Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

President William McKinley to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

Executive Mansion, Washington, July 20, 1898.

Hon. John D. Long. Secretary of the Navy.

Sir: I hand you a dispatch just received from General Miles.1 It is evident to me from this dispatch that Admiral Sampson2 is not proposing to furnish such assistance as I have heretofore directed. He should send enough ships, and strong enough, as will enable General Miles to land his troops in safety at Point Fajardo, Cape San Juan, and to remain so long as their assistance is needed.

     General Wilson has already sailed from Charleston, with orders to proceed to Point Fajardo.3 If your convoy is delayed he will reach Point Fajardo. If your convoy is delayed he will reach Point Fajardo without any protection whatever, which must not be permitted. Wilson can not be reached by wire. He has no guns on his ships. The Secretary of War says that General Wilson is due to arrive at Point Fajardo in three or four days. Prompt action should be taken to give General Wilson protection on his arrival there. It seems to me a cruiser or battle ship, or both, should be detailed for this duty.

     Please see that the necessary orders are issued at once.4

William McKinley.

12 m., Wednesday, July 20, 1898.

Source Note Print: Correspondence-War with Spain, 1, pp. 297-98.

Footnote 2: RAdm. William T. Sampson explained his actions in a letter to Long, see: Sampson to Long, ­­­22 July 1898.

Footnote 3: Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson had received orders from Miles to sail to Point Fajardo on 19 July; his command, numbering some 3,400 men, sailed from Charleston, SC, on 20 July. Ibid., 294, 295.

Footnote 4: On the same day, Long sent a message to Sampson that read: “Miles sends repeated messages to War Department that he is delayed in starting his transports to Porto Rico by the failure of the Navy to furnish naval assistance. Hasten adequate assistance as rapidly as possible and report to Department. What kind of naval assistance does Miles desire?” DNA, RG 45, Entry 371, p. 188.

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