ISS1 2019

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 56 of 67

came in close while Ensign Bagley and a number of Winslow's crew stood on deck to receive a heaving line from Lieutenant Scott. The enemy fire intensified and Bagley yelled out, "Heave her. Let her come. It's getting pretty hot here." By the time Hudson closed the distance, an enemy shell exploded on Winslow, instantly killing Bagley and a fourth man and mortally wounding three others. These men were the first casualties of the Spanish-American War and Bagley the first American officer killed in the conflict. Despite the enemy shelling, unfavorable winds and shallow water, Hudson's crew managed to secure a three-inch hawser to the Winslow and began towing it out of range. Within minutes, the hawser snapped due either to the strain or an incoming shell. Either way, Newcomb determined to succeed exclaiming, "We will make it fast this time." Risking his own vessel and crew a second time, Newcomb plowed further into the mud, backing and filling to carve a path in the sea floor to the stricken Winslow. Hudson's Assistant Engineer Nathaniel Cutchin oversaw the cutter's fast-changing steam engine operations and never missed an engine order bell. Meanwhile, the cutter's deck crew secured a line to Winslow and made fast the torpedo boat beside the cutter in tugboat fashion. This time, Newcomb succeeded in hauling the stricken vessel beyond the range of enemy guns. The crews of the Winslow and Hudson served with honor in the Battle of Cardenas Bay. For their heroism, Congress recognized three of Winslow's crew with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Hudson's men not only saved the Winslow from certain destruction, they poured 135 six-pound shells into the enemy in twenty minutes. After the fierce fire fight, Newcomb received further orders to ferry Winslow's dead and wounded to medical facilities at Key West. In the evening, the casualties were loaded on board the cutter and Newcomb steamed at top speed to the Navy's base of operations, arriving at 7:00 a.m. the next day. In one 24-hour period, Newcomb and his men had scouted Cardenas Bay, fought the enemy, rescued Winslow and sped the torpedo boat's casualties to distant Key West. In mid-August, at the conclusion of the brief war, the cutter returned to a rousing welcome at her homeport of New York. In a special message to Congress, President William McKinley commended Hudson for rescuing the Winslow "in the face of a most galling fire" and recommended special recognition for her crew. A joint resolution of Congress provided the cutter's line and engineering officers with Congressional Silver Medals. Congress awarded Bronze Medals to the enlisted crew members, including Henry Savage and Moses Jones. This was the first time in U.S. history that African Americans received these medals for heroism in combat. Newcomb's courage and determination had prevailed against heavy odds in the daredevil rescue of USS Winslow. He received the conflict's only Congressional Gold Medal, also known as the Cardenas Medal. In addition, the Revenue Cutter Service advanced Newcomb seven points in the promotion system, fast tracking him to the senior rank of captain by 1902. Despite this recognition, many familiar with the Battle of Cardenas Bay strongly believe Newcomb deserved the Medal of Honor for his heroism and devotion to duty. He retired in 1910 after forty years of service and received the flag rank of commodore in retirement. Newcomb died in 1934 and his body laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery beside other Service heroes. From his birth in Boston to the naming of a hard-fighting World War II destroyer in his honor, the story of Frank Hamilton Newcomb spanned a century and involved four of the nation's sea services. Newcomb's career proved a testament to the Coast Guard's core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty. � Famed naval artist Henry Reuterdahl painted this image of the Battle of Cardenas as seen from USS Winslow. It shows Hudson in the center and Wilmington off to the right. Painting by Henry Reuterdahl, 1898. In recognition of his heroic deeds at Cardenas, Congress singled out Newcomb and awarded him a Congressional Gold Medal entitled the "Cardenas Medal of Honor." His crew received silver and bronze versions of the medal. U.S. Coast Guard photo. Issue 1 • 2019 � RESERVIST 55

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Reservist - ISS1 2019