Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Ensign Harry H. Caldwell to United States Consul at Manila Oscar F. Williams

Confidential                                    Copy

FLAGSHIP Olympia

Hongkong, March 3, 1898.

O.F. Williams, Esq,

     U.S. Consul, Manila.

Dear Sir:

About two weeks ago, Commodore Dewey, Comd’g our squadron in these waters, wrote you in regard to some information he is desirous of obtaining regarding the defenses of Manila.1 You having telegraphed that his letter was not received, he now wishes me to ask you if you will be good enough to send him the following information if you can obtain it. What naval vessels are at Manila or in that vicinity and are they kept manned and equipped for service?2 Are there any considerable land defenses (modern)? Are there any torpedoes or sub-marine mines in Manila Bay or the channels? The Commodore suggests that you send your answer to me, at the Hong Kong3 Club without addressing it to the ship,4 thinking that in this way a letter may escape a possibility of being tampered with.

Faithfully yours,

H.H. Caldwell

Flag Sec’y.

Source Note: CyS, DLC-MSS, PGD. On “Flagship Olympia” stationery.

Footnote 1: See, Dewey to Williams, 17 February 1898,  DLC-MSS, PGD.

Footnote 2: By the time Williams received this letter, he had already begun writing Commo. George Dewey. See, Williams to Dewey, 1 March 1898, DLC-MSS, PGD.

Footnote 3: Dewey and Williams continued to correspond by cables in cipher, but this resulted in considerable suspicion in Manila on the part of the Spanish. Subsequent communications would be sent using letters by way of American and neutral ships and addressed to Caldwell at the United States Consul at Hong Kong to escape possible interception by the Spanish authorities in the Philippines. See: Williams to Dewey, 11 March 1898.

Footnote 4: The Asiatic Station Flagship Olympia.   

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