Lieutenant Commander Marcus B. Buford to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
June 13, 1898
Mr. Fremont1 came alongside this ship, he was asked to take the only boom not in use, that is the after one, as I had no other facilities for coaling at the time, and also requested him to use baskets until we could get at our buckets. He informed me in the most abrupt manner that he had been coaling his ship for over a year and thought he knew how to do it. It was absurd for him to expect to get something that neither he nor I could furnish[.] the coal was at the top of the hatch coaming2 and perfectly available for baskets. I informed Mr. Fremont that if he did not wish to adopt my methods he could use his own. In two hours we gave him buckets and five men; we have eight on deck. This morning he came alongside with an order from you that we should furnish him with every facility for coaling,3 and he said to the officer on deck that he did not know that there was any use for repeating the order. We rigged a boom, manned the guys [wires] and ran the winch for him; and hoisted the buckets over the side.4 After taking one he gave orders to shove off. One of his men through one of mine informed me that the Admiral ordered that we do everything but shovel coal.5 I did not see Mr. Fremont, nor did he transmit any order to me.
2.- I came in and went alongside as soon as the Oregon anchored. She did not arrive here until 8 am. Captain Clark6 claimed that the hatches were not opened. It probably took five minutes to open them. they were simply covered. He would not use our means of coaling, that is buckets, he hoisted one bag of coal at a time. The Marblehead and Texas hoist four in the same time. Captain Clark has six or eight bags, he was alongside one hour before he began coaling at 10 am. The Texas began work in fifteen minutes.
3.- We did not arrive here earlier because I was not familiar with the port and had to find it; this I did at day light; and steamed in as soon as possible, and arrived here as soon as Captain Clark could use me. The day before off Santiago, I had requested him to use the port side; here he ordered me to come alongside on his port side, all our booms were rigged for the port side. Our fore and aft bridges are on the starboard side, and the after one carries the wheel ropes which we cannot remove until we stop steering.
I am not only most anxious to afford every facility for every ship that comes alongside for coaling, for water, or for anything I can do; but it also gives me great pleasure to do so.
M. B. Buford
Lt. Commander, U.S. Navy,
Source Note: ALS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 231. Addressed below close: ”To/Rear Admiral W.T. Sampson;/Commander in Chief of/North Atlantic Station.” On the top of the first page is the stamp of the U.S.S. Marblehead with the date “JUN 13.” There is a second stamp on the first page that reads: “RECEIVED/FLAG-SHIP N. A. STATION/JUN 13 1898.” On a separate sheet it is docketed: “U.S.S. Abarenda,/Guatanamo, Cuba,/June 13. 1898.” There is a note on the right side of the fold of that sheet: “1st Endorsement/U.S.S. Marblehead/June 13- 1898./Respectfully forwarded/I have found Comm/ander Buford most/willing and desirous/of his doing everything/in his power to/aid our forces here./BH McCalla./Commander.”
Footnote 1: Lt. John C. Fremont, commander of the torpedo boat Porter.
Footnote 2: A hatch coaming is a raised cover around a deck opening designed to keep out water.
Footnote 3: See: RAdm. Sampson to Cmdr. Robert E. Impey, 12 June 1898.
Footnote 4: The coal (either in bags or buckets) was transported from to ship-to-ship by a main boom arm and steadied by guy wires.
Footnote 5: See, Endnote 3.
Footnote 6: Capt. Charles E. Clark of Oregon.