Santiago Bay, Battle of


Santiago Bay, Battle of
(1898)
   A naval engagement of the Spanish-American War. Four days after the American declaration of war on Spain, Admiral Pascual Cervera sailed for Cuba on April 29, 1898, in command of the armored cruisers Almirante Oquendo, Cristóbal Colón, Infanta Marîa Theresa, and Vizcaya, and the destroyers Furor and Pluton. His squadron evaded American patrols and arrived in Santiago, Cuba, on May 19. Soon discovered by American warships, the Spanish warships remained in port through June, blockaded by American warships that regularly patrolled the port’s exit.
   Fearing that advancing U.S. troops overland would capture his warships and knowing that the blockading American warships hopelessly overmatched his force, Cervera led his squadron out on July 3. He hoped to evade the American warships and escape, but American Admiral William S. Sampson had carefully deployed his warships; and those on station that day, the battleships Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, and Texas, the armored cruiser Brooklyn, and two converted yachts, intercepted and engaged the Spanish warships, sinking them one by one in a running battle. The Spanish suffered 323 killed and 1,720 captured of the 2,227 men in the squadron, whereas only one American died in the one-sided battle. The victory ignited a fierce controversy between Commodore Winfield Scott Schley, whom Sampson left in command of the blockade before departing with the warships that needed to refuel. Both men claimed credit for the victory and the ensuing Sampson-Schley controversy festered for a decade despite a court of inquiry meant to settle it as they and their supporters continued to press their cases.
   See also <>; <>; <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    O’Toole, G.J.A. The Spanish War, and American Epic - 1898. New York: W. W. Norton, 1986;
    Trask, David. The War with Spain. New York: Free Press, 1981.
   STEPHEN K. STEIN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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