1898: Guam’s Surrender – A Tale of Miscommunication and Unfired Salutes

In the Spanish-American War of 1898, Guam fell into US hands without any resistance. The island was such a neglected and isolated Spanish colonial outpost that the local governor was oblivious to the war’s commencement. As US ship arrived and began firing poorly aimed shots at the decrepit Spanish fort, the inhabitants mistook it for a salute. They even rowed to the ship to apologize for their delayed return salute, explaining that their only cannon had to be transported from the island’s other side. By the end of the day, the island had capitulated without a single injury, save for the Spanish governor’s wounded pride.

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