Brigadier General Felix Pareja Mesa to Lieutenant General Arsenio Linares y Pomba
The seventh day, at dawn brought seven ships before the port of Caimanera. They fired grape shot and all kinds of projectiles on the Playa del Este and Cayo Toro until they set fire to the fort on the Playa Este and burning the houses of the pilots which the detachment occupied. This lasted cannonading with more or less intensity, until five o’clock in the afternoon.
At the Playa del Este had only two muzzle-loading guns and sand intrenchments, the detachment could do nothing before the six ships, firing on them from all sides. They retired into Manigua and to the Cuzco Hill, where they remain to-day making sallies on the beach.
From that day 150 men occupy Punta Caracolas, observing the movement of ships which occupy the outer port, with a transport of war and a variable number of armed ships and other vessels of war and armed merchant ships; total never less than four. . . . I have not been able to antagonize the American ships with rifle fire, no known ground being at hand. Yesterday the Captain of Engineers ordered to make safe protections that would impede and to make them low.
The ground of Playa Este is better for this purpose. I refer solely to disembarkation. Dia F. Sandoval and Cayo Toro fired with their artillery, being impeded with short range, when the ships retired to the centre of the Channel and took position in the middle of the Bay, or they would have stopped answering the fire which the enemy’s ships were keeping up with impunity. Sandoval has not over seven discharges of piercing projectiles, and Caimanera battery did not fire, reserving fire until the ships entered the Channel, which is where their guns reached. . . .
The American squadron in possession of the outer bay has taken it as if for a harbor of rest, they having anchored as if one of their own ports, since the seventh, the day they cut the cables. In the entrance and center of the harbor, I not being able to reach them, they have not again molested me except with two cannon shots on the eight. It appears from the work that is being done that they are preparing to plant the harbor with mines, or place their ships for disembarkation ay [at?] Playa del Este, their favorite place. If it is the first, I call your attention to it, in case that some time our Squadron should come here.
The forces of the Brigade are in good spirits. I continue serving out half rations of everything, and in that way I expect to reach only the end of the month, above all in bread, as I have no flour of any kind, as I said and no way of getting any on account of there having been no corn for some time. Quinine for the hospitals the same. . . .
To-day, there is in the harbor a large armored vessel and seven more vessels with a large transport that appears to be a store ship. They patrol Playo del Este with armed launches, I have just been informed. . . .
Enanto, 10 June 1898.
(Signed) Felix Pareja)
Source Note: Contemporary Translation, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 231. Addressed below close: “To His Excellency/General Commanding Division of Cuba.” At the top of the document is the following notation: “The following letter was capture by the Cubans enroute to Santiago.” Reportedly, the courier carrying it was hung as a spy by the Cuban revolutionaries. Squadron Bulletins, 10