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Commander Charles J. Train to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

U.S.S. PRAIRIE,          

Off Havana, Cuba, 

July 5, I898.


     I have the honor to report that at half past ten on the morning of July 5, I898, I being the Senior Officer present of the Havana Blockading force, the Commanding Officer of the U. S. S. “HAWK1 came on board and reported to me that on the preceeding night a large four masted steamer was observed, by him, attempting to run the Blockade and enter Havana. That as soon as she caught sight of the “HAWK” she turned and steamed down the coast to the westward, pursued by the “HAWK”. Upon reaching the entrance to the harbor of Mariel she attempted to enter the harbor and in so doing ran high and dry on the beach on the west side of the entrance. The Commanding Officer of the “HAWK” sent a boat towards her, but the boat was fired upon both from the shore and from the steamer and was forced to return. The Commanding Officer of the “HAWK” reported the circumstances to the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. CASTINE,2 the nearest blockading vessel and was ordered to report to me, by him. The Commanding Off. of the “CASTINE” immediately proceeded to the spot and shelled the vessel, setting her on fire. Upon receiving the report from the Commanding Officer of the “HAWK”, I proceeded with this vessel to the place and found the steamer burning fiercely, and opened fire upon her with my port battery to complete her destruction. While so doing I was fired upon by a small Gunboat from the port of Mariel but her guns were too small to do any harm.

     It was impossible to obtain the name, nationality, or cargo of the vessel, as the beach was guarded by several companies of soldiers, with some pieces of light artillery.

     I directed the Commanding Officer of the “CASTINE” to remain until the steamer was totally destroyed.

     While she was burning there was a heavy explosion in the forward part of the vessel, from which I conclude that she had some explosive material in her cargo.

     The Commanding Officer of the “HAWK” deserves to be commended for his watchfulness and celerity.

Very respectfully,

C.J. Train

Com’d’r. Com’d’g. and

Senior Officer Present.

Source Note: TDS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 233. Addressed below close: “To the SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.” Docketing on separate page. At top, stamp of: “BUREAU OF NAVIGATION,” with date: “JUL 12 1898,” and file number “12601.” Below stamp: “U. S. S. PRAIRIE,/Off Havana, Cuba,/July 5, I898./Train. C. J./Com’d’r, Com’d’g./and Senior Officer Present/Reporting the destruction of a/blockade runner at Mariel, Cuba.”

Footnote 1: Lt. John Hood. For Lt. Hood’s full report of the case of the blockade runner, see, Hood to Train, 5 July 1898, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 233.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Robert M. Berry.

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