Rear Admiral Montgomery Sicard, President of the Naval War Board, to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long
Washington, July 5th, 1898.
The Board recommends that the following telegram be sent to Admiral Sampson.
Rear Adml. Pres. of Board.
You are instructed not to risk the loss of any armored vessel by submarine mines, unless for the most urgent reasons, as the
Department does not consider the capture of Santiago, or the army defending it, to be a sufficient object for such a sacrifice, as the duration and result of this war is to will depend chiefly upon the superiority of our navy to that of the enemy. It has always been considered here that if you will batter the Morro1 and the army will assault and take it, they could hold the banks of the entrance and drive out the enemy’s infantry from the vicinity of the mine field, thus enabling your boats, backed up also by the ship’s fire to clear a channel through which your ships could enter and take the place.2
Source Note: CbCyS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 372. The letter is typed on Naval Department stationery.
Footnote 1: Morro Castle defended the entrance to Santiago Bay.
Footnote 2: Starting in early July, Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter began lobbying for the Navy to force its way into Santiago Bay without army assistance. For the relevant correspondence, see: William T. Sampson to Long, 15 July 1898.