Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commander Charles J. Train to Commodore John A. Howell, Commander, First Blockading Squadron

C O P Y

U. S. S. “PRAIRIE”. 

Off Gibara, Cuba, July 21, 1898.

Sir;-

          I have the honor to inform you that I have this morning received a visit from Mr. Jose Homobono Beola, the Vice Consul of the United States at this port until the declaration of war. He brought with him his appointment to identify him.

2.   He informed me that he called at the request of the people of the town and with the consent of Gen. Luque,1 Commanding General of this district, whose Headquarters have been at Gibara, to say that orders had been issued by Gen. Luque for the withdrawal to Holguin of all the Spanish troops stationed at Gibara and other places in this Military District to the number of seven or eight thousand men. That the garrison of Gibara, numbering perhaps one thousand men with their property and families, would be all away from the town in three days, and the town left without any adequate security for the maintenance of order.

3.   Mr. Beola asked, therefore, that a vessel might be stationed in the harbor to preserve the tranquility of the town, or that such as wished to leave or to send their wives and children away, might have permission to do so in two small schooners of about 200 tons each, that are at present laid up in the harbor. He seemed to have some apprehension lest in the interval between the withdrawal of the Spanish troops and the establishment of a new Government, some disorders might arise. Since the Officials of the town, Mayor, Judges, etc., hold their office by virtue of the Spanish authority, on the withdrawal of that authority the positions will become vacant unless the present incumbents are continued therein by some other power.

 4.  I advised him against any withdrawal of respectable the people from the town, and informed him that I would immediately communicate with you, and that in the meantime this vessel would look out for the security of the town.

5.   He also informed me that the troops would be withdrawn from Port Nipe, and that there were no Gunboats there save one small launch.

6.   As the Port of Gibara is too small for a vessel of this size to lie at anchor, I would suggest that some small vessel of this size to lie at anchor, I would suggest that some small vessel like the Maple be sent, and I forward this communication by the Topeka as her presence at Port Nipe is no longer necessary and her coal supply needs replenishing.

7.   Mr. Beola also informed me that the Spanish troops would be unable to leave Holguin, on account of the impassability of the roads and the scarcity of provisions, and that it was thought they would surrender quickly to any American force, after a show of resistance, He also said that Gibara was healthy, save a few cases of Small Pox, which were isolated, and that a few of the Spanish soldiers, too ill to be moved, would be left at the Hospital under the Red Cross flag. Many of the Spanish civil authorities with their families will leave with the troops but the majority will remain. The town has a population of some six thousand, of which there are approximately one hundred xxxxxxxxx families of well-to-do people. Food was scarce although there was no suffering, a relief society looking out for the wants of the needy.

8.   It will be necessary for this ship to return to Port for coal by the 28th of July.

Very respectfully,          

C. J. Train.           

Com’d’r. Com’d’g. 

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 72. Addressed below close: “To the Commander-in-Chief,/North Blockading Squadron.”

Footnote 1: Spanish Gen. Agustín Luque, Commander of the District around Gibara.

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