Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Journal of Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

[Extract]

NAVY DEPARTMENT

Washington, May 30, 1898.        

Dear Agnes:1

          Only a word this morning. Saturday afternoon Helen2 and I went, with the Presidential party, in a special car a dozen miles out into Virginia, to Camp Alger.3 It was a day of dust, perspiration and discomfort. We stood in the hot sunshine upon a platform, past which the various regiments went in review. After the Massachusetts Sixth went by, Lodge4 and Helen and I drove down to their tents and sat with them for a while. There was an element alike of pathos and humor in the whole thing. Sad to think of these boys running the risk of their lives, of disease, wounds, suffering and; at the same time, the melancholy of their picnic exposure in the open air, dusty, dirty, uncomfortable, made it seem like the fag end of a tiresome picnic when everyone wishes he was at home. . . .

Yesterday, Sunday, I came to the Department and stayed until noon. Dispatches had come from Commodore Sschley5 showing indecision and indications of inefficiency on his part and the possibility of his starting out back from Santiago de Cuba. This, coupled with the fact that he was not able to tell us whether the Spanish fleet was inside the harbor or not, was very irritating. I sent him rather a sharp telegram, that he must find out that fact. . . .6

Source Note: Transcript, MHi, Papers of John D. Long, vol. 78. Note: Document is on Navy Department stations with “J.D. LONG/SECRETARY” in the top left corner.

Footnote 1: Agnes Long, Secretary Long’s wife.

Footnote 2: Helen Long, Secretary Long’s daughter.

Footnote 3: Falls Church, Virginia.

Footnote 4: Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge.

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

Footnote 6: “that fact”, was handwritten at the end of the sentence. The telegram referred to was sent from Washington on 29 May 1898 and read:

It is your duty to ascertain immediately if the Spanish fleet is in Santiago and report. Would be discreditable to the Navy if that fact were not ascertained immediately. All military and naval movements depend upon that point. See: Long to Schley, 29 May 1898.

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