Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Major General Nelson A. Miles to Secretary of War Russell A. Alger

Personal and confidential.]

Ponce, via Bermuda, August 10, 1898. 

(Received 10.50 p. m.)

Secretary of War, Washington:

     I am fully convinced that Sampson has sent orders to the commander of this fleet, soon as army leaves south coast to take his fleet, go round to San Juan, and demand the surrender of the capital or bombard the city, and not to waste ammunition on any of the batteries. First, to bombard a city containing innocent women and children would be a violation of the first order of the President. Second, it is an interference with the work given the army by the President. I ask that any such action be suspended. After we have raised the flag over all the principal cities and arrived at San Juan, any aid by the navy against land batteries, entrenchments, or fortifications would be advisable, but not against a city of noncombatants. The control of all military affairs on the land of this island can be safely left to the army.1

Miles.

Source Note Print: U.S. Senate, Report of the Commission Appointed by the President to Investigate the Conduct of the War Department in the War With Spain, Volumes 1-8, 56th Congress, 1st Session, Senate Document 221. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1900), p. 1456.

Footnote 1: In a reply of the same day, Alger assured Miles that he had no cause for apprehension, ”but, for a certainty, positive orders have been issued prohibiting the move you suggest.” Correspondence-War with Spain, 1: 380.

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