Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commander Chapman C. Todd to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

U.S.S.WILMINGTON, 3d Rate,   

Off Jucaro, Cuba,         

July 21, 1898.    

Sir:-

     1.   Before leaving the vicinity of Manzanillo, General Rios,1 commanding the Cuban Force south of that place, went on board the HIST, which was nearest in shore, south end, and from information obtained from him the following appears to be the military establishment of Manzanillo. There are about two thousand regulars, one thousand volunteers, five hundred bombadero or firemen. They appear well supplied with cattle and provisions but are believed to be short of ammunition. The recent events in the vicinity have caused them to become disheartened,2 and it is believed that the appearance of an enemy’s force, even a thousand men, would result in the capitulation of the place.

     2.   So far as forts are concerned they amount to little or nothing, except some field pieces temporarily located, belonging to the army; it is said there are about twenty field guns in the vicinity.

     3.   The last expedition there took them completely by surprise, and the people thought that an American force was landing to the south of the town, near Niquero.

     4.   The immediate country surrounding Manzanillo is fertile and military operations could be readily carried [on near it.]3 The only high road leading out of Manzanillo goes to Bayamo therefore if a force of two-thousand Cubans, well armed, should be quickly moved there and advance upon Manzanillo, it is believed the capture of the city would result promptly, especially with a naval force in front of the city. At this season of the year it would not be possible for the Spanish troops to retreat to the north or west by any road other than that of Bayamo on account of the swollen streams. The general feeling of the Spanish forces in the vicinity is best shown by the fact that General Rios is encamped within miles from the place with one hundred and fifty cavalry and occasionally makes raids on the outskirts of the town itself to obtain cattle belonging to the Spanish. The General states that five hundred additional men are now on the [way?] from the interior to join him.

Very respectfully,

U.S.N., Commanding               

Source Note: CbCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 41, p. 103. Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief/North Atlantic Station.” Document reference: “No. 26.”

Footnote 1: Cuban Maj. Gen. Salvador Hernández y Ríos. 

Footnote 2: Presumably the surrender of the garrison at Santiago de Cuba on 16 July 1898.

Footnote 3: The copy at this point is faded and difficult to read.

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