September 25, 1900

Newspaper article on Wargames held 25 Sept 1900

Disposition of the Fleets.

Hostile Fleet Defending Fleet

KEARSAGE, battleship
INDIANA, battleship
TEXAS, battleship
SCORPION, gunboat
EAGLE, gunboat
PORTER, torpedo boat
DUPONT, torpedo boat
DAHLGREN, torpedo boat
GWYNN, torpedo boat
MORRIS, torpedo boat
STILETTO, torpedo boat

VICKSBURG, gunboat
HOLLAND, submarine boat


Fort Wetherell
Fort Greble
Fort Adams

How the Sham Naval Battle Was Fought on Monday Night

The chart above shows clearly how the naval maneuvers off Newport were carried out on Monday night. The figure 1 marks the position of the Massachusets, 2 the New York, 3 the Vicksburg, 4 the Kentucky. A marks where the torpedo boat Stilletto, while the steersman was blinded by the searchlights of the defending fleet, ran into the wharf at the north end of Fort Adams. The plan of attack was for the blockading ships, shown outside Brenton's Reef Lightship to force an entrance to the harbor through the channel between Beaver Tail Light and Castle Hill. The west passage past Fort Greble was supposed to be closed to all but torpedo boats. The boats followed the courses indicated by arrows and dotted lines. Officers of the torpedo boat Morris assert that they passed Fort Greble without discovery and gained the harbor to attack the Vicksburg from the rear. This claim is disputed by the men who were in charge of Fort Greble.

Little Submarine Boat Steals Out Through Blockading
Squadron at Newport and "Sinks" Hostile Flagship

NEWPORT, Sept 25 - The torpedo boat fleet has secured an overwhelming victory, and in that victory the Holland submarine boat stands the central figure, occupies the middle of the stage in the mimic warfare of the second night's naval maneuvers off this port. Whether the claim of the torpedo boats that they have torpedoed every ship which they encountered in passing the blockade will be allowed by the umpires remains to be seen, but there is no doubt of the picturesque victory of the Holland.

The Holland a Success.

She has done all that her inventor and his friends asserted she could do and this despite the facts that the character of the sea and night were against her, and that the blockading fleet ran far out to sea made it was hard to find it. With her comparative slow speed and inability to sweep extensive stretches, she ran right in under the sides of the flagship Kearsage, and then Lieutenant Caldwell hailed Captain Folger and said: "Hello, Kearsage, you are blown to atoms. This is the Holland!" Of course she was not, but there had been ample opportunity to send a dozen torpedoes into her when the Holland could run right under the sides and then have to hail her captain to attract attention to her presence. She did not resort to diving, but ran along the surface, and not once did a searchlight rest upon her. She was within torpedoing distance of another vessel as it passed, but this she does not claim, as she is not sure that her signals were understood.

In other ways the second night was considered much of a fiasco. The blockading fleet, which left the harbor early in the afternoon, included the Kearsage, Indiana, Texas, Scorpion and Eagle. It proceeded several miles out to sea, far beyond the Brenton Reef Lightship, and drew up the line of blockade, stretching from Point Judith to the eastward, with long distances between the boats. The plan of the maneuvering for the night was an attack of the torpedo boats upon the blockading squadron and an attempt by the inside fleet to run out.

Torpedo Boats Victorious.

The Leyden was the only boat to make the attempt to run the blockade, and was held up by the Scorpion and put out of action. The blockaders evidently tried to avoid the attack, fearing the submarine boat Holland. They burned no lights, except as a torpedo boat was supposed to be approaching within attacking distance when a searchlight was flashed out and then immediately turned off again. The torpedo boats had to look for their prey and spent hours in the search.

The Texas was far down to the westward and the torpedo boats gave little attention to her, concentrating their attack on the other boats. The Scorpion was first to be torpedoed by the little Gwynn and was technically sunk after being chased about for about forty minutes. The Gwynn also successfully torpedoed the Eagle. Then she joined the Morris and Rodgers in an attack on the Kearsage.

Ships Put Out of Action.

The Rodgers was caught in the big battle ship's searchlight and put out of action, but the Morris and Gwynn were up within torpedoing distance and claim a point against the Kearsage. The Morris made an especially good mark. The Dahlgren had to go miles and miles out to sea in search of the Indiana, but found her finally, and claims to have sent a torpedo into that vessel. The conditions were in many respects favorable as the sea was perfectly smooth and the sky was clear and bright, making a heavy darkness on the water, so that it was very difficult to see the small boats. The screws, however, made a disturbance on the water, which could be plainly seen at a distance. In the stillness of the night the sound of the working engines could be heard for miles. In spite of this the torpedo fleet apparently covered itself with glory.

By M.W. Hall, Former Ensign of the United States navy, Expert in Torpedo Attacks and Special Correspondent of the New York Journal.

Newport, R.I. Sept 25. - While from a spectacular point of view for civilians, last night's manoeuvres proved to ba a failure, largely because of the extensive theatre of action and because of the use of small guns in place of large ones, the programme was a great success form a naval standpoint. The army behind fortifications perhaps came off the more victorious. Again it must be realized that in this mimic warfare the risks run as to loss of both life and property are very great.

The collision of the Stiletto with a wharf and that of the Dahlgren with a picket boat were in reality a minor affair compared with what was feared might take place. A torpedo boat might have destroyed herself or a battle ship may have been on the rocks as a result of trying to manoeuvre in the blinding rays trained for the double purpose of directing gunners and bothering the navigation of the enemy. Thus, it would seem, the United States is in need of many of these flotilla instead of but one.

The army admit that they have only just begun to fortify narragansett Bay and taking the fleet as it actually existed in close order, the present land gun fire could not have been concentrated sufficiently to have put the ships out of action. the five ships would, besides scattering, they would support each other, and do great damage upon the shore batteries, while they would be in power, though individually crippled, to withstand the attack of a strong fleet within the bay. Little advantage was taken of the possibilities of landing parties, and no attempt was made to destroy cables affording communication between points.

There is some suat the little effect which the searchlights had on the navigation of the ships for it is to be noted that the battle ships held true to their courses throughout. On the other hand the gunners on the shore stations were greatly bothered by the light in aiming their guns. On shipboard the men are able to seek some shelter from the direct rays and some device so assist the land gunners would w.. proper.

The Texas sent a crew boat ashore which took the signalmen at beaver Tail prisoners, and in turn were taken prisoners by a force of marines, but made their escape by saying that they would call a couple of companies of sailors down the beach.

The only other party to leave their ship was a couple of boat's crews from the Scorpion, who rowed several miles into the harbor past the Massachusetts and captured a yacht and the revenue cutter Dexige... The manoeuvres showed conclusively that there is much to be learned from this sort of work.

More Torpedo Boats Needed.

In running fixed batteries provided with rapid-fire guns and searchlights, the torpedo boat, by last night's operations, proved herself not to be the invincible craft that many supposed her to be. It is true she costs but a fraction of what a battle ship does, and may, if successful, destroy her larger fellow, but to be successful it would seem that these craft must be operated in flotillas and success in their work will rest with the chance of one slipping through while others are being destroyed.