A Newspaper Chronicle

Reprinted from: Bully! Colonel Theodore Roosevelt

The Rough Riders & Camp Wikoff Montuak, N.Y. (1898)

Friday, August 5 (The Sun)

To Save The Army

Gen. Shafter’s Corps. Ordered to Montauk Point

Washington, D.C., August 4 – The War Department was stirred up today by recent acts of Gen. Shafter and Col. Theodore Roosevelt which have just come to the attention of the Administration, and these officers have incurred the severe displeasure of Secretary Alger and presumably, the President. Gen. Shafter’s offense is in making public in advance of the War Department, the letters written by Col. Roosevelt and the division commanders at Santiago, appealing to the commanding General for the withdrawal of their troops from Cuba.

With the President’s knowledge, the Secretary sent Gen. Shafter a telegram to-day instructing him peremptorily not to make public any important official information hereafter without the authority of the War Department.....

A council of war was held at the White House when the full purpose of the letters became known. It had been intended for some time that the Santiago troops would be withdrawn as soon as the yellow fever should be stamped out, the War Department believing that the disease could be overcome without too great cost of life. Steps had been taken for the immediate movement of a part of the troops, an order having been prepared yesterday directing that all of the cavalry forces at Santiago and all of those at Tampa, except the Fifth Regulars and the First Ohio Volunteers, be moved to Montauk Point without delay. The council of leading officers of the War and Navy Departments, held at the White House to-day, was called to consider the withdrawal of all the military forces in Santiago as promptly as possible, in light of the revelations made by Col. Roosevelt and the other officers. It was decided after some discussion, that the Santiago troops should be transported to Montauk Point with as little delay as possible, and this statement was promptly prepared by the War Department:

War Department, Aug. 4, 1898

The Secretary of War has ordered Gen. Shafter’s troops relieved from further duty in Santiago as fast as transportation can be provided.....

"Transports now at Santiago are as follows: Catania, 800 men; Gate City, 600 men; Grand Dutchess, 1,200 men; Miami, 900 men; Mattewan, 720 men; Vigilancia, 800 men; Olivette, 500 men; Berkshire, 250 men: total 5,770 men. These will sail for New York as fast as the men can be comfortably embarked. The rest at Montauk Point will prepare these seasoned troops for the campaign against Havana. The first transport left Santiago yesterday. The movement is expected to be completed by the 20th of the month..... ."

Secretary Alger made the statement this afternoon that the action of the military commanders at Santiago was unwarranted (because) the department had already made preparations for bringing the troops to Montauk Point. It is certain, however, that the Administration had not intended to transport all of the military forces thither at present, and the order prepared by the War Department yesterday, providing for the withdrawal of only the cavalry troops, confirms this fact.

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