Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

298.                          U. S. Flagship New York,1st Rate,

Guantanamo Bay, [Cuba]

August 3rd, 1898.

Sir:-

     I have the honor to submit the following report,covering the conduct of the fleet under my command in its operations ending with the destruction of the Spanish Squadron under Admiral Cervera.1

     Information being received of the sailing April 29th of Admiral Cervera’s Squadron from the Cape Verde Islands it was decided with the concurrence of the Department that a squadron should go into the Windward Passage for the purpose of observation, with a view of going further east if thought advisable, making en route Cape Haitien a place of call for despatches.

May 4th. The flagship left Key West at 5:45 a.m. of May

4th,having appointed a rendezvous of the several ships     

which were selected to form the squadron off Cruz del Padre

Light, Nicholas Channel at 6 p. m. of that day.2

     The flagship calling off Havana,proceeded to the rendezvous in company with the Iowa, Indiana and Detroit. The Terror, Amphitrite, Montgomery, Porter, Wompatuck and the Collier Niagara were already there. The squadron at once stood eastward, the monitors being taken in tow.

     This was the beginning of our experience with the inefficiency of the monitors.3 Their coal supply was so small that it was at once evident that they must either frequently coal, or they must be towed. Therefore the “NEW YORK” took one of the monitors in tow, and the other was towed by the “Iowa”. There resulted endless trouble and delay from the breaking of towlines, etc. At the first opportunity, when the sea was sufficiently smooth, the monitors were given coal from the “Niagara”, and again taken in tow. Had the sea been rough, or had the enemy appeared at this juncture, the Squadron would have been in a much better position for an engagement had the monitors been elsewhere. Subsequently, when engaging the batteries of San Juan, it was evident that their shooting was very bad, owing to the quick rolling of these vessels,even in a very moderate sea, they were unable to fire with any degree of accuracy.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 47, pp. 1-2.

Footnote 1: The destruction of the Spanish squadron commanded by Adm. Pascual Cervera y Topete occurred at the battle off Santiago de Cuba on 3 July 1898. See: Cervera’s Report of the Battle of Santiago Bay.

Footnote 2: Cruz del Padre lighthouse is on the north coast of Cuba in Matanzas Province.

Footnote 3: The monitors were: Terror, Amphitrite, and Montgomery.

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