Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Journal of Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

May 30th. At 6.55 A.M.arrived off Havana Blockade. Spoke the Montgomery and Commodore Watson1 came on board.

          At 9.07 A.M.made signal to the Oregon,Mayflower,and Porter to form column on this vessel and stood the eastward,speed ten knots.

          At 1.30 spoke the Osceola standing to westward convoying the steamer Florida. When hailed the Osceola reported that she had accompanied the Florida to land a body of Cubans Together with stores and arms,etc., for General Gomez2 and that the landing had been made successfully and without incident.

          About 7.00 P.M.met the St. Paul and the Yale standing to the westward. Their commanding Officers came on board and reported that they were under orders for Key West for coal. The Commander-in-Chief modified their orders sending the Yale to Hampton Roads and the St.Paul direct to New York.

          The Commanding Officer of the St. Paul3 left the following:

          From Sigsbee to Secretary of the Navy.4 Sent from St.Nicholas Mole at 10.30 P.M. on May 29th, 1898.

Ciphers here read by me. Find in them no reason to prevent me from proceeding immediately according to the cable sent you through me this evening. Will endorse ciphers and leave them for next visiting U.S.man-of-war. Sigsbee.

          From Schley5 to Sampson. Off Santiago de Cuba,10.00 A.M. May 29th. Sent to Sampson at 7.00 P.M.same day. Same to Secnav.

          Enemy in port recognized Christobal Colon and INfanta Maria Theresa, and two torpedo boats,6 moored inside Morro behind point. Doubtless the others are here. We are short of coal using every effort to get coal in. Vixen blew out manhole gasket have sent boilermaker on board to repair. Colliers repaired machinery being put together. Have almost 3000 tons of coal in collier,but not easy to get on board here. If no engagement in next two or three days Sampson’s squadron could relieve this on to coal at Gonaives or vicinity of Port au Prince. Hasten me dispatch boats for picket work. Brooklyn, Iowa,Massachusetts,Texas,Marblehead,Vixen and collier7 compose Squadron here. Following additional sentence to Department.   Schley

          Secretary of the Navy to Schley. Received at cable office, Mole St. Nicholas, May 27, 1898. Read by Sigsbee May 29th and sealed under cover for delivery to next visiting U.S. man-ofwar.

          The most absolutely urgent thing now is to know positively whether the Spanish division is in Santiago de Cuba Harbor, as if so immediate movement against it and the town will be made by the Navy and Division of about 10,000 men the American troops which are about ready to embark. You must surmount difficulty regarding coaling by your ingenuity and perseverance. This is a crucial time and the Department relies upon you to give information quickly as to the presence of Cervera8 x x to be ready for concerted action with the Army. Two colliers have been ordered Mole, Haiti. Your vessels may coal singly there or in Gonaives, Haiti Channel or leeward Cape Cruz,Cuba. Sampson coming around by windward passage. Orders have been issued to the Commander of the Yankee(?)9 to report to you and the Minneapolis will go north. Cervera must not be allowed to escape.     Long.

          Secretary of the Navy to Schley. Received at the Mole May 29th,1898,opened by C.D.Sigsbee,Capt.,U.S.N.,and addressed to next visiting U.S.man-of-war.

          It is your duty to ascertain immediately the Spanish fleet if they be at Santiago de Cuba and report. Would be discreditable to the Navy if that fact was not ascertained immediately. All Naval and military movements depend on that point.              Long.

Source Note: Transcript, DNA, RG 313, Entry 56.

Footnote 1: Commodore John C. Watson, commanding the Blockade of Northern Cuba.

Footnote 2: Gen. Máximo Gómez y Báez was the leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Forces.

Footnote 3: Capt. Charles D. Sigsbee.

Footnote 4: Secretary of the Navy John D. Long.

Footnote 5: Commo. Winfield S. Schley, Commander, Flying Squadron.

Footnote 6: Pluton and Furor.

Footnote 7: Merrimac.

Footnote 8: Adm. Pascual Cervera y Topete.

Footnote 9: Cmdr. William H. Brownson

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