Major General William R. Schafter to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
Headquarters 5th Army Corps.
Before Santiago de Cuba,July 17, 1898.
I am in receipt of your letter of this date and in reply beg to state that I received the surrender of the Officers of the Navy at the same time that I did of those of the Army from General Toral;1 and that I placed detachment on board all of the floating material in the harbor in accordance with orders from the Secretary of War.2 I have no interest in the matter personally, whatever, further than to carry out my instructions; and as they stand at present it will be impossible for me to comply with your request to turn over the ships surrendered to me this morning in the harbor. If you are entitled to them of course there will be no difficulty in your getting an order for them from our mutual superior, the President or from the respective heads of the Navy and War Departments.3 Detachments of Commissioned Officer and some enlisted men were sent by me early this morning to take charge of the war material in the forts near the entrance to the harbor, and to make an inventory of same. You are quite correct in not seeking an American flag flying, as I had in my command but one flag other than those belonging to regiments, which was hoisted over the Governor’s Official residence in the City of Santiago to_day. The American flag will, however, be hoisted there to_morrow. I hope the entrance to the harbor will be cleared out with the least possible delay; as there are a number of starving people in this city and I am greatly cramped for rations and other material for the use of my men, which we cant get at until I get into the harbor with my transports.
Trusting that this will be satisfactory, I am
W.m R Schafter
Major General U.S.V.,
Source Note: TDS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 235. Addressed before opening: “Admiral Sampson,/Commanding Naval Forces,.” Document is on “Headquarters 5th Army Corps.,” stationary.”
Footnote 1: General José Toral y Vázquez of the Royal Spanish Army.
Footnote 2: Secretary of War Russell A. Alger.
Footnote 3: President William McKinley and Secretary of the Navy John D. Long.