Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet, to Commodore John C. Watson, Commander, Blockading Squadron

U. S. Flagship New York, 1st Rate.

Key West, Florida,

May 28, 1898.

My dear Watson:--

          I arrived here at two o’clock this morning and found a dispatch from the Department directing me to be prepared to convoy an expedition of ten thousand men to Santiago de Cuba.1 No time is fixed and I do not suppose that this movement will be made for a week, possibly earlier.

     2. I found the “OREGON” here coaling. She will probably leave tonight to join you tomorrow morning as the relief for the “INDIANA” as we shall want to take the “INDIANA”, “OREGON”, “New York” and some of the smaller cruisers as an escort for the army. I desire that you will send the “INDIANA” over as soon as the “OREGON” arrives and fill up with coal. If, at the same time you can spare the “DETROIT”, we will also get her full of coal.

     3. I am sending, either tonight or tomorrow morning, a small collier which has just arrived, and which I will direct to report to you, and ask you to furnish her a convoy well through the Bahama Channel, thence she can go by herself to join Schley.2

     4. I have telegraphed Commodore Schley to blockade Santiago de Cuba at all hazards and have sent him the same directions and instructions that Folger3 took in yesterday.

     5. No telegram has as yet been received from Schley regarding what he has done. I have to tell you, however, that the usual telegrams were received with regard to the position of the Spanish vessels at the office last night in Key West, namely that they are still in Santiago. This makes it more and more probable that Schley is now at that place blockading. Until Schley is heard from I think that it will probably relieve your anxiety on this score to know that I believe those Spaniards are now safe.

     6. As soon as I take in coal, if I receive no further information about the convoy of the Army Corps, I will go over and relieve some of the smaller cruisers in order that they may fill up with coal.

     7. I will send you any information that I may receive as soon after its receipt as possible.

Very respectfully,

W.T.Sampson cc

Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy,

Commander in Chief, U.S.Naval Force,

North Atlantic Station.

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 53. Addressed below close: “Commodore/J. C. Watson, U. S. Navy,/Blockading Fleet off Havana.” Document reference: “No.2.”

Footnote 2: Commo. Winfield S. Schley, Commander, Flying Squadron.

Footnote 3: Capt. William M. Folger, commanding protected cruiser New Orleans.

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