Hoy nuestra escuadra ha sido incendiada por la escuadra americana (.,.)La componen los barcos ”Boston” y “Baltimore” cruceros protegidos de 1o clase. “Ralleig” y “Olimpia” cruceros protegidos de 2″ clase; cañoneros protegidos “Concord” y “Petrel”, aviso “Mac-Culloch” y transporte “Zafiro” y “Naushau” (…) si el Corazón Divino se dignase conceder la victoria á las armas españolas. Dicha oración es como sigue (…) Los barcos que se han librado del fuego han sido hechados á fondo por sus tripulantes que no han podido sufrir que cayeran en poder del enemigo (…) Son como unas 450 las bajas que han sufrido hoy nuestra marina.
Today our squadron was burned by the Americans. At 2:30 before dawn, it entered the bay through the Boca Chica. lt is composed of the boats Boston and Baltimore, first class armed cruisers; Raleigh and Olympia, second class armed cruisers; the armed gunboats Concord and Petrel; the cutter McCollouch; and the transports Zephyr and Nanshan. The artillery recently installed on Corregidor fired some rounds, but the Americans ignored them and sped on to Cavite. At 5:15 AM. they entered in single file the hook off Bacoor, positioning themselves between Cavite and Malate. Our squadron anchored in the Cavite navy yard consisted of the wooden-and-iron cruisers Reina Cristina, Castillo, D. Antonio de Ulloa and D. Juan de Austria; the gunboats Marques del Duero and General Lero, the third class armed cruisers Isla de Luzon and lsla de Cuba. Attached to them was the defenseless mail boat lsla de Mindanao. A battery installed in Cavite opened fire, and to these shots were added those from the armada and some batteries in Manila. The enemy, haughty in their colossal barks answered with energy, all of their cannons aimed at destroying our vessels, especially the Reina Cristina aboard which was Admiral Patricio Montojo. At 6:00, the cannonading was veritably infernal. Between 6:30 and 7:00, the American squadron repulsed by the Spanish retreated for a moment in order to resume the ﬁght with greater fury, resorting to ﬁring on our boats with incendiary bombs. One of them set ﬁre to the Reina Cristina whose commanding officer, D. Cadarso, in a fit of valor rammed one of the enemy to board it. But a mortal enemy bullet aimed at the commander stopped him short, while our boat Insignia, its rudder already damaged, was stowed away near the shore. It would be about 7:00 AM. when the Americans retreated towards Bataan quite a distance from Manila. Watching from the Ateneo, we thought they would be throwing corpses into the sea. There was no interruption of the masses in our church during the battle and enough people received holy communion. Hardly had the fighting ceased when we saw from Manila a column of black smoke rising above the first burned vessel, the Castilla, the D. Juan de Austria and perhaps also the Ulloa. It was certainly painful watching the flames ﬂashing from the continued explosions of the ammunition loaded in their holds. An enemy boat, at about 12:30 P.M. pounced upon the batteries of Cavite again, destroying them with a few shots. The others were ranged in battle position as in the early morning, securely contemplating what they accomplished in burning our vessels. The boats which had been saved from the bombardment were scuttled by their crews, unwilling to see them fall into the enemy’s hands. The Isla de Mindanao had been grounded on the shore of Parañaque, and at 1:00 P.M., an American boat approached and put it on fire. Her 125-man crew were saved with not a single scratch. During the battle that morning, only one grenade out of forty hurled at the enemy hit a mast. When the shooting was over, the chaplain, D. Juan Alberti said Mass and harangued the crew, encouraging them to be brave and trust in Saint Joseph whose feast day the whole Church is celebrating today. They had all armed themselves with battle-axes and revolvers to defend the boat to death, rather than see her boarded and taken; but on seeing her burning from a single bomb, they abandoned her, and escaped in boats to the shore, Saint Joseph shielding them from the projectiles of the enemy who, seeing them fleeing from a wrecked ship, continued to fire on them. The casualties suffered by our battle ﬂeet number about 450, due more to the explosion of the ammunition inside our burning boats, the most prominent victim being the chaplain of the Reina Cristina, Fr. Novo, whose head was blown to bits while he was hearing the confession of a wounded marine. He had just brought the entire crew to our church a short while before to help them fulfill their Easter duty. All day long some of our Fathers and Brothers have been going to Santa Ana, and in the evening, the superiors decided that all of Ours should go to that house. They were afraid the Americans would bombard Manila at 5:00 PM.But at sunset, it was rumored the bombardment was postponed till the next day.