Report of

 Lt. William Braunersreuther On The Capture of Guam


U.S.S. CHARLESTON, 2D RATE,
San Luis D' Apra, Guam Island, June 21, 1898.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following detailed report of my actions in compliance with your orders dated June 21, 1898, and to inclose herewith a communication signed by Henry P. McCain, first lieutenant and adjutant  Fourteenth Infantry, acting assistant adjutant general. Referring to the sommunication, I desire to call attention to the fact that it was handed to me while I was on my return to this ships, after having in my possession in writing the complete surrender of the Spanish territory under the jursidiction of theGovernor-General of Guam - who was (at this very time) with his entire staff a prisonerof war in my boat about 12m.

On reaching the landing at Petey [Piti], under a flag of truce, I was met by the Governor- General with his staff, and after a formal introduction, I at once handed to the governor your ultimatum, noting the time, 10.15 a.m. I called attention to the fact that but one half hour would be given for a reply, and casually informed the governor that he had bettertake into consideration the fact we had in the harbor three transports loaded with troops and one war vessel of a very formidable nature. He thanked me, and retired to a building near by with his advisors. Twenty-nine minutes later he reappeared, and handing me a sealed envelope addressed to commanding officer of the CHARLESTON, informed methat this was his reply. I broke the seal. While doing so, he again and very hastily remarked: 'Ah! but that it for the commandante.' I replied 'I represent him here,' and requested the governor to read his letter. He did so, and after studying it a few moments, I said 'Gentlemen, you are now my prisoners; you will have to repair on board the CHARLESTON with me.'

They protested, pleading that they had not anticipated anything of the kind; had no clothing other than what they had on; that they all had property interests and families, and numerous other protests. I assured them that they could send messages to their families to send clothes and anything else they might desire, and that I would have a boat ashore at 4 p.m. ready to take of their families as they might desire and give them a safe return to Petey.

The governor, after a short consultation with his advisers protested against being made a prisoner, saying I had come on shore under a flag of truce for an interchange of ideas on the condition of affairs, and that he now found himself and his officers prisoners. I replied I came on shore with orders from my commanding officer to deliver to him (the governor) a letter, and I had now in my possession his reply thereto, making a complete surrender of the entire place under his command. This alone, if it meant anything, permitted me to make any demands I desired and deemed proper to make. He agreed, and I then gave him ten minutes in which to write an order to his military authority in Agana, directing him to have at this landing at Petey at 4 p.m. the 54 Spanish soldiers with their arms, accoutrements, and all ammunition, together with all the Spanish flags in the place (four in all), the two lieutenants of the companies to march the soldiers down. This letter was written, read by me, and sent to Agana. A general demur was made at the hour fixed upon, but I insisted that it must be done.

I then gave all the officers an opportunity to write letters to their families, which letters were by me considered private, and which left their hands unread by anyone but the parties concerned.

This being concluded at 11:30, I embarked with the governor and his staff, consisting of a doctor, the captain of the port, and the secretary to the governor.

On my return, when within signal distance of one division of the landing party which had been organized for use in case of emergency,  I signaled them to 'Return.' When within less than a mile of the ship I stood to the windward to send the same message to the second division of the landing party in tow of steam launch. In reply I was requested to come alongside to receive a message from Brigadier-General Anderson ....making signal 'Surrendered' to CHARLESTON as soon as I came within signal distance.

Having returned on board with prisoners and reported verbally my actions, I was directed to hold myself in readiness to carry out the remainder of the conditions of surrender at 4 p.m.

Leaving the ship with four boats and all the marine guard of the ship, in charge of Lieutenant Myers, U.S.M.C., and with Ensign Waldo Evans, U.S.N., as my aid, I left the ship at 3:30 p.m. for Petey, disarming the Spanish doldiers and embarking them in a scow pressed into service for their transportation to the CHARLESTON. The native soldiers, a couple of whom brought down the rifles of two absentees, supposed to be ill, manifesting such great joy at being relieved of their arms and giving away to men in my force buttons and ornaments on their uniforms, thereby conveying to me the impression that they were equally glad to be rid of  Spanish rule, were allowed by me to return to their homes without any restrictions whatever, which action on my part will, I trust, meet with your approval. Fifty-four Spanish soldiers and two lieutenants were brought in at 7 p.m.

The following is a list of the articles captured: 7,500 ball cartridges, 7 millimeter clips, Mauser; 2,000 ball cartridges, Remington; 52 belts, Mauser rifles; 45 bayonets and scabbards for same; 64 cartridges boxes, Remington, 45 leather belts, Remington; 60 bayonet scabbards, Remington; 52 Mauser rifles, 3 swords, 62 Remington rifles, 4 Spanish flags.

In closing my report I desire to call attention to the absolute obedience and splendid discipline of all of the force (30 marines and 16 sailors) I had with me, particularly to the efficient  aid received from Lieut . J. T. Myers, U.S.M.C., and Ensign Waldo Evans, U.S.N.

Both of these gentlemen were fully alive to the dangers and necessities of the occasion and rendered most valuable assistance.

A casual glance at the class and  number of the parties captured, together with the quantity of the ammunition, will demonstrate the care that had to be exercised in disarming and making prisoners of a force of men more than double the number I had with me, and will also call attention to the fact that the entire undertaking was neither devoid of danger nor task.

Very Respectfully,

                                                        WM. BRAUNERSREUTHER.
                                                         Lieutenant, U.S.N.



Bibliography:

Clerk of the Joint Commission, The Abridgement: Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. (Washington: Government Printing Office,  Vol. 4, 1899).


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