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Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Captain Charles S. Cotton






          1. The Department intends to employ you to ascertain whether the Spanish Fleet, which was lately at the Cape de Verde Islands, intends moving upon the West Indies, and if so, to what locality.

          2. For this purpose, you will proceed, with the U.S.S.Harvard under your command, immediately, to the eastward of the Windward Islands, and cruise on a line between lat. 15°38’ N., long. 59° 40’ W., and lat. 14°25’ N., and long., 59° 30’ W.

          3. If you get no positive information by noon of May 10th, you will proceed to touch at the chief ports of the Island of Martinique, for the purpose of obtaining information concerning the Spanish fleet, in case it should have passed you without your knowledge, and if you obtain what you consider to be reliable information as to its presence in the West Indies, you may, if advisable, proceed to that vicinity to get confirmatory evidence, being careful, however, not to sacrifice time that might be better employed in giving notice to the Commander-in-Chief1 in Cuban waters and to the Department, as mentioned in paragraph (4).

          4. If you should find the Spanish fleet is approaching, or has entered the West Indies, you will telegraph the Department, and also the Commanding Officer at Key West,2 for transmission to the Commander-in-Chief on the coast of Cuba, or wherever he may be at that time.  You will then proceed, with your ship, either to observe and keep touch with the Spanish fleet, or to personally inform the Commander-in-Chief, either off Havana, or wherever he may be at the time.

          5. The Department relies upon your discretion as to whether it would be best to observe the Spanish fleet, or to proceed to personally inform the Commander-in-Chief that it has entered the West Indies.

          6. If the Spanish fleet enters the West Indies, and you have informed the Commander-in-Chief on the station, you will, if he so requires, proceed to act in accordance with his instructions, in further observing or getting intelligence of the movements of said fleet.  If he does not require such service, you will proceed to a port where there is telegraphic communication, inform the Department and wait twenty-four (24) hours, after which, if you get no instructions, proceed to Hampton Roads, Va.

          7. In case you should get no reliable intelligence of the Spanish fleet being bound to the West Indies, or if you obtain reliable intelligence of its movements or destination elsewhere, you will so telegraph the Department and the Commander-in-Chief on the station, after which you will wait at the same place twenty four (24) hours for orders from the Department, and if not received, proceed to Hampton Roads, Va.

          8. For your information there is enclosed a copy of the orders sent to the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S.St.Louis, who is directed to cruise on a line in extension of the one assigned to you.3 One of the American Liners has been detailed to cruise around the Island of Puerto Rico.4

          9.  A copy of your orders have been sent to the Commander-in-Chief of the North Atlantic Station.

          10.  In case of capture, you will, without fail, destroy or sink these instructions, as well as any publication of a confidential nature.

          11. It is very important that you should, if possible, make 336 miles per day on the passage from New York to your cruising ground.

Very respectfully,               

(Sig) John D. Long,    


Source Note: CyS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 47. Addressed below close: “Captain C. S. Cotton,/Commanding U.S.S.Harvard.” Document reference No.: “106086” Document is on the “NAVY DEPARTMENT,” stationarty of Secretary of the Navy John D. Long.

Footnote 1: RAdm. William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet

Footnote 2: Commo. George Remey, Commandant, Key West Naval Base.

Footnote 3: St. Louis was ordered to “cruise on a line between lat. 16°55’N., long. 59°50’ W., and lat. 15° 38’ N., long. 59° 40’ W.” Long to Capt. Caspar F. Goodrich, 29 April 1898, DNA, RG 313, Entry 47.

Footnote 4: Yale was selected to patrol off the coast of San Juan. For a report of its action see, Capt. William C. Wise to Long, 13 May 1898, Report of the Bureau of Navigation, 1898, 367.

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