Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo

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Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo
Segismundo Bermejo.jpg
Ministry of the Navy
In office
4 October 1897 – 18 May 1898
Monarch Alfonso XIII of Spain
Prime Minister Práxedes Mateo Sagasta
Preceded by José María Beránger
Succeeded by Ramón Auñón y Villalón
Personal details
Born (1832-03-09)March 9, 1832
San Fernando, Spain
Died December 2, 1899(1899-12-02) (aged 66)
Madrid, Spain
Military service
Allegiance  Spain
Service/branch Spanish Navy
Years of service 1846–1898
Rank 3arm.png Almirante (Admiral)
Commands Ministry of the Navy
Naval staff
Home squadron
Torpedo School
Battles/wars Spanish–American War

Admiral Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo (9 March 1832, San Fernando – 2 December 1899, Madrid) was a Spanish naval officer who served as chief of staff in the Spanish Navy and Minister of the Navy during the Spanish–American War. He was most notable for his role in dispatching Rear Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete, in command of a squadron of four cruisers and three destroyers, to Cuba in May 1898. It set up the conditions for the naval Battle of Santiago de Cuba. Bermejo himself was forced to resign as naval minister after the defeat of the Spanish Pacific Squadron at the Battle of Manila Bay by the U.S. Navy, and he died a year later.

Early life and service[edit]

Born in 1832 in San Fernando, he joined the Spanish Navy in 1846, when he was just fourteen years old. Bermejo went on to serve in both Cuba and the Philippines. He later served as a professor at the Escuela Naval Militar, heading the torpedo school, being responsible for creating the first division of torpedo boats (later renamed destroyers) in the Spanish Armada. He later served as Chief of Staff of the Navy from 22 October 1896[1] to 1 April 1897[2] and commanded the home squadron at Cádiz before becoming minister of the navy in 1897.[3][4] That year he also attended the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in the United Kingdom as one of Spain's representatives, celebrating her 60th anniversary on the throne.[5]

War with the United States[edit]

When tensions between the United States and the Kingdom of Spain escalated during the spring of 1898, Admiral Bermejo was confident that the Spanish Navy was capable enough to defeat the U.S. Navy. For Spain's war strategy, Bermejo proposed a blockade of the American East Coast and an attack on Key West, Florida.[3] Rear Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete, a friend of his,[6] pointed out the absurdity of such a plan, stating the Spain did not have the ability carry it out and that the American fleet was much more formidable than theirs. Bermejo continued to remain optimistic nonetheless, and on April 23, he led a meeting of Spanish naval officers to discuss the situation. Ultimately, they accepted the proposal of sending Admiral Cervera to Cuba and Puerto Rico (he was at the time awaiting their decision at Cape Verde).[7] Bermejo's plan was adopted by the government and the only modification was allowing Cervera—who was appointed to lead the fleet—to choose his specific destination in the region.[3]

By early May, when the Pacific Squadron under Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo was defeated at the Battle of Manila Bay (May 1), Bermejo modified the order and gave Cervera permission to return to Spain (who by then had reached the Caribbean Sea). However, at that point Cervera's squadron did not have enough coal to make the return trip, and Bermejo's replacement as naval minister later countermanded that order, telling the rear admiral to remain at the harbor of Santiago de Cuba. Popular opinion turned against Admiral Bermejo due to the defeat of the Spanish squadron at Manila Bay, and he was forced to resign.[8]

Bermejo died in Madrid in 1899.[3][9]

Personal life[edit]

He had written literary works and was an author of science fiction.[9]

Notes[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Keenan, Jerry (2001). Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 157607093X.
  • Tucker, Spencer (2009). The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1851099514.
Military offices
Preceded by
Fernando Martínez de Espinosa
Chief of Staff of the Navy
1896–1897
Succeeded by
Ismael Warleta Ordovás
Political offices
Preceded by
José María Beránger
Minister of the Navy
1897–1898
Succeeded by
Ramón Auñón y Villalón