|Battle of Manila Bay|
|Part of the Spanish–American War|
Battle of Manila Bay, 1 May 1898, Fred S. Cozzens
|Commanders and leaders|
| 4 protected cruisers |
1 revenue cutter
2 transport ships
| 2 protected cruisers |
5 unprotected cruisers
1 transport ship
|Casualties and losses|
| 1 dead of illness |
1 protected cruiser damaged
| 77 killed |
2 protected cruisers scuttled
5 unprotected cruisers sunk
1 transport ship sunk
|Battles of Manila|
The Battle of Manila Bay (Filipino : Labanan sa Look ng Maynila; Spanish : Batalla de Bahía de Manila), also known as the Battle of Cavite, took place on 1 May 1898, during the Spanish–American War. The American Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey engaged and destroyed the Spanish Pacific Squadron under Contraalmirante (Rear admiral) Patricio Montojo. The battle took place in Manila Bay in the Philippines, and was the first major engagement of the Spanish–American War. The battle was one of the most decisive naval battles in history and marked the end of the Spanish colonial period in Philippine history.
Tensions between Spain and the United States worsened over the Spanish conduct during their efforts to quell the Cuban War of Independence, with many Americans being agitated by largely falsified reports of Spanish atrocities against the Cuban population. In January 1898, fearing the fate of American interests in Cuba due to the war, the cruiser USS Maine was dispatched to protect them. Less than a month later, the cruiser exploded while lying at anchor in Havana harbor, killing 261 sailors onboard and inflaming American opinion, with Spain being portrayed as the culprit in the American media regardless of the actual source of the explosion. Two months later, war was declared.
Upon the outbreak of war, the Americans realized that defeating a significant Spanish squadron then stationed in the Philippines was important to ensuring victory in the war. The U.S. Asiatic Squadron commanded by Dewey, a veteran of the American Civil War, was dispatched to ensure success.On the 1st of May, the American squadron steamed into Manila Bay to engage with the Spanish. The Spanish, aware that they were hopelessly outgunned, made a desperate defense against the Americans. The battle was not much of contest, with superior American naval gunnery and seamanship ensuring the entire Spanish fleet would be sunk with minimal casualties for the Americans, who suffered only ten casualties in all. Upon realising that the battle was hopeless, Montojo ordered his two protected cruisers to be scuttled to ensure that they did not fall into the hands of the Americans. The battle remains one of the most significant naval battles in American maritime history.
Americans living on the West Coast of the United States feared a Spanish attack at the outbreak of the Spanish–American War. Only a few U.S. Navy warships, led by the cruiser USS Olympia, stood between them and a powerful Spanish fleet. In practice however Olympia was far superior to the Spanish colonial fleet, as the battle would show.
Admiral Montojo, a career Spanish naval officer who had been dispatched rapidly to the Philippines, was equipped with a variety of obsolete vessels. Efforts to strengthen his position amounted to little. The strategy adopted by the Spanish bureaucracy suggested they could not win a war and saw resistance as little more than a face-saving exercise. 59 Administration actions worked against the effort, sending explosives meant for naval mines to civilian construction companies while the Spanish fleet in Manila was seriously undermanned by inexperienced sailors who had not received any training for over a year. Reinforcements promised from Madrid resulted in only two poorly-armored scout cruisers being sent while at the same time the authorities transferred a squadron from the Manila fleet under Admiral Pascual Cervera to reinforce the Caribbean. Admiral Montojo had originally wanted to confront the Americans at Subic Bay, northwest of Manila Bay, but abandoned that idea when he learned the planned mines and coastal defensives were lacking and the cruiser Castilla started to leak. :69 Montojo compounded his difficulties by placing his ships outside the range of Spanish coastal artillery (which might have evened the odds) and choosing a relatively shallow anchorage. His intent seems to have been to spare Manila from bombardment and to allow any survivors of his fleet to swim to safety. The harbor was protected by six shore batteries and three forts whose fire during the battle proved to be ineffective. Only Fort San Antonio Abad had guns with enough range to reach the American fleet, but Dewey never came within their range during the battle.:
The Spanish squadron consisted of seven ships: the cruisers Reina Cristina (flagship), Castilla, Don Juan de Austria, Don Antonio de Ulloa, Isla de Luzon, Isla de Cuba, and the gunboat Marques del Duero. The Spanish ships were of inferior quality to the American ships; the Castilla was unpowered and had to be towed by the transport ship Manila. a.m. on 29 April. Manila, towing Castilla, was last to arrive in Manila Bay, at midnight.On April 25, the squadron left Manila Bay for the port of Subic, intending to mount a defense there. The squadron was relying on a shore battery which was to be installed on Isla Grande. On April 28, before that installation could be completed, a cablegram from the Spanish Consul in Hong Kong arrived with the information that the American squadron had left Hong Kong bound for Subic for the purpose of destroying the Spanish squadron and intending to proceed from there to Manila. The Spanish Council of Commanders, with the exception of the Commander of Subic, felt that no defense of Subic was possible with the state of things, and that the squadron should transfer back to Manila, positioning in shallow water so that the ships could be run aground to save the lives of the crews as a final resort. The squadron departed Subic at 10:30
At 7 p.m. on 30 April, Montojo was informed that Dewey's ships had been seen in Subic Bay that afternoon. As Manila Bay was considered unnavigable at night by foreigners, Montojo expected an attack the following morning. However, Oscar F. Williams, the United States Consul in Manila, had provided Dewey with detailed information on the state of the Spanish defenses and the lack of preparedness of the Spanish fleet. Based in part upon this intelligence, Dewey—embarked aboard Olympia—led his squadron into Manila Bay at midnight on 30 April.
Passing the entrance, two Spanish mines exploded but were ineffective as they were well below the draft of any of the ships due to the depth of the water. Inside the bay, ships normally used the north channel between Corregidor Island and the northern coast, and this was the only channel mined. Dewey instead used the unmined south channel between El Fraile and Caballo Islands. The El Fraile battery fired a few rounds but the range was too great. The McCulloch, Nanshan and Zafiro were then detached from the line and took no further part in the fighting. At 5:15 a.m. on 1 May, the squadron was off Manila and the Cavite battery fired ranging shots. The shore batteries and Spanish fleet then opened fire but all the shells fell short as the fleet was still out of range. At 5:41 with the now famous phrase, "You may fire when ready, Gridley", the Olympia's captain was instructed to begin the destruction of the Spanish flotilla.
The U.S. squadron swung in front of the Spanish ships and forts in line ahead, firing their port guns. They then turned and passed back, firing their starboard guns. This process was repeated five times, each time closing the range from 5,000 yards to 2,000 yards. The Spanish forces had been alerted, and most were ready for action, but they were heavily outgunned. Eight Spanish ships, the land batteries, and the forts returned fire for two and a half hours although the range was too great for the guns on shore. Five other small Spanish ships were not engaged.
Montojo accepted that his cause was hopeless and ordered his ships to ram the enemy if possible. He then slipped the Cristina's cables and charged. Much of the American fleet's fire was then directed at her and she was shot to pieces. Of the crew of 400, more than 200, including Montojo, were casualties and only two men remained who were able to man her guns. The ship managed to return to shore and Montojo ordered it to be scuttled. The Castilla, which only had guns on the port side, had her forward cable shot away, causing her to swing about, presenting her weaponless starboard side. The captain then ordered her sunk and abandoned. The Ulloa was hit by a shell at the waterline that killed her captain and disabled half the crew. The Luzon had three guns out of action but was otherwise unharmed. The Duero lost an engine and had only one gun left able to fire.
At 7:45 a.m., after Captain Gridley messaged Dewey that only 15 rounds of 5" ammunition remained per gun, Dewey ordered an immediate withdrawal. To preserve morale, he informed the crews that the halt in the battle was to allow the crews to have breakfast. According to an observer on the Olympia, "At least three of his (Spanish) ships had broken into flames but so had one of ours. These fires had all been put out without apparent injury to the ships. Generally speaking, nothing of great importance had occurred to show that we had seriously injured any Spanish vessel." Montojo took the opportunity to now move his remaining ships into Bacoor Bay where they were ordered to resist for as long as possible.
A captains' conference on the Olympia revealed little damage and no men killed. It was discovered that the original ammunition message had been garbled—instead of only 15 rounds of ammunition per gun remaining, the message had meant to say only 15 rounds of ammunition per gun had been expended. Reports arrived during the conference that sounds of exploding ammunition had been heard and fires sighted on the Cristina and Castilla. At 10:40 a.m. action was resumed but the Spanish offered little resistance, and Montojo issued orders for the remaining ships to be scuttled and the breechblocks of their guns taken ashore. The Olympia, Baltimore and Boston then fired on the Sangley Point battery putting it out of action and followed up by sinking the Ulloa. The Concord fired on the transport Mindanao, whose crew immediately abandoned ship. The Petrel fired on the government offices next to the arsenal and a white flag was raised over the building after which all firing ceased. The Spanish colors were struck at 12:40 p.m.
According to American sources, Dewey won the battlewith seven men very slightly wounded, a total of nine injured, and only a single fatality among his crew: Francis B. Randall, Chief Engineer on the McCulloch, from a heart attack. On the other hand, the Spanish naval historian Agustín Ramón Rodríguez González suggests that Dewey suffered heavier losses, though still much lower than those of the Spanish squadron. Rodríguez notes that Spanish officials estimated the American casualties at 13 crewmen killed and more than 30 wounded based on reliable information collected by the Spanish consulate in Hong Kong. According to Rodríguez, Dewey may have concealed the deaths and injuries by including the numbers among the 155 men who reportedly deserted during the campaign.
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A Spanish attempt to attack Dewey with the naval task force known as Camara's Flying Relief Column came to naught, and the naval war in the Philippines devolved into a series of torpedo boat hit-and-run attacks for the rest of the campaign. While the Spanish scored several hits, there were no American fatalities directly attributable to Spanish gunfire.
On 2 May, Dewey landed a force of Marines at Cavite. They completed the destruction of the Spanish fleet and batteries and established a guard for the protection of the Spanish hospitals. The resistance of the forts was weak. The Olympia turned a few guns on the Cavite arsenal, detonating its magazine, and ending the fire from the Spanish batteries.
In recognition of George Dewey's leadership during the Battle of Manila Bay, a special medal known as the Dewey Medal was presented to the officers and sailors under Admiral Dewey's command.Dewey was later honored with promotion to the special rank of Admiral of the Navy. Building on his popularity, Dewey briefly ran for president in 1900, but withdrew and endorsed William McKinley, the incumbent, who won. The same year Dewey was appointed President of the General Board of the United States Navy, where he would play a key role in the growth of the U.S. Navy until his death in January 1917.
Dewey Square in Boston is named after Commodore Dewey, as is Dewey Beach, Delaware. Union Square, San Francisco features a 97 ft (30 m) tall monument to Admiral George Dewey's victory at the Battle of Manila Bay.
Vessels engaged in actual combat during the Battle of Manila Bay ranged in size from 5,870 tons (Olympia) to 492 tons (Marques del Duero).
Despite the superiority of the American artillery, the success rate of their guns was minimal, a total of 5,859 shells were expended during the battle. Excluding shells fired at land targets and the unengaged vessels, only 145 hit the seven Spanish engaged vessels. The Reina Cristina and Castilla suffered 81 hits between them, the Don Antonio de Ulloa was hit 33 times, the Don Juan de Austria 13, the Marques del Duero 10, the Isla de Cuba five and the Isla de Luzón was hit three times.
The Spanish vessels had 19 torpedo tubes between them but no serviceable torpedoes.
The batteries were supplemented with the guns removed from Montojo's fleet. The Corregidor, Caballo and El Fraile batteries had a combined total of 17 guns.
The United States Navy ships:
The destroyed Spanish ships after the battle:
Corregidor Island is an island located at the entrance of Manila Bay in southwestern part of Luzon Island in the Philippines. Due to this location, Corregidor has historically been fortified with coastal artillery to defend the entrance of Manila Bay and Manila from attacks by enemy warships. Located 48 kilometres (30 mi) inland, Manila has been the largest city and the most important seaport in the Philippines for centuries, from the colonial rule of Spain, Japan and the United States, to the establishment of the Philippines in 1946.
Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón was a career Spanish naval officer who commanded the restored Kingdom of Spain's Pacific Squadron based in the Philippines during the Spanish–American War. Considered to have been a man of high ability and experience, he was given what was regarded as the impossible task of defending the Spanish Philippines with antiquated ships and low supplies against the more formidable U.S. Asiatic Squadron. Montojo became known for his defeat at the Battle of Manila Bay by U.S. Navy Commodore George Dewey, which was a decisive naval battle of the war. He was later held accountable for the defeat and was court-martialed. Although the decision was later overturned, Montojo was still discharged from the Spanish Navy.
USS Olympia (C-6/CA-15/CL-15/IX-40) is a protected cruiser that saw service in the United States Navy from her commissioning in 1895 until 1922. This vessel became famous as the flagship of Commodore George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War in 1898. The ship was decommissioned after returning to the U.S. in 1899, but was returned to active service in 1902.
The Asiatic Squadron was a squadron of United States Navy warships stationed in East Asia during the latter half of the 19th century. It was created in 1868 when the East India Squadron was disbanded. Vessels of the squadron were primarily involved in matters relating to American commerce with China and Japan, though it participated in several conflicts over 34 years of service until becoming the Asiatic Fleet in 1902.
USS McCulloch, previously USRC McCulloch and USCGC McCulloch, was a ship that served as a United States Revenue Cutter Service cutter from 1897 to 1915, as a United States Coast Guard Cutter from 1915 to 1917, and as a United States Navy patrol vessel in 1917. She saw combat during the Spanish–American War during the Battle of Manila Bay and patrolled off the United States West Coast during World War I. In peacetime, she saw extensive service in the waters off the U.S. West Coast. She sank in 1917 after colliding with another steamer.
The Port of Subic Bay is in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, the former U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay, on Subic Bay in the Philippines. It is one of the busiest, largest, historical and most important of ports in the Philippines. The Port is operated and managed by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
Reina Cristina was an Alfonso XII-class unprotected cruiser of the Spanish Navy built at the naval shipyard at Ferrol and launched 2 May 1887. Reina Cristina spent her early years in Spanish waters. In 1894 she was transferred to the Spanish Navy's Asiatic Squadron to deter any aggressive moves the German Empire might take against the Spanish-owned Caroline Islands in the Pacific. When Spain faced the "Tagalog Revolt" (1896–1897) – the Spanish name for the first two years of the Philippine Revolution – in the Philippine Islands, Reina Cristina was actively involved in the Spanish campaign to put down the revolt. In addition to patrolling Philippine waters to prevent the smuggling of contraband to the insurgents, she also supported Spanish Army actions against them at Cavite, Novaleta, and Binacayan, including the provision of naval gunfire support to Spanish troops ashore.
Isla de Luzón was an Isla de Luzón-class protected cruiser of the Spanish Navy which fought in the Battle of Manila Bay.
Marques del Duero was a Fernando el Catolico-class gunboat of the Spanish Navy which fought in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War.
Don Antonio de Ulloa was a Velasco-class unprotected cruiser of the Spanish Navy that fought in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War. She was built at La Carraca shipyard, Cadiz, Spain. Her keel was laid in 1883 and the vessel was launched on 23 January 1887. Don Antonio de Ulloa took an active part in Spanish military action against Philippine insurgents during the "Tagalog Revolt" (1896–1897), the Spanish name for the first two years of the Philippine Revolution. During her overhaul in Manila bay whilst part of the squadron of Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón, the Battle of Manila Bay occurred. With her reduced complement, armament, and inability to maneuver she was sunk with little resistance.
Don Juan de Austria was a Velasco-class unprotected cruiser of the Spanish Navy that fought in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War.
Castilla was an Aragon-class unprotected cruiser of the Spanish Navy that fought in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War. She was built at Cadiz, Spain. Her construction as an armored corvette with a central battery ironclad design began in 1869. In 1870, her design was changed to that of an unprotected cruiser or wooden corvette, and, after political events delayed her construction. During the first two years of the Philippine Revolution in 1896–1897, Castilla patrolled to intercept contraband destined for the Philippine insurgents and supported Spanish Army forces fighting ashore in Cavite Province on Luzon. When the Spanish–American War broke out in April 1898, Castilla was part of the squadron of Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón in Manila Bay and was subsequently engaged and sunk in the Battle of Manila Bay.
USS Isla de Cuba was a former Spanish Navy second-class protected cruiser of the same name, captured by and commissioned into the United States Navy as a gunboat.
USS Isla de Luzon was a former Spanish Navy second-class protected cruiser of the same name, captured by and commissioned into the U.S. Navy as a gunboat.
Callao was a Samar-class gunboat of the Spanish Navy which served in the Spanish fleet from 1888 to 1898 and fought in the Spanish–American War.
Naval Station Sangley Point was a communication and hospital facility of the United States Navy which occupied the northern portion of the Cavite City peninsula and is surrounded by Manila Bay, approximately eight miles southwest of Manila, the Philippines. The station was a part of the Cavite Navy Yard across the peninsula. The naval station had a runway that was built after World War II, which was used by U.S. Navy Lockheed P-2 Neptune, Lockheed P-3 Orion, and Martin P4M Mercator maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. An adjacent seaplane runway, ramp area and seaplane tender berths also supported Martin P5M Marlin maritime patrol aircraft until that type's retirement from active naval service in the late 1960s. NAS Sangley Point/NAVSTA Sangley Point was also used extensively during the Vietnam War, primarily for U.S. Navy patrol squadrons forward deployed from the United States on six-month rotations. The naval station was turned over to the Philippine government in 1971. It is now operated by the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy.
SMS Irene was a protected cruiser or Kreuzerkorvette of the German Imperial Navy and the lead ship of the Irene class. She had one sister, Prinzess Wilhelm; the two ships were the first protected cruisers built by the German Navy. Irene was laid down in 1886 at the AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin, launched in July 1887, and commissioned into the fleet in May 1888. The cruiser was named after Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine, sister-in-law of Kaiser Wilhem II. As built, the ship was armed with a main battery of fourteen 15 cm (5.9 in) guns and had a top speed of 18 knots.
August P. Teytand was a United States Navy sailor and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor for his actions aboard the USS Leyden.
Naval Base Subic Bay was a major ship-repair, supply, and rest and recreation facility of the Spanish Navy and subsequently the United States Navy located in Zambales, Philippines. The base was 262 square miles, about the size of Singapore. The Navy Exchange had the largest volume of sales of any exchange in the world, and the Naval Supply Depot handled the largest volume of fuel oil of any navy facility in the world. The naval base was the largest overseas military installation of the United States Armed Forces after Clark Air Base in Angeles City was closed in 1991. Following its closure in 1992, it was transformed into the Subic Bay Freeport Zone by the Philippine government.
The Battle of Olongapo was fought September 18–23, 1899, during the Philippine–American War. The battle featured both land and sea fighting, of which the objective was the destruction of the single Filipino artillery gun in Olongapo, a menace to American ships crossing the nearby sea.
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