In April, 1898, the Spanish-American War had begun. This war was initially started over the Spanish control of Cuba. Cuban people wanted independence and the American people wanted to support them.
Although the American government initially remained neutral, it ultimately declared war on Spain in 1898. The war between USA and Spain was fought in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines. During the war, both sides engaged in many land as well as naval battles. The Action of 13 June 1898 was one of the naval battles between the two sides.
Havana was one of the most important ports of Spanish-controlled Cuba. So any reinforcements and supplies for Spanish troops usually reached this port during the war. The Cienfuegos was another important port especially because it was located near Havana and had strategic value for the Spanish forces.
So the U.S. navy tried to blockade Cienfuegos and to stop any Spanish ships from entering the port. The Spanish forces, on the other hand, resisted these efforts. The Action of 13 June 1898 was one of the engagements fought on the waters near Cienfuegos.
The Action of 13 June 1898 took place off the port of Cienfuegos in Cuba. It was fought on June 13, 1898.
The American force comprised of a large auxiliary cruiser named USS Yankee. This was commanded by Commander William H. Brownson.
The Spanish force comprised of 3 smaller gunboats. These were led by the gunboat Diego Velazquez which was commanded by Juan de Carranza.
On June 13, the Spanish gunboats under the command of Juan de Carranza were expecting the arrival of a Spanish vessel. They spotted a steamer near the Cienfuegos port and went closer to inspect whether this was the ship they had been waiting for. But the steamer turned out to be USS Yankee, an American ship, which was actually tasked with blocking any Spanish vessels from entering the port.
When the Spanish gunboats drew near, the American cruiser opened fire. Juan de Carranza then started a running fight with the much larger American cruiser where both sides exchanged fire. Although the American cruiser hit the Spanish gunboats, they sustained little damage.
Similarly, the Spanish were successful in hitting the American vessel but couldn’t inflict any serious damage. The fighting continued for around an hour. By this time, the shore batteries of Cienfuegos started firing at the American cruiser which soon withdrew from the action.
Although neither side inflicted any serious damage on the other, the Spanish claimed victory as a much smaller Spanish gunboat was able to fight off a huge American cruiser. The fierce opposition of the Spanish gunboat also confused the Americans who took it to be a much larger vessel. Juan de Carranza was hailed as a hero by the Spanish as he returned to the port. 6 Spanish sailors were wounded in the action while on the American side, 2 members of the crew were wounded.