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Commander Bowman H. McCalla to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U.S.S. Marblehead, 3rd Rate,

Guantanamo, Cuba,

June 29th, 1898.


    1. I have the honor to report that in accordance with your instructions I have seized the British Steamer Adula which came boldly into port this afternoon.

    Her voyage is a suspicious one for the following reasons:

    The Captain told me at first that he came direct to Guantanamo, but he afterwards, in the course of a quarter of an hour, said that he had sighted the fleet off Santiago and then steered for Guantanamo.

    I call your attention to the following facts:

    Mr. José R. Solis is the charterer of the steamer; and at the same time he appears on the list of the crew as the supercargo.1 He was identified by the Captain as the supercargo.

    Although born in Cuba, he stated that he is a loyal subject of Spain. He is also the French consular agent at Ma[n]zanillo where he lives and has a family now there, consisting of a wife and four children.

    Mr. Solis, when I sent him to his state room for his papers, had an attack of retching and said that he was sea-sick, spitting over the side of the ship, although there was no motion of the ship whatever.

    All the other Officers and crew of the Adula appear on the shipping list as British subjects, Mr. Solis being the only Spanish subject on board.

    Mr. Solis, the supercargo, has the power by the terms of the charter, to change the destination of the ship at any time.

    I transmit here with a copy of the Captain's instructions, Mr. Solis' copy of the charter, the Bill of Health, the Passport of Mr. Solis, the permission of the Spanish Consul at Kingston for the voyage, and a recent charter, made by Mr. Solis, of June 14th, which I found among his papers.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Senor Don José Solis is a Spanish spy, and I have ordered him to be given another stateroom and a sentry put over the one he has been previously occupying, intending to have the room he previously occupied searched in the morning.

Very respectfully,

B.H. McCalla

Commander, U.S. Navy,


Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 48. As docketed: “U.S.S. Marblehead, 3rd. Rate,/Guantanamo, Cuba,/June 29th, 1898./McCalla, B.H.,/Commander, U.S. Navy,/Commanding./Reports seizure of British/Steamer Adula.” At left top of first page: ”No. 116.” At left top of second page: “No. 116 – C-in-C.” Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief,/North Atlantic Station./Six (6) enclosures.”(not included).

Footnote 1: A “supercargo” is someone designated on a ship who is in charge of the cargo and the commercial concerns relating to the voyage.

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