Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commander John F. Merry to rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Squadron

U.S.S. “MACHIAS”,      

Off Cardenas, Cuba, 

May 11, 1898.

Sir:

     1.   I have the honor to report the arrival of the “WILMINGTON” off this place and the receipt of your order to proceed off Matanzas this morning.

     2.   Having for some time conceived a plan to attack and out the three small gun boats inside, but not having suitable ships, the arrival of the “WILMINGTON” and “WINSLOW” this morning induced me to confer with Commander Todd1 of the “WILMINGTON” on the subject. He was anxious to participate.

     3.   The “MACHIAS”, “WILMINGTON”, “HUDSON”, and “WINSLOW” proceeded in as far as the obstructions would allow. The “MACHIAS” took up position about 2100 yards North East of Diana Cay. The “WILMINGTON” with the “HUDSON” and “WINSLOW” proceeded to enter the inner harbor between Romero and Blanco Cays where I felt quite certain there were no mines, the depth of water by chart being 1-3/4 fathoms. The three vessels found no trouble in entering and were soon steaming into Cardenas Bay. I opened fire on Diana Cay Signal Station and sent the launch with Ensign Willard2 in charge to take possession of the station and find the wires and explode the mines if possible, or cut them. No wires were found however, although strict search was made for them on the island and by dredging around it.

     4.   Mr. Willard accomplished the work in a very excellent manner, destroying the station and all government property which had been abandoned in a very hurried manner; and as a signal of his success hoisted the American flag on the signal station, and brought on board the Spanish flag together with the station’s signal apparatus.

     5.   At 1:40 p.m. fire opened from the “WILMINGTON” and “HUDSON” and “WINSLOW” and was continued until 3 p.m. when the three vessels commenced the return to the outer anchorage.

     6.   Enclosed please find the report of Commander Todd of the “WILMINGTON”; and Lieutenant Bernadou3 of the “WINSLOW”.

     7.   I regret very much that serious casualties occurred. I send the “HUDSON” to Key West tonight with the dead and wounded and as soon as I can repair the “WINSLOW” and get her in a seaworthy condition, I will send her to Key West, either under her own steam or in the town of the “WILMINGTON” or tow her with this ship.

     8.   I am unable to forward the report of the Commanding Officer of the “HUDSON4 who will submit it in person.

Very respectfully,                   

J.F. Merry                       

Commander, U.S.Navy, Commanding, 

Senior Officer Present.    

Source Note: TCyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625 roll 229. Addressed below close: “The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. NAVAL FORCE/NORTH ATANTIC STATION/ ( one enclosure).” Docketed: “uss MACHIAS/Off Cardenas Cuba/May 11 1898/Merry J.F./Comdr Comndg./Report of duty performed/this day at Cardenas/-1 enclosure-/Naval Base/U.S.F. Ship Miantonomoh/Key West, Fla, May 12, 1898/Respectfully Forwarded/Geo. C Remey/Commander Commanding/MACHIAS/+/WILMINGTON”. Stamp: There is a “BUREAU OF NAVIGATION” stamp along the top dated to 16 May 1898, with the numbers: “111467”.

Footnote 1: Comdr. Chapman C. Todd.

Footnote 2: En. Arthur L. Willard.

Footnote 3: Lt. John B. Bernadou was the commander of the Winslow. For Comdr. Todd’s report see, Todd to Merry, 11 May 1898, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 229. For Lt. Bernadou’s first report see, Bernadou to Long, 14 March 1898, DNA, RG 313, Entry 49. For his second report, see: Bernadou to Long, 16 May 1898.

Footnote 5: Lt. Frank Newcomb was the commander of the Hudson. For his report, see: Newcomb to Long, 13 May 1898.