“We were then half a mile off shore, close under the batteries. The firing increased rapidly. We steamed in slowly and lost sight of the Merrimac in the smoke, which the wind carried off shore. It hung heavily. Before Hobson could have blown up the Merrimac the western battery picked up and commenced firing. They shot wild, and we only heard the shots. We ran in still closer to the shore, and the gunners lost sight of us. Then we heard the explosion of the torpedoes on the Merrimac. Until daylight we waited just outside the breakers, half a mile to the westward of Morro, keeping a bright lookout for the boat or for swimmers, but saw nothing. Hobson had arranged to meet us at that point, but, thinking that some one might have drifted out, we crossed in front of Morro and the mouth of the harbor to the eastward. About five o’clock we crossed the harbor again, within a quarter of a mile, and stood to the westward.
“In passing we saw one spar of the Merrimac sticking out of the water. We hugged the shore just outside of the breakers for a mile, and then turned towards the Texas, when the batteries saw us and opened fire. It was then broad daylight. The first shot fired dropped thirty yards astern, but the other shots went wild. I drove the launch for all she was worth, finally making the New York. The men behaved splendidly.”
How did our brave men fare as prisoners? They were taken to one of the Spanish warships, were fed and clothed, and treated as friends. Admiral Cervera sent a message to Admiral Sampson, saying that all the men were safe and would be well treated. But they were not allowed to stay long on the ship. After a few hours they were taken to Morro Castle, which they did not find a pleasant prison, though they were not badly treated. Lieutenant Hobson, by climbing up to the little window in his cell, could see our ships far out at sea. In a few days the prisoners were taken from Morro Castle to another prison in the city of Santiago. You shall hear of them again.
[Illustration: Hobson’s Cell.]
More work done by the navy.
I have not told you all the brave deeds done by our Navy soon after our ships had reached Cuba, but I will go back, for a few minutes, to the 11th of May. A very sad affair took place at Cardenas, a port about twenty miles east of Matanzas, the place where the first shots were fired. Some of our smaller vessels blockading Cardenas were bold enough to go into the harbor to fight some Spanish gunboats. Though, our men gained a victory, it was dearly bought, for our torpedo-boat Winslow was nearly destroyed, and five of her men were killed. That same day, across the island, at Cienfuegos, on the south shore of Cuba, our men succeeded in cutting the cables under the water, the story of which I have told you.