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The Report of

Lt. Cmdr. John Briggs

of the Actions of the USS BALTIMORE at Manila Bay  

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The following is the official report filed by Lt. Cmdr. John Briggs of the USS BALTIMORE relating the ship's involvement in the Battle of Manila Bay. Briggs was the executive officer of the USS BALTIMORE

The Report:

Off Manila, May 3, 1898.

SIR: In compliance with article 525, United States Navy Regulations, I have the following report to submit of the action of May 1, at Cavite:

The Baltimore was engaged twice during the day in company with the other vessels of the squadron. The action of the battery and the conduct of all connected with it and its service were admirable. It is difficult to discriminate where coolness and efficiency prevailed throughout the shipís company. The spirit and readiness of all were in the highest degree commendable. The service of the guns and the delivery of ammunition were most prompt and the experience has indicated to me that when occasion demands, the supply of ammunition is sufficient to meet all probable wants.

The Baltimore was struck five times, with small projectiles, all of which, with one exception, exploded or broke up. The most serious hit, happily attended with no serious injury to any officer or man, came from a 4.7-inch steel projectile, which entered the shipís side forward of the starboard gangway, about a foot above the line of the main deck. It passed through the hammock netting downward through the deck planks and steel deck, bending and cracking deck beam in wardroom stateroom No. 5; then glanced upward through the after engine room coaming, over against the after cylinder of No. 3 6-inch gun (port), carrying away lug and starting several shield bolts and putting the gun out of commission; deflected over to the starboard side, striking a ventilator ladder and dropping on deck. In its passage it struck a box of 3-pounder ammunition of the fourth division, exploding several charges, and wounded Lieutenant Kellogg, Ensign Irwin, and 6 men of the gunís crew-none very seriously. A second shot came in about a foot above the berth deck, just forward of the blowers, passed through the thwart-ship alleyway, hitting the exhaust pipe of the starboard blower, causing a slight leak. A third shot struck about 2 feet above the water line on the port side, abreast bunker B-110, passed into the bunker, cutting blower drain and main air duct, and exploding in bunker. A fourth shot came in about 6 feet above the berth deck, starboard side, abreast the forward end of the forward wash room, and broke up in a clothes locker. A fifth struck the starboard forward ventilator, slightly bending it.

The upper cabin skylight, the after range finder, and the two whaleboats hanging at the davits were all destroyed by the shock of discharge from the 8-inch guns of the second division.

The holes in the port side were temporarily plugged with leak stoppers and afterwards patched with rubber and iron patches.

No. 4 gun was got ready for use by the afternoon of May 2, Ensign N. E. Irwin devoting intelligent personal efforts to the accomplishment of the work.

Very respectfully,
Lieutenant-Commander, U. S. N. Executive Officer


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. 79-80.

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