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Spanish Minister of Marine Segismundo Bermejo to Rear Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete


The Minister of Marine,

Madrid, March 13, 1898.


His Excellency Pascual Cervara.

My Dear Admiral and Friend: I take advantage of this being Sunday to write to you in answer to your confidential lines on our respective opinions relative to the events which may develop in Cuba, if it should come to the worst. I have informed the Government of our deficiencies, and I repeat to you what I have said before, namely, that the Government will act prudently in order to maintain friendly relations with the United States, and try by every means to ward off any conflict, since the opinion as to our unfavorable situation is unanimous.

I will now speak of matters relative to your squadron and the reenforcement which it may receive. I have a telegram from Ansaldo, saying that the question of the 9.84-inch armament of the Colón1will be solved this month, by means of two new guns at Spezia.2 He also tells me that he has applied to the Italian navy for 5.9 and 4.7 inch cartridge cases. The first installment of 5.5-inch cartridge cases is now on its way to Cadiz,3 and others will soon follow.

By letters from Ferrándiz4 I am advised that the engines will be tried by the 15th, and that the ship will be ready to go out by the beginning of April. The Carlos V, I am told, will also be ready by the middle of that month.

What the newspapers say as to the purchase of ships is true, although I deny it. I do so because it is owing to publicity that the negotiations for the two Brazilian cruisers,5 which were commenced under favorable auspices, came to naught. My efforts are bent on cruisers, torpedo boats, and even steamers of over 1,000 tons displacement and 20 knots speed to serve as dispatch boats. The squadron is being kept at Cartagena, because it has not been decided what course it is to follow. It will probably go to Cadiz, but the Colón, if her armament can be completed, which is to be hoped, will have to go to Genoa, and that will leave only the Maria Teresa, Alfonso XIII, which has not yet completed her endless trials, and the Destructor.

Arrangements have been made to send the testing and recharging machinery to Cartagena.

I will close now. I leave it to you how arduous my work is. To-day, Sunday, which the Lord has set aside as a sacred day of rest, I commenced my work at 8 o’clock in the morning and close it at 9 o’clock at night with these lines.

          Yours, etc.,                 Segismundo Bermejo.

Source Note Print: Translation, Cervera, Squadron Operations, p. 37.

Footnote 1: The Spanish cruiser Cristóbal Colón.

Footnote 2: The Spanish predominately relied on other European countries to build and outfit their ships. In a letter from Bermejo to Cervera dated 5 March, the Minister of Marine reported difficulty finding ammunition. Gio. Ansaldo & C. was a major Genoese manufacturer and shipbuilder:

“We yesterday repeated our request to Messrs. Armstrong, of Elswick. They telegraphed would order ammunition for guns by letter, which we shall communicate to you. The constructing firm uses great diligence, but can not furnish cartridge cases before August. We make another request of the Italian navy.—G. Ansaldo.” Ibid., 33

Footnote 3: Cadiz was the main port of the Spanish navy.

Footnote 4: Lt. José Ferrándiz y Niño.

Footnote 5: A footnote at the bottom of the page states: “The two cruisers referred to are the Almirante Abreu and the Amazonas, which were purchased by the United States while Spain was negotiating for them. They are now the New Orleans and the Albany.—O.N.I.”

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