Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of War Russell A. Alger to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

War Department,

Washington.

July 13, 1898.                   

Sir:

     I have the honor to request that you order the fleet off Santiago to at once force its way into the bay, if possible, to aid the Army in the capture of Santiago and the Spanish Army defending it.

     The special reasons for immediate action are: First, the very heavy rains that are falling almost continually have made the roads nearly impassable and threaten to cut off our supply of provisions for the army in the trenches altogether. Second: The rains are making the holding of our lines almost impossible as the trenches are filled with water. Third: The lives of our men are in great danger from yellow fever which has broken out among our troops and is spreading rapidly, and Fourth, the character of the works of the enemy is such that to take them by assault would be a terrible sacrifice of life.

     These conditions it is believed by the Major General Commanding1 would be changed were the Navy in the bay to cooperate with the Army, and the capture of the City and Spanish Army thus made a comparatively easy matter.2

Very respectfully,          

R. A. Alger            

Secretary of War. 

Source Note: TDS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 234. Addressed below close: “The Honorable,/Secretary of the Navy.” Document written on War Department stationery.

Footnote 1: Maj. Gen. Nelson A. Miles.

Footnote 2: The reply by Long has not been located, however, negotiations for surrender between the U.S. Army and the Spanish were transpiring, as well as an exchange of letters between the former and the Navy. See, Report of the Bureau of Navigation, 1898, 624-27.

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