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Account of the Second in Command of the Reina Cristina

Contributed by Francisco Jose Diaz Diaz; Translated by Translated by Aranza Larsen (Independence Seaport Museum)

Reina Cristina in action!

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Your Excellency,

The disgraceful and heroic dead of the Commander of the Cruiser REINA CRISTINA forces me to inform Your Excellency of the glorious battle held by this ship against the American fleet on the 1st of May.  Had my wounds allowed it.  I would have informed you earlier.

At dawn of the above mentioned day, according to the plan drawn by Your Excellency, and following your instruction we called the crew to their posts in which the men had breakfast and as the sun began to rise, the enemy's squadron appeared in ordered line-of-battle at about 35 cables distance.

Opened the fire from both sides we slipped the cables and removed the chain so that we could advance at full power in order to avoid being closed up by the enemy squadron, as that seemed their intention.  Once we achieved this target, we continued maneuvering parallel to them, remaining close to the CASTILLA so that we could give it our support, and receiving constant fire from the BALTIMORE and BOSTON, and at intervals, from the other vessels, causing enormous amounts of casualties that kept increasing as the zig-zag drawn by the enemy squadron came closer to us, to the point that we were forced to abandon the 57 millimeter cannon at the stern, as its short shooting range didn't compensate the casualties it was causing to its gunners, whom had been completely replaced four times already.  The fire lasted for nearly three hours and, in this time, with the constant replacement of the gunners, we managed to keep the cannons shooting at distances ranging from 15 to 35 cables, suffering only a couple of problems caused by the growth in volume of the tracks and priming tubes(?), especially in the prow 16cm.  Cannons, which had to be polished so that they could fit.

Finally, with half of the crew dead or wounded, a destroyed servomotor, one of the sides badly damaged by the shells, with only 14 gun tubes and having failed all the attempts to put away the fire in the stern, which flames reached the officers chamber, Your Excellency gave instructions to abandon the ship.  This operation was carried out in a mess, as the fire was increasing sharply and the boats were scarce, having lost some of them in the battle.  The ship ISLA LUZON and its crew, served as a great help in this operation and when the last expedition was being arranged, our heroic commander died gloriously, shot by the shell previous to the last one that hit the ship. About the crew in general, Your Excellency can notice by the speed at which the casualties were covered and the fact that there was never lack of ammunition at the cannons, the enthusiasm and good discipline that reigned between them during the whole battle.

This is all I have the duty of acknowledging Your Excellency with.  May God keep you safe on board of the Transporte Cebu.

Manila, 11th of May 1898

Signed, MARIANO.

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