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Commander Bowman H. McCalla to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U. S. S. MARBLEHEAD, 3rd Rate.

Guantanamo, Cuba,

June 24th, 1898.


1. In order to determine whether the enemy still occupies the extremities of the Punta del Hicocal, a force will be transferred to the northern shore to examine it by early daylight. This force under the command of Colonel Huntington will consist of two companies of Marines and two thirds of the force of Cubans under the command of Colonel Thomas, in all about 240 men.1 The force will be ready to embark at Fishermen's Point at 3A.M. sharp tomorrow.

2. The steam launches and boats from the Helena, Annapolis, and Bancroft, and the whole force while embarked, will be under the command of Commander Eaton2 who is charged with the details of the transfer of the force from and to Fishermen's Point. The boats will cross the bay in three columns, each one, in tow of a steam launch. Each pulling boat will have four men and a coxswain, and there will be two officers for each column of boats. The steam launches will carry a one p[o]under or a 6 m/m gun.3 The columns shall be so arranged that the boats of the two columns on the right shall land to the left of the steam launches at their head; while the steam launch of the left column shall take sufficient distance for the pulling boats of that column to land to the right. Once the force has embarked there must be no talking and no orders given by voice. The Cubans who will lead the advance will be embarked in the boats of the right column.

3. The Eagle will be stationed off the entrance between the northern extremity of Hicocal Point and the southern end of Cayo del Hospital, about 300 yards S.E.X.S.4 from the latter point. The steam launches and whaleboats from the MARBLEHEAD and Dolphin will be stationed with the Eagle; Lieutenant Boughter in command,5 in case it should be necessary for the Eagle to go to the north and west of the northern extremity of Hicocal Point.

In that case, Lieutenant Boughter will sweep the channel for mines in advance of the Eagle.

4. The MARBLEHEAD will be stationed close to the beach S.W.X.S. from the western extremity of the high lands of Hicocal Point, the Helena will be two cables west of the MARBLEHEAD.6

These two ships will prevent an advance, across the low lands and dry lagoon, of a force reported to be in rear of hill a mile from the beach on the line of the road leading to Caimanero.7

The ships will be in position at half past four o'clock.

5. P. A. Surgeon shipp will accompany the force.8

6. The point selected for the landing is about 800 yards west of the western end of the highland of Hicocal Point and is marked by a slight rise in the land, or a hill.

Absolute promptness is essential and quiet is necessary to the success of any surprise.

Very respectfully,   

B.H. McCalla

Commander, U.S. Navy.


Senior Officer Present.

Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 48. Addressed below close: “Copy for Commander-in-Chief.” At top right corner stamped: “RECEIVED/FLAG-SHIP N.A. STATION,/JUN 25 1898.”

Footnote 1: Lt. Col. Robert W. Huntington and Lt. Col. Enriqué Thomas.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Joseph G. Eaton.

Footnote 3: The abbreviation “m/m” stands for millimeter.

Footnote 4: That is, southeast by south.

Footnote 5: Lt. Francis Boughter.

Footnote 6: An American cable length equals 1/10 of a nautical mile or 720 feet.

Footnote 7: That is, Caimanera, Cuba.

Footnote 8: Passed Assistant Surgeon Edward M. Shipp.

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