Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet, to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

TELEGRAM

Mole, Hayti,1 June 4, 1898.

     Succeeded in sinking Merrimac in the channel of Santiago today 4 a.m., June 3rd. This was carried out most gallantly under the command of Naval Constructor Hobson and seven men.2 By flag of truce from the Spanish Admiral, Cervera,3 sent in recognition of their bravery, am informed all are prisoners of war, two slightly wounded.4 Request authority to approve action exchange if possible between these and prisoners Atlanta, Georgia.5 Beg troops move with all possible celerity.6 Of paramount importance. Six ships7 Spanish squadron in the harbor of Santiago, unable to avoid being captured or destroyed.

SAMPSON.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 80, Entry 194, vol. 1, p. 163. Addressed below close: “Secretary of Navy,/Washington.”

Footnote 1: Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti.

Footnote 2: Asst. Naval Constructor Richmond P. Hobson. The crew who served under Hobson on the Merrimac were: Coxswain Claus K. R. Clausen, Coxswain Osborn W. Deignan, Coxswain John E. Murphy, Chief Master-At-Arms Daniel Montague, Gunner's Mate First Class George Charette, Machinist First Class George F. Phillips, Watertender Francis Kelly. Richmond Pearson Hobson, The Sinking of the “Merrimac (New York: The Century and Co., 1899), 64-65.

Footnote 3: Adm. PascualCervera y Topete, Commander of the Spanish squadron trapped in Santiago de Cuba harbor.

Footnote 4: All of the men had slight cuts and bruises, but the two wounded crewmen, treated by a Spanish surgeon, were John E. Murphy and Francis Kelly. Murphy had a foot long cut in his right hip that measured about a quarter to a half inch deep. Kelly’s suffered a substantial cut in his lip. Richmond Pearson Hobson, The Sinking of the “Merrimac (New York: The Century and Co., 1899), 127.

Footnote 5: Asst. Sec. of the Navy Charles H. Allen wrote back on 5 June, that the United States was prepared to “exchange for Hobson and party, First Lieutenant Gastiminza, one sergeant and six privates,” whom the War Department was sending to Key West. DNA, RG 80, Entry 194, vol. 1, p. 164.

Footnote 6: The troops referred to were the United States Army Expeditionary Force then forming in Tampa, Florida. 

Footnote 7: The six Spanish ships in Santiago harbor were the Cristóbal Colón, Infanta Maria Theresa, Almirante Oquendo, Viscaya, Furor and Plutón.  

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