Admiral Cervera's response to Captain-General Blanco's

Suggestion that the Santiago Squadron make a sortie.


The following letter was sent through General Linares. Admiral Cervera had been placed under the command of Captain-General Blanco, partially because Cervera was opposed to an attemtped sortie in view of the American blockade and in view of his ships' shortcoming. This letter states his frank view of the situation.


"The Captain-General is kind enough to want to know my opinion, and I am going to give it as explicitly as I ought to.... I have considered the squadron lost ever since it left Cape Verde, for to think anything else seems madness.... For that reason I energetically opposed the sailing of the squadron from Cape Verde, and I even thought that I would be relieved by some one of those whose opinions were opposed to mine.

I did not ask to be relieved, because it seems to me that no military man should do so when he receives instructions to march against the enemy. . . .

Today I consider the squadron lost as much as ever, and the dilemma is whether to lose it by destroying it, if Santiago is not able to resist, after having contributed to its defense, or whether to lose it by sacrificing to vanity the majority of its crews and depriving Santiago of their cooperation, thereby precipitating its fall.  What is best to be done? I, who am a man without ambitions, without mad passions, believe that whatever is most expedient should be done, and I state most emphatically that I shall never be the one to decree the horrible and useless hecatomb which will be the only possible result of the sortie from here by main force, for I should consider myself responsible before God and history for the lives sacrificed on the altar of vanity, and not in the true defense of the country.

As far as I am concerned, the situation has been changed today from a moral, standpoint, for I received a telegram this morning which places me under the orders of the Captain-General in everything relating to the operation of the war.  It is therefore for him to decide whether I am to go out to suicide, dragging along with me those 2,000 sons of Spain.  I . . . trust you will see in this letter only the true and loyal expression of the opinion of an honorable old man who for forty-six years has served his country to the best of his ability."



Bibliography:

O'Toole, G. J. A., The Spanish War: An American Epic - 1898. (New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 1984). 285.


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