Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Rear Admiral Montgomery Sicard, Commander, North Atlantic Station

 

TRANSLATION.                 [Washington, D.C.] March 15, 1898

Sicard, Key West

     The Department desires to have some confidential officer, not connected with the court to bring the findings of the Court of Inquiry as soon as agreed upon, instead of telegraphing them in cipher.1 The formal report can be sent later when finished. The Department would be glad to know that the findings of the Court of Inquiry can be expected soon.2

                                              Long

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 29. Both the date and Long’s name are handwritten, presumably by the person who decoded the message. That it was a coded transmission is derived from the fact that “TRANSLATION” appears at the top of the document.

Footnote 1: On the importance of the Court’s findings, see: Long to Sampson, 1 March 1898.

Footnote 2: The Court of Inquiry issued its findings on 21 March 1898. This document calls into question the assertion later made by Long that the Navy Department knew nothing about the findings of the Court until its report was received in Washington and publicly released. In a later review of the Navy’s actions before and during the war, Commo. Arent S. Crowninshield stated that the Navy had considered having the report telegraphed “in cipher” before its public release in order to be “better informed of the necessity of preparation for war.” But, he added, because the proceedings of the court were protracted and the preparations for war within the Navy had reached such an advanced stage “this step was not considered necessary.” DNA, RG 24, Entry 254. In a conversation with the American ambassador Stewart L. Woodford with the Spanish foreign minister Pío Gullón e Iglesias on 25 March, the Spanish foreign minister proposed that the findings of the Court of Inquiry not be sent to Congress but instead “held as the subject of diplomatic adjustment between the two governments.” See, Long, “The Navy Department in the War,” in The American-Spanish War: A History by the War Leaders (Norwich, CT: Charles C. Haskell & Son, 1899), 343; and Woodford to Secretary of State John Sherman, 25 March 1898, FRUS, 1898, 701.

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