Read CHAPTER III - A DECLARATION OF WAR of The Boys of 98, free online book, by James Otis, on ReadCentral.com.

All that had been done by the governments of the United States and of Spain was indicative of war, - it was virtually a declaration that an appeal would be made to arms.

April 20. Preparations were making in each country for actual hostilities, and the American people were prepared to receive the statement made by a gentleman in close touch with high officials, when he wrote: 

“The United States has thrown down the gage of battle and Spain has picked it up.

“The signing by the President of the joint resolutions instructing him to intervene in Cuba was no sooner communicated to the Spanish minister than he immediately asked the State Department to furnish him with his passports.

“It was defiance, prompt and direct.

“It was the shortest and quickest manner for Spain to answer our ultimatum.

“Nominally Spain has three days in which to make her reply.  Actually that reply has already been delivered.

“When a nation withdraws her minister from the territory of another it is an open announcement to the world that all friendly relations have terminated.

“Answers to ultimatums have before this been returned at the cannon’s mouth.  First the minister is withdrawn, then comes the firing.  Spain is ready to speak through shotted guns.

“And the United States is ready to answer, gun for gun.

“The queen regent opened the Cortes in Madrid yesterday, saying, in her speech from the throne:  ’I have summoned the Cortes to defend our rights, whatever sacrifice they may entail, trusting to the Spanish people to gather behind my son’s throne.  With our glorious army, navy, and nation united before foreign aggression, we trust in God that we shall overcome, without stain on our honour, the baseless and unjust attacks made on us.’

“Orders were sent last night to Captain Sampson at Key West to have all the vessels of his fleet under full steam, ready to move immediately upon orders.”

The Spanish minister, accompanied by six members of his staff, departed from Washington during the evening, after having made a hurried call at the French embassy and the Austrian legation, where Spanish interests were left in charge, having announced that he would spend several days in Toronto, Canada.

April 21. The ultimatum of the United States was received at Madrid early in the morning, and the government immediately broke off diplomatic relations by sending the following communication to Minister Woodford, before he could present any note from Washington: 

Dear Sir: - In compliance with a painful duty, I have the honour to inform you that there has been sanctioned by the President of the republic a resolution of both chambers of the United States, which denies the legitimate sovereignty of Spain and threatens armed intervention in Cuba, which is equivalent to a declaration of war.

“The government of her majesty have ordered her minister to return without loss of time from North American territory, together with all the personnel of the legation.

“By this act the diplomatic relations hitherto existing between the two countries, and all official communication between their respective representatives, cease.

“I am obliged thus to inform you, so that you may make such arrangements as you think fit.  I beg your excellency to acknowledge receipt of this note at such time as you deem proper, taking this opportunity to reiterate to you the assurances of my distinguished consideration.

(Signed) “H.  GULLON.”

Relative to the ultimatum and its reception, the government of this country gave out the following information: 

“On yesterday, April 20, 1898, about one o’clock P. M., the Department of State served notice of the purposes of this government by delivering to Minister Polo a copy of an instruction to Minister Woodford, and also a copy of the resolutions passed by the Congress of the United States on the nineteenth instant.  After the receipt of this notice the Spanish minister forwarded to the State Department a request for his passports, which were furnished him on yesterday afternoon.

“Copies of the instructions to Woodford are herewith appended.  The United States minister at Madrid was at the same time instructed to make a like communication to the Spanish government.

“This morning the Department received from General Woodford a telegram, a copy of which is hereunto attached, showing that the Spanish government had broken off diplomatic relations with this government.

“This course renders unnecessary any further diplomatic action on the part of the United States.

“’April 20, 1898.

“’Woodford, Minister, Madrid: - You have been furnished with the text of a joint resolution, voted by the Congress of the United States on the nineteenth instant, approved to-day, in relation to the pacification of the island of Cuba.  In obedience to that act, the President directs you to immediately communicate to the government of Spain said resolution, with the formal demand of the government of the United States, that the government of Spain at once relinquish her authority and government in the island of Cuba, and withdraw her land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters.

“’In taking this step, the United States disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said island, except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determination when that is accomplished to leave the government and control of the island to its people under such free and independent government as they may establish.

“’If, by the hour of noon on Saturday next, the twenty-third day of April, there be not communicated to this government by that of Spain a full and satisfactory response to this demand and resolutions, whereby the ends of peace in Cuba shall be assured, the President will proceed without further notice to use the power and authority enjoined and conferred upon him by the said joint resolution to such an extent as may be necessary to carry the same into effect.

“‘SHERMAN.’

“This is Woodford’s telegram of this morning: 

“’MADRID, April 21. (Received at 9.02 A. M.)

“’To Sherman, Washington: - Early this morning (Tuesday), immediately after the receipt of your telegram, and before I communicated the same to the Spanish government, the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs notified me that diplomatic relations are broken between the two countries, and that all official communication between the respective representatives has ceased.  I accordingly asked for my passports.  Have turned the legation over to the British embassy, and leave for Paris this afternoon.  Have notified consuls.

“‘WOODFORD.’”

The Spanish newspapers applauded the “energy” of their government, and printed the paragraph inserted below as a semi-official statement from the throne: 

“The Spanish government having received the ultimatum of the President of the United States, considers that the document constitutes a declaration of war against Spain, and that the proper form to be adopted is not to make any further reply, but to await the expiration of the time mentioned in the ultimatum before opening hostilities.  In the meantime the Spanish authorities have placed their possessions in a state of defence, and their fleet is already on its way to meet that of the United States.”

April 21. General Woodford left Madrid late in the afternoon, and although an enormous throng of citizens were gathered at the railway station to witness his departure, no indignities were attempted.  The people of Madrid professed the greatest enthusiasm for war, and the general opinion among the masses was that Spain would speedily vanquish the United States.

In Havana, in response to the manifesto from the palace, the citizens began early to decorate the public buildings and many private residences, balconies, and windows with the national colours.  A general illumination followed, as on the occasion of a great national festivity.  Early in the evening no less than eight thousand demonstrators filled the square opposite the palace, a committee entering and tendering to the captain-general, in the name of all, their estates, property, and lives in aid of the government, and pledging their readiness to fight the invader.

General Blanco thanked them in the name of the king, the queen regent and the imperial and colonial governments, assuring them that he would do everything in his power to prevent the invaders from setting foot in Cuba.  “Otherwise I shall not live,” he said, in conclusion.  “Do you swear to follow me to the fight?”

“Yes, yes, we do!” the crowd answered.

“Do you swear to give the last drop of blood in your veins before letting a foreigner step his foot on the land we discovered, and place his yoke upon the people we civilised?”

“Yes, yes, we do!”

“The enemy’s fleet is almost at Morro Castle, almost at the doors of Havana,” General Blanco added.  “They have money; but we have blood to shed, and we are ready to shed it.  We will throw them into the sea!”

The people interrupted him with cries of applause, and he finished his speech by shouting “Viva Espana!” “Viva el Rey!” “Long live the army, the navy, and the volunteers!”

The Congress of the United States passed a joint resolution authorising the President, in his discretion, to prohibit the exportation of coal and other war material.  The measure was of great importance, because through it was prevented the shipment of coal to ports in the West Indies where it might be used by Spain.

April 22. At half past five o’clock in the morning the vessels composing the North Atlantic Squadron put to sea from Key West.  The flag-ship New York led the way.  Close behind her steamed the Iowa and the Indiana.  Following the war-ships came the gunboat Machias, and then the Newport.  The Amphitrite, the first of the fleet, lying close to shore, steamed out after the Machias, and then followed in order the Nashville, the Wilmington, the Castine, the Cincinnati, and the other boats of the fleet, save the monitors Terror and Puritan, which were coaling, the cruiser Marblehead, the despatch-boat Dolphin, and the gunboat Helena.

After getting out of sight of land the flag of a rear-admiral was hoisted over the New York, indicating to the fleet that Captain Sampson was acting as a rear-admiral.  When in the open sea the fleet was divided into three divisions.  The New York, Iowa, and Indiana had the position of honour.  Stretching out to the right were the Montgomery, Wilmington, Newport, and smaller craft; to the left was the Nashville in the lead, followed by the Cincinnati, Castine, Machias, Mayflower, and some of the torpedo-boats.

At seven o’clock in the morning the first gun of the war was fired.  The Nashville, which had been sailing at about six knots an hour, in obedience to orders, suddenly swung out of line.  Clouds of black smoke poured from her long, slim stacks, her speed was gradually increased until the water ascended in fine spray on each side of the bow, and behind her trailed out a long, creamy streak on the quiet waters.

She was headed for a Spanish merchantman, which was then about half a mile away, apparently paying no heed to the monsters of war.

A shot from one of the 4-pounders was sent across the stranger’s bow, and then, no attention having been paid to it, a 6-inch gun was discharged.  This last shot struck the water and bounded along the surface a mile or more, sending up great clouds of spray.

The Spaniard wisely concluded to heave to, and within five minutes a boat was lowered from the Nashville to put on board the first prize a crew of six men, under command of Ensign Magruder.

The captured vessel was the Buena Ventura, of 1,741 tons burthen; laden with lumber, valued at eleven thousand dollars, and carrying a deck-load of cattle.

The record of this first day of hostilities was not to end with one capture.

Late in the afternoon, almost within gunshot of the Cuban shore, while the United States fleet was standing toward Havana, with the Mayflower a mile or more in advance of the flag-ship New York, the merchant steamship Pedro hove in sight.  The Mayflower suddenly swung sharply to the westward, and a moment later a string of butterfly flags went fluttering to her masthead.

The New York flung her answering pennant to the breeze, and, making another signal to the fleet, which probably meant “Stay where you are until I get back,” swung her bow to the westward and went racing for the game that the Mayflower had sighted.  The big cruiser dashed forward, smoke trailing in dense masses from each of her three big funnels, a hill of foam around her bow, and in her wake a swell like a tidal wave.  It was a winning pace, and a magnificent sight she presented as she dashed through the choppy seas with never an undulation of her long, graceful hull.

When she was well inshore a puff of smoke came from the bow of the cruiser, followed by a dull report, then another and another, until four shots had been sent from one of the small, rapid-fire guns.  The Spanish steamer, probably believing the pursuing craft carried no heavier guns, was trying to keep at a safe distance until the friendly darkness of night should hide her from view.  During sixty seconds or more the big cruiser held her course in silence, and then her entire bow was hidden from the spectators in a swirl of white smoke as a main battery gun roared out its demand.

The whizzing shell spoke plainly to the Spanish craft, and had hardly more than flung up a column of water a hundred yards or less in front of the merchantman before she was hastily rounded to with her engines reversed.

A prize crew under Ensign Marble was thrown on board, and the steamer Pedro, twenty-eight hundred tons burthen, suddenly had a change of commanders.

April 22. The President issued a proclamation announcing a blockade of Cuban ports, and also signed the bill providing for the utilising of volunteer forces in times of war.

The foreign news of immediate interest to the people of the United States was, first, from Havana, that Captain-General Blanco had published a decree confirming his previous decree, and declaring the island to be in a state of war.

He also annulled his former similar decrees granting pardon to insurgents, and placed under martial law all those who were guilty of treason, espionage, crimes against peace or against the independence of the nation, seditious revolts, attacks against the form of government or against the authorities, and against those who disturb public order, though only by means of printed matter.

From Madrid came the information that during the evening a throng of no less than six thousand people, carrying flags and shouting “Viva Espana!” “We want war!” and “Down with the Yankees!” burned the stars and stripes in front of the residence of Senor Sagasta, the premier, who was accorded an ovation.  The mob then went to the residence of M. Patenôtre, the French ambassador, and insisted that he should make his appearance, but the French ambassador was not at home.

Correspondents at Hongkong announced that Admiral Dewey had ordered the commanders of the vessels composing his squadron to be in readiness for an immediate movement against the Philippine Islands.

April 23. The President issued a proclamation calling for one hundred and twenty-five thousand volunteer soldiers.

In the new war tariff bill a loan of $500,000,000 was provided for in the form of three per cen-20 bonds.

The third capture of a Spanish vessel was made early in the morning by the torpedo-boat Ericsson.  The fishing-boat Perdito was sighted making for Havana harbour, and overhauled only when she was directly under the guns of Morro Castle, where a single shot from the fortification might have sunk either craft.  After a prize-crew had been put on board Rear-Admiral Sampson decided to turn her loose, and so she was permitted to return to Havana to spread the news of the blockade.

During the afternoon the rum-laden schooner Mathilde was taken, after a lively chase, by the torpedo-boat Porter.  Between five and six o’clock in the evening the torpedo-boat Foote, Lieut.  W. L. Rodgers commanding, received the first Spanish fire.

She was taking soundings in the harbour of Matanzas, and had approached within two or three hundred yards of the shore, when suddenly a masked battery on the east side of the harbour, and not far distant from the Foote, fired three shots at the torpedo-boat.  The missiles went wide of the mark, and the Foote leisurely returned to the Cincinnati to report the result of her work.

At Hongkong the United States consul notified Governor Blake of the British colony that the American fleet would leave the harbour in forty-eight hours, and that no warlike stores, or more coal than would be necessary to carry the vessels to the nearest home port, would be shipped.

The United States demanded of Portugal, the owner of the Cape Verde Islands, that, in accordance with international law, she send the Spanish war-ships away from St. Vincent, or require them to remain in that port during the war.

April 24. The following decree was gazetted in Madrid: 

“Diplomatic relations are broken off between Spain and the United States, and a state of war being begun between the two countries, numerous questions of international law arise, which must be precisely defined chiefly because the injustice and provocation came from our adversaries, and it is they who by their detestable conduct have caused this great conflict.”

The royal decree then states that Spain maintains her right to have recourse to privateering, and announces that for the present only auxiliary cruisers will be fitted out.  All treaties with the United States are annulled; thirty days are given to American ships to leave Spanish ports, and the rules Spain will observe during the war are outlined in five clauses, covering neutral flags and goods contraband of war; what will be considered a blockade; the right of search, and what constitutes contraband of war, ending with saying that foreign privateers will be regarded as pirates.

Continuing, the decree declared:  “We have observed with the strictest fidelity the principles of international law, and have shown the most scrupulous respect for morality and the right of government.

“There is an opinion that the fact that we have not adhered to the declaration of Paris does not exempt us from the duty of respecting the principles therein enunciated.  The principle Spain unquestionably refused to admit then was the abolition of privateering.

“The government now considers it most indispensable to make absolute reserve on this point, in order to maintain our liberty of action and uncontested right to have recourse to privateering when we consider it expedient, first, by organising immediately a force of cruisers, auxiliary to the navy, which will be composed of vessels of our mercantile marine, and with equal distinction in the work of our navy.

Clause 1:  The state of war existing between Spain and the United States annuls the treaty of peace and amity of October 27, 1795, and the protocol of January 12, 1877, and all other agreements, treaties, or conventions in force between the two countries.

Clause 2:  From the publication of these presents, thirty days are granted to all ships of the United States anchored in our harbours to take their departure free of hindrance.

Clause 3:  Notwithstanding that Spain has not adhered to the declaration of Paris, the government, respecting the principles of the law of nations, proposes to observe, and hereby orders to be observed, the following regulations of maritime laws: 

One:  Neutral flags cover the enemy’s merchandise, except contraband of war.

Two:  Neutral merchandise, except contraband of war, is not seizable under the enemy’s flag.

Three:  A blockade, to be obligatory, must be effective; viz., it must be maintained with sufficient force to prevent access to the enemy’s littoral.

Four:  The Spanish government, upholding its rights to grant letters of marque, will at present confine itself to organising, with the vessels of the mercantile marine, a force of auxiliary cruisers which will cooeperate with the navy, according to the needs of the campaign, and will be under naval control.

Five:  In order to capture the enemy’s ships, and confiscate the enemy’s merchandise and contraband of war under whatever form, the auxiliary cruisers will exercise the right of search on the high seas, and in the waters under the enemy’s jurisdiction, in accordance with international law and the regulations which will be published.

Six:  Defines what is included in contraband of war, naming weapons, ammunition, equipments, engines, and, in general, all the appliances used in war.

Seven:  To be regarded and judged as pirates, with all the rigour of the law, are captains, masters, officers, and two-thirds of the crew of vessels, which, not being American, shall commit acts of war against Spain, even if provided with letters of marque by the United States.”

April 24. The U. S. S. Helena captured the steamer Miguel Jover.  The U. S. S. Detroit captured the steamer Catalania; the Wilmington took the schooner Candidor; the Winona made a prize of the steamer Saturnia, and the Terror brought in the schooners Saco and Très Hermanes.

April 25. Early in the day the President sent the following message to Congress: 

“I transmit to the Congress, for its consideration and appropriate action, copies of correspondence recently had with the representatives of Spain and the United States, with the United States minister at Madrid, through the latter with government of Spain, showing the action taken under the joint resolution approved April 20, 1898, ’For the recognition of the independence of the people of Cuba, demanding that the government of Spain relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba, and withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters, and directing the President of the United States to carry these resolutions into effect.’

“Upon communicating with the Spanish minister in Washington the demand, which it became the duty of the executive to address to the government of Spain in obedience with said resolution, the minister asked for his passports and withdrew.  The United States minister at Madrid was in turn notified by the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, that the withdrawal of the Spanish representative from the United States had terminated diplomatic relations between the two countries, and that all official communications between their respective representatives ceased therewith.

“I commend to your especial attention the note addressed to the United States minister at Madrid by the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs on the twenty-first instant, whereby the foregoing notification was conveyed.  It will be perceived therefrom, that the government of Spain, having cognisance of the joint resolution of the United States Congress, and, in view of the things which the President is thereby required and authorised to do, responds by treating the reasonable demands of this government as measures of hostility, following with that instant and complete severance of relations by its action, which by the usage of nations accompanied an existing state of war between sovereign powers.

“The position of Spain being thus made known, and the demands of the United States being denied, with a complete rupture of intercourse by the act of Spain, I have been constrained, in exercise of the power and authority conferred upon me by the joint resolution aforesaid, to proclaim under date of April 22, 1898, a blockade of certain ports of the north coast of Cuba, lying between Cardenas and Bahia Honda, and of the port of Cienfuegos on the south coast of Cuba, and further in exercise of my constitutional powers, and using the authority conferred upon me by act of Congress, approved April 22, 1898, to issue my proclamation, dated April 23, 1898, calling for volunteers in order to carry into effect the said resolution of April 20, 1898.  Copies of these proclamations are hereto appended.

“In view of the measures so taken, and other measures as may be necessary to enable me to carry out the express will of the Congress of the United States in the premises, I now recommend to your honourable body the adoption of a joint resolution declaring that a state of war exists between the United States of America and the kingdom of Spain, and I urge speedy action thereon to the end that the definition of the international status of the United States as a belligerent power may be made known, and the assertion of all its rights and the maintenance of all its duties in the conduct of a public war may be assured.

(Signed) “WILLIAM MCKINLEY.
Executive Mansion, Washington, April 25, 1898.

The war bill was passed without delay, and immediately after it had been signed the following notice was sent to the representatives of the foreign nations: 

“A joint resolution of Congress, approved April 20th, directed intervention for the pacification and independence of the island of Cuba.  The Spanish government on April 21st informed our minister at Madrid that it considered this resolution equivalent to a declaration of war, and that it had accordingly withdrawn its minister from Washington and terminated all diplomatic relations.

“Congress has therefore, by an act approved to-day, declared that a state of war exists between the two countries since and including April 21st.

“You will inform the government to which you are accredited, so that its neutrality may be assured in the existing war.”

Before the close of the day John Sherman, Secretary of State, had resigned; Assistant Secretary William R. Day was appointed the head of the department, with John B. Moore as his successor.

The United States squadron sailed from Hongkong, under orders to rendezvous at Mirs Bay, and public attention was turned towards Manila, it being believed that there the first action would take place.

During the evening the tiny steamer Mangrove, a lighthouse tender, captured the richest prize of the war thus far, when she hove to the Panama, a big transatlantic liner, and an auxiliary cruiser of the Spanish navy, which had been plying between New York and Havana.

The Mangrove, Lieut.-Commander William H. Everett commanding, was cruising along the Cuban coast about twenty miles from Havana when she sighted the big steamer, which was armed with two 12-pounders.  As the latter came within range the Mangrove sent a shot across her bow; but the Spaniard gave no heed; another missile followed without result, and the third whistled in the air when the two vessels were hardly more than a hundred yards apart, Commander Everett shouting, as the report of the gun died away, that unless the steamer surrendered she would be sunk forthwith.

The only other ship of the fleet in sight was the battle-ship Indiana, three miles to the rear.  The Mangrove’s officers admit that they expected the enemy’s 12-pounders to open on them in response to the threat, but the Spaniard promptly came to.  Ensign Dayton boarded the prize.

The Indiana had seen the capture, and meanwhile drew up to the Mangrove, giving her a lusty cheer.  Lieutenant-Commander Everett reported to Captain Taylor of the battle-ship, and the latter put a prize-crew on board the captive, consisting of Cadet Falconer and fifteen marines.

April 26. The President issued a proclamation respecting the rights of Spanish vessels then in, or bound to, ports in the United States, and also with regard to the right of search.

The United States gunboat Newport carried into Key West the Spanish schooner Piereno and the sloop Paquette, which she captured off Havana, while the monitor Terror took to the same port the coasting steamer Ambrosia Bolivar.  This last prize had on board silver specie to the amount of seventy thousand dollars, three hundred casks of wine, and a cargo of bananas.

April 27. The steamers New York, Puritan, and Cincinnati bombarded the forts at the mouth of Matanzas Harbour.  The engagement commenced at 12.57, and ceased at 1.15 P. M. The object of the attack was to prevent the completion of the earthworks at Punta Gorda.

A battery on the eastward arm of the bay opened fire on the flag-ship, and this was also shelled.  Twelve 8-inch shells were fired from the eastern forts, but all fell short.  About five or six light shells were fired from the half completed batteries.  Two of these whizzed over the New York, and one fell short.

The ships left the bay for the open sea, the object of discovering the whereabouts of the batteries having been accomplished.  In the neighbourhood of three hundred shots were put on land from the three ships at a range of from four thousand to seven thousand yards.  No casualties on the American side.

The little monitor Terror captured her third prize, and the story of the chase is thus told by an eye-witness: 

“The Spanish steamer Guido, Captain Armarechia, was bound for Havana.  There was Spanish urgency that she should reach that port.  Aboard was a large cargo, provisions for the beleaguered city, money for the Spanish troops - or officers.  The steamer had left Liverpool on April 2d, and Corunna on April 9th.

“Ten miles off Cardenas, in the early morning, the Guido, setting her fastest pace, made for Havana and the guardian guns of Morro.  Ten miles off Cardenas plodded the heavy monitor.  The half light betrayed the fugitive, and the pursuit was begun.

“Slowly, very slowly, the monitor gained.  It would be a long chase.  Men in the engine-room toiled like galley-slaves under the whip.  There was prize-money to be gained.  The Guido fled fast.  Every light aboard her was hid.

“Reluctantly the pursuer aimed a 6-pounder.  It was prize aim, and the shot found more than a billet in the Guido’s pilot-house.  It tore a part away; the splinters flew.

“Another 6-pounder, and another.  It was profitable shooting.  The pilot-house, a fair mark, was piece by piece nearly destroyed.  Jagged bits of wood floated in the steamer’s wake.

“The gunboat Machias, which was some distance away, heard the sound of the firing, came up, and brought her 4-inch rifle into play, firing one shot, which failed to hit the Spaniard.  This, however, brought her to, and Lieutenant Qualto and a prize-crew were put on board.”

A cablegram from Hongkong announced the capture of the American bark Saranac off Manila, by the Spanish gunboat El Correo.

By a conference of both branches of Congress a naval bill of $49,277,558 was agreed upon.  It stands as the heaviest naval outlay since the civil war, providing for the construction of three battle-ships, four monitors, sixteen torpedo-boat destroyers, and twelve torpedo-boats.

The U. S. S. Newport captured the Spanish sloop Engracia, and the U. S. S. Dolphin made a prize of the Spanish schooner Lola.

April 29. The flag-ship New York was lying about two miles off the harbour of Cabanas, having just completed a cruise of inspection.  With her were the torpedo-boats Porter and Ericsson.  On the shore could be seen the white ruins of what may have been the dwelling of a plantation.  No signs of life were visible.  It was as if war’s alarms had never been heard on this portion of the island.

Suddenly a volley of musketry rang out, repeated again and again, at regular intervals, and the tiny jets of water which were sent up by the bullets told that, concealed near about the ruins of the hacienda, a troop of Spanish soldiers were making what possibly they may have believed to be an attack upon the big war-ship.  It was much as if a swarm of gnats had set about endeavouring to worry an elephant, and likely to have as little effect; yet Rear-Admiral Sampson believed it was necessary to teach the enemy that any playing at war, however harmless, was dangerous to themselves, and he ordered that the port battery be manned.

Half a dozen shots from the 4-inch guns were considered sufficient, although there was no evidence any execution had been done, and the big vessel’s bow was turned eastward just as a troop of Spanish cavalry rode rapidly away from the ruin.  The horsemen served as a target for a 4-inch gun in the starboard battery, and the troop dispersed in hot haste.

While this mimic warfare was being carried on off Cabanas, a most important capture was made.  The Nashville, Marblehead, and the Eagle left the station on the north coast, April 25th, to blockade Cienfuegos, arriving at the latter place on the twenty-eighth.

They spent the day reconnoitring, and, next morning, in order to get better information, steamed close to the mouth of the harbour of Cienfuegos.  The Eagle was to the eastward, and in the van.  The Marblehead was slightly in the rear, and the Nashville to the westward.

All were cleared for action.  Suddenly smoke was seen rising on the western horizon, and the Nashville, because of her position, put on all steam in that direction.  Twenty minutes later she fired two shots across the bow of the coming steamer, which promptly hove to.  She was the Argonauta.  Ensign Keunzli was sent with a prize-crew of nine to take possession of her.

Learning that Spanish soldiers were on board, word was given to send them to the Nashville immediately as prisoners of war, and when this had been done arrangements were made to transfer the passengers and non-combatants to the shore.  The women and children were placed in the first boat, and under cover of a flag of truce were soon bound toward the entrance to Cienfuegos.  A second crew took the other passengers and landed them about noon.

The Argonauta had on board Colonel Corijo of the Third Spanish Cavalry, his first lieutenant, sergeant-major, seven other lieutenants, and ten privates and non-commissioned officers.  The steamer also carried a large cargo of arms and Mauser ammunition.  She was bound from Satabanao, Spain, for Cienfuegos, stopping at Port Louis, Trinidad, and Manzanillo.

Half an hour later the Eagle hoisted a signal conveying the intelligence that she had been fired upon by Spanish boats coming out of the river.  She immediately returned the fire with the 6-pounders, and held her ground until the Marblehead came up.  Both vessels then fired broadside after broadside up the entrance to the river.

The boats coming down were two torpedo-boats and one torpedo-boat destroyer.  After twenty minutes of firing by the Eagle, during the last five of which the Marblehead participated, the Spanish vessels ceased firing.

April 29. A cablegram from St. Vincent, Cape Verde, reported the departure from that port of the Spanish squadron, consisting of the first-class cruisers Vizcaya, Almirante Oquendo, Infanta Maria Teresa, and Cristobal Colon, and the three torpedo-boat destroyers Furor, Terror, and Pluton, bound westward, probably for Porto Rico.

April 30. The American schooner Ann Louisa Lockwood was taken by the Spaniards off Mole St. Nicolas.

The capture of a small Spanish schooner, the Mascota, near Havana, by the torpedo-boat Foote, closed the record of the month of April.

Anxiously awaiting some word from Manila were the people of the United States, and it was as if everything else was relegated to the background until information could be had regarding that American fleet which sailed from Mirs Bay, in the China Sea, on the afternoon of April 27th.