Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
Washington, Aug. 4, 1898.
S i r :
The Naval Attachés in Paris and London1 have been directed to send you to Punta Delgada, through the U. S. Consul there,2 latest information concerning the location, force, and state of preparation, of the Spanish men-of-war; they will also send, for you, information of the same nature, to the U. S. Minister at Lisbon.3
When you actually sail from the West Indies, the Department will give the Attachés the estimated date of your arrival at the rendezvous near St. Michaels;4 and when you are ready to leave that rendezvous, you should telegraph the Attachés the date on which you estimate that your cruiser will call at Lisbon. This, in order that they may have the latest information ready for you.
As the Department has been informed that, at a number of places, the authorities have declined allowing the use of the cables for transmitting the messages of our men-of-war, while they place no such restriction on messages sent by our diplomatic and consular officers, it has been arranged with the Department of State that all cipher telegrams for or from your fleet, <and> for or from the Eastern Squadron after separation, shall be sent in naval cipher through the diplomatic or consular officer, addressed to him or to the Department of State as the case may require, and all such telegrams are to be preceded by the word BASSWOOD, which will be an indication to the officials of the Department of State that the message is a naval one.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 464. Addressed below close: “Rear Admiral/W. T. Sampson, U.S.N.,/Commander-in-Chief.” Below that address someone has handwritten: “via Harvard.” The copy is typed on stationery. “NAVY DEPARTMENT,” and “Washington” are printed. Also in the upper right had corner is printed: “Office of the/Secretary.” The word in angle brackets is a handwritten interlineation.
Footnote 1: The U.S. Navy attaché in London was Lt. John C. Colwell; the navy’s attaché in Paris was Lt. William S. Sims.
Footnote 2: Probably William W. Nicholls (Nicholls middle initial is sometimes given as M).
Footnote 3: United States Ambassador to Portugal Lawrence Townsend.
Footnote 4: The island of St. Michaels in the Canary Islands was a Portuguese possession.