Commander Richardson Clover to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
REPORT OF CONDITION AND EMPLOYMENT U.S.S. BANCROFT
MONTH OF JUNE 1898.
June 1st. Key West. Waiting to Convoy Army.
June 2nd. " " " " "
June 3rd. " " " " "
June 3rd. " " " " "
June 4th. " " " " "
June 5th. " " " " "
June 6th. " " (Filled up with coal).
June 7th. " Waiting to Convoy Army.
June 8th. " " " " "
June 9th. At sea. At 4 A.M. got underway and reported
to Captain Taylor,1 Commanding “Indiana” off Sand Key Lt.2 At 6 A.M. cruised to Eastward in search of Spanish fleet, accompanied by Montgomery, Detroit and Vesuvius. At 4 P.M. landed a boat’s crew and officer the Spanish possession Cay Sal, saw no signs of present habitation.
June 10th. At sea. Ran into Cay Frances3 in company
with Vesuvius, in afternoon rejoined squadron.
June 11th. At sea.
June 12th. Key West. Arrived Key West 7 A.M. coaled ship
and reported ready 6 P.M.
June 13th. Key West. Waiting orders.
June 14th. At sea. At 4:30 got underway and went to
sea with convoy fleet.
June 15th. " At midnight picked up Army
transport fleet near Tortugas, and headed to Eastward.
June 16th. " As convoy; leading left rear
June 17th. " Received order to drop back and
assume charge of rear of convoy. Assisted by the Wasp. Transferred hawser to transport “City of Washington” which had parted her tow line.5
June 18th. " Bermuda Channel. Received order
from Senior Officer to take charge of all straggling transports and proceed to Santiago. At 6 P.M. saw strange vessel standing to Westward. Stood over for her, and saw she was a transport, and hoisted signal “I want to speak to you”. She made no acknowledgement but turned in opposite direction. After a short chase she was hove to with a blank charge. Said she had been sent to rear to look out for City of Washington. In inquiry why she had not hoisted her colors, or answered signal, said it was the fault of the quartermaster. It proved to be No. 8 the Yucatan with Wood’s Texas Rough Riders.6 She was informed that she had violated the rules of convoy.—-that the BANCROFT was in charge of the rear and she was assigned station to left of City of Washington.
June 19th. At sea. Separate from rest of Convoy. Rear,
consisted of transports Yucatan, City of Washington with schooner of water in tow, convoyed by BANCROFT and Wasp. At 8 A.M. sighted strange steamer, tried to heave her to with blank charge but failed, so fired solid shot. She proved to be the American fruiter Ethelwold, bearing the English flag bound from Philadelphia to San Antonio.7
June 20th. At sea. Arrived off Santiago with rear of
convoy at 1:00 P.M. and reported to Senior Officer who had arrived with body of convoy at 10:00 A.M.8 Proceeded to the vicinity of the Morro of Santiago at 5:00 P.M. and delivered mail for the fleet to the flagship New York, then rejoined Convoy fleet.
June 21st. At sea. Steaming around off Santiago with
transport fleet. At 2:15 P.M. Commanding Officer of BANCROFT reported on board the transport Seguranca in compliance with signal.9 It was reported that the Seguranca had been all the forenoon, signaling the transports without avail. After conferring with General Shafter, and Captain Taylor, Senior Officer of the Convoy, the BANCROFT at 2:30 P.M. proceeded among the transports to collect and embark the various division and brigade commanders. Due to the heavy sea there was delay in getting them on board and Col. Van Horn was seriously injured.10 It was near 6 P.M. when the BANCROFT returned to Seguranca. When first boat load had been transferred signal was made from Seguranca for rest to remain on board, on account of the heavy sea. BANCROFT signaled General Shafter that it would likely be impossible to find all the vessels after dark. About dark the party returned with several in addition, including Capt. Brice, Gen. Shafter’s aide,11 who had communications for nearly all the transports, with statement that Captain Taylor had given permission for the BANCROFT to deliver these despatches, and put the various officers on board their vessels. At this time the convoy began to get into column in obedience to signals. Captains of transports were engaged with the care of their vessels and would not respond, readily to calls, and were adverse to moving out of column or to slowing down. Transport 14 was identified and Brigade Commander put alongside, when after some delay our boat returned, he was still in it, having been told by some irresponsible person of the transport when alongside that it was No. 17. A search light was put on her showing she was No. 14, and after much delay she was again induced to stop, and the Brigade Commander was finally placed on board his vessel, all of which induced disorder in the rear vessels of the columns. After three Generals had been placed on board their vessels, about midnight I decided to turn the BANCROFT towards Daiquiri, and wait for daylight. This met with the approval of all the Army officers, who though keenly anxious to get to their commands recognized the impossibilities and danger to themselves, in attempting to transfer at night, and were glad to rest a few hours.
June 22nd. Off Daiquiri, At daylight we were off Daiquiri
And Altares. and signal was made for transports to communicate; with constant use of the steam whistle we were enabled by 6:30 A.M. to disembark all parties and despatches, and at 7:30 were
off at our station off Altares. Commander Marix of the Vixen,12 though bearing the despatches, volunteered and aided in getting the Generals to their commands. The BANCROFT in company with the Annapolis, Helena and Hornet engaged in shelling the blockforts, about 9 A.M., and scattered several companies of infantry which came down the hill towards the railroad bridge, and subsequently several houses were burned; before evening the other vessels withdrew towards Daiquiri everything being quiet about Altares. At sundown the BANCROFT was moved close into the beach and it was discovered, with a long glass, that the enemy were throwing up breastworks in the brush on the side of the hill; opened fire with one four inch gun, and at second shot, shell exploded directly in earthworks.
June 23rd. At sea. At 6 o’clock in obedience to an
order from Captain Goodrich,13 the BANCROFT proceeded to Daiquiri and placed her steam launch at the disposal of General Shafter. At 11 o’clock General Shafter requested that the BANCROFT make observation at Altares to see if our troops had possession, which was done, returning about noon and reported in person to General Shafter that our troops were in possession, scattered in all directions some in bathing; also told about the attempted erection of the earthworks previous night. Was at the point of taking two telegraph operators to Altares for Gen. Shafter when the Wasp delivered order from Commander-in-Chief for the BANCROFT to proceed to Guantanamo, coal and report to Commodore Watson on North side.14 Arrived Guantanamo at 8:30 P.M. having transferred Naval Cadets Wood and Horne en route to the Texas.15
June 24th. Guantanamo Coaling ship. Sent Ensign Phelps
on patrol duty.16
June 25th. " At 2 A.M. sent armed party with
steam launch and gatling, under charge of Ensign Vogelgesang also Surgeon Shipp and three boats to join expedition to Punta del Hicacal.17 Party returned at 7:45 A.M. finding enemy gone. At 8 A.M. sent steam launch + whale boat to drag for torpedoes, in channel near Punta del Hicacal. Got one torpedo. At 6:30 sent Lieut. Wilson with armed launch for night patrol duty.18
June 26th. " ----------
June 27th. " ----------
June 28th. " At 1:45 left for Blockade North
side of Cuba.
June 29th. At sea. Off N.E. end of Cuba, At 2 o’clock
sighted a steamer, run for her, but she seemed to reverse her course to E’d. and put out lights. Gave up chase; engines turning over slowly. At daylight resumed speed there being no vessel in sight. At 4 P.M. came up with Newark, flying pennant of Commodore Watson, also the Castine. Reported on board Newark and received orders from Com. Watson to make observation at Sagua la Grande. Same orders were given to Castine.
June 30th. At sea. At 3 P.M. steamed in close to
anchorage at Cay Frances. Several sailing vessels ran back of the Cay on first approach. Fired several shots at long range without effect. At 3:30 proceeded to Sagua la Grande.
Commander U.S.N. Commanding.
Source Note: TD, DNA, RG 313, Entry 47. Upper right corner stamped: “RECEIVED/FLAG-SHIP N.A. STATION/JUL.”
Footnote 1: Capt. Henry C. Taylor.
Footnote 2: Sand Key Light is a lighthouse located 6.9 miles southwest of Key West, between Sand Key and Rock Key channels.
Footnote 3: That is, Cayo Frances, Cuba.
Footnote 4: A diagram showing the formation of the convoy, including the escorts, is to be found among the illustrations for this section.
Footnote 5: City of Washington was towing one of the water lighters that had been sent with the expedition.
Footnote 6: The First United States Volunteer Cavalry, known as the “Rough Riders,” was commanded by Col. Leonard Wood and Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt. According to one roster, Lt. Jacob Schwaizer was regimental quartermaster. Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1899), 234.
Footnote 7: Possible, Cape San Antonio, Cuba.
Footnote 8: The senior officer of the convoy was Capt. Henry C. Taylor.
Footnote 9: Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter had his headquarters on Seguranca.
Footnote 10: Col. James J. Van Horn commanded the first brigade, second division, Fifth Corps. The extent of his injuries are not known.
Footnote 11: Probably, Capt. Stewart M. Brice.
Footnote 12: Clover confused either the officer or the vessel. Lt. Cmdr. Adolph Marix commanded Scorpion; the commander of Vixen was Lt. Alexander Sharp, Jr.
Footnote 13: Capt. Caspar F. Goodrich was in charge of the landing operations at Daiquirí.
Footnote 14: Commo. John C. Watson was in command of the blockading squadron until 21 June.
Footnote 15: Either Duncan M., Robert T., or Welborn C. Wood and Frederick J. Horne.
Footnote 16: En. William W. Phelps.
Footnote 17: En. Charles T. Vogelgesang and Passed Assistant Surgeon Edward M. Shipp. For more on this operation, see the section on Guantánamo Operations.
Footnote 18: Lt. Henry B. Wilson.