Off Santiago with Sampson
After more than an hour's fighting, Schley's fleet had destroyed all but one of Cervera's ships. The survivor, the new armored cruiser Cristobal Colon , continued fleeing along the coast. Recently purchased, the Spanish Navy did not have time to install the ship's primary armament of 10" guns before sailing. Slowed due to engine trouble, Brooklyn was unable to catch the retreating cruiser. This allowed the battleship Oregon , which had recently completed a remarkable voyage from San Francisco in the war's early days, to move forward. Following an hour-long chase Oregon opened fire and forced Colon to run aground.
Ellis, USS Brooklyn and 10 wounded. Cervera lost all six of his ships, as well as killed and wounded. In addition, approximately 70 officers, including the admiral, and 1, men were taken prisoner.
With the Spanish Navy unwilling to risk any additional ships in Cuban waters, the island's garrison was effectively cut off, ultimately dooming them to surrender. Share Flipboard Email.
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Battle of Santiago de Cuba
After he arrived, Sampson quickly hatched a plan to trap the Spanish in Santiago. The narrow channel could easily be blocked by a sunken ship , and the collier Merrimac was chosen, as her unreliable engines made her expendible. Lieutenant Richmond Hobson was selected to lead the 8-man team of volunteers that would perform the mission, and reconnoitered the entrance to the harbor in a boat on the night of June 1st. There was a good spot not too far in, and the collier was quickly prepared for the job.
Otis, Off Santiago with Sampson, 1e
Anchors were prepared to hold her in place while ten charges opened her hull, sending her to the bottom. The crew, who were wearing only their underwear, lifebelts, and revolvers, would then row a boat out to the New York 's waiting steam launch. The original plan had been to send the ship in in the early hours of the 2nd, but delays meant that it had to be pushed back 24 hours.
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Despite the bright moon, the collier made it within yards of the entrance before the Spanish opened fire. Hobson gave the order to scuttle the ship immediately, but only two of the charges went off.
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Spanish guns swept the ship, and moments later the Merrimac struck one of the mines the Spanish had laid in the channel. The crew managed to escape with no further injury, but they were unable to escape before dawn, when they surrendered to Admiral Cervera, who had come to inspect the scene of battle personally. Ultimately, all 8 of the men were awarded the Medal of Honor, 3 and were released safely after the Spanish surrender. The next few days were quiet, but on the 6th, Sampson sent his ships in to bombard the forts.
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The three modern Spanish 6. But while the firepower of the attacking ships was indeed sufficient to drive the Spaniards from their guns, it was not enough to actually disable those guns, or prevent them from being manned again as soon as fire slackened. Several shells struck the unarmored cruiser Reina Mercedes , setting her on fire and mortally wounding her captain. Ultimately, the main effect was to boost Spanish morale, as they came to the conclusion that they had driven off a major American attack.
With the failure of the Merrimac plan, Sampson knew he would have to settle in for a long siege, and quickly began plans to seize a fleet base nearby. The obvious candidate was Guantanamo Bay, an excellent natural harbor 35 miles to the east of Santiago. On June 7th, the light cruiser Marblehead and the auxiliary cruisers St. It was lightly held by the Spanish, and they returned to Sampson after bombarding some Spanish positions, driving off a Spanish gunboat and cutting all of the telegraph cables.
On June 10th, a battalion of Marines arrived on the transport Panther , and quickly went ashore at Guantanamo. They took up positions at what had been designated Camp McCalla, on top of a hill near the bay, and raised the American flag on Cuban soil for the first time. On the morning of the 11th, Spanish loyalist guerillas surrounded the Marines and began to harass them from cover.
Only a few of the Americans were killed each day, but the constant attacks stretched nerves to the breaking point over the next three days. A small force of Cuban guerillas soon joined the Marines, and one of their leaders suggested that the best way to end the threat was to destroy the nearby Cuzco Well, the only source of fresh water within 12 miles. On the morning of the 14th, two companies of Marines, totaling men, and 50 Cubans were dispatched to destroy the well under the command of Captain George F. After a brutal six-mile march across rough terrain, the combined force managed to seize positions overlooking the strong Spanish garrison.
With supporting fire from the gunboat Dolphin , the Marines drove the Spanish from the battlefield, capturing 18 of the enemy, killing 60 and wounding at least twice that number. The Americans suffered only three wounded, while two friendly Cubans were killed and another pair wounded. The heat had a much bigger impact, with 23 Marines having to be transported back aboard Dolphin with heatstroke.