Minister of Marine Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo to Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete
The Minister of Marine,
Madrid, February 15, 1898.
His Excellency Pascual Cervera.
My Dear Admiral and Friend:
. . . As to the war with the United States, I will tell you my ideas about it. A division composed of the Numancia, Vitoria, Alfonso XIII (or Lepanto), the destroyers Audaz, Osado, and Proserpina, and three torpedo boats would remain in Spain in the vicinity of Cadiz. In Cuba the Carlos V, Pelayo, Colón, Vizcaya, Oquendo, Maria Teresa, three destroyers, and three torpedo boats, in conjunction with the eight larger vessels of the Havana Navy-Yard, would take up a position to cover the channels between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and try to destroy Key West, where the United States squadron has established its principal base of provisions, ammunition, and coal.
If we succeed in this, and the season is favorable, the blockade could be extended to the Atlantic coast, so as to cut off communications and commerce with Europe—all this subject to the contingencies which may arise from your becoming engaged in battles in which it will be decided who is to hold empire of the sea. For your guidance in these matters, you are acquainted with the preliminary plans of the staff of this ministry, which I placed at your disposal, including the attack upon Key West. I will advise you as to the location of the United States ships and other data for which you ask.
I will also inform you that twelve or fifteen steamers will be equipped as auxiliaries to our fleet, independent of privateering, and in confidence I will tell you that if any ship of real power can be found, either cruiser or battle ship, we shall buy it, provided it can be ready by April. My life is getting to be a burden, for to all that is already weighing upon me under the circumstances are now added the elections and candidates for representatives.
I believe, my dear Admiral, that all the energy and all the good will of those who are wearing uniforms can do but very little toward preparing for the events which may happen.