Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long
April 17, 1898.
The War Board does not wish to needlessly bore you by repeating advice, and of course it is ignorant of the larger proficiencies and purposes of the administration; but with the light we have we would again respectfully state that in our opinion the construction of torpedo-boats and torpedo-boat destroyers should be begun at once, and that all the battleships, and especially the KEARSARGE and KENTUCKY, should be hastened to completion, working night and day. Surely the KEARSARGE and KENTUCKY could be gotten ready by next fall if necessary. The board has agreed upon the armament for the four American Liners,1 following in this respect the suggestion of Captain O’Neil.2 We have also substantially adopted his suggestion with regard to the armament for the remaining cruisers.
Some of the yachts we have taken have been overloaded with armor, so that their speed has been greatly reduced. The Board thinks that it would be well to take the CORSAIR3 and put very light guns aboard her, so as to use her merely for a dispatch vessel. She is the best yacht, barring the MAYFLOWER and possibly the SOVEREIGN, that we have had up.4
The NEWARK is already being pushed to completion as rapidly as possible, and will soon be ready. I think the CHICAGO <and Atlanta> should be likewise pushed.5
Source Note: TLS, MHi, Papers of John D. Long, Box 40. Addressed below close: The Honorable,/The Secretary of the Navy.”On “Theodore Roosevelt/ASSISTANT SECRETARY” stationary. Words in angle brackets are handwritten interlineations.
Footnote 1: The four American Liner steamers taken into Naval service as auxiliaries were: St. Louis, St. Paul, Harvard and Yale.
Footnote 2: RAdm. Charles O’Neil, Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance.
Footnote 3: The Corsair was renamed Gloucester. The request that it be lightly armored was originally made by the man selected to command the Gloucester, Lt. Cmdr. Richard Wainwright. Wainwright received his wish that the ship be equipped with more guns instead of additional armor. Damon E. Cummings, Admiral Wainwright and the United States Fleet (Washington: Government Printing Officer, 1962), 93.
Footnote 4: Sovereign was renamed Scorpion, and served with distinction in both the Flying Squadron and North Atlantic Fleet. For more on both Mayflower and Sovereign, see: Auxiliary Cruisers in the Spanish-American War, 11 November 1907.