Sunday, 31 January 2010

Pre-Dreadnought Photos: Part 5

"You may fire when ready, Gridley....."
A Spanish-American flavour, now, to this latest instalment of the various Pre-Dred photographic and postcard views from my collection.
Above, and below, we see the action at Manila Bay in the Phillipines on May 1st, 1898, depicted in a stereograph of artwork from James M. Davis and B.W Kilburn of Littleton, New Hampshire.

The U.S. battleship Olympia, followed by the U.S.S. Baltimore, Petrel, Raleigh, Concord and Boston, engage the Spanish line of battle at close quarters.

Entitled "The hottest part of the fight", I think the artist has probably taken some liberties with his depiction of the action, and if we take Olympia's adversary as being the Spanish flagship, Reina Christina, I think has somewhat exaggerated the size of the Spanish ship! A stirring propaganda view nonetheless, and given the amount of shot and shell expended at this battle, that saw the destruction of the entire Spanish fleet, probably not so far from the truth.

If you are interested in learning more, there is no better place on the internet than the outstanding, nay superlative site,, which is an incredible depository of contemporary accounts, historical articles, photographs, maps, orders of battle, ship specifications and other information on the war. Quite frankly, you need no other resource if looking at this conflict!

The detail available on anything and everything pertaining to the various engagements is an absolute goldmine for research; clear a whole day of your calendar, and spend it exploring the various links - can't recommend it highly enough.

Next up, we have another stereograph, this time of a photo of the U.S.S Olympia, Commodore George Dewey's flagship on the day. This is from Underwood & Underwood in 1899, originally from the collection of George N. Watson:

Again, spanamwar outdoes itself, with a virtual tour of the whole ship:

Moving on to the Spanish side of things, we have a view of 'Il Solitario', the battleship Pelayo.

She was on her way from Spain to the Philippines in the company of the Cruiser Carlos V, but was unfortunately so slow that had only reached the Suez Canal by the time the whole shooting match was effectively over.

Finally we have some photographic views of the Armoured Cruiser Cristobal Colon, first in the harbour at Genoa in 1897 where she was built by Cantieri Senestri Ponenti of Anslado:

Noteworthy is the forward armoured shield which you will note has no armament installed; the Armstrong 10" gun that was suppose to be there, was never put in place, having been rejected by the Spanish admiralty, and she was at the Battle of Santiago Bay with only her secondaries available.

Below we can again see the empty fore-turret turned to port, merely the side barbette armament presenting a threat:

Really, hamstringing your most capable cruiser seems like a pretty short-sighted policy, but of course the Spanish did not have the time to install new armament before the conflict blew up, and she was rushed out to Cuba as part of Cervera's Squadron.
The conflict in hindsight seems to have been rather one-sided, but certainly at the time, the world was stunned by the overwhelming success of the U.S, a reputation that was to be firmly cemented by the Great White Fleet, some years later on.
One wonders, though, if the Spanish had been a bit better organised, and had their whole fleet concentrated at Santiago in particular, whether things might have turned out differently.....

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