Imagine you are the admiral of a navy in the Pacific, 1898, and you are drawing near an enemy settlement in the coast. To heat things up, you fire some shots to the coast, so that your newbie crew start experiencing what war looks like – but the shots don’t even hit a wall. Suddenly, to your surprise, you see a small boat row close to your ship. It is the enemy Governor, who tells you that he is sorry not to respond your cannon salutes, as they don’t have ammunition and their cannons are rusty, and he is afraid that they might explode if they are fired…

Well, that actually happened, in the American-Spanish war of 1898, in Guam. The Mariana Islands Governor, Juan Marina, wasn’t even informed that they were in war against the USA, and, as the shots fired by the American navy appeared failed on purpose, he thought they were salutes, not attacks.

The American admiral, Henry Glass, politely informed him of the situation of both their countries, of that he captured him as war prisoner, and ordered him to go back to shore and sign surrender… but Spanish laws didn’t permit a soldier or a military official to obey any orders coming from an enemy official. Henry Glass was considered, and ordered one of his soldiers to go with him and so he could demand the settlement surrender. This was the surrender paper Juan Marina signed:

Sin defensas de ninguna clase, ni elementos que oponer con probabilidad de éxito a los que usted trae, me veo en la triste decisión de rendirme, bien que protestando por el acto de fuerza que conmigo se verifica y la forma en que se ha hecho, pues no tengo noticia de mi Gobierno de haberse declarado la guerra entre nuestras dos naciones.

Juan Marina, General del destacamento en Guaján, 1898

Translation to English:

Having no defences of any kind, nor any means of presenting successful opposition to yours, I see myself in the saddest situation of surrender, nonetheless protesting the way I verify and I have been done, that I had no notice of my Government that our two nations engaged in war

          Juan Marina, General del destacamento en Guaján, 1898

After the surrender, the Spanish army was disarmed and taken as prisoner, and the native army celebrated their departure.

As a fact, Henry Glass didn’t know that the settlement he captured was the very capital of the entire region of Guam, and so the Spanish could sell the rest of the archipelago to Germany – causing more conflicts between Germany and USA.

When Henry Glass left, as he left no garrison, the Spanish officers hang back the Spanish flag, but that action was purely ceremonial and had no actual effects whatsoever.

Hey, but not only Spain is so sad to have such a miserable defeat! Next time we will take a look at the battle of Austria were Austria killed 10,000… Austrians. Don’t forget to comment!



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