American Battleships in the Spanish-American War
The ALBATROSS, a small vessel owned the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of
Fisheries, was transferred to the U.S. Navy for use during the war. She was armed, and
other changes may have been made. She took no active part in the campaign.
This ship was immediately assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron, visited several
eastern seaboard ports and carried out operations out of Hampton Roads and
BALTIMORE became flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron in May, 1890.
The USS BOSTON was a Cruiser of the ATLANTA class, the first "modern"
United States Navy ships.
Admiral Schley's armored cruiser was the principal target of the
enemy and was hit often and reported more casualties than any other vessel.
The U.S.S. Brooklyn fought off the Spanish ship the Cristobal Colon and played an
important part in the sea fight off the coast of Santiago on July 3, 1898.
The USS CHARLESTON, a protected cruiser, was sent to the Far East after the outbreak
of the war, convoying transports containing 2,500 troops to reinforce Commodore Dewey's
Asiatic Squadron and to begin the land campaign in the Philippines.
The CULGOA was a refrigerated supply ship that was used to provide food and stores to
the American naval forces in the Manila Bay during the naval blockade of the city and bay.
In May 1898 the U.S.S. Columbia collided with a British merchant steamer. It was
the first serious mishap to befall any vessel of the U.S. Navy after the outbreak of the war.
U.S.S. CONCORD was part of Commodore Dewey's squadron at the Battle of Manila Bay,
in which the U.S. Navy's Asiatic Squadron defeated the Spanish Pacific Fleet.
MONTGOMERY, DETROIT and MARBLEHEAD were protected cruisers,
the smallest of that type in the 1898 U.S. Navy.
Commanded by Henry W. Lyon, this dispatch boat carried the flag of the President and
Secretary of the Navy for 12 years and carried more distinguished guests than any other
boat in the U.S. Navy. The U.S.S. Dolphin was one of the first modern ships constructed
for naval service in the U.S. During the war it was transformed into a war-vessel and at
Guantanamo Bay, along with the U.S.S. Marblehead, the U.S.S. Dolphin protected U.S.
Marines from defeat.
The Gunboat U.S.S. GLOUCESTER was originally J. P. Morgan's yacht CORSAIR.
Commanded by Lt. Commander Richard Wainwright, the former Executive Officer of USS
MAINE, GLOUCESTER proved her value in the Battle of Santiago by attacking the much
faster and more powerful Spanish Torpedo Boat Destroyer FUROR, greatly assisting in her
The USS HARVARD was the government-subsidized ocean liner, CITY OF NEW YORK. In
times of war, the fast vessel was used by the U.S. Navy as a fast auxiliary cruiser and
transport. She saw heavy sevice during the Spanish American War as part of blockading
squadron, and as a transport. It was also aboard this vessel that the unfortunate "HARVARD
The U.S.S. Helena was a rapid-fire gunboat with 1,600 horsepower. On July 21, 1898, with
six consorts, it destroyed five Spanish gunboats, a transport, and other vessels at
Manzanillo. This rapid-fire gun was capable of firing 20 shells a minute and thus was
key weapon in the destruction of Spanish Admirals Montojo and Cervera's fleets.
The U.S.S. Iowa was the biggest battleship in the U.S. fleet. It was involved in the first
bombardment of the fort near Santiago. It cost three million dollars to build and was
equipped with 11,000 horsepower.
The USS INDIANA was one of the newest American battleships in 1898. She took part in
the destruction of the Spanish Fleet at the Battle of Santiago off Cuba on July 3, one of the
two major naval engagements of the war.
The U.S.S. Katahdin was a harbor defense ram with a gigantic projectile, and at the time
of the war was the only vessel of its type in the world. It was held in reserve during the war
for possible harbor defense; there was never an opportunity to display its efficiency.
The U.S.S. Lehigh was a monitor boat specifically used for harbor defense of the New
The USS MAINE was one of the first United States battleships to be constructed. The
vessel's destruction in the Cuba Harbor of Havana was a catalyst in bringing war between
the United States and Spain. The loss of the ship was tremendous shock to the United
States since it represented virtually the state of the art of naval shipbuilding in the United
States, only recently eclipsed by newer vessels. "Remember the Maine" became the
battlelecry of the United States Military Forces in 1898.
On June 8, 1898, along with the U.S.S. Yankee, the U.S.S. Marblehead bombarded the
shore at Guantanamo while the U.S.S. St. Louis cut the French cable. The boat cost
The USS MASSACHUSETTS was one of the newest American battleships in 1898. She was
coaling at Guantanamo Bay and missed the Battle of Santiago on July 3.
The Revenue Cutter HUGH McCULLOCH, also referred to simply as the McCULLOCH,
served with Commodore Dewey's fleet at the Battle of Manila Bay. This small, very lightly
armed vessel was unusual in that she was not a U.S. Navy ship, belonging instead to the
Department of the Treasury's Revenue Cutter Service.
The U.S.S. Miantonomoh was the first armor vessel of the new army.
The old sidewheel double-ender, MONOCACY, was a part of Commodore Dewey’s Asiatic
squadron. Its age and condition required that it be left behind when the remainder of the
squadron steamed for the Philippines and destiny at the Battle of Manila Bay.
U.S.S. MONTEREY was among the last monitors constructed for use by the U.S. Navy.
The vessel made the incredible (for a monitor) journey from the American west coast to the
Philippines. The vessel was present for the final assault upon Manila.
NANSHAN suplied coal for Dewey's Asiatic Squadron. She was with the squadron during
the Battle of Manila Bay/Cavite, but, as a collier, was not engaged.
U.S.S. New Orleans
The U.S.S. New Orleans was bombarded at Santiago on May 31, 1898.
The military mast of the U.S.S. New Orleans included three tops. The two lower ones were
used for rapid-fire and machine guns, and the top one was used for the electric search light.
U.S.S. New York
This armored cruiser was used as a battleship under the command of Rear-Admiral Sampson.
It was the ship from which the first shot was fired; on April 27, 1898, the vessel bombarded
The USS OLYMPIA was the flagship of the Asiatic Squadron. It is the only naval vessel from
the American Spanish-American War fleet still in existence. OLYMPIA is one of the most
significant vessels in United States history as she was the flagship of Commodore Dewey
in his victory over Admiral Montojo's Spanish Squadrin at Manila Bay. The United States
took a large step towards becoming a world power with his victory.
The USS OREGON was one of the newest American battleships in 1898. Her run from the
Pacific to the Atlantic at the outbreak of hostilities was a highlight of the conflict.
OREGON took part in the destruction of the Spanish Fleet at Santiago, Cuba, and is credited
for actions against the Spanish vessels INFANTA MARIA TERESA, VISCAYA,
ALMIRANTE OQUENDO, PLUTON, and FUROR in that engagement.
The ship travelled a total of 14,000 miles.
The USS PETREL was one of the early vessels in the modernization of the United States
Navy. She sailed into Manila Bay with Commodore Dewey's USS OLYMPIA, and the
remainder of the Asiatic Squadron on May 1, 1898, and aided in the destruction of Admiral
Montojo's Spanish squadron. She continued to see active service throughout the war.
PRAIRIE was an auxiliary Cruiser outfitted for use in the Spanish American War. It served in
the blockade of Cuba.
The U.S.S. RALEIGH was a member of the United States Asiatic Squadron under Admiral
Dewey and took part in the Battle of Manila Bay/Cavite on May 1, 1898. In this battle,
Admiral Montojo's Spanish squadron was destroyed.
USS St. Paul and USS St. Louis
The ST. PAUL and its sister ship, the ST. LOUIS, were ocean liners sailing with American
Lines which were converted to "swift auxiliary cruisers" during the war. While serving in this
role the ST. PAUL captured the British steamer RESTORMEL bound for Santiago, and the
sailing vessel WARY bound for Manzanillo. Also, she disabled the Spanish torpedo boat
The hospital ship U.S.S. Solace was fitted out by the U.S. Government especially for the
convenience and comfort of the sick and the wounded. It conveyed the sick and wounded
from the theater of war to U.S. hospitals at such places as Tampa, Florida.
This vessel illustrates the major problem that was facing the United States Navy in the years
leading up to the Spanish American War. The USS TERROR, a "monitor", was a vessel that
represented the state of the art of United States naval design as it essentially existed at the
end of the American Civil War in 1865. In the interim between the end of the American Civil
War and the 1890's, the U.S. Navy went from being a strong, current force into a
technologically outdated entity. The new ships being constructed, such as the USS MAINE,
USS TEXAS and USS BROOKLYN show the contrast between the new and old technologies,
both of which were used in the War.
The USS TEXAS was the United States' first battleship, being commissioned a month earlier
than USS MAINE. USS TEXAS took part in the bombardment of the fortress on Cayo del Tore,
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in concert with USS MARBLEHEAD. She also took a very active part
in the Battle of Santiago.
The USS VESUVIUS was a one-of-a-kind experimental vessel that saw use in the War.
No other vessels of this type were built. The unusual characteristic of the ship were the three
15" "dynamite" guns which constituted the ship's main battery.
The USS WINSLOW was typical of the FOOTE class of torpedo boats. The Winslow saw
action in Cardenas harbor, Cuba, where she was in a duel with a Spanish gunboat and the
harbor defense fortifications.
The Auxiliary Cruiser YANKEE, manned mainly by men of the New York Naval Militia, saw
action during the Spanish American War
On June 16-17, 1898, the USS YOSEMITE was assigned to intercept the Spanish vessel
PURISSIMA CONCEPCION. The attempt failed amid controversy.
The ZAFIRO was a collier which had brought coal for Dewey's Asiatic Squadron. Upon her
April 9, 1898 arrival, Zafiro was purchased for $87,597 from the China and Manila Steamship
Co. and used it as a supply ship for the Squadron. The ZAFIRO was present in Manila Bay
during the Battle of Manila Bay/Cavite, but was, for obvious reasons, not engaged.
Back to North Carolina in the Spanish-American War