THE "OREGON'S" GREAT VOYAGE.
BY LIEUTENANT EDWARD W. EBERLE, U.S.N.
Continued From Page Two
Photo Left: Announcement Of The Supposed
Proximity Of Cervera's Fleet.
a running fight we expected to eliminate the possibility of the enemy's surrounding us or either ramming or torpedoing the ship. How well this plan would have succeeded is clearly shown by the Oregon's work on July 3; for on that historic day this very manceuver was, by chance, executed, with the difference that we chased and overtook, in turn, several of the enemy's vessels, instead of their chasing us.
About eight o'clock in the evening of May 12, when off Cape St. Roque, we sighted a number of lights, which had the appearance of a fleet sailing in double column. Not a light was burning on the Oregon, and she passed right through the midst of the vessels undetected, for she could not have been seen a hundred yards away. What those lights were we have never been able to ascertain, but, according to the log of the Colon, the enemy's squadron was not off Cape St. Roque at that time.
Photo Right: In The Fighting-Top.
We passed several sailing-vessels, among them the little sloop Spray, and in answer to our inquiries all stated that they had seen no Spanish ships. On May 15 the Oregon made her best run of three hundred and seventy-five miles, and at daylight on May 18 she came to anchor in the harbor of Bridgetown, Barbados. Having been in two yellow-fever ports, the ship was placed in quarantine, although no one had been allowed on shore in those ports, and all on board were in good health. Her Majesty's officials were most friendly, and gave us a cordial welcome, but rigidly enforced the neutrality laws. The white inhabitants of Barbados were strongly American in their sentiments, and boat-loads of them pulled around the ship, cheering and wishing us success, while the negroes would shout: "American bully boys! You knock Span-yard in a cock hat, and then we give you a good time."
We were allowed sufficient coal to reach a home port, but could remain only twentyfour hours; and neither of the belligerents was supposed to send or receive cable messages until twenty-four hours after our departure. As the American consul had managed to send a despatch to the State Department announcing our arrival before the government censor reached the cable office, the Spanish consul was permitted to cable our arrival to his government. We here heard the rumor that a Spanish fleet of sixteen vessels was at Martinique, only ninety miles away, and that Spanish vessels had been seen cruising off Barbados the previous day. We seemed to have the enemy's vessels all around us, and none of our ships was near at hand. We began coaling as soon as possible, and to the anxious inquiries of a few shore people, supposed to be Spanish emissaries, we stated that we should probably sail next morning. But about nine o'clock that night we suddenly cast off the coal-barges and steamed out of the harbor. We kept all lights burning brightly, and set a course direct for Key West, so that the Spanish spies could see our lights and report to the Martinique fleet the direction in which we had sailed. But when we were five miles from the harbor we suddenly extinguished every light, turned about, made a sweep around Barbados, and laid a course well to the eastward of all the islands, thus by a strategical move frustrating any night attack by the enemy's torpedo-boats and armored vessels which we believed to be at Martinique. We passed around to the northward of the Bahamas, and after dark on May 24 anchored off Jupiter Inlet, Florida, and sent the following despatch :" Oregon arrived. Have coal enough to reach Dry Tortugas or Hampton Roads. Boat landed through surf
awaits orders." As we learned afterward, the announcement of our safe arrival sent a thrill of joy and thanksgiving throughout the country. About two in the morning came this answer:" If ship is in good condition and ready for service, go to Key West, otherwise to Hampton Roads. The department congratulates you upon your safe arrival, which has been announced to the President." Our anchor was hove up in a hurry, and with light and happy hearts we were soon on our way to Key West to join Admiral Sampson's fleet in Cuban waters, ready for duty. We reached Key West on the morning of May 26, and anchored off Sand Key, having made the run of fourteen thousand miles in just sixty-eight days, having passed through two oceans and circumnavigated a continent, having endured most oppressive heat and incessant toil, having demonstrated to the skeptics of Europe that heavy battle-ships of the Oregon class can cruise with safety under all conditions of wind and sea, and at the end of this remarkable voyage having had the pleasure to report the ship in excellent condition and ready to meet the enemy.
Our noble and beloved captain, who had so ably executed his trying task, received congratulatory messages from every part of the country, including this telegram from the Secretary of the Navy: "The department congratulates you, your officers and crew, upon the completion of your long and remarkably successful voyage."
The "Oregon" Joins The Fleet And Salutes The Flagship.
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