Journal of Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet
May 26th. About dark sent Foote into Cape Cay1 Piedras to coal from collier and to send the monitors out at once to take their station in the formation.
9.30 P.M.Dolphin came alongside with despatches and reported that Commodore Schley2 has the Spanish Squadron bottled up in Cienfuegos. The reason for believing this to be the case is contained in the Following letters (m 43 and 44) from Commodore Schley.3
. . . M44. Off Cienfuegos, May 23, 1898.
1. Steamer ADULA chartered by Consul Dent with papers from the U.S.StateDepartment, to carry out neutrals from Cienfuegos, was stopped off this port this morning. She has no cargo and was permitted to enter.
2. She reports that she left Santiago de Cuba at 4.30 P.M.on Wednesday May 18th,and that night she saw the lights of seven vessels,seventy miles to the Southward of Santiago. Next day,Thursday May 19th, at Kingston,cable reported Spanish fleet at Santiago. Friday May 20th,the fleet was reported to have left Santiago.
3. Now, on Saturday May 21st,when about forty miles southwest of this port I heard from the bridge of this vessel, firing of guns toward Cienfuegos, which I interpreted as a welcome to the Spanish fleet and the news this morning by the ADULA convinces me that the fleet is here.
4. Latest was bulletin from Jamaica,received this morning,asserts that the fleet had left Santiago. I think I have them almost to a certainty.
The C.-in-C.,N.F. on N.A.Station.
Memo.from the U.S.S.Dolphin.dated May 25. The Hawk has just reported from Cienfuegos with despatches from Com.Schley. Hood says a good number of officers do not believe the Spaniards are there at all,although they can only surmise.
Dolphin received these instructions from the Hawk at 10.00 A.M.,May 25th, and stood to the eastward in search of the Admiral, who, it was believed, was off Cay Frances light. She reports passing Cruz del Padre light at 5.56 P.M., and after 5 o’clock showed running lights every alternative five minutes, and fired Very’s green signal every fifteen minutes. Went to the eastward until 8:25 A.M. when she returned to the westward.
Sent Wasp via Cape San Antonio to Commodore Schley off Cienfuegos with instructions marked (No.10).4 Sent Dolphin to Key West with the following dispatch and to coal (Devincarem)5 Have received information from Schley via Cape San Antonio, Cuba,dated May 23rd, stating he is not satisfied Spanish Squadron is not in Cienfuegos,Cuba. he has no apparent good reason for his opinion and states he will remain off Cienfuegos keeping Squadron all ready for emergency. He reports the steamer ADULA entered into Cienfuegos May 23rd he probably learned from her as she left if Spanish Squadron was in port I think that he has probably gone to Santiago. To assure this I sent the Wasp to Cienfuegos tonight. If he has not left this will enable him to reach Santiago de Cuba before I could do so.6
Source Note: Transcript, DNA, RG 313, Entry 56.
Footnote 1: “Cay” was handwritten above the line.
Footnote 2: Commo. Winfield S. Schley, Commander, Flying Squadron.
Footnote 3: See: Schley to Sampson, 23 May 1898.
Footnote 4: See: Schley to Sampson, 23 May 1898.
Footnote 5: Characters in parenthesis were the opening words of the cipher dispatch referred to.
Footnote 6: Schley departed for Santiago de Cuba on 24 May, after learning from Cuba insurgents that the Spanish fleet was not at Cienfuegos. He arrived at Santiago de Cuba on 26 May. Trask, War with Spain, 123-24.