Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

United States Consul at San Juan Philip C. Hanna to Assistant Secretary of State William R. Day

Consulate of the United States,  

San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 9, 1898.

Honorable William R. Day,

     Assistant Secretary of State,

          Washington, D. C.

S i r :

     Concerning the Spanish Army in the Island of Puerto Rico, I have the honor to report that from the best information obtainable there are about 2,000 regular soldiers at San Juan, 1,000 at Ponce and 1,000 at Mayaguez and about 600 divided among the other cities of the Island, making about 4,000 regulars in the whole island. Then they claim 7,000 colonial troops who are comprised of young men of the Island. Besides they have of late distributed several thousand guns among the natives of the Island. I am still of the opinion that Puerto Rico should be taken and held as a coaling station, thus supplying our Navy and cutting off Spain. In order to accomplish this we should land in Puerto Rico not less than 10,000 men. Let them land at Ponce or Fajardo, or some other port and march through the Island to meet the American fleet at San Juan. Let the fleet knock down the fortifications there which are the only ones in the Island, and our land forces of 10,000 can hold the Island forever. Then the fleet can go on its way sinking Spanish warships and the like and return to San Juan for coal and supplies, just as the Spanish fleet now expect to. From Ponce to San Juan there is the finest road in the whole West Indes, and an army could march across to San Juan with no bad roads to interfere.

     I wish to be instructed to return to San Juan with the first troops or first warships.1

                        I have the honor to be, Sir,

                             Your obedient servant,

                                  Philip C. Hanna.

Source Note: TDS, AFNRC, M625, roll 229. Document reference: “No. 35.”

Footnote 1: Hanna was forced to relocate to St. Thomas for the duration of the war.

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