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]

(Copy)

No. 83.                      U.S.S. Marblehead, 3rd. Rate,

Off Santiago de Cuba

June 9th., 1898.

Sir:

     1. In compliance with your instructions of June 6th., 1898,1 I have the honor to report that the Marblehead in company with the Yankee left the blockading fleet off Santiago de Cuba at midnight of the 6th. instant, and arrived off Guantanamo at daylight on the 7th.

     There we found the U.S.S. St. Louis, Captain C.F. Goodrich,2 who had arranged to drag for the Eastern and Western cables outside, while the Yankee and Marblehead went into the inner harbor.

     A guard at Fisherman’s Point was driven from the position it occupied, the blockhouse itself being destroyed later in the day by the fire from the U.S.S. Yankee.

     After entering the harbor a gunboat of the Hernan Cortez Class, I believe, was seen coming down the channel between the main land and Hospital Cay from the direction of the Fort shown on the chart.3

     The gunboat opened fire but was quickly driven behind the fort by the heavier fire from our two ships.

     The fort also opened fire upon us but apparently her guns, so far as I could judge, are of an old pattern since the shell from them did not reach the Marblehead.4

     After the enemy’s fire had been silenced, Lieutenant Anderson5 in the whale boat of the Marblehead dragged for and cut a cable close under the shore half a mile East of the Village at Fisherman’s Point. He afterwards dragged on the North shore of the Bay, but without finding any cable, which the Marblehead dragged in a circle around the harbor so as to cover all the ground.

     Having successfully accomplished the object which your instructions contemplated the Yankee and Marblehead left the harbor about 2 P.M.

     Finding that the St. Louis had out the Western cable early in the morning but had not succeeded in finding the Eastern one, the Marblehead assisted in dragging for this cable until some slight repairs could be made to the Yankee’s engines.

     At 5 P.M. the Marblehead sailed for the fleet off Santiago leaving the St. Louis and Yankee searching for the cable which I was very pleased to hear later, was found by the St. Louis, and injured as directed by you.

     The gunboat referred to had apparently two 4 inch or 4.7 inch guns.

     The masts of a supposed second gunboat were seen but she did not move from an anchorage near the fort.

     I have the honor to transmit herewith specimens of the Western cable cut by the St. Louis in the morning, and the one cut by Lieutenant Anderson, together with three sketches made by Ensigns Sullivan and Gherardi showing a plan of the fort and barracks, and the location of the guns as seen from the top of the Marblehead6. . . .

Very respectfully,

B.H. McCalla           

Commander, U.S. Navy,

Commanding.

Source Note: TCy, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 231. Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief,/North Atlantic Station.” Docketed on separate sheet: “U.S.S. Marblehead, 3rd. Rate./Off Santiago, Cuba,/June 9th., 1898./McCalla, B.H.,/Commander, U.S.N.,/Commanding./Relative to Marblehead, Yankee/ and St. Louis dragging for cab-/les, 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: “172028.”

Footnote 1: Document has not been found.

Footnote 2: Capt. Caspar F. Goodrich.

Footnote 3: Spanish gunboat Sandoval, Tenientede Navio Scandella, commanding. The Hernan Cortes class of gunboats was 300 tons displacement; carried two guns and a crew of 53; made an average of 13 knots and had a range of 2,900 miles.

Footnote 5: Lt. Edwin A. Anderson.

Footnote 6: Ens. Franklin B. Sullivan and Ens. Walter R. Gherardi. The sketches have not been found.

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