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Rear Admiral Montgomery Sicard, President, Naval War Board, to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

Navy Department,

Office of Naval War Board,

Washington, D. C.,

June 14, 1898.


The Board recommends that the following telegram be sent to Admiral Sampson:


M. Sicard

Rear Admiral,

President of the Board.1


     From a very reliable source is learned that five small Spanish cruisers and only one armed transport is in San Juan, Porto Rico. No more army supplies. Provisions nearly gone. Twenty-two thousand tons of coal there and only three hours supply of shells at their forts; but it would be well not to trust too much the statement about shells.2 Department advises you to blockade at once the cruisers and transport in San Juan and prevent their escape.3 Is the Terror one of them?4 Our Army transports and convoy are now leaving Tampa.5

John D. Long

Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 372.

Footnote 1: RAdm. William T. Sampson was the commander of the North Atlantic Fleet. The Naval War Board consisted of RAdm. Montgomery Sicard, Capt. Alfred T. Mahan, and Commo. Arent S. Crowninshield.

Footnote 2: The U.S. Army ordered Lt. Henry F. Whitney to reconnoiter the military and naval capabilities of Puerto Rico. Trask, War with Spain, 340-41. An obliging English sea captain also collected information. See: Long to Sampson 18 July 1898.

Footnote 3: The blockade of San Juan de Puerto Rico was established on 20 June. Sampson dispatched the St. Paul to blockade San Juan. Terror was at San Juan where it attempted to run the blockade of the port and was hit by fire from the St. Paul and forced to return to San Juan. See: Capt. Charles D. Sigsbee to Long, 27 June 1898.

Footnote 4: The destroyer Terror, commanded by Lt. Francisco P. de la Rocha, was originally part of RAdm. Pascual Cervera y Topete’s squadron but was ordered to San Juan for repairs rather than continue with the other ships to Curaçao. See, Trask, War with Spain, 272.

Footnote 5: A reference to the massing of troops and the departure of the convoy on June 14 from Tampa with Santiago de Cuba as the destination. For more information, see, Cosmas, Army for Empire, 192-99.

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