Baymen Albert N. Woodward

of the Cruiser RALEIGH

Writes Home about the Battle of Manila Bay

Contributed by Tim Wilson (great grandson of Albert Woodward)


Albert and Olive Woodward. This photo was taken shortly before Albert's death.


General:

This account of the Battle of Manila Bay  has few details, but is significant in that it was written by Albert Woodward, a Bayman (medical corpsman) on the RALEIGH, one of the few men injured in the battle.

Woodward was born on December 28, 1879. He survived the war, and apparently enjoyed an exciting, but sadly short, life. Following the war, he travelled with the Walter L. Main Circus as the "Tattooed Man" and as a snake charmer. He apparently was also a balloonist and a parachusist. On August 22, 1906, he married Olive LaTrace. The ouple moved to Coulton around 1919. On October 14, 1924, Woodward went to work in his new profession as a hard hat diver at a dam at the Sugar Island Power plant. Something went wrong, and Woodward drowned.  He left behing not only his wife, but five children. Olive was pregnant with their sixth at the time of Albert's death. Woodward was a member of the Masons and the fraternity escorted his body to the cemetery following a very large funeral. He was buried Pleasant Mound Cemetery, Colton, St. Lawrence, New York.

The estimates Woodward mentions of Spanish dead are inaccurate, as would be expected. The squadron could only make wild estimates at this time, with no solid data on which to depend.
 

The Account:

"WAS WITH DEWEY

A PARISHVILLE BOY WHO BEARS AN HONORABLE SCAR

HE WAS WOUNDED AT MANILA

Albert Woodward Writes of the Famous Battle

He Was Only Slightly Injured After the Fight Parishville

June 20—Albert N. Woodward, of this place, who is on the Raleigh with Dewey's fleet, and was an eyewitness of the great naval victory at Manila, Philippine Islands, sent a letter home to his mother right after the fight, which is submitted for the perusal of all who are interested:

'U.S.S. Raleigh
Manila Bay, May 2, '98

My Dear Mother: I thought I would drop you a few lines to let you know I am alive yet, and probably will be for some time to come.

We have been fighting pretty hard since we came here last Sunday morning, May 1.

At 12:25 o'clock Saturday night, while entering the harbor here, we were fired upon by Spanish forts, which were quickly answered by a 5-inch gun from the Raleigh.

I think we must have hit them, for they did not fire again from that fort.

Then we steamed slowly into the harbor and just about 5 o'clock Sunday morning the battle was commenced by the Spanish, and then we let "fire fly" till 8 that morning and then drew off to see the ships burning. It was a fine sight. That afternoon we commenced bombarding the town (Cavite) and never left off till it was all blown to pieces.

That night when we got done, seven Spanish ships were burned and five blown up. 1,100 Spaniards dead and about 500 were put in the hospitals, wounded and dying.

The best of it was there was not one man killed on our seven ships and only a few wounded. I was one of the wounded. It was only a slight skin wound, made by a small piece of a shell that burst over the ship.

It was on my right forearm and will leave a small scar, not to be noticed much. Through the whole battle I never felt afraid a bit. It was just fine to see the Spanish ships going down. I will give the Spanish credit, they fought well, but the old "Stars and Stripes" were too much for them.

This is one of the greatest naval battles ever fought, and it will come out in the National history so you will see.

Today we have been blowing up all the forts we could find and spoiling the guns. We have about 1,000 prisoners of war that we are going to keep until the war is over in Cuba, which won't be but a little while, I guess.

We blew up a lot of torpedo mines in the bay today. They were what we were afraid of when we came in here, for that is what blew up the Maine. The governor of this island said he would never surrender to the "North American dogs," but Dewey gave him his choice, to surrender or we would blow him off the face of the earth, and he surrendered awful quick, then, you bet.

Wednesday, May 4

Well mother, everything is quiet this morning and I think everything is settled in here. We may have some trouble getting out of here again and we are liable to stay here two or three months yet. You can't just tell.

Let the people know what victory we won over Spain.

From your loving son,

Bert'

This young man left this place two years ago and enlisted in the Navy at Boston, little thinking what was before him. If he lives to get home he will have many a thrilling tale to relate.

When the Raleigh was on her way to Hong Kong, China, last winter, the fleet encountered a typhoon in the Indian ocean, and for some hours they feared for her safety.

In entering Manila harbor the Raleigh was third in line, the flagship Olympia and the Baltimore preceding her. The account of the number of Spaniards killed varies a little in the several reports. Young Woodward gives it 1,100 and Chief Gunner J. C. Evans, of the Boston, has given the number as 1,000 so these figures are not far from right, probably. The scar that our young townsman says will be left on his arm as a result of the exploding shell, will be one of his choicest treasures in years to come. He can exhibit it with pride and say, "I got that in the battle at Manila, when Dewey's fleet cleaned out the Spaniards."

One clause of the official mail report of the battle, sent by Admiral Dewey to the authorities at Washington, is as follows:

'On May 2, the day following the engagement, the Raleigh and the Baltimore secured the surrender of the batteries at Corregidor island, patroling the garrison and destroying the guns.'

This authenticates the statement in the above letter in regard to the prisoners and spoiling the guns."



Bibliography:

Watertown Daily Times, Watertown, New York, June 22, 1898.

"Death of Albert Woodward," Potsdam Herald-Recorder. October 24, 1914, p 3.

"Diver Met Mysterious Death in Shallow Water Near Potsdam Yesterday," Oswego Daily Times. October 15, 1924.


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