Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain John W. Philip to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U.S.S. “TEXAS”.

     Off Santiago [Cuba]. June 16th.1898.

Sir:-

1.   I respectfully submit the following statement.

2.   Yesterday at 8:45 A.M. the Flag-ship1 signaled the TEXAS, “Proceed without delay  Guantanamo,Destroy Forts;resume blockade station this evening”. At 8:50 went ahead fullspeed,steam under three boiler’s only.

At 1:07 beat to general quarters for action,and stood up through the narrow channel,followed by the Marblehead,to the westward of Cayo del Hospital,in order to get within effective range of the fort on Cayo delToro. Went ahead until in 25 feet water,dropped anchor under foot, and at 2:05 P.M. opened fire on the fort at 2300 yards: the fort having opened fire on us as we passed the Hospital Cayo. About 2:45 the fort ceased firing;and at 3:20 we ceased to fire;having destroyed it,in obedience to orders;though in all probability the enemy will remount guns again in three or four days.2

3.   Being ordered to resume station on blockade the same evening,we got under way about 3:30,stood out of the channel and down the harbor and returned to this place,reporting to the Commander-in-Chief in person about 8:45 P.M.

4.   I would state that in going through the narrow channel to the westward of Cayo del Hospital the TEXAS broke adrift a contact submarine mine,and the Marblehead picked up one on her starboard propeller,each containing about 100 pounds of gun cotton;but owing to Divine care neither of them exploded.3

There was no casuality nor injury of any kind, but I trust the action of the TEXAS will meet with your approbation.

Very respectfully,     

J. W. Philip      

Captain.U.S.N.    

Commanding.       

Source Note: TLS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 232. Addressed after close: “The Commander-in-Chief,/North Atlantic Station.” Docketed on separate sheet “U. S. S. TEXAS/Off Santiago de Cuba/June 19 1898./Philip, J. W./Captain Commanding/Contents:/Letter in reference to/the destruction of Fort at Guantan-/amo.” On the right side of the sheet with the docketing is a stamped form that reads: “U. S. FLAGSHIP NEW YORK./Playa del Este/July 8 1898/RESPECTFULLY REFERRED/TO Secretary of the Navy/through BUREAU NAVIGATION./appd. W T Sampson/Rear Admiral/COMMANDER IN CHIEF U. S. NAVAL FORCE,/NORTH ATLANTIC STATION.” The words in all capitals are pre-set as part of the stamp. There is a second stamp on the top of the first page of the letter that reads: “RECEIVED/FLAG-SHIP N. A. STATION/JUL 5 1898.”

Footnote 1: Armored Cruiser New York.

Footnote 2: For another description of the bombardment, see: Giles B. Harber to John D. Long, 28 November 1900.

Footnote 3: Other officers credited marine growth on the mines for their failure to explode. See: Bowman H. McCalla, Lessons of the Late War.

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