Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo
Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo
|Ministry of the Navy|
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|
|Born||March 9, 1832|
San Fernando, Spain
|Died||December 2, 1899 (aged 66)|
|Years of service||1846–1898|
|Commands||Ministry of the Navy|
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
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 to 1 April 1897 and commanded the home squadron at Cádiz before becoming minister of the navy in 1897. 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.
War with the United States
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. Rear Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete, a friend of his, 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). 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.
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.
- Reales decretos nombrando, Jefe de Estado Mayor general de la Armada, á D. Segismundo Bermejo; Director del personal del Ministerio de Marina, á D. Marcial Sánchez, y Vocal del Centro Consultivo de la Armada, á D. Antonio de la Rocha. Gaceta de Madrid núm. 296, de 22/10/1896, página 237.
- Reales decretos disponiendo cesen en sus destinos D. José Reguera, Comandante de la Escuela de instrucción: D. Segismundo Bermejo, Jefe de Estado Mayor de la Armada; D. Manuel de la Cámara, Jefe de la Comisión de Marina en Londres, y Don Joaquín Lazaga, Comandante de Marina de Manila. Gaceta de Madrid núm. 91, de 01/04/1897, página 2.
- Tucker (2009), p. 55–56
- Gaceta de Madrid, issue no. 296, p. 237, from 22 October 1896. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
- Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, 1897. The London Gazette (March 1898), p. 1611
- Keenan (2001), p. 72
- Information from abroad: War notes, Issues 1-8 (1899) Office of Naval Intelligence. pp. 58–64
- Keenan (2001), p. 73
- Segismundo Bermejo. Library of Congress. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- 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 978-1851099511.