War with Spain - Charles Morris

The Sea-Fight at Manila

The story of the war now leads us to a far remote locality, one, in fact, on the opposite side of the earth, that extensive archipelago lying east of Indo-China known as the Philippine Islands. These islands, probably more than fourteen hundred in number, though only a few of them are large enough to be of importance, have been in the possession of Spain almost as long as Cuba. They were discovered by Magellan in 1521, but were not made a Spanish colony until 1569. Manila, the capital, was founded two years afterwards. The natives, eight millions or more in number, were not so summarily disposed of as those of Cuba, but of late years their lot has been still more severe than that of the modem Cubans, they being oppressed in exasperating and cruel ways, and treated so badly that their hatred of the Spaniards has become quite equal to that felt by the Cubans,-it could not well be greater.

In 1896, under the incitement of news of the Cuban insurrection, the natives of the Philippines rebelled against their masters, fighting fiercely for their liberty until near the end of 1897. With this rebellion we have no direct concern. It will suffice to say that the insurgents proved very difficult to subdue and that they were treated with revolting cruelty by the Spaniards when taken prisoners. Finally, in December. 1897, the Spanish authorities adopted the method they had employed in Cuba in 1878, entering into communication with General Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader in the insurrectionary movement, and promising to inaugurate an extensive system of reforms if he would bring the insurrection to an end. A large sum of money was also promised to the principal insurgents. The offer was accepted, and Aguinaldo and others retired to Hong Kong with their share of the subsidy. Spain, as usual, failed to keep her word. The remainder of the money was not paid. The leaders who, trusting in Spanish faith, had remained in the islands, were seized and executed. The promised reforms were ignored, the governor-general denying that he had pledged himself. As a result, before two months had passed the rebels were once more in arms. The country was soon again in turmoil, the anger of the insurgents being particularly directed against the priests, to whose influence they ascribed the dishonesty of the Spanish authorities. "No quarter to the priests" was the sentiment with which they went to war. They had long and bitter scores with these ecclesiastics to wipe out.

Philipine Islands


At the opening of the war little thought was given by the people of the United States to this far-off possession of Spain. But the government had it in mind. A small fleet, under the command of Commodore George Dewey, lay at Hong Kong, China, consisting of the cruisers Olympia, Baltimore, Raleigh, and Boston, the gunboats Concord and Petrel, and the despatch-boat McCulloch. The declaration of war rendered the continuance of this fleet in a neutral port inadmissible under the rules of international law, and orders for its departure were given by the British authorities. It sailed on April 26, bound, not for an American port, in accordance with the instructions earlier sent it, but for the Philippine Islands, under orders from Washington to attack the Spanish fleet at Manila and "capture or destroy it." On the same day Spain made its first and only prize during the war, the American bark Saranac, taken by the gunboat El Cano at Iloilo, a Philippine port. On May 2 came, by way of Madrid, an exciting report to the effect that the United States fleet had attacked and partly destroyed the Manila fleet of Spain. The cutting of the cable put an end to further news, and for a week the American nation remained in suspense. It then was gladdened by a despatch from Commodore Dewey, saying that he had destroyed the entire Spanish fleet without the loss of a single life on his side.

Dewey's despatch, which was laconic in form but crowded with meaning, is a historical document well, worthy of giving in full:

"MANILA, May 1.—Squadron arrived at Manila at daybreak this morning. Immediately engaged the enemy and destroyed the following Spanish vessels: Reina Cristina, Castilla, Don Antonio de Ulloa, Isla de Luzon, Isla de Cuba, General Lezo, Marquis de Duero, Cano, Ve1asco, Isla de Mindanao, a transport and water-battery at Cavite. The squadron is uninjured and only a few men are slightly wounded. Only means of telegraphing is to American consul at Hong Kong. I shall communicate with him. —DEWEY"

The story of the victory is one of the most glorious in the annals of the American navy. On April 27 the squadron left Mirs Bay, some thirty miles from Hong Kong, to which it had sailed the day before. It was accompanied by two colliers, the Nanshan  and the Zafiro, which Dewey had purchased and which were loaded with ten thousand tons of coal. The Monocacy, a corvette of the old navy, was left behind, as of no use in modern naval war, her officers and crew being distributed among the other vessels. The flag-ship was the Olympia, Captain C. V. Gridley commanding, one of the finest cruisers in the American navy, her armament consisting of four 8-inch slow-fire, ten 5-inch rapid-fire, and fourteen 6-pounder guns. The other cruisers were little behind her in power of armament and weight of projectiles.



Straight across the China Sea sailed the fleet, heavy weather forcing the war-vessels to slow up to about eight knots speed, on account of the deeply laden colliers, which plunged heavily through the waves. On the evening of the first day out the news of the declaration of war was read to the crews, followed by a proclamation of the most inflammatory character which had been issued to the people by the governor-general of Manila. This described the Americans as heretic vandals, who were coming to rob their churches and insult their women, and was full of uncomplimentary sayings about the invaders and warm appeals to the people of Manila to defend their city to the death. Its bombast elicited the derisive laughter of the men, while enthusiastic cheers for the American flag indicated their patriotic temper.

We append, as of some interest, an extract from this proclamation:

"The North American people, constituted of all the social excrescenoes, have exhausted our patience and provoked war with their perfidious machinations, with their acts of treachery, with their outrages against the law of nations and international conventions.

"The struggle will be short and decisive.  The God of Victories will give us one as brilliant as the justice of our cause demands. Spain, which counts upon the sympathies of all the nations, will emerge triumphantly from the new test, humiliating and blasting the adventurers from those States that, without cohesion and without a history, offer to humanity only infamous traditions and the ungrateful spectacle of Chambers in which appear united insolence and defamation, cowardice and cynicism. . . .

"You will not allow the faith you profess to be made a mock of, impious hands to be placed on the temple of the true God, the images you adore to be thrown down by unbelief. The aggressors shall not profane the tombs of your fathers, they shall not gratify their lustful passions at the cost of your wives' and daughters' honor, or appropriate the property that your industry has accumulated as a provision for your old age. No; they shall not perpetrate any of the crimes inspired by their wickedness and covetousness, because your valor and patriotism will suffice to punish and abase the people that, claiming to be civilized and cultivated, have exterminated the natives of North America instead of bringing to them the life of civilization and of progress . "Philippinos, prepare for the struggle, and, united under the glorious Spanish flag, which is ever covered with laurels, let us fight with the conviction that victory will crown our efforts, and to the calls of our enemies let us oppose with the decision of the Christian and the patriot the cry of 'Viva Espana!'

"MANILA, 23rd April, 1898."

The island of Luzon, the largest of the Philippines, and the one on which Manila is situated, was sighted by the fleet on the morning of Saturday, April 30, at Bolinao Cape, about one hundred and ten miles from the entrance to Manila Bay. Here the land rose green and beautiful under the morning sunlight, faint blue lines in the distance indicating the mountains of the interior. In the afternoon, when about thirty miles north of Manila Bay, the squadron approached another deep indentation in the coast, known as Subig Bay, in which it was possible that some part of the Spanish fleet might lie. The Boston and Concord led the way as this harbor was neared. They were soon followed by the Baltimore, the remainder of the fleet proceeding slowly as these pioneers dashed ahead at full speed. In the late afternoon they returned, reporting that they had explored Subig Bay, finding there only some insignificant coasting craft.

At about 5:15 P.M. the squadron came to a halt, and a council of war was held on the flag-ship, in which it was decided to enter Manila Bay during the darkness of that night. Getting under way again, the ships jogged on at a four-knot speed, in order that the harbor entrance might not be reached until the night was well advanced. Active preparations were meanwhile made for battle, all impedimenta that could be spared from the decks being thrown overboard, while mess-chests and tables, chairs, and other woodwork from between decks were also set afloat. Other steps of precaution were hastily taken, the life-boats being wrapped in canvas to prevent splinters flying, and buoyant objects placed where they would float and serve as life-rafts in case the ship went down. There were unpleasantly suggestive preparations for the care of the wounded, which brought grim looks to the faces of the men. This was no holiday excursion upon which they were bound.

As the ships moved on the battle-ports were put up, and every light was hidden except those that shone astern, a small electric-light glowing from each as a guide to the next in line. The chart-rooms were sealed and every effort was made to darken the ships. Involuntarily every one moved stealthily about the decks. Word was passed to the men that the bay of Manila would be entered during the night, and many a face grew stern with grim determination as the import of this message was understood. A half moon lit the sky, but it was hidden under masses of gray cloud. Everything favored the hope entertained of stealing in unseen past the forts that guarded Corregidor Island, in the entrance to the bay.

Battles of Manila


About 11:30 P.M. two dark headlands could be seen looming up, showing black against the shifting clouds that veiled the moon. In the intervening space lay a smaller mass, the fortified isle whose guns commanded the ship channels. The speed was increased to eight knots, and one by one the ships glided round the northern headland, and the Olympia, followed by her consorts, steered for the centre of the southern and wider channel Soon Corregidor Island lay abeam of the leading ship. The Spanish sentinels seemed still wrapped in slumber.

A faint light now flashed and died out on the island shore, and a rocket shot into the air. The invading fleet had been discovered. But no shot came, and the foremost ships were well past the island before a flash of flame gleamed through the darkness, followed by the boom of a heavy gun, and a shell went whistling overhead clear of the ships. The Raleigh  replied with a 5-inch gun, the Boston  and Concord  followed, and the McCulloch  sent in a six-pound projectile. After a shot or two more from shore the batteries relapsed into silence, possibly from the effects of some of the shells dropped in their midst, and the fleet moved on, the colliers hugging the land close and escaping unharmed. The forts had been safely passed and the harbor-entrance won. Speed was now slowed down, and the men flung themselves on the decks beside their guns to snatch an interval of sleep. It was known that Manila would not be reached until early dawn. One casualty had occurred. Chief-Engineer Randall, of the McCulloch, was overcome by a nervous shock, of probably apoplectic character, and at two o'clock he died. It was the only death on the American side during that eventful day.

As the fleet glided onward the distant lights of Manila came into view. The bay is a deep one; Cavite, the naval station of the capital, being seventeen miles from its mouth and Manila still further in. Lieutenant Calkins, the navigator of the Olympia, carried the fleet up through the dark harbor with commendable boldness and success. At four o'clock the men were roused, and a frugal meal of coffee and hardtack was served out to them, the officers joining in the repast. The first signs of dawn were visible in the sky about 4:30, when Manila was some six miles away. There lay a group of shipping, but these were made out, as the sun rose behind the city, to be merchant-ships, not the war-vessels of which the cruisers were in search. On went the fleet in close battle array, the Olympia leading, the Baltimore, Raleigh, Petrel, Concord, and Boston following in succession.

Patricio Montojo


Passing to the northward of the capital and turning south, the keen eyes of Commodore Dewey caught sight of his predestined prey, the Spanish fleet, grouped in the little bay of Cavite. Here the Spaniards had a well-equipped navy-yard, known as Cavite Arsenal, protected by forts and under the command of Rear-Admiral Patricio Montojo, who was also commander-in-chief of the squadron. His flag-ship was the Reina Cristina, a 3500 ton cruiser, carrying twenty guns which ranged from 6.2-inch to 3-pounders. The others included the 3300 ton cruiser Castilla, four smaller cruisers, the Don Antonio de Ulloa, Velasco, Isla de Cuba, and Isla de Luzon, and the gunboats General Lezo, Marquis del Duero, and El Correo, with a transport, the Isla de Mindanao. Of these, the Velasco  was under repair and her guns were mounted in earthworks in the harbor. There were also four torpedo-boats.

The Spanish squadron was in every respect inferior to its enemy, the ships being of less tonnage and lighter armament. In open sea they would not have had a moment's chance. But flanked by shore batteries, as they were, the conditions were far more equalized. And the Spaniards had the advantage of an exact knowledge of distances in the harbor, while the Americans were in ignorance of distance and soundings and, unable to use range-finders with effect, at a marked disadvantage in opportunities for sure marksmanship. Their principal advantage lay in the fact that the men knew how to use the guns, being trained to shoot straight and to make every shot tell. This was a training which the Spanish gunners sadly lacked, and which had a remarkable effect upon the issue of the combat.

With the flag of the American Union flying at the masthead of every ship, the squadron moved steadily on, passing the Manila forts at the distance of several miles. The great guns of the forts boomed out as they advanced, but there was no reply except a brace of shots from the Concord. The commodore had another object in view, and did not wish to hurl destruction into the crowded city behind the forts. As they advanced, the fleet of the enemy came plainly into view. Its position may be briefly described.

At Cavite a spit of land projects out into the bay, its curved shores enclosing a body of water known as Bakor Bay. Batteries occupied the extremity of the peninsula, between which and Cavite Arsenal, on the inner shore, lay extended the Spanish ships, crossing the mouth of Bakor Bay from east to west, the line ending in shoal water near the shore. Farther in, behind the arsenal boom, lay the gunboats of the fleet. Each end of the line was protected by shore batteries mounted with 6- and 8-inch guns.

Fronting this squadron, at a distance of three or four miles, the American ships swept down in the order above named. The little McCulloch  kept farther away, as a guard to the transports which were placed under her care. On the bridge of the Olympia  Dewey stood exposed, with Flag-Captain Lamberton by his side, and maintained this position as the ship swept on through the storm of shot and shell which soon hurtled from the Spanish guns. Captain Gridley, commander of the flag-ship, took his position within the conning-tower, lest some unlucky shot should sweep away all the executive officers of the ship. This daring of Commodore Dewey is said to have been equaled by that of Admiral Montojo of the Spanish squadron. He also is credited with occupying the bridge of his ship during the fight, and, when one end of it was wrecked by a shell, taking his station on the other end.

The shore batteries began the engagement, opening on the American ships while still out of range. As the Olympia  moved steadily onward, a new peril threatened her,—two submarine mines were exploded in her front. Fortunately, Spanish nervousness had set them off too soon and their force was uselessly expended on the water. How many more of these dreaded instruments of destruction might lie in their path no man could guess, but Dewey had been with Farragut in the Mississippi  and was not the man to halt for the unseen.

The ships swept on until about forty-five hundred yards away, the Spanish fire growing continuous. But not a ship was struck, and they steamed onward grim and silent, with the men at the guns waiting in strained impatience for the battle-signal to be given, and disdainful of the shots that were uselessly tearing up the waters of the bay. "Remember the Maine!" came in an unpremeditated cry from the lips of one stem sea-dog, and in an instant it was taken up and ran throughout the ship. It was the war-cry of the first battle of the new American navy.

"You may fire when ready, Gridley," said the commodore at length: and in echo to his words an 8-inch shell from the forward turret of the Olympia  went screaming through the air. The hour was 5:33. The guns of the Baltimore  and Boston  followed, and by 5:40 a continuous stream of projectiles was pouring in towards the Spanish ships. The difference in effect of the fire of the two fleets was remarkable. The Spanish shells flew high or struck the water before reaching the ships; hardly one of them touched its mark, while few from the American guns went astray. The effect was soon evident. The ships of Spain were being rent and tom and their men hurled prostrate in death, while scarcely a trace of damage was visible on an American hull.

There were narrow escapes. One fragment of a shell struck the bridge-gratings of the Olympia;  another passed just under where Commodore Dewey stood, tearing a hole in the deck. Chaplain Frazier was looking out of a gun-port when a shell struck the ship's side within a yard. His head was withdrawn just in time to save it from being blown off. As the fight went on, other shots found a mark. One entered the port quarters of the Boston  and burst in the state-room of Ensign Dodridge, setting it in flames. A second had similar effect on the port hammock-netting. The Baltimore  was shot through and through by a shell, which fortunately struck no one in its career. Another ripped up the main deck, disabled a 6-inch gun, and exploded a box of ammunition, which wounded eight men. Strange to relate, these were the only men injured during the whole battle, and none of them was seriously hurt.

Sweeping down parallel to the Spanish line, the American fleet, on reaching the end of its course, swung round in a long ellipse and moved back over the same route, now opening fire from its starboard batteries. Six times in succession, as the hours moved on, the long line of ships moved over this course, pouring in shot and shell as they went, the boom of the great guns breaking at intervals through the continuous rattle of the rapid-fire guns, which poured out their projectiles in what seemed a continuous sheet of flame.

The Spanish ships, which had been in a measure unprepared for this assault, hastened to get up steam, and soon clouds of black smoke were pouring from their funnels. As the American squadron started upon its third course, the Spanish admiral, with a daring equal to that of his foes, headed his flag-ship, the Reina Cristina, straight for his principal opponent, steaming gallantly out, as if with the intention of running the Olympia  down. It was a desperate attempt. At once the whole array of ships turned their guns on this single antagonist, tearing and rending her frightfully with shot and shell.

As she came nearer, the storm of projectiles became so terrific that Admiral Montojo saw that his ship would be annihilated if he continued his perilous movement. He therefore swung her sharply round and started shoreward. Just as he did so, an 8-inch shell from the Olympia  struck the Reina Cristina  squarely in the stern, and drove inward through the length of the ship, rending through every obstruction, and wrecking the aft boiler and blowing open the deck in its explosion. This one shell proved the flag-ship's fate. Men lay dead throughout its course, and clouds of white smoke soon showed that the ship was in flames. For half an hour longer she kept up the fight, but the fire started in her continued to burn until she sank. It was now seven o'clock. Early in the engagement another effort was made to destroy the Olympia. Two torpedo-boats came swiftly out and halted under the fire of the war-ships until their hoped-for prey should come within torpedo-reach. On came the flag-ship until but eight hundred yards distant. Then, as the daring little foes held their ground, she stopped and signalled for a concentrated fire on those dreaded terrors of the seas. In a moment they were the centre of a rain of shell, whipping the water around them until they were forced to turn and flee. As they did so a shell struck one of them fairly, and the daring craft was seen to plunge headlong under the sea. The other managed to reach cover, but was beached and deserted by her crew.

Still another bold advance was made from the Spanish fleet, this time by a gunboat, which slipped out and made for the McCulloch, probably hoping to destroy the transports. This effort also failed. The shot became so hot around her that she quickly drew back to her lurking-place. Meanwhile the batteries at Manila, distant as they were, were keeping up a steady fire upon the ships. No return was made by the fleet, but in the end Dewey sent a message to the governor-general that this fire must be stopped or the city would be shelled. The threat proved effectual. No more shells came from the Manila forts.

After four runs had been made at a distance of four thousand or five thousand yards, Lieutenant Calkins, the navigator of the Olympia, told the commodore that he believed it would be safe to take the ships nearer the enemy, with the lead going to test the depth of the water. Two more runs were therefore made within two thousand yards of the Spanish fleet. At this distance all the guns told, even the 6-pounders reaching their mark, and the effect on the enemy became terribly severe; three of their ships were in full flames, their fire had slackened, and it was evident that the victory was practically won.

Manila Bay


But the men were becoming exhausted by the strain. For two hours they had been engaged, with little more than a cup of coffee to sustain them. At 7:35, therefore, Dewey ceased firing and withdrew the squadron for breakfast. What harm had been done to his ships was not known, but when the word passed through the fleet that not a ship had been damaged or a man killed, involuntary cheers broke out. The gun-captains knew that there was a very different story to tell for the enemy, who had fought with a courage worthy of a better fate.

At 11:16, the men having had their breakfast and a few hours' rest, the ships returned to the attack, the Baltimore leading the way and the Olympia following, with Dewey occupying the perilous position on the bridge which he had maintained throughout. As they came within range, nearly the whole Spanish fleet was seen to be in flames, the flag-ship burning fiercely. Again shells were poured upon the devoted ships, the Spaniards still firing, but with less energy than before. By noon their fire had nearly ceased. At 12:30 the squadron ceased firing, the batteries being silenced and the Spanish ships sunk, burnt, and deserted. Every flag had gone down except one that floated above a small fortification in the distance. The transport Isla de Mindanao was still afloat, but a few shots through its helpless hulk soon set it in flames.

At 12:40 the squadron withdrew towards Manila, having finished its work, the little Petrel being left to complete the destruction of the gunboats which lay within the interior harbor. Lieutenant Hughes, with an armed boat's crew, set fire to these, and soon they were vying in flame with the larger vessels outside. Warning was sent to Governor-General Augustin, the author of the grandiloquent proclamation of a week before, that the port of Manila was under blockade, and that at a single shot from his batteries at any American ship the city would be laid in ashes.

The victory had been one without parallel in the whole history of naval warfare. For three or four hours the American ships had been exposed, within easy range, to a hot fire from the Spanish fleet and forts, and yet all that fiery storm had failed to kill a single man or to do serious injury to a single ship. On the other hand, the Spanish fleet had ceased to exist. Its burnt remnants lay on the bottom of the bay. In men the loss had been as severe as in ships. General Augustin gave their number at six hundred and eighteen. It was probably near a thousand, the Reina Cristina  alone having one hundred and fifty killed, the captain among them.

During the battle, Admiral Montojo had been obliged to shift his flag from the burning flag-ship to the little Isla de Cuba. This, too, was soon destroyed, the admiral being wounded, though not seriously. The forts had suffered as severely as the ships, being knocked into shapeless heaps of earth and their garrisons killed or put to flight. The remarkable difference in result was due to the skilful maneuvering of the American fleet and the accurate handling of its guns, as compared with the wretched gunnery of the Spaniards, who seemed incapable of hitting a ship in motion. A French official account spoke of the American fire as "for accuracy and for rapidity something awful."

For a week previously Manila had been on the verge of a panic. Now terror and confusion prevailed. Flight was impossible, since it would have been into the hands of the insurgents, who had been greatly emboldened by the news of the war, and swarmed in the surrounding country. It was not known but that Dewey would turn his guns on the city and batter it to the earth. General Augustin's proclamation had prepared the citizens for the wildest excesses on the part of the victorious foe, and they were in a state of pitiable dismay.

In the afternoon of May 1 Dewey's ship was boarded by the British consul, who requested the victor, in view of the many foreigners in the city, represented by the consuls of twenty-one different governments, not to bombard the place. Dewey promised on condition that the military supplies of Manila should be delivered to him, with coal for his ships and the control of the cable to Hong Kong. General Augustin, threatened by enemies on all sides, the insurgents by land, the Americans by water, telegraphed to Madrid for instructions, sending the partial report of the battle which quickly spread over the world.

On May 2 the answer came. It offered defiance to the enemy. At once Dewey sent the Baltimore  and the Raleigh  to Corregidor Island, and summoned the colonel in command to surrender. He did so without hesitation, and the works commanding the entrance to the harbor fell into American hands. At four o'clock that afternoon communication by telegraph with Hong Kong ceased. Dewey had lifted and cut the cable, the use of which had been refused to him. The only means of communication left was by boat to Hong Kong, and thither the McCulloch  was despatched with news of the victory. On May 7 came by telegraph from China the message from Dewey we have quoted, and which electrified the expectant people of the United States and elicited the admiration of all Europe.

In addition to the despatch given, the McCulloch brought another, dated May 4, saying:

"I have taken possession of naval station at Cavite, Philippine Islands, and destroyed the fortifications. Have destroyed fortifications at bay entrance, Corregidor Island, paroling the garrison. I control the bay completely and can take the city at any time. The squadron is in excellent health and spirits. The Spanish loss not fully known, but is very heavy. One hundred and fifty killed, including captain, on Reina Cristina  alone. I am assisting in protecting Spanish sick and wounded. Two hundred and fifty sick and wounded in hospital within our lines. Much excitement at Manila. Will protect foreign residents.


The Petrel, which had been sent into the inner harbor to destroy the gunboats, found there one vessel unhurt, the transport Manila, which lay in three feet of mud near the navy-yard. She was towed off and anchored near the squadron, and proved to be a handsome steamer of about two thousand tons. She was laden with supplies and five hundred tons of coal, from which the Raleigh  supplied her bunkers. The remaining prizes consisted of a number of tugs and launches, which were seized for the service of the American fleet. When the men landed from the Petrel to search the navy-yard, they were met by the doctor and a deputation of Sisters of Mercy from the hospital, who begged them not to kill the wounded or fire on the hospital. They learned with surprise and delight that American soldiers did not perform such deeds. They had been made to believe that they had ruthless savages to deal with.

The departure of the Spanish soldiers, who fled in haste to Manila after the battle, left Cavite at the mercy of the insurgents, who swarmed into the place and looted it to their hearts' content, carrying off many boat-loads of plunder over the bay. At the request of the officers and surgeons of the naval hospital, which was filled with wounded from the fleet and threatened with attack by the natives, a force of marines was sent to guard it. The work of plundering, however, went on with activity in the town of St. Roque, near Cavite, the houses of Spaniards being mercilessly looted, while hundreds of people fled from the town, carrying their household effects in all available vehicles. Even the arsenal was robbed of many boat-loads of furniture and stores before the guard of marines was posted at its gates.

The reception of the despatch from Dewey by the President was acknowledged without delay through Secretary Long, who sent the following message to the victorious commodore:

"WASHINGTON, May 7, 1898
"DEWEY, Manila.

"The President, in the name of the American people, thanks you and your officers and men for your splendid achievement and overwhelming victory. In recognition he has appointed you acting admiral, and will recommend a vote of thanks to you by Congress.


On May 9, Congress, by a rising vote in both Houses, passed a resolution of thanks to Dewey and his officers and men, and appropriated $10,000 to present him with a sword and medals to all under his command. On the 11th he was nominated and confirmed rear-admiral. He hastened to return his grateful thanks to the President and Congress for the compliment paid him and the honors conferred on him and his men.

The unexpectedly complete success of the Manila expedition was followed by steps for the reinforcement of Admiral Dewey and for taking possession of the Philippine Islands, an outcome of the war which at once became urgent. Supplies and men were made ready to send across the Pacific, under command of Major-General Wesley Merritt, who on May 12 was announced as military governor of the Philippines.

On the 18th the cruiser Charleston sailed from Mare Island for Manila, loaded with supplies and ammunition. There was considerable delay in despatching men, the first detachment of troops, numbering two thousand five hundred men, not leaving San Francisco for the Philippines until May 25. The second expedition, three thousand five hundred strong, set out on June 15.To strengthen Dewey's fleet the monitor Monterey was ordered, June 1, to join him, and on June 23 the monitor Monadnock set out from San Francisco for the same purpose.

Meanwhile the victorious admiral awaited in the bay of Manila the arrival of Merritt and his men, he having decided that it would be unwise to proceed against the city until amply able to hold it and restrain the insurgent forces. The two monitors sent were deemed sufficient to enable him to meet any fleet which Spain could despatch against him. A third expedition, five thousand in number, left San Francisco for the Philippines June 27 to 29, and on July 15 and subsequently a fourth expedition set sail. Admiral Dewey meanwhile awaited the arrival of these reinforcements, keeping up a strict blockade, but making no effort to take possession of a city which he was too weak to hold.