Lieutenant Commander Daniel Delehanty and Lieutenant Victor Blue to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
C O P Y. U. S. S. S U W A N E E.
Off Santiago de Cuba, Cuba,
June 29, 1898.
S I R :--
In obedience to your verbal orders of the 25th instant, to attain for you information of the location of the enemy's ships in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba that I have to report that I communicated with the insurgent camp near Acerrederos the same evening and sent Lieutenant Blue1 to procure the desired information.
About ten a.m. of the 27th instant, by pre-arranged signals, I met Lieutenant Blue on the coast some six miles east of Acerrederos, he having performed the duty most successfully.
I herewith enclose Lieutenant Blue's report, and while it is a simple modest statement of his trip and results I beg to invite your attention to the perilous nature of the trip, and the prompt and satisfactory manner in which it was performed.
This is the second time Lieutenant Blue has successfully undertaken this hazardous duty, and while he has only done that which is expected of every officer, a due recognition of such valuable services is a great stimulant to the best efforts of both Officers and men.
Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy
U. S. S. S U W A N E E.
Off Santiago de Cuba, Cuba,
June 27, 1898.
S I R :--
In obedience to your verbal order of the 25th instant to proceed inland to a good point of observation for the purpose of locating the positions of the enemy's ships in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba,2 I respectfully report as follows:--
As I landed onshore about six p.m. on the 25th instant I happened to meet General Garcia's Chief of Staff,3 who was about to embark on one of the transports that were taking troops to Altares. On explaining to him my mission, he gave orders to have me taken to the Cuban front, where I would be furnished with a necessary guard for going through the Spanish lines. I reached Colonel Cebreco's camp at mid-night, and learned that his troops had been engaged in fighting the Spaniards all that day.4 This camp is about one mile inland from Pt. Cocal and about twenty-four miles from Acerrederos.— Pt. where I landed.
After reading the letter sent by Garcia's Chief of Staff for him to furnish me with a suitable body-guard, the Colonel appeared to be very much displeased as he was reluctant to send his men through the lines. However he gave the necessary orders, and early the next morning I set out from his camp with six soldiers. Going to the Northward and eastward for several miles I reached the outer picket line of the Cuban forces. This line was posted on a hill and fronting a Spanish intrenchment 600 to 700 yards away. At this place it was necessary to leave the mules, and to proceed the rest of the way on foot. In order to reach a good point for observation of the harbor it was necessary to go on the eastern end of the same hill on which the enemy was intrenched and in so doing passed near another intrenchment to the Northward. In order to avoid the enemy's pickets we had to proceed very cautiously, at one time creeping through long grass, and at another climbing the steep side of a mountain. In going up this mountain it was necessary to cross the main road from the Spanish camps to the City several times. In doing so scouts and flankers were thrown out to watch the turns in the road and signal the rest of the party if the way was clear. By proceeding step by step in this manner we managed to reach the point of observation, two miles inside the lines after four hours time. After passing through a field where sugar cane and sweet potatoes were growing in abundance, I came to the conclusion that the Spanish soldiers in that section could not be in want of food,5 in fact we subsisted that day on sugar cane and mangoes, which I thought were very palatable indeed.
Although at times it was necessary to pass through open places yet for the greater part of the time we were screened by the thick foliage on the undergrowth on the mountain. From a trunk of a tree that projected beyond the dense growth on the mountain side, I obtained an almost perfect view of the entire harbor. The channels on the east and west of Smith Cay were the only parts out of view.
Eight men of war were observed, four of them being the armored cruisers of Cervera's squadron.6 None of the vessels, as far as I could discover, had up steam. Two small vessels were also seen South of Smith Cay, one of which I thought to be a destroyer, steamed to the south side of Smith Cay, the other which I could not clearly make out, was lying close to the land east of the channel. I plotted the positions of all these vessels on the chart which I submitted to you on my return.7
After staying about one hour at the place of observation, I set out on the return trip and reached the Cuban picket line shortly after dark without incident during the day.
As far as I could learn from the Cubans several thousand Spanish troops had been concentrated in that section to repel the advance of the Americans that might be landed West of Santiago.8 They are intrenched on hills in strong positions that command the roads leading to Santiago. There are at least four of these intrenchments.
(signed) Victor Blue,
Lieutenant U. S. Navy
Source Note: TCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 48. Addressed below close on first document: “To/Rear Admiral/W. T. SAMPSON, U. S. Navy,/Commanding U.S.Naval Forces,/North Atlantic Station.” Addressed below close on second document: “Lieutenant Commander/D. D E L A H A U N T Y, U. S. Navy,/Commanding./F O R W A R D E D; D. D E L A H A U N T Y, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy,/Commanding.”
Footnote 1: The first mission of Lt. Victor Blue was on 11 June. See: Blue to Delahanty, 13 June 1898.
Footnote 2: Adm. Pascual Cervera y Topete’s fleet arrived at Santiago de Cuba on 19 May.
Footnote 3: Gen. Calixto Gracía y Iñiguez was instrumental in clearing the Spanish ground forces to facilitate American landing operations.
Footnote 4: Col. Candelario Cebreco.
Footnote 5: A blockade of the harbor was ordered by Sampson on 27 May, and one observer noted that Spanish troops and populace of Santiago de Cuba were in dire circumstances with very little food. Report of the Bureau of Navigation, 1898, 475; and Lt. José Müller y Tejeiro, Battles and Capitulation of Santiago de Cuba, Information from Abroad, War Notes No. 1, Office of Naval Intelligence (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1899), 161-65.
Footnote 6: Cervera’s fleet consisted the: Infanta Maria Teresa, Almirante Oquendo, Vizcaya, Christóbal Colón, Plutón, and Furor.
Footnote 7: Lt. Blue’s chart has not been found.
Footnote 8: The American forces landed east of Santiago de Cuba at Daiquiri and Siboney.