“It was after one of the latter shots that the forward turret of the Oregon echoed with a rousing cheer. Charley, the young gunner, had just dropped the firing lanyard from his hand and it was seen the Colon’s conning tower was hit. ’He told me before he pulled the lanyard that he would fetch it,’ exclaimed one of the gun’s crew, admiringly, ‘and he did.’”
A proud father, whose son was on one of the battleships during the destruction of Cervera’s ships, said:
“Among the four letters I have received from my son is one which contains an amusing story of one of the officers of the Indiana. The officer in question is well known throughout the navy for his fastidiousness regarding apparel, and even on board his ship, is always the best-dressed man. He considers it his imperative duty to appear ‘just so,’ on every occasion.
“My son writes that when the fight began, everybody had on most of his clothes, the officers generally being in proper uniform. My boy started in with a full accompaniment of cap, shirt, coat, pants and shoes, but says that before the hour and a half was over he had shed everything except his trousers. The heat was, of course, intense and the main cause of the boy’s throwing off all unnecessary garments. It has been his duty to carry messages several times from the commanding officer on the bridge to the rear of the vessel, where our dandy officer was stationed, and when the fight began he was fully uniformed. On the second trip back the officer was seen to be the only person in sight with a coat on his back, but the perspiration was rolling down his cheeks and dropping off in black beads and his face was besmeared and almost unrecognizable.
“Just before the last shot was fired, my son was sent to find the executive officer to deliver him a message from the bridge. He hurried to the deck, and, in clouds of black smoke endeavored to locate the lieutenant. He looked in vain, however, and finally stepped up to a man who at first appeared to be clothed in pajamas, and my son was just going to inquire for the first officer, when the smoke cleared away a little revealing our fastidious but brave officer dressed in his nightgown, with his sword strapped around his waist, and a pistol stuck in his belt.”
Doubtless many more anecdotes could be told in connection with that day’s history.
[Illustration: (Battle at sea)]
That Sunday morning, after General Shafter received the telegram from the War Office, he took a step which in the end proved very successful. He sent men to Santiago bearing a flag of truce and a message to the Spanish general. When a flag of truce is sent to an enemy all fighting stops for a number of days or hours, according to the time fixed for the truce, or quiet, and plans are then made. This message told the Spanish general that if he did not surrender within a certain time the American Army would attack the city. The Spanish general sent word back that he would not surrender, but that he would give notice to the people in Santiago that they might leave the city before the attack. Of course, before that day was over, our Army heard of the great victory of our Navy, and felt more hopeful.