Captain Henry C. Taylor to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
U.S.S.Indiana, 1st rate,
In the absence of further instructions from you, I respectfully submit, that if the Mangrove1 arrives by noon today and we can make a start, we should arrive off Santiago de Cuba or Guantanamo sometime the night of tuesday, the 26th and, would carry on operations there as previously outlined under your directions.2
When this work is completed and providing no opportunity to obtain coal has occurred, we shall probably be obliged to retu[rn] by the north shore without carrying on any further operations.
The smaller vessels (Mangrove and Algonquin) carry nine days coal, but could be supplied from the Indiana, which will ha[ve] some to spare from a twelve days trip. But it is not likely that the Marblehead and Detroit can be counted on for more than ten days coal. Understanding therefore that the Commander-in-Chief3 does not contemplate a coal vessel accompanying us, or any coal meeting us during the trip, it will probably be expedient to return at once by the North shore and rejoin your flag, or proceed to Key West or Tortugas if very short of coal.4
The primary object of the expedition I understand to be the severing of cable communication of Santiago and Guantanamo with points outside the Island of Cuba.5
The secondary object I understand to be the destruction of Spanish Vessels which might be used against a blockading force later on and the reconnaissance of the enemy’s important positions on the North or south coast; according to the route by which we return, I shall endeavor to give you information through the consuls of [i.e., or] other persons at Jamaica or in Hayti.6 But if the short coal supply makes it necessary to return by North shore I may not be able to make you acquainted with many moves until my return.
If at the last moment the Commander-in-Chief should hear of any means of taking coal with us, or getting it during the trip, I respectfully submit that with coal assured, the result of this expedition might prove of more value than with the limited supply.
Finally, I trust that results satisfactory to the Commander-in Chief may be obtained even with the present small coal supply, and I beg to state that my efforts, and that of the whole force will be exerted vigorously to obtain success.
Source Note: TCy, DLC-MSS, PHT, Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief,/U.S.Naval force on North Atlantic Station.”
Footnote 1: Mangrove, under the command of Lt. Cmdr. William H. Everett, was a cargo tender originally with the United States Lighthouse Service of the Department of the Treasury.
Footnote 2: A letter from Sampson to Taylor two days later indicates that Capt. Taylor was in charge of small number of ships. He was initially deployed to capture Spanish transports, but was then ordered to go to the southern coast of Cuba to cut cables. DNA, RG 313, Entry 48.
Footnote 3: The Commander-in-Chief was RAdm. William T. Sampson.
Footnote 4: Key West and Dry Tortugas were strategic provisioning and coaling stations during the West Indies naval operations. The latter was used for heavy draft ships.
Footnote 5: Cable cutting was an important aspect of U.S. naval strategy in order to deprive Spanish officials of communicating with Madrid. See: Telegraphy and Cable Cutting.
Footnote 6: For a sample document relating to the relationship between the Navy Department and the State Department, see: Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Secretary of State William R. Day, 28 June 1898.