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The 1898 Spanish American war
1898 Hispano American war The Crimean war
spanish-american war
Part of the US navy in 1898. The only classes were up to 4 units strong, but the majority of these ships remains unique.

United States Navy (1898)

There are two basic major periods to qualify the United States Navy in the nineteenth century: There is the "Old Navy", which included ships from some of the wars of independence against England in the Napoleonic era, and including ships as old as the Constitution ("old Ironsides", dating from 1797), which was mainly the sides of the abolitionists of the North, but also all vessels originally designed before, during and after the Civil War of 1861-1865. One thing was sure, the finances of the United States after the secession war did not allow them to contituer a fleet worthy of the name: The years 1870-80 were years of crisis. It was not until 1890 to see a semblance of rebirth fleet, what is now called the "New Navy". Almost all the remaining units of the Old Navy will be scrapped and a few survivors of the 1870s served as a dock tool or training ship.
From the rebirth of the "Navy" and 1898, it will take eight years, utilized to provide a real potential and eventually resort as first dominated, then equivalent to its Spanish opponent.

Small table comparing American and Spanish navies in 1890: It shows the overwhelming Spanish superiority.
Ironclads 0
Torpedo ships
* While the two fleets have submersibles, in 1898, they are not included in this table for obvious reasons: At that time it was experimentation: Their military value was purely theoretical.

The same table adorned with some new categories in 1898. The US Navy fast building-up is obvious.
Ironclads 6 4
Armoured cruisers 2 6
Cruisers 15 18
Destroyers 0 6
Torpedo vessels 5 13
Monitors 6 0
Gunboats 16 43
20 3
As can be seen, the superiority of the Spanish navy in 1898 is still obvious, at least on paper. But on the battleships, one is truly "modern", although its design dates back, the Pelayo. In contrast, American battleships are recent and of good quality, which gives a real balance of power 6 to 1. The same applies to the cruisers. Those aligned by Spain are older than ten years and so small that they could be likened to gunboats. However the American domination in monitors is of little interest in the conflict of 1898, this type of vessel being recorded in coastal defense, not to distant operations. The apparent dominance of Spain in gunboats also illusory: Thirty of them are small colonial units of less than 100 tons and lightly armed, those of high seas being over-age, while the U.S. units are modern, powerful and designed for the high seas A flag instructive in this regard: When the Americans took possession of protected cruisers Spanish Isla de Cuba and Isla de Luzon after the sinking, they were reinstated in the Navy as a single gun.
(See fact sheets on the Battle of Santiago and the Raid of Manila).

Battle order in 1898 :

-6 Battleships: Unquestionably, the highlight of the Navy. They were known to be slower than the armored cruisers, but proved fast enough in front of the old Spanish buildings poorly maintained. There were Texas, Maine, the three Indiana, Iowa. Two other (class Kearsarge) were completed, three (class Illinois) under construction, three more (Class Maine (2)) Scheduled for 1899. The name "Maine" was given shortly after the loss of the first in Havana. Texas, Indiana, Oregon, Massassuchetts, Iowa, were all present at the battle of Santiago.

-6 Monitors: There were 12 already in service from the end of the war Cssession, relegated as second-class monitors. They are bottom of the list. The only monitors worthy of the name in the Navy buildings were modern and high water if able to cross the Atlantic. They were the USS Puritan (1882), initiated in 1876 and completed much later, in 1896. In terms of weaponry, it had the value of a battleship. The four Amphitrite (1896) were in the same case. Finally, the Monterey was in cons but starts in 1889 and completed in 1893. So it was more modern. All of them were much higher than Puigcerda Spaniard, who also served as a training ship in 1898. They took part in any act of war but effecturent patrols.

-2 Armored cruisers: Relative disadvantage because the Navy had only two, the USS New York, flagship of Commodore Sampson in the Battle of Santiago, and the USS Brooklyn, flagship of Schley at that battle. The Brooklyn distinguished himself while New York, absent from the combat, there is practically not involved. Compared to the Spanish ships, they were more recent, more accurate shooting, as quick and relatively less well protected. In battle we note the duel to the death between the Brooklyn and Viscaya, which ended in the destruction of the latter.

Cruisers -15: Apparent inferiority also the Navy, at least on paper. As noted above, the Spanish units from the 1880s would be classified as "gun" in the Navy. Only Alfonso XII and Reina Regente could bear comparison. They were sometimes old ships, like the two Atlanta (1884), Chicago (1885), Charleston (1888), the Newark and San Francisco (1889), and other more "modern" as the two Baltimore (1888), Olympia (1892), both Cincinnati (1892), the three Montgomery (1893), both Columbia (1893). For good measure, two summers had ordered an emergency at the deteriorating relations between the United States and Spain to Britain, to Armstrong projects, both New Orleans. They will be accepted for service in 1898 (but too late to serve during the war) and 1900. Most distinguished themselves during the great raid on the Philippines in May 1898. In pure tonnage, in armament, quality and modernity, the report was totally in favor of the Navy. -16 Gunboats: These were ocean-going vessels, recent and heavily armed: The Dolphin (1886), the three Yorktown (1889-1890), the Petrel (1888), the Bancroft (1892), the Nashville (1895 ), the Machias 2 (1891), the Wilmington 2 (1895), the 2 Wheeling (1897), the three Annapolis (1896) brand new, and a fourth class, completing in 1898. They were much higher than the Spanish ships, which would have classified as "cruisers".

- No Destroyer so far : The USS Farragut was the first. In 1898, he was under construction. It will be launched in July 1898 and completed in March 1899. The Spaniards had an incontestable advance in this field.

-5 Destroyers: All local construction and all new, their military value was greater than their antagonists Iberians. However, they pasun play major role in the campaign, because of their vocation coast. It was the old Stiletto (1886), Cushing (1890), Ericsson (1894), two of Foote class (1897), a third will be accepted for service in mid-1898. The other part will be operational before the end of the war.

-1 Submersible: The Holland (1897), probably the most famous submersible Anglo-Saxon, he was being tested in 1898. It was a revolutionary at the time the building was designed by John Holland, who burst a few years later Electric Boat, today's still the largest manufacturer in the world in this field. (See data). Early in the conflict so it was on probation, but was more reliable and more efficient than the Peral Spanish. It was not however the first submersible "American": That honor goes to the CSS Hunley Southerners in 1864.

-20 Miscellaneous: This is difficult to classify ships, due to their typology: The most recent and interesting were the ram Kathadin destroyer, launched in 1893 and inspired by ships developed by France and Britain. At this time of passion for antiquity, the spur was favored to the extent that we designed units specifically dedicated to this purpose. The other ship is the only interesting building armed with pneumatic guns that ever existed: The Vesuvius. This singular ship bombarded the port of Santiago de Cuba. This was his only action of the war. Moreover, the lists of the Navy still included number of older units, used mostly as a training ship (those in bondage are not included). They were mostly old monitors, used as second-class coastal units, 8 of the Passaic class, 4 class Canonicus, old sailing sloops, two class Galena, the Marion and Mohican (1876 -85), the first school serving the militias and the second naval training ship, four Enterprise Class (1874-78), three of which served as a training ship, the Alliance, Enterprise, and Essex, and the Adams as a patrolman, two of the Alert class, and one Ranger, serving as a patrol. All were mixed (sailing and steam) and low military value.

In this chapter, detached from the comparison table above as specially chartered for the war and only during that one year of the conflict are different units, armed in haste to the declaration of war: This was the first auxiliary cruisers Saint Paul and Saint Louis, liners 1894-95, to 15 000 tonnes, well armed, and Harvard and Yale, in 1888, also well armed. They are also the vapors Badger, Buffalo, Dixie, Panther, Prairie, Yankee, Yosemite, dating from 1889 to 1893 and renamed, and conversions Yachts Patrol Auxiliary (although their speed allows them to navigate Wing), the Dorothea , Eagle, Gloucester, Hornet, Mayflower, Scorpion, Vixen and Wasp. (also renamed and recent (1890-1898). They played a definite role in the Battle of Santiago as they accompanied the squadrons of Sampson and Schley. The Vixen was used as a messenger for liaison with the Admiralty of Schley and Samspon, while Gloucester induced the Spanish destroyer Pluton with two pop-guns of 57 mm, and reached the bully before it or by the more large units.

  • This was the second battleship to enter US Navy service in 1895 was built at NY navy Yard from 1888 to 1889 from a Samuda design originally made for the Brazilian Riachuelo. It was considered not a proper battleship but more a heavy armoured cruiser.

    • Weight & dimensions : 6682 t (7180 t FL); 97,23 x 17,37 x 6,55 m
    • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 4 cyl Boilers, 9000 hp, 17 knots.
    • Armour : Harvey belt 12in, barbettes 12in, turrets 8in, CT 10in
    • Armament : 2x2 10in (254 mm), six 6in/30 (152 mm), 7-6pdr (57 mm) and four 356 mm sub TT.
    • Crew : 374

    USS MAINE (1895)
    Although not a satisfactory design, beeing a "second rate" battleship, the Maine kept the Echeloned turrets seen in the previous USS Texas, but with more space between them. It was sent to be anchored at La Havana harbor, "showing the flag" during the cuban revolution. After three weeks it blew up under circumtances which has been clarified far later as an accident in forward magazines, but was also instrumental to forge a casus belli as the spanish were accused...
  • Beeing oficially the C1, first cruiser of a very long line in the US Navy, the Newark was mostly based on a previous steam-and-sail vessel, USS Chicago, and relatively conservative in its design although more successful.

    • Weight & dimensions : 4083 t (4592 t FL); 99,97 x 14,98 x 5,74 m
    • Propulsion : 2 shafts HTE, 4 cyl Boilers, 8500 hp, 18 knots.
    • Armour : Complete 2in and 3in amodship protective deck, CT 3in
    • Armament : Twelve 6in/30 (152 mm), 4-6pdr (57 mm), 4-3pdr (47 mm) and 2-1pdr (37 mm) QF guns.
    • Crew : 374

    USS NEWARK (1890)
    With a better protective deck, the Newark was more succesful than the Chicago, laid down 6 years before. She was rigged as a barque but the sails were soon removed. She played no active part during the 1898 war and was stricken in 1913, serving as a quarantine Hulk at Providence until beeing sold in 1926.
  • Authorized in 1888, these two cruisers were loosely based on the classic Armstrong-Elswick style export cruiser. But they had a single 6 inches gun and her 5in were not as efficient. Commissioned in 1895, they played no active part in 1898 battles.

    • Weight & dimensions : 3183 t (3339 t FL); 93,13 x 12,80 x 5,49 m
    • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 6 cyl Boilers, 10 000 hp, 19 knots.
    • Armour : Complete 2in and 2,5in amidship protective deck, CT 2in
    • Armament : One 6in/30 (152 mm), 10x5in (127 mm), 8-6 pdr (75 mm), 2-1pdr (37 mm) QF guns, four 457 mm TT sub
    • Crew : 322

    hThese two small and relatively fast cruisers built in NY navy yard and Norfolk were originally rigged but their fore and aft sails were removed in 1899.
  • Almost a sister-ship to the USS Newark, the San Francisco was rigged as a three masted schooner. Its fore and aft 6in guns were not mounted in sponsons, but on the forecastle and poop, but they were rearmed in 1902-03.

    • Weight & dimensions : 4088 t (4583 t FL); 98,91 x 14,98 x 5,74 m
    • Propulsion : 2 shafts HTE, 4 cyl Boilers, 10 500 hp, 19 knots.
    • Armour : Complete 2in and 3in amidship protective deck, CT 3in
    • Armament : Twelve 6in/30 (152 mm), 4-6pdr (76 mm), 4-3 pdr (47 mm), 2-1pdr (37 mm) QF guns.
    • Crew : 384

    She was built at Union Iron works, the keel laid down in august 1888 and commissioned in november 1890. She played no major part in the 1898 war and was used as a minelayers in WW1, decommissioned in 1921 and stricken in 1939.
  • This very first American torpedo-boat was purchased after completion by Herreshoff as a rivate speculation, in 1887. Built in wood, she was fast but unreliable and mainly used for testings.

    • Weight & dimensions : 31 t; 28,64 x 3,50 x 0,91 m
    • Propulsion : 1 shaft VC, 1 Almy Boiler, 359 hp, 18,2 knots.
    • Armour : None
    • Armament : Two Howell torpedoes for trials.
    • Crew : 384

    USS STILLETTO (1890)
    An experimental, wooden hulled torpedo-boat, using coal.
  • Although she was laid down in 1889 and launched in june 1892 at Norfolk NYd, after the Maine, whe was commissioned earlyer, thus gaining the title of first american battleship. Texas fought at the battle of Santiago.

    • Weight & dimensions : 6135 t (6665 t FL); 94,13 x 19,53 x 6,86 m
    • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 4 cyl Boilers, 8600 hp, 17 knots.
    • Armour : Harvey NS 12in protective deck,Turrets 12in, hoists 6in, CT 12in
    • Armament : 2x1 12in (305 mm), 6-6in (152 mm), 12-6pdr (57 mm), 6-1pdr (37 mm) QF guns, 4 356 mm TT.
    • Crew : 508

    USS TEXAS (1892)
    This first battleship was relatively weak in european standards, with two single-gunned en chelon turrets. Fought at Santiago, but not seriously tested.
  • USS Baltimore was given the number C3 (older Chicago and Atlanta class were not included in this nomenclature, and authorized in august 1883. In fact she was based on the losing plans of the Elswick design for the reina Regente, with a high freeboard, aprotective deck about 2,5 to 3 inches and a main armament of 8 in and 6 in guns.

    • Weight & dimensions : 4413 t (5436 t FL) ; 102,11 x 14,78 x 5,94 m
    • Propulsion : Steam only - 2 shafts, 2 HTE Compound engine, 4 boilers, 10750 hp, 19 knots.
    • Blindage : Deck 2,5 in, 4 in amidships, 3 in conning tower.
    • Armament : Four 8 in (203 mm), six 6 in (152 mm), four 75 mm, two 47 and two 37 mm QF.
    • Crew : 386

    USS BALTIMORE (1888)
    Lanuch in 1888 at Cramp, NY and commissioned in 1890, this cruiser was seen as the most succesful design of the 1880s. This ship played no part in the 1898 war, and was rearmed in 1900-1903 with an all-6 in/40 mk.VII armament (seven guns, height amidship and four on the poop and forecastle. She was used as a minalyer in the atlantic in WW1 decommissioned in 1922 but not sold prior to 1942.
  • This class of cruisers built at Cramp with a year between respective commission were approved in 1890 and designed as commerce raiders, with a good speed and great autonomy. They differed by their funnels arrangement, Minneapolis having two of them. However they were often considered under-gunned for their size.
    • Weight & dimensions : 7357 t (8270 t FL); 125,90 x 17,72 x 6,88 m
    • Propulsion : 3 shafts VTE, 8 cyl Boilers, 21 000 hp, 21 knots.
    • Armour : Belt 2,5-4in, turrets 4in, secondary 2in, CT 5in
    • Armament : One 8in/40 Mk.III (203 mm), Two 6i/40n (152 mm), eight 4in/40 (152 mm), 12-6pdr (75 mm), 4-1pdr (37 mm QF) four 457 mm sub TT.
    • Crew : 477

    USS COLUMBIA (1892)
    A class of cruisers which were relatively good steamers, Columbia for example was able to cross the atlantic, from Southampton to Sandy hook in just six days 23 hours, although they had a high coal consumption which led to decommission them from 1907 to 1915.
  • The cruiser USS Olympia was the most famous during in the entire war, as beeing the flagship of Commodore Dewey, the Hero of the battle of Manilla. She was relatively fast but small and cramped, and not seriously tested during the battle.

    • Weight & dimensions : 5862 t (6558 t FL); 104,78 x 16,15 x 6,55 m
    • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 6 cyl Boilers, 13 5000 hp, 20 knots.
    • Armour : Harvey belt 3 in, barbettes 4,5 in, turrets 3,5 in, secondary 4 in, CT 5 in
    • Armament : Four 8in (203 mm), ten 5in (127 mm), fourteen 6pdr (57 mm), six 1pdr (37 mm QF) and six 457 mm aw.
    • Crew : 411

    USS OLYMPIA (1892)
    Authorized in 1888, built at Union Iron Works in 1891-92 and commissioned in 1895, this cruiser was brand new when the war erupted. Protection was guaranteed by 3,5 to 4,5in Harvey nickel steel plates, which would have been probably not sufficient against some Spanish ships. However the engines room was well protected by a 4in glacis. She was a good steamer, capable of 17 300 hp on forced draught, giving 21,7 knots. She is famous for being the flagship of Commodore Dewey, leading the American squadron in Manila harbor. She is now the only preserved warship of its kind in the world, and can be seen in the Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia PA.
  • The USS Foote was one of a serie of three torpedo boats, built in 1896 at Columbian Iron Works. They fought during the 1898 war at Cuba and survived WW1.

    • Weight & dimensions : 142 t (155 t FL); 48,76 x 4,91 x 1,52 m
    • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 2 cyl Thornycroft/Mosher Boilers, 3200 hp, 25 knots.
    • Armour : none
    • Armament : Three 1pdr (37 mm QF) and three 457 mm TT.
    • Crew : 20

    USS FOOTE (1896)
    This class was preceded by the US Ericsson (1894) and USS Cushing (1890), both deriving from the experimental Stiletto, the first American Torpedo boat. They were seaworthy but short range boats, with a better speed than previous boats, and fought at Cuba. However, the following Porter (two ships launched in 1897) were faster and better armed. These were all the Tbs available when war broke out.
  • This battleship, the BB4, was launched at Cramp in 1896 and commissioned in June 1897, prior to the war. She was generally similar to the previous Indiana class, but with a better distribution of armor, and more powerful, being 1 knot faster. She played her part but was not seriously tested during the battle of Santiago.

    • Weight & dimensions : 11 410 t (12 647 t FL); 110,47 x 22 x 7,32 m
    • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 5 cyl Boilers, 11000 hp, 16 knots.
    • Armour : Harvey belt 14 in, barbettes 15 in, turrets 17 in, secondary 8 in, CT 10 in
    • Armament : 2x2 12in (305 mm), 4x2 8in (203 mm), six 6in (152 mm), 20-6pdr (57 mm), 4-1pdr (37 mm QF) and four 356 mm sub TT.
    • Crew : 654

    USS IOWA (1897)
    This unique battleship was an improvement of the preview Indiana class. She was better protected and faster, capable of 17,1 knots with forced draught, and recoignisable with its tall funnels. She fought at Santiago, and received a cage foremast in 1909, and its 6 pdrs and TT removed to make way to four 4 in guns. She made some patrols in the atlantic during WW1, was decommissioned in 1919 and used as a radiocontrolled target ship, beeing finally sunk in 1923.