Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

[Extract]

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

Guantanamo,Cuba,     

June 10th., 1898. 

S i r:

     1.   I have the honor to inform you that the locality about Fisherman’s Point was carefully examined by Captain Goodrell with a force of Marines from the Oregon and MARBLEHEAD and he will report his conclusions to you in person.1

     2.   Referring to the question of submarine cables, a careful examination of the cable house at Fisherman’s Point was made today and shows that communication was interrupted about 7 A.M. of the 7th. instant by the explosion of two 6 pounder shells, but if this were not the case all communication would have been stopped later by Lieutenant Anderson’s cutting the inside cable between Caymanera2 and Fisherman’s Point. It is now conclusive that the Eastern and Western cables from this port terminated at the cable house on Fisherman’s Point and that communication was continued from the cable house to Caymanera by the smaller unarmored cable, a specimen of which was sent you.3

     3. This same arrangement held at Cienfuegos and so far as the French cables were concerned connection was severed when they were cut by the force from the MARBLEHEAD and Nashville. The third and smaller cable referred to in my letter reporting that event was simply the connection between the cable house and Cienfuegos and did not need to be cut.4

     Unfortunately I did not then know that the English cable lead directly into the harbor or it could have been successfully grappled for by the MARBLEHEAD during the action.

     4. Colonel Bieta, Chief of Staff of General Perez,5 informs me that in two days there will be a force of 60 Cuban officers and men here to co-operate with Colonel Huntington’s command of Marines6. . . .

     6. In conclusion, I will add that Colonel Bieta has brought with him two of his command who are familiar with the waters of Guantanamo Bay and who will doubtless be of use in searching for the mines which are now known to be all contact ones and located in the several channels leading past the fort.

     7. The very pressing need of the Cuban Army is quinine which I recommend be sent in large quantities.

     8. I send you be Captain Goodrell7 a bundle of papers found on Fisherman’s Point this morning; some are interesting. I enclose a telegram from Santiago do Cuba reporting the destruction of the Merrimac.8

Very respectfully,

B.H. McCalla                     

Commander, U. S. Navy,      

Commanding.            

Source Note: TDS, DNA, AFNRC, M626, roll 231. Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief,/North Atlantic Station.” Document reference: “No. 84.” Docketed on separate sheet: “U. S. S. MARBLEHEAD, 3rd. Rate./Guantanamo, Cuba,/June 10th., 1898./McCalla, B. H.,/Commander, U. S. Navy,/Commanding./Reports an examination of Fish-/erman’s Point, etc.” There is also a Bureau of Navigation stamp on this sheet in the shape of a box. Inside the box is the identifying number: “121988.” At the top of the first sheet is stamped: “RECEIVED/flag-ship n. a. station/JUN 10 1898.”

Footnote 1: Marine Capt. Mancil C. Goodrell had been sent ashore to select a campsite for the First Marine Battalion, which was put ashore and initiated land operations at Guantánamo Bay on 10 June. The operation was intended to seize Guantánamo Bay and to hold it as a base for the Sampson’s fleet. McCalla was the naval officer in charge off Guantánamo. The site selected by Goodrell was on a hill close to an abandoned Spanish blockhouse.

Footnote 2: That is, Caimanera.

Footnote 3: For information on this cable cutting operation, see: McCalla to Sampson, 9 June 1898.

Footnote 4: On the cable cutting operation at Cienfuegos, see: Battle at Cienfuegos, 11 May 1898.

Footnote 5: In his journal, McCalla correctly identifies this officer as “Colonel [Gonzalo Garcia] Vieta.”

Footnote 6: On 10 June the First Marine Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Robert W. Huntington, initiated land operations at Guantánamo Bay.

Footnote 7: The papers from Mancil C. Goodrell carried to Sampson have not been found.

Footnote 8: On the sinking of the collier Merrimac, see: Sinking of the Merrimac.

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