Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Edwin A. Anderson, Commander, Squadron Three, Patrol Force, to Captain Henry B. Wilson, Commander, Patrol Forces, Atlantic Fleet

2 June 1917.       

My dear Wilson:

               Upon my arrival at Guantanamo I found that conditions in Cuba as regards to the revolution are greatly improved. The principal leaders, with one exception, have surrendered with their bands. The last one is reported to be endeavoring to leave Cuba as he is afraid to surrender on account of the many crimes committed by him. I do not believe there is any immediate danger of activities of rebel bands menacing the lives or interests of Americans or Europeans.1 It being the rainy season travel throughout the Island is very difficult, and the cane being wet it cannot be burned. From conference with Knox, Mr. Morgan, Special Agent from Washington who is investigating conditions in Cuba, and a Mr. Bayliss,2 who is also investigating conditions around the coast and establishing information service, I believe there is grave danger of the revolution breaking out again after the wet season passes unless we put a sufficient force on the Island to prevent it. This force need not necessarily be very large, about five thousand troops would be sufficient. The trouble seems to be that Menocal, the President,3 was elected by the most glaring frauds. There was practically no voting allowed by the Liberals (the opposition party), he having soldiers stationed at the polls to prevent their voting. Had the election been a free one there is little doubt but that the Liberals would have won.

     I have reason also to believe that the surrender of these rebel leaders was purchased and that after the money has been spent they will return to their old trade of revolting. The destruction of the cane fields in Cuba is very much greater than has been given out by our Minister at Havana, Mr. Gonzalez.4 He is emphatically not the man for the job as all of his reports are colored by Menocal. It is estimated that about six hundred thousand tons of sugar has been destroyed by the fields being burned and the planters seem very much discouraged and are not clearing the fields for future cultivation as they have no certainty that the revolution will not break out again and their work go for nothing. The re-planting of burned fields costs about one-third more than it does if the fields had not been burned. Cuban soldiers are practically worthless; they are undisciplined, disaffected, and will not fire upon their own countrymen; so the revolutionists have little fear of them. In fact I believe that in many cases the soldiers share the loot with the revolutionists.

          Knox has done most excellent work on the Island east of Longitude 79 in establishing an information service for the purpose of detecting and preventing the establishment of submarine bases and unauthorized wireless stations. There has been little work done, however, to the westward of 79 as only recently has Knox been given control of the information service throughout the Island. I am cooperating in every way possible with him in this duty with the vessels under my command. At present the MACHIAS is searching the coast from Santiago de Cuba to Santa Cruz del Sur and establishing information service, and the PADUCAH from Santa Cruz del Sur to Cienfuegos. As soon as I consider conditions favorable I will have the PADUCAH continue to the westward and search the Gulf of Bataban[ó] and the Isle of Pines as far west as Cape San Antonio for possible submarine bases and suspected wireless stations and establish information service. I would like you to inform me if the western coast of Cuba south of parallel 23 to Cape San Antonio is supposed to be in my district or in Johnston’s.5 I believe that it is very advisable that this locality be carefully searched and the information service established. Is Johnston doing anything about this? It should be taken in hand as soon as possible and I think that it should be my job as I have the rest of the Island and am where I can work to the best advantage with Knox. I request that word be sent me by telegraph answering the above question. In case that I am authorized to conduct the search in those localities I intend sending the EAGLE to do the work as Hewitt6 knows exactly what I want. I have recommended that the HANNIBAL and LEONIDAS be allowed to proceed on the duty of searching the eastern Mexican and Central American coasts. I intend to hold the CHATTANOOGA and ALGONQUIN at Guantanamo. As you know, we received word from the DOLPHIN that she is held by orders of the Navy Department at St. Lucie. I certainly wish that I could get her back as I need every ship that I have and a great many more also. I could find employment for all of them. I propose continuing the ALGONQUIN as my flagship until the arrival of the DOLPHIN. My reasons are that she is the fastest vessel of this squadron and has a radius of about 4,500 miles. She handles readily and has a fairly efficient battery of four three inch guns. The CHATTANOOGA is liable at any time to be sent away to search for raiders or on convoy duty and I do not believe that it would be advisable for me to be on a vessel that would probably be assigned duty that would take her from the base for any great length of time.

          It is a pity that the Commander in Chief7 turned down my recommendation for aeroplanes to be put on the HANNIBAL and LEONIDAS. Hayward8 agrees with me that if we had these planes the work could be done in very much less time and more thoroughly. In fact, I believe that they are indispensable and that eventually they will be furnished as recommended.

          Knox, Mr. Morgan, and Mr. Bayliss agree emphatically with me that the promise of a reward is by far the best way to obtain information. Mr. Morgan returns to Washington in a week or so and he is so much impressed with the necessity of it that he intends taking the matter up with the Council of National Defense. If you can push this matter through it would be the greatest help I could possibly receive. I do not wish you to understand that I advocate paying in every case a reward as great at $10,000, but that the authority should be given to pay a reward up to this amount in case in my opinion the services rendered warranted it. In many cases the reward might be only a few dollars, depending upon the value of the information received. This should be left to the discretion of the man on the spot.

     I hope eventually that the squadron may be strengthened by some of the 110 foot chasers now being built. If I had a number of them that I could place in strategic positions I might be able to make it so uncomfortable for the submarines that they would give these waters a clear berth. It would be a very good idea if I had authority to charter local craft and hire pilots and interpreters. There is no great necessity for this at present but the need might arise at any time. You must not understand that I am in any way interfering with Knox in his handling of the district of Cuba. I only wish to cooperate with him in every way and he understands and appreciates this fact.

     I hope that the above meets with your approval. Please give my kindest regards to Evans.9 Trusting that I may very soon be able to write to Admiral Wilson, I am,

Very sincerely yours,        

E. A. Anderson.    

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, Henry T. Mayo Papers, Box 10. Addressed below close: “Captain H. B. Wilson, U.S.N.,/U. S. S. OLYMPIA,/c/o/ Postmaster New York, N.Y.” Document: “File 393.” Document on: “UNITED STATES PATROL FORCE/SQUADRON THREE/ U. S. S. DOLPHIN ALGONQUIN FLAGSHIP.”

Footnote 1: In the wake of the re-election of Conservative President Aurelio Mario Gabriel Francisco García Menocal y Deop in Cuba, the competing Liberal party precipitated an open revolt against the controlling government. The revolt leading to rampant violence and the burning of sugar crops. President Woodrow Wilson was concerned about the threat to Americans persons and property and wanted to avoid the possibility of a German Naval presence in Cuba. To quell the dissent Wilson sent weaponry and landed a military force at Santiago de Cuba in support of Menocal. Bejamin R. Beede, The War of 1898 and US Interventions 1898-1934: Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994), 152-3.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Dudley W. Knox, Special Agent Henry H. Morgan, United States Consular Agent George Bayliss.

Footnote 3: President of Cuba Aurelio Mario Gabriel Francisco García Menocal y Deop.

Footnote 4: United States Minister to Havana William E. González.

Footnote 5: Chief of the Comision de Sanidad Vegetal at Havana John R. Johnston.

Footnote 6: Lt. Henry K. Hewitt.

Footnote 7: Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 8: Col. William Hayward, U.S.A. For more on the aircraft referenced, see: Parker to the Officer of the Chief of Naval Operations, 15 May 1917.

Footnote 9: Capt. Waldo A. Evans.

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