Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet, to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

TELEGRAM

Off Santiago [Cuba], July 16, 1898.

     Referring to your telegram of June 24th,1 the Commanding General of the Army2 desires to move for Porto Rico, with the troops remaining here aboard the “Columbia,” “Yale,” and “Duchess,” which have not been landed, probably under 3,000 men. They have requested convoy of heavy ships, capable of rendering very decided naval support. As the various expeditions ordered by the Department require nearly all of our naval force, I suggest no  x  x  x  convoy to accompany these ships. The “Columbia” has now on board 400 tons of coal and can get more at Guantanamo. Think as the “New Orleans” is blockading San Juan, not far from the proposed landing,3 she can render any further assistance, if it is required by the Army. I recommend the “Columbia” detain Cape San Juan until relieved by the convoy from Tampa, as the troops leaving here must await arrival of Tampa troops before attacking.4

SAMPSON.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 80, Entry 194, vol. 1, pp. 285-86. Addressed before opening: “Secretary of Navy,/Washington.”

Footnote 1: In a telegram of 24 June, Long ordered Sampson to prepare to send to Spain and the Philippines five ships in his command. Ibid., 221. There were also plans to seize the Bay of Nipe on the northern coast of Cuba in order to use it as a staging area for the Puerto Rico invasion.

Footnote 2: Maj. Gen. Nelson A. Miles. On 16 July, he wrote Sampson informing him of his orders to “take and occupy Porto Rico” with an expedition of “some 25,000 men” and asking for a consultation with Sampson “concerning the enterprise and advise with you as to the best point of debarkation.” DNA, AFNRC, M625, Roll 235.

Footnote 3: The proposed landing site was Fajardo in the Cape of San Juan.

Footnote 4: For Long’s response, see: Long to Sampson, 17 July 1898.

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