William Arba Ellis.

Norwich University, 1819-1911; her history, her graduates, her roll of honor (Volume 1) online

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equipment officer at the Boston Navy Yard, in 1898. George P.
Colvocoresses, '66, served as executive officer of the U. S. S.
Concord, taking part in the historic battle of Manila Bay. He later
held the same position on Admiral Dewey 's flagship, the Olympia.
Holland N. Stevenson, '65, served as chief engineer U. S. N., during
the war.

On the breaking out of the war, Hiram I. Bearss, '98, raised a
company of volunteers in Indiana, for the service. He was later
commissioned a 2d lieutenant in the Marine Corps and performed
conspicuous service in the Philippine Islands. Samuel D. Conant,
'72, was elected 1st lieutenant of a provisional company at Green-
field, Mass.; B. W. Farnham, '91, 2d lieutenant of a company at
Lowell, Mass.; George W. Hinsdale, '94, 1st sergeant of the
Rand Rifles Co., in Massachusetts, organized under the auspices
of the Veterans of 1861-65. Clarence A. Tenney, '06, served as a
private in the 46th U.S. Volunteer Infantry.

On the Hike, 1910.



May 1st, 189S.

By Rear- Admiral G. P. Colvocoresses, U. S. N.

The fact that war existed between the United States of America
and the Kingdom of Spain was communicated to Commodore
George Dewey, commanding the U. 8. Naval forces in Asiatic
waters, by telegram, as follows:

"Wushiiigtoii, April 24, 1898."
" Uewey, HongKonc;: War has commenced between the United States and
Spain. Proceed at once to PhiUppine Jslands. Commence operations at
once, particularly against the Spanish fleet. You must capture vessels or
destroy. Use utmost endeavors.

LONG.' '

At the above date the squadron of Commodore Dewey was
anchored in the harbor of Hong Kong and consisted of the protected
cruisers, Olympia, (Flagship), Baltimore, Raleigh, and Boston;
gunboats, Concord and Petrel; dispatch boat, McCulloch, and sup-
ply vessels, Nansha^i and Zajiro. None of these vessels were
armored; the protection consisted simply of a light steel deck ex-
tending over the machinery, boilers and magazines. The old
"double-ender," Monocacy, also belonged to this command, but
was not considered fit for war service and three officers and fifty
men had been detached from her and distributed among the other
vessels. Owing to the strained relations l^etween the governments
of the Unit-id States and Spain, war had been anticipated and
the Asiatic squadron was thoroughly prepared.

The English governor of Hong Kong had been apprised of the
declaration of war shortly before the reception of the dispatch to
Commodore Dewey, and in accordance with international comity,
requested the withdrawal of the United States squadron from
that port. The British authorities were apparently friendly, but
the decision that coal was a contraband of war added much to
the gravity of the situation, andinleavingHongKong, the squad-
ron had no base of supplies nearer than 7,000 miles.

On the 25th of April, 1898, Commodore Dewey proceeded to
Mirs Bay, on the coast of China, some thirty miles distant, and
informed the Navy Department that he would there await the
arrival of the U. S. Consul, Mr. 0. F. Williams, who was hourly
expected from Manila. It was considered that the consul would



have late important inforination regarding the strength and move-
ments of the Spanish forces in the Philippines.

From various sources it was generally understooc^ that there
was a Spanish fleet in Philippine waters commanded by Rear-
Admiral Pati'icio Montejo y Pasaron, comprising some seven
cruisers, foiu' gunboats, three armed transports and twenty-four
smaller vessels. The city and bay were protected liy permanent
fortifications and batteries, armed with modern guns, and sup-
posed to contain an army of from 15,000 to 20,000 men, regulars
and volunteers. The bay was reported to l)e extensively mined.


The U. S. S. " Olympia," Admiral Dewey's Flagship.

The uprising of the Filipinos was causing much disorder
throughout the archipelago, — towns and villages had l^een burnt,
and in some cases the inhal)itants Inirnt Avith them — and the insur-
gents and their sympathizers given up to slaughter. The authori-
ties at Manila had ])een kept fully informed of Commodore Dewey's
force and movements by the Spanish consul at Hong Kong.

Immediately upon the arrival of Consul Williams, April 27th,
the United States Squadron left Mirs Bay and steered for the
Northwest extremity of the Island of Luzon, distant 600 miles.


The crews were in excellent spirits and animated by an ardent
desire to meet the enemy; their zeal was humorously inspired by
reading to them, on board each ship, the proclamation of the gover-
nor general of the Philippines that had appeared in the Hong Kong
Daily Press.

This mendacious and l)()mbastic tirade charactei'ized the
American people as made up of all the offscourings of the earth
and stated that a squadron of these ignorant and undisciplined
foreigners was appioaching in the vain intent to profane the tem-
})les of true religion in the Philippines, burning to gratif}^ their
lustful passions at the cost of the honor of Spanish wives and
daughters, and after robbing the natives, to reduce them to slavery.
Spanish valor was invoked to repel the vile intruders. This
remarkable document was signed, — " Yoiu- General, Basilio
Augustin Davila," — l)ut it was afterwards learned that it was
inspired by a militant prelate, Archbishop Nozelada.

The weather was hot and the passage uneventful until Subig
Bay, thirty-two miles from Manila, was reached on April oOth.
The Commodore had been informed that the enemy intended
to make a stand there and the Boston and Concord were sent ahead
to reconnoiter. No traces of the enemy were found and Commo-
dore Dewey announced to the captains his intention of going
immediately to INIanila Bay, anchor there and l)()mbard the city
and arsenal at 8 o'clock the next morning.

The fighting \'essels were arranged in the following open order,
single column : — Olympia, leading, Baltimore, Raleigh, Petrel, Con-
cord, Boston. This formation was maintained throughout the
first part of the engagement that followed. The supply vessels
formed a second column to starboard, 1200 yards interval; the
speed was set at four knots per hour. The ships were strijoped
like atliletes for the contest and everything ready for battle. These
movements were signaled to Manila by Spaniards who were in
hiding at Subig.

In the meantime, what had become of the Spanish fleet?
As appears by the report of Admiral Montejo, he went to Subig
soon after Consul Williams left Manila; but finding that the batter-
ies which he had ortlered to be constructed a month before had not
been mounted with artillery, a council of his captains decided that
defense of that positi(m was impracticable and he returned to
Manila Bay and anchored' off the arspunl at Cavite, supported by
the neighboring shore batteries. ^

The Bay of Manila, ui)on which the city of the same name is



situated, indents the southern shore of the Island of Luzon, the
largest of the Philippine group. Manila is a city of 800,000 in-
habitants. The bay is landlocked, irregular in outline and
measures thirty miles from north to south and twenty-five miles
from east to west. The entrance is twelve miles wide; two and a
half miles from its westernmost point is Corregidor Island, rising
some 600 feet above sea level, on which was a battery of three 6.3
inch Armstrong guns. Between Corregidor and the eastern main-
land are the islets of Pulo Cabello and El Fraile, each having a
battery of three 6.3 inch Gonzules-Hontoria, Ijreech-loading rifle
guns. There were also })atteries at Punta Restinga, Marivales,
Punta Sisiman, Punta Gorda, Punta Lasisi and Punta Cancay,
several of which were masked by the dense tropical thickets. It
was stated that the adjacent waters wei'e thickly mined and that a
steamer lately arrived had brought a numl:)er of Whitehead torpe-
does. Masters of vessels recently from Manila reported that they
had been obliged to take a devious course to avoid these dangers.
It afterwards was known that the Spaniards thought that the
water at the entrance was too deep for mines. Seven Whitehead
torpedoes were subsecjuently found at the arsenal, but no attem])t
had been made to use them. However, the moral effect remained
so far as the attacking force was concerned.

Some seventeen miles inside the entrance, and on the eastern
shoi'e of ^Manila Bay, is a bight called Canacao Bay, on which is the
arsenal of Cavite, the naval supply and repair station of the islands.
It was protected by the old fort San Felipe, mounting 6-inch smooth
bore Armstrong guns, and on a long narrow sand spit, forming
the wpitern extremity of this bight, called Sangley Point, was a
battery of two 6.3 inch Ordonez type, guns. There should have
Deen three guns mounted there, Init for some reason the third was
left on the ground. About eight miles northward fi-om Sangley
Point is the city of Manila, its water front defended l)y fifty guns,
mostly breech-loading rifles and mortars, of 9.6 inch, 8.4 inch,
6.4 inch and 3.2 inch caliber, behind regularly constructed stone
parapets with sandbag revetments.*

On April 30th, at 11 :30 p. m., the U. S. squadron was abreast
of Corregidor Island and the supply vessels and the McCulloch
were ordered to form column in rear of the fighting ships previ-
ous to entering the south channel (Boca Granda), and the speed

*Xote. The number and armaments of the fortifications at the city and
entrance to the bay are from .Spanish accounts and the observations of Ameri-
can naval oflScers.

s " 5 I 5 i- .?■ J 5 " I I i i i t i ^ s'.^

^= 1 I 3 s5 V.


was set at eight knots; no lights were shown except those at the
sterns of the vessels, which were screened at the sides. At mid-
night the turn was made into Manila Bay. It was a fine starlight
night, a gentle breeze tempered the intense heat, a young moon
was near the zenith, occasionally obscured by passing clouds, and
the sea quite smooth.

Apparently unperceived by the enemy, the leading division of
the squadron was passing Corregidor Island when the smoke-stack
of the McCulloch took fire and belched forth a tongue of flame;
instantly a rocket shot skyward from the summit of Corregidor
and the battery at El Fraile fired at the advancing vessels; this
was followed by a second and a third shot. These were promptly
answered by several vessels of the squadron, but the Spaniards
had lost the opportunity and the batteries were soon left behind.

At reduced speed the vessels continued to move over the dark
waters towards Manila, the crews at their guns, and the deathlike
stillness only broken by the lookouts occasionally announcing a
light in the distance.

At the first gleam of morning light, the shipping could be made
out off the gray walls and towers of Manila, apparently only mer-
chantmen. At 5 . 05, A. M., May 1st., the guns at Sangley Point and
three batteries at Manila opened fire without effect. The latter
were replied to by a few shots ; but the attention of the Commodore
was not diverted from the main object, for the increasing light
disclosed the shadowy forms of the Spanish men-of-war at Cavite,
on the eastern side of the bay, some seven miles distant.

Phantom-like and grim they appeared, half shrouded in mist,
tlie red and yellow banners of Castile and Leon proudly floating
at their mast-heads and the smoke pouring from their stacks, as if
they were preparing to get underway.

The McCulloch and supply vessels were withdrawn from the
fighting column, out of range of the enemy's fire, and directed
to stand by to tow disabled vessels out of action or perform such
duties as might be necessary.

Turning with a port helm, at a speed of six knots, the U. S.
squadron defiled before the city of IManila with battle-flags flying,
presenting a spectacle that called forth the unwilling admiration of
the crowds of people that thronged the walls of the city and points
of vantage that commanded a Adew of the bay. An eye-witness
on the Luneta says : " All were eager to observe the least detail of
the enemy's vessels that in perfect line of battle advanced towards
Cavite. The shells from our batteries produced no effect upon the



cruisers and majestically the Yankee vessels bore down upon our
line. The Olympia, flying the admiral's flag, led the way.' '

Admiral Montejo occupied a strong position with the l)attery
at iSangley Point on his left flank and his line extending into
Canacao Bay where it was supposed that protection was afforded by
shallow water and submarine mines. Behind were the arsenal and

U. S. S. "Badger" on which Lieut. E. McC. Peters, '80, served during
the Spanish-American War.

fortiSan Felipe. On the 29th of April the following Spanish vessels
had anchored in line, with springs on their cables, in twenty-six
feet of water: Reina Cristina, (flag-ship), CastiUa, (protected
along the water-line by lighters laden with sand bags), Don Juan de
Austria, Don Antomo de Ulloa, Isla de Luzon. Isla de Cuba, Mar-
ques del Duero. The Manila had been sent to Bacoor Bay to join
the Velasco, Argos and General Lezo which were under repairs.

Witholding their fire, the Americans steadily advanced towards


the Spanish ships whose guns had been playing upon them since
5.15 A. M., but doing no damage. At this time Admiral Montejo
ordered springs and cables to be slipped and engines started
ahead, "to avoid being surrounded by the enemy," as he says.

At 5.41 A. M., Commodore Dewey gave the order which has
become historic: "You may fire when ready, Gridley." The
Olyrtipia opened the battle and the cannonade was taken up Ijy
each vessel in succession upon coming within range. The booming
of the guns, increasing to a deafening roar, mingled with the sharp
zip-zip of the shells as they hurled through the air or burst with
loud explosions above and around the advancing column. Clouds
of brown smoke soon mantled the scene of action. A supposetl
torpedo boat was seen approaching the Olympia, but a concentra-
tion of quick-fire guns checked her course and she sunk stern first.
A second Ijoat put off, wdth apparently the same purpose, but was
driven back and beached under the walls of Cavite. AVhile advanc-
ing to the attack, two mines w^ere exploded by the Spaniards, but
too far off to be effective. It was said that these mines were fired
by order of Admiral IMontejo for fear that his own vessels would
run foul of them.

The advance of the U. S. Column was parallel to and about
5,600 yards from the Spanish line, the port battery in action.
Turning with a port helm, as the enemy's left was reached, the
starboard battery was brought to bear. In this manner the squad-
ron passed back and forth five times, forming elliptical tracks in
front of the Spanish line, at distances gradually diminishing to
2,000 yards. The Spanish fire was vigorous, but generally in-
effective, although nearly a hundred guns were playing on the

From the commencement of the action the Reina Cristina had
been a special target for the American gunners. At 7 a. m., she
apparently attempted to come out and engage the Olyvi'pia. This
impression Avas probably caused by her uncertain movements;
Admiral Montejo makes no mention of such intention, but says that
the rain of rapid-fire projectiles disabled the steering-gear, swept
the crews from the guns, turned the decks into shambles and set
the ship on fire. Half the crew and seven officers were disabled,
and when some of the ammunition exploded the magazines were
flooded and by 7 :30 a. m., his flagship w"as a helpless wreck.

The Castilla was also in flames and all her guns except one
put out of action. The Don J uande Austria attempted to come
to her aid but received great damage and was soon on fire. At


this juncture Admiral Montejo gave orders to sink the Cristina
and signaled the Luzon and Cuba to take off the ci'ew, transferring
his flag to the former vessel. Captain Don Luis Cadarso of the
Cristina was killed while bravely directing the rescue of his men.
The IJUoa was sunk by shots below her water-line and more than
half lier crew and the captain disabled. The Luzon had three
guns dismounted and some injuries to hei' hull and the Duero's
engine was disabled as well as one of her guns.

The full extent of the havoc was unknown to Commodore
Dewey, but it was evident from the confusion among the sinking
and burning hulks that great damage had been done. At 7 :35, a. m.
a report was made to him that the-5 inch gun ammunition was
running short and he ordered "cease firing" and withdrew the squad-
ron for consultation and re-distribution of ammunition. At this
time he sent a message to the Governor-General telling him that
if the l)atteries at Manila did not stop firing, the city would l)e
shelled. This had the desired effect.

The United States squadron having withdrawn to some dis-
tance, the crews were sent to breakfast J and it was generally
supposed that the battle was suspended to give them this re-
freshment, a consideration which was by no means desired as
siiown by the expressive language of a seaman who said to Captain
Lamberton, ''For God's sake, Captain, don't let us stop now!
To hell with breakfast!"

The spirit of the men was admirable: the seamen, with
empty stomachs and stripped to the waist in the broiling sun,
had worked the guns with the utmost energy for two hours.
The engineers' force had labored in the bowels of the ships at
boilers and engines in overpowering heat; the marines had served
the ((uick-fire batteries with skill and vigor and even the Chinese
mess men supplied the ammunition with coolness and rapidity
that w^on them general praise. As the captains passed in their
gigs to l:)oard the flagship the men manned the rails and cheered

Admiral Montejo supposed that the squadron had retired
in order to bury the dead, and he ordered his remaining ships
to take positions in Bacoor Bay and to fight to the last extremity
when they should be sunk, rather than be surrendered. The
Governor-General in his elation sent a telegram to Madrid that
conveyed the impression that the Americans had been repulsed
with heavy loss.

When the mistake in the report of the ammunition supply


had been corrected, the slight extent of casualties ascertained
and breakfast completed, the second act in the battle commenced.
At 10.55 A. M. Commodore Dewey made the general signal:
"Attack the enemy's batteries," designating the Baltimore
to take the lead. The object of the larger vessels was now to
silence the battery at Sangley Point that had kept up a most
active fire during the engagement; although the artillerymen
had been swept away several times and one gun disa])led, it
was still firing, but was soon silenced by a hail of shot and shell.
The Raleigh, Concord and Petrel were ordered to go into Canacoa
Bay and destroy the enemy's vessels, but the former was prevented
from proceeding far by reason of shallow water, and concentrated
a hot fire on the Don Antonio dc Ulloa. The Petrel, of lesser
draught, passed inside and shelled the Ulloa and the warehouses
at Cavite. Lieutenant Edward M. Hughes, executive officer
of the Petrel, was sent with seven men in the only boat that
would float and set fire to the Do7i Juan de Austria, Isla de Cuba,
Isla de Luzon, General Lezo and Marques del Duero; afterwards
Ensign Fermier set fire to the Velasco and Argos. These vessels
were aground and abandoned by their crews; their outboard
valves had l^een opened. This was a most hazardous performance
on the part of these officers as the Spanish crews were on the beach
within musket shot of the American l)oat,an(l infuriated by their

The Concord was signaled to go inside of Caiiacao Bay and
destroy a large transport that was in shallow water surrounded
by fish weirs, which created the impression that submarine mines
were planted there. On passing in, opportunity was taken to
shell the fort at Cavite and vessels behind the mole. Upon
opening fire at the transport ten boat-loads of men were seen
to leave her and she was soon in flames.

At 12.15 p. M. not a Spanish flag was flying in the bay except
from the staff of the Don Antonio de Ulloa, submerged behind
Sangley Point; this vessel had gone down with her colors flying.
The Reina Cristina was in flames and aground under tlie guns
of fort San Felipe and near by the sunken Castilla was burning
rapidly. The destruction of the Spanish squadron was c()mi)lete;
the arsenal and Cavite batteries, crowded with sailors and marine
artillerymen, were at the mercy of the victor and the city of Manila
could have been bombarded and destroyed in a short sjjace of

At the second attack Admiral ^lontejo gave orders to sink

438 NORWICH University.

his ships and disable the guns, and hmding with his staff, proceeded
to the convent of ISanto Domingo to be treated for a wound in
the leg; he afterwards went to Manila.

At 12.30 p. M. the Spanish flag was hauled down at Cavite
and a white flag hoisted on the masting-shears at the arsenal
in token of surrender.*

Montejo's report states that his force numbered 1,875 men,
and that his loss was 381 men killed and wounded. The officers
and men in Commodore Dewey's squadron numbered 1,750 men
in the fighting ships. The damage done to his vessels was incon-
siderable, though several were struck and even penetrated. There
were no men killed and only seven slightly wounded.

During most of the battle Commodore Dewey was in an
exposed position on the platform of the standard compass just
forward of the Olympiads bridge. He was dressed in a white
duck service suit and at first wore a marine's helmet on his head,
but finding it uncomfortable exchanged it for a golf cap.

In immediate effect and ultimate consequences the Battle
of Manila Bay was a striking example of what in the Duke of
Wellington's opinion constitutes the art of war, viz, " The accom-
plishment of great results at small sacrifices.' '

Miner R. Deming, '26, performed conspicuous service as
brigadier general in command of the Illinois troops during the
Mormon excitement in that state.

The following cadets were especially prominent in the Indian
wars: Lemuel A. Abbott, '64; William R. Baxter, '51; Albe-
marle Cady, '25; Charles A. Curtis, '61; Grenville M. Dodge, '51;
Samuel N. Fifield, '50; Henry W. HoUey, '50; Cyrus G. Myrick,
'40; Benjamin F. Patton, '28; James E. Porter, '67; Evan W.
Thomas, '51; Charles A.Webb, '60, Henry W. Wessels, '28, and
Charles A. May, '32.

Foreign Service.

A number of the alumni became conspicuous in foreign service.
Augustine de Jerome Yturbide, '28, son of the Emperor of Mexico,
served as a colonel on the staff of Gen. Simon Bolivar in South
America. John D. Russ, '24, served during 1827-32, as surgeon
general of the Grecian army, during the war with the Turks.

*0n the 3(1 of May the Spanish forces evacuated Cavite and endeavored to
find their way to Manila by land, there being no means of guarding them as
prisoners or furnishing provisions. Many of them were killed or fell into the
hands of the Filipino insurgents.


He also served as drill master and was prominent in sevei'al
engagements, serving witli hi-; friend Col. Jonathan V. Miller,
trustee of "N. U." (q. v.). Roswell W. Lee, '29, performed
gallant service in the Army of the Republic of Texas. George H.
Mcintosh, '28, was also an officer in the Army of the Republic.

During the Canadian Rebellion, the " Patriots War,' ' in 1.S3S-
39, several of the cadets were said to have held commissions;
but the authentic record of only two cadets, who served during
this disturbance, has been preserved. Oren Marsh, '25, was
commissioned a captain in the " Patriots" army and spent some
months in drilling and instructing companies. Cyrus G. Myrick
'40, also served as first lieutenant and chill master.

Several of the cadets were implicated in fiUibustering expedi-
tions in Central America and Cuba. The most prominent cadet
in these expeditions was Stephen S. Tucker, '30, Avho served as
major with Gen. William Walker. Thomas F. Wright, '49,'and
Frederick T. Ward, '48, also served with Walker.

The most prominent " soldier of fortune' ' educated at " N.
U." was Frederick T. Ward, '48. He was an officer with the
famous General Garabaldi in South America; an officer with Gen-

Online LibraryWilliam Arba EllisNorwich University, 1819-1911; her history, her graduates, her roll of honor (Volume 1) → online text (page 42 of 61)