Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Surgeon Maxwell S. Simpson to Commander Albert S. Snow

COPY.                                      U. S. S. BADGER,

Off North Coast of Cuba,

July 27,1898.

Sir:-

     1.   I have the honor to report that on the seagoing tug “Humberto Rodrigues” I found a surgeon((Maximo Martinez Mirailles, rank major--with three army hospital privates having charge six officers and thirty-five enlisted men of the Spanish army,all ostensibly convalescents.

     2.   The vessel carried the Spanish and Geneva Cross flags,1had a crew of nineteen men and a supercargo2 and in tow had the schooner-rigged barge “San Fernando” reported to have in addition to a crew and hospital attendants, four yellow fever patients and many others badly injured and sick; also,towing the brigantine “Safi” with two yellow fever patients and others injured and sick. These two vessels carried Spanish,Red Cross and Qyarantine flags.

     3.   The Engineer of the “Rodriguez” is a Scotchman speaking Spanish and English. The Captain and one of the hands speak English to a slight extent only. Conversation was carried on by our interpreter.

     4.   The Spanish Surgeon informed me that he had many serious cases aboard and that there was a Surgeon each on the Fernando and Sali- that he had been ordered by General Salceda3 to remove his sick and wounded to Havana and there join the Spanish army-that he had ample protection under the Geneva flag-that he had food,water and medicine and could have cared for the disable in Nuevitas. I could find no indication of membership or association with the International Red Cross Society. I made no examination of the Fernando or Safi.

     5. Upon examination I failed to find the number of serious cases represented-possibly twelve on the Rodrigues are ill enough to require constant care.4 I took station in a gangway with the Spanish Surgeon and interpreterand had each individual pass before me receiving the Surgeon’s statement as to the nature of the malady in each case- no one being confined to bed. The following is a resume:-

     THE REGIMENTAL CHAPLAIN--a Catholic priest recovering from resection after fracture of ankle.

     CAPTAIN OF INFANTRY--retired--tuberculosis.

     CAPTAIN OF INFANTRY--sprained ankle.

     1st LIEUTENANT OF CAVALRY--wound of chest. Is in apparent good condition.

     2nd LIEUTENANT OF CAVALRY--intermittent fever.

      "   "    ENGINEERS--        "    "

     SURGEON         )

                     )all well

HOSPITAL STEWARDS)

4

ENLISTEND MEN-wounded.

3

"    " -Fever and dysentery.

32

SUPERCARGO AND CREW-all well.

20

TOTAL -

65

 

Respectfully,               

(Signed)                              Maxwell S. Simpson,        

P.A.Surgeon,U.S.N.

Source Note: TCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 72. Addressed below close: “Commander Albert S. Snow,U.S.N.,/Commanding U.S.S.BADGER.” Endorsement after close: “First Endorsement. U.S.F.S.SanFrancisco,/Off Havana,Cuba,/July 30,1898./Approved and forwarded./Commodore [John C. Watson], U.S.Navy,/Commanding First Squadron,North Atlantic Fleet.” Docketing on reverse side of last page: Rectangular stamp contains: “Flagship Lancaster/NAVAL BASE, KEY WEST/Received Aug. 2 1898/File No 12PR.” Below stamp:”U.S.S.BADGER/Near Cardenas/Sunday July 28, 1898/Snow, A.S./Comdr Comdg./Reporting capture/of three Spanish/boats.

Footnote 1: The Geneva flag is the national flag of Switzerland, a white flag with a red cross in the center, and was the symbol of the International Red Cross.

Footnote 2: “Supercargo” was a representative of a ships owner who served aboard the ship.

Footnote 4: Cmdr. Snow asked Surgeon Simpson to offer his personal opinion as to whether the convoy was of a military or humanitarian nature. Simpson reported:

The Spanish Surgeon misrepresented the condition by stating the ill and wounded to be more seriously disabled than I found them to be. He later claimed the worst cases to be upon the vessels in tow.

3. The captain of the tug,the Scotch engineer, and supercargo represent themselves as non-combatants and citizens. I believe all these to be commissioned Spanish officer and the engineer to hold the rank of Lieutenant.

4. The tug has had a gun-mount forward and has been in service on this coast. A portion of the crew of nineteen are Spanish soldiers.

5. I doubt the existence of yellow fever on any of these vessels. The fever is no doubt all of the same variety--malarial.

6. I believe that these officers and men are endeavoring to escape to the army at Havana under cover of the Red Cross flag, their hospital corps and the disabled; that the quarantine flag is to prevent examination of these vessels; that they have paid a good round sum of money to the owners and officers to carry out this plan.

7. This view is deducted by observation and conversation with various individuals of the party.

Simpson to Snow, 27 July 1898, DNA, RG 313, Entry 72.

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