20 hits from shells or fragments, and the other vessels altogether about as many more. An examination of the half-sunken and fire-scarred Spanish hulks showed 42 hits out of 1300 rounds from the American main batteries, or 3.2 per cent, and 73 from secondary batteries. Probably these figures should be doubled to give the actual number, but even so they revealed the need of improvement in gunnery.

Sampson was right when he stated earlier in the campaign that the destruction of the Spanish fleet would end the war. Santiago surrendered a fortnight later without further fighting. An expeditionary force under General Miles made an easy conquest of Puerto Rico. On August 12, a protocol of peace was signed, by the terms of which the United States took over Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines (upon payment of 20 million dollars), and Cuba became independent under American protection. The war greatly strengthened the position of the United States in the Caribbean, and gave her new interests and responsibilities in the Pacific. In the possession of distant dependencies the nation found a new motive for increased naval protection and for more active concern in international affairs.

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