Capt. Gridley's Report of the Battle of Manila Bay 


This is the report filed by Capt. Charles Gridley of the OLYMPIA, after the Battle of Manila Bay, on May 1, 1898.

The Report:

 Off Manila, Philippine Islands, May 3,1898.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of this ship's engagement with
the enemy on May 1:

On April 30 we stood down for the entrance to Manila Bay.  At 9.42 p. m. the crew
were called to general quarters (the ship having been previously cleared for action)
and remained by their guns, ready to return the fire of the batteries if called upon.

At about 11.30 p. m. we passed through Boca Grande entrance of Manila Bay.  The lights on Corrigidor and Caballo islands and on San Nicolas Banks were extinguished.

After this ship had passed in the battery on the southern shore of entrance opened fire at the ships astern and the McCULLOCH and the BOSTON returned the fire.

At 4 a. in. of May 1 coffee was served out to officers and men.  At daybreak sighted shipping at Manila.  Shifted course to southward and stood for Cavite.  At 5.06 two submarine mines were exploded near, Cavite' bearing south-southeast, distant 4 miles.  At 5.15 battery on Shangly Point opened fire, but the shell fell short.  Other shells passed over us, ranging 7 miles.  At 5.41 a.m. we opened fire on Spanish ships with forward 8-inch guns, which were soon followed by the 5-inch battery.  A rapid fire was kept up until the close of the action.

The range varied from 5,600 to 2,000 yards.

A torpedo boat ran out and headed for this ship, but was finally driven back by our secondary battery.  She came out a second time and was again repulsed.  This time
she had to be beached, as several shot had hit her.

Batteries from Manila fired occasional shots at the ships during the action, but did no damage.

At 6.20 turned to starboard and headed back in front of the Spanish line. The OLYMPIA led the column three times to the westward and twice to the eastward  in front of the Spanish ships and shore batteries.  On one occasion the Spanish flagship REINA CRISTINA was hit by an 8-inch shell from our forward turret and raked fore and aft.  At 7.35 ceased firing and stood out into Manila Bay.

The men went to breakfast.

Many of the Spanish ships were seen to be on fire, and when we returned at 11.16 to complete the destruction of the Spanish fleet only one, the DON ANTONIO de
ULLOA, and the shore batteries returned our fire. The former was sunk and the latter were silenced.

At 12.40 p. in. stood back to Manila Bay and anchored. Besides making the ordinary preparations of clearing ship for action, the heavy sheet chains were faked up and
down over a buffer of awnings against the sides in wake of the 5-inch ammunition
hoists and afforded a stanch protection, while iron and canvas barricades were placed
in various places to cover guns' crews and strengthen moderate defenses.

The vessel was struck or slightly hulled as follows:

(1) Plate indented l 1/2 inches starboard side of superstructure just forward of second 5-inch sponson.

(2) Three planks torn up slightly in wake of forward turret on starboard side of forecastle.

(3) Port after shrouds of fore and main rigging.

(4) Strongback of gig's davits hit and slightly damaged.

(5) Hole in frame of ship between frames 65 and 66 on starboard side below main
deck rail; made by a 6-pounder.

(6) Lashing of the port whaleboat davit carried away by shot.

(7) One of  rail stanchions carried away outside of port gangway.

(8) Hull of ship indented on starboard side 1 foot below main-deck rail and three feet abaft No. 4 coal port.

The forward 8-inch guns fired 23 shells.  The ammunition hoist was temporarily out of commission on account of the blowing of the fuse. The right guns worked well with the electrical batteries. Battery of left gun failed to explode the primer after the first shot; also resistance lamp in dynamo circuit broken. Used percussion primers in this gun
with good results after the first shot.

The after turret fired 13 shells. Had three misfires with battery of right gun and two
with dynamo circuit, as fuses blew out. In renewing fuses they were immediately blown out; so shifted to percussion primers with good results. In left gun 1 shell jammed,
after which used half-full and half-reduced charge, which fired it. Battery of this gun gave good results. One primer failed to check gas.

The smoke from the 5-inch battery and from the forward 8-inch guns gave
considerable trouble, and in both turrets the object glass of the telescopic sights
became covered with a deposit from the powder and had to be wiped off frequently. These are, nevertheless considered good sights for heavy guns; but it is
recommended that bar sigbts be  installed in case of emergency, as there is no
provision for sighting other than with the telescopes.

The batteries for the 5-incb guns found to be unreliable. Used circuit on 3 guns with
good results. Ammunition poor. Many shell became detached from the cases on
loading and had to be rammed out from the muzzle. Several cases jammed in loading
and in extracting. Guns and gun mounts worked well. Fired about 281 5-inch shell.

The 6-pounder battery worked to perfection, firing l,000 rounds. Fired 360 rounds of 1-pounder and 1,000 rounds of small-arm ammunition.

From 9.42 p.m. of April 30 till 12.40 p.m. May 1, two divisions of  engineer's force worked the boilers and engines, keeping up steam and working well, notwithstanding
the heat of the fire and engine rooms. The third division worked at their stations in
the powder division.

The ship needs no immediate repairs and is in excellent condition to engage the
enemy at any time.

There were no casualties nor wounded on this ship.

Where every officer and man did his whole duty there is only room for general praise.  Pay Inspector D. A. Smith, Fleet Pay Clerk Wm.  J. Rightmire, and Pay Clerk W. M. Long all volunteered for and performed active service not required by their stations. Ensign H. H. Caldwell, secretary to the commander in chief, volunteered for fighting duty was assigned to the command of a subdivision of the 5-in&h battery Mr. J. L. Stickney, correspondent of the New York Herald (and formerly a naval officer of exceptional ability), served as a volunteer aid to the commander in chief and rendered invaluable assistance in carrying messages and in keeping an accurate account of the battle. One 6-pounder was manned by a crew of marines, and two relief crews for the 5-inch guns and two for the 6-pounders acted as sharpshooters under Capt. W. Biddle, U. S. M. C.

The range was obtained by cross hearings from the standard compass and the distance taken from the chart.

I am, sir, very respectfully,

Captain U. S. N., Commanding U. S. Flagship Olympia.


Clerk of Joint Comittee on Printing, The Abridgement of Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. Vol 3, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899. 73-74.

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