While some of the ships were chasing the Colon, and others were rescuing the wounded and drowning Spaniards, the Indiana, according to orders, returned to watch the harbor entrance. Suddenly an excitement was caused on the Indiana by news that a large Spanish battleship was coming from the eastward. Captain Taylor at once made ready for another fight, and sent his men to their guns. The officers on the bridge looked through their field-glasses at the strange ship, three miles away. “Yes, it is a Spanish ship.” “Yes, she has Spanish colors.” The stranger drew near, the guns of the Indiana were just about to open fire, but the foreign ship signaled her name and country—“Kaiserin Maria Theresa, Austria”—in time to save both parties from further trouble.
That Sunday morning the chaplain of the New York was preparing to hold service when the sound of a gun caused the ship to turn in her course and speed back to Santiago. The ship was cleared for action, and the pulpit was hastily thrown aside. As the ship sped along, some of her men saw a Spanish sailor struggling in the water. One of the men quickly picked up the pulpit—a clumsy, awkward affair, with a gilt cross on the side of it—and heaved it overboard, at the same time yelling to the poor Spaniard: “Cling to the cross, my lad, cling to the cross and you’ll be saved.” The struggling sailor clung to the cross and was afterward picked up by one of the small boats.
This story is told of two gunners on the Oregon. One was an old fellow whose name has been on the navy list for thirty years, the other was a young seaman gunner.
When Admiral Cervera led his ships out of the harbor of Santiago, in that brave dash for the freedom of the open sea, the veteran was engaged in his usual occupation of polishing the sleek coat of one of the big thirteen-inch guns. When the cry went up that the enemy was escaping, he gave a finishing touch to the muzzle and quickly took his station in the turret. Presently he turned to a young gunner near him and said: “Charley, I bet you a month’s pay that I make a better shot at the dago beggars than you. What d’you say?”
“‘Done,’ was the prompt reply.
“Ten minutes later, the old gunner squinted his eye along the sight, signalled the man at the training lever to ease off a little, took the range from the officer in charge of the division, then gave the firing lanyard a quick jerk. When the smoke lifted, the eager watchers saw a great yawning hole in the port bow of the Almirante Oquendo. A cheer came from the men in the turret, and the veteran glanced triumphantly toward the younger gunner.
“The latter’s turn soon came. The Oquendo, battered and helpless, drifted ashore in flames. The Oregon accompanied by the Brooklyn, sped on after the fleet-footed Colon. The rapid-fire batteries of both American ships rattled and shrieked after the fugitive. The eight-inch guns of the Brooklyn rumbled an unceasing chorus as they belched forth their shells, and occasionally a deeper roar from the thirteen-inch monsters of the Oregon would give a mightier volume to the din.