The Report of

Capt. Nehemiah Dyer

of the Actions of the USS BALTIMORE at Manila Bay  

General:

The following is the official report filed by Capt.Nehemial Dyer of the USS BALTIMORE relating the ship's involvement in the Battle of Manila Bay.

The Report:

U. S. S. BALTIMORE,
Manila, Philippine Islands, May 4, 1898.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report, as required by article 437, Navy Regulations of the engagement of this ship with the Spanish fleet and shore batteries at Sangley Point, Cavite Bay, on the 1st instant.

At early daylight the fleet had reached a point close up to the shipping off the city of Manila, when the signal was made, Prepare for general action. Spanish batteries near Old Manila opened fire at long range at about the same time. Flagship [OLYMPIA] leading, with port helm, bore down on the right of Spanish line of vessels, formed in a somewhat irregular crescent at anchor, extending from off Sangley Point to the northeast, and in readiness to receive us, their left supported by the batteries on Sangley Point.

Following your lead in close order, our fire commenced with the port battery at about 5.40 a. m., at a distance of about 6,000 yards.

Our column passed down the enemyís line, turning with port helm as their left was reached, engaging them with starboard battery on the return. This maneuver was performed three times at distances from the enemy's ships varying from 2,600 to 5,000 yards, when you signaled to withdraw from action at 7.35.

Upon reaching a convenient distance in the bay, you signaled, Let the people go to breakfast; and at 8.40, Commanding officers repair on board the flagship. While on board the flagship I received an order to intercept a steamer coming up the bay, reported to be flying Spanish colors.

Soon after starting on this duty I discovered the colors of the stranger to be British, and so reported by signal, you having in the meantime made general signal to get under way and follow your motions, this ship being at the time some 2 miles to the south-southwest of the flagship on her way to intercept the supposed Spanish steamer.

At 10.55 you made general signal, Designated vessel will lead, with Baltimoreís distinguishing pennant, and in a few minutes signal to attack the enemyís batteries or earthworks and for fleet to close up; in obedience to which order this ship led in, with starboard helm, to a position off the Canacoa and Sangley Point batteries and opened fire with starboard battery at a distance of about 2,800 yards, closing in to 2,200, between which and 2,700 yards our best work was done, slowing the ship dead slow, stopping the engines as range was obtained, delivering a rapid and accurate fire upon the shore batteries and a gunboat just inside of Sanlgey Point, since proven to have been the Don Antonio de Ulloa, practically silencing the batteries in question before the fire of another ship became effective, owing to the lead we had obtained in our start for the supposed Spanish steamer. The fire of ships and batteries having been silenced and the white flag displayed on the arsenal buildings at Cavite, you signaled, at 1.20, to prepare to anchor, and at 1.30, Anchor at discretion.

The victory was complete.

The wind was light and variable during the first engagement and from the northeast; force 2 to 3 during the second.

The firing devices gave considerable trouble, extractors, sear springs, and firing pins bending and breaking, and wedge blocks jamming. Electric firing attachments gave trouble by the grease and dirt incident to firing insulating the connections, so much so that shortly after the engagement commenced they were abandoned for percussion, but coolness and steadiness replaced defective parts in the shortest possible time.

The ammunition supply was ample, and the test was conclusive so long as electric hoists are uninjured.

The behavior of officers and men was beyond all praise. The accuracy and rapidity of their fire you were an eyewitness of. The steadiness and cool bearing of all on board who came under my observation was that of veterans.

The fact that the ship was so rarely hit gave few opportunities for conspicuous acts of heroism or daring, but the enthusiasm and cool steadiness of the men gave promise that they would have been equal to any emergency.

I shall report later such detail of individual merit as has been mentioned by officers of divisions or that came under my own observation.

I inclose (a) report of executive officer; (b) surgeonís report of casualties (c) carpenters report of damages; (d) report of ammunition expended.

Very respectfully,
N. M. DYER,
Captain, U. S. N., Commanding.


Bibliography:

Clerk of Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of the Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899, Vol II, p. 78-79.


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