Lieutenant Commander Daniel Delahanty to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
Off Santiago de Cuba, Cuba,
In obedience to orders, dated May 29th, received from Commodore G. C. Remey,1 commanding Naval Base, Key West Fla., and containing copy of letter of instruction from you to him relative to the landing of arms, ammunition and other supplies on the coast of Cuba for the use of insurgent forces, I have the honor to report that, on the evening of the 30th of May, I convoyed the transport steamer Gussie, carrying these supplies, to the coast of Cuba.
On the morning of the 31st of May I fell in with Commodore Watson,2 showed him my instructions and he detailed the gunboat “Newport” to accompany the expedition to Cay Frances, and to protect the “Gussie” while this vessels was operating inside the cays.
On my arrival that same evening at Cay Frances, I sent an armed boats crew, in charge of Lieut. Blue,3 inside the cays to the mainland to notify Gen. Gomez’s4 forces that I was ready to land supplies, having been assured by the Cuban pilot I had on board, that there was sufficient water for this vessel inside the cays. Not having any charts of the locality, I had no means of determining the correctness of his statement.
Later in the evening while making a reconnaissance inside the cay, running under very slow speed, the lead constantly going, the ship ran ashore on a sand spit, the water shoaling between gusts, from 2 1/2 fathoms to 1 1/2 fathoms. This was about 7 p.m., the tide falling.
I made several attempts during the night, with the assistance of the N.Y. Press boat, “[Kanapaha],” to haul the ship off, and finally succeeded at four a.m. the next morning. There is no evidence of the ship having sustained any damage, the water being smooth and the bottom sand.
During the night signals were frequently made by heliograph between the cays and Cay barien, where I was informed several small gun boats were stationed.
About noon of the 1st instant, the armed boats crews returned, having succeeded in communicating with Gen. Gomez’s forces. While returning to the ship it captured two small sloops used as patrol boats. One of them contained a complete heliograph signal outfit. Gave one of these boats to Cuban pilot and assistant to return to Gomez’s forces and notify them of change of plans. Stripped other boat of everything of value and sunk her as target practice.
After consultation with Commander Tilley5 of the “Newport”, I deemed it advisable to take the Gussie over to Great Bahama Bank and there anchor while Commander Tilly communicated with Commodore Watson for the purpose of procuring, if possible, a lighter draught vessel to reach the mainland with the supplies, the pilot having concluded that it would be enough to take this vessel in with a greater draught than 8ft., 4in.
After anchoring with the Gussie on the Banks, the Newport proceeded to intercept Commodore Watson’s squadron, returning thence about 5 am of the 3d inst. As no suitable vessel was available I took on board from the Gussie stores as per enclosed list,6 and at 11 a.m. sailed for the south side of Cuba intending, on the advises of Mr. John F. Jova, to land them at a point to be determined upon between Cienfuegos and Trinidad.
Falling in with you on the 5th inst., off Santiago de Cuba, and receiving your verbal order to land the supplies to the westward of Santiago for the use of the insurgent forces in this vicinity, I have to report to you that your order has been complied with and all the stores were duly landed yesterday and to-day by the boats of this vessel, assisted yesterday by a boat from the Vixen, at a point about fifteen miles west of Santiago and were received by troops of Gen. Cebreco’s7 Command. I have sent Mr. Jno. F. Jova to the insurgent camp to obtain Gen. Cebrecos receipt.
You will be gratified to learn that I have received assurances from Gen. Cebreco’s officers that these supplies come to them at a most opportune moment, they being short of arms and ammunition and under attack by Spanish forces.
Lieut. Comdr., U.S.N.,
Source Note: ALS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 48, Box 6. Addressed below close: “To/Rear Admiral William T. Sampson,/Commander-in-Chief./(one inclosure).” Docketed: “U.S.S.Suwanee/Off Santiago de Cuba, Cuba,/June 8, 1898./Delahanty, D.,/Lieut. Comdr., U.S.N./Report of Landing/of stores for insurgent/forces.”
Footnote 1: Commo. George C. Remey, Commandant, Key West Naval Base.
Footnote 2: Commo John C. Watson, Commander, First Blockading Squadron.
Footnote 3: Lt. Victor Blue.
Footnote 4: Cuban Gen. Máximo Gómez y Báez.
Footnote 5: Cmdr. Benjamin F. Tilley.
Footnote 6: List was not enclosed and has not been found.
Footnote 7: Cuban Gen. Agustín Cebreco Sánchez.