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Charles R. Flint to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long


New York, April 29, 1898.

     Have just received telegram from Cape Verde, through London, four cruisers, three destroyers, have gone west.1


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 80, Entry 194, vol. 1, p. 25. Addressed before opening: “Secretary of the Navy./Washington.”

Footnote 1: Flint had sent a previous telegram to Secretary Long on 29 April 1898, that stated: “2 cruisers, 3 destroyers sailed 7 o’clock this morning from Cape Verde. Destination unknown.” The telegram above was a correction. The four armored cruisers were: Infanta Maria Theresa, Vizcaya, Cristoból Colón and Almirante Oquendo. The three torpedo-boat destroyers were the Plutón, Furor, and Terror. Flint also sent a third telegram on 29 April 1898, which reported “three torpedo boats, transport, collier have gone north.” These were the torpedo boats: Ariete, Azor, and Rayo.The transport was the Ciudad de Cadiz, and the collier was the San Fransisco. DNA, RG 80, Entry 194, vol. 1, p. 24-25;

According to Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete’s correspondence, the Ariete’s boiler tubes were broken and the Azor’s boiler was considered antiquated at 11 years old and liable to fail. Minister of Marine Seguismundo Bermejo wanted to have the Ariete towed back to Spain on 21 April, but Cervera convinced him that he might be able to repair the boat and bring it with him. The repair attempt was unsuccessful. On Cervera’s urging, all three torpedo boats left for the Canaries on 29 April 1898, to serve as an initial line of defense against a possible American attack on the islands. See, French E. Chadwick, The Relations of the United States and Spain, vol. 1, 119, 125; Núñez, The Spanish-American War, Blockades and Coastal Defense, 40,44; and Trask, War with Spain, 111.

Footnote 2: Charles Ranlett Flint was an American businessman, shipping magnate, arms dealer, and industrialist, who assisted the United States Navy in purchasing warships and by relaying intelligence from his agents in foreign countries. James Brunley, Millionaires and Kings of Enterprise: The Marvellous Careers of Some Americans who by Pluck, Foresight, and Energy Have Made Themselves Masters in the Fields of Industry and Finance (London: Harmsworth Brothers, 1901), 159.

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