Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commander Bowman H. McCalla to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U.S.S. Marblehead, 3rd Rate,

Guantanamo, Cuba,

2:30 P.M.June 25th., 1898.

Sir:

    1. I have the honor to state that Colonel Allen1 of the Army Signal Corps, has reported that he has succeeded in mending the Western cable where it was severed by Captain Goodrich2 on the 7th. instant,3 and that he had exchanged tests with Santiago de Cuba.

I understand that he did this in conformity with orders from someone, in order to place the Army Headquarters in Cuba in communication with Washington, believing that the cable ended at Altares.

    I pointed out to him that what he had really done was to connect Santiago de Cuba with Guantanamo, and with Madrid by way of Cape Haytien.

    That is, that the whole matter of communication between Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo and Madrid rested in the hands of the operators at Fisherman's Point.

    Instead of going himself ashore, he wrote a note to a subordinate telling him to see that the Santiago cable end was sealed in order to prevent communication with that point.

    2. I have, myself, as will be seen from the enclosure, protected myself from a charge of negligence, and the operators from suspicion, by withdrawing the cable and from the house, sealing it and placing the seal under charge of a sentry.4

    When the cable and at Altares, or elsewhere, shall be in our hands, it will only be necessary to notify me, when the seal can be removed, the end taken in the house, and the tests made it.

Very respectfully,

     B.H. McCalla

Commander, U.S. Navy,

     Commanding.

Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 313, entry 48. As docketed: “U.S.S. Marblehead, 3rd. Rate,/Guantanamo, Cuba,/2:30 P/M., June 25th., 1898./McCalla, B.H.,/Commander, U.S. Navy,/Commanding./Reports that Col. Allen, U.S.A./has mended Santiago cable, etc.” At top left corner: “No. 108.” At top right corner stamped: “RECEIVED/FLAG-SHIP N.A. STATION,/JUN 30 1898.” On second page at top left corner: “No. 108-C-in-C.” Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief,/North Atlantic Station.”

Footnote 1: Lt. Col. James Allen.

Footnote 2: Capt. Caspar F. Goodrich.

Footnote 3: The word “instant,” abbreviated as “inst.,” refers to a date in the same month that the letter is written.

Footnote 4: President William McKinley interceded in the feud between the Navy and Army over cable jurisdiction; thereafter, the Army Signal Corps oversaw cable operations. See: Brig. Gen. Adolphus W. Greely to McCalla, 27 June 1898.

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