Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

May 29th. About 3.00A.M. I sent send1 the following telegram to the Secretary of the Navy.2 Answering telegram Gonzias Endiometer3 answering the first question in 3 days. I can blockade indefinitely. Think that can occupy Guantanamo. Would like to start at once with the New York and the Oregon arriving two days. Do not quite understand as to the necessity of awaiting the arrival of Schley but would propose meeting and turning bock the principal part of the force under his command if he was left. Try to hold him by telegraph. Watson4 will be in charge of everything afloat. Does the Department approve proposed action.

          About noon was sent the following telegram to the Secretary of the Navy:- Referring to my telegram of this date fifty cipher words Misionar Jiguilate I urge immediate reply to my last paragraph. Failure of Schley to continue blockade must be remedied at once if possible. There can be no doubt of presence of Spanish squadron at Santiago.

          Received the following telegram from Commodore Schley (135 cipher words beginning Abberderei) Collier5 now has been repaired temporarily and able to make six or seven knots per hour Shall I endeavor to coal the Marblehead and the  Texas in the open sea and retain position off Santiago until coal supply larger vessel has given up x d know what safe limit shall go then to Gonaivess Haiti or coast near or near Port au Prince, Haiti, coal x x occurring yesterday the Marblehead and the Texas too a quantity of coal at a distance of about twenty-five miles west of Santiago which enables me to hold place until coal has been reduced x x force me over to Haiti to replenish x x collier well equipped to report at Gonaives,Haiti,urgently needed to coal x x vessels when chance occurs. Need another auxiliary for picket dutyand communication. I send Minneapolis and Yale to Key West . St.Paul off Santiago still. Repairs of the Merrimac machinery completed by the Brooklyn. St.Paul May 25th captured British collier bound in with coal evidently for fleet collier having touched San Juan and Curacoa.6

          Received from the Secretary of the Navy telegram containing substance of the above telegram.

          Send the following telegram was sent to the Secretary of the Navy:- Telegram just received from (Gonzias Ecumassiez) Schley shows he is today blockading off Santiago de Cuba and will continue to do so until coal supply has been reduced to safe limit for large ships. Yesterday auxiliary No.557 captured collier bound to Santiago de Cuba cargo of coal.7 The Indiana and the Minneapolis and auxiliary No.5918 will arrive at Key West for coal. The New York is ready to start to Santiago as soon as authorized to do so by the Department.

          The following telegram was sent to Commodore Schley to both Port Antonio,Jamaica and Mole Saint Nicolas:--Cipher beginning Abberderea Auditive received. Congratulate you on success. Maintain close blockade at all hazards especially at night, very little to fear from torpedo boat destroyers. Coal in open sea whenever conditions permit. Send a ship to examine Guantanamo with view to occupying it as base, coaling one heave ship at a time. Appraise captured coal use it if desired and afterwards send ship in as a prize.

          Receiving the following telegrams from the Secretary of the Navy:-- were reached9

          Your telegram May 29th received. Department thinks it very desirable that St.Paul now off Santiago de Cuba and Yankee starts today and St. Louis tomorrow both from New York for Santiago touching at Nicholas Mole.

          You carry out recommendations to go yourself with two ships to Santiago de Cuba. Act at your discretion with the object of blockading Spanish Division as seen as possible. Goodrich10 reports Guantanamo,Cube,very weak. The seizure of immediately recommended.

          Coaling until about 6.00 P.M.

          About 11.00 P.M. left Key West for Havana Blockade en route to Santiago de Cuba.  

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

Footnote 1: “I sent” is a handwritten interlineation.

Footnote 2: Secretary of the Navy John D. Long.

Footnote 3: “Gonzias Endiometere” refers to the first phrase in a coded telegram from the Navy Department that Sampson received around midnight on 29 May. Commodore Winfield S. Schley was blockading the Spanish fleet off the coast of Santiago de Cuba, but claimed he was running out of coal and would need to return to Key West or some other port. The Department wanted to know from Sampson:

How soon after arrival of Schley at Key West could you reach Santiago de Cuba with the New York and the Oregon, the Indiana and some lighter and how long could you blockade there sending your vessels singly to coal from our colliers at Gonaives,Haiti,Channel,Mole Haiti, Nipe,Port,Cuba,or elsewhere. Journal of William T. Sampson, DNA, RG 313, Entry 56.

Footnote 4: Commo. Winfield S. Schley, Commander, Flying Squadron; and Commodore John C. Watson, Commanding the Blockade of Northern Cuba.

Footnote 5: The collier Merrimac.

Footnote 6: Auxiliary cruiser St. Paul captured the British collier Restormel. See: Capt. Charles D. Sigsbee to Long, 29 May 1898.  

Footnote 7: “Was sent” is a handwritten interlineation.

Footnote 8: Auxiliary cruiser Yale.

Footnote 9: The words “were reached” is a handwritten interlineation.

Footnote 10: Capt. Caspar F. Goodrich, commanding auxiliary cruiser St. Louis.

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