Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

Washington, May 26, 1898.

 

     Schley telegraphs from Santiago de Cuba he must go to Key West with his squadron for coal, though he has four thousand tons of coal with him in a broken down collier.1 How soon after arrival of Schley at Key West could you reach Santiago de Cuba with New York, and Oregon, the Indiana and some lighter vessels, and how long could you blockade there, sending your vessels singly to coal from our colliers at Gonaives Channel, Mole, Hayti, Port Nipe, Cuba, or elsewhere.2 There is one collier enroute to Mole, Hayti from Norfolk, and another has been ordered there from Key West and others will, be sent immediately. Consider if you could seize Guantanamo and occupy as a coaling station.3 Schley has not ascertained whether the Spanish division is at Santiago de Cuba. All information here seems to show that it is there.

LONG.

Source Note: CCDecy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 28. Above text right hand side: “Sampson, Key West.” Sometimes there was no spacing between words; this typographical error has been silently corrected.

Footnote 1: That is, U.S. Navy collier Merrimac. Authorities in the Navy Department were confused at the inability of Commo. Winfield S. Schley to locate the Spanish fleet and his insistence that he did not have enough coal. See: The Flying Squadron and the Search for the Spanish Fleet.

Footnote 2: Gonaives Channel is located on the west coast (Gulf of Gonâve) of Haiti north of Port-au-Prince; Mole St. Nicholas is located on the north coast of Haiti; and Port Nipe is located on the north coast of Cuba east of Havana.

Footnote 3: United States Marines occupied Guantánamo Bay on 6 June.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Pascual Cervera y Topete’s squadron arrived at Santiago de Cuba on 19 May.

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