Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Charles H. Allen to Secretary of War Russell Alger

June 7, 1898.

Sir:

     I have the honor to transmit, herewith, the following copy of a telegram, dated the 6th instant, received from the United States Consul at San Juan, Porto Rico (now at St. Thomas, W. I.):1

     “If our Government intends to invade Porto Rico, I consider it important not to underrated Spanish strength. Fortifications San Juan strengthened since last bombardment. Mines have been placed outside, cannons along shore at all sea ports.  Her army consists of 5000 regulars, 7000 colonial; besides these, 16,000 volunteers are reported, likely to increase. We cannot now risk no less than 25,000 to take island, without hard fighting.2  

Hanna, Consul.”

Very respectfully,                        

Charles H. Allen3

Acting Secretary.           

Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 29. Addressed below close: “The Honorable/The Secretary of War.” Handwritten reference no. in left corner: “117621.”

Footnote 1: Philip C. Hanna was the last American consul in Puerto Rico; he left San Juan on 7 April. See, New York Times, 12 Apr. 1898.

Footnote 2: The arrival of RAdm. Pascual Cervera y Topete’s squadron at Santiago de Cuba placed the combine focus of the Army and Navy on that port, but Puerto Rico remained a second objective. Cosmas, Army for Empire, 179.

Footnote 3: President William McKinley named Charles H. Allen Assistant Secretary of the Navy on 11 May, after Theodore Roosevelt’s resignation.

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