The mock Battle of Manila Bay (2)

"Was it a battle or part of a wonderful script?"



The May 1, 1898 Battle of Manila Bay was so lopsided that many still wonder today if the so-called Battle of Manila Bay was really a battle or part of a wonderful script hatched by both Spain and the United States.

The leader of the Spanish Pacific Squadron, Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo, lost all his seven major ships; 161 of his men died while 210 others were wounded, including his two sons.  

Montojo was court-martialed, briefly imprisoned and thanks to Admiral George Dewey’s endorsement, was later discharged from the Spanish Navy.

The leader of the US Asiatic Squadron, (he got the position through political connections),  Dewey lost not a single man nor a single boat in battle.  Later, he tried to run for president of the US but changed his mind.

Dewey was so confident of victory that two hours after the Battle of Manila Bay began at 5:40 a.m. of May 1, 1898, he withdrew his fleet so that the crew could have breakfast and also replenish ammo.  They returned to battle after three and a half hours.  By 12:40 p.m., the battle was won.

Arnold Dumindin described the mock Battle of Manila Bay on Aug. 13, 1898, two months and two weeks after the May 1, 1898 naval battle.

On Aug. 12, 1898, in Washington, D.C. , Jules Cambon, ambassador of France and representing Spain and William R. Day, US Secretary of State signed the protocol suspending hostilities and defining the terms on which peace negotiations were to be carried on between the US and Spain. The protocol was signed in the presence of President William R. Mckinley.

Dumindin wrote about the landing of US troops in Manila in the guise of conquering the city—under a pre-arranged script that was unknown to many.  He wrote:

“As the naval bombardment ended and the American forces continued north in two columns, the Filipinos—who had not been apprised of the script—raced to join the battle. They thought there was a real battle going on that would liberate their capitol and they did not want to be left out. “ 

“The Filipinos assaulted from four directions - the column of General Pio del Pilar took Sampaloc district; that of General Gregorio del Pilar took Tondo district, that of General Mariano Noriel took Singalong and Paco districts; that of General Artemio Ricarte routed the Spaniards in Sta. Ana district and pursued them all the way to Intramuros.”

Here is an account of the battle, by the Encyclopedia Britannica:

After an explosion sank USS Maine in Havana harbor in February 1898, the United States declared war with Spain on 25 April in support of a Cuban rebellion against Spanish colonial rule. A US “New Navy” attack on the Spanish fleet in the Philippines proved gratifyingly one-sided.

After the United States had declared war, its Asiatic squadron was ordered from Hong Kong to “capture or destroy the Spanish fleet” then in Philippine waters. The US Navy was well trained and well supplied, largely through the energetic efforts of the young assistant secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, who had selected George Dewey for the command of the Asiatic squadron.

The aging Spanish fleet, led by Admiral Patricio Montojo, was outgunned and out-armored by the more up-to-date US fleet. Montojo decided to shelter inshore and rely on land batteries for defense. He chose a site in Manila Bay, away from the capital city, in shallow water off the Cavite Naval Yard. Dewey, on board his flagship Olympia, took his squadron into Manila Bay under cover of darkness on the night of  April 30, 1898 and, soon after dawn, approached the Spanish in single file.

The Spanish batteries opened up while well out of range, but Dewey waited for 30 minutes before giving the order to return fire. Passing back and forth in front of the Spanish fleet, the Americans pounded the enemy until, fearful that their ammunition was running low, they took a break at 7:45 a.m.

Despite inaccurate gunnery, the US ships had sunk most of the Spanish vessels. At around 10:40 a.m., they resumed fire, sinking the rest of the fleet and quieting the shore batteries—the battle was over by 1 PM. Americans captured the city of Manila on Aug. 13 Spain’s control of the Philippines was over, and—by the Treaty of Paris signed on 10 December 1898—control of the islands was handed over to the United States.

The Battle of Manila Bay made Commodore Dewey a national hero and helped establish the reputation of the US as a major naval power.

Losses: US, nine wounded, no warships lost of six vessels; Spanish, 381 dead or wounded, all seven warships lost.

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Topics: Battle of Manila Bay , Commodore Dewey , Admiral Patricio Montojo , George Dewey
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