Cruising in the Old Navy
Naval Historical Foundation Publication
"Cruising in the Old Navy" is the story of Rear Admiral, then Lieutenant, R. R. Ingersoll's cruise of 1887-1890 in the screw sloop Enterprise, Commander B. H. McCalla commanding. It is an excerpt from Admiral Ingersoll's much longer manuscript "The Story of my Life and Times", which his son Admiral R. E. Ingersoll has generously donated to the Foundation.
The longhand manuscript is a fascinating, often witty account of Admiral Ingersoll's experiences during his long naval career, spanning more than four decades 1865-1909, and filling more than 1,200 handwritten pages. While "Cruising in the Old Navy" is only a short excerpt, we feel that it gives the flavor of the longer work, recreating the life aboard a cruising man-of-war of the Old Navy. On this cruise Enterprise had a "roving commission", and was therefore free to set her own itinerary, while she also relied on the intelligence and resourcefulness of her own officers in meeting unexpected situations as they arose.
Written in Admiral Ingersoll's lively, acute style, "The Story of my Life and Times" should appeal alike to the naval historian, traveller, and plain nostalgic reader. The original manuscript of course has been placed in the Library of Congress along with the Foundation's other manuscript collections, while typescript copies of the manuscript also are available at the Library of Congress, the Truxtun-Decatur Naval Museum, and the Foundation office in the Navy Yard, Washington.
Captain Royal R. Ingersol, U.S. Navy, in command of the USS Maryland (CA-8), 1906.
Cruising in the Old Navy
by Rear Admiral R. R. Ingersoll
About the middle of the summer I learned that Commander B. H. McCalla wished me to go as Executive Officer of the steam corvette Enterprise which he was to command. A few days later Commander McCalla came down to Annapolis as the guest of Commander Sampson, and I improved the occasion to call on him. McCalla was Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Navigation at the Navy Department and a personal friend of Admiral John G. Walker, Chief of that Bureau--a power in the Department in those days. I was informed that the Enterprise would cruise in European waters and that I would get orders to that ship.
We packed our belongings, stored them, and went home to La Porte to make necessary arrangements prior to my departure for a long period of sea duty. It meant three years away from home and family in those days. It was hard enough for me to leave my dear wife, but it was doubly hard this time to leave, also, my four-year old son at a most interesting period of his life. A suite of rooms was arranged for my wife and boy, as my wife very sensibly decided not to live at her father's home, although urged by the grandparents to do so. She wished her small son to be mainly under her own control.
Orders came in September, and October 1st after a sorrowful parting from my little family I journeyed to the Navy Yard at New York and reported for duty on the Enterprise. She had no officers or crew or equipment, except standing rigging, engines, boilers and other permanent fixtures. Commander McCalla commissioned the ship on the 3rd of October, as I remember, and left me in charge to fit her out. About half a crew had been assembled on the old receiving ship Vermont, and as soon as messing gear was taken on board the men available came on board permanently. A full complement of officers soon reported. They were Lieut. D. D. V. Stuart, Navigator; Lieutenants Samuel Lemly, Richard Mulligan and H. C. Wakenshaw; Ensigns Percival J. Werlich and George W. Kline; Chief Engineer James Entwistle; Paymaster John A. Mudd; Surgeon Cumberland G. Herndon;
and Captain of Marines. Asst. Engineer F. M. Bennett was the only junior officer besides four midshipmen.
Berth deck cooks, USS Enterprise, circa 1887-1890.
In about three weeks the crew was completed and quartered on board. Only a small number, comparatively, were native-born Americans or, in fact, citizens by naturalization. There were some continued service men who were available for Petty Officers, but the crew as a whole was a conglomeration of various nationalities. Of the men who had been to sea and claimed to be seamen, for the most part they had been recruited from the drifting element found in large seaports like New York, who enlisted in the naval service for the sake of the higher pay than could be had in the merchant marine of foreign nations, for the United States had no merchant marine worth considering at that time. With the exception of the few American continued service men, and some of the fire room force, there was no patriotic inspiration in the service by the great majority of the crew. That class was in the service for what they could get out of it, and the flag and the country meant little to them. Getting the stores, sails, running rigging and ammunition on board kept all hands very busy for weeks, and there seemed to be no very great hurry about getting the ship ready for sea. Around Thanksgiving time I managed to make a flying visit home to see my family again, which was a very great joy, and I found my dear wife and our dear boy very comfortably located. And so the days passed until Christmas, and while we were all fitted out, no move was in sight.
Three days before Christmas word was received, and the papers were full of the fact, that a great log raft, constructed in a cigar shape of thousands of pine logs, which was being towed from Nova Scotia
to New York, had broken adrift from the towing vessels off the Nantucket Shoals and had been abandoned at sea, due to stress of weather. Recognizing that the log raft, if it held together, was a menace to navigation and in the track of steamers to and from New York, the Navy Department ordered the Enterprise to proceed at once to the locality where the raft was abandoned, make search for it, and if possible tow it into port. Steam was raised at once, and heavy coils of wire cables as well as a manila cable were hurriedly dumped on our decks, and just at dark the ship proceeded up the East River through Hell Gate on her way to Long Island Sound and out to sea. The weather was bitter cold and a heavy gale was blowing, which shifted to the northwest during the night and promised a heavy sea after passing Block Island. By noon of the next day the ship was bowling along before the wind and sea south of Martha's Vineyard and rolling rails under, shipping a sea now and then over the quarter. Many of the air ports leaked, and altogether it was very uncomfortable for everybody. The location of the abandonment of the raft was reached by nightfall, but naturally no trace of the obstacle was found as it had been subject to the drift and also the pounding of heavy seas for three days. The next day the gale broke and the sea went down, so a proper search could be made. Soon a log adrift was seen here and there, and floating logs were before long seen in all directions, covering a space of twenty to thirty miles in each direction. No mass of logs was seen, and it was evident that the raft had broken up. The single logs were not dangerous to navigation unless a ship should pick one up with her propeller--an event not probable because the bow wave would doubtless throw the log away from the ship's side if one was hit. After running several traverses with the line of drift and at right angles to it, it was decided that nothing could be done except to return to port and report, in order that ships could be warned of the drifting logs and avoid them or the locality. All the next day and until Christmas Eve was taken up in steaming for the entrance to Long Island Sound. The Navigator had to give up his duty on account of his eyes, and that duty devolved upon me in addition to my regular duties as Executive. All that night we steamed at full speed down the Sound to New York, the night being clear but very cold, and we arrived at the Navy Yard about four o'clock in the morning. I had not left the deck except to get food for over forty-eight hours, so after the ship had been secured at her berth at the Cob Dock all hands were ready to turn in for a good sleep, in spite of the fact that it was Christmas Day.
The Enterprise was a wooden sloop of war of about 1400 tons displacement, and while she was supposed to have been refitted she
had no modern equipment. A steam steering gear, a steam anchor engine, a ventilating system for the berth deck, a forward navigating bridge and a pilot house on that bridge, as well as other minor installations, were put in while the ship was outfitting at the Navy Yard, much of the work being done by our own force of mechanics, who were very competent men and were Americans. The discipline of the crew was only average, in spite of measures adopted to improve it. In those days men drank to excess whenever given leave, and remaining absent without leave was a common practice. Deprivation of liberty was the usual punishment.
Finally, in January 1888 we sailed for Boston for some additional equipment, and from Cape Cod to Boston Light encountered a heavy gale with freezing temperature which lasted all one night, and the ship was a mass of ice half way up the fore and main rigging when we finally reached Boston. We went alongside the dock and secured the ship, but the ice covered the hull and rigging during the whole period of our stay at the Boston Navy Yard.
After about ten days the ship finally sailed, bound to Gibraltar by way of the Azores. We were glad, indeed, to make a start, for the long period which had elapsed since the ship was commissioned had not been of benefit to the personnel from a disciplinary point of view. The weather was cold but fair, and after a day's steaming the ship was put under sail alone. It was the hardest kind of work to get the sails and running rigging clear of ice in order to make sail, but it was done in time. With a fair wind all went very well, and in a few days we ran into the Gulf Stream with its warm current and mild air temperature. The ice everywhere disappeared as if by magic. We aired and dried bedding, clothing, and wet canvas, and reveled in the warm climate we had encountered. No particular event happened on the voyage to Fayal, except a heavy squall at night which caught the Officer of the Deck off his guard, for lightning with a light wind and a heavy cloud bank to the northwest did not mean anything to him until, with a hiss and a roar, the wind and rain broke upon the ship, which was under full sail at the time. My stateroom opened upon the quarter-deck, and in a very few minutes I reached the deck and took charge. The helm was put up and the ship headed before the wind. I thought we would lose our light sails and spars before we could get the sail off the ship, but with all hands turned out we managed to get all secure without loss or damage, except the carrying away of the spanker gaff. Lightning in the northwest quarter in winter
on the Atlantic is almost a sure sign of a nasty squall, and the prudent officer shortens sail in advance in plenty of time to take the brunt of the squall under low canvas. When within a day's steaming of Horta on the Island of Fayal, sail was taken in and steam raised, and the wind having hauled ahead, the ship steamed the rest of the way to port.
The sight of the green hills and mountains of the island was pleasant after the twenty-day voyage, and most welcome were the oranges, grapes and fresh vegetables for our mess. We found the fresh fish very fine, also. The native light wine of the Azores, particularly that made from grapes on the high volcanic Island of Pico, we found very exciting as well as wholesome.
No coal or other stores were taken on board at Horta, and after a pleasant stay of about a week we weighed anchor and steamed among the islands to the eastward, but making no stop. We passed in plain sight of St. Michaels on the largest of the group. The ship steamed the remainder of the voyage to Gibraltar, making sail to assist whenever the wind was fair and sails would draw, and made the run in about a week, anchoring off the Ragged Staff landing near the Naval Station. We received our first mail from home at Gibraltar.
A day or two after our arrival, the Lancaster which had been on the South American Station arrived en route to Ville Franche to become the new flagship on the station, having made the voyage from Rio de Janeiro almost entirely under sail. The ship had been a long time on the way, and her officers and crew were very glad to get into port again.
A short distance from the Enterprise lay at anchor an American brig, the Marie Celeste, showing the usual trim and rig of an American-built vessel--sails neatly furled and rigging apparently intact--and yet this vessel furnished one of the most extraordinary mysteries of the sea. A few days before our arrival she had been picked up as a derelict and towed into port by a passing steamer. She was sighted about 500 miles west of the Straits of Gibraltar with all sail set, coming to and falling off and apparently not under control. The attention of the steamer was attracted to the erratic movements of the brig, and she steamed close to for an observation. Not a soul was in sight on board the brig, and repeated hailing failed to bring anyone in sight on board. The steamer lowered a boat and sent a boarding party alongside. A search revealed that the brig had been deserted by officers and crew and all the boats were missing. The quarter boats' falls were hanging down just clear of the water. There was no evidence of a mutiny of the crew and no signs of bloodshed
or a struggle. The log revealed that the Captain's wife and little daughter were passengers on board, and that the brig was bound to Las Palmas of the Canary Islands from Boston. The hatches had not been started, and the men's chests were undisturbed in the forecastle. A sewing machine in the cabin had an unfinished piece of work, a child's garment, still on the sewing machine stand with a seam unfinished, indicating a hasty abandonment due to some sudden cause or impulse. The log had been written up to noon of the preceding day, and the record showed favorable winds and weather. There was no record of storms or sudden squalls. The cabins had not been ransacked or plundered, and nothing was found to furnish a motive or reason for suddenly abandoning the ship. After furling the sails, and with a few men on board as a crew, she was taken in tow and brought to Gibraltar, where an admiralty court sought a solution of the mystery, but without result. From that day to this no trace whatsoever has been found of the personnel of that ship, and no reason had been found for abandoning her in fair weather. The African Coast was about 400 miles distant, and with the boats the officers and men should have had no difficulty in making the land, and vessels are every day making for the entrance to Gibraltar Straits. Some sudden panic or other controlling reason caused that ship's company to hastily take to the boats, but what it was is a mystery and thus far has remained a mystery.
After coaling, the Enterprise ran over to Tangier and remained in that harbor a few days. Then we started on a cruise along the northern coast of Algeria, touching first at a small port west of Oran, where behind a small breakwater a couple of steamers were loading iron ore. Arriving at Oran, which has a fine, artificial harbor protected by a breakwater, our ship was assigned to a berth in one of the basins and tied up to one of the concrete piers. We found Oran to be practically a French city with but little to give it an Oriental character except the many types of natives thronging the streets. The products of the country furnished an extensive commerce with France and also with Spain. Much tobacco was grown as well as grain, and there were extensive vineyards. The tobacco all went to France. We found the cigarettes much the best produced anywhere in Europe, although they were not equal to the Egyptian or Turkish output according to some authorities. The costumes of the various races of Arabs and other native tribes were interesting. There was a typical French café chantant as well as numerous cafés and restaurants, while the architecture of the blocks of buildings was typical French of the southern provinces. Two Captains of Tops sneaked ashore with the catamaran, taking with them a colored landsman
whose duty it was to clean the ship's side with that craft. The gendarmes returned the men in due time, rewards for their arrest having been offered, and the catamaran was picked up by the market boat the morning after it had been stolen, where it had been abandoned at the landing.
With a fair wind and sea, it required only a night's run to Algiers, where we were assigned a prominent berth just inside the northern breakwater, and from our position we had a clear and comprehensive view of the interesting and historical city. In the foreground along the harbor front was an extensive promenade with blocks of buildings in French style, while in the background was the old, native city with its narrow streets and white, flat-topped houses that had not experienced a change for very many years, with here and there a minaret of a mosque. The old Kasbah or palace of the Deys of Algiers stood out prominently to the north of the harbor, practically in perfect condition. To the south of the city and bordering the Bay we saw the extensive and beautiful suburb of Mustapha Superieur, with hotels and private residences of the foreign population. Here were parks and drives with fine semitropical trees in great abundance. Algiers is famed as a winter resort, not only for the French but for tourists and winter residents of other nationalities, among them many Americans.
My work on board kept me busy, but I had an occasional stroll on shore, afternoon or evening, and I thoroughly enjoyed wandering about the old city, viewing the native shops, or in the French part of the city taking in the sights and novelties of the cafés and restaurants. The season at Algiers was drawing to a close in March, the month of the year we were there, and the tourists were going to France in large numbers by every steamer. After a pleasant sojourn of a week at the metropolis of French North Africa, we steamed along the coast to the eastward and just touched at Bona long enough to exchange calls with the officials, the town being just a shipping point and on the railway to the interior. Then we went on to Philippeville, from which point travelers take a train to the famous old town of Constantine, and then on to Biskra on the edge of the Sahara Desert. We remained one day only, however, and then bore away to the northward, with Ville Franche as our destination, and where we arrived in two days and moored to one of the buoys in the harbor.
The Lancaster was in port, and the Commander in Chief inspected the Enterprise. Spring on the Riviera is a very pleasant season, but the crowds who flock there for the winter find April and May a little too warm and move northerly to Switzerland, Germany or to Northern
France. Those who were making a first visit to this part of the world found it most interesting, and particularly Monaco and Monte Carlo were very alluring. For myself, having been at Ville Franche, Nice and Monaco very many times on previous cruises, it was an old story; anyway, my duties kept me busy on board the greater part of the time, and I only left the ship when I felt the need of a walk over the roads for exercise.
Captain Bowman H. McCalla, skipper of the Enterprise, photograph taken about 1898.
Our Commanding Officer was informed that it was the intention of the Flag Officer to send the Enterprise on an extended northern cruise, including the North Sea and the Baltic, and that he could prepare his own itinerary if he wished to do so. The Commanding Officer summoned me to the cabin and instructed me to submit a list of ports to visit, reasoning, I suppose, that as an old time cruiser in European waters I would know which ports offered the most in the way of attractions. Accordingly, several of us in the wardroom put our heads together and outlined a cruise to ports that few ships on the station had ever had an opportunity to visit. The list as I now remember was as follows and, with minor changes as to length of stay, was closely followed. We asked to go to Gibraltar, Lisbon, Oporto, Coruna, Ferrol, Southampton, Hull, Newcastle, Christiania, Copenhagen, Cronstadt, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Danzig, Stettin, Elsinore, Leith, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Havre, Rouen, Bordeaux, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Tangier, Malaga, and back to Nice or Ville Franche, the cruise to take about nine months, or until February 1889. It was the most liberal and comprehensive cruise that could be made, unlimited as to time or fixed dates of arrival at or departure from ports.
It did not take the ship long to get ready, and in a few days after receipt of orders for the roving cruise outlined above we sailed for Gibraltar, where five days later we arrived and coaled. We were always glad of a day or two at Gibraltar at any time. Being a free port, mess stores, cigars and English goods, such as underwear, were to be had of excellent quality and at reasonable prices. During this visit the Commander and several officers were invited to be present at an inspection of the fortress batteries, and practice firing at moving sea targets by the gunners, and particularly to witness the firing of an 80-ton gun which had recently arrived from England and had been mounted for test. All these tests were very interesting to us, and we made the most of the opportunity. The firing of the land batteries at floating sea targets towed by gunboats was very good and the firing of the big, 80-ton gun using service charges and projectiles very impressive. We made full notes of all that we saw. The Captain did not care to call at Lisbon especially as a moderate gale was blowing, so we kept on and anchored off the mouth of the Douro River on which Oporto, the second city of Portugal, is situated. On account of a heavy sea on the bar, the pilots advised a wait for more favorable conditions. By the afternoon of the next day we crossed the bar, which did not seem to be a troublesome operation, but the pilots insisted on having a heavy pilot boat towed on each side with lines from the bows of the ship, to assist in steering they said, but we strongly suspect it was for the purpose of exacting a larger fee for pilotage. The ship steered perfectly with the steam gear, and there was no sea of consequence on the bar.
Oporto lies mainly on the north bank of the river, built on a series of low hills, with the business blocks on a lower level along the river which forms the harbor. The south bank opposite the city is less populous and is much higher than the north bank. From the south bank Wellington bombarded Oporto at the beginning of the Peninsular War, and later crossed the river and stormed the city, driving out the French garrison. The Douro River is subject to strong tides for some distance from its mouth. We were assigned a berth on the south bank close to shore, where we moored with anchors and hawsers. We enjoyed a very pleasant stay of a week at Oporto. Our Consul, a Portuguese, was a man of high standing in the community, and his business was that of a wine merchant. Port wine was and is a leading article of export from Oporto. The Consul arranged for many social entertainments and also for an excursion by rail to Braga, a considerable town north of Oporto, on a railway, noted for a remarkable number of religious shrines on a high hill covered with fine oak trees and reached by a small funicular tramway. Rich
Portuguese who have returned to their home country to enjoy their wealth are settled in Braga in large numbers. The handsome villas were very numerous and were surrounded by fine gardens planted to flowers. There did not seem to be much business going on, and the city seemed to be just a quiet, luxurious resting place for people well-to-do who just wished rest and quiet. We stocked our wine mess with a large quantity of port wine of an excellent quality and low in price, but the officers did not care much for it as a beverage, as it was too sweet and somewhat heady to suit most tastes.
From Oporto we cruised around Cape Finisterre, passing Vigo at the head of the Bay of that name, and entered Coruna Bay on which the historic town of Coruna is situated, and which withstood, until evacuated by the British, an attack by a superior force of French during the Peninsular War. Every school boy has read the poem, "The Burial of Sir John Moore," who died of wounds received during the siege of Coruna. The first lines, as I recall, were--
"We buried him hurriedly at dead of night,
The sod with our bayonets turning."
The morning following our arrival at Coruna we steamed through the narrow entrance which leads to the landlocked harbor of Ferrol, one of the principal Spanish naval stations with docks, workshops and barracks. I did not land at Ferrol, and aside from the usual official visits there was not much communication with the shore. The town did not offer anything of particular interest aside from the Navy Yard. Our stay at Ferrol lasted only three days, and we sailed on our way to the northern countries across the Bay of Biscay, famed for stormy weather and heavy seas. It was springtime, and we had only fair weather across the Bay. We rounded Cape Ushant and stood up the English Channel to Southampton, where we remained at anchor well below the town for about two weeks, enjoying the mild weather which then prevailed. Most of the officers bought English-tailored clothes. The Netley Hospital near the entrance to Southampton Water, as that reach is called, was the medical finishing school for English army surgeons, and our officers were entertained at an official dinner by the Officers' Mess of Netley Hospital. It was a fine dinner with speeches and much wine and many rounds of whiskies and sodas in the great lounge and smoking room after the dinner, where with songs and horseplay the younger officers enjoyed themselves and kept it up until long after midnight. I sneaked away as early as possible, which was when the Captain took his departure, and I thus escaped the greater part of the aftermath of the dinner. I however witnessed one bit of horseplay which was amusing. A tournament
or joust was held by mounting two lightweights on the shoulders of two heavier men, the lighter men representing knights and the heavy men the horses. For lances, billiard cues with a boxing glove on the end were used. Starting from the ends of the large room with lances poised, at a signal the knights charged, and when they came together there was generally a bad spill, one or the other, and sometimes both of the knights were "unhorsed". No injuries occurred, however, and the participants seemed to enjoy this form of sport immensely.
I had been to Southampton many times on other cruises and I was not a stranger to the city, but except for some necessary purchase I did not go ashore for my duties kept me very busy. We had hoped our next port would be Gravesend for a visit to London, but our Captain preferred to visit less-frequented ports, so we sailed for the North Sea, when ready, and put in at Hull, on the Humber. Few men-of-war call at the port of Hull, but we found it very dull. An interesting experience was the attending of a performance of the light opera of "Erminie", given in the local Opera House at Hull. I was invited to sit in a box with the author of the opera, M. Jacobowski, who criticized the singers and especially the chorus freely. I had seen the opera produced in New York and Brooklyn, with Francis Wilson in a leading role, and I think the English production by what was considered just a stock company was quite as good. Mr. Jacobowski was asked to name, in his opinion, the finest bit in the opera, and he instantly replied the "Good Night Chorus."
A few days at Hull and then on to Newcastle on the River Tyne. We entered the river between two jetties extending out into the North Sea and passed through tiers of shipping, mostly steamers, though there were some coastwise sailing craft, lined up at the docks on each side of the river at North and South Shields, all moored head and stern and extending two or three miles, finally mooring in an upper reach below a high bridge spanning the river at Newcastle. Extensive shipbuilding works were in view on the northerly side of the river at Shields, with many steamers on the ways in various stages of construction. At Newcastle, above the bridge, is situated the great shipbuilding works of Armstrong, Mitchell & Co., the most extensive of private works in the United Kingdom, with a specialty of the building of men-of-war of the largest size and power, not only for the British Government but for other Governments all over the world except such as possessed large works of their own. The Captain and officers were extended the privilege of visiting the Armstrong, Mitchell works, which produced everything built-in or used on battleships of the first class, including hull, armor, guns, ammunition, machinery,
and equipment of every sort. The opportunity was one not to be missed, and in company with the Captain and other officers an entire day was put in inspecting various processes of construction of all that goes to make a complete battleship. The British battleship Victoria was nearing completion, and in her forward turret were mounted two of the famous 80 -ton guns regarded as the most powerful artillery of that day. This was the ship that later was rammed and sunk by the battleship [Camperdown] in maneuvers in the Eastern Mediterranean, with great loss of life. Admiral Tyron, the Commander in Chief, went down with his ship. Durham, with its magnificent Cathedral, is only about an hour's ride by train from Newcastle and I improved the opportunity to visit the Cathedral City. The visit was most interesting and well worthwhile, and I regarded it as a day well spent.
After loading as much coal as we could stow in our bunkers, and with a deckload as well, for coal was cheap at Newcastle but not of superior quality, we left our anchorage below Newcastle and moved down the river to North Shields. A heavy gale had prevailed the day before and during the night, and it was decided not to go to sea until the advent of better weather. Therefore we moored head and stern to bollards or heavy clusters of piles just above the shore end of the north jetty, with a full view of the entrance between the jetties and the open sea beyond where a heavy sea from the north was running. During the forenoon we made out a steamer, a freighter, of perhaps 2000 tons, heading in for the entrance. She came on, making fairly good weather, but yawing about as if she was not under complete control. When she reached the entrance, or very near to it, something happened to her steering gear probably, and in spite of the efforts made by her crew to prevent it, she piled up on the cement blocks to windward of the south jetty. Here she was exposed to the heavy seas curling around the end of the north jetty, and it was evident she would soon go to pieces. The heavy seas were breaking over her high above her decks, and it looked as if the crew would be lost, for the seas swept the jetty as well. The lifeboat station at South Shields was almost opposite our ship, just across the narrow river, and we saw the launch of the lifeboat, fully manned, as it came shooting out of its shed down the ways to the water. In a very short time it reached the stranded steamer, found a sheltered spot under and inshore of her bows, and, in spite of the heaving of the sea, took off every man and brought them safely ashore. During the day very much damage was done to the steamer. Her upper works and bridge were carried away and the decks swept clear of everything. When the weather moderated, as it did by the next morning, we went to sea and, passing quite near
the unfortunate steamer, we could see that she had a heavy list as if her holds were full of water and the ship was practically a total loss.
With a fair wind and moderate sea we ran across the North Sea, steering to sight the southern point of Norway, or the Naze, which we made out after a two days' voyage. Steaming up the Skagerrak, we stood on for the entrance to Christiania Fjord. It was the morning of July 4, 1888, and the sky was clear with bright sunshine and balmy air. The Captain as a rule did not employ pilots if the charts showed proper landmarks and other aids to navigation, and as we had good charts of the Fjord to Christiania we entered boldly and enjoyed the fine scenery as it unfolded with the rising of the sun. It was plain sailing as far as the Island of Drobak, about twenty miles below Christiania. The track laid out in a dotted line on the chart led to the eastward of Drobak Island, but a shoal extended off the mainland opposite the island, but did not encroach upon the channel. The west side of the fjord between Drobak Island and the mainland was shown free of all dangers. Therefore the Captain decided to pass to the westward of Drobak Island and changed the course accordingly. We were steaming about ten knots, with absolutely smooth water, and everything seemed lovely. As we rounded the south end of Drobak Island, several fishermen in their boats excitedly waved their hats and shouted something we could not make out. "Ah," said the Captain, "it is the Fourth of July and they are giving us a cheer." I was on the bridge with the Captain and Navigator enjoying the scene, and when we were abreast Drobak we felt a sudden checking of speed, and with a grinding noise the ship ran up on some underwater obstruction and came to a dead stop. The engines were stopped as soon as possible, and the officers looked at each other in amazement. A glance over the side near the bridge showed that we were up on some underwater obstruction that showed about six feet under water as we could plainly make out. We soon discovered by the eddies that the obstruction extended from Drobak Island across to the mainland, where presently we discovered two beacons evidently marking the direction and position of the obstruction, whatever it was. Backing the engine at full speed, with bottled-up steam, failed to budge the ship, and preparations were at once made to carry out anchors astern. The ship did not leak, indicating that the underwater damage, if any, was not serious. In less than an hour a tug with Norwegian officials came alongside, and we learned all about the obstruction on which we were firmly lodged.
We were on the Drobak defense jetty built of rubble stone by the Norwegian Government from Drobak Island to the mainland to prevent the passage of vessels of war to the westward of the island,
compelling the east channel to be used, and where shore batteries commanded the channel. The jetty was about fifty feet wide on the bottom and about twenty feet wide on the top at ten feet from the surface. Our ship had just plowed a furrow across the top of the jetty, displacing the loose rubble stone. If it had been a solid rock or concrete construction, we would have been seriously damaged. A steamer called the Falcon, with two large pontoons equipped with capstans and tackles, soon arrived from the Norwegian Naval Station of Horten, only a few miles away, in charge of a Lieutenant, who offered assistance. The ship was afloat from near the bridge aft, and her fore body projected beyond the jetty. A bower anchor was planted well astern with a 13 in. hawser attached, and a stream anchor with a kedge backing it were also planted astern. The guns forward of the bridge were moved aft on the quarter-deck, and ammunition, except powder, as well as all other movable weights were moved aft to lighten the ship as much as possible. Stream chains were swept under the forward body and carried to the pontoons on either side. Late in the afternoon, with bottled steam, an attempt was made to get off, backing at full speed, heaving on the stern cables to the stern anchors, the tug pulling and the pontoons lifting, but to no avail. It seemed apparent that further lightening would be necessary, and towards nightfall we commenced to hoist out coal from the forward bunkers, the men working in watches, and discharging the coal into a lighter alongside. About midnight the big steam Ice Breaker arrived from Christiania, sent down by the municipality to assist in floating the ship. We continued to lighten the ship by taking out coal until about fifty tons had been transferred to the lighter. It was decided, after consulting with the Captain of the Ice Breaker, to get all ready for a combined pull at high water, or about two P.M., the 5th of July, the next day after we had landed on the jetty. The Ice Breaker got into position and sent on board the largest hemp hawser I had ever seen, an eighteen-inch hawser laid rope, and yet pliable to handle. When all was ready, the Ice Breaker weighed anchor and started steaming slowly. When the big hawser tautened, at a signal everything that would pull was started--anchor engine, main engine, tug, and pontoons, with the lower rigging manned and the men shaking the shrouds to loosen up. When the Ice Breaker got fairly at work and everything else was working, the ship gave a shudder and slid off into deep water, the crew cheering. The upper deck was a scene of wreck, with guns and stores scattered about and the running rigging adrift. The yards were squared temporarily, and work began to clear up the decks and restore the ship to normal condition. It was far into the night before it was half finished.
The next morning work was resumed, the coal restowed on board, guns and anchors in place as usual, so by about 4:00 P.M. of July 6th the ship weighed anchor and steamed to Christiania Harbor. The work of lightening the ship and of getting things to rights after we were clear of the jetty was greatly facilitated by the long hours of daylight. At that time of the year and in that latitude the sun set about 10:00 P.M. and rose at 2:00 A.M., while during the intervening four hours the bright twilight permitted the reading of a newspaper. It kept me very busy for a few days after arrival at Christiania improving the appearance of the ship after her hard experience. The crew was given liberty and enjoyed the privilege. I had one afternoon ashore and purchased some Norwegian porcelain. I also paid a visit to the Viking ship which had been uncovered a few years before in a burial mound of one of the Vikings. The ship was in a good state of preservation--what remained of it. The hull was nearly intact, with thwarts and planking nearly all in place. Even the round, wooden shields which lined the rail on each side were well preserved. The wood was blackened with age, having the appearance of charred wood. A replica of this Viking ship was built and crossed the Atlantic, as the Vikings are supposed to have done, long before Columbus made his first voyage of discovery.
At Christiania, with practically no night darkness, the crew kept late hours. Long after taps at 9: 30 P.M. the men were up, lounging about the decks, smoking, and listening to the serenades from boat parties which rowed about the ship at all hours before sunrise. We sailed from Christiania, and set our course for Denmark, and when a short distance from the island on which Copenhagen is situated we spent one afternoon at target practice. We arrived off Copenhagen shortly after daylight and went at once to the inner harbor, past the ancient fort, the "Dri Kroner" or Three Crowns, without first asking permission to enter the inner harbor as all men-of-war are supposed to do, but no notice was taken of this dereliction of port etiquette by the Danish authorities. What they thought about it we never knew.
The city of Copenhagen is of very great interest to foreign visitors. The Public Gardens are exceptionally fine, and Thorvaldsen's works are on view at the National Museum. The streets and shops are interesting, but I did not find anything particularly novel to purchase in the matter of souvenirs. After a few days' stay the ship sailed for Cronstadt, the fortress-defended city at the mouth of the Neva River on which St. Petersburg is situated. The voyage was uneventful until we reached the head of the Gulf of Finland, where a Russian despatch boat with a pilot and a naval officer for our ship met us and tendered the information that we were expected, and would be given a berth
at the head of the Cruiser Division of the Russian Navy, in readiness to take part in the reception of the Emperor of Germany who was expected at Cronstadt the next day with a fleet of German battleships, to pay a visit to the Emperor Alexander II of Russia. This was news to us, but our Commanding Officer may have had some information of the event and had timed our visit accordingly. At any rate, the next few days promised to be full of interest, and so they proved to be.
Approaching Cronstadt we found a large fleet of Russian ironclads moored in line, ready to receive the German Emperor William and his fleet. We fired the usual salutes to the Russian flag, the flag of the Senior Naval Commander, and the ship was piloted to a mooring buoy in the inner harbor of Cronstadt, off the Navy Yard and above the city, inside of the great forts built long ago for the defense of the fortress. There were about twenty-five modern vessels in the cruiser squadron, and we felt that our old wooden corvette with ancient artillery was somewhat superfluous in such a naval display. However, we got the ship in order, hoisted our largest American Flag at the peak, and prepared to man yards and carry out the program as laid down for the Russian ships, a copy of which in English was furnished us. Vice Admiral Schwartz, commanding at Cronstadt, sent a naval aide to pay a welcoming call, which our Commander returned. The next forenoon the booming of guns by the Russian armored fleet, answered by the Germans, announced the arrival in the outer harbor of the Emperor of Germany. The Russian royal yacht, North Star, with the Russian Emperor on board, passed along our line, receiving royal honors, on the way to meet and receive the German Emperor on board. More salvoes of artillery followed, and after an hour or two the royal yacht was seen returning with the royal standards of both Emperors flying. This was the signal for manning yards and dressing ship with flags, and more booming of artillery. The guns of the forts joined in the noisy official welcome. With yards manned, officers in special full dress, and the men in white, we waited the passing of the royal yacht. In passing the Cruiser Division she came quite close to the Enterprise, and both Emperors were plainly seen on the yacht's bridge. They both stepped to the side of the bridge nearest our ship and formally answered the salute by our Marine Guard paraded on the poop, and the four rolls of the drums and bugle salute. Both Emperors wore naval uniforms of Admirals. Alexander wore a German uniform and William a Russian uniform. The yacht proceeded to a wharf off Peterhof, the summer palace of the Russian czars, where the German Emperor was to be entertained during his visit. Peterhof was in plain sight of our anchorage, but the palace was hidden in the forest of trees surrounding it.
The occasion for the German Emperor's visit was not disclosed, of course, but there was no secret that some questions of state were to be discussed, and that the feeling between Russia and Germany at that time was not very cordial, in reality, while appearing to he so on the surface. The flags on the ships were kept flying until sundown. The following day thousands of visitors came down from St. Petersburg in all sorts of floating conveyances--steamers, yachts, sailboats and excursion boats--loaded to the guards to view the assembled fleets. We were surprised by a large steamer appearing close aboard carrying a large and handsomely-uniformed body of officers. They hailed the ship in English and asked to be allowed to visit our ship. We sent boats at once and brought on board nearly the whole officer roll of the Second Cuirassier Guards, a crack cavalry regiment--the Empress' regiment--the officers of which were rated as coming from Russia's noblest families. The Colonel's name I have unfortunately forgotten, but I remember the Lieutenant Colonel, Stepanhoff. All the Russians evinced the liveliest curiosity concerning our ship. They visited every part of her. We did our best to entertain them, after assembling as many as could crowd into our wardroom. We brought out cigars, cigarettes and champagne. They preferred their own cigarettes, I think. They stayed on and talked and talked, asking innumerable questions in regard to our country, for which they expressed great admiration. We finally broke out of our wine locker several cases of the much-despised, sweet Oporta wine we had laid in at Oporto. The Russians took to it like a kitten to new milk, and we got rid of nearly all of the stuff before the Russian officers took their leave. They cheered and cheered as the steamer moved away, and shouted repeatedly, "Come down to Krasnoe Selo and return our visit." We did, and later I will tell about that visit. We dated time from that event for long thereafter.
About six o'clock that evening a steamer from the Navy Yard came alongside with three Russian naval officers on board and announced that they had come to take our officers to Peterhof to witness the great display of fireworks which would take place about nine P.M. after their majesties had dined. It never gets entirely dark at that time of the year in that latitude. Nearly all our officers were absent on one junketing party or another, most of them at the Officers' Club in Cronstadt. We had to send somebody or cause offense, so finally I buckled on my sword, grabbed one of the midshipmen, and joined the Russians on their steamer, supposing that they would bring us back to the ship after the fireworks were over, but the result was otherwise. We were conducted to the Palace, given a good place to stand, from which the hulks in the offing from which the display was
to be fired were in good view, and our escorts quietly vanished. My companion and I supposed they had absented themselves for a moment only, but we never saw them again, either at Peterhof or any other place during our stay in Russia. However, we were soon interested in the scene before us. In front of the Palace, reaching to the water's edge was a beautiful garden with fountains playing, and the space about the Palace seemed packed with troops and brilliant groups of officers in dress uniforms. The Palace itself, what we saw on the outside of it, seemed not to be an elaborate affair--in fact, a very plain but extensive building. About eleven o'clock or thereabouts the fireworks began, and the display was really fine. They lasted more than an hour, and it was after midnight before they concluded. The crowd began to disperse, troops marching away, and no one appeared to direct us where to go. Finally, we followed the crowd out of the Palace grounds, hoping to bump into a hotel where we could put up for the night, and we found ourselves at last at the railway station. Trains were loading up for St. Petersburg, and while standing on the railway platform a gentleman accosted us, saying, "I am the United States Consul at Cronstadt." We almost fell on his neck for joy. A few words explained our dilemma, and he at once said, "I am returning to Cronstadt by way of Oranienbaum, where I expect to find a steam launch to cross to Cronstadt," and we begged to be allowed to share his fortunes. He was glad to help us out, and we patiently waited for a train from St. Petersburg to Oranienbaum, which is almost opposite Cronstadt. While waiting for the train, we made the chance acquaintance of Mr. Carter Harrison and his wife, who were going in the other direction. Finally a train came along, and keeping close to the Consul we got on board. The Consul was a German, a businessman in Cronstadt, and a gentleman. But for him, I really do not know where we would have landed finally. The train was a slow one, but we reached our destination at last, and hurried down to the waterfront, where the Consul routed out a man who owned a rickety steam launch tied up at the landing. When steam was up, we embarked and thanked our stars we were finally afloat and bound for our ship. The sun was high in the heavens when we reached the Enterprise a little before breakfast time, having been up all night, with nothing to eat or drink. We thanked our Consul for his kindness, and made for the mess table. We had seen much, but the expense in discomfort was great.
Admiral Schwartz paid a visit to the ship, coming alongside unexpectedly without his flag flying in a steam launch. The Captain was not on board, but I did the honors as best I could. The next day I called socially on the Admiral's family at his residence, and had a
cup of tea made fresh in Russian style with hot water from a samovar kept in readiness. The Admiral's wife was an English lady and a most gracious hostess.
An official dinner was given by Admiral Schwartz to Vice Admiral Knorr and the officers of the German Fleet. Our Captain, myself and two other officers of the Enterprise were also invited to be present. The dinner was typically Russian and very appetizing. Before sitting down to dinner, all partook of the yakouska or a spread of many kinds of appetizers, hors d'oeuvre, caviar, salted fish, sardines, and many dainty dishes I never had seen or heard of before, as well as vodka, of which each guest was expected to take at least a thimbleful. The dinner was enjoyable from a gastronomic viewpoint, with the usual wines with every course. A young Russian naval lieutenant had been detailed to sit next to me and act as interpreter and dinner guide. He recommended so many dishes with accompanying wines that I could not do more than just taste of the majority placed before us, but I liked the taste. After the dessert came the formal speeches and toasts. The first toast was to the German Emperor and, to our surprise, Admiral Schwartz gave it in English. Admiral Knorr responded also in English, apologizing for his lack of command of a language strange to him. He spoke very clearly and expressed himself well. The burden of his remarks was on the necessity of friendship between Germany and Russia. "We must be friends," he said, and concluding his remarks he toasted the Emperor of Russia, which was drunk standing with no "heel taps".
Finally came the day when Emperor William, having concluded his visit, embarked for his return to Germany. The North Star took him out to his fleet, and Emperor Alexander accompanied him. The same ceremony of salutes and dressing ship, with yards manned, was carried out, as featured his arrival. With the departure of the German fleet, the Russian squadrons scattered to their various stations along the Gulf of Finland, and the harbor was almost deserted.
Our ship went into drydock to have repairs made to such injuries as might be revealed, due to our drive at the Drobak defense jetty, before mentioned. It took two full days of twenty-four hours each to pump the water from the dock when we were once in it, due to an antiquated pump of little power as the only one available. The dock was not a large one, either. When the dock was pumped dry, we found that, aside from stripping of the copper from the outside planking, and the "brooming" of several planks near the keel forward, the ship had sustained no injury, but it took a good many days to do the work needed to restore the damage, owing to the small force of ship
carpenters put to work and the lazy manner of their working. We could not hurry matters and just had to be patient under the circumstances.
While we were in drydock, an interesting religious ceremony took place on the waterfront of Cronstadt, and was participated in by civil and military as well as naval officials. It was the annual blessing of the waters of the River Neva by the Patriarch of the Greek Church at Cronstadt. Troops paraded and a great crowd assembled at the appointed place, where a canopy had been erected. The ceremony occupied only a short time.
USS Enterprise landing party with 3-inch field gun, circa 1887-1890.
Admiral Schwartz very kindly offered to our Commander permission to use the shore rifle range outside the city limits for small arm target practice at shore ranges, an opportunity which does not often happen on foreign stations, and we sent our men organized as companies for this practice. We were obliged, however, to discontinue the use of the target ranges, owing to the ease with which the men were able to get vodka. The last company sent out for practice firing had the following experience. The squads distributed before the targets had hardly commenced practice when Russian moujiks appeared with milk cans and asked permission to sell milk. The Lieutenant in charge foolishly did not suspect anything, made no inspection of the milk cans, and readily gave permission. The men bought milk very freely. In less time than would seem possible, nearly every man in the company was gloriously drunk, and some were helplessly drunk. The milk was almost pure vodka discolored by a little milk. No further attempt was made at target practice, but the Lieutenant did try to march his drunken crowd back to the ship. The men straggled, and those on their feet staggered along in a disorganized mob. Cartridge
belts, canteens and other equipment were scattered along the way, and some dead drunken sailors reached the ship in droskies. It was days before the greater part of the equipment was picked up, and that was only made possible with the aid of the police. After that experience we gave up land target practice at Cronstadt.
The men behaved very badly while we were in dock, leaving the ship without permission at night and staying away until rounded up by the Russian police. Liquor was cheap and very plentiful, and the men were not of the character of those who compose the enlisted force of today.
The repairs were at last completed and we were floated out of the drydock. As soon as steam could be raised in the boilers, we steamed through the dredged channel from Cronstadt for St. Petersburg and entered the Neva River, proceeding until we reached the quay just below the Alexander Bridge, where we tied up to bollards on the quay. The waters of the Neva are practically fresh off the city and remain so until past Cronstadt. The water is nearly black in color, and in winter very thick ice forms, closing navigation, but communication is kept up by sleighs over the ice. From where we were moored the waterfront and city presented a fine appearance, with the domes of the many churches rising above the mass of buildings. Conspicuous in the view on the south side of the river was the great dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral, while on the north side the fortress of St. Peter and Paul was prominent with the very high and slender gilt spire of the church within the fortress visible as a prominent landmark. There were only two bridges over the Neva to the north side--the Alexander Bridge of stone, and a bridge of boats about half a mile further up the river. In winter before the river freezes over the bridge of boats is dismantled, and when the ice is thick enough sleighs cross on the ice, and temporary track is laid for streetcar traffic.
On arrival we were all furnished passports by the American Embassy and were cautioned never to be without them when ashore. We usually went ashore in uniform, but in citizen's clothes were never questioned. We all received passes for the Winter Palace and other public buildings, and everyone made good use of spare time to see as much of interest as possible. The street signs were puzzling, as they were lettered in Greek letters, but the long, wide street--the Nevsky Prospect--stretching from St. Isaac's to the other end of the city we soon became familiar with, and if we happened to be in any other part of the city and hired a drosky we just said "Nevsky". The driver made for that street, which we recognized as soon as we reached it. From there we soon learned to make our way to the river-front landing.
Nobody on shore of social standing, and a goodly share of the rest, do not arise in the summer season before noon and sometimes later. The day's pleasures commence in the evening and continue all night long, as there is no darkness requiring lights except a period about midnight. There are many gardens where bands play and out-of-door theatres flourish. One of the most popular at the time of our visit was the Zoological Garden. The stock of animals was very limited-about a dozen little Russian bears, who would stand on their hind legs and beg for bread through the bars of their cages while they were fed by other Russian bears who had imbibed freely during the evening and could scarcely stand on their hind legs, many of them. There was a great stage with a very large orchestra, while the seats were all out in the open. Admission was charged to the Garden--a nominal sum--and the theatre was free for all, but in the numerous caf&eactue;s lining the enclosure drinks were not free by any means. The principal entertainment given at the theatre was a splendid ballet, of which the Russian audience seemed particularly appreciative for they applauded uproariously. I went twice to the Zoological Gardens as guest of Russian naval officers.
We had hosts of visitors, and almost every day some of our old friends of the Second Cuirassier Regiment who came to the city from the great summer camp at Krasnoe Selo would appear on the quay opposite the ship, signal for a boat, and come on board to ask when we were going to the summer camp to return their visit. Finally the Colonel of the Regiment telegraphed our Commander asking him to set a day. It was evident the visit could not be longer postponed, so a day was set, the Colonel was informed, and a party was made up for the visit. Besides the Commander and myself, the party included two lieutenants, the surgeon and the paymaster. We were all in dress uniforms, epaulettes, cocked hats, swords and all that goes with that dress, but we did not take overcoats or capes as it was warm. We little knew how cold a Russian night can become, even after a hot day, and we wished many times for outer warm clothing. Taking a train at the station on which a special first-class carriage had been placed at our disposal, we reached Krasnoe Selo about three o'clock in the afternoon. Alighting from the train, we found a delegation of officers in waiting, each with a three-horse troika and a wild looking moujik on the box. The Commander was paired off with the Colonel, I was taken in charge by Stepanhoff, the Lieutenant Colonel, and the rest of our party was similarly paired off. When we were aboard, away went the troikas in a glad procession at full gallop. Now be it known that a troika is an open Victoria with just one seat at the back, the driver's box being much elevated in front. There are
three horses--one between the shafts of the vehicle, and a horse on each side of the middle one. The horse in the middle trots or gallops as he feels inclined or is urged by the whip or shouts of the jehu on the box, while the outside horses always gallop, with their heads pulled down and outside by check reins. There is no protection in the vehicle at the sides from the dirt or mud thrown to the rear by the hoofs of the galloping horses, and, road conditions favoring, they throw plenty of mud and dirt, which accumulates plentifully on the persons of the occupants of the back seat. With much clatter and shouts from the drivers, the cavalcade in a few minutes reached the barracks of the regiment--just plain wooden structures, unpainted and looking weatherworn. We halted in front of a large structure they called the mess and found a large body of officers waiting to receive us, which they did joyously. After introductions all around, and partaking of the bounteous [yakouska] which we patronized sparingly, being wary and mindful of the ordeal ahead of us, we were escorted to the Officers' Mess Hall. Nearly a hundred officers of all grades were at table, the Colonel presiding. A very fine dinner of many courses with wines of rare flavor followed and lasted for nearly two hours. Coffee, cigars and cigarettes, with cordials and pousse-café were next placed before us, and it must have been around seven in the evening when we arose from the table. All through the dinner we had been addressed in English, and the officers of the regiment did their best to make us feel they were glad to have us with them.
We were next asked if we would like to see some of the fine horses owned by officers of the regiment, and we all adjourned to an open space at the rear of the Mess Hall where a long string of splendid animals had gathered by direction while we were at dinner. The horses were slowly led by and commented upon. They were certainly worth seeing, but while the horse show was going on I noticed a party of thirty or forty of the stalwart guardsmen quietly closing around the Lieutenant Colonel and myself. Presently the soldiers began to sing, and then some danced grotesque dances which amused me very much and I applauded heartily. While I was applauding, the troopers suddenly and without warning rushed toward me, grabbed me in many pairs of hands and tossed me high in the air above their heads. When I came down, they caught me gently on their hands and hove me up again, shouting huzzas or something similar. I was soon out of breath with this unwonted exercise, so the troopers placed me on my feet, stood back a pace or two, and everyone came to a hand salute. Col. Stepanhoff said, "My dear sir, you have just received from this regiment an honor rarely given and one which princes of the blood royal would be glad to receive but do not get as
a rule." Gasping for breath, I said: "I--can--scarcely--find--words--to express my appreciation--of the honor--but I am only--the second in rank, and my superior officer has not been so honored," Stepanhoff said, "Where is your senior?" I pointed to the Commander whose back was turned to us as he stood talking to the Colonel, and said, "There he is." Stepanhoff spoke a word or two to the noncommissioned officers with the men, and the troopers made a rush for the Commander, much to his astonishment, and tossed him up in the air as they had honored me. His cocked hat fell off, as did his eyeglasses, and his uniform was generally awry when they stood him on his feet and saluted. "Has this honor a name?" I asked the Lieutenant Colonel. "No," he said, "what would you name it?" I said, "I think it might be appropriately called 'The Oriental Grand Bounce'." At any rate the Commander and I were duly initiated. Why the rest of our party escaped like initiation I never learned, but they did.
It was commencing to rain a light drizzle when the parade of horses was over, and though it was after 8 P.M. it was still broad daylight, and our hosts suggested a drive about the great camp, where some 70,000 troops, the flower of the Russian Army, were under canvas and in wooden barracks for the summer. The troikas were brought around, and the drive began through the camp which extended for miles. The guards turned out to salute the cavalcade as it passed at a gallop, and the horses' hoofs threw a light shower of mud which bespattered our dress uniforms and the cloaks of our escorts. We had no cloaks or overcoats, but wished we did have them for the night was getting cold. The drive lasted about an hour, and we were finally landed at the entrance of a great barn of a theatre, built of wood, where opera and ballet performances were given every evening for the entertainment of the officers of the many regiments assembled in camp. The theatre was crowded with officers, no ladies being present, of course. We were brushed off and introduced to the box reserved for our host's regiment. An opera was being presented, but just what it was I do not remember. Anyway we sat out one act only and then were taken to a larger restaurant where an elaborate supper was served--many dishes and many wines. We ate and drank sparingly, keeping our heads clear, but it was long past midnight when the feast was over. We were all in good shape, and our Commander expressed the very great pleasure we had all experienced, and added we thought it time to be saying our adieux. The troikas with our hosts took us to the railway station where our special train was standing on a siding, and after thanking our hosts for the royal entertainment and saying "au revoir", we climbed into the comfortable railway
carriage and settled down for the return journey to St. Petersburg, congratulating ourselves that we had gone through the strenuous entertainment in good shape. We waited and waited for the train to start, but the station master did not give any signal to start. We could not understand why we did not start. Finally, after a long wait, the Colonel put his head into the car window of our compartment and said to our Commander: "I beg your pardon, Captain, for troubling you after you are in your train, but the Grand Duke, brother of the Emperor, is at a bivouac of troops who will begin maneuvers at sunrise, and he has expressed a desire that the American officers pay him a visit at the bivouac before he starts on the maneuvers." We were astounded, but could not refuse a request of that origin, so we climbed out of our comfortable, warm compartment and boarded the blessed troikas again for a drive of twelve versts, or about seven miles, to the bivouac, in the cold air of the early morning. When we arrived we found that the Grand Duke and the troops had broken camp and had already begun the march to the scene of their exercises. It was all a "put-up job." We found already on the spot the band, a company of singers, and an army wagon packed with tables, hampers of provisions and liquors and all the paraphernalia for a feast. It is doubtful if the Grand Duke knew that we were in the country. However, we resigned ourselves to whatever was to come, which was a plenty. The long tables were soon set up, and many servants soon had them laid. We all sat down and the feast began. There was food and drink--mostly drink--and when we had all had rather more than enough, our hosts produced a great kettle of a silver punch bowl and announced that we would wind up with a "jouka punch". We watched its brewing with much curiosity, not to say apprehension. Three daggers were placed on the rim of the punch bowl forming a triangle, on which was placed a large lump of loaf sugar. Brandy was poured over the sugar, which was then lighted. As the alcohol burned with a sickly blue flame, drops of melted sugar fell into the bowl. Then were added wines of all sorts, together with slices of oranges, lemons and some strawberries. The bowl was full when the punch was completed. It had a dark brown color and looked deadly. It was. A level tumbler full was served to each officer, and the Colonel proposed a toast to the health of the Czar. The drink consumed, dancing commenced on the greensward, the band being led personally by the Colonel. The dancing was more grotesque than enjoyable, hampered as all were by their swords which furnished obstacles over which the dancers repeatedly and undignifiedly tripped. The sun was well up when we begged to be let off, and in spite of our hosts' anxiety to mix another "jouka punch" we finally persuaded our hosts to call
the entertainment at an end. Wearily we climbed aboard the troikas, numb with cold, for we had been out all night and looked it. It was more than an hour's drive back to camp at a gallop, and we landed at the Colonel's quarters. There we drank many cups of strong, hot tea, which speeded our recuperation, and about noon we finally were driven to the railway station and put aboard our train, which this time departed promptly. We reached our ship about three o'clock in the afternoon, and most of us went to bed and slept long and soundly. It was a wonderful and unique experience, typical of the style of entertaining usual and thought proper at that time, but no one of our party who was thus entertained will, I think, ever forget it, or care to go through another one.
The stay at St. Petersburg was made more eventful for me by a visit to the Russian gun factory on the southwest outskirts of the city at (Petrolkof?), where all the processes from the pouring of the steel to form the ingots which were subjected to hydraulic compression, to their forging, finishing and assembling in the built-up gun were shown, and a finished gun was fired for proof. The visit was arranged for and I was accompanied by Lieut. B. H. Buckingham, our Naval Attache at St. Petersburg. It was a visit of great value to me personally, but I did not make a report to the Navy Department as that would have infringed on the prerogative of Buckingham.
I purchased a samovar made at Tula, south of Moscow, and other articles of brass of fine workmanship. I regret now that I did not take advantage of the opportunity to buy furs and rugs. Shopping was very difficult owing to the language, and lack of being posted as to values, but I collected some examples of Russian porcelain.
A longer stay could have been enjoyed, but our schedule was a long one, and with some regret we sailed for the lovely capital of Sweden, Stockholm, a port very rarely visited by men-of-war owing to the intricate navigation required through the maze of islands behind which the harbor of Stockholm is situated. A capable pilot took us in and anchored the ship in a quiet basin from which the fine city was in view, with imposing public buildings and fine gardens bordering the waterfront. Invitations to many entertainments were forthcoming soon after our arrival, but only a few could be accepted on account of lack of time. The week at Stockholm passed all too quickly, and our next port was Danzig, where the anchorage near the city is exposed to the wind and sea from the Baltic, rendering boating very difficult. Often with a north wind we were hours without communication with the shore. One Sunday afternoon the officers were given a luncheon by the officers of a German regiment who were
very hospitable and friendly. One of the officers, a Captain, had married a lady from Buffalo, New York. He spoke perfect English and, during the visit of the ship, did much to add to the entertainment of our people.
Proceeding down the Baltic from Danzig, our destination was not announced by the Commander, and we were surprised, but agreeably so, when we brought up at Swinemunde at the mouth of the Oder River, on which the thriving city of Stettin is situated, with extensive shipbuilding works. I do not remember a time, if ever before, an American man-of-war visited Stettin. The mouth of the Oder and vicinity is a favorite seaside resort for Berliners and others for the benefit of sea bathing and the cool air of the Baltic in the hot summer months. With the aid of a pilot the ship proceeded up the Oder River to the point where it bends sharply to the eastward, where a deep water, sea level canal had been constructed through a stretch of several miles straight south, joining the river again below Stettin, a saving of about twenty miles in distance and avoiding shoal river navigation. We moored opposite the city, amid other shipping, to bollards or clusters of piles bound together with iron bands, tying up with our own hawsers. Opposite the ship was a good landing, and a small square, out of which broad streets lead to the business districts of the city. Our Consul at Stettin was very glad to see us and talk with his own countrymen.
Stettin is not far from Berlin by rail, and all who could be spared from duty were given leave to visit the German capital. Chief Engineer Entwistle and I made the trip together. We stopped at the Kaiserhof, visited the palaces, museums and principal gardens, lunched at the prominent cafés, promenaded "Unter den Linden", went to the music halls and listened to fine bands in the evening, and altogether spent three very profitable and delightful days in Berlin.
Our men were very restless at Stettin, many of them leaving the ship without permission, although leave was given to all the crew entitled to it. We were not far from the landing opposite, but one of our men, a fireman, was drowned trying to swim ashore. His funeral, held a day after the recovery of his body, attracted much attention. The German Military Commander sent a platoon of soldiers to march with our men in the funeral cortege.
We did not touch at any other German port on our way out of the Baltic, but anchored one day off Elsinore in full view of the castle where Hamlet is supposed to have made his home in the celebrated play by Shakespeare. I went ashore for an hour or two and bought
some samples of Danish porcelain as souvenirs of Denmark but not of Hamlet.
The next voyage was across the North Sea to Leith, the seaport of Edinburgh, Scotland, with which it is connected by tramway lines and a fine paved road. There are very extensive docks at Leith with tidal locks. The rise and fall of the tide is twenty to twenty-five feet, and ships can only enter or leave the tidal basins at high water when the locks are open. We had to coal ship at Leith, and to go into the tidal basin to do so, I took the ship in without a pilot and tied up at the coal dock, where our coal was dumped on our spar deck a carload at a time by means of an hydraulic lift. While we remained at the dock, all who could visited Edinburgh and its historical points of interest. I made a trip to Glasgow to visit an exhibition of Scotch Industries and found it interesting. We made several interesting side trips in the neighborhood of Edinburgh and Leith.
After we came out of the tidal basin, we anchored overnight in the roadstead until we were joined by Mr. B. F. Stevens, our Despatch Agent in London, who wanted to make a sea trip to Amsterdam, our next port in our itinerary. The North Sea was rough when we got outside, but the wind was favorable and we ran before it, making good time and arriving off Ijmudrn or the mouth of the "Nord See Canal" leading to Amsterdam about midnight of the night following our departure from Leith. The night was clear and harbor lights were visible, and the Commander decided to run in behind the breakwaters, although the harbor was full of shipping, rather than roll about outside until daylight. We ran in and managed to stop and drop an anchor without colliding with other vessels, but there was not much to spare. The harbor inside the breakwaters at Ijmudrn where vessels wait to enter the North Sea Canal for Amsterdam is not very large, and as a gale was blowing outside, the small anchorage was packed with vessels large and small. There is a tidal lock at the entrance to the canal, but vessels are taken in at almost any stage of the tide by being lifted up to the canal level. Early the next morning our ship with a pilot on board was signaled to enter the canal. We got underway, steamed to the lock and were raised to the canal level in a few minutes and sent on our way. It was a curious experience, for in many places the canal protected by dikes was above the level of the country through which we were passing. Large herds of dairy cattle were seen in the fields, and we passed through two or more railway bridges which were swung to allow the passage of ships. The canal is wide enough to permit steamers of large size to pass, and there is no delay.
Arriving at the Zuyder Zee at Amsterdam, we were moored in a large basin near the terminal docks of the Dutch Transatlantic Steamship Co. operating liners to New York. The principal thing in my memory of Amsterdam aside from the historical points of interest is that of the mosquito pest. Our ship was not screened so far as doors and air ports were concerned, and we suffered intensely. The men also had no protection and had scarcely any sleep. I purchased a couple of Delft plaques and cups and saucers as souvenirs. We were not sorry to be on our way from Amsterdam, a stay of five days being quite long enough.
Steaming down the North Sea toward the Straits of Dover, we passed close to the Goodwin Sands, the scene of many wrecks in the days of sailing ships, and the scene of many heroic rescues of shipwrecked seamen by the lifeboats' crews of the Ramsgate and Margate Stations. The story of many of these incidents is given in a book called "Storm Warriors", written by an English clergyman whose name I have unfortunately not remembered. We kept over to the French side of the Straits of Dover and we speculated on our probable destination somewhere on the French Coast, and some guessed Cherbourg, but we were surprised when we ran into the outer harbor of Havre and signaled for a pilot who came on board at once. We did not anchor but kept on up toward the head of the Bay and entered the mouth of the River Seine. The tide was just beginning to flood, and we made excellent time favored by the tide, passing through most interesting and picturesque country, the Province of Normandy. The river had many bends and turns, but all shallow places had been dredged out and the river banks revetted with stone as a protection against washing away by the tidal bore which comes in twice a day with a roar like the surf on the beach, and a wave crest
Sunday morning inspection aboard USS Enterprise, circa 1887-1890.
several feet high. The bore passed us while we were in one of the long reaches, but bothered us not at all for we were going with it, and it broke along the sides of the ship without wetting our decks.
Our arrival at Rouen, the end of navigation for seagoing vessels, created quite an excitement, for no American man-of-war had ever been at Rouen before in the history of the city. We were assigned a prominent berth along the quay at the foot of one of the principal streets, with the largest and finest cafés of the city just abreast of us across the quay promenade. The usual calls between our Commander and the officials, civil and military, were exchanged, and we were made to feel that the city regarded our visit as an event. The mayor of the city sent on board a barrel of red wine for the crew, and the local Opera House gave a special performance, with free tickets for the men and a special box for the officers who attended in full dress. A street fair on one of the outer boulevards, with numerous shows, was a favorite attraction for evening entertainment and afforded much amusement. It was customary after dinner to adjourn to one of the large cafés across the quay for coffee and a smoke. Leave was granted to officers who wished to visit Paris, a privilege I took advantage of for a three-day visit, as the railway trip was not a long one and there were many daily trains. The Bon Marché and Grand Magazins de Louvre I found to be good places to shop. Although I had visited the picture galleries, The Invalides and other places of historic interest on a previous visit, I nevertheless renewed my recollections by visiting many of them again. The boulevard life in Paris is always entertaining, and the visitor will never lack for enjoyment by just strolling about the noted streets and observing the people and shops. We were reluctant to leave Rouen as our stay had been very pleasant.
On the way down the Seine we met the bore coming up in one of the long reaches. The oncoming wave, with its crest breaking here and there, looked formidable and dangerous, but meeting it bows on as we did, after slowing down, very little water washed aboard through the open gun ports. The river rose instantly to a level of several feet above what it had been before the passing of the bore. Passing out of the Seine to sea we made no stop at Havre, except to land the river pilot. We had good weather rounding Cape Ushant, which is generally a stormy place, and shaped our course for the mouth of the Gironde River, as Bordeaux was the next port on our schedule. We took a pilot at the mouth of the river, and with a favorable tide went on to the reach just in front of the city, where we were assigned a berth off the large public square. All shipping moor in long lines in the river off the city, tied up head and stern to
permanent bollards or clusters of piles. We remained a week at Bordeaux, during which time officers and men enjoyed the usual sights of a large French city, and we entertained thousands of visitors for the ship was not over a hundred feet from the quay wall, and the curiosity of the people seemed very great.
Leaving Bordeaux, we stopped several days at Pauillac, several miles below Bordeaux, where vessels sometimes anchor to wait for a favorable stage of tide before going up off the city. Our Vice Consul at Pauillac was a M. Averous, a most hospitable and kindly French gentleman, the owner with his brother of two famous vineyards near the Gironde, and one in the Champagne District. At a dinner given to the officers, we were treated to a taste of some famous vintages of red wines. We embraced the opportunity to stock our wine mess with good clarets, and some laid in private stocks to take home.
The next port was Lisbon, but for a short stay only as the Commander was anxious to get back into the Mediterranean where the climate was warmer than in Northern or Atlantic ports. A three-day trip brought us back to Gibraltar, a place to coal and fill up with stores. Our stay there was broken by a short visit to Tangier, which is always of great interest. The city and people seem never to have changed materially in very many years, and probably represent Moorish life better than any other accessible North African city. The weather was stormy, and finally we were obliged to weigh anchor and run over to Gibraltar to escape the northwest gale and heavy seas that rolled into the open harbor. A few days later we proceeded down the Moroccan coast past Ceuta, keeping near to the land until we came opposite a bold, black headland marked Negro Head on the charts, which well described it. The coast runs nearly north and south, and we anchored close to a fine sandy beach about 18 miles south of Ceuta. The object of seeking this out-of-the-way place was to carry out target practice with the heavy guns as well as with small arms. There were no settlements anywhere along the coast until Tetuan was reached, and no habitations anywhere. As long as the wind was from any point of the compass which had no eastings, the anchorage was smooth and landing on the beach a simple matter, but with the wind from the eastward, on shore, a heavy surf was soon created which made landing in our boats impracticable, as we found out later in our cruise but not at this particular time. We carried out target practice soon after arrival with the main battery guns, and that completed, all the crew and the Marine Guard were landed in detachments for target practice with small arms. It was an ideal location for the purpose. There were no officials about from whom to obtain
permission to land armed men and to hold target practice. The only person met with during a stay of several days was a wandering tribesman clad in ragged garments, who carried an old-fashioned Moorish musket. One of the officers purchased the gun. It was entered in the ship's log that permission to land men and hold target practice was obtained from a local "sheik". The sheik spoke no English, and no one on our side spoke Arabic. The stay off Negro Head was profitable from a professional viewpoint.
We returned to Gibraltar for a day or two and then went up the Spanish Coast to Malaga, from which point Granada is easy of access by rail. Some made that journey, but I was too busy with ship duties to take the time. We gave two very pleasant afternoon dances on board the ship at Malaga, employing a small string band from shore, and trusting the invitations to our Consul. These two entertainments were quite informal but greatly enjoyed by the guests as well as by ourselves.
We stayed a week at Malaga, which has no special attractions, and then sailed for Ville Franche where we expected to find the Lancaster, the Flagship, which had not been out of that harbor since we left her there--a period of over nine months. Her boilers were in bad shape. We hauled in behind the breakwater of the little harbor the day after we arrived and reported to the Flagship, and settled down for what we hoped would be quite a long period of rest from cruising from port to port as we had been doing. It had been a most interesting cruise thus far, but we were glad of a prospect of some weeks in a quiet berth near the famous winter resorts along the Riviera. We had not been many days in our quiet enjoyment when the Commander was summoned to the Flagship, and on his return he informed the officers that we were to get ready for sea immediately, and that, as soon as ready, the ship was to make a long voyage to the East Coast of Africa and Madagascar on a peculiar and strange mission. It seems that in 1887 a schooner called the Starlight, of American register, had sailed from Boston with the ultimate destination a point on the northwest coast of Madagascar, and was manned by a company of men who were to work a gold-mining concession. The schooner was heard from once after rounding the Cape of Good Hope at a port in Natal. Durban was the port, but since touching at Durban no word had been received from her or from any of her ship's company. Parties interested in the schooner or in the fate of some of the people on board had petitioned the Navy Department to have a search made to ascertain her fate and what had become of her ship's company.
Therefore, in February 1889, about eighteen months after the schooner sailed from Boston, the Navy Department ordered the Admiral commanding on the European Station to despatch the Enterprise on a voyage of search for the Starlight, or to ascertain what had become of her.
The ship was ready to sail in a couple of days, and it was with some regret that we weighed anchor and started on the long voyage. It was discovered the first day out, and when we were between Corsica and Italy, that our entire store of hardtack was infested with weevils. It was surveyed, condemned and thrown overboard. This necessitated a call at Naples to lay in a fresh stock of hard bread, and incidentally to fill up the coal bunkers. We lost no time after arrival at Naples but took steps to get our bread and coal on board as soon as possible. Coaling was soon completed, but the bread had to be baked, and we did not get away until our stay had been prolonged to three days. Finally we sailed and had the usual good weather, passing close to Stromboli at night. There is always a glow from the crater of Stromboli at night, which gives the volcano the name of "The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." It makes an excellent landmark day or night by which to check navigation. Passing through the Straits of Messina by daylight, we had a good view of the city and its harbor, as well as of the Italian shore opposite with its many populous towns. Etna was not in eruption, but the peak was clear of clouds, and a small column of black smoke was curling away from the top of the mountain.
No incident of importance occurred on the voyage to Port Said where we were to enter the Suez Canal, but after we did arrive at the breakwater west of the entrance to Port Said Harbor events began to happen. The sky had been overcast and the wind set in rather strong from the southwest. Under direction of a pilot who had boarded the ship at the breakwater, we steamed into the harbor. The pilot pointed out our berth between a German merchant vessel and a large German steam frigate, one of a squadron of four German frigates used as training ships. It was blowing hard when we let go our anchor, and before we could go astern and pay out chain our flying jib boom caught over the forestay of the merchant ship, and the boom broke off close to the end of the jib boom and hung down with the wreck of rigging hanging to it. The Commander backed hard on our engine to get clear, which we did, but the ship had so much stern board aided by the wind that she was not checked by the engine, going ahead and dragging the anchor and chain through the soft mud on
the bottom, and we collided stern first on the German frigate's starboard side, carrying away her port gangway and coming within an ace of smashing her quarter boats on the port side. Our starboard boats, a cutter and the gig, were badly crushed and made useless until repairs could be made. The Germans worked smartly and rigged in their boats, but they must have thought it a very clumsy piece of work on the part of our ship--and so it was. We ran out a heavy manila hawser from our port bow to a large buoy in the harbor and intended to try to haul the ship clear of the German frigate with the steam capstan. When we were ready to "heave in", and while the hawser was floating on the surface, a steam tug came down the harbor, ran over it, and entangled it in her propeller. The tug promptly cut the hawser and drifted across the harbor. About this time a dust storm set in, filling the air with fine sand dust. Then it began to rain, which created the dust to thin mud, which plastered our decks and rigging with a muddy coat which stuck like glue. The decks, besides, were cluttered up with running rigging, the yards were braced awry, and altogether the mess was beyond anything I had ever seen or heard of before. The Commander retired early in the game to his cabin. The situation was humiliating. We could do nothing except to clear up the decks a little and wait for the storm to subside, tied up to the German. We sent a board of officers on board the German to adjust and pay the damage to the frigate's port gangway and to render due apologies and regrets.
Late in the afternoon the harbor master came alongside from a large canal tender and placed his resources at our disposition. The big tender sent a big hawser aboard, we cast off from the German, and the wind having subsided and the rain ceased we were soon pulled clear and towed to a new berth on the west side of the harbor, where we moored to permanent mooring buoys. It was late that night before we got the decks clear of gear and some of the mud off our deck houses and bulkheads. We could do nothing aloft to clean the mast's yards, sails and rigging, so we just let the mud dry on, hoping when it became dry dust again it would sift off. Early the next morning we coaled ship, adding black coal dust to the mixture already on our decks and rigging. The next morning at daylight we started through the canal, with a pilot in charge, and all hands were set to work to "clean ship." We hoisted in our wrecked boats and got them ready for the carpenters to begin repairs, but we made a sorry appearance aloft, and the sides of the ship still had the coating of sticky mud which could not be started by a hose. In this condition we went on our way through the Canal, hauling out into "Gares", when the signals were against us to allow north-bound steamers to
pass. Dredges were at work along the Canal, widening it, and the banks were being revetted in places to prevent the wash of the sand into the Canal, caused by the following wave created by large steamers. Before reaching the Bitter Lakes we passed the Russian armored ship, the Dimitri Douskoi, looking spick-and-span with officers and crew in white uniforms. I wondered what the Russians thought of the dirty "Yankee Man of War" as they gave us cheers when we slowly moved past. We passed the port of Ismailia with its ornate buildings and casino on the border of the lake, but did not stop. The speed was about five knots an hour, and it was late in the afternoon when we anchored at the north entrance of the Canal connecting the Bitter Lakes with the arm of the Red Sea at Suez. I should have mentioned before that during the day we coaled at Port Said I got ashore for a couple of hours, long enough to buy a Turkish table cover and a brass plaque on which was hammered out a scene depicting the return of the two messengers sent by the Children of Israel to spy out the promised land toward which they were journeying, and showing them returning at a trot with a pole over their shoulders, from which hung a bunch of grapes reaching nearly to the ground, the grapes themselves being shown about the size of cocoanuts. This picture is often met with in Sunday School books, and I was glad to have it verified in enduring brass, the work of an Egyptian artist.
We had no mishap the second leg of the Canal and emerged safely to Suez Roads. The town of Suez, a collection of low, flat-roofed houses, whitewashed, with a minaret here and there, looked hot and uninviting under the bright, clear sky. Dropping the pilot, we started down the Red Sea and did not find it suffocatingly hot as it is said to be. Perhaps the season of the year tempered the heat somewhat. It took nearly a week to traverse the Red Sea from Suez to Aden. We passed in sight of land nearly all the way, barren mountain ranges toward the north and east, with low, sandy hills as we neared the southern end. We sighted the Island of Perim near the south end of the sea and noted the English flag flying. As soon as we came to anchor, the ship was surrounded by Somali Negro boys in all sorts of floating small craft, clamoring for silver coins to be thrown overboard for them to recover by diving. While the small change lasted these divers did not lose a single coin. It was very warm in the harbor and much hotter along the street bordering the harbor.
The old city of Aden is some ten miles from the port, and I availed myself of leave to visit it. All the hills about Aden port were barren of verdure. Water is not over plentiful, and great cisterns of stone and concrete had been built by the British Government to store
up rain water in the rainy season. The sides of many of the hills had been scraped and smoothed to act as water sheds. A few straggling palm trees adorned the driveway that led along the beach toward Old Aden, and one afternoon I obtained a rickety one-horse conveyance and rode along the driveway and over the barren hills to the famous old city. It proved to be a collection of one-story stone or mud-plastered, flattop houses that covered a large area, with here and there a more pretentious flat-roofed building, the upper floor of which was usually used as a storeroom. Our Consul had a very comfortable one-storied house which served as a Consulate and residence, containing several rooms. On the walls and floors of the large living room were very fine Persian rugs. I stated my object in visiting Old Aden--to buy a couple of Persian rugs or carpets--and he very kindly offered to go with me to select them. He ordered his own private conveyance, and we set forth. "You have come at an opportune time," he said. "A large assortment has just arrived from Persia and is awaiting packing before shipment." We arrived at one of the two-storied warehouses and entered. Spread out on the upper floor and over boxes was really a fine, large collection. The rug merchant was obliging in showing them. I soon found a pair, each about 6 by 9 feet, and whispered my choice to the Consul. He looked them over and evidently approved the quality and designs, for he asked, "Would you be willing to pay 100 rupees for the pair?"--about $33. in our money. I said, "Yes, more than that." He nodded and continued to talk in Arabic with the merchant, who no doubt had set a much higher price on the pair, but I could not understand what was said. Finally, the Consul said, "Come on, let's get on," as we were going to an ostrich feather dealer to see if any plumes were to be had. "But, Consul," said I, "we have not bought the rugs yet." "Oh yes, we have," he said. "The rugs will be at the Consulate when we get back, for 100 rupees. I know the merchant and he knows me." And so it proved to be. The rugs were on the veranda when we arrived, and the price was what the Consul said it would be. I have the rugs now, as good as the day they were purchased over 36 years ago. Moreover, they have been in almost constant use. Thanks to the Consul, his Arabic and his judgment, it was the most satisfactory purchase of Oriental rugs I ever made. My only regret now is that I did not purchase more at that time, but my purse was not very long with Lieutenant's pay.
We coaled at Aden and sailed for Madagascar, steering nearly east along the axis of the Gulf of Aden. Soon we sighted the high mountainous Somali country bordering the south side of the Gulf and continued to favor that side toward Cape Guardafui. The sea was
smooth, almost no wind, and we rounded the Cape, heading nearly due south. Socotra Island to the east of the Cape was in plain sight. Owing to the strong currents and high winds usually met with in rounding the Cape, there is generally a turbulent sea, but we did not meet with rough conditions of any sort. It was about the last of the N.E. monsoon period, which may have been the reason for smoother seas that we met with.
We soon lost sight of Africa, and for nearly a week we kept steadily on our course south, crossing the Equator and experiencing hot, rainy weather. Finally when at sea about fifteen days from Aden we sighted one morning the dark green headland of northern Madagascar. Another day's run brought us off the port of Tamatave, the seaport of Antananarivo, the capital, situated about the middle of the Island in both directions and connected with the capital with perhaps the only passable road in the Island. Protection from the sea is furnished the port to some extent by a reef, mainly under water, behind which inshore vessels anchor. It rained incessantly nearly all the time we remained in port, which was about a week. The day after our arrival a small steamer which made trips around the Island came into port, and from her Captain we learned tidings of the Starlight. She was said to be a wreck in some inlet below Morondava, the only town or port on the west coast, nearly opposite Tamatave, and that the U.S. Consul at Morondava with a posse from the schooner's crew had attempted to arrest the Captain of the schooner and had been shot dead, and the posse having no firearms had abandoned the attempt to retake the schooner or arrest her Captain. It was also said that the Captain had taken the schooner's boats, loaded them with powder and goods from the schooner and had retreated south along the coast about fifty miles, where he had built a habitation on the bluff, hoisted the American Flag on a pole, and, surrounded by a large band of Sakalava natives, defied arrest and lived in security, trading goods and gunpowder for such subsistence as needed. The steamer Captain said he believed the schooner Captain would not dare to come on board an American vessel and suggested the ruse of using some foreign ensign to entice him on board, hoping to obtain supplies of flour or other stores.
At the time of our visit, Madagascar was under the government of the Malagasies, the predominating race, professing Christianity and practicing many of the arts of older civilizations. The city of Antananarivo was said to be of modern construction, built of substantial materials and in the French style. It was said to have many imposing public buildings. The rule of the Malagasies did not extend over a large area of the Island. The aboriginal tribe of Sakalavas
inhabited nearly the whole of the southern half of the island and acknowledged no authority but their own local chieftains. There were no roads--only trails--and the central government had no force with which to impose authority over the savage tribes of large population at any distance from the capital. The country is very fertile, but aside from the raising of cattle for their hides there were no visible resources. On the west coast there was some trade in orchilla weed, used for dyes and in hides also.
Tamatave was an uninteresting and shabby place--no substantial buildings except a few constructed by foreign traders as stores and residences. The U. S. Consul was also the Agent of Ropes, Emmet & Co. of Boston, which had been established for many years at Zanzibar, as well as in Madagascar, and owned a number of sailing vessels, principally barques, which made regular voyages to Madagascar, Zanzibar and the Seychelles, carrying kerosene oil and cotton goods for the outgoing voyages and taking hides mainly for the return voyage back to Boston by way of the Cape of Good Hope. A small, circular, stone fort without a ditch or moat and without artillery was situated on a low elevation near the town. In clear weather, doubtless a fine view could have been had of the mountain range which extends nearly the whole length of the island, but it rained almost incessantly during our stay and we saw nothing but the near country, which seemed to be thickly wooded. One afternoon a party of officers took the whaleboat and in rain suits landed for a look around. Soon after beaching the boat, a native woman was noticed seated under a palm tree which furnished some shelter from the rain, and before her was a very large basket of large, green fruit. Investigation revealed the fact that the fruit was avocado pears of the largest and finest variety and in prime condition. The woman's stock was immediately purchased, and all hands returned to the ship, abandoning further exploration, and went on what might be termed an "alligator pear debauch". There seemed to be no other tropical fruits, except bananas. I went to call on the Consul and was advised to invest in some of the fine grass mats made by the natives. I bought a good many--very fine weave and soft. They were used as curtains and coverings for chairs and were attractive and serviceable for a long time. It took a long time to get our bunkers filled with coal as the native labor employed to empty the lighters was lazy and inefficient, and much of the coal was wet in spite of awnings.
We sailed on a clear day and coasted down along the east coast to Cape St. Mary, sighting no towns or native settlements. As far as we could see inland with glasses, the fertile plains were densely
covered with a thick growth of low shrubs, with isolated tall trees and some groves of trees. Along the coast near the beach cocoanut trees were plentiful. As we neared the Cape the mountain range broke into low hills. South of Cape St. Mary we tried to have target practice with the heavy guns, but the strong current sweeping westward around the Cape and the high sea running defeated our efforts, and after losing our target the attempt was abandoned. Rounding the Cape we put in at the first bay of any size--Augustina Bay--where there is a small town and which is sometimes a port of call for steamers bound to or from Southeast Africa, and here we found one of the men who had been one of the company on board the Starlight. He was clad in an old shirt, a battered straw hat, tattered trousers, and was barefooted. He had had a hard experience, dependent upon charity after reaching Augustina Bay, and his joy on being rescued from misery, fed and clothed, and promised passage home can well be imagined. From this man the whole story of the Starlight's cruise and her ultimate fate, as well as that of the ship's company, was obtained and reduced to writing. It appeared that the company of men on board had banded together for the purpose of working what was represented to be a very rich gold mine in N.W. Madagascar, the location and richness of which was known only to the Captain of the schooner--LeBlanc by name, as I recollect--who was a naturalized American citizen who, being of French descent, had married a lady of an estimable family in Bordeaux, France. He had two small daughters and his wife with him in Boston when the scheme was planned. His wife's brother, a lad of 15 years, was also there and was one of the party. LeBlanc had at one time a few years before served in a consular capacity at Sao Paulo de Loando, the capital of Portuguese South Africa. He had been a wanderer about the African Coast, east and west, and had been to Madagascar. He claimed to know the west part of the island intimately, which was probably true in the light of what happened later. He had learned seamanship and navigation and held a Master's Certificate for the handling of sailing vessels. The other members of the company were three miners of Welsh descent who had had mining experience in our western mines and who were citizens by naturalization. Five others, Americans, were also in the company, lured by the prospects of riches to be easily obtained by mining for gold in Madagascar. Some other people about Boston invested in the expedition but were not personally represented. One of the Americans was the son of a banker who had invested substantially. Another was a young carpenter who had sold his home to raise funds to get in on the "good thing" offered. So LeBlanc seems to have had no trouble whatever in raising the funds to buy the
schooner Starlight, a staunch and trim vessel of about 500 tons, together with her outfit of sails and rigging and complete equipment. Just how much cash the Captain put up we did not learn. No cargo was carried, but about 4000 pounds of black gunpowder, ostensibly for mining operations, with fuzes, and packed in cannisters, were taken on board, and in addition a large quantity of unbleached muslin or sheeting, the staple article of trade for natives on the East African Coast, baled and iron-strapped, was loaded aboard. There was the usual outfit of provisions and ship's stores necessary for a lengthy voyage. All the ship's company, at the instigation of the Captain, signed Ship's Articles as members of the crew, not having any knowledge of what it meant, and as a matter of form, the Captain said. Three regular seamen were also shipped for the voyage, but they had no pecuniary interest in the vessel or any idea of the object of the voyage.
With high expectations the company embarked, and the Captain quartered his wife, his small daughters and his brother-in-law in the only cabin space. There were no mates, but the Captain explained none would be needed, as that duty could be taken over in turn by members of the company. On a bright day in the summer of 1887, the Starlight sailed and was soon out of sight of land on the high seas. The men of the company expected that they would have one mess with the Captain and family, but when that was mentioned they were blandly informed that having signed "Ship's Articles", they had no rights except those of members of the crew, and that they could have a part of the spacious after-hold rigged up as quarters, and mess there, but no cabin accommodations or cabin fare. They had to make the best of the situation, but they began to suspect they had been trapped by an unscrupulous rascal who would spare no effort to use the ship and the men to further his own ends, regardless of the rights of ownership of the others of the ship's company. One of the seamen was a fair cook and acted in that capacity. The men in the company were divided in watches and made to do the work of handling the vessel, which, being men of skill and above the run of the class who usually shipped on sailing ships, they soon learned to do. Everybody outside the cabin was ordered about and harshly treated by the Captain, who often displayed a couple of revolvers to enforce his orders. Strangely enough, there was not a single firearm or other weapon, aside from clubs or handspikes, except the two revolvers the Captain carried.
So things went on under pressure during the long run across the Atlantic toward the Cape de Verde Islands. Light winds delayed the progress, and the fresh water supply began to get low. The Captain
then headed for Goree on the coast of Africa near Cape Verde to renew the water supply. The treatment of the men had so disgusted everybody with their lot that the seamen deserted the vessel just before she was ready to sail from Goree. The men of the company would have left probably if they had had nothing at stake, but their little all was tied up in the schooner, so they held on, biding their time and hoping to see some way to get the upper hand of the Captain. The voyage was long and dreary to and around the Cape of Good Hope. No stop was made at the Cape, for the schooner kept on until she reached Durban in Natal, where the Captain ran in and anchored off the town. The Captain was first ashore, but did not take the ship's papers. He said he intended to raise money for expenses on a "bottomry bond". That would have been the time for the company to have taken possession of the ship, but the men had no leader and they were apprehensive of taking the law into their own hands, being law-abiding men. They still hoped that the vessel would go on to Madagascar and that when they reached their destination things would be better, and that once the gold was being mined they would have more to say about matters. The son of the Boston banker, not liking the idea of raising money on the vessel as security, slipped ashore and cabled his father that something was wrong and to take steps to prevent the draft being honored. This was done before the Captain could get his hands on the money. Highly enraged, the Captain weighed anchor and put to sea, without any clearance papers. He shaped the course of the vessel up the Mozambique Channel and ran into Mozambique. The U.S. Consul at Mozambique was sought by members of the company and asked to interfere, but nothing was done as there was no proof that the law as applied to ownership and management of vessels had been violated. The Captain had a plausible explanation of why he had not cleared his vessel at Durban in the regular manner, but that was the affair of the British Government. Just why the Starlight went to Mozambique before going direct to the Madagascar Coast was made clear when she sailed after a day's stay, and this time she also put to sea without clearing regularly. When outside the port, Captain LeBlanc made the astounding statement that there was no gold mine that he knew of in Madagascar; that the real gold mine was the engaging in the running of slaves from near Mozambique to plantations on the northwest coast of Madagascar, where they could be disposed of at a very great profit and produce more gold in the end than any gold mine could do; that the powder and the cotton sheetings would be ample to pay for very many slaves; and that he, the Captain, knew all the details of buying and running slaves across the Channel.
The men of the company refused absolutely to have anything to do with so nefarious a scheme and demanded that the Captain sail for some port where a settlement of affairs could be brought about, so the Captain apparently yielded to their demands and headed the ship for Morondava, the only settlement of note on the west coast of Madagascar. Before reaching that port and a few miles off the land, he headed the ship for the mouth of a creek about ten miles south of Morondava, the existence of which he must have had knowledge but not of a reef off the coast about two miles, on which the vessel struck and held fast. After a futile effort to pull the schooner clear of the reef, the Captain ordered the masts cut away to lighten the ship, which it did with all the masts and sails and rigging overboard, and at the next high tide the vessel floated. With the boats towing she was navigated a short distance up the creek from its mouth, where the bank effectually hid the hull from view from the seaward side. The masts, rigging and sails were landed with the aid of Sakalava natives who soon gathered about. Some thatched pole houses were constructed, in one of which the sails were stowed, and in another the powder and bales of sheeting found shelter. The ship was stripped of everything of value, and the bare hull, thus lightened, was hauled close to the bank of the creek and secured by chains to anchors sunk in the sand. All this was done by the Captain and by the natives under his direction. The men of the company had no means of resisting any operations instigated by the Captain, but it was evident that he intended to control possession of the powder and stores for barter. He went about armed. Other houses were soon run up to house the Captain and his family, and a native village along the creek soon sprung up. Barter and other dealings with the natives were under control of the Captain, and the men, finally gathering a few provisions and their personal belongings that could be carried, tramped along the beach toward Morondava where they told their story to the U.S. Consular Agent, an American, who had for many years been located at Morondava as a general trader.
After some days the Consul decided to form a posse of the men of the company and endeavor to arrest the Captain and recover the property belonging to the men, or what constituted their shares. The party marched along the beach and reached the village during the forenoon. The Consul, followed by the men, approached the house in which the Captain and his family were quartered, and as he neared the door he was met just outside by the Captain who, without warning, shot the Consul dead with a bullet through his heart, and threatened to kill anyone else of the party who would attempt to arrest him. Being without any firearms or other effective weapons,
the men could do nothing. They asked to be allowed to remove the Consul's body, which was not objected to. A litter was constructed on which the body was placed and carried back to Morondava, where it was interred in the little compound surrounding the Consul's house under the cocoanut trees.
Fearing retribution for the murder of the Consul, the Captain loaded the balance of the powder and trade goods with whatever stores were available, with the aid of the natives, on board the schooner's boats, one of which was a large, long boat, and departed south along the coast for a distance of about forty miles near another creek and established himself on a high bluff in a pole-and-thatched shack. He erected a tall pole, hoisted an American Flag, landed the powder and trade goods, and prepared to live at ease and in safety, at least as long as the powder and trade goods held out. The powder was very valuable, being very scarce with the Sakalavas, and very difficult to obtain. The Sakalavas were friendly, and it is presumed a lively trade sprung up, for the Captain had made no move for nearly a year up to the time of the arrival of the Enterprise at Madagascar.
News of the death of the Consul had drifted across the Island to Tamatave, and the abandonment of the schooner and her crew was brought to the attention of the Consul at Tamatave. A French boat builder offered himself as caretaker at a wage of $25.00 monthly, and he was given a written appointment as caretaker. He moved to the native village on the creek and took possession, but did nothing else.
Fever broke out among the men at Morondava and four died from its ravages. They were buried in the Consul's compound. Four remained of the original number, and of these two embarked on a small vessel and reached Mozambique a short time before our arrival on the Coast. The remaining two were given passage to St. Augustina Bay by the kind-hearted skipper of a steamer, from which place one went on to Durban, and presumably home in time. The remaining member of the company we found at St. Augustina Bay as already related, and the details as given were related by him .
The Enterprise passed the bluff on which the Captain had established himself, and we saw the flag flying, but realizing the futility of trying to capture him by landing a party, the ship kept on for Morondava without giving any sign that his location had been noted. It would have been a very easy matter for the Captain to have evaded arrest. He had only to withdraw back into the bush, where there were
no trails, and be protected by the Sakalava natives. Whether any powder or stores remained after a long deal with the natives we had no means of knowing. It was believed the murderer could be enticed on board a ship flying another flag than the American through a craving for civilized articles of food, such as flour, butter and canned goods. This ruse was adopted, as will be related, and was successful.
The next morning after our arrival at Morondava, I accompanied our Commander in the gig on the long row to the creek, the scene of murder, and while it was a hot pull the sea was smooth, and after about two hours of rowing we entered the creek and saw the hull of the schooner with her name, Starlight, Boston, U.S.A., in white letters above the rudder.
Landing, we were met by the Frenchman who produced his letter of appointment as caretaker. The schooner's masts, booms, gaffs and standing rigging lay on the bank of the creek. Boarding the schooner, we found her hold half full of water. Her bilge seams had been opened by striking on the reef, and the tide ebbed and flowed through the hull below her waterline. She was deeply imbedded, too, in the sand of the creek bottom and washings from the banks due to heavy rains, and it was evident that without heavy wrecking apparatus she was beyond salvage. The sails were mildewed and apparently had not been aired or dried out since they were first stored. Probably they were ready to fall in pieces due to rot in a short time. Nothing could be done with our equipment, and the Frenchman was left in charge. He had not been paid for his service up to that time, and it would not be many months before his claim for wages would more than equal any salvage from the vessel or rigging. We visited the scene of the murder and walked among the houses that remained and were occupied by Sakalava natives who appeared to be very friendly. They were copper colored and a different race from the Negroes. The long row in the hot sun did not change our opinion already formed that the climate of the West Coast was decidedly non-salubrious.
An expedition to the South where the Captain of the Starlight had taken refuge, with the view to his arrest and delivery to a consular court for trial being considered impracticable, our Commanding Officer addressed a letter to the Commander of the U.S.S. Swatara, John McGowan, who was expected shortly at Durban on his way to China, and who was expected to touch also at St. Augustina Bay, Madagascar, acquainting him with the situation and suggesting that he appear off the Captain's location and anchor, showing the English Flag, with the idea that the renegade Captain might venture to call aboard in search of supplies of food more palatable than the wild
country afforded. We learned later that this plan succeeded perfectly. The Swatara anchored off the point of land where the Captain had established himself, and the murderer rowed off in one of the Starlight's boats, believing the Swatara to be an English man-of-war. As he stepped on deck he was immediately arrested and closely confined. The Swatara delivered him to the custody of the U.S. Consul at Tamatave, who brought him to trial before the Consular Court on the charge of murder. His conviction followed and he was sentenced to life imprisonment in a Malagasy prison. He was delivered to the Malagasy authorities and taken into the back country. There are no Malagasy prisons, and as nothing has been heard of him since it is presumed that he was gotten rid of to save the trouble of custody and subsistence. The French Government sent a vessel of war to the West Coast and brought the Captain's wife and brother and one of the daughters to Tamatave. One daughter had died of fever. From Tamatave they were furnished transportation to Bordeaux.
The Enterprise remained off Morondava several days to receive a visit of officials who were on their way from Antananarivo, the capital, being carried in the chairs over the only trail through the forests and over the mountains. There were two officials dressed as Europeans who had no special mission, merely to make a friendly call. They had an interpreter who spoke French, and a Swede who boasted the rank of Captain in the Malagasy armed forces and who wore a gaudy, light blue uniform. The Malagasy officials (we never knew their rank or official titles) showed great interest in the ship as they were conducted about, and one of them asked to see a rifle. A Springfield breechloader was handed to him and its operation explained. He wished to fire it, and it was loaded for him. Picking out as a mark a piece of wood floating in the water about 200 yards from the ship, he rested the rifle on the forecastle rail, kneeling on one knee on the deck, and, after a long and careful aim, fired the rifle. The bullet struck near the target to the evident satisfaction of the marksman.
The Malagasy officials were landed in one of our whaleboats after they had spent an hour or two on board. The Swede, however, stayed on all day and was a great beggar for articles of food, such as butter and hard bread, to supplement the menu he was able to obtain at the capital. It was difficult to get rid of him, but finally he was rather bluntly informed during the evening that he had better go ashore as the ship was to sail early the next morning, so he was finally put on the beach. A gift of fresh beef was made to the ship by the Malagasy authorities. Numbers of natives came off to visit
the ship during our stay at Morondava, and I was able to purchase four spears of native workmanship, the heads inlaid with brass and copper, with ebony shafts. The natives were of the Sakalava tribes who do not acknowledge the Malagasy authority but do not live in open rebellion. The Malagasy government is without power to impose obedience or enforce any laws in Sakalava territory, and these tribes are a law unto themselves under their own chiefs or headmen.
Sailing from Madagascar, a short run of one night brought the ship to the port of Mozambique in Portuguese East Africa. The harbor is spacious, and from the ship the town looked imposing with its embastioned fortress built of stone of the style in vogue in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. There were a great many Arab dhows in harbor--craft of from fifty to one hundred tons, with one principal mast, and flying a narrow red flag at a flagstaff over the taffrail. These dhows make one voyage a year, coming from Arabia with the N.E. monsoon and returning to the Arabian Gulf with the S.W. monsoon. These dhows are engaged in the slave trade, it is generally believed.
We remained only two days at Mozambique and sailed thence for Zanzibar. The weather was hot and sultry. Just after sailing, the ship's company was saddened by the death of Chief Gunner's Mate Peter Frank, of French birth, who had served long and faithfully in our Navy. He was buried at sea.
Our course was along the African Coast out of sight of land, passing west of the Comoro Islands, which are ruled by native Sultans and reported to be fertile and attractive. This group of islands was the resort of whale ships when the Mozambique Channel was a favorite fishing ground for whales when the whaling industry was at its height before the decline in the latter half of the 19th century. With a calm sea, steaming ten knots an hour, the voyage to Zanzibar was uneventful, but upon entering the channels through the reefs southwest of the island we sighted an American barque with all sails set and flat aback, apparently ashore on the edge of a small island. In smooth water she was in no danger, so we did not at once stop to see what could he done to get her afloat but steamed in to the harbor, communicated with our Consul, and from him learned that the ship ashore was the Taria Topan, owned by Ropes, Emmet & Co. of Salem, Massachusetts and bound in from Boston, with a cargo of kerosene oil in cases, baled sheeting and other American goods consigned to the House of Ropes, Emmet & Co. at Zanzibar. At the request of the Consul we at once got underway and steamed out to the assistance of the Taria Topan. We anchored as near as safety permitted,
and I was sent aboard the barque to offer help, which was gladly accepted. The vessel had gone ashore on a sloping ledge during a calm, swept along by tidal currents. Why she had not anchored when stranding was imminent was not disclosed. We ran an eleven inch Manila hawser to the bows of the barque, hove it taut, and then hove up our own anchor. Starting ahead slowly with our engine, the barque slid off the ledge as soon as a pull was felt on the hawser, and she was apparently not damaged as she was not leaking, as shown by her own pumps. We towed the Taria Topan to port and we were all again safely at anchor.
Zanzibar is a low, tropical island, given over to the culture, mainly, of the clove tree. This island, together with the Island of Pemba just north of it, supplies almost the entire crop of cloves used in the world. The islands are unhealthy and malarial--infested with tropical fevers. The labor in the clove shawbas, as they are called, is slave labor, or was slave labor at the time of our visit. Zanzibar City is unattractive, dirty and unsanitary. The Sultan's Palace, situated on the waterfront, is the most prominent building in view from the harbor--a rectangular structure with a flat roof, of three stories. The roof was covered with a canvas awning and curtained on all sides. It was reported that the roof garden was the principal resort of the Sultan's harem, said to be numerous. Near the landing was a small battery of smoothbore guns used for salutes. The principal commercial houses and consulates were clustered along the curving shoreline of the harbor, while the greater part of the population--about 60,000--were housed in blocks of dwellings, of no pretensions to architecture, for some distance back of the harbor line. The streets were narrow and for the most part unpaved. Groves of cocoanut and other tropical trees were on the outskirts of the city.
At the time of our visit, 1889, Germany was carrying on a war against the inhabitants of the Zanzibar Coast on the mainland of Africa, with the intention of establishing a German colony of East Africa. Affronts to German missionaries was the ostensible cause of taking possession of this territory, which had hitherto been under the sovereignty of the Sultan of Zanzibar, to whom it afforded some revenue. The German Flagship, the armored cruiser Kaiserin Augusta Victoria, was in port at Zanzibar, while stationed along the African Coast was a fleet of gunboats, etc., with Bagasmayo the principal base. The towns or settlements of the natives along the coast had been bombarded and generally destroyed. The Sultan of Zanzibar could offer no resistance, and the Germans did not attempt to annex Zanzibar Island or Pemba. That step would have involved extensive
English interests. The native Zanzibaris are men of fine physique and are warlike. Hence the Island is headquarters for the organization of the big game hunting safaris or caravans to the African interior, and the guards are recruited from Zanzibar men who are familiar with the use of modern firearms. The carriers or porters were usually Somali Negroes. The port for starting into the interior was Mombasa near W.N.W. of Zanzibar, which has a good harbor.
At the time of our visit, 1889-March, William Astor Chauler was in Zanzibar organizing an expedition to hunt big game near Lake Victoria Nyanza, and he was frequently on board to luncheon and dinner with the officers. He was suffering from prickly heat and hives but was active and optimistic. There was no railway then from Mombasa to the interior, as now exists, and the long, trying march from the coast over the low, swampy lands before the uplands were reached was a most arduous undertaking.
Ropes, Emmet & Co.'s representatives were most cordial to the ship and officers. One of the Ropes family, a son, a graduate of Harvard, I believe, was at that time in Zanzibar getting acquainted with the extensive business of the firm in these localities and made a very favorable impression with those who became acquainted with him. The firm managers of Ropes, Emmet & Co., the U.S. Consul to Zanzibar, and Mr. William Astor Chaulers were entertained on board the Enterprise, and in turn the officers of the ship were dined by these Americans on shore. Through young Mr. Ropes I came into possession, at a small price, of quite a large bundle of assegais or native spears, used by the East African Negroes in the pursuit of game or in their tribal warfare. These spears are hammered out of the wire used for baling American sheetings, a staple article of trade, and are untempered. The shafts were made of some hard wood. At Zanzibar I saw some of the very large, bladed spears used by the Masai tribe who at that time inhabited the eastern slope of Kilimanjaro a very numerous and warlike tribe, owning large herds of cattle, and who exacted tribute from the caravans or safaris passing through their territory. The spears were from 6 to 8 feet in length, shaft and head, but the head was from 3 to 4 feet in length and about 4 inches in width. The Masai were of powerful build and with these great spears, with large bull's hide shields of oval shape, presented a formidable appearance. At this writing I believe they have almost entirely disappeared. The tsetse fly and the sleeping sickness wrought havoc with the natives and their cattle, and late accounts of hunters and travelers make no mention of the Masais. In the godown or warehouse of Ropes, Emmet & Co. we were shown an enormous collection
of elephant tusks, some 200 in number--some of enormous size--ready for shipment. This ivory had been brought down to the coast at Mombasa by caravans headed by Moslem traders for the most part. At that time there were no hunting restrictions limiting the number of elephants which might be killed by any one hunter.
After a ten days' stay at Zanzibar, the day was set for sailing for Aden. Opportunity to send mail north to that port by steamer, except at four-week intervals by the regular East Indian Navigation Co. steamers, was very rare, and as the Enterprise was to sail about the middle of one of these intervals our Captain made it known that we would receive and carry mail. All the foreign Consulates, the Post Office, and particularly the German Flagship accepted the opportunity to forward mail by a man-of-war. A German gunboat was sent to visit all the blockading vessels and bring all the mail to the German Flagship the evening before the sailing of our vessel. During the evening mailbags were put on board by all desiring to send mail, except the Germans; the Admiral commanding sent word that he would send all his mail on board the next morning before we got underway.
Promptly about 6:00 A.M. we weighed anchor and steamed out to the North bound to Aden, the German Flagship having sent a boat with a midshipman in charge to deliver the German mail. With the S.W. monsoon fairly set and blowing fresh, we made all sail that would draw and bowled along under sail and steam at a good rate of speed. By noon we were off the Island of Pemoa where the clove supply for the world mainly comes from, when smoke was discerned on the horizon directly astern and in the direction of Zanzibar. No steamer was in port there scheduled to sail, and the cause of the smoke cloud was a puzzle, especially as it increased in volume rapidly. Finally the spars of a man-of-war could be made out with spyglasses, and later the hull, which could be no other than the German Flagship, coming on under forced draft at double our speed. Finally an international signal, "We wish to communicate," was made out flying from the foremast head. The signal was answered and we shortened sail, hove to, and stopped our engine. The German with a big bone in its teeth came on and stopped abreast our ship. We saw the Admiral's barge lowered and manned and the Admiral and an aide embark. We manned the gangway, paraded the Marine Guard, and received him on board with due honors. As the Admiral reached the deck he spoke rapidly in English: "My dear Captain, I beg your pardon to ask you to stop on your voyage, but the occasion is very important. This morning I sent the mail to your ship, and gave my private dispatches, which were not in the mail, to the midshipman to deliver to you in person to be mailed at Aden, and the midshipman having them in an
inside pocket of his coat, neglected to deliver them to you. His fault was not discovered until you had sailed. I was obliged to raise steam for full power and overtake you, if possible. I thank you for your kindness and apologize for causing you this delay and bother." Our Captain assured the Admiral that he was only too glad to be of service. The German departed with the Marines saluting and the drums and bugles sounding the salute, but as he went over the side he said repeatedly, "Oh, that midships"--"that midships." I wonder what the fate of that poor midshipman was. This same armored cruiser, Kaiserin Augusta Victoria, was on the East African Station when the World War began and was driven up the river at Dar-es-Salaam by British ships. There she was grounded and some of her armament landed for inland service, but the ship was sunk and practically destroyed by British Naval gunfire. It was at Bagasmayo that Emin Pasha, the German in the Egyptian service in command of a Sudanese brigade, who was out of touch with civilization somewhere along the Upper Nile near Lake Victoria Nyanza for several years, met his death by a fall from a second-story window some years after our visit to Zanzibar. It will be remembered that Henry M. Stanley made a trip up the Congo and across Darkest Africa to find trace of Emin Pasha. He found him, but Emin Pasha would not at that time leave his command. Stanley then proceeded to the East Coast without him.
The run to Aden was without incident, and we remained there a few days only. I bought an Arabian rug, some ostrich eggs and some pieces of Indian brass and damascened ware from peddlers who thronged the ship. Through the Red Sea to Suez and through the Canal to Port Said was not productive of incidents that remain in memory. We coaled at Port Said, and weathered the pleadings of the curio merchants to buy their offerings with some success. One of the smoothest of these merchants announced himself as the brother of "Far away Moses" who was made famous by mention by Mark Twain in his "Innocents Abroad." Moses flourished in Constantinople.
The short run from Port Said to the Messina Straits and thence to Leghorn was a matter of five or six days only. At Leghorn we remained about a week and then rejoined the Lancaster, our Flagship, at Ville Franche sur Mer after several months' absence from the European Station. It was now May 1889 and the Lancaster was preparing to leave for home. The Enterprise would be left as the sole representative of our Navy in European waters when the Lancaster sailed. We were ordered to refit and proceed north to the English ports, and the Captain decided to make quite a long stay at Southampton, within easy reach of London by express trains, and only two hours on the journey.
Nothing important happened on our way out of the Mediterranean and north, but I remember a very pleasant visit to Bordeaux and Pauillac. Our Vice Consul at the latter port is an extensive wine grower, and we learned much about fine French clarets and white wines from Mr. Averous, of Averous Freres--our Vice Consul.
At Southampton we did much to make the ship more habitable for the men by extending the topgallant forecastle deck aft to cover the galley and adding sleeping space for twenty men. We scraped the hull of the ship down to the bare wood and painted the ship white above the line of copper, with yellow spars, quite changing her appearance but entailing increased work to keep in good order. We spent the early summer months in Southampton water, and when in good trim sailed for Belfast, Northeastern Ireland, where the great shipbuilding works of Hurlan & Wolffe were located, builders of some of the largest steamships afloat. The Bay of Belfast is very shoal except for a dredged channel up to the shipyards, and we were obliged to anchor off the picturesque old castle of Carrickfergus, some miles from the city. The Captain and officers were accorded the privilege of visiting the shipyards. I took advantage of the opportunity to invest in some linen tablecloths and napkins, fine examples of Irish linen work.
From Belfast it was only a short run to Greenock, Scotland, the seaport of Glasgow. Dinners and much other entertainment were provided at Greenock. I went by rail to Glasgow, but do not retain a pleasant impression of that city. The Scotch are very hospitable and we were loathe to leave Greenock, of which we retained pleasant memories. Sailing from Greenock we steamed up to the head of Loch Fyne to Inveraray, the home of the Duke of Argyll. The Castle of Inveraray was in view from the anchorage, and the ship was honored with a visit by the Duke of Argyll. The next day after arrival the ship was thrown open to visitors, and all day long hundreds and hundreds thronged our decks, seemingly greatly interested. The scenery along the Loch is very fine. Navy ships of our country had never before visited the port of Inveraray. It will be remembered that Lord Lome, son of the Duke of Argyll, married the Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria.
Proceeding from Inveraray down the Firth of Clyde along the coast of Scotland, the Enterprise stopped just around Cape MacGillicuddy in Luce Bay, the southwestern extremity of Scotland. With the permission of local authorities, an attempt was made to hold target practice with the main battery. The outgoing tide in the Bay ran so strong as to submerge the target, and a fully-manned cutter which
tried to pick up the target was swept out to sea. There was nothing left to do but to get underway and follow our boat to sea, which was done as quickly as possible, but we were several miles off the land when we finally reached our boat and hoisted it up. Resuming our southerly course past the Isle of Man where tailless cats are native, we anchored in the small, landlocked harbor of Holyhead, in Wales, the port from which express steamers left every evening for Dublin after arrival of the train from London.
Only one night at Holyhead and then on to the south again. In Cardigan Bay off the Welsh coast we put in several hours with target practice with the main battery. That completed, we rounded into Bristol Channel and proceeded to the mouth of the River Avon to wait for high water before proceeding up the Avon to Bristol. The rise and fall of tide all along the Bristol Channel and tributary rivers is very great, and Bristol is a tidal harbor with tidal docks. On a flood tide with a pilot we proceeded slowly up the Avon and entered the tidal lock, and thence to a berth alongside the quay near the old Daedalus, an old-time three-decker, now used as barracks for naval artillery volunteers. With a gangway to the quay we were in close touch with the city. Here we remained a month, being extensively entertained. The ship's company gave a reception and ball in honor of the naval artillery volunteers, their wives and friends, which was a very great success.
From Bristol around Land's End to our old anchorage at Southampton was a short voyage. There we obtained a turnabout steam cutter, built by White of Cowes, Isle of Wight, capable of twelve knots speed but of light scantling. Without much warning the ship got underway in November 1889 and headed for the Mediterranean, making no stop short of Gibraltar. From Gibraltar we ran over to the Morocco coast south of Ceuta and brought to near Negro Head, making the run by daylight. The next day the Commanding Officer determined upon a field day ashore for the Marines. The entire Marine Guard was landed with some temporary camp outfit to prepare meals. During the afternoon an easterly wind sprang up, and before sunset a good-sized surf was rolling in on the sandy beach. The Commanding Officer waited too long before sending in boats to bring off the Marines, with the consequence that when it was attempted a whaleboat capsized and was beached full of water. The men all reached shore. The boat's equipment was subsequently salvaged, and the boat herself, having been righted, was launched by her crew and pulled afloat off the beach by boats sent from the ship. By nightfall it was evident that no boats could live in the surf that
existed, but an attempt was made to send hot coffee and some canned provisions to the stranded Marines by floating in a catamaran with the provisions lashed on board. A young seaman volunteered to go in with the catamaran. It capsized in the surf, but the seaman and provisions reached the beach without damage. Toward nine o'clock of the evening the sea became so heavy that the ship had to get underway and run to Gibraltar for shelter. Just as we were leaving the Captain signaled Ensign Geo. W. Kline, the ranking officer on shore, the following extraordinary message, "March to Ceuta, taking the equipment with you." There was no road except along the beach, and the equipment consisted of masts, oars, spars, sails and other gear of the whaleboat, besides the catamaran--these in addition to rifles, ammunition, belts and haversacks. The distance from the sand dunes along the beach to Ceuta was 18 miles--a fairly good day's march over a good road unburdened by all the gear--and just what the men could do over a country through undergrowth or along a sandy beach where it existed was an unsolved problem. The Commanding Officer, however, was very positive in his opinion that the march would be made --"In obedience to a positive order," so he said.
At daylight the following morning we got underway and steamed across the Straits to Ceuta, where we anchored and sent Lieutenant Hugo Osterhaus, in full dress uniform, ashore to call on the Commandant and to state that a party of American Marines, with arms, might be expected to arrive at the southern limits of the Spanish liens very shortly, if indeed they had not already arrived, and to ask permission for them to enter the city. Meanwhile, if they had not already arrived, Osterhaus was to procure a mount and proceed south from the fortress to meet the marching column of Marines and conduct it to Ceuta. The Marines had not arrived and Osterhaus reported nothing had been heard of them, so he was to proceed south to meet them. The ship got underway, steamed out of the harbor and south along the coast near the shore to closely observe the progress which had been made by the Marines during the night. Osterhaus was observed to emerge from the south gate of the fortress, and mounted on a horse or mule was seen to be making rather heavy weather with his full dress uniform and sword, astride his mount, but going south nevertheless. He was kept in sight as he rode along, but about a mile from the fortress he came to a ravine along which Spanish sentry boxes were seen, evidently the limit of Spanish jurisdiction. There Osterhaus halted and was seen in conference with what were believed to be Spanish officials, after which he was seen to slowly amble back toward Ceuta. Much disappointed, the Commanding Officer ordered the ship to continue on the coast trip south and to keep a sharp look-
out for the Marines marching north. Nothing was seen of any marching party nor any sign of the Marines until the ship arrived off the place where the Marines had been landed, and then it was evident the men had remained on the sand dunes all night and had made no attempt to march and carry all the load of gear to Ceuta. Soon after anchoring, boats were sent for the Marines and all the gear. The Commanding Officer, very much put out by the failure of the plan he had outlined for a march to Ceuta, which was an impossibility, promptly placed Ensign Kline under suspension for failing to obey a positive order. The ship loafed all day off the beach, recovering all of the equipment of the capsized whaleboat and getting things to order, and by evening everything was restowed. The ship weighed anchor and steamed toward Gibraltar, but when in the middle of the Straits the course was changed for Ville Franche, where we arrived and hauled inside the small mole without any incident of importance occurring.
Shortly after arrival, cable orders were received for the ship to go to Antwerp, Belgium, there to receive the body of Hon. George M. Pendleton who had died abroad and bring it to the United States. It became known later that some inkling of such orders had reached the Commanding Officer when the ship was at Southampton, which accounted for our sudden departure for the Mediterranean and stay at points where there was no cable communication, such as on the Morocco coast. Several weeks were spent in refitting, work on engines and boilers, etc. before the Commanding Officer deemed the ship ready for sea, and it was toward the last of the year before we finally sailed. Crossing the Gulf of Lyons we encountered the usual mistral blowing out of the Gulf. The influenza had been very prevalent in Southern France and when we sailed was raging violently in Marseilles, Toulon and other cities. The watch on deck, while crossing the Gulf, almost to a man came down with influenza, and the disease spread rapidly. It was not very severe and no deaths occurred, but nearly everyone had a touch of it. I entirely escaped. Touching at Gibraltar we were not allowed to land anyone. Our mail was sent off to us and we received provisions and other stores, but we were told we had better clear out and go to sea, which we did without delay and proceeded to Lisbon, Portugal, where the White Squadron, consisting of the Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and Yorktown under Rear Admiral J. G. Walker had already arrived. The ship was not quarantined at Lisbon, as there was an epidemic of that disease on shore. Our Commanding Officer was very anxious to be attached to the White Squadron but was not encouraged in that direction by Admiral Walker. All the ships sailed at the same time, the White Squadron
bound to Gibraltar and the Enterprise to Antwerp. We touched at Plymouth just long enough to land three or four cases at the hospital there and then went on to Flushing at the mouth of the Scheldt. When the tide served, we went on up the river and moored in a reach about a mile below Antwerp. It was cold and raw winter weather, and we were not sorry when we had received Pendleton's body on board and were ready to sail.
We had fairly good weather going down channel, but finding it very stormy when Start Point had been sighted, put in at Dartmouth, a small but very secure harbor for a ship of our size. There we stayed nearly two weeks waiting for favorable weather. Finally the wind having hauled to the north, we sailed and had no further trouble in clearing the Channel and heading south southwest across the Bay of Biscay bound to Madeira, for it had been determined to make the trip home in southerly latitudes. Across the Bay of Biscay we had a fair wind and some sea, but we soon ran out of it, and we did not sight land again until the high island of Madeira came into view.
We anchored south of the Island in very deep water and were soon surrounded by boats crowded with native peddlers. There were boatloads of Madeira reed furniture, exceedingly substantial--chairs, table stands, couches, baskets, etc. There were purveyors of Madeira lace, feather flowers, inlaid wood work, and bead work, besides fruit merchants with all sorts of tropical fruits. The peddlers were allowed on board with their wares, and the men bought liberally. I also invested in several articles of reed manufacture and in some Madeira lace, but I bought on shore at the regular stores.
The ship coaled not only full bunkers but also took on board a deckload. Twice the ship was ready for sea with steam up ready to sail at midnight, but for some reason never wholly explained we did not sail, but finally we did get away the third time the hour was set and laid our course straight west for Bermuda. We steamed all the
way, using sails when they would aid, and in February 1890 sighted the Island and went on to an anchorage near the Naval Station. I remember that it was on a Friday afternoon. Arrangements were made at once to coal, but it was not until Sunday morning that a three-masted schooner loaded with coal anchored nearby and was hauled alongside. Working our own crew, coaling was completed by nightfall. Early the following morning we sailed for New York, where we arrived on February 22nd, as I remember. We went under the
bridge off the Navy Yard but were ordered to return immediately to an anchorage off Lower New York on the Jersey side.
The ship went out of commission, the crew was transferred to the old Vermont and officers were detached. All this took several weeks to cover, but finally in May 1890 I was able to join my wife and young son who had patiently waited at LaPorte, Indiana the duration of the cruise. It was a joyful return for me, although in its scope and in the number of countries and ports visited I doubt if the cruise has been equaled since in one commission.
USS Enterprise ship's officers 1897-1890. The author is third from left, bottom row.
Source: Ingersoll, Royal R. Cruising in the Old Navy. Washington, DC: Naval Historical Foundation, 1974.
Acknowledgements: The Naval History & Heritage Command gratefully acknowledges the Naval Historical Foundation for their support and encouragement in posting this online edition.