Mr. Dupuy de Lôme to Mr. Sherman.
Washington , June 29, 1897 .
Mr. Secretary: I have received your note of the 21st instant, in reply to mine of May 31 and of the 1st instant, relative to the shots fired near Guantanamo by His Majesty’s cruiser at the American steamer Valencia.
Congratulating myself that the reports received by both Governments have clearly explained what took place, and that those received by your excellency have led you to inform me, as you have done, that the matter may be considered as terminated, and again assuring you that the commanders of the vessels which patrol the coasts of Cuba have received orders to avoid, as far as their duties will permit, giving any trouble to those of friendly nations and to commerce carried on in good faith, I deem it my duty to establish the accuracy of certain statements made owing to an erroneous interpretation of my words, which statements have served as a basis for certain assertions made by your excellency in your note of the 21st.
If I said that the incident took place in the Boca de Guantánamo, it; was because those same words were used by Mr. Pulaski F. Hyatt, in his communications of May 23 and 28, the former of which was addressed to the commandant of marine and the latter to the local governor of Santiago, and they were the words that were telegraphed to me.
Twice in your aforesaid note your excellency seems to infer from my words, which are, indeed, ambiguous, that the cruiser Reina Mercedes fired on the Valencia knowing that that was the vessel of which she was in pursuit. The word reconoció is not used as synonymous with conoció (knew), but in the military sense of making an examination, which the commander of the cruiser, in the telegram communicated to me by the Duke of Tetuan, says was made with a spyglass after the flag had been hoisted.[Page 507]
I go into these details in order that the charge may not stand against a vessel belonging to our navy that it deliberately, and from a mere capricious point of honor, did all that your excellency says.
This point being cleared up, there only remains an act, which, although it is not a serious one, should not be repeated, and will doubtless not be repeated, if the captains obey the instructions which your excellency has so prudently suggested, and if the commanders of war vessels obey the instructions which they have received, and of which I have already spoken to your excellency.
I avail myself, etc.,