Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

North Atlantic Fleet Squadron Bulletin No. 4

 

Squadron Bulletin.

U. S. FLAGSHIP New York.         Off SANTIAGO DE CUBA, CUBA.

THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 1898.

THE fort at Guantanamo was destroyed yesterday by the Texas and Marblehead.1 The channel to Caimenara is to be dragged for torpedoes. One torpedo was picked up by the Marblehead’s screw.2 There has been no serious fighting reported ashore in the last day.

     The Yankee which has returned from Cienfuegos where she had been sent to intercept a Spanish steamer, the PurissimaConcepcion, from Kingston, Jamaica, had, off the port, an engagement with a Spanish gunboat and the batteries ashore.3 One man was wounded. The gunboat, which had come out apparently to observe the character of the Yankee, escaped, chiefly on account of the firing being interrupted by the smoke.

     The Vesuvius fired three projectiles last night about 11; one struck the hill on which is the Western battery; one went over and is thought to have struck Cay Smith, and one is supposed to have gone into the water between Socapa and Cay Smith.4 All are supposed to have exploded.

     More complete reports from Guantanamo state that the force of Spaniards routed by the Marines and the Cubans on the 14th instant numbered about 300, and that their loss was between 40 and 60 men killed, one officer and 17 soldiers captured.5

     A second Spanish mine was brought to the surface by the screw of the Texas and was picked up by the Marblehead’s launch. Both of these mines are French, with depth regulators; contain forty-six and one-half kilos of gun-cotton, and each has six contact arms.6 Manufactured in August, 1896, and placed in position in April, 1898.

     Two Spanish soldiers came in voluntarily and surrendered. One of them reported that the Spanish forces near the Marine camp had been without food for three days, and that one body of 500 would give themselves up were they not prevented by their officers.

     A Spanish spy endeavored to make his way from Guantanamo to Santiago, and was captured on the 11th instant. In his possession was found a letter from the Commanding General at Guantanamo to the Commanding General at Santiago,7 stating that his men were on half rations and that he had food only to last to the end of June. It is understood that the spy was hanged by the Cubans.

     At early dawn the Squadron bombarded the forts at the entrance of Santiago. The forts were quickly silenced, and the fire was continued for half an hour and probably did much damage, as no shots were fired at the ships while they were withdrawing.

     A heavy explosion was observed in one of the batteries. The firing was deliberate, and was very accurate, especially that of the Texas. None of the ships were struck.

Source Note: Printed, DNA, RG 313, Entry 56. This bulletin was produced on a printing press on New York (the flagship of RAdm. William T. Sampson’s North Atlantic Fleet) and was distributed to the vessels. It is listed as number 4 in, Squadron Bulletins, 9-11.

Footnote 1: For more information, see: Naval Operations at Guantánamo.

Footnote 2: Within a month of laying mines around the entire Cuban coast they were rendered inoperative by sea growth and incrustation. See: McCalla, Lessons of the Late War.

Footnote 3: For more on the Purissima Concepcion incident, see, Appendix to the Bureau of Navigation, 1898, 264-65.

Footnote 4: Cay Smith is a small island located near the inner entrance of Santiago de Cuba harbor. Socapa is a battery on the west side of the harbor entrance.

Footnote 5: For a synopsis of the U.S. Marines in June, see: Lt. Col. Robert W. Huntington to Col. Charles Heywood, 17 June 1898.

Footnote 6: The Hotchkiss Ordnance Co., which was located in France, manufactured explosive devices and weapons.

Footnote 7: The Spanish commanders were Lt. Gen. Arsenio Linares y Pombo at Santiago de Cuba and at Guantánamo, Brig. Gen. Félix Pareja Mesa.

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