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Governor Goodwin of New Hampshire, who died five years later. Twenty-seven years still later, when he returned as the conquering hero of the Spanish War, he married Mildred (McLean) widow of General Hazen, U.S.A.
George Dewey secured an appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1854. He was not so amenable to discipline as some others; but he completed the academic course with considerable credit in 1858. Before final graduation, he took the regular “midshipman cruise” in Europe, which lasted two years. At its conclusion, he was finally graduated at the age of 23, and ranked number three in his class.
Just then the Civil War broke out. Dewey took part actively. He was first assigned to the steam sloop Mississippi of the West Gulf Squadron, which formed part of Farragut’s fleet which forced the passage of Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson in April 1862. Dewey took part also in the attack on Fort St. Philip and the subsequent fights with iron clads and gun boats, by means of which Farragut gained possession of New Orleans and the Mississippi, and “cut the Confederacy in two." In the smoke of the Battle of Port Hudson, the Mississippi lost her bearings and ran ashore under the fire of the enemy's land batteries, forcing the officers and crew to set the vessel on fire and take to the boats.
Dewey afterwards served on several vessels of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
After the war, Dewey served on several ships and stations, ashore and afloat, creditable but obscurely. In December, 1897, when a Commodore, he was ordered to take command of the Asiatic Squadron. As he would retire in two years, the probability seemed overwhelming that he would end his official career, and therefore his life, without marked distinction.
But on February 15th, 1898, the U. S. Maine was sunk in Havana Harbor. Feeling against Spain, by reason of her misrule in Cuba, had been rising in the United States for many years. Therefore, nobody wondered when highly respectable gentlemen were seen soon afterward in great numbers on our streets, wearing a ribbon in the buttonhole, on which was inscribed, in golden letters, the words "To Hell With
Dewey was ordered to prepare to proceed against the Spanish possessions in the Philippines. He speedily collected his squadron in Hong-Kong Harbor. On April 25th, he received orders to attack the enemy's fleet. Exercising that rare combination of carefulness and promptness which Dewey possessed in so great measure, he got his squadron into fighting condition very speedily and very effectively and sailed northern and westward, the lofty mountains of Luzon. To the right—that is, to the south-the land was lower; and there, standing out in clear relief against the bright blue sky, were the awe-inspiring forms of the ships of the Spanish fleet.
Dewey charged at them, unhesitatingly and at full speed. When the distance had decreased to a favorable range, he changed the fleet speed to “slow” in order that the ships might aim their guns with the maximum accuracy. Then when satisfied that they had reached the correct position, he opened the battle with the historic order, given to the captain of his flagship: “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley."
The American fleet paraded back and forth before the Spanish flect, firing as rapidly as they could with proper aim. To me in my elevated perch, the whole thing looked like a performance that had been carefully rehearsed. The ships went slowly and regularly, seldom or never getting out of their relative positions ; and they ceased firing only at intervals when the smoke became too thick. For a long while I could not form an opinion as to which way fortune was going to decide
But after some time, it became evident that the Spanish fleet was suffering badly. I remember reporting to the captain that one of the ships had not fired a shot in fifteen minutes, when that ship fired a shot which came very close to us. I also remember reporting that the other principal ship was on fire in two places. It was not long after this that Commodore Dewey withdrew the fleet out into the Bay, and sent the men to breakfast.
All the Spanish ships were evidently sinking, but the Spanish flag still floated defiantly over the Cavite Arsenal, near them.
After breakfast, and in obedience to signal, the Baltimore got under way and steamed toward Sangley Point, whereon was a battery defending the arsenal. Her appearance was dramatic and picturesque in the extreme. She was literally rushing on the foe; and when she began to strike out with her long guns, I got a realizing sense of force in motion that I never had before. The beach was torn up with the impact of her shells, and the air was filled with clouds of sand and smoke and the flames of burning powder. The Spanish batteries could not stand this long and soon gave up the fight.
Then the expected signal came from Dewey : "Petrel pass inside.” This was soon followed by another signal to burn the Spanish ships. The executive officer, Hughes, was given the task of burning them; while I, the navigator, was given the task of landing at the arsenal, ascertaining the conditions
there, and capturing a number of handsome tugs and launches which could be plainly seen. I found the arsenal grounds full of soldiers in military formation, and of sailors from the deserted ships, who were not in any formation at all. I was able to get what information I wanted and to secure the launches and other boats, and tow them to the Petrel.
By this time, Hughes had returned to the Petrel, having carried out his dangerous work, and the rest of the fleet was well out in the Bay. Then, near dusk, the Petrel steamed up toward it, towing her prizes. At nightfall, the whole fleet started toward Manila City, lighted on our way by the brilliant flames of the ships of our conquered foes.
The events just narrated seemed at the time perfectly natural and to be expected. When the battle was over, we did not feel that we had done anything wonderful; and nobody in the fleet appreciated the fact that the Battle of Manila was one of the most important battles that had ever been fought in any country or any age, and would be recorded in history as one of the “Decisive Battles of the World."
To be the victor of that battle was the lot that fell to Dewey. The number of people who lived before us, and who stand out clearly in our minds, is few. The more clear the figures we see, the fewer they are. Moses, Alexander, Cæsar and Napoleon stand out clear