After defeating the Spanish fleet on May 1, 1898, Dewey ordered a blockade of Manila. It troubled Dewey that the German squadron of five warships and two auxiliaries outnumbered the Americans. One ship alone, the transport Darmstadt, carried 1,400 men, nearly the number of Dewey’s men. Believing that they were following acceptable international protocol regarding starving civilians, the Germans violated Dewey’s blockade of Manila by supplying flour to trapped Spanish residents and even welcomed them aboard the German vessels.
German officers also visited Spanish and Filipino outposts, and Dewey disliked this. After a few other minor irritations, Dewey reacted with some provocative acts and a threat to start a war with Germany. Tensions increased, and at this point a British squadron sided with Dewey and even ordered its band to play “The Star Spangled Banner.” Finally, the German gunboat Cormoran refused to acknowledge an American attempt to board the ship for inspection since the US had no right under international law to do so, and the ship was finally stopped by the US firing a shot across its bow. Von Diederichs complained about Dewey’s overtly provocative acts, but the Germans expressed no interest in a conflict and it went no further.