Capt. Antonio Eulate
Reports on the Actions of the Cruiser VIZCAYA
at the Battle of Santiago
The VIZCAYA suffers a massive explosion following the Battle Santiago
(Library of Congress)
Please Visit our Home
Page to learn more about the Spanish American War
This is an account by Capt.
Antonio Eulate, the commander of the Spanish cruiser VIZCAYA,
on the actions of his ship and crew at the Naval
Battle of Santiago. The report is addressed to Admiral
Pascual Cervera. Eulate comments on the attempt to ram the BROOKLYN.
In the later controversy over the BROOKLYN's "retrograde
turn" during the battle, it was claim that the manuever was required
because of an attempt at ramming by the VIZCAYA. This
report supports that claim.
Capt. Eulates's Report:
HONORED SIR: In compliance with the instructions received from your
excellency, I got my ship ready on the morning of the 2d instant, to go
out at 4 p. m. But as the embarkation of the first company did not begin
until that time, it was 6.30 p.m. before the ship was ready to put to sea.
At that moment the battle flag was hoisted by the officers, whom I
addressed, reminding them of the obligations imposed upon them by the
Ordinances, and the heroic deeds of our ancestors in our honorable career.
After a prayer, we received, kneeling, the benediction of the chaplain.
With the flag hoisted we were awaiting your excellency's last orders, and
at 9 o’clock a. m. of the day following, July 3, the ship was ready to
follow in the wake of the flagship. At 9 o'clock (true time) she started
up, following the TERESA, and at 9.30, after
passing Punta Socapa, we went full speed ahead, steering in conformity
with the instructions previously issued by your excellency. At the same
moment we opened fire on the hostile ships, very heavy at first, but
gradually decreasing in the 5.5-inch battery, owing to the defects of the
guns and ammunition, of which your excellency is aware.
In spite of these defects, the enthusiasm and intelligence of the officers
in charge of the battery and the excellent discipline of their crews made
it possible to fire during the battle, which lasted two hours and a half,
150 rounds with the port battery, one of the guns alone firing 40 rounds,
the others 25 and above, with the exception of one, which only fired 8
rounds. The deficiencies of these guns were numerous, chief among them, as
you already know, the fact that the breech could not be closed, the
projectiles jammed, and the firing pins failed to act.
One of the guns had to try seven shells before a serviceable one could be
found, another gun even eight, and it was only by dint of hard work that
this latter gun could be brought into firing position. In the lower
battery the firing was very heavy during the first two hours; after that
the number of hostile shells striking and injuring the port guns was such
as to disable every one of them and dismount the majority.
In the high battery there were so many casualties that, although there was
but one gun left that could be fired, there were not men enough to serve
it. In the lower battery there were no men left either to serve the guns
or to conduct the firing. It therefore became necessary to decrease the
crew assigned to extinguishing the fires that were constantly breaking out
everywhere, and as a result of this fact, in conjunction with the
circumstance that the ire mains had become useless through hostile fire,
the conflagration increased to such an extent that it was no longer
possible to control it. It is safe to say that the number of victims in
the two batteries two hours after the beginning of the battle was between
70 and 80, most of them killed, among them the captain of the lower
battery, Lieut. Julián Ristory y Torres, who for his gallantry deserves a
place of honor in the annals of the history of our navy.
Owing to the valiant attack which the flagship made on the enemy at the
beginning of the battle, we did not at first have so much to suffer from
hostile projectiles, as only two battle ships were firing upon us. But
during the second hour we were the target of four, the BROOKLYN
to port, the OREGON on the port quarter, the IOWA on the stern and the NEW
YORK on the starboard quarter, but the last two very close so that
only the after 11-inch gun could answer the fire of the IOWA
and NEW YORK. The guns of the
starboard turrets forward and aft were able to fire four or five rounds
against the NEW YORK, but the
fire was very uncertain because the latter ship, after firing from her
port broadside, yawed at the stern.
It was at 9.35 o'clock, after we had come out of the harbor and were
shaping our course for Punta Cabrera, that we first received the enemy's
fire, and 11.50, when we could no longer fire with a single gun, I wanted
to try whether we could ram the BROOKLYN,
which was the ship that harassed us most on the port side and which was
nearest to us. To that end I put to port, but the BROOKLYN
did the same, indicating she was going to use only her guns. The
undersigned, with his head and shoulder was obliged to withdraw to have
wounds dressed., Almost faint from loss of blood, he resigned his command
for the time being to the executive officer, with clear and positive
instructions not to surrender the ship but rather beach or burn her. In
the sick bay I met Ensign Luis Fajardo, who was having a very serious
wound in one of his arms dressed. When I asked him what was the matter
with him he answered that they had wounded him in one arm, but that he
still had one left for his country.
When the flow of blood of my wounds had been checked, I went back on deck
and saw that the executive officer had issued orders to steer for the
coast in order to run ashore, for we had no serviceable guns left and the
fire at the stern had assumed such dimensions that it was utterly
impossible to control it. This sad situation was still further complicated
by a fire breaking out on the forward deck as the result of the bursting
of a steam pipe and the explosion of one or more boilers of the for- ward
group. Although the executive officer, Commander Manuel Roldán y Torres,
had acted in accordance with instructions, without exceeding them, I
immediately convened the officers who were nearest, among them Lieut.
Commander Enrique Capriles, and asked them whether there was anyone among
then who thought we could do anything more in the defense of our country
and our honor, and the unanimous reply was that nothing more could be
In order that the battle flag might not become a trophy of the enemy, I at
once gave orders to Ensign Luis Castro to hoist another and lower the
former and burn it, which order was promptly carried out. At 12.15, under
the galling fire of the four battle ships mentioned above, the cruiser VIZCAYA ran ashore on the shoals of Aserradero
under circumstances which made it impossible to save the ship, not only on
account of her position on the shoals and the nature of the latter, but
also because I knew that all the magazines must necessarily explode,
though there would be time for the rescue, and that was indeed what
As soon as the ship had been beached, the executive officer gave
instructions to make all arrangements for the immediate rescue of the
crews. Attempts were at made to lower the boats. When I found that only
one was in serviceable condition, I ordered that it be used mainly for the
transportation of the wounded , and I authorized all those who could swim
or who had life-preservers or anything else sufficiently buoyant to keep
them above water to jump in and try to gain the reefs of the shoal,
which was about 98 yards from the bow.
The rescue was effected in perfect order, in spite of the awe-inspiring
aspect of the ship on fire, with the ammunition rooms exploding, the
flames rising above the fighting tops and smokestacks, and with the side
armor red-hot. I wad taken ashore by the officers in the last boat
that carried wounded, and was subsequently picked up by a United States
boat, which carried me to the Iowa. The executive officer told me
afterwards that only the dead were left on board, as he had at the last
moment directed the rescue of those who had taken refuge aft, and whom he
had ordered to jump into the water and hold on to ropes which had
previously been made fast, and there he and the others waited until they
were picked up by our boat. The conduct of the captain, officers, and crew
of the IOWA, the ship to
which the United States boats carried us, was extremely considerate. I was
received with the guard drawn up. When I wanted to surrender my sword and
revolver to the captain, he refused to receive
them, saying that I had not surrendered to his ship, but to four battle
ships, and that he had no right to accept them.
The conduct of our officers and crew has been truly brilliant, and many
deeds of heroism which have been recorded will in due season form the
subject of a special recommendation, if your excellency should so order.
Of the wounded taken to the IOWA
five died soon after arriving there, and were buried with the same honors
with which the Americans bury their own dead, with the guard drawn up and
with the discharge of three volleys of musketry. Al the prisoners were
present at these ceremonies, which were conducted by the chaplain of the
The foregoing is all I have the honor of reporting to your excellency upon
the loss of my ship in a battle against four far superior ships without
striking her colors nor permitting the enemy to set foot upon her deck,
not even for the rescue. There are 98 men missing of her crew.
(Prisoner of war).
ON THE SEA, ON BOARD THE AUXILIARY CRUISER ST. LOUIS,
July 6, 1898.
Cerver y. Topete, Pascual, The Spanish
American War: A Collection of Documents Relatove to the Squadron
Operations in the West Indies. (Washington DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office, 1899) 130 - 132.
Support this Site by
Visiting the Website Store! (help us
We are providing
the following service for our readers. If you are interested in
books, videos, CD's etc. related to the Spanish American War, simply
type in "Spanish American War" (or whatever you are interested in)
as the keyword and click on "go" to get a list of titles available
Visit Main Page
for copyright data