Santo Domingo Affair

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Santo Domingo Affair
Part of the Occupation of the Dominican Republic, Banana Wars
USS Columbia deck gun circa 1898.jpg
"After the first shot has been fired. USS Columbia"
Date February 1–11, 1904
Location Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean Sea
Result American victory
 United States Dominican Republic Dominican Republic
Commanders and leaders
United States Richard Wainwright
United States Albert S. Mclemore
Dominican Republic Carlos F. Morales
Dominican Republic Juan Isidro Jiminez
~80 marines
~250 sailors
2 protected cruisers
1 auxiliary cruiser
1 steamer
~100 militia
1 fort
Casualties and losses
1 killed
1 wounded
1 steamer damaged
1 launch damaged
1 fort captured

The Santo Domingo Affair, or the Santo Domingo Crisis, refers to an incident in 1904 involving the United States and Dominican militia forces under Carlos F. Morales in the Dominican Republic. After the death of a seaman from USS Yankee on February 1, the American navy and marine corps launched a punitive expedition which successfully routed the Dominicans from Santo Domingo.[1]


During the Banana Wars era, revolution in Central America was widespread. In order to protect American citizens and their interests in these war zones, the United States Navy patrolled the hostile coasts. Such was the mission of the auxiliary cruiser USS Yankee on February 1. At Santo Domingo the warship was observing the fighting between government and rebel troops loyal to Morales and General Juan Isidro Jiminez. The American captain decided to put some men in a launch and send them ashore to make contact with the Dominicans but as the vessel drew away from Yankee, the launch was attacked by small arms from the insurgents. Seaman J. C. Johnston was mortally wounded and his death, combined with a few other outrages, was reason for exacting redress. Before this incident, rebels at the city of Santo Domingo fired on two American merchant ships and damaged property at the American-owned sugar cane plantations. USS Detroit had also landed sailors and marines beginning in November 1903, but they were withdrawn when the situation appeared to be stable. After the Yankee incident, President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the protected cruisers USS Columbia and USS Newark to proceed to the islands and demand an apology. The temporary commander of the Brazil Squadron, Captain Richard Wainwright, was placed in charge of the operation on board the Newark.[2]

USS Columbia in 1904.

Wainwright arrived at Santo Domingo on February 10, finding that the USS Columbia had made it there first on February 8. The Columbia was under the command of Captain James M. Miller who was senior to Wainwright. Miller was anchored near the SS New York, one of the merchant ships attacked in November 1903, by the Dominican cruiser Presidente. On February 11, the launch from the Columbia was sent in towards the docks, flying the American flag and escorting the New York whose crew intended to offload their cargo. While doing so, the insurgents opened fire with their small arms and violated a pre-established armistice. Several shots hit the steamer and a few grazed the navy launch but there were no casualties. Naturally the two vessels withdrew and Captain Wainwright was informed. The captain decided that after informing and receiving approval from his superiors, an amphibious assault and naval bombardment would commence. When the American consul and civilians living in the city were warned of the attack, Newark opened fire with her broadside at 3:25 pm, while the Columbia covered the landing. Ten minutes later the bombardment ceased and a force of 375 Americans were heading to the beach. The landing party was under the direct command of Lieutenant Commander James P. Parker, the executive officer on the Columbia, the marines were led by Captain Albert S. Mclemore.[3]

The landing was not unopposed, as there were at least 100 armed rebels using the old Fort Ozama as a base. The Americans received some enemy rifle fire while still on the water and when they landed at 4:30 pm, they attacked and routed the rebels. At about the same time rebel fire was observed, by the remaining men on board Columbia, so Captain Wainwright ordered his gunners to open fire until 4:47, though the Newark continued the attack until 5:00. With the battle over, the Americans returned to their ships between 9:00 and 10:00 pm, having completed their mission. Carlos F. Morales, General Jiminez and Wainwright signed another armistice and later a peace treaty which ended the hostilities. Only one American was hurt in the engagement when he accidentally fired his revolver into his foot, Dominican casualties are not known.[1] The United States Marine Corps maintains a small cemetery in Santo Domingo, the first man buried in it was Seaman Johnston as well as other men killed on the island during the Banana Wars.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Haiti - List of Expeditions 1901-1929". Retrieved 2014-09-13. 
  2. ^ Ellsworth, pg. 67
  3. ^ Ellsworth, pg. 68
  4. ^ Ellsworth, pg. 69
  5. ^ Jeannia Zamora. "militarygraves". Retrieved 2014-09-13. 

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  • Ellsworth, Harry A. (1974). One Hundred Eight Landings of United States Marines 1800-1934. Washington D.C.: US Marines History and Museums Division. 

Coordinates: 18°28′35″N 69°53′36″W / 18.4764°N 69.8933°W / 18.4764; -69.8933