Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
July 2
Santiago
By Thomas A. Janvier (1849–1913)
 
          The naval battle of Santiago was fought July 2, 1898, and resulted in a complete victory for the Americans under Admiral Sampson over the Spanish fleet commanded by Admiral Cervera.

In the stagnant pride of an outworn race
  The Spaniard sail’d the sea:
’Till we haled him up to God’s judgment-place
  And smashed him by God’s decree!
 
Out from the harbor, belching smoke,        5
  Came dashing seaward the Spanish ships—
And from all our decks a great shout broke,
Then our hearts came up and set us a-choke
  For joy that we had them at last at grips!
 
No need for signals to get us away—        10
  We were off at score, with our screws a-gleam!
Through the blistering weeks we’d watched the bay
And our captains had need not a word to say—
  Save to bellow and curse down the pipes for steam!
 
Leading the pack in its frightened flight        15
  The Colon went foaming away to the west—
Her tall iron bulwarks, black as night,
And her great black funnels, sharp in sight
  ’Gainst the green-clad hills in their peace and rest.
 
Her big Hontoria blazed away        20
  At the Indiana, our first in line.
The short-ranged shot drenched our decks with spray—
While our thirteen-inchers, in answering play,
  Ripped straight through her frame to her very spine!
 
Then the Texas slid into the fighting game,        25
  With the Iowa closing to get her turn:
And the Colon fled fighting—making bid for fame—
With all her port broadside a sheet of flame,
  Though her certain fate was to sink or burn!
 
In their fleeing Admiral’s hopeless wake—        30
  Too proud to strike, and too weak to aid—
Came the Spanish ships: in their turn to take
Our hurtling shell-fire’s withering rake—
  From guns that were served as on drill parade!
 
From their flaming ports and their flaming decks        35
  The rising smoke hid the colors of Spain.
We had them there with our knives in their necks!
And we hammered them down into shapeless wrecks
  With our screaming shells in a fiery rain!
 
And Wainwright—the cheek of the thing to see!—        40
  Cuts in with the Gloucester, of no-weight tons;
And he takes hell’s broadside, and says, says he:
“I’ll teach your tea-kettles not to fight me!”
  And he cracks it back with his tom-tit guns!
 
Straight to its end went our winning fight—        45
  With the thunder of guns in a mighty roar.
Our hail of iron, casting withering blight,
Turning the Spanish ships in their flight
  To a shorter death on the rock-bound shore.
 
The Colon, making her reckless race        50
  With the Brooklyn and Oregon close a-beam,
Went dashing landward—and stopped the chase
By grinding her way to her dying-place
  In a raging outburst of flame and steam.
 
So the others, facing their desperate luck,        55
  Drove headlong on to their rock-dealt death—
The Vizcaya yielding before she struck,
The riddled destroyers, a huddled ruck,
  Sinking, and gasping for drowning breath.
 
So that flying battle surged down the coast,        60
  With its echoing roar from the Cuban land;
So the dying war-ships gave up the ghost;
So we shattered and mangled the Philistine host—
  So the fight was won that our Sampson planned!
 
In the stagnant pride of an outworn race        65
  The Spaniard sail’d the sea:
’Till we haled him up to God’s judgment-place
  And smashed him by God’s decree!
 
 
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