File No. 763.72/126
The Ambassador in Turkey (Morgenthau) to the Secretary of State
Constantinople, November 21, 1914, 10 p.m.
[Received November 25, 11:20 p.m.]
63. I sent explanation in No. 47. I had arranged with Minister of War to have ship stationed at Vourla because Americans and other Christians at Smyrna whose lives were endangered could reach her by land, Smyrna port being absolutely closed. It was most unfortunate that Decker should attempt to enter port closed by mines in his launch, that he did not stop after first or second shot, that the officer in charge of cruiser threatened to bombard the forts, the very thing that I have been requested to obtain assurances that English and French Governments would not do. Minister of War stated to me that sentinel at Smyrna and Turkish officers claim that their first shot was blank cartridge; Decker claims otherwise. Turkish officials will undoubtedly be severely punished if it is ascertained that their first shot was not blank. Governor General of Smyrna offered to call on Decker and apologize. I am protesting to Grand Vizier and demanding explanation. Vice Consul General Morris has not added anything to information in Horton’s telegram. Morris does not know how much time intervened between shots. I suggest that Tennessee patrol the Mediterranean, as she can be of little use at Chios to people of Smyrna when Smyrna is bombarded and until then there is no danger. On the 14th I telegraphed to Horton: “Armed sailors should not be landed except in absolute extreme urgency. I strongly recommend all at Smyrna to remain very cool and avoid creating incidents.”