Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Caspar F. Goodrich to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U.S.S.St.LOUIS,                      

At Sea, Lat. 37°43N.Long.72°16W. 

May 27, 1898.

          Sir:-

              I have the honor to report that on the morning of May 20t and outside the marine league1 off Mole St. Nicholas, I broke the French cable to Cuba. If, as I have reason to believe,the second Jamaica cable is seriously damaged, the island of Cuba is now isolated, telegraphically speaking.2

          Off Tortuga that afternoon I spoke the U.S.S.St.PAUL and gave her Commanding Officer3 important information concerning the batteries of Santiago de Cuba, which I trust has proved of benefit to Commodore Schley4 who, I was given to understand, was bound there.

          On the morning of the 22d, at daylight, I commenced grappling for the cable to the westward of Ponce, Porto Rico. The bottom along the south shore of that island is very irregular and rocky, requiring special apparatus which I do not possess. After  opening out my last two grapnels I abandoned the attempt for the present, in the expectation of obtaining more definite information as to favorable points at which to attack this cable and of providing myself with suitable appliances. The evidences of uncharted dangers to navigation were but too evident, and I felt that it would be unwise to risk this ship in such places.

          I continue to hope that on my return, I may be given, the Mangrove with her grappling outfit and a cruiser to drive off the smaller vessels of the enemy which,armed with better guns than mine,are able to interrupt the work. I venture to remind you,also,that cable grappling is a very slow and tedious operation,often necessitating repeated drives over the same ground. The good fortune which has attended our efforts so far is I am told,quite exceptional in cable practice,and is due in my opinion to the unusual skill of Chief Officer Seagrave.5

          I reached St Thomas May 23d, where I found your dispatch of the 21st and immediately left for NEW YORK. Personally I should have preferred to go to Hampton Roads,but a careful study of the questions of coaling which can be far more quickly completed at NEW YORK; of laying in the supplies needed for the next cruise,and especially of obtaining certain indispensable appliances for cable grappling more likely to be found in NEW YORK than elsewhere, left me no choice. I beg your approval of my decision.

          Before this reaches you I hope to have received your instructions by telegraph and to have sailed to execute them.6 I am,Sir,

Very respectfully      

C.F.Goodrich      

Captain, U.S.Navy,

Commanding.  

Source Note: TCyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 230. Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief./North Atlantic Station,/U.S.FLAGSHIP “NEW YORK”.” Docketed: “U.S.S. St. Louis/Making Passage to NEW YORK/May 27 1898/Goodrich, C.J. USN/Captain Commanding/Reporting operations/cruise May 20th 1898.” Goodrich sent the letter directly to the Secretary of the Navy John D. Long, but addressed the document to Sampson. Docketing subsequently describes the process of getting Sampson’s endorsement on the report.

Footnote 1: A Marine League was three nautical miles.

Footnote 2: Communications between Spanish forces in Cuba and the outside was never fully severed. See: Battle at Punta de la Colorados.

Footnote 3: Capt. Charles D. Sigsbee, commader of auxiliary cruiser St. Paul.

Footnote 4: Commo. Winfield S. Schley, Commander, Flying Squadron.

Footnote 5: Civilian Chief Officer Thomas G. Seagrave.

Footnote 6: Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Commo. Arent S. Crowninshield, received this report without any endorsement or knowledge of Sampson’s orders to Goodrich and was forced to forward it to Sampson for clarification. Sampson’s response was glowing praise for Goodrich’s success at cutting off communication at Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo and approval of his actions at Puerto Rico. See Ibid.

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