Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

Headquarters of the Army,

on Board U.S.S.Yale,Guantanamo Bay,    

July 21, 1898

CABLEGRAM.

Secretary War,

     Washington, D.C.

          “Last night I sent this letter:

              “July 20. Admiral Sampson,1

                   Commanding North Atlantic Squadron.

Sir: I am informed by my Adjutant-General that you have designated the Yale and Columbia as ships to render the assistance for landing of the troops and for maintaining their landing, and also the Cincinnati, the whereabouts of which I understand is not known, and the New Orleans, if it is at San Juan. If the latter vessel is not at San Juan it ought to be, and remain there; otherwise the port is left open with nothing to prevent the Spanish gunboats known to be there from coming out and capturing our transports now en route to Cape San Juan. Second, since it is not known where the Cincinnati is, it may or may not be of any assistance. Thire, the Columbia and Yale could not silence a battery of light artillery on shore without jeopardizing the lives of 300 to 1,500 troops on board. In view of the above facts I have to inform you that I do not consider the force above mentioned available or sufficient to cover the landing of some 10,000 men now en route to Cape San Juan, and I have to request that an additional and ample force be immediately ordered to those waters. Very respectfully, Nelson A. Miles, Major General Commanding U.S. Army.

     Have received the following reply:

U. S. Flagship New York, 1st Rate, Guantanamo Bay, July 20,1898.

Nelson A. Miles,

     Major-General Commanding U.S.Army.

Sir:- Referring to your letter of this date, the Cincinnati is ordered by telegraph here. She is either at Key West or within easy reach from there on the Havana blockade. The Annapolis, Wasp, and Leyden, ordered to attack Port Nipe, have been ordered to Cape San Juan to assist in the expedition. The Gloucester will be added. Three monitors will join the expedition. The Cincinnati, Yale, Columbia, Annapolis, Wasp, Gloucester, and Leyden are amply sufficient to cover the landing of 10,000 men at the point names without the monitors. The first four are capable of silencing anything short of heavy guns in position. Very respectfully, W. T.Sampson,Rear-Admiral, U.S.Navy,Commander-in-Chief,U.S.Naval Forces,North Atlantic Station.

     With this support I will sail as quickly as Columbia can get sufficient coal to take her to Cape San Juan and last a few days. All are very glad at the prospect of reaching their destination.

MILES,       

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,        

Playa del Este,July 21, 1898.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 108, Entry 118, vol. 2, pp. 111-12.

Footnote 1: Radm. William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet.

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