U.S.S. VESUVIUS in Action



General:

The following is a first-hand account of the VESUVIUS in action.

The Account:

"On June 15, 1898, the dynamite cruiser VESUVIUS, of which so much had been expected, was at last tested, with what result it remained for the Spaniards cooped up in Santiago harbor to report.

The swift craft crept unobserved to within 600 yards of the mouth of the harbor, and, after discharging 1,500 pounds of ammunition at the Spanish ships and the fortification within, escaped unharmed.

A Cuban pilot and Ensign L. C. Palmer, who had made the trip ashore and were acquainted with the location of the ships of Admiral Cervera's squadron and the batteries, went aboard the vessel, and she was ordered to the mouth of the harbor.

The last order issued to her from the flagship was to be very deliberate. The VESUVIUS took up her position and fired three shots in as many minutes, one from each of her aerial dynamite tubes. The report was a peculiar one, sounding like a cough. There was no recoil perceptible.

The first shot struck near the ridge of the hills, and exploded with a tremendous roar, not unlike the thunder of a shell. There was, however, very little flame. The light emitted was rather in the nature of a glow. An immense volume of red earth was blown straight up into the air to a height of 200 feet.

The effect of the second shot, which struck higher up on the cliff, was similar to that of the first. The third shot went over the hill, and probably reached the supposed location of the torpedo boats in the harbor. Only two shots were fired in answer by the forts, and these were apparently delivered at random.

The VESUVIUS backed out at a high rate of speed, although she was moving with her engines reversed. She swept by the lighthouse tender that was lying to seaward, which was getting away from the fire of the forts, passing her as though she was lying at anchor. The men on the VESUVIUS were delighted with their work and anxious to try their guns again. They expected and were eager to go straight into the harbor, but the effect of the shots were not such as justified an attempt to pass the lower batteries, and VESUVIUS did not repeat her attack."


Bibliography:

General Marcus J. Wright's Official History of the Spanish American War, (Washington; War Records Office, 1900) 300.


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