Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet, to Commodore John C. Watson, Commander, First Blockading Squadron

 

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

Off Santiago de Cuba, Cuba,

June 25, 1898.

 

My dear Commodore:--

The “DOLPHIN” leaves tomorrow morning with the mail from the Squadron1 and General Shafter’s force on shore.2 She has orders to report to you, and, if possible, please send her forward to Key West to deliver the mail.

Referring to your telegram of the 24th ins. advising you to detail two converted cruisers to blockade both sides of the Isle of Pines, I think that it will be unnecessary for you to do so at present, as I have vessels already detailed to do that work.3 I have received instructions from the Secretary of the Navy4 to reserve a portion of the vessels convoying the transports to Santiago, for the purpose of convoying them back again to Tampa for re-enforcements. I am informed by General Shafter that he will not be ready to send his ships back for a week or more, and he cannot tell at present how many he will send back. Therefore I am filling those vessels with coal, and sending them to blockade between Cape Cruz and Cape Frances, and will keep them employed in this way until General Shafter can tell me when they will be required to convoy his vessels back again to Tampa.

The Army commenced landing day before yesterday, at Daiquiri, and it is progressing ever since with almost no opposition whatever, until now practically the whole Army is on shore.5 To-day two thousand Cubans are being brought up the coast from the westward, and are to be landed at Altares. Our troops are now within five miles of the harbor of Santiago. I expect they will make a stand at some point where they may have intrenchments close to the City.6 The reports which have reached Madrid with regard to certain opposition made by the Spaniards to the landing at any point, are totally untrue. The state of affairs in the harbor of Santiago have not materially changed. Whether Cervera7 has decided to make any resistance, or has decided to do nothing, I am unable to say. I shall continue to keep careful watch until the end shall come, which now appears to be not far off. I shall be very glad when this constant vigil comes to an end.

                 Very respectfully,

                      W.T. Sampson

                      Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy,

                 Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Force,

                      North Atlantic Station.

Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 53. At top right hand corner: “No. 4.” Addressed below close: “Commodore/J.C. WATSON, U.S. Navy./Off Havana.”

Footnote 1: The “squadron” is a reference to the North Atlantic Fleet under the command of RAdm. Sampson.

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

Footnote 3: For a list of the position of blockading ships, see: Sampson to Long, 26 June 1898. For a report on the landing operations at Daiquiri, see: Caspar F. Goodrich to Sampson, 2 July 1898.

Footnote 4: Secretary of the Navy John D. Long.

Footnote 5: Landing operations commenced on 22 June. See: Caspar F. Goodrich to Sampson, 2 July 1898.

Footnote 6: Spanish defenses against Shafter’s forces attacking Santiago from the East were a series of entrenchments on the San Juan Heights. Trask, War with Spain, 238.

Footnote 7: RAdm. Pascual Cervera y Topete, commander of the Spanish squadron at Santiago de Cuba.

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