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

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

   Guantanamo Bay, August 1, 1898.

Sir: In order that a more complete history of the action of the fleet in combination with the Army, resulting in the surrender of Santiago, may be at the disposal of the Department, I have the honor to submit the following record in detail. This combined action was not only looked upon by me as a personal duty and pleasure, but it was so ordered by the President,1 as will appear below.

     Immediately upon the arrival of General Shafter off Santiago my chief of staff2 was sent to communicate with him and bring his headquarters ship up to the blockade. I then went aboard and went west with him to Acerraderos, where a consultation was held with General Garcia,3 who was encamped near there, and who suffered so from seasickness that he could not come afloat.

     On the 22d the landing of the army was satisfactorily begun at Daiquiri, the landing being accomplished with the boats of the squadron, the New Orleans, Detroit, Castine, Suwanee, and Wasp being detailed to cover the landing, and a feint being made to the westward of Santiago Harbor, which resulted in a long and continued engagement between the Texas and the western battery, in which the Texas had 1 man killed and 8 wounded.4

     The details of landing were placed in charge of Captain Goodrich, of the St. Louis, and were most efficiently and effectively carried out, the whole force being ashore on the 24th.5 Two thousand nine hundred and seventy-eight of General Garcia’s troops were transported on the 26th from Acerraderos to Siboney and there landed, Siboney also being occupied as a landing place by our forces on the 23d.

     On June 30 I received the following communication from General Shafter:

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,

Camp near San Juan River, June 30, 1898.

Sir: I expect to attack Santiago to-morrow morning. I wish you would bombard the works at Aguadores in support of a regiment of infantry which I shall send there early to-morrow, and also make such demonstration as you think proper at the mouth of the harbor, so as to keep as many of the enemy there as possible.

     Very truly, yours,

W. R. Shafter,

Major-General, U. S. V., Commanding.

     The New York, Suwanee, and Gloucester took position at daylight off Aguadores, which is a point about 3 miles east of the entrance of Santiago Harbor. This is a small indentation into which the San Juan River empties. There are two deep ravines running almost at right angles to one another, up the westerly one of which passes the railway by which iron ore is carried from Siboney into Santiago. The ravine down which the river comes is spanned by a large iron bridge, the westerly end of which had been blown up by the Spanish troops on the morning of June 27. There is an old fort with a long curtain running up the hill to the top, on the extension of which stands the Morro. A Spanish flag had flown continuously on this fort during our presence. Across the ravine from the fort were two rifle pits, and on the east bank of the river was a small blockhouse, which had been knocked to pieces by the ships stationed at that end of our line.

     The troops came by railroad which skirts the seashore from Siboney to within about a mile and a half of this ravine, the final detachment of troops arriving about 9.20.

     At 6.47 we had made signal to the forces ashore, “Are you waiting for us to begin?” They answered, “General6 is ahead with scouts.”

     At 6.50 we asked, “When do you want us to commence firing?” which was answered, “When the rest of the command arrives, of which I will signal you.”

     At 7.20 we were asked by signal, “Can you see western end of bank near bridge?” to which we answered, “Yes,” and sent the Suwanee inshore as near as possible in order to explain the situation by megaphone.

     We had observed a few men in one of the rifle pits, the number varying from 16 to 20, which was the whole of the Spanish forces discoverable by us.

     At 8.20 we were signaled, “Repeat the message about the bridge sent by the other boat (Suwanee).”

     At 9.18 we received signal, “This is General Duffield’s headquarters.”

     At 9.25, “Will be ready soon. When I signal to begin, direct attention first to rifle pit, next to fort and blockhouse, unless you can do both at once.—Duffield.”

     The fort, ravine, and rifle pits were then shelled by all three of our ships present, the enemy disappearing immediately, the troops advancing from the position where they had debarked from the cars to the eastern side of the ravine. The fort was much knocked about by our shells, the flagstaff being shot away by the Suwanee, and many shell were planted in the rifle pits.

     At 11.30 we were signaled, “Scouts report no damage to rifle pits; can you reach them?—Duffield.” To which we replied, “Yes, with ease, but there is no one in them.”

     At 11.40 we received signal, “Fire a few shots at rifle pit on the hill.”

     At 11.48 we signaled, “There are no Spaniards in the rifle pits.”

     As it was a useless expenditure of ammunition to fire shell into rifle pits where there was no enemy, we ceased firing for a time against these and began firing with 8-inch shell in the direction of Santiago, with an elevation of 8,500 yards.

     At 12.28 we received signal, “What is the news?” to which answer was made, “There is not a Spaniard in the rifle pits.”

     At 12.30 we were sent, “Reinforcements for the enemy reported,” to which reply was made, “Tell us where they are and we will shoot at them.”

     At 12.40 signal received, “Reported marching into old fort.” We replied, The Gloucester will take care of them. There is not a man in that fort.” This we could plainly see.

     Shortly after the enemy opened fire in the ravine with a small fieldpiece, which had evidently been brought down from Santiago, and our troops retired, having, as was later heard, lost 2 men killed, and several wounded.

     The New York took position and enfiladed this ravine, firing a number of 4 and 8 inch shells into it, upon which the firing on the part of the enemy immediately ceased and nothing more was seen or heard of them.

     At 12.50 signal was made to the Oregon, “Fire one 8-inch shell every five minutes in the direction of Santiago at extreme elevation.”

     This firing was carried on by the New York and Oregon until 1.45, when we ceased firing and stood back to station on blockade.

     On July 1 I received the following from General Shafter:

July 1, 1898.

Admiral Sampson,

     Commander in Chief North Atlantic Station:

I have been obliged to reduce my force at Daiquiri and Siboney on account of stubborn resistance, which necessitated my withdrawing most of my forces from these points.7 I wish you would keep a war ship to protect the immediate vicinity of landings at these places. We have had some terrific fighting, and I judge our casualties will reach 500. I wish you could silence the Punta Gorda battery, which has been bothering us considerably to-day.8

Wm. R. Shafter.

Kajo,9  July 1, 1898.

Admiral Sampson, Siboney:

     General Shafter’s compliments to Admiral Sampson. Wishes him to keep up his fire on Santiago on the water front. Enemy has 6-inch guns there annoying us very much [in] our moves. Our troops watching within a hundred yards of city on the east. Will assault at Daylight to-morrow morning.

     In consequence of these messages, the squadron was moved in close to the batteries and a heavy fire kept up for two hours upon these, and more particularly by some of the battle ships upon the Punta Gorda battery. The day previous a large number of 8-inch shell had been fired into Santiago City from near Aguadores by the New York and Oregon.

     On the 2d I received the following from General Shafter:

July 1, 1898.

Admiral Sampson, Siboney:

     A few shells of large size fell some distance behind our lines to-day. It is hardly possible that they came from your ships, but I can not account for them unless they came from the enemy’s navy.

W. R. Shafter, Major-General.

     Terrible fight yesterday, but my line is now strongly intrenched about three-fourths of a mile from town. I urge that you make effort immediately to force the entrance to avoid future losses among my men, which are already very heavy. You can operate with less loss of life than I can. Please telephone answer.

W. R. Shafter, Major-General.

     The following was telephoned to headquarters:

General Shafter:

     Admiral Sampson has this morning bombarded forts at entrance of Santiago and also Punta Gorda battery inside, silencing their fire. Do you wish further firing on his part? He began at 5.30 and finished at 7.30. Your message to him here. Impossible to force entrance until we can clear channel of mines, a work of some time after forts are taken possession of by your troops. Nothing in this direction accomplished yesterday by the advance on Aguadores.

Lieut. Staunton.10

and the following received:

     It is impossible for me to say when I can take batteries at entrance to harbor. If they are as difficult to take as those which we have been pitted against, it will be some time and a great loss of life. I am at a loss to see why the navy can not work under a destructive fire as well as the army. My loss yesterday was over 500 men.11 By all means keep up fire on everything in sight of you until demolished. I expect however in time, and sufficient men, to capture the forts along the bay.


I wrote General Shafter as follows:

No. 7]                               U. S. Flagship New York, 1st Rate,

Off Santiago de Cuba, July 2, 1898.

My Dear General: I have your note of this morning—just received at 11.20.

     An officer of my staff has already reported to you the firing which we did this morning, but I must say in addition to what he told you that the forts which we silenced were not the forts which would give you any inconvenience in capturing the city, as they can not fire except to seaward. They can not even prevent our entrance into the harbor of Santiago. Our trouble from the first has been that the channel to the harbor is well strewn with observation mines, which would certainly result in the sinking of one or more of our ships if we attempted to enter the harbor, and by the sinking of a ship the object of the attempt to enter the harbor would be defeated by the preventing of further progress on our part.

     It was my hope that an attack, on your part, of these shore batteries from the rear would leave us at liberty to drag the channel for torpedoes.

     If it is your earnest desire that we should force our entrance, I will at once prepare to undertake it. I think, however, that our position and yours would be made more difficult if, as is possible, we fail in our attempt.

     We have in our outfit at Guantanamo 40 courtermining mines, which I will bring here with as little delay as possible, and if we can succeed in freeing the entrance of mines by their use I will enter the harbor.

     This work, which is unfamiliar to us, will require considerable time.

     It is not so much the loss of men as it is the loss of ships which has until now deterred me from making a direct attack upon the ships within the port.

           Very truly, etc.

W. T. Sampson*12

     Maj. Gen. W. R. Shafter, U. S. V.

     In consequence of General Shafter’s request for assistance, a consultation was arranged to take place the morning of July 3, and horses were sent to Siboney for that purpose. I started for Siboney about 9 o’clock, but the sortie of Admiral Cervera’s fleet of course prevented my carrying out the arrangement.13

     The plans which I had proposed laying before General Shafter, and which had been very thoroughly discussed on board by myself and staff, included the countermining of the harbor entrance, the immediate entrance of the fleet, and the carrying of the Morro by assault with a thousand marines landed in Estrella Cove; or, using the marines for carrying the western battery,14 the Morro to be attacked by a detachment of the army, the advance being from the direction of Aguadores. Orders had been sent to Guantanamo June 28 ordering up the Resolute, with a view of using the mines stored on board of her.

     These facts are given to show how early the matter of forcing the harbor entrance was taken in hand with a view to assisting the army. My own views had always been that the first effort of the army should have been toward the carrying of the batteries at the harbor entrance to enable us to enter and countermine without a loss of ships, and this was in fact the view of General Shafter when he first arrived, as expressed to my chief of staff when he first went on board the headquarters ship, and also stated by General Shafter on consultation with General Garcia and myself at Acerranderos the same day. The reasons for change on his part I do not know.

     On July 4 I received the following:15

Headquarters FiftH Army Corps,

July 4, 1898.

Admiral W. T. Sampson,

     Commanding U. S. Navy Forces:

     Through negligence of our Cuban allies, Pando, with 5,000 men, entered the city of Santiago last night. This nearly doubles their forces. I have demanded their surrender, which they refuse, but I am giving them some wounded prisoners and delaying operations to let foreign citizens get out, and there will be no action before the 6th and perhaps the 7th instant. Now, if you will force your way into that harbor the town will surrender without any further sacrifice of life. My present position has cost me 1,000 men, and I do not wish to lose any more. With my forces on one side and yours on the other—and they have a great terror of the Navy, for they know they can not hurt you—we shall have them. I ask for an early reply.

           Very respectfully,

W.R. Shafter,

Major-General, U. S. V., Commanding.

     On the 5th of July I received the following:16

Washington, July 5.

     The following received by War Department and forwarded to Navy: “I regard as necessary that the Navy force entry into harbor not later than July 6, and assist * * * the place shall (will) surrender without further sacrifice of life.  Signed, Shafter.” Co-operate with the army in taking Santiago as according to your best judgment in the matter.


Washington, July 5.

     Order Resolute to proceed to Charleston immediately ready to carry troops from Charleston to Santiago.


In consequence of the latter dispatch, the mines carried by the Resolute were transferred to the collier Lebanon, and preparations for countermining continued.

     I communicated again with General Shafter with reference to a consultation, and received the following:

In Camp Near Santiago, July 5, 1898.—(2.13 p. m.)

     General Shafter’s compliments to Admiral Sampson, and he can see him out here at any time, but General Shafter is not able to go into Siboney. He desires very much to see the Admiral, and especially if an attempt is to be made to enter the harbor. General Shafter doubts his ability to keep his command in food through Siboney. Large reinforcements of light artillery and infantry are on the way. General Shafter congratulates Admiral Sampson on his splendid success with Spanish fleet.

In Camp Near Santiago, July 5, 1898.—(3.12 p. m.)

     I am directed by the President to confer with you fully as to a joint attack on Santiago. I am unable to ride in to see you. Can you not come here to see me? If not, I will send two of my staff officers in to-morrow morning to represent me.17

Shafter, Commanding.

In Camp Near Santiago, July 5, 1898.—(3.27 p.m.)

     The landing at Siboney is becoming very precarious on account of the heavy surf which is beginning to prevail. Is it not probable that the [Spanish] troops on the west side of Santiago Bay, near Cabanitas,18 have left, and that place might be utilized as a landing place for troops and supplies? Will you kindly give me your views on the subject. I fear we can use Siboney but little longer.

Shafter, Commanding.

Also the following:

Washington, July 5, 1898.—(12.30.)

     The President has just issued this order to the Secretary of War19 and to the Secretary of the Navy: “General Shafter and Admiral Sampson should confer at once for cooperation in taking Santiago; after the fullest exchange of views they should determine the time and manner of attack.” The Department desires you carry out these instructions.


     I was unable on the 6th to meet the engagement with General Shafter, as I was ill abed, and I sent my chief of staff to represent me.

     The following is a copy of minutes of an arrangement for joint action made that date:20

Headquarters, FiftH Army Corps,

Camp near San Juan River, Cuba, July 6, 1898.

Minutes of a conversation between Captain Chadwick, of the Navy, representing Admiral Sampson, and General Shafter:

     That a long-continued bombardment of Santiago from the sea, with the heavier guns of fleet, the fleet firing slowly and continuously during, say, twenty-four hours, at the rate of one shell every five minutes, excepting one hour at the rate of one shell every two minutes. This refers to the 8-inch shells. If this be not sufficient to bring the enemy to terms, that an assault be arranged on the Socapa Battery, using marines and the Cuban forces under General Cebreco, and an effort made to enter the harbor with some of the smaller ships of the squadron.* [*The Reina Mercedes had been sunk by the enemy in the harbor entrance the night of July 4, and it was considered impossible by the pilots for large ships to enter. (Part of original letter.)]21 This attack to be made upon knowing the result of a second demand made upon the commanding officer of the Spanish forces for the surrender of the place, stating to him the conditions that surround him, destruction of the Spanish fleet, etc., and the number of force opposed to him. To give him time to consider the matter, the bombardment is fixed at noon of the 9th, unless he positively refuses to consider it at all, when it will be begun at such time as is convenient to ourselves. General Shafter will furnish Admiral Sampson with correct map showing where his lines will be, surrounding the city, and also telegraphic communication by the way of Siboney down to near Aguadores to give information as to falling of shots.

     A tacit understanding was at this time in force by which no firing was carried on by either side, and this was continued by the following letter, drafted by my chief of staff, who offered it as a suggestion, and sent by General Shafter:

Headquarters, FiftH Army Corps,

Camp near San Juan River, Cuba, July 6, 1898.

Sir: In view of the events of the 3d instant, I have the honor to lay before your excellency certain propositions to which I trust your excellency will give the consideration which, in my opinion, they deserve.

     I inclose a bulletin of the engagement of Sunday morning,22 which resulted in the complete destruction of Admiral Cervera’s fleet, the loss of 600 of his officers and men, and the capture of the remainder. The admiral, General Paredes, and all others who escaped alive, are now prisoners on board the Harvard and St. Louis, and the latter ship, in which are the Admiral, General Paredes, and the surviving captains (all except the captain of the Almirante Oquendo, who was slain), has already sailed for the United States. If desired by you, this may be confirmed by your excellency sending an officer under a flag of truce to Admiral Sampson, and he can arrange to visit the Harvard, which will not sail until to-morrow, and obtain the details from Spanish officers and men aboard that ship.

     Our fleet is now perfectly free to act, and I have the honor to state that unless a surrender be arranged by noon of the 9th instant, a bombardment of the city will be begun and continued by the heavy guns of our ships. The city is within easy range of these guns, the 8-inch being capable of firing 9,500 yards, the 13-inch of course much farther. The ships can so lie, that with a range of 18,000 yards, they can reach the center of the city.

     I make this suggestion of a surrender purely in a humanitarian spirit. I do not wish to cause the slaughter of any more men, either of your excellency’s forces or my own, the final result under circumstances so disadvantageous to your excellency being a foregone conclusion.

     As your excellency may wish to make reference of so momentous a question to your excellency’s Home Government, it is for this purpose that I have placed the time of the resumption of hostilities sufficiently far in the future to allow a reply being received.

     I beg an early answer from your excellency.

     I have the honor to be your excellency’s obedient servant,

Wm. R. Shafter, Major-General, Commanding Fifth Army Corps.

The General in Chief Commanding the Spanish Forces,

Santiago de Cuba.

     On July 9 I received the following dispatch:

Headquarters, FiftH Army Corps, July 9, 1898.

     Spanish Commander proposes to abandon Santiago if permitted to march out to Holguin and not be attacked en route. The truce will continue for the present and I will notify you of its discontinuance.

Shafter, Major-General.

     I sent the following dispatch to General Shafter:

     I think all batteries with guns, magazines, etc., and all fortifications and their material should be surrendered intact, all contact mines taken up, and all observation mines destroyed so that ships can at once enter without danger.

     Received the following dated Siboney, July 9, 1898:

Headquarters FiftH Army Corps.

     Messages I sent you yesterday and to-day have apparently not been received by you. I have just asked that you commence firing on Santiago at 4 p. m., and sent you this morning our latest map of our position. Can you begin bombardment tomorrow morning? If you can, please do so, and continue it as arranged with Captain Chadwick.

Shafter, Major-General.


Headquarters FiftH Army Corps, July 10, 1898.

     I have the honor to inform you that it is expected that the bombardment of the city of Santiago will begin this evening or tomorrow morning. I inclose you a revised chart showing position of the American and Spanish lines. I will communicate with you later in the day as to the exact hour when the firing should begin, and it is respectfully requested that you be ready to begin at 4 p. m. to-day. The falling of the first shell will be observed and the results communicated to you by signal. It would be very disastrous for the morale of my men to have any of the shell fall near them, and I think it would be better at first to put your shots in the westward part of the city, near the bay.

Shafter, Major-General.

     The flagship having been obliged to go to Guantanamo for coal, the reception of this message was delayed. Instructions, however, had been left with Commodore Watson, who, with Commodore Schley, was off Santiago, in regard to bombardment;23 but Commodore Watson leaving for Guantanamo on the morning of the 10th, I sent the following telegram to Commodore Schley:

     Begin firing as requested by General Shafter as soon as possible, using 12 and 13 inch guns of the Indiana and Texas. Do not fire unless the army is prepared to signal you fall of shots from Aguadores.

     I followed this telegram, going back to Aguadores the same evening. The Brooklyn and the Indiana had fired 8-inch shell for about one hour.

     On July 11 an active interchange of signals took place with the shore signal station before firing regarding the reporting of the fall of shot, and after an experimental shot at 8.25, the report of the fall of which was awaited, a vigorous bombardment began at 9.35, in which the New York, Brooklyn, and Indiana, using 8-inch shell engaged, and was continued until 1 o’clock, when it ceased by request of General Shafter, signaled at 12.10.

     The following were received and sent:

     7.50 a. m. From shore to flag:

     General Shafter’s compliments to Captain Chadwick, and he wishes fire commenced early this morning. Two maps have been sent to Admiral Sampson which give the distance to the Cathedral.24 A number of cable messages for the fleet are held at Siboney; no means of delivery.

     8.10 a. m. From flag to beach:

     We are about to commence firing; will fire very slowly, and wish every shot reported.

     8.40 a. m. From flag to shore:

     Where did that shot fall?

     8.45 a. m. From shore to flag:

     We are waiting report from front.

     9.00 a. m. From flag to shore:

     Ask front if fall of shot was observed.

     9.15 a. m. From flag to beach:

     Next shot will be fired at 9.25; keep sharp lookout.

     9.30 a.m. From beach to flag:

     Your shot fell 200 yards east of Del Loute Hospital; shot should be directed half mile farther west.

     9.45 a. m. From flag to beach:

     Give us the fall as quickly as possible.

     9.50 a. m. From beach to flag:

     Second shot was well placed. A vigorous bombardment until 12 noon requested.


     10.20 a. m. From flag to Brooklyn:

     Fire shot every five minutes; our shots are falling right, using range 8,500 yards, north northwest from our position.

     11.25 a. m. From flag to Brooklyn:

     Please fire three shots every five minutes.

     11.25 a. m. From flag to beach:

     How is firing?

     11.32 a. m. From beach to flag:

     Striking city with no apparent results. I think firing with big guns should begin.


     11.40 a. m. From flag to beach:

     Shall we cease firing at 12 o’clock?

     11.45 a. m. From Brooklyn to flag:

     Do you know how shells are falling?

     11.50 a. m. From flag to Brooklyn:

     Striking in city.

     12 a. m. From beach to flag:

     Please continue firing with heavy guns until 1 o’clock; then cease firing until further orders.


     12.35 p. m. From beach to flag:

     General Castillo reports that Santa Anna church has been turned into a powder magazine.25


     12.45 p. m. From beach to flag:

     The church is west of Reina Mercedes Barracks. Discontinue at once. I am going to put up a flag of truce.


     12.55 p. m. From flag to Brooklyn;

     Go to Sibonney and see what news there is.

     1.30 p. m. From Yale to flag:

     General Miles26 is on board. Have you any message for him?

     4.45 p. m. From Brooklyn to flag:

     General Shafter states that fire from ships very accurate; shell falling in city. Lines have been advanced. Flag of truce went forward to demand unconditional surrender. Will communicate with you fully directly to Aguadores as to time of firing and result of truce.

     12 p. m. Yale to flag:

     Admiral, I would like to land troops from Columbia, Yale, and Duchess west of Santiago Bay, and to follow it up with additional troops moving against the Spanish troops defending Santiago on west. I will be glad if you can designate the most available place for disembarking troops and render all the assistance practicable to the troops as they move east. Will notify you when troops are ready for movement. An officer conversant with the locality--will be glad to see him.

Nelson A. Miles,          

Major-General, Commander in Chief.  

     Immediately steps were taken to give assistance asked for by General Miles.

     The following is the report from the front of the fall of our shell:

Headquarters, July 13, 1898.

Admiral Sampson:

Report of naval firing July 11, 1898:

No. 1.  9.30, could not see where it went.

No. 2. 10.03, heard no explosion.

No. 3. 10.08, heard no explosion.

No. 4. 10.14 heard no explosion.

No. 5. 10.16, heard no explosion; did not see where it struck.

No. 6. 10.20, exploded, apparently, in lower part of city, near the bay.

No. 7. 10.21, exploded in south part of city; could not see a thing.

No. 8. 10.25, no explosion.

No. 9. 10.25, could not tell where it went.

No. 10. 10.28, heard no explosion.

No. 11. 10.30, heard no explosion.

No. 12. 10.30, exploded; could not see where it struck.

No. 13. 10.36, exploded; could not see where it struck.

No. 14. 10.35, exploded; could not see where it struck.

No. 15. 10.36, exploded; could not see where it struck.

No. 16. 10.40, heard no explosion.

No. 17. 10.40, explosion in town; could not see where.

No. 18. 10.45, heard no explosion.

No. 19. 10.45, explosion down here; for the front, apparently.

No. 20. 10.46, explosion down here; for the front, apparently.

No. 21. 10.50, explosion on slope toward water front; out of sight.

No. 22. 10.51, exploded on south side of town; could not be seen.

No. 23. 10.54, exploded on east side of town, expect; not seen.

No. 24. 10.55, no explosion heard.

No. 25. 11.01, no explosion heard.

No. 26. 11.01, no explosion heard.

No. 28. 11.03, no explosion heard.

No. 29. 11.05, explosion on side toward  *  *  *

No. 30. 11.10, no explosion heard.

No. 31. 11.11, no explosion heard.

No. 32. 11.15, explosion on city, toward bay; not seen.

No. 33. 11.16, no explosion; saw fire in city, but did not last long.

No. 34. 11.21, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 35. 11.24, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 36. 11.25, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 37. 11.28, heard no explosion.

No. 38. 11.30, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 39. 11.33, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 40. 11.33, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 41. 11.34, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 42. 11.35, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 43. 11.36, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 44. 11.37, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 45. 11.38, exploded on slope toward bay.

No. 46. 11.40, exploded beyond the city.

All shells explode on slope toward bay; can not see where they strike.

F. West, Captain, Sixth Cavalry.27

On the 12th I received the following dispatch:

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps, July 11, 1898.

My lines are now complete to the bay north of Santiago. Your shots can be observed from there perfectly, at least those that fall in town. Flames followed several shots fired to-day. A number of shots fell in bay very close to a small gun-boat28 lying near shore. At present they are considering a demand for unconditional surrender. I will notify you of the result. I think it advisable to put some shots--say 10 to 13 inches--to-morrow, and see if we can not start a fire. Be careful not to shoot beyond the town, as my troops are within 1  miles of it, and you will be firing directly toward us.

Shafter, Major-General.

As a preparation looking to further bombardment a message was sent on the 12th to Commodore Watson, at Guantanamo, to send the Oregon and Massachusetts with the purpose of using these two ships and the Indiana in the bombardment with 13-inch shells; and sent the following at 1.50 p. m., to General Shafter, by signal.

     Admiral Sampson proposes to begin bombardment to-morrow morning with 13-inch shell, unless there are reasons for not doing so. Will General Shafter please inform him of the distance of the fall of the shot from the cathedral, using the cathedral as a point of reference, and he would particularly like to know immediately if any shell fall in water.

     8.05 p. m. From Yale to flag:

     General Miles is still at the front, and will remain there to-night. He desires General Garretson to be ready to land early to-morrow morning.29

     8.10 p. m. From flag to Yale:

     Where will troops land, and is our assistance needed?

     From General Shafter:

     A truce now exists, and will probably continue all day to-morrow, the 13th.

     8.25 p. m. From Yale to flag:

     Do not know, but assistance will be needed.

     9.15 p. m. From flag to Yale:

     General Shafter telegraphs that a truce will exist throughout to-morrow.

     The following was interchanged between General Shafter’s signal station and the flagship:

     7.55 a. m. From shore to ship:

     General Miles and I are going to have a conference with General Borno30 this morning about the surrender of the place. Please have no firing until due notice.


     July 13, 9.05 a. m. From flag to shore:

     As commander in chief of the naval forces engaged in joint operations, I expect to be represented in any conference held to arrange the terms of the surrender of Santiago, including the surrender of the shipping and the harbor. Questions are involved of importance to both branches of the service.


     2.40 p. m. From shore to ship:

Admiral Sampson:

     I shall be glad to have you represented, but difficult to let you know; conference may take place at any hour. I should recommend that you send an officer for that purpose to remain at my headquarters. Should it not be convenient for you to do so, I will endeavor to give notice and see that an officer can be present when final terms are agreed.


     3.15 p. m. From ship to shore:

     I am now prepared to shell the city of Santiago with three of my largest ironclads, with 13-inch projectiles. Will await your signal.


     6.45 p. m. From shore to ship:

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps.

     We will send important dispatch by Mr. Hobson31 to you this evening. Please have boat for him. He leaves at 6 o’clock.


     The following telegrams were received:

Santiago de Cuba, July 12, 1898. 

     A truce exists and negotiations are now pending with Spanish commander. All firing must be discontinued during the cessation of hostilities. Due notice of the agreement will be given you.

Shafter, Major-General.

Washington, July 13, 1898.

     The Commanding General of the Army urges, and the Secretary of War urgently requests, that Navy force harbor. Confer with commander of Army, wishing to do all that is reasonably possible to insure the surrender of the enemy. I leave the matter to your discretion, except that the United States armored vessels must not be risked.


     The following reached the flagship July 14:

     Shore to flag, 6 a. m.:

July 13.

Admiral Sampson:

     Message about being ready to open fire with 13-inch guns received. Thanks. I believe they will surrender before noon to-morrow. If not, I will want you to open fire. I will notify you.


     The following copy of a telegram was received from Washington July 13:

Washington, July 13, 1898.

Major-General Miles:

     You may accept surrender by granting parole to officers and men. The officers and men, after parole, to be permitted to return to Spain, the United States assistant. If not accepted, then assault, unless in your judgment an assault would fail. Consult with Sampson and pursue such course as to the affair as you jointly agree upon. Matter should be settled promptly.

R. A. Alger, Secretary of War.

     I telegraphed to the Secretary of the Navy the following:32

July 14, 1898.

     Published telegrams of General Shafter, Herald of July 6, reflect on the Navy. I wish the Department and President to understand that the first requisite to opening harbor of Santiago de Cuba is the occupation of forts and intrenchments at the entrance guarding mine fields, and that the general has never made a move to do this, although before his army landed he stated that such was the primary object of his operations. If the general chooses to ignore the sea approaches and to attack Santiago to the east and north that is his affair, but it should be clearly understood that this attack does not influence the situation at the harbor entrance, from which his left flank is distant not less than 4 miles. I have been ready at any time during the last three weeks to silence works, to clear entrance of mines, and to enter harbor whenever the Army will do the part which the proper conduct of war assigns to it. To throw my ships to certain destruction upon mine fields would be suicidal folly, and I have not the force to form landing party strong enough to insure the capture of the forts. No disagreements mentioned by the paper have been brought to my notice by General Shafter.

     I received the following dispatch from General Shafter:

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps, July 14, 1898. 

     Apparently there is every prospect of capitulation. I will inform you earliest practicable moment.

Shafter, Major-General.

9.25 a. m. From shore to ship:

Headquarters Near Santiago, July 14, 1898.

Admiral Sampson:

     Send copy of telegram received yesterday from Washington. Our terms to Spanish general are parole and transportation to Spain. They offer to surrender eastern part of Santiago from Aferdo to Cavtaocalayo, thence to Sagua, and ammunition and siege guns, and march with men and what arms.33 What is your best judgment? What have you to suggest in view of the situation, and the important duty for Army and Navy in immediate future? Answer requested at once.

N. A. Miles, Major-General Commanding.

This was replied to as follows:

     Sir: Replying to your request, I inclose a copy of a telegram received from the Department. We are constantly receiving telegrams from the Department at Washington, and I believe the one inclosed is the one to which you refer; if not, please let me know. (Telegram dated Washington, July 13, “Arising.”)

and by signal from ship to shore at 10.45 a. m.:

Major-General Miles:

     The only suggestion which I have to make to the terms of surrender in addition to those which you have telegraphed me are that the Spanish shall remove or destroy all torpedoes in the channel to the harbor and the harbor itself. I understand by siege guns are meant the guns in the batteries facing the sea, including those on the east and west sides of the entrance and upon the Punta Gorda. With these guns I shall be satisfied.


     1.15 p. m. From shore to flag:

Admiral Sampson:

     I will be glad if you will send to these headquarters an officer to represent you during negotiations for evacuation.


     1.38 p. m. From flag to shore:

General Miles:

     When do you want Admiral Sampson’s representative there? Or when can he get a horse?

     Before an arrangement could be made by which anyone could be sent the following was received:

     2.23 p. m. From shore to flag:

Admiral Sampson:

     The enemy has surrendered. Will be down to see you soon.


3.35 p. m. From flag to shore:

Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.:

     Santiago has surrendered.

     At 10.37 a. m. on July 15 I sent to General Shafter the following:

General Shafter:

     What are the terms of surrender and when is it proposed to occupy the city and harbor?


and at 3.40 p. m. same date, received the following:

Admiral Sampson:

     Hitch in negotiations; we may have fight for it yet. They wish to refer to Spain.

General Shafter. 

     At 7.05 and at 8.45 sent the following:

     Is there any further news as to progress of negotiations?


General Shafter:

     Is there any change in the situation since your dispatch of this afternoon informing me of hitch in negotiations?

     On the 16th of July the following was received:

     Enemy has surrendered. Will you send some [one] to represent Navy in the matter?



Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,              

On board U. S. S. Yale, off Siboney, July 16, 1898.

Sir: There appears to be a little delay in the full surrender of the Santiago garrison, which I attribute more to formalities than anything else. There can be no doubt of the purpose of the Spanish to surrender. They did so, in fact, in a formal positive manner. The terms of capitulation were agreed to and have been signed by the commissioners of both armies. At the request of the Spanish officials delay has been granted until they can hear from Madrid, which they seem positive will soon be a matter of fact, and am glad that the Navy has been able to contribute such an important part.

     A copy of the agreement of capitulation signed by the commissioners is herewith enclosed for your information.

     Very respectfully,

Nelson A. Miles,          

Major-General, Commanding.

     The foregoing certainly shows clearly the most absolute joint action, and I took for granted that we should be joint signatories of any capitulations, as is customary in all services in such circumstances. Many instances could be cited if references were available; one at least however is at hand, in Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe, where, at the siege of Louisburg (1758), Admiral Boscawen and General Amherst sign all communications to the enemy jointly, the Admiral’s name appearing first.34

     Captain Chadwick arrived at the front at the earliest hour it was possible for him to do so, and informed General Shafter of my expectancy in the matter, but General Shafter peremptorily refused. The convention had already been signed, and he stated as one reason that nothing had been said of the Army in my report of the fleet action of July 3. There would have been as much reason for mentioning the Navy in the report of the land action of July 1, when assault was made by our army on the Spanish lines.

     No mention was made of the shipping in the capitulations, and Captain Chadwick informed General Shafter that all Spanish ships would be regarded by us as property to be turned over to the Navy. He said he would refer such a matter to the Secretary of War but that, of course, could have no bearing upon what I considered my duty in the matter, particularly in view of our late experience of Spanish perfidy in regard to injury of ships, which in my opinion made it necessary to look after their safety at once. I thus, after the hauling down of the Spanish flag, sent prize crews on board the gunboat Alvarado and to the five merchant steamers in the harbor. An officer of the Army was found on board the Alvarado, who stated he had been sent to take charge of her, whereupon I addressed the following letter to General Shafter:

U. S. Flagship New York, July 17, 1898.

Sir: Upon sending in an officer to take charge of the captured Spanish gunboat, the Alvarado, it was found that one of your officers was on board, evidently with the expectation of taking charge of her. It should hardly be necessary to remind you that in all joint operations of the character of those which have resulted in the fall of Santiago all floating material is turned over to the Navy, as all forts, etc., go to the Army. I have been lying within 500 yards of the Morro, from which the Spanish flag was hauled down at 9 o’clock and upon which the United States flag has not yet, at 2 p. m., been hoisted. Although my forces have frequently engaged these forts and yours have not exchanged a shot with them, I await the arrival of a detachment of your troops to take possession, as they must eventually occupy them. I expect the same consideration.

     I request that you will relieve Lieutenant Caruthers of the duty given him, as I have directed Lieutenant Marble to assume command of the Alvarado.35

     Very respectfully, etc.

     Early on the morning of the 18th I received from the senior naval officer in the harbor a paper sent him, of which the following is a copy:

Santiago, July 17, 1898.  

     Lieutenant Doyle36 can keep his men on the ships for the night, and in the morning one of the tugs will get up steam and transfer him with his officers and men to their respective ships.

C. McKibbins,       

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

     I at once sent the following:

     Sir: The following has just been sent me by Lieutenant Doyle, in charge of Spanish Prizes in harbor of Santiago:

Santiago, July 17, 1898.

     “Lieutenant Doyle can keep his men on the ships for the night, and in the morning one of the tugs will get up steam and transfer him with his officers and men to their respective ships.

C. McKibbons,       

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

     I will not enter into any expression of surprise at the reception of such a paper.

     No mention of the shipping was made in the articles of capitulation, though I specially requested that it be included by my message to you of July 13.37

     Our operations leading to the fall of Santiago have been joint, so directed by the President and so confirmed by their character. All propriety and usage surrenders the floating material in such cases to the naval force, and I have taken possession of it.

     I am unable to recognize the authority of the Secretary of War over my actions. I have telegraphed to the Secretary of the Navy and await his instructions.

     In the event of a difference of opinion between the Departments, the question will of course, be decided by the President of the United States; until then my prize crews must remain in charge, and I have so directed.

     Very respectfully, etc.,

Maj. Gen. W. R. Shafter, U. S. V.,

           Commanding Fifth Army Corps.

     The act of surrender took place at 9 o’clock on the morning of the 17th. The commander in chief, or any other officer of the squadron which had been, as the preceding shows, acting to the best of its power in assisting in the reduction of the place, was not asked to be present. This, of course, may have been a mere oversight, but it is, of course, to be regretted that any such could take place. Had the Navy been withdrawn after the action of the 3d--after which all the fleet’s operations were to aid the army--all the shipping referred to would have escaped and our Army have become besieged instead of the besiegers, as of course the Reina Mercedes and the gunboat Alvarado would have been free to destroy or drive off the transport fleet. I do not think the commanding general quite appreciates how necessary a part of our forces were to the reduction of Santiago and the surrender of its garrison in any case independently of the effects of our shell, which latter was undoubtedly one of the principal causes of the surrender at this time.

     Very respectfully,

W. T. Sampson,    

     Rear-Admiral, U. S. N.,

Commander in Chief U. S. Naval Force,

North Atlantic Station.

The Secretary of the Navy,

Navy Department, Washington, D. C.

Source Note Print: Report of the Bureau of Navigation, 1898, pp. 615-28.

Footnote 1: President William McKinley.

Footnote 2: Capt. French E. Chadwick.

Footnote 3: Cuban Revolutionary leader and senior military commander Calixto García y Iñiguez.

Footnote 6: The brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. Henry M. Duffield took up position near Aguadores. They staged a diversionary attack on Spanish positions there on 1 July as the remainder of Fifth Corps assaulted Spanish positions at El Caney and San Juan Heights.

Footnote 7: Because of the casualties suffered on 1 July in the assault on El Caney and San Juan Heights, Shafter moved his entire army into line on the captured ridges north and east of Santiago. Cosmas, Army for Empire, 214-15.

Footnote 8: The Punta Gorda battery was located on the west side of the entrance to Santiago Bay, some four miles southeast of the city of Santiago de Cuba and some five miles from the American siege lines. Chadwick, The Spanish-American War, 27.

Footnote 9: “Kajo” may be a misspelling of “Cayo.” In other correspondence of this date, Shafter gave his location as Playa del Este, Cuba. Correspondence-War with Spain, 1: 70-71.

Footnote 10: Sampson’s assistant chief of staff Lt. Sidney A. Staunton.

Footnote 11: On the casualties suffered by American forces in the fighting of 1 July, see: Shafter to Sampson, 2 July 1898.

Footnote 12: There is a footnote at the bottom of the page with an equivalent asterisk and the text, “Inserted at Department.”

Footnote 13: The sortie of the fleet commanded by RAdm. Pascual Cervera y Topete, which resulted in the naval battle off Santiago de Cuba is covered in the section on that battle. See: The Battle of Santiago de Cuba.

Footnote 14: The “western battery” was often referred to as the Socapa battery.

Footnote 15: This document is printed elsewhere in this section. That version has been annotated by the editors.

Footnote 16: An annotated version of this cable has been printed elsewhere in this section.

Footnote 17: The ALS of this letter is in DNA, AFRNC, M625, Roll 233. Except for a few stylistic differences, it is as it appears here. The order from McKinley that Shafter and Sampson confer “and determine a course of cooperation best calculated to secure desirable results, with least sacrifice.” was conveyed in a letter to Shafter from Adjutant General Henry C. Corbin dated 1:37 P.M., 5 July. Correspondence-War with Spain, 1: 89-90.

Footnote 18: Cabanitas Bay is on the west side of Santiago Bay, opposite of Punta Gorda, and about 1.5 miles from the entrance to Santiago Bay.

Footnote 19: Russell A. Alger was the Secretary of War; John D. Long was the Secretary of the Navy.

Footnote 20: An annotated version of these minutes have been printed elsewhere in this section; see: Minutes of a Meeting Between Captain French E. Chadwick and Major General William R. Shafter, 6 July 1898.

Footnote 21: There is an asterisk in the text and one at the bottom of the page indicating that this small section was part of the original letter and should be included in the text. In fact, the scuttled Spanish cruiser Reina Mercedes did not block the entrance to Santiago Bay. Trask, War with Spain, 287.

Footnote 22: See: Squadron Bulletin Number 21, 3 July 1898. That bulletin repeats much of the information found here and includes annotation.

Footnote 23: Commo. John C. Watson and Commo. Winfield S. Schley.

Footnote 24: Shafter is referring to Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the metropolitan cathedral in Santiago de Cuba.

Footnote 25: Iglesia de Santa Ana is in the northwestern quarter of Santiago de Cuba. Presumably Castillo was Cuban Insurrection leader Brig. Gen. JoaquínD. Castillo y Duany.

Footnote 26: Commander of the Army Maj. Gen. Nelson A. Miles.

Footnote 27: Capt. Frank West.

Footnote 28: Royal Spanish Navy gunboat Alvarado.

Footnote 29: As seen below, the landing to be executed by troops commanded by Brig. Gen. George A. Garretson was cancelled.

Footnote 30: Presumably, Brig. Gen. José Toral y Vázquez, the acting Spanish commander in Santiago de Cuba.

Footnote 31: Naval Constructor Richmond P. Hobson who until 6 July had been held in Santiago de Cuba as a prisoner of the Spanish. See: North Atlantic Fleet Squadron Bulletin, 6 July 1898.

Footnote 33: Toral agreed to the surrender of all Spanish forces in “the area east of the line Aserraderos-Dos Palmas-Cauto Abajo-Escondida-[Sagua] Tánamo-Aguilera.” Trask, War with Spain, 315.

Footnote 34: In volume 2 of his book on the conflict between France and England in eighteenth century North America, author Francis Parkman reproduces some of the correspondence leading to the surrender of the French fort at Louisburg. As Sampson noted, those documents, as reproduced in Parkman’s book, were signed jointly by Adm. Edward Boscawen and Gen. Jeffrey Amherst with Boscawen’s name appearing first. Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe. France and England in North America. 2 vols. [Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1922], 2: 75, 78.

Footnote 35: Lt. Frank Marble, an officer serving on the battleship New York.

Footnote 36: Presumably, Lt. James G. Doyle, an officer serving on Brooklyn; possibly, Lt. John H. Caunter of the Tenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, one of the regiments in Brig. Gen. Chambers McKibbins’ brigade.

Footnote 37: For the articles of capitulation, see: Preliminary Agreement for the Surrender of Santiago de Cuba, 15 July 1898.

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