Captain James H. Sands to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
U. S. S. Columbia, 1st Rate,
Off Santiago de Cuba,
June [July] 16, 1898.
1. I have to inform you that since the 19th June the “Columbia” has been given despatch orders from port to port, which orders have prevented my keeping her bunkers full of coal, only 680 tons having been received during this interval.
2. I have now but 400 tons of coal on board and in the event of a gale, which is possible at this season, I should consider the ship in danger for want of fuel.
3. I have both yesterday and today brought this condition of affairs to the attention of the proper officers of the Army and have just received a verbal message, through the Major commanding the battalion of Illinois Volunteers on board this ship, from the Commanding General of the Army that the latter will take no steps to transfer these troops to an army transport.
4. I need coal, I cannot coal with these troops on board, and the Commanding General of the Army declines to act.
5. These troops have already been on board ship for eight days, and the efficiency of the ship will be impaired by their further presence.
6. I request instructions.
James H. Sands,
Captain, U.S.N., Comd’g.
Source Note: TLS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 232. The letter is misdated. It was written on 16 July as can be seen from the date it was received. That date is confirmed by the contents. Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief, North Atlantic Station.” Stamped at top: “RECEIVED/FLAG-SHIP N. A. STATION/JUL 16 1898.”