Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Charles H. Allen to Commodore John A. Howell, Commander, Northern Patrol Squadron

LETTER

Washington, June 6, 1898.     

Sir:

     The Department desires to impress upon you the necessity of keeping your vessels coaled up to their full capacity for the present. The enemy have a number of fast auxiliary cruisers fitting out in Spanish ports, the principal of which are the Rapido and the Patria, formerly the Columbia and the Normania,1 and it would seem good policy on their part to attempt something against out coasting trade.

     It is the intention of the Department to reinforce you as soon as practicable, with some fast armed vessels, among others the St. Paul, Yale, Minneapolis, Yankee, Dixie, etc., and with these vessels you will be expected to patrol the coast and guard the usual routes pursued by the coast trade as to prevent the enemy’s fast cruisers from depredating upon our commerce.

     It is the intention to put batteries of 5 in. guns and 6 pdrs. on board the large ships, formerly the American liners,2 for the purpose of cruising in your squadron against the Spanish force aforementioned.

     The Department desires that you will acquaint yourself not only with the routes followed by the coasting trade, but where the largest amount of traffic takes place, as these points will require especial attention. You will please report these matters to the Department.

Respectfully,

CHAS. H. ALLEN,               

Acting Secretary.3          

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 80, Entry 194, vol. 1, p. 167. Addressed before opening: “Commodore Howell,/Commander-in-Chief,/Northern Patrol Squadron.”

Footnote 1: That is, Patriota and Normannia.

Footnote 2: The former passenger liners were: St. Louis, St. Paul, Harvard, and Yale.

Footnote 3: When Secretary of the Navy John D. Long was out of Washington, Allen functioned as Acting Secretary.

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