Mr. Olney to Mr. Dupuy de Lôme.

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a letter just received at this Department from the firm of Atkins & Co., of Boston, Mass.

I send it for your information, as well as for any suggestions and recommendations you may see fit to make either to the Spanish Government or to the local authorities in Cuba for the protection of American properties in Cuba from destruction by the Cuban insurgents.

Accept, etc.,

Richard Olney.
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Messrs. E. Atkins & Co. to Mr. Uhl.

Dear Sir: By messenger returned from Cuba last night we have full details of the destruction of property on our Soledad estate. The total amount of cane destroyed was estimated at 10,000 net tons, or about 10 per cent of the crop. Of this cane some 6,250 tons were our own property, the balance belonging to tenants leasing lands from us, most of which tenants were more or less indebted to us for money advanced for the care of their places, their crops being our security.

The firing was done by a band of some eight negroes, who said they were acting under orders of one Rego, their chief. After the firing, several parties reported having seen the written orders.

The insurgents were in force upon the neighboring hill and threatened to kill any of our employees who attempted to put out the fires; notwithstanding the threats, the employees of the estate, under a young Englishman who was acting as assistant manager, finally succeeded in extinguishing the flames.

Up to the time of these fires no attempts had been made to defend the property, but upon information by one of the insurgents that it was their intention to destroy not only cane, but factory buildings, a body of Spanish soldiers was at once sent by the Spanish authorities and a permanent guard for the buildings established, consisting of 25 soldiers. A permit was issued to us by the Spanish Government, allowing us to arm an additional force of 40 men at our own expense, the Government furnishing arms. This we were forced to do to protect the buildings and machinery, as well as the lives of our employees, which had been threatened.

Inquiry as to the cause of change of policy on the part of the insurgents brings the following reports:

That orders for general destruction of all property had been issued by the commander in chief, Maximo Gomez.

That the insurgents said they had knowledge that the American property owners were not in sympathy with them; that the destruction of American property would lead to claims upon the Spanish Government, and consequent complications between the United States and Spain, which would lead to their recognition by the United States as belligerents.

Our reports say that the larger portion of the insurgents are negroes.

On the night of the 1st instant a band of insurgents appeared at one of our tenancies under the command of a white leader, who brought written orders to destroy, which he showed to the man in charge (Peter M. Beal, an American citizen). The orders were to destroy that and other places.

The order contained the following:

Destroy all sugar estates. Burn their cane and defenses at their factories, as well as destroy their railroad lines. Every laborer shall be treated as a traitor who lends any assistance to these sugar factories.

Maximo Gomez.

Copy of this order was brought to us by our agent, who arrived yesterday.

While no destruction was attempted upon the night mentioned, we are at this moment in receipt of cable advising that the above-named tenancy is in flames.

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This particular place belongs to our property of Soledad, and is leased by American citizens who are engaged in production of cane for our factory. It is an extensive place, and we paid them for their cane delivered last crop some $70,000.

While the Spanish authorities are protecting the buildings and machinery, they find difficulty in covering the railroad lines and cane fields, extending over some 12,000 acres of territory.

All of this we submit for your consideration, and would respectfully call the attention of the Department to the imminent danger of destruction of this and other American properties in Cuba.

Respectfully, etc.,

E. Atkins & Co.