Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commander Willard H. Brownson to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet.

 

U.S.S. “YANKEE”, (50).       

Off Cienfuegos, Cuba. 

June 21st, 1898.

S I R:-

1.   I have to inform you that this morning I stood to the westward of Cienfuegos with a view to putting myself in communication, if possible, with some of the Insurgents, with whom Commander Mc.Calla, of the U.S.S.Marblehead, had communicated several weeks ago.1 I succeeded in finding them shortly after noon, and a boat was sent in and brought off three officers of the Cuban Army. The senior of these, Lieut. Colonel Edwardo Valera Zegueira, Governor of the Province of Matanzas, had arrived on the coast yesterday for the express purpose of putting himself into communication with our fleet in order to ask that arms, ammunition and equipments might be sent to him.

2.   The Insurgents in the vicinity, who are constantly harassing the Spanish troops in Cienfuegos are also in want of provisions, clothing and medicines. I sent on shore a supply of these for their immediate use.

3.        I learn from Col.Zegueria that they are greatly in want of food in Havanna, and that their principal supply at present comes from the fishing boats which, to the number of two hundred and fifty, or more, are out every day from Batabano on the shoals between there and the Isle of Pines. Cattle are also sent from the latter place at Batabano. All of these provisions go to Havanna.

4.        I am of the opinion that one small steamer, with two tenders of very light draft, could break up this supply. My informant said that the quantity of fish sent into Havana daily is immense, and forms the principal article of food. I suggest that, if circumstances permit it, small steamers be sent to break up this supply.

5.        As I am informed by the Governor of Matanzas that there are a number of small gun boats on the shoals, in the vicinity of Batabano, these small steamers should be armed with at least two or more six pounders. It is said that the fishing boats themselves carry a number of men all well armed.

I am, Admiral,

Very respectfully,            

W. H. Brownson       

Commander, Commanding.   

Source Note: TLS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 232. Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief,/United States Naval Force,/North Atlantic Station.” Docketed: “U.S.S. “YANKEE”’ (50)./Off Cienfuegos, Cuba./June 21st, 1898./Brownson, W.H./Commander,Commanding./Report of communication with/the Insurgents fifteen/miles to the Westward/of Cienfuegos.” Bureau of Navigation stamp is dated “JUL 11 1898” and numbered “125741.” At top right corner stamped: “RECEIVED/FLAG-SHIP N. A. STATION,/JUL 1 1898.”

Footnote 1: Cmdr. Bowman H. McCalla. “Insurgents” is a reference to the Cuban rebels fighting against the Spanish.

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