A Command from Captain Wiltse to Lieutenant Commander Swinburne; USS Boston, Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, February 1, 1893 …
“Sir: You will take possession of the Government building, and the American flag will be hoisted over it at 9 am. Very respectfully, GC Wiltse, Captain US Navy, Commanding USS Boston.”
The following is a summary of a report prepared by Lieut. Commander Swinburne in preparation and response to that order and the events that followed (as recorded in the Report of the Committee of Foreign Relations, United States Senate, 1894.)
In accordance with that order, the battalion of the Boston landed at Brewers Wharf, in the city of Honolulu, at 5 pm January 16.
The following summarizes the forces that landed: Company A, Artillery, 40 men; Company B, Infantry, 35 men; Company C, Infantry, 34 men; Company D, Marines, 30 men; Color guard, 4 men; hospital corps, 1 apothecary, 4 stretchermen; signalmen, 2; music, 3. Total, 153 men, 11 officers.
Each man carried the regulation knapsack, with blanket and change of clothing, haversack with mess gear and ration of hard bread, and filled canteen. Those armed with Lee rifle wore the double webbing belt carrying 60 cartridges in the loops and 20 in magazines. The marines were fitted out with the same belts, but the loops only were filled.
The ammunition boxes of the Gatling gun contained four filled Accle’s Feeds and 1,380 extra rounds of .45 caliber in pasteboard boxes. The ammunition boxes of the 37 mm contained 64 cartridges, common shell. Reserve ammunition in 37 mm. caisson was as follows: After compartments, 112 37 mm. cartridges, common shell; forward compartment 1,600 caliber .45 cartridges in pasteboard boxes; top or center compartment, four filled Accle’s Feeds, and 800 .38 caliber revolver cartridges.
After the battalion was formed, they marched first to the United States consulate, where Lieut. Draper, with his company, was detached with orders to proceed to the legation and leave half his command in charge of the orderly sergeant, returning with the remainder to the United States consulate, himself, and remain there as a guard until further orders.
The remainder of the battalion then marched down King Street. In passing the palace the battalion, in column of companies, gave a marching salute, trumpeters sounding four ruffles in honor of the royal standard, which was flying there.
On arriving at the residence of Mr. JB Atherton, an American, the command was halted, and permission having been obtained, was marched into the grounds, arms stacked and ranks broken. About 8 in the evening the battalion marched to Arion Hall and camped there.
During the night the men were kept ready for an instant’s call, but there were no disturbances of any kind.
At reveille the next morning, 17th, the camp routine was published and has been strictly carried out in all its details. Latrines were built in the yard and every sanitary precaution taken.
At 2:30 pm, a civilian, armed, reported that a policeman had been shot while attempting to stop a wagonload of ammunition which was being conveyed to the old armory where the civilian forces enrolled by the committee of safety were then assembling, and that a large crowd was collecting on Merchant Street.
The battalion was immediately assembled under arms in the yard in rear of the building to await developments. Until nearly 6 o’clock, the men leading the citizens’ movement had assumed charge of the Government building without opposition of any kind; the civilian companies under arms had marched in and established a line of sentries about the Government building.
The Boston’s battalion was kept in rear of the camp, at their company parades, with arms stacked. About 1 pm, they were notified that a Provisional Government, of which Mr. SB Dole was presiding officer, was in complete possession. A letter from the United States minister recognized it as the de facto government of the Hawaiian Islands, and the battalion was to consider it as such.
During the night, again, officers and men were kept ready for a moment’s call, but the city was perfectly quiet.
During the day of the 18th the royal standard was hauled down over the palace, and the household troops disbanded, by order of the Provisional Government, except a small guard of honor, who accompanied the ex-Queen to her residence on Beretania street.
On January 19 new quarters were provided for the battalion at the unoccupied house on King street, the property of Mr. CR Bishop. Having thoroughly policed the old camp, the battalion moved into the new quarters at 1:30 pm. Daily routine followed.
In accordance with verbal orders given the evening of January 31, the battalion was paraded on the morning of February 1, at 8:30, in front of the quarters – ‘A’ Company as artillery with Gatling and 37 men; the rest as infantry in light marching order.
As the line was formed, a written order, dated February 1, was given; in obedience to those orders the battalion marched to the Government building, where we were received by the civilian troops, who presented arms as they entered. President Dole and all members of the ministry and advisory council were also present.
According to the order, Col. Sofer, Commander in Chief of the Provisional Government forces, at once turned over the custody of the building to Lieut. Commander Swinburne.
A proclamation from Minister Stevens establishing a protectorate over the Hawaiian Islands in the name of the United States, pending negotiations with the Hawaiian Commissioners at Washington, was read.
At 9 am, the United States ensign was hoisted over the building, the battalion and civilian forces presenting arms. The Hawaiian flag, hoisted on the pole in the grounds, received the same salute.
The civilian forces of the Provisional Government were then withdrawn and the custody of the building turned over to Lieut. Draper with his company of 25 marines, which were withdrawn from the United States consulate for the purpose, the guard at the United States legation being continued but reduced to 5 men. The blue jacket companies of the battalion then returned to their quarters.