Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Colby M. Chester to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U S S Cincinnati 2nd Rate

Arroyo, Porto Rico

Aug 3rd 1898

Sir

     I have the honor to report that the U S Steamers Gloucester and Wasp accompanied by Captain C. F. Goodrich1 of the St Louis left Ponce, Porto Rico on Aug 1st by direction of Captain Higginson2 of the Massachusetts to examine the ports to the eastward for a suitable place for disembarking the troops belonging to the U.S. Army Corps of Major General Brook.3 The Wasp returned the same day and Cap’t Goodrich reported to Cap’t Ludlow4 of the Terror who had just relieved me as Senior Officer, that this port, Arroyo, Porto Rico had been selected as the only place in the vicinity of Guayamo, that a landing could be made.5

In the mean time I had arranged with Major General Miles6 commanding the Army of the United States, for the naval convoy and the transfer of a number of barges from Ponce for use in disembarking the troops and material.

The St Louis started the same night with barges in tow and the Cincinnati and St Paul followed early yesterday, the 2nd inst.

Lieut Commander Wainwright7 of the Gloucester had taken possession of Arroyo and held the place during the night and until the arrival of the Army.

He found it necessary to fire some shell into the country back of the town seeing which, the St Louis which had anchored in the offing since morning, steamed in and assisted her with her 5 inch guns. The reports of these officers will give the details of this capture of the town of Arroyo by the navy which was most creditable to all concerned.

The disembarkation of the Army Corps is being pushed with all possible despatch.8 In anticipation of the advance of the army on Guayama, the Cincinnati and St Louis shelled the hills between that place and its port this p. m.

Very respectfully,

C. M. Chester

Captain U.S. Navy

Comd’g U.S.S. Cincinnati

Senior Officer Present.

Source Note: LS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 235. Addressed after close: “The Commander in chief/U S. F. S. New York.” On a separate sheet is a Bureau of Navigation stamp including the date “Aug 17 1898” and the identifying number “132929.” On the right side of that same page is: “U.S. FLAGSHIP New York,/Guantanamo Bay/Aug 9 1898/FORWARDED BY DIRECTION/OF COMMANDER IN CHIEF/F.E Chadwick/Captain USN/CHIEF OF STAFF.” The words in all capitals were a stamp.

Footnote 1: Capt. Caspar F. Goodrich.

Footnote 2: Capt. Francis J. Higginson.

Footnote 3: The expedition examined the harbors at Arroyo and Jobos. The army force that landed at Arroyo was commanded by Maj. Gen. John R. Brooke.

Footnote 4: Capt. Nicoll Ludlow.

Footnote 5: In his report, Goodrich, who went to Arroyo aboard Gloucester, discussed the terms under which he had accepted the “peaceful surrender of Arroyo.” He added that he had left the “details of occupation” to Lt. Cmdr. Richard Wainwright and that Wasp  had, in addition to providing support to the landing party, had taken soundings and created a lane by which “deep-draught vessels might safely approach” the landing place at Arroyo. Report of the Bureau of Navigation, 649.

Footnote 6: Maj. Gen. Nelson A. Miles.

Footnote 7: In his report on the landing, Brooke listed a number of difficulties that he encountered getting the troops ashore, adding: “had it not been for the presence of the navy the landing would have been impracticable, and but for the circumstance that a number of local lighter were available, which had the Spaniards been active, might have been destroyed, the assistance of the navy would have been of no avail in landing our artillery and horses, mules and wagons.” Report of the War Department, 1899, part 2, 139.

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