Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commodore George C. Remey, Commandant, Key West Naval Base, to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

NAVAL BASE, KEY WEST

U. S. Flagship Lancaster, July 4, 1898

My dear Admiral:

In accordance with your letter of June 25th, I have taken the necessary steps toward sending express matter and stores down to the vessels of the fleet.1 These measures I had already undertaken, except as to unpaid express packages.

A large amount of mail, stores, and express matter, on which Paymaster G. W. Simpson had advanced about $700, was put on board the YANKEE, to go to Santiago with the convoy of transports, expected to sail any day. No sooner had the YANKEE been loaded, however, than one of her crew in hospital developed yellow fever and died in a few hours.2

The Department ordered the vessel North at once, forbidding any thing to be removed, though the nature of the articles sent by her was fully explained; and she accordingly sailed for Tompkinsville3 at daylight on the 3d instant, with all the mail and goods referred to on board.

The forwarding of mail will be much facilitated and improved if you will send me information of any changes of vessels' stations that will affect the matter.

Instructions are here from the Department to fit out the FERN as a mail steamer,4 with accommodations for a clerical force of four. I suggest that the FERN be sent back here, if this plan meets your approval.

I have been very much disappointed in regard to the repairs of the NEW ORLEANS5 steam steering gear. The work was promptly undertaken and expedited, and the attention of the Commandant6 and the Chief Engineer7 has been held to the matter by repeated inquiries and orders from me, but because of several failures in the castings, the NEW ORLEANS has been considerably delayed.

There is to be a new engineer in charge at the Station in a few days, and it is hoped that with the additional facilities to the plant that are slowly being installed, repair work in the future will be more promising.

Very truly yours,      

Geo. C. Remey               

Commodore Commanding

Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 51. Addressed below close: “Rear Admiral/W. T. Sampson,/Commander-in-Chief,/North Atlantic Fleet.” Stamped at top right-hand corner: “RECEIVED/FLAG-SHIP N. A. STATION./JUL 10 1898.” Handwritten at bottom of second page: “P.S./Hearty congratulations for your/great victory/G.C.R.”

Footnote 1: Expeditious mail delivery was important for morale.

Footnote 2: Ten days after this letter was written RAdm. Sampson instituted rigorous protocols for the U.S. Navy in order to minimize the chances of contracting yellow fever. See: General Order, 14 July 1898.

Footnote 3: Tompkinsville, Long Island, NY.

Footnote 4: Fern was a gunboat. It had been used carry mail and supplies from Key West to the increasing number of U.S. Navy ships concentrated in the Caribbean in the months before the war.

Footnote 5: New Orleans had been purchased from Brazil in early March in Great Britain while it was being fitted out; originally Amazonas.

Footnote 6: Cmdr. James M. Forsyth.

Footnote 7: Chief Engineer William N. Little.

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