The Battle of Manila Bay took place on 1 May 1898, during the Spanish-American War. The American Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey engaged the Spanish Pacific Squadron under Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón and destroyed the Spanish squadron. The engagement took place in Manila Bay, the Philippines, and was the first major engagement of the Spanish-American War.
The U.S. squadron swung in front of the Spanish ships and forts in single file, firing their port guns. They then turned and passed back, firing their starboard guns. This was repeated five times, each time at closer range. The Spanish forces had been alerted, and most were ready for action, but they were outgunned. The eleven Spanish ships and five land batteries fought back for two and a half hours. The American ships withdrew at 7:45 a.m. to redistribute ammunition, then attacked again at 10:40. Most of the Spanish ships were either destroyed or surrendered. The Spanish colors were struck in surrender at 12:40 p.m. The results were decisive; Dewey won the battle with only a single fatality among his crew: Francis B. Randall, Chief Engineer on the McCulloch, from heart attack.
On May 2, Dewey landed a force of Marines at Cavite. They completed the destruction of the Spanish fleet and batteries and established a guard for the protection of the Spanish hospitals. The resistance of the forts was weak. The Olympia turned a few guns on the Cavite arsenal, and its magazine at once exploded, killing some and wounding many. This practically ended the fire from the batteries.
Engaged vessels ranged in size from 5870 tons (Olympia) to 500 tons (Marques del Duero).
Dewey sent multiple dispatches to John D. Long, Secretary of the Navy, immediately prior to, and following, the Naval Battle of Manila Bay. These dispatches included George Dewey's promotion from the rank of commodore to rear-admiral.
HONGKONG, May 7, 1898. (Manila, May 1.)
SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, Washington:
The squadron arrived a Manila at daybreak this morning. Immediately engaged enemy and destroyed the following Spanish vessels: Reina Christina, Castilla, Don Antonio de Biloa, Don Juan de Austria, Isla de Luzon, Isla de Cuba, General Lezo, Marquis del Duaro, El Curreo, Velasco, one transport, Isla de Mandano, water battery at Cavite. I shall destroy Cavite arsenal dispensatory. The squadron is uninjured. Few men were slightly wounded. I request the Department will send immediately from San Francisco fast steamer with ammunition. The only means of telegraphing is to the American consul at Hongkong.
HONGKONG, May 7, 1898. (Cavite, May 4.)
SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, Washington:
I have taken possession of the naval station at Cavite, Philippine Islands, and destroyed its fortifications. Have destroyed fortifications bay entrance, paroling garrison. Have cut cable to main land. I control bay completely and can take city at any time, but I have not sufficient men to hold. The squadron excellent health and spirits. The Spanish loss not fully known; very heavy; 150 killed, including captain, on Reina Cristina, alone. I am assisting and protecting Spanish sick and wounded, 250 in number, in this hospital, within our lines. Will ammunition be sent? I request answer without delay. I can supply squadron coal and provisions for a long period. Much excitement at Manila. Scarcity of provisions on account of not having economized stores. Will protect foreign residents.