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United States Consul at Gibraltar Horatio L. Sprague to Assistant Secretary of State John B. Moore


Consulate of the United States,

Gibraltar, 15th May 1898.


     The Gibraltar authorities1 having been notified, that until further notice, no lights will be exhibited by night in the ports and harbors of Algeciras, Malaga and Cadiz, and their respective coasts, I duly wired this information to the Honorable the Secretary of State,2 as noted in my last telegrams, copies of which are herewith appended.

     As far as I have been able to ascertain, I have every reason to believe that the Spanish war vessels Pelayo,” Carlos V. Alfonso 13 “Victoria” “Audaz” “Rapido and “Patria” (these two latter swift steamships lately purchased from the Hamburg Steamship Co.) with torpedo boats and destroyers, which compose the second division of the Spanish squadron, are still in Cadiz, arming and refitting, while theNumancia and other war crafts are supposed to be on the Eastern coast of Spain, probably at Barcelona of [i.e. or] Cartagena.3

     Since the bombardment of Cavite,4 there are vague rumors that some of the most fit war vessels now at Cadiz, may be sent without delay to the relief of the Manila, via the Suez Canal, with probability of escorting troops thither.5

     The telegraph and postal establishments throughout Spain and especially at Cadiz are now very rigidly watched and scrutinized by the Spanish officials, rendering it exceedingly difficult to obtain any reliable information regarding naval movements in that quarter. Nevertheless it has been stated, that the laying down ofsubmarine mines in Cadiz waters, has recently been completed, nothing however is mooted on the probable future movements of the Spanish war vessels, at present there.

     It is reasonable to suppose, that the Spanish Government may be anxiously waiting to learn the ultimate fate of the Spanish fleet lately sighted at Martinique,6 before entering into new naval combinations.

     Martial law now exists throughout Spain. It was proclaimed in the neighboring districts on the 11th instant. . . . 


I have the honor to be, Sir,     

Your obedient servant,      

Horatio L. Sprague,

U. S. Consul.

Source Note: TD, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 33. Addressed before open: “The Honorable/Assistant Secretary of State,/Washington, D.C.” Reference in the upper right-hand corner: “No. 906.” John Bassett Moore was Assistant Secretary of State from 27 April to 16 September 1898.

Footnote 1: In 1898 Gibraltar was a British crown colony with a major naval base.

Footnote 2: Secretary of State William R. Day.

Footnote 3: That is Alfonso XIII, Vitoria, Rápido, and Patriota. These ships made up the squadron of Vice Adm. Manuel de la Cámara y Libermoore.

Footnote 4: A reference to Commo. George Dewey’s victory at Manila Bay on 1 May.

Footnote 5: Vice Adm. Cámara’s squadron attempted to sail for the Philippines, but turned around at the Suez Canal. Trask, War With Spain, 270-84.

Footnote 6: RAdm. Pascual Cervera y Topete’s squadron arrived at Martinique on 12 May.

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