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


May 25th. During the night cruised slowly to the E’d as per THIRD ORDER OF BATTLE1 countermarching about 4.00 A.M.

          Daylight Cincinnati and Vesuvius joined.

          About noon Panther arrived towing Amphitrite.

          In the forenoon sent the Vesuvius back to Key West for News

          Collier Stirling2 arrived.

          At noon the following instructions were given the New Orleans:”Go fifty miles E’d of this point.Scout in that vicinity, leaving there in time to be off Matanzas at ten a.m tomorrow. If Squadron not arrived await us fifteen miles north of Matanzas.”

          In the afternoon Hornet arrived with the following despatches:--

          Washington.May 24. (WALLRATH)3 Till further orders Flying Squadron is under your command. Schley4 so informed.

          Washington. May 24.(Scarcely)Be prepared within a day or so to convoy and guard about 30,000 United States troops in about forty transports from Tampa,Florida. You require some armored vessels to attack batteries to clear landing. More details tomorrow. Long.

          Washington. May 24.Naval Base, Key West. Send following to all command officers south coast blockade and inform Sampson it has been done. If Spanish fleet bringing ammunition and other munitions of war for heavy guns perhaps they will land them at Santiago with the intention of coasting them close along shore around Cape Cruz and inside reef to Cienfuegos and thence by rail to Havana. Therefore you are recommended to blockade close to the shore off Cape Cruz and to the westward especially at night and stop the transportation. Long.

          About 7.00 P.M. sent the Hornet back to Key West with the following telegram to the Department. (Gozais) Schley ought to have arrived at Santiago May 24th. The force at my command occupied Bahama Channel last night, but not having any information from Schley,and as Spanish Squadron may have invaded him at Santiago and attempted to reach Havana by Cape San Antonio, I have moved westward to provide against this contingency. I shall attempt to cover Havana from both directions. I will be Thursday morning May 26th at west end of Nicholas Channel, Cuba, where I expect information from Schley via Key West. Movements are greatly hampered by monitors constituting the principal force under my command. I cannot dispatch armored vessels until movements Spanish Squadron thoroughly known.

          Commodore Remey5 at Key West explains sending Amphitrite in tow of Panther and detaining Terror at Key West until repair on her were completed. . . 

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

Footnote 1: Sampson’s instructions were for his fleet to travel in single or double column “Eastward during the day time, and to the Westward during the night,” off the Northern Coast of Cuba. For full text of Third Order of Battle, see, Sampson’s Memorandum No. 10, 24 May 1898, DNA, RG 313, Entry 56.

Footnote 2: Sterling.

Footnote 3: Characters in parenthesis indicate the first “word” in a ciphered message.

Footnote 4: Commo. Winfield S. Schley, Commander, Flying Squadron.

Footnote 5: Commo. George C. Remey, Commander, Key West Naval Base.

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