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Commander Bowman H. McCalla to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long


U. S. S. Marblehead,3d Rate,

Off Cienfuegos, Cuba,

May 11th, 1898.


     1.  Having found out the location of the cables leading from the South and West into the cable house, near the light house at the entrance to Cienfuegos Harbor, I prepared to cut them.

     2.  The arrival of the collier Saturn, with the Windom, and the departure of the Steamer Adula with refugees from Cienfuegos yesterday placed me in a position where I could make the attempt to cut the cable, severing communication with Havana.

     3.  For this purpose, Lieutenant Southerland1 was directed to leave the station off Cienfuegos, with the Eagle, sometime last night and steam to the Westward, where the cable is laid in shallow water near the light ship off Diego Perez Cay. He was directed cutn the cable, burn the light ship mentioned above, and to destroy the light house off PiedrasCay.

     4.  Lieutenant C. McR. Winslow2 was placed in command of the steam launches and sailing launches from the Nashville and Marblehead, with Lieutenant E. A. Anderson3 second in command. The four boats were to be used to drag for and to cut the cables off Cienfuegos, under the protection of the guns of the Nashvile and Marblehead. The details were carefully explained to Commander Maynard4 and Lieutenant Winslow and the attempt was made this morning.

     5.  An infantry and cavalry force posted about the cable house was driven from their position by the guns of the Nashville and Marblehead, and the four launches then dragged for and succeeded in cutting the cables leading to the South and to the West. The cable house was destroyed by the guns. The cables were cut and a small one was found inshore but before this could be cut, the fire from the infantry with, evidently, a Maxim gun, was so severe as to compel the boats to withdraw as they were within 150 yards of the enemy.

6.  The enemy was so sheltered toward the last by the gullies and ravines that the fire from the ships could not keep down their fire entirely.

7.  The enemy having concealed themselves in the light house and opened fire on the boats, the light house was destroyed.

8.  I regret very much to announce the following officers and men were wounded:

     Patrick Regan, Private Marine, fatally, and has since died.

Herman w. Kuchneister, Private Marine, shot through jaw, probably fatally.

Harry Henrikson, Seaman, shot through liver, probably fatally

Ernest Suntzenich, App I Cl, fracture of right leg.

John J. Doran, B M 2 Cl, gun shot wound, right buttock.

Robert Volz, Seaman, Nashville, severely wounded.

John Davis, G M 3 Cl, wound right leg.

William Levery, App 1 Cl, wounded left leg, very slight.

Lieutenant Winslow, slight wound of hand.

          9.  I cannot speak in too high terms of the officers and men engaged in the four boats in cutting the cable. Their work was performed with the utmost coolness and intrepidity, under most trying circumstances, and I shall later have the honor to call special attention to their conduct.

          10.  I have directed the Captain of the Windom5 to return at the earliest practical moment.

                             Very respectfully,

B. H. McCalla          

Commander, U. S. Navy, 

Commanding and Senior Officer Present

Source Note: TCy, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 229. Addressed below close: “The Secretary of the Navy,/Navy Department,/Washington, D. C.” Document reference: “No. 26.” Document features a stamp with “BUREAU OF NAVIGATION/MAY 17/1898/NAVY DEPARTMENT” forming the side of a rectangle with “111838” inside. Docketed: “111660-/USS. Marblehead/Off Cienfuegos, Cuba,/July 11, 1898./McCalla, B.H./Commander U.S.N./Report concerning/cutting cable of/Cienfuegos. Report/of casualties” and “Naval Base,/U.S. Flagship Miantonomah/Key West, Fla., May 14, 1898./Respectfully Forwarded/Geo. C. Remey/Commodore Commanding.” Note: McCalla sent a second message on 16 May 1898, that specifically commended En. Thomas P. Magruder for his command of the two steam launches. See, McCalla to Long, 16 May 1898, DNA, RG 313, Entry 48.

Footnote 1: Lt. William H.H. Southerland.

Footnote 2: Lt. Cameron McRae Winslow.

Footnote 3: Lt. Edwin A. Anderson.

Footnote 4: Cmdr. Washburn Maynard.

Footnote 5: Capt. Samuel E. Maguire of the Revenue Cutter Service.

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