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Order Book of the U.S.S. Yosemite, 1898: Finding Aid

Published in 1992

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 275
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Order Book of the U.S.S. Yosemite
  • Dates: 1898
  • Size: 0.06 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 volume of 98 leaves
  • Creator: Yosemite (Auxiliary cruiser)
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: The U.S.S. Yosemite, laid down as the merchant steamer El Sud, was acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1898 for duty as a blockade and patrol ship off the coast of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hampton Roads, Virginia. The order book consists of orders, signed by Commander William H. Emory, pertaining to the ship's blockade and patrol duties, as well as general operations such as course, speed, and watch keeping.

History of U.S.S. Yosemite (Auxiliary cruiser)

At the beginning of the Spanish-American War, El Sud, a merchant steamer built in 1892 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, was acquired by the Navy from the Southern Pacific Company on April 6, 1898. The ship was renamed Yosemite and placed in commission on April 13, 1898, Comdr. William H. Emory in command.

After fitting out as an auxiliary cruiser at League Island, PA, and at Newport News, VA, Yosemite departed Hampton Roads on May 30 for duty with the Eastern Squadron off the coast of Cuba. She stopped at Key West, FL, for five days and then headed for Havana on June 7, arriving there the same day. Yosemite, however, kept on the move. She left Havana the next day; visited Santiago and Guantanamo Bay on the 10th; and then, after a brief return to Santiago, headed for Kingston, Jamaica, on the 12th. The auxiliary cruiser spent the night of June 16 and 17 at Kingston and returned to Cuban waters on the 19th. On June 23, she cleared the Guantanamo Bay area for San Juan, Puerto Rico. She arrived off San Juan on the 25th to participate in the blockade of that port.

Soon after her arrival, Yosemite intercepted the Spanish steamer S.S. Antonio Lopez when the latter tried to run into San Juan. In spite of heavy covering fire from enemy shore batteries and gunboats Alfonso HI and Isabella II, Yosemite attacked the blockade runner and succeeded in pounding her almost to pieces. At the conclusion of that encounter, the auxiliary cruiser pulled back out of range of the gunboats and their protecting shore batteries to resume her blockade station. She concluded that assignment on July 15, and, after a three-day visit to St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies (Virgin Islands), headed back toward the Virginia capes on the 18th.

Yosemite arrived at Hampton Roads on July 22 and remained there until August 15, two days after hostilities ceased. For almost a month, she operated along the Atlantic coast. Then, between September 8 and 19, the auxiliary made a voyage to Haiti and then resumed east coast operations briefly before putting in at League Island on September 23, apparently for repairs because she remained until late in December. Yosemite departed League Island on December 29 and arrived in Norfolk on the 30th. The ship remained there until April 8, 1899 at which time she got underway for New York. Following a month-long stay, the auxiliary cruiser departed New York on May 10 for duty in the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, and the Indian Ocean. She arrived in the Mariana Islands, at San Luis d'Apra on Guam, on August 7.

She spent the next eight months at Guam surveying the harbor and serving as station ship. On April 17, 1900, Yosemite departed Guam for a voyage to Japan where she underwent repairs at Yokohama and Uraga. Following a brief visit to Nagasaki on June 7 and 8, the ship headed for the Philippines on the 9th. She arrived in Cavite on the 14th and began additional repairs. On 30 June, Yosemite completed repairs and set a course for Guam. She reached the harbor at San Luis d'Apra on July 6 and resumed duty as station ship. Between August 2 and 29, she made a round-trip voyage back to Cavite to pick up stores for Guam. Upon her return to Guam, Yosemite resumed station-ship duties.

On November 13, 1900, the former auxiliary cruiser was blown from her anchorage by a particularly violent hurricane, first ashore and then out to sea from Apra harbor. For two days, her crew fought heroically to save their ship, but she shipped water badly and, due to a damaged screw, made only two knots headway even after the storm passed. Finally, after the weather abated completely, her crew was taken off by the Navy collier Justin, and Yosemite was scuttled.

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Description of Contents

The Order Book of the U.S.S. Yosemite, 1898, is a small, single, leather-bound volume recording the orders given by the ship's commanding officer, Commander William Hemsley Emory. The Order Book's entries are dated from May 18 through July 14, 1898, during which period the Yosemite was a participant in the Spanish-American War, with duty stations at Hampton Roads, Key West, Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.

The orders primarily concern the Yosemite's patrol, blockade, and convoy duties. More specifically, the orders deal with plans of action regarding suspicious or enemy vessels, courses, navigation, watches, speeds, Ardois light system displays, signals, and the imperative for vigilance and preparedness. The majority of the orders are identified as night orders.

Among the more notable entries in the Order Book are the May orders regarding Yosemite's mission to assist in the protection of the approaches to Hampton Roads and the defense of the Newport News shipyard where three battleships were under construction. Later entries concern the convoying of the U.S.S. Armeria (Lighthouse tender) and U.S.S. Panther (Auxiliary cruiser), as well as the search for the enemy troop ship Purisima Concepcion. Orders dated from June 25 through July 14 concern the blockade off San Juan, Puerto Rico and the ship's alert regarding possible Spanish attack.

The orders are signed by W.H. Emory, but the orders themselves appear to be written in another hand. The orders of May 20 and May 23 are also signed by all of the ship's officers in confirmation that the orders had been read and understood. The order for May 18 includes the May 5 order of Commodore J.A. Howell, commander of the Northern Patrol Squadron.

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The Order Book of the U.S.S. Yosemite comprises a single volume. Entries within the Order Book are arranged chronologically.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Order Book of the U.S.S. Yosemite is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Accession No. 266063.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

A logbook from the U.S.S. Yosemite's service during the Spanish-American War was published in 1899 as Log of the U. S. S. Yosemite. Additional logbooks of the U.S.S. Yosemite may be available in Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, ca. 1801 - 1940 at the National Archives and Records Administration.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Order Book of the U.S.S. Yosemite, MS 275

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

Navy Department. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1959-1981.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1992. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1992 and revised by David D'Onofrio in June 2014.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Emory, William Hemsley, 1846-1917
  • Spanish-American War, 1898 -- Naval operations
  • Yosemite (Auxiliary cruiser)

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Orders (military records)
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Order Book of the U.S.S. Yosemite, 1898

  • May 18: At sea. Necessity of keeping a bright look out.
  • May 20-29: Hampton Roads. Orders regarding suspicious vessels, protecting the approaches to Hampton Roads and Newport News dockyard.
  • May 30-June 3: At sea. Accompanying U.S.S. Armeria down the coast.
  • June 3-4: Key West. Regarding patrolling of picket boat.
  • June 7: Off Havana: Keeping bright look out on the light of Morro Castle, and keeping bearings of U.S.S. Amphitrite.
  • June 8-9: At sea. Convoying U.S.S. Panther to Guantanamo.
  • June 12-14: At sea. In search of Purisima Concepcion.
  • June 15: Off Jamaica.
  • June 16: Kingston, Jamaica.
  • June 17: At sea.
  • June 19-22: Guantanamo, Cuba. Lashed to collier U.S.S. Abarenda (AC-13).
  • June 23: Probability of picking up a prize off the coast of Haiti.
  • June 24: At Sea. Passage to Puerto Rico, and probability of capturing a prize.
  • June 25-July 14: Blockade off San Juan, Puerto Rico. Expectation of attack from the Terror, combat readiness and gun crew orders, possible engagement with torpedo boat, rumors that Spanish ship Monserrat will try to run the blockade, possibility of a night attack, and arrangements with Captain Folger of the U.S.S. New Orleans.
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