Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Rear Admiral George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Squadron

From Secretary of Navy.

To COM’D’R-IN-CHIEF

Date June 28, 1898, 5 a.m.

Subject Camara’s1 fleet.

Received Cavite July 7, 7:30 a.m.

Camara’s fleet arrived off Port Said,Egypt, June 26th, and is reported by our agent there as follows:

Pelayo, Carlos V, Audaz, Rapido, 12 guns: Buenos Aires, 10 guns; Isla de Panay, 2 guns, and three unarmed transports, Colon, Covadenga, and San Francisco.

They will coal immediately to be supplied by Cory Brothers2 whose agent is Savobazin.

The bottom ships apparently foul. 

A telegram from Liet. W.S.Sims,3 naval attaché at Paris. June 25th, says that special agent now at Cartagena reports one transport carries munitions of war; Aires and Panay each on regiment of infantry, and San Francisco one battalion marine infantry. Auxiliary fleet has 20000 tons of coal. All cruisers unarmed except Rapido, Patriota and Aires.

The United States authorities in Egypt have protested against Camara taking coal and he will be delayed as much as possible.

The department has asked the State Department that all of the United States officials on the route to Manila should receive orders to delay Camara as much as possible.4

Rapido and Patriota were formerly Normancia and Columbia and reported each to carry four 6.2-inch, four 4.8-inch and two 3.25-inch and four 37 m/m Hotchkiss revolver cannon.

Other reports say more but that is doubtful.

We have the particulars of Aires’ battery. Camara is reported by Colwell and Cowles not a very efficient man, but he may have good officers.5

Let steamer proceed.

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, PGD.

Footnote 1: Vice Adm. Manuel de la Cámara y Libermoore.

Footnote 2: Cory Brothers so coal out of Cardiff, Wales.

Footnote 3: Lt. William S. Sims.

Footnote 4: On 29 June, Dewey received a cable from the Acting United States Consul in Cairo Ethelbert Watts, informing him: “Spanish fleet refused coal. Will probably return Cadiz.” DLC-MSS, PGD.

Footnote 5: Lt. Cmdr. William S. Cowles and Lt. John C. Colwell.

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