War with Spain - Charles Morris

The Fate of Cervera's Fleet

While the army was doing such good work on shore the navy was doing as good work at sea, the final day of the land battle, July 3, being made famous by one of the most brilliant exploits in the history of the American navy. Before describing this event, however, there are some minor naval occurrences to be mentioned. It has already been stated that one of Cervera's ships, the torpedo-boat destroyer Terror, did not accompany the fleet to Santiago. It remained at Fort-de-France, Martinique, and apprehensions were entertained that its purpose there was the capture of the Harvard, then repairing in that port. Under the rules of international law, however, the Terror  was not allowed to leave harbor until the Harvard  had time to make a good offing, and the threatened attack did not take place.

The Terror  was next heard from at San Juan, Porto Rico, where, during the last week in June, it made an attack on the auxiliary cruiser Yale. A dash was made by the destroyer for the great liner, but its assault was met by a sharp fire from the rapid-fire guns of the Yale. These were so effectively served that three shots sufficed. An officer and two men were killed and several men wounded on the Terror, which dropped back under the batteries with difficulty and was towed into the harbor in a sinking condition.

On the 28th of June President McKinley issued a proclamation extending the blockade to the southern coast of Cuba, from Cape Francis to Cape Cruz, and also to San Juan, Porto Rico. This increased the length of blockaded coast fourfold, adding five hundred miles of coast-line to the' sections already under guard. The new line lay in the great bight of the south Cuban coast, a region of shallow water with few ports, so that the fresh work laid out for the mosquito fleet was not very difficult to perform.

The only remaining event of importance was an attack by three small vessels of Admiral Sampson's fleet on the Spanish squadron at Manzanillo, during which two Spanish gunboats, a sloop, and a pontoon were sunk and a torpedo-boat and several gunboats considerably damaged. This work was done by three small craft, the Hist, the Hornet, and the Wampatuck, which unexpectedly found nine vessels in the harbor, flanked by shore batteries. The Hist, formerly a yacht, was hit eleven times, and the Hornet, also a steam yacht, was disabled by a shell that cut her main steam-pipe. No lives we're lost, however, and the little boats kept pluckily to their work, with the results above mentioned, until the injury to the Hornet  compelled their withdrawal, the Wampatuck  towing the disabled vessel out to sea.

We have hitherto said nothing about Spain's remaining ships, the home squadron, composed of her single battleship, the Pelayo, an armored cruiser, the Carlos V., several torpedo-boat destroyers, and a number of other vessels likely to prove of very little service in combat. This squadron, commanded by Admiral Camara had been kept in port at Cadiz, Spain, the government indulging in threats to use it for various purposes, but remaining apparently at a loss how to employ it to the best advantage. The first evidence that the Spanish cabinet had made up its mind came on June 22, when an English captain reported that he had seen the Caw' squadron in the Mediterranean bound eastward. It consisted of fifteen ships, three of them being torpedo-boats, and several of them transports laden with troops. The secret was out. Manila was the goal Admiral Dewey was to be attacked. On the 27th news came that the Spanish squadron had appeared at Port Said, at the western end of the Suez Canal.

This news called forth instant action on the part of the United States. An "Eastern Squadron" was at once formed, under Admiral Watson, including the battle-ships Iowa and Oregon  and a number of cruisers and colliers, with orders to proceed to the Spanish coast, with the purpose of forcing Camara to return or of following him to the Philippine Islands. As events turned out, it was not necessary for this squadron to sail. Camara was delayed at Port Said through difficulty in obtaining coal, but finally passed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea, only to be hastily recalled to protect the coast 01 Spain. Soon his squadron was lumbering back through the Mediterranean, the ships the worse for wear. A threat had sufficed to save Dewey from the proposed attack, and the sailing of Watson's fleet was deferred. Various later dates were fixed for its sailing, but subsequent events prevented its setting out at all.

Meanwhile, Sampson's fleet was diligently keeping up the blockade of Santiago, occasionally exchanging shots with the forts, but principally maintaining a vigilant watch over Cervera's ships. As to the manner in which this work was performed, we may quote from the admiral's report:

"The harbor of Santiago is naturally easy to blockade, there being but one entrance, and that a narrow one, the deep water extending close up to the shore-line, presenting no difficulties of navigation outside of the entrance. At the time of my arrival before the port, June 1, the moon was at its full and there was sufficient light during the night to enable any movement outside of the entrance to be detected, but with the waning of the moon and the coming of dark nights there was opportunity for the enemy to escape. or for his torpedo-boats to make an attack upon the blockading vessels. It was ascertained with fair conclusiveness that the Merrimac, so gallantly taken into the channel on June 3, did not obstruct it. I therefore maintained the blockade as follows: To the battle-ships was assigned the duty, in turn, of lighting the channel. Moving up to the port, at a distance of from one to two miles from the Morro, dependent upon the condition of the atmosphere, they threw a search-light beam directly up the channel, and held it steadily there. This lightened up the entire breadth of the channel for half a mile inside of the entrance so brilliantly that the movement of small boats could be detected.

"Why the batteries never opened fire upon the search-light ship was always a matter of surprise to me, but they never did. Stationed close to the entrance of the port were three picket launches, and at a little distance further out three small picket vessels, usually converted yachts, and when they were available, one or two of our torpedo-boats. With this arrangement there was at least a certainty that nothing could get out of the harbor undetected. After the arrival of the army, when the situation forced upon the Spanish admiral a decision, our vigilance increased The night blockading distance was reduced to two miles for all vessels, and a battle-ship was placed alongside the searchlight ship, with her broadside trained upon the channel in readiness to fire the instant a Spanish ship should appear. The commanding officers merit great praise for the perfect manner in which they entered into this plan and put it into execution."

On July 1, during the battle on shore, the blockading fleet kept up a steady fire, elevating their great guns and sending shells into the water-line streets of Santiago, some six miles away. This work was continued at intervals for about nine hours on that day, and in the early morning of the 2nd the work of bombardment was resumed, Morro Castle being now the main object of attack. For two or three hours shells were thrown into this venerable fortification, one shot from the Oregon  bringing down the Spanish flag. The ships then withdrew to' their blockading stations, and the men were given an opportunity to rest. They needed it, for terrible work awaited them during the next day.

The threatened capture of Santiago had put the Spanish admiral in an awkward position. If brought between the fire of fleet and army he might have to yield without a fight. This was not to the brave Cervera's taste nor to that of his superiors, for he received peremptory orders from Madrid to leave the harbor. Apparently, it was believed that his fleet was strong and swift enough to engage and outsail the American ships. Cervera and his captains decided to make their dash for liberty on the night of Saturday, July 2, the pilots expecting to avail themselves of the search-lights of the American ships as guides in passing the wreck of the Merrimac. Cervera's orders were to steam at full speed to the westward after clearing the harbor, and to concentrate their fire upon the Brooklyn, neglecting the other ships unless forced to attack them. He hoped by disabling the Brooklyn  to dispose of the swiftest and most dreaded of his enemies, trusting to the speed of his vessels to run away from the battle-ships. Reasons satisfactory to himself, however, induced the Spanish admiral to change his purpose of a midnight Flight, and to defer the hazardous enterprise till the morning of Sunday, July 3.

On that eventful morning the American fleet lacked much of its strength. The Massachusetts  was at Guantanamo Bay coaling. With her were the New Orleans and the Newark. The New York  was also absent, having steamed along the coast to Baiquiri to enable Admiral Sampson to confer with General Shafter. This weakening of the fleet had not escaped the eye of the Spanish scouts, and served to confirm Admiral Cervera in his purpose. The large ships left on blockade consisted of the battle-ships Iowa, Indiana, Oregon, and Texas, and Schley's flag-ship, the Brooklyn. The Iowa  lay a mile out beyond the other vessels, trying to fix her forward turret, which wall out of repair, and the Indiana  was engaged in similar work. The distances of the ships from the harbor's mouth varied from four thousand to six thousand yards. The Brooklyn  and the yacht Vixen  were the only ships west of the entrance, the others having drifted well to the east.

Several times during the morning the lookout of the Brooklyn  had reported smoke in the harbor, and at about 9:30 Navigator Hodgson called to him from the bridge, "Isn't that smoke moving!" His question, was answered by almost a yell from the lookout. "There's a big ship coming out of the harbor, sir!" Hodgson.. satisfied himself by a rapid glance of the truth of this stirring report, seized the megaphone, and shouted in vigorous tones, "After bridge, there! Tell the commodore the enemy's fleet is coming out!"

In an instant the Sunday morning calm on the deck was changed into intense excitement. "Clear the ship for action!" cried the commodore. The signal of the exciting news flew to the masthead as a warning to the other vessels, and from all parts of the ship the men rushed to their quarters. Down below the stokers hurled coal into the furnaces, in the turrets the gun crews hastily made ready their pieces, the ammunition hoist was brought into active service, and in every section of the big ship every man was on the alert as the news spread with magical rapidity.

The signal from the Brooklyn  was matched by one from the Iowa, on whose deck the trail of drifting smoke had been seen at the same instant, the bow of the leading Spanish ship quickly appearing in the narrow channel beside the sunken Merrimac. "There come the Spaniards out of the harbor!" rose in a shout. "Clear ship for action!" roared the answering command, as the Spanish vessels were seen rushing in "line ahead" around Socapa Point and heading for the open sea. The Infanta Maria Teresa, Cervera's flag-ship, led the line, followed by the Vizcaya, the Almirante Oquendo, and the Cristobal Colon. They were quickly followed by the two torpedo-boat destroyers.

"Full speed ahead! Open fire!" shouted Commodore Schley. A stunning roar answered his words, as the shells from the 8- and 5-inch port guns of the Brooklyn  began to scream in their rapid flight towards the fugitives. The other ships were as alert. As the Spaniards cleared the harbor and were observed to head to the west, the Oregon began to swing round in the same direction. The Texas  was already reaching the Maria Teresa with her shells. The Iowa  and the Indiana  were as quick. Hardly a minute passed from the first alarm before the whistling shriek of a rapid-fire shell was heard from" the Iowa's  deck, and within two minutes every gun on the ship was cast loose, manned, loaded, and ready for the signal to fire.

Cervera's fleet endeavoring to escape.


Five minutes previously the great ships had been swinging lazily on the long rollers of the sea, the men at Sunday "quarters for inspection," none of them thinking of aught but the monotony of every-day duty. Now every ship was belching clouds of black smoke into the air, every man was at his post, his nerves strung to fighting pitch, every gun ready for action, and every ship moving with rapidly-increasing speed towards the fugitives. Not many minutes passed before a fire was concentrated upon the Spanish ships such as had hardly if ever been equaled before, and with a precision of aim that had never been surpassed. The fugitive ships were being rapidly torn and rent by a frightful shower of shells, some of them of enormous size and terrible powers of destruction.

The position of the Brooklyn, as the most westerly of the blockading fleet, rendered easy of accomplishment Cervera's purpose of concentrating his fire on this vessel, and for some ten minutes she was made the target of three of the enemy's ships at the short range of fifteen hundred yards, and of the west battery at three thousand yards distance. The fire poured upon her was terrific, but the harm done was next to nothing, owing to the unskilful handling of the Spanish guns. At the end of the interval named the other vessels, which were' closing in rapidly, diverted the fire of the enemy and relieved the Brooklyn  from this somewhat too close attention.

While the Spanish ships were wasting nearly all their shells upon the sea, the fire of the American gunners was remarkably accurate. "Fire deliberately, and don't waste a shot," was Schley's order to his gunners, and they worked the guns as carefully as if on practice duty. "I have never before witnessed such deadly and fatally accurate shooting as was done by the ships of your command as they closed in on the Spanish squadron," said Schley in his report to the admiral; and the outcome indicated that this statement was in no sense too strong. The results of the terrific bombardment were, indeed, momentous. In twenty-five minutes after the first Spanish vessel had been sighted only two ships of the squadron remained afloat. Two of the cruisers were on fire and beached and the torpedo-boats were sunk.

The Maria Teresa, Cervera's flag-ship, was the first to succumb. A shell from the Brooklyn  exploded in the admiral's cabin, and in a minute the after part of the ship was in flames. One from the Texas  pierced the side armor and exploded in the engine-room, breaking the main steam-pipe. Shells were bursting all around the bridge and riddling the hull of the ship. The engineer was signalled to start the pumps. No reply came, and it was found that every one in that part of the ship had been killed. Most of the men had been driven from the guns, the flames were increasing, and resistance had become hopeless. The captain gave orders to beach the ship and haul down the flag. As he spoke, he was struck by a shell, and his career came to an end, the second captain taking command. So fast and furious was the American fire that the smoke of bursting shells hid the fact that the flag was down, and the fire did not cease until a white blanket was run up to the peak.

The Almirante Oquendo  was receiving as frightful a baptism of fire. The Iowa, after paying her attentions to the Maria Teresa, was left in the rear by that vessel and found herself opposite the Oquendo  at a distance of eleven hundred yards. Her entire battery, including the rapid-fire guns, was now opened on this vessel, and at that distance their work was terrible. Eight-inch shells were seen to explode inside the Spanish ship, two projectiles piercing her at the same moment, one forward and the other aft. For a moment her engines stopped and she lost headway, but she immediately regained her speed and drew ahead of the Iowa, only to come under the guns of the Oregon  and the Texas, by which she was cruelly pounded. This punishment was more than she could endure; she was soon a mass of flames and, like the Teresa, was headed for the shore. Less than half an hour had passed when these vessels met their fate, at a point six or seven miles from the harbor's mouth. We have said nothing here of the part taken by the Indiana, but she was doing her full share in the work of destruction, filling the air with the screech of her shells and hurling her great projectiles fiercely upon the foe. Like blood-hounds in the chase, the whole squadron was hot upon the heels of the fleeing prey.

The Vizcaya  as yet had not been badly hit, and her captain determined to make an effort to ram the Brooklyn, the nearest and fastest of the American ships, with the hope that the Colon  and the Oquendo  might get away. The flames on the Teresa  showed that she was already past escape. This effort failed through the rapid circling of the Brooklyn, which in turn made an attempt to ram and force the Vizcaya  towards the shore. An exchange of fire now ensued, the shells of the Vizcaya  going wild, while those of the Brooklyn  crashed into her side. One shell went along the entire gun-deck, killing half the men on it and wounding most of the remainder. The Oregon  also got in some effective shells, the fire growing so hot that the men were driven in terror from their guns. The Vizcaya  was burning when a final shell from the Oregon  hit the superstructure, and Captain Eulate gave the order to haul down the flag and beach the ship. This was at Ascerraderos, twenty miles west of Santiago Bay. The hour was 10:50. The ship burned fiercely as she lay at the beach, and she blew up during the night.

Only one of the Spanish cruisers, the Cristobal Colon, the fastest of them all, remained afloat She had as yet escaped injury, had passed all her consorts, and when the Vizcaya  went ashore was about six miles ahead of the Brooklyn, the Oregon  being a mile and a half and the Texas  three miles farther astern. For an hour the chase continued, the Colon  hugging the shore. But her spurt was finished, and the Brooklyn  and the Oregon  the latter developing an unexpected speed-were gaining on her mile by mile. The Colon  would have to round Cape Cruz by a long detour to escape her pursuers, and Schley put the Brooklyn  on a straight course for this cape, signalling the Oregon  to keep on the Colon's track.

Another hour passed; both the pursuers had gained; at 12:50, on signal from the Brooklyn, the Oregon  fired one of her 13-inch guns. The huge shell struck the water not far behind the Colon, then four miles away. Another was tried, and fell beyond her. The Brooklyn  followed with her 8-inch guns, one shell going through the Colon  above her armor-belt. At 1:05 both ships were pounding away at the fugitive, which returned the fire in an ineffective manner. This was kept up for some fifteen minutes; the Colon  was rapidly losing ground; her hope of escape was at an end. At 1:20 she gave up the fight, hauled down her flag, and turned her prow to the shore. She touched land at Rio Torquino, after a flight for life of forty-eight miles.

Admiral Sampson's flag-ship, which had been recalled in haste and had followed the chase at her utmost speed, but too late to take part in the contest, came up while Captain Cook, of the Brooklyn, was receiving the surrender of the Colon's  crew. Commodore Schley had directed that the officers should retain all their personal effects, a courtesy which the admiral confirmed. The Colon  had not been injured by the firing and but little by beaching, but her sea-valves had been opened by the crew, and as she slipped off the steep beach into the sea she began to sink. To prevent her total loss she was pushed bodily on the beach by the New York, where she sank in shoal water, in a location where it was hoped she might be saved.

While this work was being done by the battle-ships and cruisers, the little Gloucester, a yacht converted into a gunboat, was attending to the torpedo-boats, which had followed their consorts from the harbor. On their appearance, the Gloucester, which, under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Wainwright, formerly of the Maine, had been in the thick of the fight with the larger vessels, dashed for them under a high head of steam, and when at short range poured in a fierce volley from her rapid-fire guns. The Indiana  and others of the vessels had been firing at them from their secondary batteries, but they desisted through fear of injuring their little consort, and the Gloucester  completed the work alone, riddling them with an accurate and deadly fire. Twenty minutes sufficed to end the career of the destroyers. At the close of that time the Furor  and the Pluton  were both sunk and two-thirds of their people were killed.

This ended the fight. The character of the result can be shown in the brief statement that the Spanish had about six hundred men killed; the American loss was one man killed and one wounded: the Spanish ships were helpless wrecks; the American ships were almost uninjured. The victory parallels that of Manila Bay in the utter destruction of the Spanish fleet and the marvellous immunity from injury of the Americans, both men and ships. The record of the battle is of interest in showing that the great guns had little to do with the result. Only two of the huge projectiles of the 12- or 13-inch turret guns struck a vessel, both these being put through the Maria Teresa. The 8-inch, 6-inch, s-inch, and 6-pound projectiles did the bulk of the work and proved frightfully destructive. One of the most important lessons learned from the fight was the danger of wood-work on a war-ship. Every one of the Spanish ships was set on fire by the American shells, the crews being forced to spend their energy in fighting the fire. On the Vizcaya  the water-mains were shot away, so that this was impossible. Another lesson was the difficulty of sending messages through the ships, voice-tubes being useless in the great noise and messengers too slow. Some new invention for this purpose seems called for. The conning-towers were not used, the officers seeking the bridge in preference. And the delicate range-finders, so useful in target-practice, were soon put out of order in the action, and the old system of angling on the mast-head height of the enemy had to be made use of.

Wreck of the Spanish Cruiser Oquendo.


The battle ended, and a new state of affairs came into play. The impulse to destroy was immediately succeeded by the impulse to save, and the American sailors took as great risks in the effort to rescue their late foes as they had done in the fight. In past warfare, detruction was the one and only thing considered. In modem warfare, the sentiment of mercy quickly follows the battle rage; and this was never more fully exemplified than in the battle with Cervera's fleet. Captain Evans, of the Iowa, tells a story of his highly commendable efforts to save the crew of the Vizcaya, whose sides were just before being rent by murderous fire of his guns. Heading for this ship, which was furiously burning fore and aft, he lowered all his boats and sent them to the assistnace of the unfortunate men, who were being roasted on the decks, drowned or mutilated by sharks in the water, or fired at by Cuban insurgents on shore.

The men of the Iowa  worked manfully and saved numbers of the wounded, one man clambering up the side of the Vizcaya  and rescuing three at the risk of his life. In all, thirty officers and two hundred and seventy-two men of the Vizcaya  were thus taken off, and were clothed, fed, and tenderly cared for by their American hosts.

The torpedo-boat Ericsson  and the little Hist  aided in this work, while the Harvard  and the Gloucester  engaged in the same errand of mercy with the Maria Teresa  and the Oquendo. "This rescue of prisoners," says Admiral Sampson in his report, "including the wounded from the burning Spanish vessels, was the occasion of some of the most daring and gallant conduct of the day. The ships were burning fore and aft, their guns and reserve ammunition were exploding, and it was not known at what moment the fire would reach the main magazines. In addition to this a heavy surf was running just inside of the Spanish ships. But no risk deterred our officers and men until their work of humanity was complete."

Of the incidents of the battle, one of the most memorable was the rebuke of Captain Philip, of the Texas, to his men, who were greeting the Spanish surrender with cheers,—

"Don't cheer, boys; the poor devils are dying."

In these words we have the true spirit of nineteenth century war, at least as viewed from the American standpoint, and the remark of the gallant and humane! captain is likely to go down in history among the epoch-making phrases of modern times.

By midnight the Harvard  had nine hundred and seventy-six prisoners on board, a great number of them wounded. The Gloucester  rescued Admiral Cervera, who had swam ashore from his wrecked ship with the aid of his son. He was nearly naked when rescued, and was supplied with a thin suit of flannel by Lieutenant- Commander Wainwright, of the Gloucester, who soon after delivered him to the Iowa. As the captive admiral came on board bareheaded and half-dressed, Captain Evans received him with a full Admiral's guard, the crew cheering him vociferously. He was bitterly depressed, but the kindness and courtesy of his new host brought tears of gratitude to his eyes. His treatment of Lieutenant Hobson had assured him in advance a considerate reception by the officers of the fleet, and had given him a warm place in the American heart.

A few words will complete our story of the destruction of the Spanish fleet. The Reina Mercedes, a dilapidated Spanish cruiser which Cervera had found and had left in the harbor of Santiago, made her appearance just after midnight of July 4, slowly drifting out of the narrow entrance, as if with intention to escape. In a moment all the ships within reach opened upon her, pounding her with a frightful hail of shells. A few minutes sufficed. She sank to the bottom on the beach under El Morro, part of her hull and her masts and stacks being above water. She had probably been sent out with the purpose of blocking the channel against the American ships. During this brief work the shore batteries opened on the ships, and a 6-inch shell fell on the forward deck of the Indiana, exploding below in the men's sleeping-rooms. Fortunately, they were all at quarters and no one was hurt. The remarkable good fortune of the American sailors continued to the end.

Shortly afterwards an effort of a Spanish cruiser to escape from Havana harbor was made, with similar result. She was overhauled near Mariel in an attempt to run the blockade, and sent to the bottom by the hot fire of the mosquito fleet.

During the battle of the 3rd an example of special gallantry was displayed on the Brooklyn, which may be given in the words of Captain Cook, commander of that ship:

"When all did their duty manfully, it is a difficult matter to select individuals for special mention. There are some, however, who deserve to be brought to notice by name for conduct that displayed in a conspicuous manner courage, intelligence, and devotion to duty. During the early part of the action a cartridge became jammed in the bore of the starboard forward 6-pounder, and in the effort to withdraw it the case became detached from the projectile, leaving the latter fast in the bore and impossible to extract from the rear.

"Corporal Robert Gray, of the port gun, asked and obtained permission to attempt to drive the shell out with the rammer. To do this it was necessary to go out on the gun, hanging over the water, and the undertaking was full of difficulties and danger, the latter due in a great measure to the blast of the 8-inch turret guns firing overhead. The gun was hot, and it was necessary to cling to the 'Jacob's ladder' with one hand while endeavoring to manipulate the long rammer with the other. After a brave effort, he was forced to give up, and was ordered in.

"Quarter-Gunner Smith then came, sent by Executive Officer Mason, and promptly placed himself in the dangerous position outside the gun-port, where he worked and failed, as the corporal had done. Neither had been able to get the rammer into the bore, and there seemed nothing left to do but dismount the gun.

"At this juncture Private MacNeal, one of the gun's crew, volunteered to go out and make a final effort. The gun was so important, the starboard battery being engaged, that, as a forlorn hope, he was permitted to make the attempt. He pushed boldly out and set to work. The guns of the forward 8-inch turret were firing, almost knocking him overboard, and the enemy's shots were coming with frequency into his immediate neighborhood. At this time the chief yeoman was killed on the other side of the deck. MacNeal never paused in his work. The rammer was finally placed in the bore and the shell ejected, and MacNeal resumed his duties as coolly as if what he had done were a matter of everyday routine."

The Oregon after her chase of Cristobal Colon


This chapter may be fitly concluded with Commodore Schley's account of his consideration of the men below decks, and his interesting description of how the only man killed on the American side in the battle met his death. He said,—

"I took it for granted that every man on the ship was just as much interested in how the fight was going as I was, but the men behind the casements and those below decks, of course, could not see what was going on. During the battle I sent orderlies among them telling them what was happening and what effect their shots were having.

"Then, when the Vizcaya  struck and only the Colon  was left, I sent orderlies down to the stoke-holes and engine-room, where the men were working away like heroes in the terrible temperature.

"'Now, boys,' I sent them word, "it all depends on you. Everything is sunk except the Colon, and she is trying to get away. We don't want her to, and everything depends on you.'

"They responded nobly, and we got her."

Of the death of young Ellis, the only man killed on the Brooklyn, he said,—

"He was a bright lad, from Brooklyn, who enlisted to go before the mast; but he was a hard worker, studied navigation with the young officers of the ship, and had risen to the rank of yeoman.

"As I stood talking with Captain Cook, while we finished the Vizcaya, it seemed that our shots were falling a little short. I turned to Ellis, who stood near, and asked him what the range was. He replied, 'Seventeen hundred yards.'

"I have pretty keen eyesight, and it seldom deceives me as to distances, and I told him I thought it was slightly more than that. 'I just took it, sir, but I'll try it again,' he said, and stepped oft to one side about eight feet to get the range.

"He had just raised his instrument to his eye when a shell struck him full in the face and carried away all of his head above the mouth. A great deal of blood spurted around, and the men near were rattled for a moment.

"Shells are queer things," he continued, after a moment's silence. "I noticed one man standing with his hand grasping a hammock rail as a shell struck the ship, ricocheted, and burst. One piece of the metal cut the rail on one side of his hand, another on the other side, so that he was left standing with a short section of the rail still grasped in his hand. Another portion of the shell passed over his shoulder and another between his legs. He was surprised, but wasn't hurt."