Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Charles D. Sigsbee to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U. S. S. ST. PAUL,       

Siboney, Cuba,       

July 14, 1898.

My dear Admiral:-

          As you well know the army at Siboney has no facilities for receiving a cargo from vessels. We have used the Leyden and our own boats, at 2.00 P. M. today we will have discharged all the store for the 8th Ohio regiment. I shall then proceed to Guantanamo Bay as directed by you where I shall discharge the navy stores into the Vulcan and the army stores, for the army in general, into the transport at the Bay to be sent by Colonel Humphrey,1 Quartermaster General here. I think both General Shafter2 and Colonel Humphrey have had and perhaps still have an idea that stores for the army should remain on board the auxiliary cruisers until Santiago is taken when the auxiliary vessels are expected by them to enter Santiago harbor. Aside from the fact that the ST. PAUL is greatly disorganized by this army work and is costing the government in her ordinary naval work about $4000 per day, I doubt that with her great length, which is 554 feet, she could enter Santiago harbor. However, that problem is now solved by my arrangement with Colonel Humphrey.

     I hope that I shall not be obliged to take the ST. PAUL to a pier again. The disorganizing effect is inconceivable. Drunkenness, dissertion, French leave and dirtiness are the result. It took ST. PAUL three days at a pier working her own crew and using all her own hoisting engines and those on the pier to [load] on board the cargo that we received. I am very glad to be useful to the army and the experience gained here for our men and boats is beautiful - to look back on.

     Soon after our arrival here, the army hospital ship Relief, which has no boat that can accommodate a stretcher for the wounded, begged the loan of one of our cutters to transport wounded men. Of course I complied. As a result, I was informed yesterday by the Senior Surgeon3 of the Relief that by some mistake our boat had been made to transport to that ship and then back ashore 3 men having yellow fever. The Doctor politely offered to care for our boat’s crew on board the Relief until they could tide over a period of quarantine. I accepted the offer and shall proceed to Guantanamo without the boat’s crew. I can pick the crew up here later on. I understand there are fifty cases of yellow fever on shore now.  General Miles4 has given an order to burn all the wooden buildings at Siboney and that work has proceeded for two days.

     I believe I wrote you that I have on board for the army among other things 450 boxes of army clothing, each box containing 160 suits and weighing 575 lbs.. I enclose a memorandum of boxes that I have for the navy to discharge into the Vulcan.

     Mr. J. W. Wadsworth, M. C.,5 who came down on board the ST. PAUL to visit the army for some purpose unknown to me was authorized by the Secretary of the Navy6 to take passage aboard a naval [vessel] both coming and going. He having performed his work or mission, whichever it may be, is now desirous of returning to the States, He would thank you very much to let him know should any opportunity for passage present itself. Should any naval vessel be sent North while the ST. PAUL is at Guantanamo, would you not direct her to touch at Guantanamo to take Mr. Wadsworth. He is a gentleman of the highest standing both in Congress and in New York State, a friend of Secretary Long and of the Navy and probably a future Governor of New York.

     The ST. PAUL will have 1650 tons of coal remaining on board at noon today. Her expenditure lying off this port is 50 tons per day. She burns at 15 knots speed 180 tons a day, and expends at 15 knots speed only 2 1/2 tons more per 100 miles than at 10 knots speed. Therefore, in running her, much time is saved with little additional expenditure of coal by running 15 knots instead of 10.

     If the ST. PAUL is to coal North she cannot remain here much longer. It will be a great convenience if you could let me know now what orders are in store for me. If it is intended to send the ST. PAUL North immediately our stores are discharged, I could take Mr. Wadsworth with me. My orders from the Navy Department were merely to proceed to sea, etc.. They did not even mention that I should come to Santiago. That part was apparently forgotten, so I preceded here by inference.

     I congratulate you most heartily on your splendid victory over the Spanish fleet and have undertaken in many directions to spread a correct understanding of the situation which has prevailed here so far as concerns your own predominant connection with that event. My opportunities have been excellent for that purpose. The work which you have done for the country has excited my great admiration and will be thoroughly understood to your great credit. There are no naval honors too great for you. I only regret that the ST. PAUL should not have been in the swim. But in the peculiar and not altogether satisfactory field which I have been obliged to occupy, I have done the best that my judgment could compass. 

     Kindest regards to yourself and Chadwick.7

                   Yours sincerely,

                        Captain,   U. S. N.,

                             Commanding.

Source Note: CbCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 45. Addressed below close: “To/Commander in Chief,/United States Naval Forces,/North Atlantic Station.”

Footnote 1: Col. Charles F. Humphrey.

Footnote 2: Maj. Gen. William R. Schafter.

Footnote 3: Senior Surgeon George H. Tourney, United States Army.

Footnote 4: Maj Gen. Nelson Miles.

Footnote 5: James Wolcott Wadsworth Sr. The reason for his trip is unknown, however, his son, James Wolcott Wadsworth Jr. was a Private in the United States Army in the Caribbean.  

Footnote 6: Secretary of the Navy John D. Long.

Footnote 7: Capt. French E. Chadwick.

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