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Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Commodore George C. Remey, Commandant, Key West Naval Base


Washington, May 16, 1898.

     The Naval force on North Atlantic Station is due May 17th in the vicinity of Lobos Cay. Send immediately your fastest vessel to inform him that Department has just heard that the Spanish fleet has munitions of war essential for the defense of Havana, and that the orders of the Spanish fleet are imperative to reach Havana, Cienfuegos, or a railroad port connected with Havana at all hazards, and as Cienfuegos appears to be the only port fulfilling the conditions,1 Schley,2 with the “Brooklyn” and the “Massachusetts” and the “Texas”, to arrive Key West morning of eighteenth, will be sent to Cienfuegos as soon as possible, so Admiral Sampson3 take or send his most suitable armored ship to join Schley, and hurry with the remainder of his heavy ships to Havana blockade. Acknowledge this by telegraph, reporting action taken.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 80, Entry 194, vol. 1, p. 93. Addressed before opening: ” Naval Station,/Key West, Fla.”

Footnote 1: Adm. Pascual Cervera’s fleet were not ferrying munitions. Their purpose was to engage the American fleet under advantageous circumstances and hope to inflict enough damage to deter the blockade or at least quell domestic accusations that the Liberal Party government in Spain had not done enough to prevent the loss of Cuba. Trask, War with Spain, 64-67. 

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

Footnote 3: RAdm. William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet.

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