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Captain Henry C. Taylor to Commodore George C. Remey, Commandant, Key West Naval Base

U.S.S.Indiana, 1st rate,

Off Key West, Fla,

June 12th,1898.


     I have the honor to report that in obediance to your orders I proceeded to scour the Straits and Channells between Key West,Cuba,and Bahama bank, beginning the search at daylight June 9th,and returning tobKey West at daylight, June 12th.

     Kay Sal Bank1 and its vicinity were thoroughly serched The Light keeper at Ebow Kay2 stated that he had seen the Spanish vessels passing that way. He is very friendly to Americans and wil[l] gladly give any information, at all times, whenever consistent with his duties as an English employee. The Nicolas Channell3 was occupied for two days and two nights by several vessels of the detachment.The Old Bahama Channell was traversed as far as Lobos Kay by the MONTGOMERY,and the light keeper there is also friendly to theUnitedStates and stated that he had seen no Spanish ship but describer a detachment which passed Wednesday Afternoon in a manner which identified it to have been the ARMERIA,the SCORPION, and the SUPPLY.The waters about Cay Frances were visited and no vessels were seen except a few small sail boats and other craft which scattered upon the approach of the BaNCROFT and VESIVUS [VESUVIUS]. The Indiana loked into Sague la Grande at a distance of a few mile This port is not at present covered by the proclamation of blockad[e] and appears to be very busy[.] A number of schooners, small steammers and small craft lying inside were seen and a merchant steamer with English colors of a size that would indicate 12to 14 feet draft and an armed tug with Spanish colors in one of the entrance were also seen.The tow[n] which is the port of embarcation of Sagua la Grande which is furtther inland connected by rail, also presents a buisy and prosperou[s] appearance. I respectfully suggest that a large flotilla of small craft well armed, in company with the Helena, WILMINGTON, and NASHVILLE class and with one or two heavier armed ships to lie outside, could occupy this port without great loss and its ovcupation would in my opinion do much to assistin such further operations as the Commander-in-Chief4 and the Government might contemplate.

     At 6:00 A.M. ,June 11th,the EAGLE brought me your orders in obedience to which I dispatched the MONTGOMERY to the Havana blockade to report to CommodoreWatson5 and proceeded with the Commander of my force directly to Key West.6

     The force under my command was enabled to make a close examination of all sides of Cay Sal Bank, of the south and southwest sides of Bahama Bank, of the North shore of Cuba from opposite Dohes Cay7 to the westward to Cardenas and all the straits and channells within these shores and between them and Key West.

     As a result of our search, I have to state that no Spanish ships of wa[r] were seen nor did we obtain any sign that they had been in these waters.

Very respectfully,          

(sgd) H.C.Taylor,           

Captain Commanding.         

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, PHT. Addressed below close: “Commodore Geo. Remey, U.S.Navy,/Commanding Naval Base,/Key West,Fla.” Remey extracted a portion of this letter concerning a possible blockade of Sagua La Grande and sent it to Secretary of Navy John D. Long on 14 June.

Footnote 1: Cay Sal Bank is the westernmost of the Bahama banks.

Footnote 2: That is, Elbow Cay, a six-mile long cay in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas.

Footnote 3: Nicholas Channel, or Saint Nicholas Channel, is a strait along the northwestern coast of Cuba ninety miles east of Havana. It separates Cuba from the most southwestern of the Bahama Islands.

Footnote 4: RAdm. William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 5: Commo. John C. Watson, Commander, Northern Blockading Squadron.

Footnote 6: Taylor commanded the detachment searching for the rumored Spanish squadron. “Commander” is probably a typographical error; the intended word is “remainder.”

Footnote 7: Presumably, Damas Cay, which is in the approximate center of the Cay Sal Bank.

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