Item #7510 [Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]. Jens Olaf Berggreen.
[Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]
[Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]
[Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]
[Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]
[Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]
[Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]
[Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]
[Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]
[Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]

Sign up to receive email notices of recent acquisitions.

[Journals documenting service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.]

New York, Cuba, the Philippines, the Pacific Ocean, and other locales, 1888–1901. Three 4to volumes (13” x 8”–10” x 8”). Vol I, cloth covers with largely perished leather spine. 27 pp. of manuscript entries, 33 pp. of pasted scrapbook material (some in Norwegian), with various laid-in material, 75 blank pp. Vol II, paper covers with cloth spine, label pasted at front-cover, “J. O. Berggreen 754 43rd In. Brooklyn.” 102 pp. of manuscript, a few pages of tipped-in clippings. Vol. III, cloth covers with partially perished leather spine. 55 pp. of pasted scrapbook material (some in Norwegian), including tipped-in clippings at front pastedown, 39 pp. of manuscript, a few leaves loose. A total of 63 pp. of entries in Norwegian, and 105 pp. of entries in English. CONDITION: Overall good, wear to covers but contents generally clean; no losses to the text.

A substantive group of three manuscript journals with additional scrapbook content, vividly documenting the naval career of Jens O. Berggreen and the extensive combat he experienced during the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War from 1898 to 1900.

Born in Sandefjord, Norway, Jens Olaf Berggreen (1873–1928) emigrated to America as a young man, arriving in 1898. After serving on various sailing vessels, Berggreen joined the U.S. Navy in May of 1898 following the outbreak of the Spanish-American War (21 Apr. 1898–10 Dec. 1898). One of the 250 men mustered for Capt. Sampson’s fleet at Key West, Florida, he describes here taking the train from New York to Florida and being cheered along the way. Berggren served on the battleship USS Indiana as well as six other U.S. Navy ships during the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War (1899–1902). Spanning from 1888 to 1901, his journals contain long, detailed entries (with some identical sets of entries in English and in Swedish, Berggreen’s native tongue), as well as Navy and nautical news clippings, a hat tally (ribbon) fragment from the USS Indiana, and several photos of U.S. Navy vessels. Berggreen was also a published author/poet, and several of his poems as well as those of others (up through the 1920s) are pasted in these journals. In 1899, Berggreen received a medal from the Russian government in recognition of the courage he exhibited when saving a Russian officer from drowning. Berggreen lists the twenty-three ships on which he served, including eight U.S. Navy vessels, providing ports of departure, tonnage, and captain’s names. He also lists places he visited, including dozens of ports in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. He married one Thora with whom he had two daughters. Berggren’s date of naturalization was 1904 and he is known to have also worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He died in Bath, Maine in 1928.

Hundreds of Norwegians and other Scandinavians served in the U.S. Navy during the Spanish-American War in 1898. Charles Johnsen, a member of the Norwegian-American Seamen's Association, was on board the battle-ship Indiana in the battle outside Santiago, and sent a list of the Scandinavians on board: 18 Swedes (including Berggreen), 5 Danes, 10 Finns, and 28 Norwegians. It is thought that other ships in the U.S. Navy had just as many Scandinavians on board. Previously, it had been regarded as an unsound policy to have many foreigners serve on American warships.

The outcome of the Spanish-American War depended largely on sea power, and on this front the U.S. outmatched its opponent—Spain being unable to compete with America’s four new battleships—Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts and Oregon—which formed the core of the North Atlantic Squadron. Due mainly to the work of Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. ships were well prepared and supplied for battle. America defeated Spain’s navy and army in a mere three months, an armistice bringing the fighting to an end in August of 1898. The war ended Spanish colonial rule in the Americas and resulted in U.S. acquisition of territories in Latin America and the western Pacific, including the Philippines. The immediately succeeding Philippine-American War (1899–1902) between the U.S. and Filipino revolutionaries was a continuation of the Philippine Revolution against Spanish rule. While an end to the insurrection was declared in 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt, sporadic fighting continued until 1906.


15 July 1891 “At daybreak, had 7 feet of water in the hold and made preparation to abandon ship. Left ship 10:30 in the 2 lifeboats… 23 persons, including Captain's wife and 2 children… In the afternoon of the second day [at sea] the boat filled from a breaker and I was taken off by the Second Mate's boat. About 10 PM landed on a[n] Island where we cooked coffee and macaroni, but slept in the boats, one man in each watching all the time… We sighted a canoe with 3 Malays. They came ashore but did not understand us. One of them went through the wood and came back later with a Chinese and about 50 Malays… Captain got suspicious…"

Cuba; 22 June 1898 “4 AM, cleared ship for action. At 5 AM, sounded General quarters. Several tugs with 6 p'ders. and steam launches with Gatling Guns arrived from Blockading fleet and small ships; started to shell the beach. The town [of Daiquiri] was fired in several places at once, probably from the Inhabitants. Indiana steamed up to Santiago. When we arrived, Texas was bombarding the Batteries to prevent them from sending reinforcements to oppose the landing at Daiquiri. Steamed in and took position a little to the east and inside Texas and opened fire on Socapa Batterie with our main Batterie. About 15 minutes later, a shell entered Texas on starboard bow and killed a man and wounded 8…”

2 July 1898 “4:30 AM cleared ship for action. Ship dirty and crew still in coaling clothes. 5 AM, General Quarters. New York, with Admiral [William T.] Sampson in lead, Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, Massachusetts, Brooklyn with Commodore [Winfield Scott] Scley, and the Newark. Indiana concentrated her fire mostly on Punta Gata Baterie. During bombardment flag pole on Morro Castle was knocked down and both Indiana and Oregon claim the credit for the shot.”

3 July “9:30, Saw smoke over Morro Castle, sounded General Quarters, and rung up full speed on both Engines and…headed for western side of Entrance, a couple of minutes later saw the bow of Maria Teresa clear the point. Opened fire at once with our whole Starboard Batterie. As soon as she clear Diamond reef, she turned to the Westward and discharged her broadside at us. She was followed at a distance of about 700 feet apart by the Almirante Oquendo, Viscaya, Christobol Colon, Furor, and Pluton each one fired their Port Batteries as they come out. About 20 minutes after the fighting began she headed for the Shore on fire [be]fore and aft[er]. She beached about 3 miles from Morro. Oquendo run on the Beach a mile further west with her captain and about 120 of the crew dead. Our secondary batterie was concentrated upon Pluton and Furor. They was badly crippled and Pluton ran ashore and sunk close to the beach, and Furor got struck midships probably by a 8" shell went down before she reached the shore about 12 of her crew of 70 got saved by swimming ashore. Viscaya fought on but had to run on the Beach at Asseradores 20 miles further west, burning fiercely. Colon was beached about two miles from Santiago. When the battle was over, we lowered the two steam cutters and 3rd and 4th sailing cutters for to rescue the wounded and take prisoners of war of the Beach. I was in 4 cutter under Lieut. Decker and Ensign McDowel. We kept on to about 12 Midnight. I had Lieutenant Commander Neuvals leg resting on my lap, so I had to throw my trousers overboard as they was soaked from blood. His leg was of[f] just below the knee. We had 120 prisoners the berth Deck and 20 of the most seriously wounded in the sick bay.”

4 July “Fired the national salute at 12 AM. Received copy of Telegram from President McKinley and Secretary of the Navy [Theodor Roosevelt?] complimenting the Navy on their Victory… Went down to the Sebrary and transferred the wounded to the hospital ship Relief. The rest of the prisoners was put on the St. Paul. There was about 1,300 prisoners and the killed was estimated at 600. We then steamed back to the blockade. At 12 O’clock midnight Massachusetts as guardship lying with her search lights on the harbour when she commenced to fire on the Reina Mercedes coming out for to block channel. We steamed in for to assist her when we got struck by an 8” mortar shell from the Socapa Batterie that entered the Deck on the port side aft [rear of a ship] on the flash plate for the 13” guns, it went through the Deck and exploded and wrecked 4 of the officer state rooms and the pantry. One piece of the shell hitting the punchbowl. Reina Mercedes sunk clear of the Chanel.”

9 July “Made several trips in the boats over to the wrecks of the Spanish ships and took of some small gear and souvenirs, but mostly all destroyed by the fire.” 10 July “Commenced firing after breakfast and army signaled that our shells was dropping in to the city. At 10 AM, got signal that our shells had put one of the churches on fire, and we kept on firing. 3:30, got signal that Shafter had granted 3 days truce to General Toral, the defender of Santiago. We ceased firing and steamed up to Guantanamo and anchored.”

14 July “Received orders to take on all the coal and ammunition ship could carry and be ready to steam in Company with Iowa and one of the Armoured Cruisers over to Spain to Bombard the coast if she sent Canara Fleet to Manila to fight [Commodore George] Dewey. Took on 1400 ton coal and filled magazines with ammunition.”

15 Aug. “[Indiana sails for New York, and upon arriving is] met by hundreds of pleasure yachts and steamers. Steamed in in a single file under cheering and whistle blowing from ships and shore up to Grant's tomb where each ship fired a salute of 21 guns and then swung down the river… Crews got 60 hours liberty and a month's pay each.”

17 Jan. 1899 “Volunteered for service in the Philippines and was transferred with 6 others to the Solace. She was loading stores for Dewey’s fleet. Crossed the Atlantic, and entered the Suez Canal on Feb. 25.” 22 March 1899 “Arrived in Manila 10 AM.” 18 April “Transferred to the Bennington.” 21 April “Dewey came alongside in a launch and brought orders for the Captain. He said: take all the hemp and don't make friends with any of them."

23 April "Hear from the Yorktown that she lost her navigator Lt. Gilmore and 14 men in an ambush in the bay of Balie. The cutter carried a 37 MM Hotchis revolving cannon and the party carried 4000 rounds of ammunition. After cutter got round a bend in the river they heard several volleys and that was the last they heard from them. Many of crew volunteers to land and search for them but Capt. would not allow it."

27 April “In morning whaleboat went ashore with armed crew under flag of truce and demanded the surrender of the town [of St. Jose]. Insurgents reply not before [Emilio] Agunaldo surrendered. Boarded a schooner and took her papers away, also a rebel flag from another and ordered her to stay where she lay to we come back after Dinner. She tried to get away during dinner. Fire shot across his bow from Port 6 pds. She hove to and our St. launch went out and escorted her back again. Saw many armed insurgents ashore and kept searchlight going all night.”

28 April “At daybreak, discovered insurgents digging trenches close to beach. Sent some shells from our 6 pds. into them. After breakfast general quarters and opened up on them with the whole main battery, 1 schooner was sunk and 1 schooner put on fire…” 2 May “Got underway 8 AM and at 3:30 PM ran full speed on a reef in Sampian Bay, Grounded nearly full length.” [After unable to get free for several days, on 4 May:] “steaming slow for not to shake the ship.”

13 June [Repairing in Hong Kong, they returned to Philippines, and on at Negros Island they] “put a garrison of California Volunteers under Brig. Gen. Smith (Hell Roaring Jake) ashore there using a old convent for barracks.” [Smith was an officer notorious for ordering an indiscriminate retaliatory attack on the island of Samar in response to what is called the Balangiga massacre; his orders included, “kill everyone over the age of ten.”]

27 June [Describing the "Moorish city" on Sulu Islands:] “High stone wall around it, and some fortification, 2 cargo steamers in there, a Chinese and Pilipino town outside the Walled City. About 700 American soldiers there. I saw the Sultan's harem and the Spanish cemetery. Food and fruit very cheap, fine harbor with a long breakwater and a light house on the end of it. … A sultan in charge, he flew a red flag with a blue square and 4 white stars in it and 2 crossed bolos on the red. People big and mostly naked, all the men carried machetes and spears. Sultan and his staff was dressed like Turks. Sultan wanted 200 Doll. a month from U.S. for to keep peace.”

30 June "Clear the ship for action. Anchored at Port Royalist on the Isle of Allan. Nice place to look at from the water. Philipino Flags waving and plenty Insurgents ashore. An officer came of us in a boat with notice for the ship to leave the harbour within 2 hours. Captain Arnold wanted to bombard but was told by Schurman that he could not do so with him as Peace commissioner aboard.”

28 Aug. “3 a.m., signal from the fort for us to land. Landed 59 men and 2 officers in the cutters with plenty ammunition and stores. 3 soldiers was killed and their bodies mutilated in the streets of Cebu. Was ashore and patrolled the town 48 hours. Tennessee vol. attacked insurgent stronghold but failed as their field artillery was to light." 1 Sept. "Large signal fires around the hills during the night. The town set on fire by the Insurgents. Turned out all the Tennessee Regiment, lots of firing going on, landed gatling gun and 5 men...."

11 Sept. “Sent in whaleboat with armed crew under flag of truce to speak to the Natives, but they would not listen. Arrived at Albai 12:30 PM, found insurgents entrenched on a hill to the left of the town and a big Philippine flag waving. Opened fire with Port 6 p’ds. and E. Hansen cut the flagpole of[f] with his 5th shot. Then we opened up with whole port battery and fire 11 6 inch, 13 3 p’ds, 18 6 p’ds, and the insurgents took it on the run … Came up to a small 2 masted banco and fired a shot across her bow to make her heave but she kept on trying to make the shore. Opened up on her with starboard 3 p’ds and the shell striking the backstay mortally wounded one man tearing his right cheek of[f], also one piece entered his breast, and wounded one slightly in the leg. She had a crew of 20 men and 3 women in men's clothes on board.”

12 Sept. “Started to search the banco and found some rice, bolo knives. Sent the crew ashore with their clothes after breakfast except the wounded who was to[o] weak to be moved. Finished searching banco at 11:50 and towed her away from the ship and put it on fire.”

7 Nov. “The Princeton and Manila came in. Princeton with Cmd. Knox flying senior pennant. … We got under way in company with Princeton, Helena, and Manila. Arrived at San Fabian, 2 PM, and meet there the army transports Sheridan, Aztec and a C. and M. Steamer with Cavalry. Clear ship for action. Lowered all boats and got in position for shelling the beach. … The boats all went alongside the transports and loaded up [with soldiers]. I had charge of Sheridan’s life boat No. 11 and was the 3rd boat in the tow of Bennington’s steam launch. There was 5 columns of 5 boats in each, towed by a launch and towing abreast. The ships kept up a furious bombardment with their whole batteries to our boats was close to the beach when they ceased firing. We made a spurt for the beach. Bennington's sailing launch was the first and my boat the 2nd. Ensign Reynolds and 2 soldiers was wounded but as soon as the boats grounded, the soldiers waded ashore and forming skirmish line, commenced firing while we returned to ship. At 9:30 PM we had the whole army ashore.”

30 June 1900 “Anchored at 11 AM, about 700 yards from the beach at Camp Logan to support Garrison of 150 U.S. troops that was waiting attack any time by [a] big force of Insurgents. Soldiers was entrenched in a big Catholic church of stone and had a 37 mm machine gun planted in the Steeple. At 5:30 PM the insurgents stormed the town, drove in the outposts and carried the town. The Garrison kept up a furious fire from the church and swept the streets with their machine gun. Bennington [opened] up with the whole starboard battery and after 30 minutes of hard fighting the insurgents had to retreat, leaving many killed and wounded. Next day the transport Pennsylvania arrived with 1,100 soldiers in charge of Gen. Jules to reinforce the garrison.”

21 Oct. 1900 "Captured t[w]o cascoes loaded with corn and tobacco, sunk one of them but let the other go as he had a sick man on board." 29 Oct. 1900 “Captured a banco on the beach and brought it out to the ship and after taking our towline the ship started full speed ahead in pursuit of another banco ahead. Mullen, Hauge, and me was searching her and getting ready to burn her as she was loaded with bales of Manila hemp when she took a sudden shear to starboard and capsized. We tried to jump clear over weather side but the outrigger broke from the strain of the towrope. I grabbed on the side of the outrigger and got hold of Hauge by the collar but I could not hold him and the speed of the ship then dragged me under water, so I shut mouth and eyes. The towrope was cut and when the ship was stopped a boat was lowered. The outrigger floated up when towrope was cut, and, as my right arm was jammed, they had to cut one of the beams lose to free me. Panay rammed the banco and cut it in two.”

2 Nov. “The insurgents made a charge on Catbalogan about noon but was drove back to the woods where they kept up their firing for several hours but was finally routed by the artillery. Panay took onboard 100 soldiers and steamed down to a small town 9 miles from Catbalogan where we landed but found the town deserted. Took 5 Cascoes and burned them…” 14 Nov. “Captured and burnt 2 bancoes loaded with rice and dry goods. Afoo, the Chinese cook, was put in irons for showing light from the Galley.”

[“Gandera River Expedition” 24 Nov.:] “Up the Gandera River to where the Samar insurgents had their headquarters and stronghold. We had Gen. Hare and staff and about 70 soldiers on the Panay, 2 Philippine pilots and a packtrain of 20 Chinese was also onboard. We tried to get in at once but found the tide too low so we anchored in 10 feet of water outside the bar. We took the ground on the bar but forced her over, but Mindoro and Albert both got stuck fast. … I had ship Gatling gun as we cleared the bar the native put fire to a town on the Side of the river. Capt. Sawyer wanted to turn back when he found we was alone getting over bar, but General Hare was determined to proceed. … We made good speed up the river to about 3 AM when we got to a place where the insurgents had blocked the river by driving 3 rows of bamboo poles across. After Clements in the Steam cutter had investigated, we decided to ram through. We let go the boats and went full speed for the center where we broke through but lost steerage and the current turned her bow to port and she went ashore a little way from the stockade and about 10 yards from the woods … After failing to back of[f], we landed 30 soldiers on each side of the river to avoid surprise, but as the right side was a muddy swamp, we remained at the guns to daybreak.”

25 Nov. “In the morning [Capt.] Sawyer sent the steam launch out to Bennington to report that we was ashore and to get reinforcements as a big force of insurgents was massed on a hill about one mile up the river. When the tide fell, we could wade around the ship and we carried Anchor out aft for an...anchor and shoveled the sand away from the propellers. At 1 PM the steam cutter returned with 2 of Bennington’s officers and was conferring with [Capt.] Sawyer. After finding out that the hill was too high for us to elevate our guns on, they gave order to come out as soon as we got of[f]. At height water, we hove on the ketch anchor and went full speed astern on both engines but the anchor bought home so we gave it up to next tide…”

7 Dec. “North coast of Kamandag, burned 1 sloop banco load rice and salt. Near Malazal destroyed 1 banco, no flag, cargo hemp. Chased a big schooner banco [into the] Barayo river where she went aground and we put fire to her. Went in and anchored for storm close to Mano light but as the sea got to[o] heavy, we run to Calbayoc for shelter but the increasing storm force us to put to sea again.”

15 Dec. “Took Major Hawthorne onboard and steamed down to Caraimas where we shelled the town while the soldiers who marched down from Calbayoc attacked from the rear. On the way back we destroyed a banco in S[an]ta. Nino.”

19 Dec. “Destroyed 2 bancos near Capacol Island, 1 had general cargo and 1 had a cargo of hemp. On [the] island of Sebugay we burned 2 bancos loaded with rice and tobacco. On one of them the Parao Gavilan the[re] was an insurgent tax collector, but he escaped, leaving behind his revolver and papers.”

A remarkable document of a Norwegian immigrant’s U.S. Navy service and military experiences in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.

REFERENCES: Rygg, A. N. Norwegians in New York 1825–1925 (Brooklyn, NY: The Norwegian News Co., 1941); Fighting in the Philippines and Cuba at; Racine Journal (Racine, Wisconsin, 10 August 1899), p. 12.

Item #7510


See all items in Autographs & Manuscripts
See all items by