- In June 1898, the US Navy sailed to Guam to seize the island from the Spanish.
- The Spanish, who did not know they had been combating the US, surrendered the island with no combat.
- Guam remains to be a US territory, and it now hosts among the US’s most essential navy bases.
In eight months of combating in 1898, the US secured its standing as a world energy by defeating Spain within the Spanish-American Struggle.
Fought on two continents, the struggle had a lot of essential moments for the US navy. It led to the independence of Cuba (with the US because the dominant energy there) and to US management of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam.
Whereas there have been battles in each Puerto Rico and the Philippines, Guam was taken with no combat. Certainly, the Spanish on the island had no thought they had been even at struggle.
An essential cease
Within the 1898, the massive prize for Spain and the US within the Pacific was the Philippines. Guam was an essential cease between the Americas and the Philippines, however neither Spain nor the US paid a lot consideration to it.
The Individuals had already positioned Commodore George Dewey’s Asiatic Squadron off China in anticipation of putting the Spanish fleet at Manila. However after a Might 9 assembly of the US Navy Struggle Board, which was fashioned to develop a method for the struggle, it was determined that Guam also needs to be taken to assist operations within the Philippines.
To grab it, Secretary of the Navy John Lengthy issued sealed orders to Capt. Henry Glass of the USS Charleston, a protected cruiser en route from California to Manila.
In Honolulu, Charleston was joined by three troop transports. As instructed, Glass solely learn his orders after leaving Hawaii on June 4.
“You might be hereby directed to cease on the Spanish Island of Guam,” the orders learn. “You’ll use such drive as could also be essential to seize the port of Guam, making prisoners of the Governor and different officers, and any armed drive which may be there.”
Glass was additionally ordered to destroy any Spanish fortifications or naval vessels he encountered.
Although the orders stated the operation “mustn’t occupy multiple or two days,” Guam’s defenses weren’t totally identified, so whereas en route Charleston’s crew spent days firing on follow targets within the ocean.
Charleston arrived off Guam on the morning of June 20. Encountering solely an deserted fort and no Spanish ships in Agana, the capital metropolis, Glass ordered his ship to sail to Apra Harbor.
To the crew’s disappointment, the one vessel there was a Japanese buying and selling ship. Charleston fired a number of photographs at Fort Santa Cruz to see if it was occupied, but it surely was additionally deserted.
Spanish officers quickly sailed out to satisfy Charleston in two small boats, one among which had a US flag on its topsail.
Upon boarding the Charleston, the Spaniards apologized. They’d interpreted Charleston’s gunfire as a salute, they usually advised the Individuals they may not reply in form due to a scarcity of gunpowder.
It turned out the island hadn’t communicated with Manila since April 14 — 11 days earlier than the US declared struggle on Spain — and no Spanish Navy vessel had visited Guam in 18 months.
Glass advised the Spaniards that their international locations had been at struggle and that he was taking up the island. He demanded Guam’s governor, Don Juan Marina, give up the island in individual aboard Charleston.
The delegation returned, and Marina requested to talk to Glass on the island as an alternative, as he was not legally allowed to board a overseas warship.
The subsequent day, Glass despatched an envoy to demand the Spanish give up and gave them a half-hour to conform. Twenty-nine minutes later, Marina surrendered.
The island’s garrison, which had fewer than 60 males, was disarmed and brought as prisoners aboard one of many transport ships, as had been Marina and different Spanish officers.
The Individuals then set sail for Manila, the place they assisted Dewey for the remainder of the struggle.
An essential base
After the give up, Glass personally examined Fort Santa Cruz, the place he raised the American flag.
The fort itself “was totally ineffective as a defensive work, with no weapons and in a partly ruinous situation,” Glass wrote in a report back to Lengthy.
Glass described the opposite forts on the island as having “no worth,” and that the one weapons that might be discovered had been out of date cast-iron weapons used for saluting “however now condemned as unsafe even for that objective.”
Whereas the Spanish had uncared for Guam, the US turned it into an essential base.
The Japanese captured it on December 10, 1941, however the US retook it in a bloody 21-day battle in summer time 1944, and used it as a base for B-29 bombing missions for the remainder of the struggle.
Guam is now residence to roughly 170,000 folks, and its significance for the US navy has solely elevated.
It’s now the US’s “most crucial working location west of the worldwide dateline,” Adm. Philip Davidson stated earlier than retiring as head of US Indo-Pacific Command earlier this 12 months.
The main bases on Guam are Andersen Air Power Base, which regularly hosts US long-range bombers, and Naval Base Guam, which is residence to a submarine squadron and is incessantly visited by different warships.
It additionally hosts some 7,000 US navy personnel, with extra arriving because the Marine Corps relocates 5,000 Marines from Okinawa as a part of a realignment plan. Their new residence, Camp Blaz, is the Corps’ first new base in 68 years.
Guam is an unincorporated US territory, which means folks born there are US residents however have restricted political rights whereas they dwell there.
The US presence there has typically irritated the native inhabitants, as when hundreds of US sailors had been quarantined there after a COVID-19 outbreak aboard the plane provider USS Theodore Roosevelt in spring 2020.
The US navy presence additionally makes Guam a goal.
North Korea has threatened it particularly up to now, and the island is believed to be a focus of Chinese language plans to neutralize US bases within the area in case of battle.
China’s DF-26, its first conventionally armed ballistic missile able to reaching Guam, has been dubbed the “Guam Killer.”