Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

United States Consul at Curaçao Leonard B. Smith to Secretary of State William R. Day

CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES,  

Curacao, W.I., May 16, 1898.

Sir:

          The Department has been advised by cable of the arrival at and off this port of a Spanish squadron of six ships; four war ships and two torpedo boat destroyers, all short of coal and provisions.1

          On Saturday the 14th inst. at midnight, two of these ships entered the harbor, commenced coaling and procuring supplies, and as I though[t] in excess of what neutrality would allow them, addressed the Governor2 on the subject, requesting that no more be given the two ships in port, and nothing to those outside the harbor. Sunday, the 15th inst., these ships left the harbor at 6 P.M., and at 7 P.M. they assembled and all steamed away on a westerly course.

          The ships of this squadron are the flagship “Maria Theresa” & “Viscaya” that entered the harbor, and “Oquendo”, Cristobol Colon” with torpedo boat destroyers “Terror” & “Pluton” that remained outside the harbor.3

          Coal procured by the ships was not over 400 tons and of very poor quality.

          As a steamer is advised to leave for New York to-day I hasten this communication and will report further details later.4

I am, Sir,                       

Your obedient servant,      

L. B. SMITH,           

U. S. Consul.          

Source Note: TCy, AFNRC, M625, roll 229. Addressed: “Honorable William R. Day,/Assistant Secretary of State,/Washington, D.C.” Day was named Secretary of State on 29 April 1898. Document reference: “No. 7.”

Footnote 1: Smith made the State Department aware of the Spanish Fleet’s arrival at Curaçao on the evening of 14 May 1898, See, Smith to Day, 14 May 1898, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 229.

Footnote 2: Governor of Curaçao Charles Augustin Henry Barge. 

Footnote 3: That is, the Infanta Maria Teresa, Christoból Colón, Almirante Oquendo, and Plutón. Smith’s information was inaccurate. The other torpedo destroyer was the Furor. Adm. Pascual Cervera y Topete started his journey with three torpedo destroyers, but had been force to abandon Terror at Martinique when it was deemed unseaworthy. Trask, War with Spain, 116.

Footnote 4: For Smith’s second report, see, Smith to Day, 18 May 1898, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 229.

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