Uniforms of the Spanish Navy and Marines



Video of the armored crusier Vizcaya . The pride of the Spanish navy, taken on the occasion of her visit to New York Harbor, when her captain hinted at his ability to blow holes through New York's skyscrapers. In this picture the vessel makes a very beautiful appearance steaming out to sea under full headway. But what a contrast to a later Biograph picture when the vessel was a smoking hulk wrecked on the shore of Cuba, battered topieces by the guns of the Oregon. Filmed Feb. 28, 1898, in New York City, New York.


Armored crusier Vizcaya

 Vizcaya was an Infanta Maria Teresa-class armored cruiser . The Vizcaya was built at Bilbao, Spain.  launched on  and completed in 1893. The Vizcaya had two funnels and was fast and well armed. Her main armament was mounted on the center line in single barbettes fore and aft. Her armor was poor: her 11-inch (279 mm) guns had only lightly armored hoods, her 5.5-inch (140 mm) guns were mounted in the open on the upper deck, her armor belt was thin and protected only two-thirds of her length . Vizcaya was visiting New York City on a friendly visit to reciprocate for the visit of battleship USS Maine to Havana, Cuba, when Maine exploded and sank at Havana on 15 February 1898.


On paper, the Spanish navy was very powerful, and many observers expected much better results from the Spanish navy than the disasters which befell it . Before the war, Americans were fretful of a mighty Spanish armada bombarding costal cities and there were clamors for huge coastal defense guns . Gold reserves were moved inland on the east coast. However, the American navy was much more powerful than the Spanish navy, the American navy together had 116,445 tons against Spain's 56,644 tons . Spain only had two fifths of the American number of guns .

In 1898, the spanish navy had one battleship:



Ironclad battleship Pelayo

 Built in France in 1884 .

The Pelayo's main guns consisted of two Gonzalez Hontoria-built 32-centimetre (12.6 in) guns mounted fore and aft on the centerline and two Gonzalez Hontoria 28-centimetre (11.0 in) guns, also in barbettes, with one mounted on either beam .


Spanish Minister of Marine Ramón Auñón y Villalón on the Pelayo at Cadiz . Following Admiral George Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila harbor, Captain Ramón Auñón y Villalón  replaced Segismundo Bermejo as Minister of the Navy.


Armored cruiser Emperador Carlos V . Emperador Carlos V was built at the naval shipyard at Cadiz in Spain, and completed on 2 June 1898. Her 11-inch (280-mm) main guns were mounted fore and aft in center-line hooded barbettes. One of her strengths was considered to be her great steaming range . Emperador Carlos V  was brand new and not yet operational when the Spanish–American War broke out in April 1898 . Was dispatched to help defend the Philippines with Rear Admiral Manuel de Camara's 2nd squadron . While at Suez, the Egyptian government refused to supply coal out of concern for Egyptian neutrality. Returned to Spain and spent the remained of the war in Spanish waters . Scrapped in 1933


Five armored cruisers and eight protected cruisers

 of the Spanish Navy




Infanta Maria Teresa

Infanta María Teresa was built at Bilbao, Spain.

 The Infanta Maria Teresa  completed in 1893. It had two funnels and was

fast and comparatively well-armed . had a high, unprotected freeboard that took much damage during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. Like other nineteenth-century warships, she was heavily furnished and decorated with wood, which the Spanish failed to remove prior to combat and which would feed fires during the battle. Sunk July 3, 1898; captured and later refloated by the U.S. Navy, but lost in a storm while under tow.


Launch of the Infanta María Teresa


Infanta María Teresa escorted by torpedo boat


Almirante Oquendo

Almirante Oquendo, was an Infanta Maria Teresa-class armored cruiser of the Spanish Navy that fought at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba . Almirante Oquendo was built at Bilbao, Spain. She was completed in 1893


Turret of Almirante Oquendo

in Cuba today .




 The Reina Mercedes, was an Alfonso XII-class cruiser of the Spanish Navy. It was was built by the naval shipyard at Cartagena and launched on September 9, 1887 . It was armed withsix  6.3 in guns and five torpedo tubes . In 1893 she was transferred to the Caribbean, where she became flagship of Spanish naval forces operating in Cuban waters. On 29 May 1897, Reina Mercedes fired two shots at the American passenger liner SS Valencia off Guantánamo Bay, Cuba . When the Spanish–American War broke out in April 1898, Reina Mercedes was in the harbor at Santiago de Cuba, on Cuba's southeastern coast, awaiting repair, with seven of her ten boilers out of commission. Scuttled by the Spainsh in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. The U.S. Navy raised her and later put her into service as the  receiving ship USS Reina Mercedes. It served as a detention vessel and barracks ship for the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, until 1957.


USS Reina Mercedes training ship 1915


Cristóbal Colón was a Giuseppe Garibaldi-class armored

cruiser that fought at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba . Cristóbal Colón was built in Italy under the name Giuseppe Garibaldi. She wassold to Spain, and delivered to the Spanish Navy at Genoa on  May 16, 1897.She had two funnels and was fast, well armed, and well protected, especially for her displacement. She was designed to be an intermediate type of ship between extant battleships and cruisers . Sunk July 3, 1898 .



 Cristobal Colon Wreck Dive Santiago Cuba

Spanish Navy torpedo boats and destroyers

The Spanish torpedo destroyer Furor . The Furor was built in the UK in 1896 . She was a "torpedo boat destroyer", designed to protect larger ships against torpedo boat attack, but also carrying torpedoes with which to attack larger ships herself. Sunk July 3, 1898 in Cuba .


The Terror under atack by American warships . Terror was a Furor-class destroyer of the Spanish Navy that fought at San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Built in the UK and finished in 1896 . Around 1920, Terror was equipped for minelaying. She was scrapped in 1924 .


The Plutón was an Audaz-class destroyer ofought at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba . Built in the UK and finished in 1897 . She was a "torpedo boat destroyer", designed to protect larger ships against torpedo boat attack, but also carrying torpedoes with which to attack larger ships herself. Sunk July 3, 1898 .


Commerce raiders were feared and the Spanish torpedo boats , ( torpedo boats  had sunk many ships in the Sino-Japanese war ) were a source of consternation to the American navy . Like the Imperial Chinese, which was also very strong on paper against the Japanese navy in the first Sino-Japanese War a few years before in 1894-5, the reality of war revealed its great shortcomings .


At the beginning of 1898 Spain's population was estimated at eighteen million about a quarter of that of the United States ; and in other respects the disproportion of resources was still greater. Unlike the American navy which was able to appropriate millions, Spain was overwhelmingly burdened with debt .


The Spanish battleship Pelayo


Of armoured men-of-war the ships that win sea fights she had in commission six, against seven, and her vessels were individually inferior. In its second line the United States had thirteen good modern steel cruisers besides the New Orleans, bought just in time for the war ; Spain had only five that could be classed as such. The rest of her navy consisted mainly of old iron and wooden vessels and of small gunboats used in patrolling the Cuban coast. Of her six first-rates, only one was a battle ship the Pelayo, a steel vessel of 9,900 tons, launched at La Seyne (Toulon) in 1887 and since fitted with new boilers.

Another battle ship, the Emperador Carlos V, launched at Cadiz in 1895, was at Havre taking her armament aboard when the war began. In June she was hurried off with Camara's squadron, her equipment still incomplete. Spain had no other ship of this class in service or building.


The armoured cruser Vizcaya


The fighting strength of the Spanish navy lay in its armoured cruisers.

Nine of these were listed, but two of the nine were unfinished, and two the Numancia and the Vittoria were iron ships more than thirty years old, very slow,and practically use less for distant work. The other five cruisers were fine modern vessels. Four: the Almirante Oquendo, the Infanta Maria Teresa, the Princesa de Asturias, and the Vizcaya were sister ships, built in the Spanish yards, mainly by British constructors, during the last eight years. Each was of 7,000 tons, with a speed stated at twenty knots an hour, and costing three million dollars. The fifth was the Cristobal Colon, built at Sestri, Italy, as the Giuseppe Garibaldi II, the purchase of which was reported by the American newspapers, in March, 1898, as part of Spain's war preparations. As a matter of fact the Colon was bought in 1897, an order being placed with the same builders for a sister ship, which has never been delivered.


The Spanish armoured crusier Cristobal Colon ( Christopher Columbus )


At the Spanish yards the most important are those at Cartagena, Cadiz, Ferrol, and Bilbao some other ships were building. Two were the unfinished cruisers Cardinal Cisneros and Cataluna, similar to the Vizcaya class. Another, the Isabel la Catolica, a 3,000ton cruiser, was to be paid for by a fund raised in Mexico ;a third small cruiser, the Rio de la Plata, was building at Havre, as a gift from the Spaniards of South America. None of these could be made ready for service, but two swift torpedo cruisers had just been completed in Thomson's yard, at Glasgow. In bringing them south their Spanish crews ran afoul of the Irish coast, and one was badly damaged.


The firing accuracy of the Spanish navy, according to a British naval observer was incredibly bad .


During the last three years her vessels had suffered many mishaps, and four had actually been lost one being the cruiser Reina Regente, which went down with all on board off Cape Trafalgar in 1895. The personnel of the Spanish navy recruited mainly by conscription in the coast districts was thus stated for 1898:


Officers 1,002 , Sailors 14,000  ,Marines 9,000  ,Mechanics, etc 725                                  Total 24,727


There were three major fleets in the spanish navy, the Cape Verde fleet under Admiral Cervera, the Far Eastern fleet under Admiral Montojo and the home fleet under admiral Admiral Camara  .


Admirals of the Spanish Navy


Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete


Pascual Cervera y Topete, (February 18, 1839 - April 3, 1909) served as Almirante (or Admiral) of the Spanish Caribbean Squadron during the Spanish-American War. During his tenure, Cervera attempted a number of far-reaching reforms to make right what he called the numerous evils of Spanish naval administration at the time. These included graft and corruption in the ordnance branches of the fleet, a terrible maintenance performance record, and criminal neglect of the fleet's needs by Spain's inefficient parliament, the Cortes.


In 1896, Cervera resigned his position in disgust when a number of reforms put in place were overturned by vote-hungry politicians supported by sycophantic officers who were hungry for his job. After two years of isolation, Cervera was called back to service in the fleet, through the personal intercession of the Queen Regent and began a reorganisation of the vessels under his command, determined at least to bring the fleet to fighting shape before the now inevitable war with the United States of America erupted.


When war with America broke out, Cervera found himself given orders to sail immediately to the Caribbean and break the U.S. blockade. Despite a desperate plea for time to re-fit and to await the completion of badly needed reinforcing vessels, Cervera was immediately dispatched to Cuba. Despite a brilliant circumnavigation of U.S. naval forces, Cervera simply did not have the firepower to engage the might of the United States fleet. Foolish advertisement of his position in Cuba by the Spanish government of that island endangered a plan by Cervera to isolate the U.S. fleet in sections, and doomed his command to destruction.


Cervera died in 1909, but remains a national hero in Spain.


Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón

Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón



Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón was the commander of the Spanish Far eastern fleet .Montojo fought in the Battle of Abtao and the Battle of El Callao under Admiral Casto Méndez Núñez against Peru . in 1896 Admiral Montojo was called away from his positon as director of material from the Spanish Ministry of Marine and ordered to take command of the fleet in the Philoppines .Montojo tried to avoid the appointment, knowing that he was being set up to play the the scapegoat .Montojo begged Madrid for more supplies and ships, but they were not forthcoming .


For the defense of the Philippines Montojo had two cruisers, the Reina Cristina the Castilla and the gunboats Isla de Cuba, Isla de Luzon, Don Antonio de Ulloa, Don Juan de Austria and Marques del Duero .The engines of the  Castilla were so old that they would no longer move the ship and she had to be towed .Montojo was wounded during the battle of Manila Bay .In March 1899 he was court-martialed and imprisoned. He was later absolved. Among his defenders was his onetime opponent in battle, Admiral George Dewey.



The American Navy




The cruiser Amazonas , purchased from Brazil and renamed the the New Orleans


After the civil War, the American Navy declined to a point to which it could not hope to meet even the navy of Chile. However , a modernization program beginning in the 1880s brought the U.S. into the first rank of the world's navies by the end of the century.



In the Spanish American war, America had five battleships:



 USS Texas  

 USS Texas was a second-class battleship built by the United States in the early 1890s, the first American battleship commissioned and the first ship named in honor of the state of Texas to be built by the United States. Built in reaction to the acquisition of modern armored warships by several South American countries ( in 1883 Brazil had the most powerful navy in the Western Hemisphere ), Texas was meant to incorporate the latest developments in naval tactics and design. This includes the mounting of her main armament en echelon to allow maximum end–on fire and a heavily–armored redoubt amidships to ensure defensive strength.

Texas developed a reputation as a jinxed or unlucky ship after several accidents early in her career; she consequently earned the nickname "Old Hoodoo".These mishaps included problems during construction, a grounding off Newport, Rhode Island, and flooding shortly afterwards while at dock in New York City. In the last, she settled to the bottom with her gun deck awash and several crew members drowned. Armed with two 12 inch Mark 1 guns . Fought in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba . Sunk as gunnery target in 1912 .


 USS Texas at Grants Tomb, 1898 .  Edison films .

 USS Indiana



 USS Massachusetts

USS Oregon

In March-May 1898, she made an epic voyage around South America to join

the Navy's forces off Cuba




video of  the USS Oregon in 1898


 USS Iowa

 Battleships of the time were armed with two or four very powerful heavy guns, plus numerous rapid fire guns. They were heavily armored, in order to fight other battleships .




The U.S. had two  Armored cruisers :


 USS New York

USS Brooklyn

 USS Brooklyn

Cruisers , though lighter armored than battleships could travel farther and were feared for commerce raiding .


There were 15 cruisers, the :










 San Francisco



The only survivor of America's Spanish-American War fleet,

she is now a museum ship at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



 Episode 31 of Know Your Ship! In this educational video I cover the USS Olympia. She was a protected cruiser that served with the US Navy from 1895 until 1922. She is most famous for being the flagship for Commodore Dewey during the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. Her actions during that battle increased the standing of the United States Navy in the eyes of the European powers at the time. The USS Olympia is currently a museum ship, the oldest steel warship in the world. However, she is in a poor state of repair. Get to know this ship and if you have a chance, pay her a visit before she is lost forever .






 A panoramic view of the "Raleigh" as she lies at anchor off 27th Steet, North River, April 17, 1899. Captain Coghlan stands among a group of officers near the bridge. The "Raleigh" fired the first gun at Manila, and is the first boat of the Pacific Squadron visiting New York.








 New Orleans


In 1897, five new battle ships were ordered. These the Illinois, the Kearsarge, the Kentucky, the Alabama, and the Wisconsin 11,525 tons each, and will practically double the fighting strength of the navy's first line. None of them had been launched at the outbreak of war with Spain. At the head of the list of ships in actual service there stood seven great engines of warfare which in speed, armament, and general efficiency were well prepared to meet anything of their inches on the sea. These included the four first-class battle ships four floating fortresses, carrying twelve- and thirteen-inch guns, making from fifteen and a half to seventeen knots an hour, and costing more than three million dollars each


the battleship Texas, sister ship of the Maine


For months before the war the navy had been holding itself in readiness to strike at short notice. In January, Admiral Sicard, commanding the North Atlantic squadron, rendezvoused at Key West the strongest fleet that ever went to sea under the American flag, its chief vessels being the Iowa, the Massa chusetts, the Indiana, the Maine, the Texas, the Brooklyn, and the New York. It was from this squadron that the Maine was detached for her fatal cruise to Havana. The rest of the fleet was still in Southern waters, from Hampton Roads to the West Indies, and the Cincinnati (brought up from the South Atlantic station), the Detroit, the Marblehead, the Montgomery, the monitors Amphitrite, Miantonomoh, Puritan, and Terror, and several other vessels, much more than replaced the lost battle ship.


Early Submarine

Mr. John P Holland, whose remarkable ' submarine topedo boat ' had been arousing much interest, offered to sell the boat to the Navy for $175,000. In spite of favorable recommendations from Assistant Secretary of the Navy Roosevelt, the naval board rejected the offer .


 John P Holland Documentary


the monitor Miantonomoh


Secretary of the Navy


John D Long


John D Long  served as the Secretary of the Navy from 1897 to 1902.


Assistant Secretary of the Navy


Theodore Roosevelt


Because of the inactivity of Secretary of the Navy John D. Long at the time, this basically gave Roosevelt control over the department.) Roosevelt was instrumental in preparing the Navy for the Spanish-American WarUpon the 1898 Declaration of War launching the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt resigned from the Navy Department. With the aid of U.S. Army Colonel Leonard Wood, Roosevelt found volunteers from cowboys from the Western territories to Ivy League friends from New York, forming the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. The newspapers called them the "Rough Riders.


Admiral Dewey


Admiral George Dewey ( 1837 - 1917 ) served as a lieutenant under Admiral David Farragut in the American Civil War, seeing action in Louisiana and along the Mississippi River. He attained the rank of lieutenant commander in 1865.Dewey remained in the Navy after the war and in 1896 was made a Commodore. He was appointed to the command of the United States Asiatic Squadron a few weeks before the start of the war with Cuba



 Admiral of the Navy George Dewey

Admiral William Thomas Sampson

William Thomas Sampson ( 1840 - 1902 ) assumed command of the battleship Iowa on 15 June 1897. On 17 February 1898, he was made President of the Board of Inquiry to investigate the destruction of the Maine. On 26 March 1898, he assumed command of the North Atlantic Station, with the temporary rank of Rear Admiral.


For months before the warthe navy had been holding itself in readiness to strike at short notice. In January, Admiral Sicard, commanding the North Atlantic squadron, rendezvoused at Key West the strongest fleet that ever went to sea under the American flag, its chief vessels being the Iowa, the Massa chusetts, the Indiana, the Maine, the Texas, the Brooklyn, and the New York. It was from this squadron that the Maine was detached for her fatal cruise to Havana. The rest of the fleet was still in Southern waters, from Hampton Roads to the West Indies, and the Cincinnati (brought up from the South Atlantic station), the Detroit, the Marble- head, the Montgomery, the monitors Amphitrite, Miantonomoh, Puritan, and Terror, and several other vessels, much more than replaced the lost battle ship.

United States navy was divided into two fleets, on opposite sides of the globe, ready to strike at Spain in the two remaining strongholds of her colonial empire. One was the North Atlantic squadron, in which were all the first-rate men-of-war; the other the fleet of cruisers at Hong-Kong.

















Comparisons of

the Armies


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