Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete, Commander, Spanish Squadron, to Lieutenant General Arsenio Linares y Pomba

[Confidential.]

The Admiral(Cervera) to the Commander in Chief of the Army, Division of Santiago (Linares).1

     Honored Sir: I have the honor of acknowledging the receipt of your two official and confidential letters on the movements of the hostile fleets, for which I thank you very much.2 It is much to be regretted that the squadron did not go out yesterday while it had all the fires lighted. But information received from the Government confirmed the report that Schley’s fleet had started for Santiago on the night of the 20th and that Sampson was following with his fleet,3 and for that reason all the captains of this squadron were unanimously of opinion that the sortie was impracticable, and, owing to the scarcity of our coal, I ordered three-fifths of the fires to be put out.

                   As these ships require a number of hours to get up steam, they would not be ready before night, and that would be too late, especially in view of the rapid consumption of coal. For these reasons there is no other course open at present but to take up positions, as we agreed yesterday, to defend the harbor and city in case an attempt should be made to force the entrance.4 The Colón is already at her post and the Teresa will be there shortly; the others will not be there until to-night or to-morrow, as they have to get water for their boilers. If another opportunity presents itself, I intend to try and take advantage of it, but as I can not hope with these scant forces to attempt any definite operations, it will only be a matter of changing this harbor for another where we would also be blockaded.

     It is to be regretted that bad luck brought me to this harbor, which is so short of everything we need, and I had chosen it in preference because, not having been blockaded, I supposed it to be well supplied with provisions, coal, and stores of every kind.5 Although I always thought that it would be blockaded, I flattered myself that I could keep the greater part of the hostile fleet busy here, which is the only effective service that can be expected of this small and poorly equipped squadron. I beg that you will transmit these explanations to his excellency the Captain-General,6 as the highest representative of the nation in this island, so that he may know the causes of my apparent inaction.

     Yours, etc.,

Pascual Cervera.

     Santiago de Cuba, May 25, 1898.

Source Note Print: Cervera, Squadron Operations, pp. 91-92.

Footnote 1: Lt. Gen. Arsenio Linares y Pomba was the Spanish military commander at Santiago de Cuba. He was wounded at the Battle of San Juan Hill on 1 July and replaced by Gen. José Toral y Vázquez.

Footnote 2: These confidential letters from Capt. Gen. Ramón Blanco y Erenas are not included, however, they are found in Cervera, Squadron Operations, 87, 89.

Footnote 3: The Flying Squadron, under the command of Commo. Winfield S. Schley, steamed for the southern coast of Cuba on 19 May. See: Schley to Long 30 May 1898.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Pascual Cervera y Topete decided to take up defensive positions in anticipation of the American fleet entering the harbor of Santiago de Cuba.

Footnote 5: Although his men were provisioned for thirty days, the coal supplies of RAdm. Cervera’s fleet were nearly depleted. See: Cervera, Squadron Operations, 76.

Footnote 6: Capt. Gen. Ramón Blanco y Erenas.

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