Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to President William McKinley

 

 

Navy Department,

Washington [DC], May 31, 1898.

Sir: The Navy Department is of the opinion that the concert of movement, so necessary and difficult in a combined expedition, would be much advanced in the approaching expedition by the commanding general embarking on board the ship of the senior naval officer in the convoy; thus opportunity would be allowed for consultation.1

This Department further suggests that it would be feasible so to arrange, when within striking distance of Santiago, that a detachment of 2,000 to 3,000 troops be sent ahead of the main body of the army, to land between midnight and 4 a. m., supported by the fire of the smaller ships of the blockade, to seize the important bridge of Juragua, which is reported to be mined, and guarded by some 30 or 40 Spanish soldiers.2 The main body of the army could arrive about daybreak and land at the place designated for that purpose, immediately supporting its advanced corps at the bridge.

This Department is strongly of the opinion that no body of seamen should be landed for this attempt on the bridge. The primary object of the expedition is the capture or destruction of the enemy’s fleet in the port, which would be almost decisive of the war. Therefore, the United States squadron should not be weakened by a loss of skilled men in view of so important a possible naval action.3

     Very respectfully,

John D. Long, Secretary.

In any event the fleet could send but few men, and then, even if at first successful, could be driven back by reenforcements to the enemy.

 

The President.

Source Note Print: Correspondence-War with Spain, vol. 1, pp. 19-20.

Footnote 1: Brig. Gen. William R. Shafter opted to use the steamship Segurança as his headquarters. Capt. Henry C. Taylor on Indiana commanded the escort force.

Footnote 2: This operation did not take place, although the Navy did bombard the bridge at Aguadores on 30 June, when the army began its advance toward Santiago de Cuba from Daiquiri. See: Sampson to Long, 1 August 1898.

Footnote 3: On the assumption that lay behind this request, see: Long to Russell A. Alger, 31 May 1898.

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