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."