Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet, to Major General William R. Shafter

U. S. F. S. New York, 1st Rate,

Guantanamo Bay,  Cuba,

August 2, 1898.

Dear Sir:--

          As the principal ships on the southern blockade are to depart from these waters for a cruise to the Mediterranean,1 it is probably right and proper that I should inform you that they may leave Guantanamo on Friday next.2

     2.   It has for some time been in contemplation to remove the small Battalion of Marines that have been encamped on the borders of the Bay, to some other point, where they would not probably be of more service than at Guantanamo. As I am unaware of what your intentions are with regard to the Army,--and if it is compatible with your duties—-I would be pleased to learn whether you intend to occupy the country westward of Santiago; or in which direction you are most likely to operate; because it is my wish to co-operate with you as far as I am able to do so, and this plan of co-operation would determine whether the Marines should be moved to Manzanillo or some point to the westward; or whether they should go at once to a point on the northern coast of the Island, where their services are now needed.3

     3.   I have received your telegram of August 1st, and beg to inform you that in asking for an opportunity to sign the terms of the capitulation of the Province of Santiago, I was acting in conformity with a telegram from the Secretary of War, transmitted to me by the Honorable Secretary of the Navy.4

Very respectfully,

WT Sampson com

Rear Admiral,U. S. Navy,

Commander in Chief, U.S.Naval Force,

North Atlantic Station.

Source Note: CyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 237. Addressed below close: “Major General/Wm. R. SHAFTER, U. S. V.,/Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.” Reference number at the top of both pages of the letter: “No. 36.”

Footnote 1: On the decision to send a fleet to the Mediterranean, see: John D. Long to Sampson, 15 July 1898.

Footnote 2: That is, 5 August 1898.

Footnote 3: Shafter had declared the war “virtually closed” after the Spanish surrender of Santiago. Cosmas, Army for Empire, 230. In fact, because of an outbreak of yellow fever, he was pleading to have his army withdrawn altogether so obviously he had no plans for a campaign in western Cuba. See, Shafter to Adjutant General Henry C. Corbin, 3 August, Correspondence-War with Spain, 200-1. On 5 August, the First Marine Battalion boarded Resolute intending to land near Manzanillo, Cuba, on 13 August, and outflank Spanish entrenchments there. However, before the operation commenced, word arrived that a peace protocol had been signed between the United States and Spain. The Resolute and the Marines were then diverted to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, arriving there on 26 August. Marines in the Spanish-American War, 26.

Footnote 4: On the controversy concerning Sampson not signing the capitulation agreement, see: Sampson to John D. Long, 4 August 1898.

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