Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Secretary of State William R. Day
Washington, June 20, 1898.
It being generally reported that Assistant Naval Constructor Hobson, and the men of the U.S.S. “Merrimac,” lately captured by the Spanish in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba, are confined in the Morro Castle of Santiago, where they are in range of our naval gun and liable to be killed or wounded by our projectiles, in case we should direct them against said castle, and which, for military purposes, should be so directed; and in view of the fact that the supreme Spanish authorities of the Island of Cuba have declined to exchange the said prisoner; and furthermore, as it is to apprehended that any official inquiry made, of the Spanish authorities, by our naval commanders off Santiago, concerning the prisoners in question, is likely to unsatisfactory in its results:
This Department requests that the British Government be asked to ascertain, through Her Majesty’s Consul at Santiago de Cuba, the true status and condition of the aforesaid prisoners, and to communicate the result of its inquiries to this government.
Among the chief objects of the inquiry, would be to ascertain whether our officer and men are properly treated as prisoners of war; whether they have sufficient food, clothing, medical attendance, and proper opportunities for exercise; whether they are housed with proper sanitary surroundings, and especially whether they are confined or kept part of the time, or all of the time, in buildings, forts, or localities that are particular [f]or proper marks for our fire, of that of the Cubans, during naval and military operations by the forces now operating against Santiago de Cuba and the vicinity.
John D. Long,
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 80, Entry 194, vol. 1, pp. 201-2. Addressed below close: “The Honorable,/The Secretary of Secretary.”