_Connecticut_ to a young lieutenant with the words: "Keep them firing as
long as you can." Then murmuring softly to himself, "It's of no use
anyhow," he crept through a narrow bulkhead-opening to a stairway and
groped his way up step by step. Suddenly he touched something soft and
warm; it groaned loudly. Heavens! it was a sailor who had dragged his
shattered limbs into this corner. "Poor fellow," said the admiral, and
climbed up, solitary and alone, to the deck of his lost ship. The din
of battle sounded louder and louder, and at last he reached the deck
beneath the rear bridge. A badly wounded signalman was leaning against a
bit of railing that had remained standing, staring at the admiral with
vacant eyes. "Are the signal-halyards still clear?" asked Perry. "Yes,"
answered the man feebly.
"Then signal at once: Three cheers for the United States!" The little
colored flags flew up to the yardarm like lightning, and it grew quiet
on the _Connecticut_.
The last shell, the last cartridge was shoved into the breech, one more
shot was aimed at the enemy from the heated barrels, and then all was
still except for the crash of the hostile projectiles, the crackling of
the flames and the howling of the wind. The other side, too, gradually
ceased firing. With the _Satsuma_ and the _Aki_ in the van and the four
other ships following, the enemy's squadron advanced, enveloped in a
thin veil of smoke.
High up in the stern of the _Connecticut_ and at her mastheads waved the
tattered Stars and Stripes. The few gunners, who had served the guns to
the end, crept out of the turrets and worked their way up over broken
steps. There were fifty-seven of them, all that remained of the proud
squadron. Three cheers for their country came from the parched throats
of these last heroes of the _Connecticut_. "Three cheers for the United
States!" Admiral Perry drew his sword, and "Hurrah" it rang once more
across the water to the ships sailing under the flag which bore the
device of a crimson Rising Sun on a white field. There memories of the
old days of the Samurai knighthood were aroused, and a signal appeared
on the rear top mast of the _Satsuma_, whereupon all six battleships
lowered their flags as a last tribute to a brave enemy.
Then the _Connecticut_ listed heavily to starboard, and the next wave
could not raise the heavy ship, bleeding from a thousand wounds. It sank
and sank, and while Admiral Perry held fast to a bit of railing and
waited with moist eyes for the end, the words of the old "Star-Spangled
Banner," which had been heard more than once in times of storm and
peril, rang out from the deck of the _Connecticut_. Then, with her flag
waving to the last, the admiral's flag-ship sank slowly beneath the
waves, leaving a bloody glow behind her. That was the end.
Captain Winstanley slowly opened his eyes and stared at the low ceiling
of his cabin on the white oil-paint of which the sunbeams, entering
through the porthole, were painting numerous circles and quivering
reflections. Slowly he began to collect his thoughts. Could it have been
a dream or the raving of delirium? He tried to raise himself on his
narrow bed, but fell back as he felt a sharp pain. There was no mistake
about the pain - that was certainly real. What on earth had happened? He
asked himself this question again and again as he watched the thousands
of circles and quivering lines drawn by the light on the ceiling.
Winstanley stared about him and suddenly started violently. Then it was
all real, a terrible reality? Yes, for there sat his friend Longstreet
of the _Nebraska_ with his back against the wall of the cabin, in a
dripping wet uniform, fast asleep.
"Longstreet!" he called.
His friend awoke and stared at him in astonishment.
"Longstreet, did it all really happen, or have I been dreaming?"
"Longstreet," he began again more urgently, "tell me, is it all over,
can it be true?"
Longstreet nodded, incapable of speech.
"Our poor, poor country," whispered Winstanley.
After a long pause Longstreet suddenly broke the silence by remarking:
"The _Nebraska_ went down at about six o'clock."
"And the _Georgia_ a little earlier," said Winstanley; "but where are
we? How did I get here?"
"The torpedo boat _Farragut_ fished us up after the battle. We are on
board the hospital ship _Ontario_ with about five hundred other
"And what has become of the rest of our squadron?" asked Winstanley
apprehensively. Longstreet only shrugged his shoulders.
Then they both dozed again and listened to the splashing and gurgling of
the water against the ship's side and to the dull, regular thud of the
engine which by degrees began to form words in Winstanley's fever-heated
imagination - meaningless words which seemed to pierce his brain with
painful sharpness: "Oh, won't you come across," rose and fell the oily
melody, keeping time with the action of the piston-rods of the engine,
"Oh, won't you come across," repeated the walls, and "Oh, won't you come
across," clattered the water-bottle over in the wooden rack. Again and
again Winstanley said the words to himself in an everlasting, dull
Longstreet looked at him compassionately, and murmured: "Another attack
of fever." Then he got up, and bending over his comrade, looked out of
Water everywhere; nothing but sparkling, glistening water, broad, blue,
rolling waves to be seen as far as the eye could reach. Not a sign of a
"Oh, won't you come across," repeated Longstreet, listlessly joining in
the rhythm of the engines. Then he stretched himself and sank back on
his chair in a somnolent state, thinking over the experiences of the
So this was all that was left of the Pacific Fleet - a hospital ship with
a few hundred wounded officers and men, all that remained of Admiral
Crane's fleet, which had been attacked with torpedo boats by Admiral
Kamimura at three o'clock on the night of May eighth, after Togo had
destroyed Perry's squadron.
It had been a horrible surprise. The enemy must have intercepted the
signals between the squadron and the scouts, but as the Japanese had not
employed their wireless telegraph at all, none of the American
reconnoitering cruisers had had its suspicions aroused. Then the
wireless apparatus had suddenly got out of order and all further
intercommunication among the American ships was cut off, while a few
minutes later came the first torpedo explosions, followed by fountains
of foam, the dazzling light of the searchlights and sparks from the
falling shells. The Americans could not reply to the hostile fire until
much, much later, and then it was almost over. When the gray light of
dawn spread over the surface of the water, it only lighted up a few
drifting, sinking wrecks, the irrecognizable ruins of Admiral Crane's
proud squadron, which were soon completely destroyed by the enemy's
Kamimura had already disappeared beyond the horizon with his ships, not
being interested in his enemy's remains.
"Oh, won't you come across," groaned and wailed the engine quite loudly
as a door to the engine-room was opened. Longstreet jumped up with a
start, and then climbed wearily and heavily up the stairs. The entire
deck had been turned into a hospital, and the few doctors were hurrying
from one patient to another.
Longstreet went up to a lieutenant in a torn uniform who was leaning
against the railing with his head between his hands, staring across the
water. "Where are we going, Harry?" asked Longstreet.
"I don't know; somewhere or other; it doesn't matter much where."
Longstreet left him and climbed up to the bridge. Here he shook hands in
silence with a few comrades and then asked the captain of the _Ontario_
where they were going.
"If possible, to San Francisco," was the answer. "But I'm afraid the
Japanese will be attacking the coast-batteries by this time, and besides
that chap over there seems to have his eyes on us," he added, pointing
Longstreet looked in the direction indicated and saw a gray cruiser with
three high funnels making straight for the _Ontario_. At this moment a
signalman delivered a wireless message to the captain: "The cruiser
yonder wants to know our name and destination."
"Signal back: United States hospital ship _Ontario_ making for San
Francisco," said the captain. This signal was followed by the dull boom
of a shot across the water; but the _Ontario_ continued on her course.
Then a flash was seen from a forward gun of the cruiser and a shell
splashed into the water about one hundred yards in front of the
_Ontario_, bursting with a deafening noise.
The captain hesitated a second, then he ordered the engines to stop,
turned over the command on the bridge to the first officer and went
himself to the signaling apparatus to send the following message:
"United States hospital ship _Ontario_ with five hundred wounded on
board relies on protection of ambulance-flag."
A quarter of an hour later, the Japanese armored cruiser _Idzumo_
stopped close to the _Ontario_ and lowered a cutter, which took several
Japanese officers and two doctors over to the _Ontario_.
While a Japanese officer of high rank was received by the captain in his
cabin in order to discuss the best method of providing for the wounded,
Longstreet went down to Winstanley.
"Well, old man, how are you?" he asked.
"Pretty miserable, Longstreet; what's going to become of us?"
Longstreet hesitated, but Winstanley insisted: "Tell me, old chap, tell
me the truth. Where are we bound to - what's going to become of us?"
"We're going to San Francisco," said Longstreet evasively.
"And the enemy?"
Longstreet remained silent again.
"But the enemy, Longstreet, where's the enemy? We mustn't fall into his
"Brace up, Winstanley," said Longstreet, "we're in the hands of the
Winstanley started up from his bed, but sank back exhausted by the
terrible pain in his right arm which had been badly wounded.
"No, no, anything but that! I'd rather be thrown overboard than fall
into the hands of the Japanese! It's all over, there's no use struggling
"Longstreet," he cried, with eyes burning with fever, "Longstreet,
promise me that you'll throw me overboard rather than give me up to the
"No, Winstanley, no; think of our country, remember that it is in sore
need of men, of men to restore the honor of the Stars and Stripes, of
men to drive the enemy from the field and conquer them in the end."
At this moment the door opened and a Japanese lieutenant entered,
carrying a small note-book in his hand.
At sight of him Winstanley shouted: "Longstreet, hand me a weapon of
some sort; that fellow - - "
The Jap saluted and said: "Gentlemen, I am sorry for the circumstances
which compel me to ask you to give me your names and ships. Rest assured
that a wounded enemy may safely rely on Japanese chivalry. If you will
follow the example of all the other officers and give your word of honor
not to escape, you will receive all possible care and attention in the
hospital at San Francisco without any irksome guard. Will you be so good
as to give me your names?"
"Lieutenant Longstreet of the _Nebraska_."
"Captain Winstanley, commander of the _Georgia_," added Longstreet for
"Will you give me your word of honor?"
Longstreet gave his, but Winstanley shook his head and said: "_You can
do what you like with me; I refuse to give my word of honor._"
The Jap shrugged his shoulders and disappeared.
"Longstreet, nursed in San Francisco, is that what the Jap said? Then
San Francisco must be in their hands." At these words the wounded
captain of the _Georgia_ burst into bitter tears and sobs shook the body
of the poor man, who in his ravings fancied himself back on board his
ship giving orders for the big guns to fire at the enemy. Longstreet
held his friend's hand and stared in silence at the white ceiling upon
which the sunbeams painted myriads of quivering lines and circles.
At one o'clock the _Ontario_ came in sight of the Golden Gate, where the
white banner with its crimson sun was seen to be waving above all the
* * * * *
While the Japanese were attacking San Francisco early on the morning of
May seventh, their fleet was stationed off San Diego on the lookout for
the two American maneuvering fleets. The intercepted orders from the
Navy Department had informed the enemy that Admiral Perry, with his blue
squadron of six battleships of the _Connecticut_ class, intended to
attack San Francisco and the other ports and naval-stations on the
Pacific, and that the yellow fleet, under command of Admiral Crane, was
to carry out the defense. The latter had drawn up his squadron in front
of San Francisco on May second, and on May fifth Admiral Perry had left
Magdalen Bay. From this time on every report sent by wireless was read
by harmless looking Japanese trading-vessels sailing under the English
The first thing to be done on the morning of the seventh was to render
Magdalen Bay useless, in order to prevent all communication with distant
ships. A trick put the station in the enemy's possession. Here, too,
there were several Japanese shopkeepers who did good business with their
stores along the Bay. Early on Sunday morning these busy yellow
tradesmen were suddenly transformed into a company of troops who soon
overpowered the weak garrison in charge of the signal-station. The
Japanese cruiser _Yakumo_, approaching from the North, had been painted
white like the American cruisers, and this is why she had been taken, as
the reader will remember, for the armored cruiser _New York_, which was
actually lying off San Francisco assigned to Admiral Crane's yellow
fleet. The _Yakumo_ was to prevent the two destroyers _Hull_ and
_Hopkins_ from escaping from the Bay, and both boats were literally shot
to pieces when they made the attempt. This action hopelessly isolated
the maneuvering fleets.
By eight o'clock in the morning Togo's squadron, consisting of the
flag-ships _Satsuma_, the _Aki_, _Katou_, _Kashimi_, _Mikasa_ and
_Akahi_, and forming the backbone of the Japanese battle-fleet, had
succeeded in locating Admiral Perry's squadron, thanks to intercepted
wireless dispatches. The Japanese refrained from using their wireless
apparatus, so as to avoid attracting the attention of the American
squadron. The unfinished message sent at nine o'clock from Magdalen Bay
told Togo that the surprise there had been successful, and a little
later the order to strengthen the American advance, sent in the same
way, enabled him to ascertain the exact position of both the main group
of cruisers and the scouts and lookout ships. Similarly it was learned
that the latter were extremely weak, and accordingly Togo detached four
armored cruisers, the huge new 25-knot _Tokio_ and _Osaka_, and the
_Ibuki_ and _Kurama_, to destroy the American van, and this he succeeded
in accomplishing after a short engagement which took place at the same
time as the attack on Perry's armored ships.
The _Denver_ and _Chattanooga_ were soon put out of business by a few
shells which entered their unprotected hulls, and the five destroyers,
which were unable to use their torpedoes in such a heavy sea, were
likewise soon done for.
Under cover of a torrent of rain, Togo came in sight of the American
ships when the distance between the two squadrons was only 5,500 yards.
At the moment when Admiral Perry's ships emerged out of the rain,
Admiral Togo opened the battle by sending the following signal from the
"To-day must avenge Kanagawa. As Commodore Perry then knocked with his
sword at the gate of Nippon, so will we to-day burst open San
Francisco's Golden Gate."
The signal was greeted with enthusiasm and loud cries of "_Banzai_!" on
board all the ships. Then the battle began, and by the time the sun had
reached its zenith, Admiral Perry's squadron had disappeared in the
waves of the Pacific. The first eleven minutes, before the Americans
could bring their guns into action, had determined the outcome of the
battle. The ultimate outcome of the battle had, of course, been
accelerated by the fact that the first shells had created such fearful
havoc in the fore-parts of three of the American ships, quantities of
water pouring in which caused the ships to list and made it necessary to
fill the compartments on the opposite side in order to restore the
Admiral Kamimura was less fortunate at first with the second squadron.
He was led astray by the wrong interpretation of a wireless signal and
did not sight Admiral Crane's fleet till towards evening, and then it
was not advisable to begin the attack at once, lest the Americans should
escape under cover of darkness. Kamimura, therefore, decided to wait
until shortly after midnight, and then to commence operations with his
eight destroyers and apply the finishing touches with his heavy guns.
Admiral Crane's squadron consisted of six battleships - the three new
battleships _Virginia_, _Nebraska_ and _Georgia_, the two older vessels
_Kearsage_ and _Kentucky_, and, lastly, the _Iowa_. Then there were the
two armored cruisers _St. Louis_ and _Milwaukee_, and the unprotected
cruisers _Tacoma_ and _Des Moines_, which, on account of their speed of
16.5 knots and their lack of any armor, were as useless as cruisers as
were their sister ships in Admiral Perry's squadron. One single
well-aimed shell would suffice to put them out of action.
It was a terrible surprise when the Japanese destroyers began the attack
under cover of the night. Not until dawn did the Americans actually
catch sight of their enemy, and that was when Kamimura left the field of
battle, which was strewn with sinking American ships, with his six
practically unharmed battleships headed in a southwesterly direction to
join Togo's fleet, who had already been informed of the victory. The
work of cleaning up was left to the destroyers, who sank the badly
damaged American ships with their torpedoes. The hospital ship
_Ontario_, attached to the yellow fleet, and a torpedo boat fished up
the survivors of this short battle. Then the _Ontario_ started for San
Francisco, while the leaking _Farragut_ remained behind.
The Americans had been able to distinguish, with a fair degree of
certainty, that Kamimura's squadron consisted of the _Shikishima_, the
battleships _Iwami_ (ex _Orel_), the _Sagami_ (ex _Peresvjet_), and
_Tumo_ (ex _Pobjeda_), all three old Russian ships, and of the two new
armored cruisers _Ikoma_ and _Tsukuba_. Then there were the two enormous
battleships which were not included in the Japanese Navy List at all,
and the two huge cruisers _Yokohama_ and _Shimonoseki_ which, according
to Japanese reports, were still building, while in reality they had been
finished and added to the fleet long ago.
The circumstances connected with these two battleships were rather
peculiar. The report was spread in 1906 that China was going to build a
new fleet and that she had ordered two big battleships from the docks at
Yokosuka. This rumor was contradicted both at Pekin and at Tokio. The
Americans and everybody in Europe wondered who was going to pay for the
ships. The trouble is, we ask altogether too many questions, instead of
investigating for ourselves. As a matter of fact, the ships were laid
down in 1908, though everybody outside the walls of the Japanese
shipyard was made to believe that only gunboats were being built. We
have probably forgotten how, at the time, a German newspaper called our
attention to the fact that not only these two battleships - of the
English _Dreadnought_ type - but also the two armored cruisers building
at Kure ostensibly for China, would probably never sail under the yellow
dragon banner, but in case of war, would either be added directly to
Japan's fleet or be bought back from China.
And so it turned out. Just before the outbreak of the war, the Sun
Banner was hoisted quietly on the two battleships and they were given
the names of _Nippon_ and _Hokkaido_, respectively; but they were
omitted from the official Japanese Navy List and left out of our
calculations. How Pekin and Tokio came to terms with regard to these two
ships remains one of the many secrets of east Asiatic politics. The
generally accepted political belief that China was not financially
strong enough to build a new fleet and that Japan, supposedly on the
very verge of bankruptcy, could not possibly carry out her _postbellum_
programme, was found to have rested on empty phrases employed by the
press on both sides of the ocean merely for the sake of running a story.
There has never yet been a time in the history of the world when war was
prevented by a lack of funds. How could Prussia, absolutely devoid of
resources, have carried on the war it did against Napoleon a hundred
years ago, unless this were so?
In the redistribution of our war vessels in the Atlantic and the Pacific
after the return of the fleet from its journey round the world, the Navy
Department had calculated as follows: Japan had fifteen battleships, six
large new ones and nine older ones; in addition she had six large new
and eight older armored cruisers. We have one armored cruiser and three
cruisers in Manila, and these can take care of at least five Japanese
armored cruisers. Japan therefore has fifteen battleships and nine
armored cruisers left for making an attack. Now if we keep two
squadrons, each consisting of six battleships - the _Texas_ among
them - off the Pacific coast and add to these the coast-batteries, the
mines and the submarines, we shall possess a naval force which the enemy
will never dare attack.
Japan, on the other hand, figured as follows: We have two squadrons,
each consisting of six battleships, among which there are six that are
superior to any American fighting ship; these with the nine armored
cruisers and the advantage of a complete surprise, give us such a
handicap that we have nothing to fear. As a reserve, lying off San
Francisco, are the ironclads _Hizen_ (ex _Retvisan_), _Tango_ (ex
_Poltawa_), _Iki_ (ex _Nicolai_), and the armored cruisers _Azuma_,
_Idzumo_, _Asama_, _Tokiwa_, and _Yakumo_. Besides these there are the
two mortar-boat divisions and the cruisers sent to Seattle, while the
armored cruiser _Iwate_ and two destroyers were sent to Magdalen Bay.
All that remained in home waters were the fourth squadron, consisting of
former Russian ships, and the cruisers which would soon be relieved at
The enemy had figured correctly and we had not. The two battles of the
seventh and eighth of May were decided in the first ten minutes, before
we had fired a single shot. And would the Japanese calculation have been
correct also if Perry had beaten Togo or Crane Kamimura? Most decidedly
so, for not a single naval harbor or coaling-station, or repairing-dock
on the Pacific coast would have been ready to receive Perry or Crane
with their badly damaged squadrons. On the other hand, the remnants of
our fleet would have had all the Japanese battleships, all the armored
cruisers and a large collection of torpedo-boats continually on their
heels, and would thus have been forced to another battle in which, being
entirely without a base of operations, they would without a doubt have
suffered a complete defeat.
Our mines in the various arsenals and our three submarines at the Mare
Island Wharf in San Francisco fell into the enemy's hands like ripe
plums. It was quite superfluous for the Japanese to take their steamer
for transporting submarines, which had been built for them in England,
to San Francisco.
Nothing remained to us but the glory that not one of our ships had
surrendered to the enemy - all had sunk with their flags flying. After
all, it was one thing to fight against the demoralized fleet of the Czar
and quite another to fight against the Stars and Stripes. Our
blue-jackets had saved the honor of the white race in the eyes of the
yellow race on the waves of the Pacific, even if they had thus far shown
them only how brave American sailors die. But the loss of more than half
our officers and trained men was even a more severe blow than the
sinking of our ships. These could not be replaced at a moment's notice,
but months and months of hard work would be required and new squadrons
must be found. But from where were they to come?
Only a single vessel of the Pacific fleet escaped from the battle and