Sunday, December 16, 2012

Admiral George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay

Admiral Dewey on deck of Olympia at
Battle of Manila Bay
by Nick Vulich.

Other than Theodore Roosevelt, Admiral George Dewey was the biggest hero to come out of the Spanish American War.

His victory at the Battle of Manila completely took the world by surprise.  All eyes were focused on the fighting in Cuba, when Dewey sailed into Manila Bay and virtually destroyed the Spanish fleet.

At 5:35 on the morning of May 1, 1898, Dewey let out those famous words, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley!" The U.S. Asiatic Squadron commenced fire.  The squadron first fired their starboard guns, then their port guns, while circling around the Spanish fleet.

Within six hours the entire Spanish Fleet under the command of Admiral Montojo was destroyed or captured.  Dewey's losses were one dead, six injured.  Spanish losses were 161 dead, 210 injured.

After the battle Dewey controlled all of the waters around Manila, but he did not have enough troops to engage the Spanish in a battle on land.  Dewey soon received assistance from Filipino insurgent Emilio Aguinaldo and was able to hold off the Spanish until more American troops were sent to help.

Shortly thereafter President McKinley dispatched the Philippine Expeditionary Force under General Wesley Merritt.  By July 30th over 10,000 troops led by General Wesley Merritt, General Francis V. Greene, and General Arthur MacArthur arrived. They were joined by 30,000 Filipino troops under General Antonio Luna, who had dug fourteen miles of trenches around the city of Manila during the summer.

On August 4th Dewey gave Spanish Governor Fermin Jaudenes 48 hours to surrender.  The deadline was later extended five more days as Dewey attempted to work out a bloodless solution. A short battle ensued beginning on August 13th.  The Spanish surrendered within a few days, thus ending the fighting in the Philippines.