U.S. Revenue Service, the Cutter Hudson

Battle Of Cardenas Cuba - Spanish American War
Courtesy USCG Historian's Website

SIR:  I have the honor to submit the following report of the participation of this vessel in the engagement with the Spanish forces at Cardenas on the 11th instant:

     At 11.30 a.m., while off the main entrance to Cardenas Bay, the Hudson was ordered by the senior officer present to accompany the U.S.S. Wilmington and the U.S. torpedo boat Winslow inside.  All three vessels started immediately, and, after some preliminary soundings to determine the best water, passed through Blanco Channel into the bay and headed for Cardenas.

     About 1 p.m., when abreast of Corogal Point, the Hudson was ordered by the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Wilmington to "go out and look at small craft."  Steamed over toward Diana Cay and skirted the western shore of the bay.  Discovered no

vessels, and observing that the Wilmington and Winslow were nearing Cardenas, at 1.35 p.m. steamed toward them at full speed.  At 1.45, when a little over a mile distant from our vessels, saw firing commence from the shore, which was immediately returned by our ships.  At 1.50, when within range of the shore guns, the Hudson opened fire upon them with her two 6-pounders.  Observing that the Winslow was quite inshore and exposed to the full strength of the enemy's guns, ran up alongside of the Wilmington and asked if we should go to her assistance (Winslow).  Received the answer, "Yes," and at once steamed into the immediate vicinity of the Winslow, keeping up a constant and rapid fire from the Hudson's battery upon the enemy's guns on shore.  At 2.20, commanding officer of the Winslow reported his vessel totally disabled, and requested to be towed out of range.  Owing to the shoal water and the rapid drift toward shore of the Winslow (the wind was on shore), it was fully thirty minutes before the Hudson succeeded in making a line fast from the Winslow and started ahead with her.  The enemy kept up a constant fire during this time, which appeared to be especially directed toward the Winslow, and which was returned at every opportunity by the Winslow and Hudson.

     The Winslow was towed alongside the Wilmington, from which vessel a boat was sent with a medical officer, who transferred the dead and wounded from the Winslow to the Wilmington.  Finally, at about 3.30 p.m., all three vessels steamed out of the bay, the Winslow in tow of the Hudson.  At about dark joined the U.S.S. Machias outside where the Winslow was anchored.  At 9.15 p.m., the Hudson started for Key West with dispatches for the senior officer commanding that station, and carrying the dead and wounded from the Winslow.  Reported to the senior officer commanding at Key West, at 7.10 on the morning of the 12th instant.  The only damage resulting to the Hudson during the engagement was a few slight marks from small projectiles upon two of the fire-room ventilators, and a few bullet marks upon the outside of the pilot-house plating.  One hundred and thirty-five shells were fired from the two 6-pounders during the action.

Respectfully, yours, FRANK H. NEWCOMB,
First Lieutenant, R.C.S., Commanding.

President William McKinley noted in his request to Congress to recognized the gallantry of Newcomb and his crew with a special medal. The President noted that "In the face of a most galling fire from the enemy's guns, the revenue cutter HUDSON, commanded by First Lieutenant Frank H. Newcomb, United States Revenue Cutter Service, rescued the disabled WINSLOW, her wounded commander and remaining crew. The commander of the HUDSON kept his vessel in the very hottest fire of the action, although in constant danger of going ashore on account of the shallow water, until he finally got a line fast to the WINSLOW and towed that vessel out of range of the enemy's guns, a deed of special gallantry." Congress awarded Newcomb a gold Congressional medal, the officers of Hudson received silver medals, and the crew received bronze medals for their heroism.  These were the only specially struck medals awarded for bravery during the war.




Builder:  John H. Dialogue, Camden, NJ

Cost:  $36,500

Completed and accepted 17 August 1893

Decommissioned: 3 May 1935

Displacement:  128t

Length:  94' 6 1/4"

Beam:  20' 6"

Draft: 10' 3"

Powerplant: Triple-expansion steam

Speed:  12 knots maximum

Complement: 11

Armament: 2 x 6-pound Driggs-Schroeder rapid fire guns; 1 x Model 1895 Colt automatic "machine" gun.


The Hudson was the Revenue Service's first vessel to have a steel hull and triple-expansion plating. The Hudson was assigned to New York harbor before coming under naval direction for the Spanish-American War.   On 11 May 1898 the cutter Hudson, along with the Navy warships Winslow, Machias, and Wilmington, had pursued three Spanish gunboats into the bay of Cardenas, Cuba.  There, shore batteries fired on the U.S. vessels and disabled the Winslow, knocking out her steering and a boiler, thereby putting Winslow adrift.  The accurate Spanish fire wounded the Winslow's commanding officer and killed another officer and many of the crew.

In the face of "a most galling fire" from the Spanish guns for over thirty minutes, the Hudson, commanded by First Lieutenant Frank H. Newcomb, sailed into the bay to save the crippled Winslow.  Though under fire, Newcomb kept the Hudson positioned in shoal waters near the Winslow, risking running aground herself, until a line was passed to the Navy warship and made fast.  The Hudson then towed the Winslow out of danger.  During the time in the bay, both vessels continually fired on the Spanish positions.

The Hudson carried the bodies of those killed as well as the wounded, along with the dispatches of the squadron off Cardenas, to Havana, arriving there on 14 May 1898. [See below for a copy of Newcomb's report of the action.]  She remained there on blockade duty for a short time before departing to Key West.  Another period of patrol ended 10 July as she returned to the blockading fleet with further dispatches.  Hudson captured two fishing vessels that attempted to run the blockade off Havana.  She then departed for Norfolk, via Key West and Savannah, and arrived there on 21 August 1898 where she returned to service with the Treasury Department out of New York.  She continued with her traditional duties and was once again taken into the Navy for service during World War I beginning on 6 April 1917.  She continued her service with the Navy until returned to Treasury Department control on 28 August 1919.  She returned to service with the Coast Guard until she was decommissioned in 1935.

This is but one of the many narratives of the heroic contributions made by Revenue Service and Coast 
Guard cutters in the rich history of these services while defending the precious freedoms we now enjoy.
Please keep watch at the CGTF website for much more.

Story and digital Images from the U.S. Coast Guard Website: http://www.uscg.mil/uscg.shtm