This account, in the form of a letter written to the author's former employer, Joseph Wood in the Stetson Hat factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The author, Harry A Neithercott, was a trumpeter aboard the U.S. Revenue Cutter HUGH McCULLOCH.
The letter is interesting for several statements that are included. First, the letter records that Chief Engineer Randall was buried at sea in Manila Bay. Secondly, it records the paint color used on the vessels as "grey green."
I suppose that there is no harm in writing to you once more. I wrote to you on our way out. You received it but, Mr. Wood it was not very interesting. You would rather hear some of the news of the trouble which we have in this portion of the world, so Mr. Wood I will give you sort of a little diary of our movements also.
The fleet upon our arrival at Singapore India, we received orders to report to the Admiral of the Asiactic [sic] Squadron lying at Hong Kong China. So we coaled ship at once and proceeded to Hong Kong [and] and arrived there after six days of very bad weather and put into the Asiactic Squadron. The ships of the squadron [the] Flag ship U.S.S Olympia, U.S.S. Baltimore, U.S.S. Realeegh [Raleigh], U.S.S. Boston, U.S.S. Concord, U.S.S. Peteril [Petrel], U.S.S. [U.S.R.C.] McCulloch. And we are the Dispatch Boat. We also have two transports we brought from Japan, Nanshan [and] Saffano [Zafiro]. One has three months provisions aboard. The other one is loaded with coal.
April 22, 1898, the fleet changed the color of the ships from white to a grey green, War Color we call it. On Sunday, April 24th, we sailed with the fleet from Hong Kong to Miro [Mirs] Bay thirty miles away, arrived there 6.30 same eve. Sailed from Miro Bay for Minila [Manila] Wed. April 27, 1898, We hove to thirty miles outside of Minila [as] night came on. The eve of April 30, 12.30 we proceeded through the entrance to the Bay of Minila. There was two forts to pass. Then our smoke commenced to blaze The Spaniards sighted [us] and they opened fire upon us with two shots and two torpeados but none reached us. We fired three shots back. The U.S.S. Boston fired two back. Then we proceeded back to Minila a distance of eight miles.
At day break the Spaniards sighted us lying opposite their forts. Then at 5.10 AM Sunday Morn May the First, the Battle opened. The Fleet proceeded into the Spaniards to get their range. While they were fireing [sic] away, we opened fire at 5.15. The Battle was a warm one while it lasted. The U.S. fleet was handled very coolly by our Admiral Mr. Dewey. From 5.10 until 7.15 AM the fight was on, there was nothing to see but Spanish ships burning and sinking. [At] 7.10 AM our fleet came out for breakfast, without one man killed. All our boys where [were] cheering for more. [At] 11.30 the fleet proceeded back to finish the Spaniards up. Spaniards opened fire but only fired a couple of shots. Our fleet kept boaring [sic] them in until 2.30 PM. The Spaniards hoisted White Flags all over their fleet and forts and town, that is the Flag of Truce. They surrendered at 2.30 so we ceased firing upon them.
Then we sent the U.S.S. Baltimore and U.S.S. Raleigh back to where we entered, where the forts first fired upon us, and took the two forts without firing a shot. They surrendered. The Raleighís crew got the Spanish Captain aboard and was going to hang him to the yard arm. Then they went ashore and destroyed all the guns, throwing them overboard, also the ammunition. After they had surrendered, you could see them setting fire to everything and blowing their guns up. They had fourteen ships and three torpeado boats. We sank all but three of their ships and those three got up a creek and they set fire to them. At present we have them at [our] mercy.
The natives broke out and commenced to kill their [Spanish] wounded in their hospital. Then they came out in a small boat [and] their officers begging for something to eat and medicine. And then we sent doctors and gave them a steam [?] of provisions. Their Army has had no pay for seven months and had [had] nothing to eat. Upon our side, they did not injure one of our ships nor did one man get killed. [The] only mishap that we had was five men on the gun crew of the U.S.S. Baltimore were slightly injured by the explosion of a shell. And shortly after the first shot was fired, our Chief Engineer, Mr. Randall fell dead. We buried him at sea the same afternoon the Spaniards surrendered.
We have been lying close to one of the forts all night and we received
a signal from the Flag Ship this morning to coal ship and take a dispatch
to Hong Kong. We will sail about the fifth and arrive thereabout the seventh,
when I can mail this letter. But you will hear from me again when we come
up from manila again. We will not stop at Hong Kong only about twenty-four
hours it is hard to tell when we will arrive home, but I think in a couple
of months. And answer [mail] to Hong Kong. That is where we receive our
Mail. Mr. Wood, remember me to Mr. Langstroth and Mr. Park and Mrs. Kerns
also Bettenheimer and all my friends also your son Earl. I have a box of
curious [curios] I collected from the many different ports that we visited.
I will not forget you when I arrive home, and when I do, Mr. Woods,
I will know what the world is [like] but I have found out there is no place
like home. I certionly [sic] do realize how foolish a boy that I was. Well,
Mr. Wood, you told many a time that I was a very foolish boy. Then I did
not think so but I do now and when I come home, I certionly will be a different
boy, as I know what the world consists of. So Mr. Wood, I must bring my
ill [?] letter to a close. Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your
Harry A. Neithercott
Manila, Philipine Isl.
PS. Enclose you will find papers which I secured aboard of the Spanish
Cruiser [Don Antonio De Ulloa]after we sank her at Manila, May the
"Victory at Manila Bay-A Personal Account." American History Illustrated. Volume XIV, Number 5, August ,1979, p 48