Lieutenant Commander Adolph Marix to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
U. S. S. SCORPION. (25)
Off La Guayabal, Cuba,
July 15, 1898.
I have the honor to inform you that hte “ SCORPION ” arrived on this station off Cape Cruz on Sunday night last, and was joined by the Hist, Hornet, and Wompatuck on Monday, and the Osceola on Wednesday. The Hist was sent to Santiago de Cuba for coal on Monday. A strict blockade of Manzanillo has been kept up. It seemed impossible to guard all the entrances to Manzanillo at night, there being so many, and still more impracticable to guard all the channels to these inner waters. Therefore at night one vessel was stationed near Colorado Point, that being sufficient to guard the approach to the Balandras Channel, and the other vessels two miles apart in the channel between Sevilla Cays and the Great Bank of Buena Esperanza. During the day time these vessels have gone close under the land to watch. By this method Manzanillo has been completely isolated, not only from the sea, but from all the towns in these waters.
On Wednesday the British Schooner Edmund Blunt, bound from Manzanillo to Lucea, Jamaica with 68 refugees, mostly women, was boarded and allowed to proceed. The Captain of the schooner reported that the people of Manzanillo were in a deplorable and famishing condition; all the food obtainable being appropriated by the 4000 troops there. Nothing could be learned from him in regard to the fortification or gunboats, except that the Receiving Ship Ponto Maria was armed with six guns, two of these being 8” smooth bore; he also said that the harbor had lately been mined, but I doubt whether he knows anything about it. He furthermore informed the boarding officer that on July 1st, one shell struck the Maria in the bow and killed 13 men at the guns: also that another shot struck her near the water line and sank her, but that she had only one foot to go down.
I regret to say that some houses had also been struck, but this could not be helped as they attacked us from both shore and gunboats.
On Wednesday we steamed in near La Guayabal to open communication if possible, the pilot having informed me that it was a fortified Cuban Village. The Commandante GervacioSabio came off at once to communicate and from him I learned that there were about 200 men under his command, guarding the coast between Santa Cruz and Mazanillo; that the roads between those places were impassible owing to the condition of the rivers; and that frequent attempts were being made to send provisions from smaller places to Manzanillo by water, especially by small boats close along the shore; that his men were very badly armed and short of ammunition. This ship at his request furnished him with 10 rifles and 1000 rounds to assist in preventing this traffic. No more arms could be spared on board here, and the Hornet and Osceola could not spare any.
We procured three native pilots, one for each vessel, through the Commandante. They are not regular pilots but will be of great help in these waters. No agreement has been made with them and any compensation for them you may direct will undoubtedly be satisfactory.
This morning we capture the schooner Carmita of 20 tons with men and women on board said to be refugees: and the schooner Farragut of 10 tons with respectable looking passengers on board. Both schooners have been anchored off La Guayabal and the women from the first schooner allowed to land: that being their desire. The Captains of both these schooners verify the condition of affairs at Manzanillo as reported by the Captain of the schooner Edmund Blunt.
I considered it unadvisable to permit any others to land at present and communicate our movements.
Towards noon the SCORPION steamed to Quatro Reales Channel, having made her rendezvous at that place for that afternoon and there reported to the Commanding Officer of the Wilmington what is contained in this report. He directed me to return to the other vessels, hold the schooners for the present: continue the present system of blockading: and await his arrival, making La Guayabal the rendezvous. He furthermore informed me that he did not wish to go to Manzanillo until he could do so in force.
Lieut-Com’dr., U.S.N., Cmdg.
Source Note: TCyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 234. Addressed below close: “The Commander -in-Chief,/U.S.Naval Force, N.A.Station,/Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.” Stamp from the “BUREAU OF NAVIGATION,” dates to 1 August 1898 and has reference: “130306.” Docketed: “U. S. S. SCORPION (25/Off La Guayabal Cuba,/July 15th 1898/Marix, A./Lieut-Comd’r. U.S.N./Comdg./Reporting movement of/”SCORPION” in Cape Cruz/Blockade/Sampson.” Docketed in right column: “U. S. FLAGSHIP NEW YORK/Playa del Este/July 23, 1898/RESPECTFULLY FORWARDED/To Secretary of the Navy,/From Admiral/Commander-in-Chief, Naval Force/North Atlantic.”