Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet, to Captain William M. Folger

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

St. Nicholas Channel,  

May 27, 1898.

S I R : --

     You will proceed to Santiago de Cuba to convoy the Collier Merrimac.1

     2.   You will communicate with Commodore Schley2 and direct him to remain on the blockade of Santiago at all hazard, assuming that the Spanish vessels are in that port.

     3.   Tell him that I desire that he should use the Collier Sterling3 to obstruct the channel at its narrowest part leading into this harbor. Inform him that I believe that it would be perfectly practicable to steam this vessel into position and drop all her anchors, allow her to swing across the channel, then sink her, either by opening the valves, or whatever means may be best in his judgment.

     4.   Inform Commodore Schley that the details of this plan are left to his judgment. In the meantime he must exercise the utmost care that none of the vessels already in port are allowed to escape; and say to the Commodore that I have the utmost confidence in his ability to carry this plan to a successful conclusion, and earnestly wish him good luck.

                        Very respectfully,

                                  W.T. Sampson com

                                  Rear Admiral, U.S.Navy,

          Commander in Chief, U.S.Naval Force, N.A. Station.

Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 48. Addressed below close: “Commanding Officer,/U.S.S.NewOrleans.” Document reference: “No. 2.”

Footnote 1: The Merrimac was with the Flying Squadron off the coast of Santiago de Cuba. It is believed that Sampson was talking about the collier Sterling.

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

Footnote 3: Sampson is actually referring to the collier Merrimac here. The Merrimac suffered frequent mechanical failures and was believed to be expendable. See: Schley to Long, 27 May 1898.

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