Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet, to Commodore John A. Howell, Commander, First Blockading Squadron

 

PLAYA DEL ESTE, JULY 9, 1898.

 

COMMODORE HOWELL.

     KEY WEST.

     YOU WILL PLEASE ASSUME COMMAND OF THE BLOCKADING FORCES ON THE NORTH COAST OF CUBA,1 AND AS THE FORCES DEFENDING THE CITY OF SANTIAGO ARE ABOUT TO CAPITULATE OR TO ABANDON THE DEFENSE OF THE CITY AND TO MARCH TOWARDS HOLGUIN,2 WHICH WILL BE AT A POINT IN CUBA WHERE IT WOULD BE CONVENIENT TO EITHER REMOVE THE TROOPS BY BOATS THROUGH THE CAYS ON THE NORTH COAST OF CUBA, OR TO PROVISION THEM BY THE SAME ROUTE,3 YOU WILL PLEASE STATION BETWEEN THE BAY OF NIPE AND THE BAY OF NUEVITAS A SUFFICIENT FORCE TO PREVENT ANY EXPEDITIONS REACHING HOLGUIN BETWEEN THESE TWO POINTS,4 AND MAKE SUCH OTHER DISPOSITION OF YOUR FORCES AS WILL BLOCKADE THE NORTH COAST AS FAR AS IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO SO WITH THE FORCE AT YOUR COMMAND.

SAMPSON.

Com.5

Source Note: TCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 54. At upper right-hand corner: “NO. 1.”

Footnote 1: Commo. John A. Howell assumed command of the First Blockading Squadron on 1 July. Trask, War with Spain, 272.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Sampson refers to a possible breakout of Spanish troops defending Santiago de Cuba. Gen. José Toral y Vázquez proposed to surrender the city and march his troops to Holguín, but President William McKinley and Secretary of War Russell A. Alger insisted on unconditional terms. Cosmas, Army for Empire, 227.

Footnote 3: These plans were negated by the unconditional surrender of the Santiago garrison.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Sampson was concerned that Havana might send an army to rescue the surrendered Spanish soldiers.

Footnote 5: Handwritten interlineation.

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