Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Charles S. Cotton to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U.S.S.Harvard,           

Guantanamo, Cuba,   

July 8, 1898.

S I R :

1.   I have the honor to inform you that during the week this ship was engaged in the attempt to land the military stores, including small arms, ammunition, provisions, tentage, etc., amounting to 100 tons more or less, brought from Newport News with the troops. I used all of the resources of this ship, including officers, boats, and the steam cutter, and neglected no opportunity to work when the weather and other conditions permitted.

2.   Through the total absence of facilities of any sort on shore for landing stores, and the lack of assistance by the officer or officers on shore, except Brigadier General Duffield,1 who rendered such assistance as was in his power, having cognizance of the transportation or care of supplies for the Army, the work was slow, and most laborious and fatiguing for our own people, and resulted in the disabling of our steam cutter and two pulling boats.

3.   The troops, amounting in all to 1534 officers and men, together with their equipments, etc. were landed on the day of our arrival at Altares, the 1st instant,2 in seven hours, with perfect success, no accident of any kind occurring.

4.   From the 2nd. to the 7th instant inclusive, six days, the effort to land the supplies was continued with the result that about half of them are still on board and will go North in the Ship.

5.   There is no harbor at Altares,---nothing but a small open roadstead, presenting a lee shore with the prevailing wind at this season of the year and their is no anchorage for a ship of the size of the Harvard, nearly 600 feet long and some 11,500 tons displacement. It was consequently necessary to work the engines almost constantly, to keep the ship anywhere near the landing, a proceeding not without danger to a ship of the bulk and draft of this one. Added to our difficulties was the constant annoyance of the movement in close proximity to this ship of transport and other steamers. Had there been a practicable landing or a lighter available for our use all of the army supplies in the ship could have been landed in a day or two, and we could now have well on our way North, with but little detention.

Very respectfully,

 

Captain U.S.N.,   

Commanding.

Source Note: CbCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 45, pp. 251-52. Addressed below close: “The Commander in Chief,/North Atlantic Station.” At top left: “No. 46.”

Footnote 1: Brig. Gen. Henry M. Duffield.

Footnote 2: “Instant” means this month.

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