Captain Henry C. Taylor to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
U.S.S. Indiana, 1st Rate,
At sea, Off Sama Pt.,
June 18th, 1898.
1. I send forward the WOMPATUCK from
this point Gt Inagua Id1 to inform you of the approach of the convoy consisting of 34 transports and 15 Naval vessels and torpedo boats; 30 of the transports having troops aboard and 4 being lighters and water boats. Major General Shafter2 carries his Headquarters flag on the Seguranca. This flag which is carried at the fore is a blue broad pennant with a white maltese cross in it.
2. The Naval vessels are as follows:-
<O>Indiana <X>DETROIT <Dai> <O>ANNAPOLIS<V N.>
<X>CASTINE <Dai N> <Cien>HELENA <Altaraas S> <KW>MANNING<V N>
<Cien>OCEOLA <Dai S> <KW>WOMPATUCK <X>WASP <Dai N>
<V>EAGLE <Agua S> <X> HORNET <X>BANCROFT <Alt. N>
RODGERS <Sant> ERICSSON <Sant> DUPONT <Sant>3
3. In conversation with Major General Shafter, he expressed the hope that his army could be landed at some point nearer Santiago than Guantanamo because of the difficult nature of the country between those two points. It is my present expectation to reach the Lee of Great Inagua Island to the westward of Mathew Town4 early tomorrow morning, the 19th, and to delay there a few hours in order to give water to one or two of the transports that have used up their supply. Leaving there sometime during the forenoon I expect to arrive 15 miles south of Guantanamo during the forenoon of the 20th and 15 miles south of Santiago by the evening of the 20th.5 I shall however probably recieve instructions from yourself before reaching those points. We stopped the convoy this forenoon for four hours to permit the transports in rear to come up and I shall endeavor to keep the vessels of the force close together tonight in case of a raid from the gunboats said to be in Nipe.6
4. It is suggested by the Department that the force might be divided and the swifter portion pushed ahead, but, after testing the speed of the vessels I have not found that time would be gained by this, as the work of selecting the swifter transports and of reorganizing under the new arrangement would cause a greater delay by so doing. This might have been done while organizing the convoy at Tampa but the suggestion was not made by the Department until the force was sailing.
H. C. Taylor.
Source Note: TD, DNA, RG 313, Entry 48. Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief,/U.S.Naval Force of North Atlantic Station.”
Footnote 1: Originally, someone typed in a dotted line and “this point”; later, someone handwrote “WOMPATUCK” above the dotted line and “Gt Inagua Id” as an interlineation.
Footnote 2: Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter, commander of the Army’s 5th Corps.
Footnote 3: Someone handwrote where the vessels were dispatched immediately after the convoy arrived at Santiago de Cuba. The editors have set off these notations with square brackets. It appears that Cien=Cienfuegos; KW=Key West; Alt and Altaras=Altares; Dai=Daiquiri; Sant=Santiago de Cuba; Agua=Aguadores; N=Northern Blockading Squadron; S=Southern Blockading Squadron. It is not clear what X or V/√ means.
Footnote 4: Mathew Town is the capital and only harbor on Great Inagua Island, the third largest island in the Bahamas.
Footnote 5: On the progress and arrival of the convoy, see: Taylor to Sampson, 1 July 1898.
Footnote 6: That is, Bay of Nipe, Cuba. The two small Spanish gunboats there made no attempt to attack the convoy.