Account of Capt. F.A. Cook, USS BRROKLYN of the Battle of Santiago

At Anchor, Guantanamo Bay, July 7, 1898.

Capt. Francis A. CookSIR: At 9 a. m., July 3, I gave orders and arrangements were made for general muster at 9.30 a. m. At 9.30 a. m. the enemy were telegraphed by the Iowa as Coming out.  At the same time they were discovered by the quartermaster on watch, N. Anderson, of this ship, and reported to the officer of the deck.  The executive officer, Lieutenant-Commander Mason, who was on deck about to execute the order for general muster, immediately gave the order, “Clear ship for action and general quarters.'' Signal was made at the same time, “Enemy coming out - action."  I went immediately forward, stood for the enemy, and gave orders to get steam on all boilers.

We started with steam on three boilers, at about 12 knots speed.

The head of the Spanish squadron, in column, was just outside the entrance of the harbor of Santiago heading about southwest.  The Spanish squadron consisted of the Maria Teresa (flag), Vizcaya, Oquendo, and Colon, and two torpedo destroyers.  We opened fire on the leading ship in five minutes from the discovery.

The port battery was first engaged as, we stood with port helm to head off the leading ship, and giving them a raking fire at about 1,500 yards range.  The enemy turned to the westward to close into the land.  We then wore around to starboard, bringing the starboard battery into action.  The enemy hugged the shore to the westward.

The Brooklyn, leading, was followed by the Texas, Iowa, Oregon, Indiana, and Gloucester.  The Vixen, which had been to the westward of us on the blockade, ran to the southward and eastward of us, and kept for some time off our port side distant about 1,000 yards, evidently intending to guard against torpedo attack upon this ship.  The shell passing over us fell very thick about her, some passing over her.  At this time the firing was very fast and the whistling of shell incessant, and our escape with so little injury was miraculous, and can only be attributed to bad marksmanship on the part of the enemy.  The Maria Teresa, which had dropped astern while we were wearing, under the heavy fire of our fleet ran ashore, the Vizcaya, Oquendo, and Colon continuing on and gaining in distance.

The Brooklyn was engaged with the three leading ships of the enemy, which were forging ahead, the Texas, Iowa, and Indiana keeping up a heavy fire, but steadily dropping astern.  The Oregon was keeping up a steady fire and was coming up in the most glorious and gallant style, outstripping all others.  It was an inspiring sight to see this battleship, with a large white wave before her, and her smokestacks belching forth continued puffs from her forced draft.  We were making 14 knots at the time, and the Oregon came up off our starboard quarter at about 600 yards and maintained her position, though we soon after increased our speed to 15 knots, and just before the Colon surrendered were making nearly 16.

The Oquendo, soon after the falling out of the Teresa, dropped astern and on fire ran ashore.  The Vizcaya and Colon continued on, under fire from Brooklyn and Oregon.  The other vessels of our fleet were well astern and out of range.  The Texas was evidently coming up fast.  At about 10.53 a. m. the Vizcaya was seen to be on fire, and the Colon passed inside of her with increased speed, took the lead, and gradually forged ahead.  The Vizcaya soon after ran on the beach, ablaze with fire.  We signaled the Oregon to cease firing on the Vizcaya, as her flag was down.  Firing immediately ceased, and we both continued the chase of the Colon, now about 12,000 yards away.  The ranges ran from 1,500 to 3,000 yards with the Vizcaya as she kept in and out from the coast.  We steered straight for a distant point near Cape Cruz, while the Colon kept close to the land, running into all of the bights.  She could not have come out without crossing our bows, and we were steadily gaining on her.  We were getting more steam all the time, and now had four and and one-half boilers on, and the remaining one and one-half nearly ready.

After running for about 50 miles west from the entrance, the Colon ran into a bight of land, beached, fired a gun to leeward, and hauled down her flag.  The Oregon and Brooklyn had just previously begun to fire upon the Colon and were landing shell close to her.

I was sent on board by Commodore Schley to receive the surrender.  The captain spoke English, and received me pleasantly, though naturally much depressed.  He surrendered unconditionally.  He was polite, shook hands, and said that his case was hopeless, and that he saw that we were too much for him.  I was on board about fifteen minutes.  As we came from the Colon the flagship New York came in with the Texas.  I reported on board the flagship to Rear-Admiral Sampson.  I stated to him that I believed the Colon could be gottenoff the beach.

During the entire action I was in constant communication with you, so that I was enabled to promptly execute your orders and instructions.  The officers and crew behaved with great and unexceptionable coolness and bravery, so that it is difficult to discriminate.  They were encouraged in their best efforts by your enthusiasm, and your cheery words: "Fire steady, boys, and give it to them."

The executive officer, N. E. Mason, with his usual zeal, was continually at the battery directing the firing and keeping me well informed of the exact condition of the ship, and in encouraging both officers and men by his example of coolness and courage.

Lieutenant Hodgson was on the bridge coolly and deliberately taking bearings, and measuring and giving ranges.  He was assisted in getting ranges and noting time by Chief Yeoman Geo.  Ellis with a stadimeter until Ellis was killed by a passing shell.

The officers of the divisions, Lieuts.  T. D. Griffin, W. R. Rush, E. Simpsou, J. G. Doyle, B. W. Wells, and Ensign Webster all performed their full duties deliberately and efficiently.  The naval cadets in divisions were cool and efficient, Naval Cadets Halligan, Marble, Abele, and Cronan having especially been noticed for good service.  Lieut.  B. W. Wells, your secretary, volunteered for command of a division, and was given the fourth division, thus enabling me to station a commissioned officer in a

Too much praise can not be given the engineer's department for the hard work done by all in steadily raising the steam until the speed rose from 12 to 16 knots.

The marines did splendid service at the guns and at their stations.  The orderlies carried messages quickly and effectively.  Captain Murphy and Lieutenant Borden were constant in their visits to the different stations to be assured of efficiency.

Medical Inspector Paul Fitzsimons and Past Assistant Surgeon De Valin were in constant attendance at the divisions and on deck to be ready for any emergency.

Flag Lieut.  Jas. H.  Sears was particularly active, standing in the open directing signals, reporting fall of shot and position of the enemy. He was cool and firm in his duty.

Ensign McCauley attended personally to signals while constantly under fire, at one time mounting the forward turret and making the wigwag himself His coolness was conspicuous.

The boatswain, Mr. Hill, was continually about the forecastle, ready for any duty, and materially assisted in watching the fall of shots, and thus checked the ranges.

The gunner, F. T. Applegate, rendered very valuable and conspicuous service at the battery, making repairs wherever practicable during the action.

The carpenter, G. H. Warford, was on the alert, watching for effects of shell and in examining compartments, pipes, and valves.

The signalmen, under Chief Quartermaster O'Connell, all stood in the open and performed their duties courageously.  I would call to your especial attention the valuable and conspicuous services rendered during the action by B. Gaynor (gunner's mate, first class), as noted in the reports of the executive officer, the divisional officers, and the gunner.  Gaynor is a natural mechanic and a very intelligent man, and he went from gun to gun repairing breaks and was constant in his work keeping them in condition for use.

Chief Gunner's Mate D. F. Diggins was in all parts of the ship attending faithfully and coolly to the electric apparatus.

N. Anderson (quartermaster, first class) is a particularly bright seaman.  He -was at the wheel and kept the ship steadily on her course.  He has been particularly known in this ship as a valuable man.  He would prove very efficient as a mate, and I recommend him for such appointment.

N. Morrissey (landsman) twice got out on the muzzle of a forward 6-pounder and backed out a jammed shot.  Private Macneal, U.S.M.C., also went out on the muzzle of forecastle 6-pounder and cleared a jammed shot.

We had but two personal casualties, George H. Ellis (chief yeoman) killed, and J. Burns (fireman, first class) wounded. The ship was struck twenty times by whole shot and many times by pieces of bursting shell and from small shot of machine guns.  No serious injury was done to the ship, and all repairs can be temporarily done by the ship's force, excepting to the 5-inch elevating gear.  The smokestacks were hit in several places; the signal halyards, rigging, and flags were cut in many places.  The flag at the main was destroyed, being much cut by shot and flying pieces of shell.  The 8-inch guns worked satisfactorily; some trouble and delay was caused by jamming of locks.  The turrets worked well.  The 5-inch battery gave great trouble with the elevating gear.  At the end several were rendered useless for battle.  Two are bulged at the muzzle.  This ship should have new elevating gear for 5-inch as soon as practicable.  We fired 100 rounds of 8-inch, 473 of 5-iuch, 1,200 of 6-pounder, and 200 of 1-pounder ammunition.

Very respectfully,
F. A. Cook,

Captain, U. S. N., Commanding.

U. S. Naval Force, North Atlantic Station.


Clerk of the Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of the Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, Vol IV (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1899) 522-525.

Field, Ron, Spanish-American War, 1898. (Washington: Brasseys Inc., 1998) 74 (Cook Image).

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