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

PLAYA DEL ESTE , CUBA,      

JULY 20th, 1898.

          YOUR NUMBER FIFTY-FOUR1 RECEIVED AND WILL BE AT ONCE COMMUNICATED TO SQUADRON THERE IS NO FRICTION IN MY COMMAND[.] CORRESPONDENCE FROM THIS SHIP IS CENSORED AND I SUPPOSE ALSO FROM OTHER SHIPS ON BOARD OF WHICH THE DEPARTMENT HAS PERMITTED CORRESPONDENTS, BUT NO CONTROL OVER PRESS BOATS CAN BE EXERCISED.

          MUCH THAT IS PUBLISHED IS EVIDENTLY NOT WRITTEN HERE. I SEE NO WAY OF STOPPING SLANDERS EXCEPT FOR THE DEPARTMENT TO ISSUE OFFICIAL DENIAL IN CONNECTION WITH THE ATTITUDE OF THE NEW YORK JOURNAL TOWARDS THE BATTLE OF SANTIAGO I REMIND THE DEPARTMENT THAT I REPORTED A CORRESPONDENT OF THAT PAPER SOME TIME AGO FOR TELEGRAPHING THE MOVEMENT OF THE FLEET DURING THE SAN JUAN EXPEDITION.2

SAMPSON.     

Source Note: CbCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 32, Vol. 7, p. 466. Document reference: “NO. 230.” Address before open: “SECNAV. WASHINGTON, D.C.”

Footnote 1: Telegram number 54, of 20 July 1898, from Long to Sampson, stated:

Papers are publishing articles assuming to come from press representatives on board ships of a character calculated to create, in public mind, impression of personal frictions on the part of naval officers on board; this, of course, the Department strongly disapproves. Please send copy of this telegram to Commodores and Commanding Officers of each ship with requirement that all articles intended for newspaper publication must be approved by Commanding Officer before it is sent out of a ship for publication.  DNA, RG 313, Entry 37.

The story in the New York Journal indicated a disagreement as to the person most responsible for the American victory at the Naval Battle of Santiago de Cuba, Commo. Winfield S. Schley or RAdm. Sampson.

Footnote 2: Press boats plagued the Navy during the Caribbean campaign. As early as 9 April, Long expressed concern to Sampson about news leaks. DNA, RG 45, Entry 29. On 3 June, RAdm. Montgomery Sicard wrote to Sampson that press boats should not be allowed near the convoy. DNA, RG 45, Entry 372.

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