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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, February 24, 1898, Image 1

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Grave Fear Spain Will Not
Be Able to Punish •
the Guilty.
Upon the Strength of the Sagasta
Ministry Will Depend the Con
tingency of War Between _
the Two Nations.
- Copyrighted, IS9B, by James Gordon Bennett.
f /
HAVANA, Feb. 23.— There is now little
loubt that the report of the board of in
luiry investigating the cause of the wreck
of the Maine will be to the effect that the
prime cause of the explosion was a sub
marine mine or torpedo dragged under her
The board can hardly come to any
other decision from the evidence that will
be placed before it. The unofficial testi
mony of those officers who gave it as
their belief that something from beneath
had caused the explosion of the forward
magazine has been borne out by the re
ports of the divers from the first day they
went down into the forward part of the
Operations yesterday were conducted under im
proved conditions and the evidence gathered was more
convincing. Of course, the deliberations of the board
of inquiry are in absolute secrecy, but I am in, a posi
tion to state that they yesterday obtained most im
portant evidence. . J , ..-■.-.'•
Among other things found at the bottom of the
harbor were several cans of powder, perfectly intact.
Had the explosion first occurred in either of the for
ward magazines every grain of powder, it is argued,
would have disappeared, but if the explosion first came
from the outside the cans might easily reach water
without exploding.
• Besides powder cans the board may have other
evidence. It is impossible to say just what evidence j
they do obtain, for the Spanish officials are --constantly
at the wreck and jealously watch what the divers may
bring up and eagerly hear what they have to say.
The divers, however, make all . their reports on
board the Fern, and all suspicious finds are merely
located and not brought to the surface yet.
At the bottom of the harbor they are waist deep
in mud and searching is slow. work. There is only
one diver's lamp at present available. The man at
k the bow of the Maine used this yesterday. He .was
below fully three hours in the afternoon. Part of that
time was spent in examining the hull of the ship.
The investigations are being ' watched here v with
./^reat interest, and in some quarters with alarm. The
The San Francisco Call
NEW YORK. Feb. 23.— A
Washington special to the
Herald says: Reports that Sen
ator Proctor had gone to Cuba
on a special mission for the
President are officially and em
phatically denied at the White
House and the State Depart
ment The Senator left here
about a week ago for a fishing
trip in Florida waters. He said
at that time he might go to Hav
ana if he could find some con
genial friend to go with him.
The authorities here do not
know whether he has gone to
Havana, and pronounce as ab
surd the statement that he is to
meet General Lee for the pur
pose of bringing confidential re
ports to Washington. They can
see no reason for making mes
senger-boys out of United States
Senators, especially when Con
sul-General Lee could readily
secure the detail of a naval of
ficer if he wished to send any
thing he was afraid to trust to
the regular channels.
official and conservative ele
ment prefers to not talk
of war openly — at any rate,
till there is proven good
excuse for it, but Wey
le^s old officers and friends
would welcome war with
the United States. Captain-
General Blanco wants peace,
but he is placed in a very
trying position. If foul
play to the Maine is proved
he may have to bear the
responsibility, without hav
ing been in any way to
blame. I do not suppose
he knew there was a mine
in the harbor.
If there are mines they
were laid in Weyler's time,
and, as I cabled the Herald
on Sunday, when Weyler
left Cuba he carried away
all the plans and records
from the palace.
Judging from reports re
ceived from the country
towns some of the Spanish
officers stationed there are
eager to fight the United
States. They fimly believe
they could easily down the
stars and stripes both on
land and sea.
llf Spain could send
200,000 men to a small
island like Cuba," they say,
"how many could she send
to the United States ?"
Most of these officers ser
ved under Weyler, and were
promised promotion by him
before he left. While there
may be but little danger of
conflict between Spain and
the United States, yet
Americans residing here
take the matter seriously,
and all the more so for the
reason that now they are ab
solutely unprotected should
there be any outbreak of the
The naval court of inquiry into the
Maine disaster, on whose deliberations
The United States Lighthouse Tender Mangrove, on Board of Which the Maine Board oF Inquiry Is Conducting
Its Investigations in Havana Harbor.
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 23.— Following the report that an order had
been received at the United States Embassy at London, directing all
officers of the United States at present in England on leave to return
to their ships at once, it was learned to-day that all retired naval of
cers of the United States had received notice from Secretary Long, di
recting them to place themselves in communication with the Navy De
A retired naval officer of this city, who has served under Admiral
Farragut, said that the notice applied to about 300 naval officers
throughout the country on the retired list. It was of a confidential na
ture, but its provisions were the effect that officers under 62 years of
age who could paws a physical examination showing themselves to be
fit for duty would be required to hold themselves in readiness for serv
ice at a moment's notice from Washington. *
All who received the communication were asked to acknowledge its
receipt immediately, giving any prospective change of address.and plac
ing themselves unreservedly at the disposal of the Government.
are centered the eyes of the civilized
world, will probably conclude its work
in Havana to-morrow night, or Friday
at the latest Its conclusion will be
unanimous, the court being composed
of three members apart from its judge
advocate, Lieutenant - Commander
Marix, who. under the prevailing naval
custom, will not have a voice in the
Under the evidence there is no possi
bility of so inclusive a result as a dead
lock, *such as might occur where the
verdict depended on the votes of four
But it is possible to-night to state not
only that no deadlock is possible, but
that there is not the slightest probability
of there being a dissenting minority re
port filed in behalf of even one member
of the board.
The work of the naval experts ap
pointed by the Secretary of the Navy to
probe the Maine disaster has been done
thus far thoroughly and expeditiouslv.
There has been no undue or unseemly
haste. A detailed stenographic report
of each day's proceedings has been read
carefully at the opening of each suc
ceeding day, and full time has been
given to the hearing of the evidence of
every witness. But the number of wit
nesses whose testimony is pertinent to
a just conclusion is limited, and most
of them have been heard already. It is
for this reason, and this only, that the
court sessions in Havana are not likely
to be so protracted as the general pub
lic was prone to believe. The probabili
ties are that all the members of the
Board of Inquiry will go to Key West
within forty-eight hours. Its sittings
will be resumed there, but the testimony
there elicited, it is believed, will not be
of a character either to add materially
to the facts already established or to
alter the conclusions already practically
reached. It is just possible that trie
court's stay in Havana may be ex
tended a few days longer should impor
tant discoveries be made by the expert
divers of the Merritt-Chapman wreck
ing tug, the Right Arm, who arrived
with their vessel from Key West and
began work this morning.
The men of the Right Arm have one
great advantage over the Government
divers who have done all the submarine
work hitherto. The big wrecking tug is
thoroughly equipped with apparatus for
excavating and pumping out the grave
of mud in which all now left of the once
proud battleship lies buried. This will
make it practicable for them to obtain
a much better view of the Maine's shat
tered bottom and bows than has been
possible for the naval divers of the
Maine, the New York and the lowa,
who have had to work without such ap
pliances. It is not believed, however,
that the work of excavating will add ma
terially to the information already in
possession of the court, though it will
probably tend to confirm it. .In any
case, the court's report is far more likely
to be heard on the report already made
by divers who are regularly enlisted
men in the naval arm of the Govern
ment service than upon any testimony
that might be given by men who, how
ever expert they may be, are the em
ployes of a private corporation uncon
nected with the naval department except
through a business contract.
The magnitude of the issue involved
in the finding of the board and the im
portance of the results which hinge
largely on evidence given by these div
ers is so great that the naval board pre
fers to rest its case practically on the
testimony given by those attached to the
Government service. Unfortunately for
the public, eager for the settlement of
the vexed question of who caused the
Maine's loss, it is not certain that the
public announcement of conclusions
reached by the court will follow imme
diately upon the report of these con
clusions made to the Secretary of the
Navy. In the discretion of the depart
ment, it is not unlikely thajt the publica
tion may be somewhat delayed. It is
even possible that, for prudent reasons,
the filing of the court's report may itself
be delayed beyond the date when its ex
peditious work would seem to bear out
the conclusion of its labors.
There were four witnesses before the
board to-day. The same strict secrecy
is maintained over the deliberations, but
I can assert on high authority that lit
tle new light was thrown on the dis
aster by those examined to-day.
Chief Engineer C. P. Powell of the
Maine testified as to the condition of
the boilers and engines, and also de
tailed his personal experience after the
disaster, but since the theory of boiler
explosion having caused the calamity
has been long since dismissed as un
tenable, his evidence was not materially
important. Other witnesses lasted from
10:30 o'clock this morning until 3
o'clock in the afternoon. None of the
divers testified to-day.
Captain Magee of the Merritt-Chap
man wrecking tug said to me yester
day in Key West that he was confident
that by means of a cofferdam he could
succeed in raising the wrecked battle
ship and could ultimately tow her to
Key West. . At that time Captain Magee
hard not actually seen the tangled mass
of rubbish that was once the gallant
ship. To-day, since he has seen it, he
was inclined to believe that all that he
or anybody can do is perhaps recover
the guas and some other valuable ap
purtenances of the Maine, and then,
with dynamite drags and derricks, clear
from Havana harbor, where it now me
naces navigation, the smoke begrimed
wreck, above which still floats patheti
cally the ensign of the United States.
There is, indeed, little left to save. The
great ship is literally riven apart from
her keel up, and from her sharp spurred
prow to a point far aft her midship sec
Continued on Second Put*.
She Will Take the Place of the 111-
Fated Maine in the Harbor
of the Hostile City
of Havana.
TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 23.— The
United States cruiser Montgomery,
Commander Converse, arrived at
Port Tampa at 9 o 'clock this morn
ing and Captain Crowninshield, Chief
of the Bureau of Navigation, who
was on board, left at once for Wash
ington, shortly after Commander
Converse notified the department of
the arrival of the vessel. He re
ceived orders to coal at once and
leave as soon as possible for Key
West and then proceed to Havana,
unless otherwise ordered upon ar
rival at Key West.
While the vessel was coaling I went on
board and talked with the officers. They
said the vessel left Key West three weeks
ago for Matanzas, Cuba. Captain Crownin
shield was on board, and the object of the
cruise was to ascertain the most available
point for a coaling station. From Matanzas
the Montgomery proceeded to Santiago, and
the officers say that at both places they were
received with the utmost courtesy by the
Spanish officials and the citizens generally.
They left Santiago on the night of the
disaster on the Maine, but heard nothing of
it until they arrived in San Domingo last
Friday, when the United States Consul in
formed Commander Converse he had been
advised that the Maine had been blown up
in Havana harbor.
None of the officers were disposed to be
lieve the report, and they knew nothing of
the particulars until they arrived here to
day. While Commander Converse and the
other officers are not disposed to express an
opinion as to the cause of the disaster, the
men talk freely and express the opinion that
it was the work of Spaniards. All of the
men are anxious for a fight. Captain
Crowninshield was the first commander of
the Maine after she was commissioned, and
was shocked this morning when he heard the
story of the accident and the large number
of men killed.
"I am thoroughly familiar with every
detail of the construction of the Maine,"
said he, "but I do not care to express an
opinion as to how the casualty occurred, as
Captain Sigsbee has declined to express an
opinion. Ido not believe any other officer of
the navy will venture one. The Maine was
a fine vessel and her loss is a severe blow to
the navy, but the loss of so many brave men
is a far greater blow."
On board the Montgomery are ten men
transferred from the Maine just before that
vessel sailed for Havana. These men shed
tears when they learned the fate of so many
of their former comrades. The Montgomery
will leave fer Key West at 5 o'clock to
morrow afternoon. In entering the bay of a
small port on the coast of Hayii she ran
aground on a sand bar, but was got off with
out sustaining any damage.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23.— Simultaneously
with the departure of the Texas and Nash
ville from Calveston for Key West the Mar
ble head will leave New Orleans and the De
troit will leave Mobile for Key West. These
movements are part of the orders given early
this month before the Maine disaster. The
Navy Department has received no notifica
tion of the actual sailing of the four ships
up to noon, but this was expected to come
during the day in view of the definite or
ders heretofore given for their sailing on
the 23d.
The result will be to bring together again
a large number of vessels under Admirat
Sicard at Key West and the immediate vicin-.
ity. They will be the New York, Indiana,,
Massachusetts, Texas, lowa, Marblehead,
Detroit, Nashville, Montgomery, Ericsson and
The torpedo-boats Porter and Dupont are
in the dry dock at Mobile, and are not ex
pected to be ready to go to Key West foi*
several days. The Brooklyn is cruising
in the West Indies, at present en routa
from St. Thomas to Vera Cruz.
Remains at Her Dock at the Nor-«
folk Navy- Yard Under Full
NEW YORK, Feb. 23.— A Richmond*
(Va.) special to the Herald says: AJ>
state of expectancy, not to say sur-«
prise, pervades the Norfolk navy-yard.
At noon to-day the Secretary of the-
Navy was notified that the Terror wa»
ready for sea, and an immediate re-.
sponse was expected that she would bej
notified to sail for New York. The ves
sel lay at her dock the whole after-* .
noon under full steam, momentarily
expecting orders that did not come.
Captain Ludlow, her commander, was
on the dock most of the time, and,
while supervising tests that were be-,
ing made of the ammunition hoist, was
asked when he would sail.
"I would like very much to knew!;
myself," was his response. "The ves-n
sel is ready to move at a moment's;
notice and you know as much about it,
as I do."
Commodore Farquhar, the command-,
ant, said:
"Yes, I have reported the Terror
ready for sea. Her orders to leave the
yard will come through me, though
any sealed orders may be sent direct
to her commander. At this time no
one here knows what the orders will
be or whither the vessel will be sent.
She may leave this afternoon, or she
may not leave this week."
Referring to the fighting qualities of
the Terror and ships of her class, Com
modore Farquhar saifl:
"I have the highest confidence in
the ability of monitors as defenders. In
still water they are splendidly effec
tive The Puritan is, I consider, un
dar favorable conditions the finest

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