Abbildungen der Seite

the sides of the Oquendo, the Vizcaya, est in our squadron, she might be sure to and the flag-ship. The Spanish fire sank head off the swiftest Spanish ship. In under that of the American gunners, shoot- the lead with the Brooklyn was the Texas, ing coolly as if at target practice, and holding the next position in the line. But sweeping the Spanish decks with a fire the Oregon was about to add to the laurels which drove the men from the guns. On she had already won in her great voyage went the Spanish ships in their des- from ocean to ocean. With a burst of perate flight, the American ships firing speed which astonished all who saw her, rapidly and steadily upon them, always and which seemed almost incredible in a closing in, and beginning now to gather battle-ship, she forged ahead to the secspeed. The race was a short one to two ond place in the chase, for such it had now of the Spanish ships, fatally wounded in become. The Teresa and Oquendo had the first savage encounter.

gone to wreck, torn by the fire of all the In little more than half an hour the ships. The Vizcaya had also suffered seSpanish flag-ship Maria Teresa was head- verely, but struggled on, pursued by the ed to the shore, and at a quarter past leading ships, and under their fire, espeten she was a sunken, burning wreck upon cially that of the Oregon, until, at a quarthe beach at Nima Nima, a distance of ter past eleven, she too was turned to the about 6 miles from Santiago. Fifteen shore and beached, at Acerraderos, 15 minutes later, and half a mile farther on, miles from Santiago, a shattered, blazing the Oquendo was beached near Juan Gon- hulk. zales, a mass of flames, shot to pieces, and In the mean time the two torpedo-boats, a hopeless wreck. For these two ships of coming out last from the harbor, about the Spanish navy, flight and fight were ten o'clock, had made a rush to get by the alike over.

American ships; but their high speed At the start, the Brooklyn, putting her availed them nothing. The secondary bathelm to port, had gone round, bearing teries of the battle-ships were turned upon away from the land, and then steamed to them with disastrous effect, and they also the westward, so that, as she was the fast. met an enemy especially reserved for them. The Gloucester, a converted yacht, with no tle avail, and which has made the Eng. armor, but with a battery of small rapid- lish-speaking man the victor on the ocean fire guns, was lying inshore when the from the days of the Armada. Spaniards made their break for liberty. When the Vizcaya went ashore at a Undauntedly firing her light shells at the quarter past eleven, only one Spanish ship great cruisers as they passed, the Glouces- remained, the Cristobal Colon. She was ter waited, gathering steam, for the de- the newest, the fastest, and the best of the stroyers. The moment these boats appear- squadron. With their bottled steam, all ed, Lieutenant - Commander Wainwright, the Spanish cruisers gained at first, while unheeding the fire of the Soca pa battery, the American ships were gathering and drove the Gloucester straight upon them increasing their pressure, but the Colon at top speed, giving them no time to gained most of all. She did, apparently, use their torpedoes, even if they had so comparatively little firing, kept inside of desired. The fierce, rapid, well - directed her consorts, hugging the shore, and then fire of the Gloucester swept the decks of raced ahead, gaining on all the American the torpedo-boats, and tore their upper ships except the Brooklyn, which kept on works and sides. Shattered by the shells outside to head her off. When the Vizfrom the battle-ships, and overwhelmed caya went ashore, the Colon had a lead by the close and savage attack of the of about 6 miles over the Brooklyn and Gloucester, which fought in absolute dis- the Oregon, which had forged to the front, regard of the fire from either ships or with the Texas and Vixen following at shore, the race of the torpedo-boat de- their best speed. As the New York came stroyers was soon run. Within twenty tearing along the coast, striving with minutes of their rush from the harbor's might and main to get into the fight, now mouth the Furor was beached and sunk, so nearly done, Admiral Sampson saw, afand the Pluton had gone down in deep ter he passed the wreck of the Vizcaya, water. At the risk of their lives the offi- that the American ships were overhauling cers and men of the Gloucester boarded the Spaniard. The Colon had a contract their sinking enemies, whose decks looked speed 5 knots faster than the contract like shambles, and saved all those who speed of the Oregon. But the Spaniard's could be saved. There were but few to best was 7 knots below her contract rescue. Nineteen were taken from the speed, while the Oregon, fresh from her Furor, twenty-six from the Pluton; all the 14,000 miles of travel, was going a litrest of the sixty-four men on each boat tle faster than her contract speed, a very were killed or drowned. It is worth while splendid thing, worthy of much thought to make a little comparison here. The and consideration as to the value of perFuror and Pluton were 370 tons each, fect and honest workmanship done quite with a complement together of 134 men. obscurely in the builder's yard, and of the They had together four 11-pounders, four skill, energy, and exact training which 6-pounders, and four Maxim guns, in ad- could then get more than any one had a dition to their torpedoes. The Gloucester right to expect from both ship and enwas of 800 tons, with ninety-three men, gines. On they went, the Americans comfour 6-pounders, four 3-pounders, and two ing ever nearer, until at last, at ten minColt automatic guns. The Spanish ships utes before one, the Brooklyn and the were fatally wounded probably by the sec- Oregon opened fire. A thirteen-inch shell ondary batteries of the battle-ships, but from the great battle - ship, crushing her they were hunted down and destroyed by way at top speed through the water, fell the Gloucester, which, regardless of the in the sea beyond the Colon; the eightfire of the Soca pa battery, closed with them inch shells of the Brooklyn began to drop and overwhelmed them. There is a very in- about her; more big shells from the Ore. teresting exhibition here of the superior gon turret followed; and then, without quality of the American sailor. The fierce, firing another shot, the Spaniard hauled rapid, gallant attack of the Gloucester car- down her flag and ran at full speed ried all before it, and showed that spirit ashore upon the beach at Rio Tarquino, of daring sea-fighting without which the 45 miles from Santiago. Captain Cook best ships and the finest guns are of lit- of the Brooklyn boarded her, received the

[graphic][merged small]
[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

surrender, and reported it to Admiral their opponents. According to the conSampson, who had come up finally just tract speed, the Spanish cruisers had a in time to share in the last act of the great advantage over all their American drama. The Colon was only slightly hurt opponents, with the exception of the by shells, but it was soon found that the Brooklyn, and of the New York, which Spaniards, to whom the point of honor was absent. If they had lived up to their is very dear, had opened and broken her qualities as set down in every naval regissea-valve after surrendering her, and that ter, they ought to have made a most she was filling fast. The New York push- brilliant fight, and some of them ought ed her in nearer the shore, and she sank, to have escaped. They also had the adcomparatively uninjured, in shoal water vantage of coming out under a full head

So the fight ended. Every Spanish ship of steam, which their opponents lacked, which had dashed out of the harbor in the and yet in less than two hours all but one morning was a half-sunken wreck on the were shattered wrecks along the shore, Cuban coast at half-past one. The offi- and in less than two hours more that one cers and men of the Iowa, assisted by the survivor had been run down and had met Ericsson and Hist, took off the Spanish the same fate. It is no explanation to crews from the red-hot decks and amid say, what we know now to be true, that the exploding batteries and ammunition the Colon did not have her 10-inch guns, of the Vizcaya. The same work was done that the Vizcaya was foul-bottomed, that by the Gloucester and Harvard for the much of the ammunition was bad, and the Oquendo and Maria Teresa. From the wa- other ships more or less out of order. One ter and the surf, from the beaches, and of the conditions of naval success, just as from the burning wrecks, at greater peril important as any other, is that the ships than they had endured all day, American should be kept in every respect in the officers and crews rescued their beaten highest possible efficiency, and that the foes. A very noble conclusion to a very best work of which the machine and the perfect victory. The Spanish lost, accord- organization are capable should be got ing to their own accounts and the best out of them. The Americans fulfilled estimates, 350 killed or drowned, 160 these conditions, the Spaniards did not; wounded, and ninety-nine officers and the Oregon surpassed all that the most ex1,675 men prisoners, including, of course, acting had a right to demand; the Colon those on the Furor and Pluton, as already and Vizcaya did far less; hence one reason given. The American loss was one man for American victory. It is also said killed and one wounded, both on the Brook- with truth that the Spanish gunnery was lyn. Such completeness of result and such bad, but this is merely stating again that perfection of execution are as striking here they fell short in a point essential to sucas at Manila, and Europe, which had been cess. They fired with great rapidity as disposed at first to belittle Manila, saw at they issued from the harbor, and although Santiago that these things were not ac- most of the shots went wide, many were cidental, and considered the performances anything but wild, for the Brooklyn was of the American navy in a surprised and hit twenty-five times, the Iowa repeatedly, flattering, but by no means happy, silence. and the other ships more or less. When At Santiago the Spaniards had the best the American fire fell upon them, their fire, types of modern cruisers, three built by as at Manila, slackened, became ineffecBritish workmen in Spanish yards, and tive, and died away. Again it was shown one, the Colon, in Italy, while the tor- that the volume and accuracy of the Amerpedo-boat destroyers were fresh from the ican fire were so great that the fire of the Clyde, and the very last expression of opponents was smothered, and that the English skill. The American ships were crews were swept away from the guns. heavier in imament and armor, but much The overwhelming American victory was slower. The Americans could throw a due not to the shortcomings of the Spanheavier weight of metal, but the Spaniards iards, but to the efficiency of the navy had more quick-fire guns, and ought to of the United States and to the quality have been able to fire at the rate of sev. of the crews. The officers and seamen, the enty-seven more shots in five minutes than gunners and engineers, surpassed the

« ZurückWeiter »