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tive orders to remain at his post came from Secretary Long, which, however, were unnecessary, for in the meanwhile messages came from Schley to the effect that the Spanish fleet had been seen in the Santiago harbor.

During the course of all of the events at Manila and about Cuba, an American battleship was undergoing a test of a wholly different nature, but equally severe. It was decided before the outbreak of the war to transfer the battleship Oregon, called by the sailors "the bull-dog of the navy," from her station on the Pacific coast, where, indeed, she had been built, to Cuban waters. In a sense this tremendous voyage of more than 14,000 miles was a crowning test of the modern armored battleship. Indeed, save inadequately in the few unequal battles of the Chino-Japanese war, the ships of the new navies of the world had as yet not been thoroughly tried out. The terrible disaster that had deprived the British navy of the Victoria, one of its most magnificent armor-clads, had caused grave doubts as to their efficiency when the real stress came. As the problems of the present struggle were primarily naval, it was anticipated that the modern ship of war would be subjected to the ordeal that would establish or set aside the principles upon

there is every reason for believing that he thought he was taking the course of wisdom. He made the mistake of assuming that the Spaniards would do the logical and advisable thing and enter the harbor of Cienfuegos. His misconception can be justified. His ability and bravery certainly are not open to attack.

which it was constructed. The naval expert of the time of Nelson, or of Ericsson even, could not have conceived, even in his wildest dreams, the battleship in its final state of evolution. Indeed it can hardly be called a ship at all, but a floating fortress, an aggregate of machinery, the most massive and the most delicate, to control which requires unusual skill and special knowledge. The lore of shrouds and knots has given place to that of range-finders, torpedo-tubes, dynamos, and all of the complicated electrical and other appliances that enter in the make-up of a modern ship of war.

When the orders came to make ready for its voyage, the Oregon was stationed at Bremerton, Washington. Its commander, Captain B. J. McCormick, was informed on March 7

that relations between the United States and Spain were fast assuming a critical aspect, in view of which fact he should go to San Francisco, and there lay in supplies and ammunition. When that point was reached, Captain McCormick, for reason of physical disabilities, was superseded by Captain C. E. Clark, who was ordered to proceed to Callao, Peru, the first stage of the Oregon's long voyage around the continent of South America. Here the gunboat Marietta, which had been stationed at Panama, having laid in a supply of fuel for the Oregon, left for Valparaiso, Chile, March 31, from which point she departed for Punta Arenas (Sandy Point), Patagonia, where more supplies were to be pro


cured by her commander. The Oregon reached Callao April 4, remaining there until April 7 coaling and completing work on boilers and engines. She then set forth for the Straits of Magellan, where the Marietta was to join her, the two vessels to journey together from that point. After coaling here, on April 21, the prows of the Oregon and the Marietta were turned northward on the voyage home. The miles to come were doubly arduous to officers and men, for at Rio de Janeiro they learned that war had been declared. The Spanish torpedo-boat, Temerario, was also known to be in the neighborhood of Rio, so precautions were taken to guard against a secret attack on the part of the same. At that place, also, the vessels were joined by the cruiser Nictheroy (later the Buffalo), which had been purchased from the Brazilian government. They were warned, in the messages from Washington, of the danger to be anticipated from the Cape Verde fleet, the Oregon being ordered to continue its journey without the Marietta and Nictheroy if delayed by the same.*

A short test of his men at targetshooting with the big guns convinced Captain Clark that even should it be - necessary to pit them against the entire Spanish fleet, he could give almost. as good as received. His faith in the

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Oregon is expressed in the message forwarded forwarded from Bahia: "Could steam fourteen knots for hours, and in a running fight beat off and cripple the Spanish fleet." Under rather than over-estimated was the report of the Oregon's possibilities as given by her commander, for, according to the ship's log of the run, she averaged 15 knots per hour for 155 knots -1.5 knots per hour more than he calculated.

Off Cape Frio, the Marietta and the Nictheroy, the latter partially disabled, were left behind, and now the flying battleship set forth to make no stop until the enemy was passed or met. During the period that followed the last reports from the Oregon at Bahia until the news came of the anchoring at Bridgetown, Barbados, the nation held its breath, expecting every day to receive a message of disaster from the lone vessel. On May 24 she joined the fleet at Jupiter Inlet, Florida, and at last, on July 3, she met Cervera's fleet, playing a leading part in its doom.*


"The total distance traveled by the Oregon during this record-breaking trip was 13,792 miles, at an average speed of 11.2 knots per hour. During the entire journey, the engines were never once slowed or stopped for repairs. The voyage occupied sixty-eight days, of which fifty-eight days, or parts of days, were spent at sea. repairs as were necessary were made by the ship's force. No body of men could have worked more earnestly under adverse circumstances than did the Oregon's crew. Comfort was out of the question during the trip, but not a murmur was heard. Such patriotism speaks for itself. Later on, the crew showed its capacity for fighting as well as for work."- Lieut. W. H. Allen in The American-Spanish War, p. 175.




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Admiral Sampson proceeds to Santiago Plans for closing channel - Lieutenant Hobson works out the details — Arrival at Santiago - Call for volunteers - Crew selected - Making preparations — First effort abandoned -The Merrimack sunk off Smith Cay-The plans miscarry-Channel still open - Capture of Hobson and his men-Imprisonment during bombardment - Progress of the blockade The Vesuvius.

As soon as Secretary Long was assured that Cervera had found refuge within Santiago harbor, Admiral Sampson received permission to proceed to that place, reaching there June 1, with the New York, the Oregon, the converted yacht Mayflower, and the torpedo-boat Porter under his command. During the course of the voyage he held a consultation with Commodore Watson and Captains Folger and Converse with respect to a plan for blocking the narrow channel of Santiago Bay, should Cervera prove to be within. The colliers Sterling and the Merrimack were suggested as possible sacrifices to the scheme, the Merrimack being selected on account of its unseaworthy behavior during Schley's activities around Cienfuegos. The day before arrival at Santiago, Lieutenant Richmond P. Hobson, assistant naval constructor, was called to the flag-ship to offer suggestions as to the best method for sinking the Merrimack. As a result of these consultations, the details of the plan were carefully

worked out, and so much was Admiral Sampson impressed by the qualifications of Lieutenant Hobson that he gladly placed him in command of the hazardous undertaking. The method determined upon was to hang ten improvised torpedoes along the bottom of the vessel, exploding them simultaneously by the means of electric batteries. Two methods of obtaining entrance into the channel were proposed: one to feign a chase by the American warships; the other to endeavor to slip in under cover of darkness. The former was rejected on account of the difficulty of navigating the narrow and crooked passage.

The whole scheme was thoroughly worked out by the time the New York arrived off Santiago, and immediately afterwards the Merrimack was examined and a careful reconnoissance made of the shores and defences by Lieutenant Hobson. Preparations were then made for stripping the collier and for making the torpedoes destined to sink the craft. Volunteers were also called for, and the



experience at Cienfuegos was repeated. It seemed as if every man in the fleet wished to join in the desperate adventure. A careful selection was made, the men from the Merrimack being preferred because of their familiarity with the ship. The following were the ones selected for the attempt: Osborn Deignan, George F. Phillips, and John Kelly of the Merrimack; George Charette and Randolph Clausen of the New York; Daniel Montague of the Brooklyn; and J. C. Murphy of the Iowa. Captain Miller, commander of the Merrimack, entered a vigorous protest against being thus deprived of his command and ship, but was persuaded by Admiral Sampson to give place to Mr. Hobson under the circumstances.*

For two days the men of the fleet worked desperately to get the Merrimack in condition for the attempt. She was stripped of everything possible; the torpedoes, which had been made in the meanwhile, were rigged to the bottom by cables, an anchor provided at the stern, and the electric batteries arranged for the firing of the charges. Lieutenant Hobson had requested to be allowed to carry some of the war-heads to the regulation

"I must add that Commander J. M. Miller relinquished his command with the very greatest reluctance, believing that he should retain his command under all circumstances. He was, however, finally convinced that the attempt of another person to carry out the multitude of details which had been in preparation by Mr. Hobson might endanger its proper execution."-Report of Admiral Sampson, June 3, 1898.

service torpedoes, but this was denied by Sampson because of their danger to the crew.

The men

At last all was ready. had removed all their garments that might interfere with their actions on the vessel or in swimming when overboard. The arduous labors of the preceding days had almost exhausted the men, but the plan to make the attempt on the morning of June 2 was adhered to, and the start was accordingly made just before daybreak. Orders to return, however, came from the flag-ship; Admiral Sampson having decided as the result of his final inspection of the Merrimack that the incompleteness of the preparations and the condition of the men warranted a delay. The young officer and his men were intensely disappointed, and obeyed the command with reluctance; yet in the end it was clear that the recall was wise. One of the men, Mullen, was found to be thoroughly prostrated by the strain, rendering it necessary to substitute Murphy, a coxswain of the Iowa, in his place during the following day. An additional man, Clausen, was also taken on board; not as a stowaway, as has been freely reported, but by permission of Hobson.

At 3:30 the next morning, the Merrimack again got under way towards the narrow pass. Accompanying her was the launch of the New York, under command of Ensign Powell, to whom had been assigned the dangerous task of standing by the entrance

to the harbor to await the result of the sortie in order to pick up those who might escape from the doomed vessel.

In the light of a moon halfobscured by mist, the Merrimack steamed slowly towards Morro Castle, which was soon towering above the collier and its daring crew. All was silent in the Spanish fortresses, but just as the narrow cleft in the hills was reached Lieutenant Hobson became assured that his vessel had been perceived, so the command "Full speed ahead!" was given, and the great craft shot forward into the very midst of a waiting foe. When within a hundred yards or more of Morro a shot rang out from a picket-boat concealed in the shadow of the bluffs. This was followed by other shots, the majority of which appeared to be directed against the steering-gear of the Merrimack. Soon the batteries opened up, and as the ship gained the entrance to the channel the water was churned by the rain of projectiles. Although struck numberless times, times, the vessel continued to answer to its helm, and the orders transmitted to the engineers in the hold were responded to as accurately as if the men were wholly unconscious of their peril. As soon as the position opposite Estrella Point at which it was planned to sink the Merrimack was gained, the command to put the helm hard aport was given, but to the dismay of all she did not swing athwart the channel as was anticipated. This

was but the beginning of failures. In endeavoring to fire the torpedoes, also, it was found that some of the batteries had been destroyed by the enemy's fire, and therefore the charges could not be ignited. In the darkness and wild tumult, Lieutenant Hobson noted that the ship was apparently motionless just off Estrella Point, from whence came a perfect torrent of projectiles. After all, perhaps they were going to succeed! He thought that the anchor provided at the stern had been cut loose, and was holding.

His hopes lasted but a moment, as the vessel had merely grounded, and the tide soon swung the ship off the rocks and swept her out of the narrows into the wider channel opposite Smith Cay. Here the slowly sinking ship became the center of a perfect hell of flames and explosions. The men on board lay flat on the deck, and by some miraculous means none were seriously injured. What Hobson and his own men could not do by means of their own torpedoes, the Spaniards did with theirs, for they launched several from the Mercedes and the Pluton which gave the coup de grace, sinking the Merrimack just off Socapa Point.

During the whole experience the men showed the utmost bravery, obeying orders without a murmur and without hesitation. As the vessel trembled to its final plunge, all gathered around the life raft, to which

*This, however, was not the case, as the whole stern with anchor-rigging had been torn away by a large projectile.

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