F. W. Bartlett
It was in 1879, during the war between Peru and Chile, when I was on board the old Pensacola, relict of the civil war times when she and her ilk passed the torpedoes into Mobile Bay and later ran the batteries of the Mississippi.
On our trips up and down the coast of Peru so that our Admiral [sic] might see what was going on, we dropped into many of the small ports. One of these was Arica, unimportant as far as the war was concerned but important as the scene of one of Nature's [sic] convulsions and of the effects produced.
Some time earlier there had been a severe disturbance beneath the waters well out into the Pacific and the result as far as Arica was concerned was a tidal wave which swept directly towards the coast and caused havoc, a portion of which remained for us to view.
When this tidal wave came along at night there were anchored off Arica in the open sea several vessels. The largest of these was an American man-of-war called the Wateree. This craft was one of several built originally for the shallow waters of China and was of light draft and flat-bottomed. Another craft was a small supply vessel also of the U.S. Navy, a brig of the usual deep type.
When this wave swept along all the anchors but that of the Wateree held long enough for the vessels to swamp and that was the end of them. The Wateree, due to the flat bottom was raised on the wave and was swept in; and, according to reports, a couple of miles and was again carried out to sea by the receding wave, just as a chip is carried back by the waves we see any day on shore.
F. W. Bartlett
Once more the ship was sent swirling inland and well up the sandy stretch before the town of Arica and this time was deposited safely and right side up. Not a soul was lost and nothing else but the one anchor. Here was the ship sitting on its flat bottom and at least a mile from the shore, the sand gradually sloping to the water.
Well, this one of our ships was scratched from the Navy list [sic], her crew and stores salvaged, and that was the end of the Wateree, apparently. However, more was in store for the lucky ship. A few years later, another wave came along and lifted the Wateree from its sandy bed and again restored it to its natural element for a short time. Again she was carried out to sea by a monster wave and again was put back on the sands, only this time nearer the ocean and at least two miles to the northward.
There she was when we were at Arica - a black metal shape on the bright yellow sands and not more than two miles from us on board. Time prevented a trip to this queer relic of our Navy but we examined the craft [many] times [with our glasses]. The masts were still there and the lower booms, that are used for securing small boats when not in use and that are lowered ready for use, were stretched out on either side of the ship about even with the foremast. From these lower booms were hanging the ropes with eyes worked on the lower ends for securing the painters of the small boats. Alas, no boats were there, but from two of these dropping lines were tied two of the patient donkeys of the land. We felt like quoting - "To what base uses..".
Along in 1885 the U.S.S. Kearsarge, the real one that fought the Alabama, was sailing quietly along the coast of Africa with her engines uncoupled and no steam on board. The reason we were drifting about with no steam and practically no wind was because the Captain [sic] was not pleased with his orders and was industriously killing time in the hope that the orders might be changed before arriving in port, if we waited long enough. In those days of no wireless there was no possibility of orders until we came within the reach of a cable. So, we sailed, or rather drifted along this still, hot afternoon. Hardly a soul was on deck and those were concealed under whatever shade might be found. Very little there was except under the forecastle of the break of the poop. Except for the officer-of-the-deck and the men at the wheel, there was no sign of life.
Just why I happened to go on deck and look over the stern at this time is beyond guessing, but I was fortunate in witnessing one of those sea scenes told about and seldom witnessed.
The water was clear and we were surging ahead just enough to feel that we were actually moving. Down below the rudder was in clear view to the bottom and every barnacle showed it was there. Just then a brown shadow seemed to creep towards the rudder - a large shadow unlike anything I had ever seen before. It slowly enlarged and I found it was a huge devil-fish of the skate trice. When in full view I could accurately get its dimensions by comparison with the width of the ship. Its wings stretched across the stern of the ship and were at least eighteen feet from tip to tip. The whole fish was more or less shaped like a triangle, the tail portion a little shorter than the wings. It was of a brown color - seemingly with the light at the time a seal brown. The color was uniform. The fish was practically still and its
front rested about four feet away from the rudder. Occasionally there was a slight movement of the extremities of the wings. These were thin and worked somewhat like a scull oar and occasionally the lower part of the wing appeared. This was silvery white and the contrast between the dark brown and the silver was vivid. The mouth of this flat fish was apparently very small. In fact there was really no head in view as the front of the fish rounded across towards the tips of the wings.
There were two pilot fish, so called. These were about nine or ten inches long and appeared in this strong light exactly like the fresh water perch we catch in our inland rivers. The yellow stripes were strongly marked on the dark brown background. Of course these stripes went around the little fish and there were about eight or more of them. These queer little fish carried out the proverbial duty of the pilot fish. They swam about and inspected the rudder and the under body of the ship and seemed to return and report. Occasionally they disappeared within the mouth of the big friend, though it was not possible to see where they entered. Anyway they disappeared and returned to further inspect. They were the only moving things, except for the occasional flip of the edges of the wings, apparently doing just enough to keep up with the motion of the ship, as the huge brown bat kept the same position.
In addition to the pilot fish I was glad to see the two large suckers on the back of the big mass. Here were two fish over five feet long, one on either side of the middle of the huge skate. They were hanging on by their sucker mouths. One of them did move once and left his hold to slowly move about but never leaving far his point of attachment. These were ugly, logy looking creatures and most
unattractive-bloated like the leeches they were. They were of a nondescript color, seemingly reddish brown. The poor devil fish had to feed these loafers who were swift enough for a short time to get back to their holds in spite of any sudden action of the big fellow.
This scene lasted for nearly an hour when slowly the whole aggregation swept back and down and out of sight.
To show how seafaring men become used to all matters of the sea, I was unable to get a single one of the officers or even the officer-of-the-deck to move a step to see this marvelous sight.
My first experience with earthquakes was shortly after I had graduated from the Naval Academy and had just joined the U. S. S.Lackawanna also one of those left-over ships from the Civil War and one that also figured at Mobile Bay and the Mississippi. This was the latter part of 1878.
We cruised down along the coast of California and entered the Gulf of California for coal. In those days there was a coal pile belonging the [sic] Uncle Sam about 100 miles within the Gulf and on the ocean side near a little Mexican town, LaPaz. One afternoon a few of us went over to this town and, as it was the first sight many of us had ever had of a Mexican town, we were much thrilled. It was a hot, still afternoon and everybody but us were taking the siesta, so we wandered about and went at once to the largest building there, the church. It was of the proverbial lower California type but was new to us and so full of interest. While inspecting the cool interior, we were accosted by the priest, a quiet little man who showed us with great reverence the priestly robes carefully folded in special closets back of the altar. Later he invited us to visit his house and garden. The house was of no great interest except to our wondering eyes as first entering one of those low, adobe built houses so common everywhere. However the garden was a wonder as the priest, during his many years in this extremely quiet place, had gathered together every known kind of flower and fruit that would grow in that region. So we had our first view of these marvelous tropic growths and the first view is the one that impresses, so that to this day the acme of the tropics seems to be within that little garden.
Later, we sat under his lean-to porch, one with a thin board room
Frank W. Bartlett
just enough to keep away the strong rays of the afternoon sun. While talking in our halting Spanish with our interesting host, there was a noise on the roof as if heavy animals were running back and forth there. Our friend smiled and murmured "Terremoto", which we discovered meant earthquake.
This rambling noise was repeated several times during the hour we spent there and it left the impression that an earthquake was not so much after all. The priest told us that these tremors were vary [sic] frequent in that region but never amounted to much. However, to us it was experience number one with a terremoto. Many we had later.
Frank W. Bartlett
My next experience with earthquakes was in Callao, Peru, the seaport of Lima only eight or so miles inland. This was a bit more vivid.
Three of us were calling on some girls - daughters of an English father and a Peruvian mother and, except for their perfect English, were typically Peruvian - only that they were allowed to be in the presence of young men without the ever present chaperone of the real Peruvian maidens.
Well, as young people will everywhere, after a time we had some dancing and here we were inculcated into the swaying motion so very attractive with these Spanish descendants of the Dons. Their polkas were the embodiment of easy, graceful motion and we soon began to prefer the swinging ease of their way of dancing to our more rapid, swift turning American way.
In addition they taught us the Spanish dance, called, I believe, the Havanera, and we liked much this square dance with its many opportunities of looking into coquettish dark eyes during the mazes of the dance.
Suddenly every girl jumped away from us and either stood in a doorway or a window frame. Wildly they called to us to join them and evidently considered us most stupid in standing there wondering what it was all about. Slowly we joined them, as we Americans were slow to understand and apparently run from danger we could not appreciate. Soon we felt the reason, as the walls of the house began to sway and the floors to lift and the light articles on the mantel to drop. Then we realized why these girls so suddenly went to the doorways and window frames, as the danger was that the tremors of the earth were likely to shake loose the
Frank W. Bartlett
connections between the floors and the walls so that the floors were likely to fall and the only safety lay in the holes for the windows and doors of the vertical brick walls.
Fortunately the shakes were not serious enough to cause any trouble but were enough to make us realize why these people were always subconsciously waiting for a quake and jumped before we others had the slightest notion that anything unusual was to happen.
Frank W. Bartlett
Another earthquake experience was in this same harbor of Callao the seaport of Lima, the marvelous capitol city of Peru.
We were on the gun deck of the old Pensacola, just as she was during Civil War times, with her full sail power and auxiliary engines. The same old cast iron six inch guns were all along the broadside of the gun deck. As I remember, there were 21 guns on either side, all looking out of the open ports this quiet, sunny afternoon. It was cool and pleasant there with the soft air wafting through the ports and we were scattered about in our portion of the deck reading, talking, smoking, whatever young men do when off duty and still unable to go ashore, possibly relief for watch standing officers. Suddenly it seemed as though a monster of the deep had taken hold of our anchor chain and had begun to shake the ship most violently. This lasted but a second - just long enough for the orders to be given to close all ports on the lower deck and for hundreds of men to jump instinctively to their stations. A few moments later there was another vicious shake of the ship, this time lasting for probably three seconds - and a lot of shaking may be carried on in a very few seconds under the impulse of the earthquake.
That was all.
For days afterwards the "Callao Paunter" was especially bad. This "Painter" is really a vapor that rises from the water of the harbor and probably is sulphuric in origen [sic], as it discolors white paint to a dirty brown. It is always there but at times not very bad. Fresh water scrubbing generally removes the effect if taken soon, but in those days fresh water was not so plentiful on board
a man-of-war as at present. The distillers were small but the main reason, it seems to me, was that the Navy was not then, freshwater minded, so to speak. All the enlisted men did most of their personal and clothes washing with salt water and salt water soala vile concoction at best but better than nothing. They did not seem to mind it, as there had never been anything else. The running tap of fresh water was not anywhere except in the galley, as the cooking had to be done with fresh water. However, this tap had a lock on it and the chief cook, called always "Portugss [sic] Joe" had the key and was watched well by the Executive [sic]. Fresh water was dealt out by bucket-fulls and only from the mail hold and the buckets had to be carried down two or three decks to get the water
It happened in the harbor of Constantinople that the whole ship's company of the Kearsarge dined with the Sultan of Turkey. This was in 1885 when the same old civil war Kearsarge was cruising in the Mediterranean and at this time had on board the Admiral of the squadron, as his ship carried too many guns to be allowed to enter the strait leading to Constantinople, according to the rules at that period.
While anchored off this magnificent city, the officers and crew were invited to a banquet at the Navy Yard by the Sultan. As many of the officers as could be spared and over half of the crew went ashore about seven in the evening to this grand affair. Those of us remaining on board consoled ourselves readily, as all sea-faring men are able to do most readily. We missed that but we have seen many other things and there was [sic] be something as good before long. So we do.
On board the crew had their hammocks and could "turn in" at nine p.m. and had to be turned in at nine-thirty p.m. Following the custom, most of the crew were well settled by about nine-twenty. Only three of us officers had to remain on board and we were sitting on deck in the soft air, when about nine-twenty there approached a tug and evidently was to come nearer still. The executive had the tug hailed and the reply was that the tug was coming alongside. This was a troublesome matter with the spars and lined to the lower booms and the small gangway, but come alongside she did and secured there. Soon appeared from the tug and up the gangway of the Kearsarge and down onto the quarterdeck a procession of fezzed, swathed trowsered men each bearing on his
head a round, flat copper vessel with a round, flat copper cover, all burnished to the last touch. These vessels were about six inches high and about five feet in diameter.
These vessels were deposited on the quarter deck and all hands on board were summoned to dine with the Sultan. As all could not go ashore, the banquet was brought to those remaining on board.
These dishes were hot and the viands within hot also and soon all on board were squatted on the deck around the various vessels regaling themselves with the good things there. There were also the same drinks that were served on shore. Many were the dishes and many the kinds of "eats", as we say nowadays.
The tug remained alongside until all had feasted when the same procession appeared and removes [sic] every vistage of the feast. Little of the food was carried away however and every last man on board praised the dinner with the Sultan.
Frank W. Bartlett
Bay of Biscay.
Though I have passed across the Bay of Biscay several times and have seen all sorts of moderately bad weather and never a smooth sea all the way across, only once was I out in one of these ripsnorters that this region of the seas furnishes frequently.
But this one time was enough to appreciate what the sea may do when it really is whipped by such winds as grow in that region.
It was in 1885 on the old Kearsarge. We had just been visiting the old battlerground or rather battle water at Cherbourg and were headed South [sic] towards Gibraltar when we ran into about as hectic a time as falls to the lot of a seaman. The Kearsarge was what is called a fine sea boat and withstood many storms and was able to steady herself with such sails as were advisable and could also furl all sails and steam in any direction when it became advisable to weather a gale. But never before in the two years on board did we have to lay-to. Furthermore, our skipper was one who simply loved to face a storm and to use his ingenuity to beat out any weather with his superb seamanship. Generally he held his course and would let her blow as she deemed fit and the rougher the weather and the more the ship labored the better he seemed to enjoy himself. It seemed to be with him a question of mind over matter and he loved to control the ship when under the lashing of wind and sea.
This time he had all he wanted and then some. When our old man laid his ship to, it was time to lay to and we knew then that even he was satisfied that we had met our match, for we were laid to
Frank W. Bartlett
four [sic] four mortal days right in the middle of this region that showed us how wicked it might be.
It was not the height of the waves for on the way from the Hawaiian Islands to Japan I have seen waves following each other day after day and by measurement as high as any recorded, and still we steamed along rising and falling to the lift and surge of these monsters without varying our course and little our speed. No, it was the wildness of the wind and sea, the waves coming most irregularly and from varying directions so that the sea was a tumbled one and there was no meeting wave after wave or telling where to look for the next vicious one.
So the old Kearsarge lay to with just enough power from the engines to keep steerage way and with the smallest and lowest of the fore-and-aft sails hoisted with every possible reef in it to help to keep us in the trough of the sea - that is, of the most regular of the seas. It was no longer a case of getting somewhere but was simply waiting for the storm to snort itself out.
Canvas covers were on all the hatches - both for the driving rain and for the water constantly coming on board from all directions. Huge waves rose in front and poured over the topgallant forecastle and solid water ran aft along the deck and dashed back to the cabin bulkheads aft - gradually escaping through the lee scuppers. Also waves would simply lift themselves up alongside and flop over on to the deck and huge masses of water came with these waves and amidships was frequently practically full of water. Life lines were led fore-and-aft and few moved either way unless absolutely necessary and then it would be a sudden dash
Vrank [sic] W. Bartlett
forward or aft and generally a good ducking.
Of course the ship was safe enough and nobody worried but it was most uncomfortable. Generally in a storm we may be able to foretell the motions and prepare in advance for the surge that is pretty sure to follow, but during these four days there was no guessing as to the next heave of the ship. You would have to balance like a tight-rope walker ready to cast your weight and feet in the right direction after the surge began and very tiring it was.
Those off duty spent most of their time in their bunks, bracing themselves as best possible and we younger ones found a lot of fun jeering at those who were at any time trying to go somewhere. In the Junior Officer's Quarters - called in those days, the Steerage - were bunks along the sides of the ship and the center of the ship was the open country and mess room. Several times those in bunks on one side of the ship were shot out and across to the other side of the ship, to land right side up if possible or any old way if not agile against the line of bunks on the other side. On the way they would shoot across the fore-and-aft table in the middle and slide across that and land - bang - against the bunks on the other side. That was good fun and many were the howls of derision that went sailing across the mess room.
It was tough on the sea-sick ones, who nevertheless stood their four hour watches on deck sick as they were, for the Navy does its stunt whether alive or nearly dead.
Frank W. Bartlett
Storm on Vesuvius.
When the Spanish War was imminent, the Vesuvius was at Jacksonville, Florida; engaged in preventing filibustering of arms and men to Cuba. The guns on board had not been used for many years and we had orders to let them alone. However, as war became rather sure, we went to the Navy Yard, Washington where the compressed air guns were put in condition and then to Newport, R.I. for torpedoes to shoot in these guns. As soon as possible we started South, as war had been declared and we were in a hurry to get amongst things. From Newport to the Capes of the Chesapeake, all was well, but, as night fell off the capes, there was a storm brewing and a consultation was held as to the advisability of going on or running inside the capes until we could find out how bad this storm would be. The Vesuvius was a small, light vessel of the torpedo boat type and not built to withstand a severe storm. Generally, we went from port to port watching the weather and ducking in whenever bad storms were adrift. With Hatteras just ahead and a storm rapidly coming along, it was a matter to be well considered. It was before the days of wireless so we had to depend on judgment. However, the enthusiasts had the say and on we went. As I was the engineer officer, I turned in about nine p.m. and promptly slept. The Vesuvius had a raised forecas [sic] the forward and a deck house amidships. Aft was an open deck about six feet above the water. During the night I heard bumping noises on the deck overhead and went up the ladder to see what it was all about. There I found a big sailor man, throwing overboard what was left of the officer's ice box. He grinned at me and said it was a pity to throw all that good food overboard. The trouble was that the tiller for emergency use of the rudder swung across the deck
Frank W. Bartlett
aft and about six inches above the deck. If anything adrift on the deck should jam that tiller, steering would be impossible and we would go round and round in a circle and have to meet the waves from all directions, which, in a storm would not be to the good. So anything cast adrift by the waves had to go overboard before it came aft far enough to jam the tiller. And everything that could be routed out was then adrift, for this storm was upon us. This was about 11 p.m. I talked with the engine room through the voice tube and was told that all was well there and the engines turning slowly as ordered. Of course I was soon on deck and up on the bridge to see what was going on. The captain was as cool as usual and told me he had headed to ship directly into the storm and intended to ride it out, going slowly to the North East [sic], which kept the ship well away from the coast. The little vessel was doing well indeed and was riding the waves beautifully. Of course waves dashed clear over the forecastle and surged along the deck and off aft. The passage ways on either side of the deck house gave free sweep to the waves which would rush along these passages four to five feet high. When one was coming we would take a firm grip of the beams overhead and swing our feet over the wave as it swept along or would climb the railings at the side of the ship and thus keep from being washed along and overboard.
Everything looked well until about midnight. The coal bunkers were just under the deck and were filled from holes in the deck. These deck holes were covered with metal plates that were practically watertight, so no water entered below. However, the little craft was whipping like a bowstring and this caused one of these
deck plates to jump out of its receptacle. This allowed an opening for the water about fifteen inches in diameter and a lot of water can drop through that opening. Of course nobody on deck knew of this happening but soon a fireman in one of the firerooms became well assured of something wrong. The coal was taken out of the bunkers through a door in the vertical side of the fireroom and this door was about three feet square, and it was open ready to remove more coal. Suddenly a solid mass of water of the size of this door poured into the fireroom and coal was carried with it and the poor fireman did not know exactly what had struck him. This mingled coal and water rushed into the bilges under the floor plated and aft to the engine room. Here were the bilge pumps constantly working and keeping the ship free of water.
Of course the deck was notified and the plate put back in place. Then another plate whipped off and more water came into another fireroom. Again the plate was put into place. This happened at least four times within an hour. It would not have been disasterous [sic] in itself as long as the plates were replaced promptly and the pumps could remove the water rapidly enough, but here came the trouble. Together with the water, coal was swept along to the pumps. There were strainer boxes around the suctions of the pumps and these strained refuse ordinarily, but the coal came in such quantities that it covered the strained boxes and allowed no water to get to the pump suction. The water rose to four feet in the ship, which had no compartments as today, and the condition became serious. It was then that I went to the Bridge [sic] and told the Captain that, unless the deck plates were secured so no more water came in, I feared we would be in serious trouble.
The deck force went at the problem, which meant getting from somewhere boards long enough to cover the deck plates and nailing these boards into the wooden deck alongside the plates. That seemed easy enough until we remember the green seas sweeping along the passage ways on either side of the deck house. It required agility and quick action for two men, one to hold the board and the other to drive nails, all the time watching for the waves and seizing the beams overhead and jumping over these four feet waves and then quickly driving a blow or two before the next wave came. Of course it was done, as all things are done on board ship. One of the deck plates had gone overboard, leaving this gaping hole. That was solved by pushing hammocks into the opening and stamping them in place, so that little water could get through. It was rather rough on the unlucky men who owned the hammocks, but that was all in the game and they would be recompensed afterwards, in the mean time having no nice dry, warm place to crawl into, instead of sleeping on the cold, wet deck.
Down below, the only thing to be done was for an oiler to lean over and reach down into the bilges, picking out coal by hand so that the water might reach the action of the pump. It was then, just as this work began and the almost hopeless matter of slowly picking up small handsful [sic] of this coal started, that I went up the engine room hatch for a breath of fresh air and looked over the tumbled waters and felt the frail craft whip with the action of the waves, that I for a moment wondered if this were to be the end. It surely was rather desperate. However, I lit a cigarette and went below again to find the two oilers on watch were making good progress and the chances were good that we would not get
too much water into the bilges before the pumps could again suck water instead of coal dust. It was a couple of hours before we really were sure the pumps were beginning to work and glad we were when we could see a little water sucked down with each stroke of the pump. This operation of leaning over while lying at full length on the floor plates and stretching the arms to full length to bring up a handful of coal was carried on during the rest of the night until we were sure the pump suction was steadily working. Two men of each watch constantly relieved each other while the other one oiled both engines and the auxiliaries. These unsung heroic acts are just what the Navy does when the need comes and nobody seems to consider it more than the game that of course will be played.
It was tranquil enough below with the two boiler rooms quiet and cool and just enough steam kept to allow the engines to run at revolutions sufficient in ordinary weather to drive the vessel to a speed of six knots an hour. This kept up through the thirty hours we bucked the storm. Few of the men below ever tried to go back to their hammocks during this time and most of them dropped to sleep anywhere they could find a place to lie. Of course I was there most of the time with such an emergency upon us and I remember once waking up from my spot on the metal floor plates of a fireroom with a colored man lying beside me and the coaly boots of another man next my face.
Our meals were sketchy. Fortunately, our captain had directed the steward to lay in a lot of canned soups of the small sizes. These were our main standby during these hours of danger. Our cook managed always to have several of these with holes punctured
in the tops hot on the stove and secured by many cross bars so they could not roll off ready for us at all times. Also, he kept constantly on hand hot coffee. Canned cream was available and sugar - also hardtack. This was our only food.
The galley with its hot soup and coffee was directly forward of our wardroom in the central deck house. All doors were firmly secured but one leading into the galley and from there a door lead into the mess-room. The wooden shutters of the windows were closed and secured without, so there was no light. Water was sloshing about to the level of the door jams, so we paddled about in water six inches deep. We went to the galley and secured a tin of soup and a hardtack and went into the dark mess-room and regaled ourselves with a drink from one hand and a bite from the other, all the time leaning tight against a wall of the room and with the water sloshing about. Later the soup tin was replaced by a tin mug of coffee and merrily and fully we feasted.
Up on the deck house was the bridge and we watched our waves and slid out of the galley and quickly climbed the vertical ladder rounds to the top of the deck house and thence around the smoke pipe to the bridge, forward. Always there was the captain and well he handled us during that storm and constant was the need of his presence. Several times the ropes for the tiller broke and the officer-of-the-deck had to go below with a gang of men to make repairs. Also this officer had to attend to the nailing down of the plates over the bunker holes - and always there was the captain with his cheery smile and his certainty of all being well.
After the storm blew itself out and the waves subsided suf-
ficiently we headed for the capes. It was found that the speed we had kept up for those thirty hours with the revolutions set for six knots in smooth water, was exactly nothing, as we had made no head-way on our course and were just a little farther out from the land than when we started, to face the storm.
Well - that meant ten days at the Navy Yard, Norfolk,Va. for repairs and to replace the boats and other parts of our equipment lost, but the real cause was that when the ship was surveyed at the Yard it was found that she had almost broken in two just where the forecastle and the main deck met. A few more hours and the frail vessel would have not survived.
Moral: Do not buck the ocean when you are in a hurry to get to a war.
[X from p.72]
Scouting West Of Cuba.
We were at Key West while the Spanish Fleet was adrift somewhere near the West Indies [scratched out: having just finished slight repairs]. As the Vesuvius was fast - as speed was reckoned in those days - we were chosen to scout to the Westward [sic] of Cuba to report if the Spanish fleet was headed for Havana by that route. Along about dusk we were at our station with the coast of Cuba barely in sight on the East [sic], waiting for signs of the phantom fleet.
By some accident a steel wire rope was around out starboard propeller so we could not use that engine. However, a little thing like did not prevent our captain from carrying out his orders.
We were lying quiet, watching to the south, when along about midnight we saw to the south the lights of several vessels, just where it was supposed that the Spanish fleet would be. The captain immediately turned back and steamed along so as to just keep the oncoming lights in distant view. So we steamed to the North [sic] until daylight, the lights following us at the same distance. When nearly day the Captain decided to face them and see what they were. These were his orders - to scout for the Spanish Fleet and report. What we could do if we found them was another matter, as they were of a speed of twenty-knots and the Destroyers [sic] with them went up to about thirty, and our speed, with only one engine would never be more than twelve, if that. However, we started towards them. Apparently they had not seen us - we carried no lights whatever so it would have been difficult to see using the dark anyway. Soon we were discovered and immediately some action took place. All ships - there were three - turned tail. One went straight away from us, another went straight to our right and the third went diagonally away from us. Apparantly [sic] there was little speed among them as it was not long before we came near enough for
rentative signals to be sent up and recognized. We found that our supposed Spanish Fleet consisted of three of our own supply ships that the commanding officer of our Scouting Fleet on the south coast of Cuba had sent back to Key West for coal.
So, we found nothing of value, but we did have a sample of one of the methods of warfare. Also, we had an illustration of what a Captain of one of our ships would do to carry out orders - a crippled ship deliberately hunting an enemy force known to many times stronger than his - just to carry out orders.
Those who remember the monitors that played such an important part in the Civil War are rapidly lessening. As I was fortunate in having a short tour of duty in one of these craft, it seems well to tell a little about them.
A [There] monitor as [were] dubbed by an observing person "[a] cheesebox on a raft" and that tells well their appearance. Of course the raft was of the general shape of the waterline of a ship. Imagine such a raft from six to ten feet deep and flat, top and bottom. On this was perched one or two round structures from fifteen to twenty feet high. Then visualize a regular ship extending below the top of this raft and firmly secured to the raft at all parts so that the raft rested on and was supported by the ship. Then, conceive that the edges of the raft was cut away inside the ship and only the edges left. These edges projected away from the ship proper everywhere. These edges were of from three to five feet of solid oaken beams running about and the outer surfaces of these wooden walls were of thick iron. These metal face[s together with the wooden beams] were thick and strong enough to resist gunfire of the enemy, as guns were known at that time. At the bow and stern these edges or shelves projected far beyond the hull of the ship proper to protect the anchor chains forward and aft to protect the propeller [sic]. Remember that the bottom and top of this edge was flat, so that, when at sea the heavy waves would slap under the edges and give the ship a heavy strain and shock that was felt by all on board. Of course the top of this edge was also flat and on a level with the deck of the ship proper, so that a continuous deck reached to the edges of raft.
The raft was all for defense to protect the ship from assaults
of the guns of the enemy. They were amply sufficient for safety from the guns of that day. Note that most of this armored edge was below water and only about two feet above the water aft and not more than five or six feet was out of the water forward. So the deck had a gradual slope from forward to aft, but this slope was so small for its length that it was not noticed. So, the deck was a flat raft with a wooden deck all its length.
The turret was for offence. Within this round cheesebox were the guns, two in number. The turret was of sheet iron, as this was before the days of armor plate, sheets laid one outside the other and rivetted - also before the time of steel welding by modern methods where very heavy plates are welded together to make one complete unit. These iron plates were one outside the other to a thickness of a foot. These were amply thick to prevent the guns of Civil War times from penetrating and well they stood up against the hammering from ship and fort. The two guns were mounted so as to revolve with the turret and the turret was aimed and not the guns, except for the up and down sights, which were of course adjusted from arrangements on each gun. As these guns were parallel, there were two holes in the turret beside each other and apart just the distance between the centers of the bores of the guns. As the guns were never turned by themselves, these holes in the turrets were only slightly wider than the muzzles of the guns. They were somewhat longer vertically to allow for a slight raising and lowering of the guns. These holes were fitted with revolving doors of heavy iron so they might be kept closed until the guns were to fire, when the doors were quickly opened and closed.
Of course these turrets were very heavy but still had to be turned on a center. This was done by having a vertical cylinder in the center of the turret and water under pressure was pumped into
these cylinders, thus raising the whole affair, turret and guns, just enough so the weight of all was carried on this non-friction water. The steam turning mechanism did the rest, but the adjustment was crude from out present idea and it was difficult to stop the heavy turret at the exact Point [sic] desired. However, distances were much less than of the present gunfire, so the aim was perhaps good enough to meet the requirements. The guns were, of course, loaded at the muzzle and the shot, powder, etc. was rammed into place in the gun. There was only one fixed place for this loading [within the ship and below the deck line] and each gun had to be drawn well within the turret and the turret swung around to this spot to receive the charges. This took a lot of time. After that, the turret must be swung back for firing and the gun run out of the turret as far as possible before firing. Of course these guns were of cast iron and were very big around and very short, according to our present methods. The Nantucket had in the one turret two fifteen inch guns, which means that the guns fired around cast iron balls fifteen inches in diameter. The turrets were just large enough to hold the two guns with the only chance of passing around the guns above and below the swelling breeches.
Above the turret was what we call today the [conning tower]. This was a small, heavily armored enclosure, the top just enough above the top of the turret for the captain to see what was going on. His feet were down amongst the guns. There was no outlet above this "fighting turret" as we called it, which recalls the Mobile Bay incident when the brave Captain Craven made way for the pilot to descent from the "fighting turret" first so he was saved and the Captain was just too late.
Within the hull proper was what is in all hulls of ships, machinery for propulsion and auxiliaries, magazines, crew quarters, officer quarters and the many other details. At sea and in action every opening to the deck was closed with heavy metal hatches, so
everybody was bottled up under the raft.
There was an opening to the top of the turret on one side, as this was the "bridge" from which the ship was navigated and directed on its way.
Of course there were from the beginning on these ships forced ventilation, fans drawing air down from special armored trunks leading well up into the air and forcing air everywhere, this air to finally escape through [the top of the turret, which consisted of a heavy metal grating.] Without this forced air draft, none could have lived long bottled up in this way. It was bad enough anyway, either in port or at sea, as enough air was not supplied at any time to keep men in proper health.
The anchor was hung suspended under the armored edge in the bow and was lowered by loosing a clutch and was hoisted by steam power. It was well protected by the armored front.
The machinery was aft next the stern and was what was called in those days a "grasshopper engine" from the long arms opening and shutting like grasshopper legs. However, it did the work with little trouble, even moving this blunt sluggish craft along at a speed of six knots - fast enough for what was a floating fort.
The quarters were large and as comfortable as possible for crew and officers - a very large wardroom and large rooms for the officers and plenty of room for the hammocks of the crew. These monitors were very wide for their length giving ample room everywhere. Of course the main idea was to let the water do most of the protecting, leaving little to hit and those parts well protected by armor. Even the smoke pipe was heavily armored to a height of ten feet. The upper part of the smoke pipes suffered most and were frequently punctured, but the ten or so feet of armor at the bot-
tom still allowed enough draft for the furnaces to keep up the small speed required. These craft were more or less like a porcupine, who fears no animal, and went their way irrespective of shot and shell. They were so far ahead of anything else in their day that they paid little attention to the enemy. We cannot enough thank John Ericsson, the Swede, for his hunch and those few in the Navy Department who backed him up.
In 1882 the Nantucket was at anchor at Annapolis, Md., and had been stationed off the Naval Academy for several years, off and on.
For some unknown reason the Navy Department ordered the monitor into commission for a cruise [in the Summer [sic] of 1832.] So a commanding officer, other officers and crew went on board and the monitor proceeded to the Navy Yard, Norfolk, Va. for overhaul and docking.
Of all hot places in this wide country give me Norfolk in summer and of all hot spots in this inferno give me a monitor in the dry dock. The flat deck of the cheese box [sic] was about ten feet below the level of the earth and the metal craft and the hot granite lining of the dock absorbed heat all day long and steadily grew hotter and hotter. At night there was no let up as no cooling night breezes - and there [were] few of these that summer in Norfolk - swept down into that hell to allay the infernal heat. How we stood it for the three days in dock is beyond me, and only youth could bear it even then. In addition the heavy growth of barnacles, clams and other animals that had been scraped from the bottom of the monitor quickly spoiled in the broiling sun and the rank odors enveloped us always with no possibility of escape.
A few of the officers were dubious of going to sea in one of these "metal coffins" and several made their wills and not a few shipped all their effects to New York by land rather than to chance them in this unknown craft, as no monitors had been at sea for many years and the story was still told of the loss of the original monitor with all hands on the way south from this very port of Norfolk.
So, one afternoon when I was inspecting the bottom of the ship I found a spot where I could lay the ball of my thumb into a corroded place and very properly reported the matter. The executive, who had charge
of the hull directed me to get a heavy mall with a point about one-half inch in diameter and the heaviest sledge I could find and the strongest fireman on board and to see if we could punch a hole through the ship. One man held the heavy punch and the fireman swung for all he had and the punch flew away as if it had been against a stone wall. Again and again we tried out this spot with no effect whatever except to make a bright spot the size of the punch.
The executive had taken the care to have with us the worst of the calamity howlers, so that settled the question of the hull being weak. From the plans I found the metal was originally three-quarters of an inch thick and of wrought iron, which stood corrosion wonderfully. Think of three-quarters of an inch when we make our destroyers with a hull thickness of not more than three-sixteenth of an inch.
So, that ended that scare.
Then came the discussion of why the original monitor went down and it came to light that somebody had failed to see to the heavy gasket under the turret. When going to sea the turret was always raised from its bed by the hydraulic cylinder at the center and an inspection made of the heavy hemp woven gasket on which the turret rested. This gasket was about [four] inches square of soft hand woven hemp, plentifully saturated with tallow and was made in a complete circle of the full diameter of the turret. The turret could be raised enough to slip this gasket in place and, when the heavy weight of the turret came down on it the sea water was kept from flowing into the monitor. It was believed that when the original monitor last went to sea either this gasket was left out or was so disintegrated that it allowed water to freely enter and a lot of water can come through such an opening as that, especially as there was no huge bilge injection to be opened as needed
from the suction of the circulating pump of today - and which has many times saved a serious situation.
[Norfolk here from???]
Finally we left this hot spot of creation - only equally [sic] by Philadelphia in Summer - and went our way to New York. The only incident on the slow way there was quite a storm one night and it was very interesting to be on the top of the turret with the officer-of-the-deck and watch the waves pouring over us in the dark. The waves paid no attention to us at all and swept along across us as if we were not there. Waves ten feet high rolled across and swept around the turret and met on the lee side and joined up again with little break. The show of phospherescences [sic] was very fine as wave after wave came along with the white crests rolling over us. Not a vistage of a ship could we see under us and we on the cheese box seemed to have no raft. It was queer to see and feel this round turret going through this tumbled sea and a long time I enjoyed the spectacle. Of course the troughs of the sea kept slapping up under the overhang and each one gave a jolt that would have much surprised and fretted us on an ordinary ship, but we expected it here and [it] gave us little concern. One unusual thing was the sharp roll of the monitor, no easy gliding down and slow return. It was a sudden slap one way and just as sharp a one the other. This was, of course, due to the extremely high [metal] center. Where ordinarily it is a matter of a foot or a few feet or even less, the center on one of these monitors was in the neighborhood of seventy feet.
We came to New York with no incident and on the way from the battery [sic] to 23d street [sic] where we anchored, we were surrounded by all sorts of craft, every moving thing on the water coming for a close view of this queer thing so low and strange. Ferry boats ran alongside us for a time so the passengers might view the sight. However, these monitors, with
their short length and wide beam were difficult to steer and would yaw all over the place and some of these surface craft had to be rather lively to keep out of our way, not that we would have speed enough to hit them but that they might, if not steered carefully when near us, hit us. They all gave the idea that we were so low and fragile that they must be careful or they might sink us - little knowing that we would soon be found in a different category.
While anchored off New York City we younger ones frequently took advantage of the wide, awning-covered decks to go through many forms of athletics and it seemed much to interest those on steamers going nearby to see us fencing and boxing on the decks. Others sat around reading and smoking. No wonder these people were interested in this pancake with white awning and officers in the open going through various forms of gymnastics.
Later on we went to West Point and anchored just below the wharf there. One night about nine-thirty several of us were sitting in the wardroom in the bows of the ship when we felt a heavy bump and rushed on deck to find the queerest sight imaginable for a ship.
At that time many canal boats came through the Erie canal [sic] and were towed by another canal boat that had power. On this dark night one canal boat was towing another down stream and when the tide was running strongly down the river. Blundering along, it appeared that the forward towing canal boat suddenly discovered us right in front. The captain swerved to save his craft and, in doing so, swerved the towed canal boat so it came just across the bows of the monitor. The strong tide, together with the speed through the water, drove the boat right against our shelf bow. This bow stove in the side of the canal boat [some could see the wheat inside] and there she was resting across our bows. A man suddenly jumped
from the canal boat to our bows. There we were and a very dangerous situation it was for us. As the canal boat filled it would get heavier and heavier and the current would hold it in place. Eventually our bow would be carried under water and that would be the end of the Nantucket. The executive - always ready - ordered the anchor chain let out to save us temporarily - but no more, and the operation began. Just then from the aft direction we saw looming up close alongside another canal boat. The power canal boat captain was alert and saw the situation. He rounded under our stern and steamed up towards our bows and at his full speed butted the other canal boat from our bows. It immediately sank before our eyes and the man who had jumped on board [our ship] jumped on board the power canal boat, which disappeared in the dark. That was that. It was all a matter of less than ten minutes and we went below again, thanking that captain for his quickness of vision and action and realizing that one of Uncle Sam's ships had been in dire peril and that we had been saved from a swim that would not be likely to save any of us in that current and so far from shore.
Of course the commanding officer made an official report of the matter to the Navy Department and that was all we ever knew of the matter not a word in the newspapers and not a word from any canal boat owner.
Back off New York we sent a portion of our machinery to the Navy Yard for needed repairs. One morning we were informed by the Captain of the Port that we must move, as were possibly in the way of a large Atlas Line (English) steamer that was to sail the next day and was at a wharf near us and would have to back out our way. The captain told the Captain of the Port that our machinery was disabled but we would be glad to move if he would send a tug to carry us away. No further word came but a rumor came to us that the captain of the Atlas liner said we
need not [move] and that he guessed he could clear his way.
You see, we looked very insignificant compared to such a huge ship.
About one p.m. out backed the big steamer. The executive and I were standing near the bow of the Nantucket. The steamer was above the Nantucket and, as she backed out straight from the wharf, the tide carried her down towards us. The captain of the English ship made no effort to back hard and pass beyond us but allowed his ship to settle right across our bows about midship of her length. Slowly she came down and we looked straight up in the air along the vertical wall of the black hull. Then she bumped into us very slowly and our overhang bow simply crushed in the plates of this huge craft and we could look inside the ship and see freight of all kinds neatly stowed within, barrels, machinery, crates, etc. The captain of the English ship looked down on us and said in a contemptuous way: -
"Are you sinking down there?"
The executive looked up at him and in a humerous voice quietly answered:-
"No, but you are."
By this time word had come to the bridge and the captain started his machinery full speed backwards and slipped along past us scraping [on out bow] all the way and beached his big ship on the Jersey shore.
After that the Nantucket was called "The terror of the Hudson" and the papers warned everybody to keep well away from us.
I was soon detached and soon the ship was out of commission and into oblivion.
[to page 32]
An episode occurred at the Norfolk Navy Yard that is worth telling, as showing how the spirit of the Civil War was still rampant among some of those of the South. But we found it was more rampant in those who had
been born after the war than with those who had lived in those bitter times. Mind you, this was seventeen years after peace had been declared.
While lying at the wharf at the Yard, two of us showed a charming party around the ship. They were of those delightful southern people and were much interested. Among them was a very beautiful young girl about fifteen years old. After giving them tea according to the good Navy custom we were showing them the turret and pointed [out] the several shot marks made by the guns of the South at Fort Sumpter during the several attacks made on the fort. These holes were round and sunken into the surface about an inch.
This young southern girl said:-
"I wish they had sunk you."
An officer took off his hat and said:-
"You will find the gangway right here."
We ushered them ashore as politely as we knew how, the girl holding her head high and looking prettier than ever. The others most politely made their adieus and thanked us for our courtesy.
The Vesuvius was an experiment and, unlike many experiments in the Navy was carried through to the bitter end - even to the test of warfare. The chance was given to prove that the experiment could do just what it was supposed to do. The trouble was that what it was supposed to do was of very little use in warfare.
It was popularly called "The Dynamite Cruiser" but it did not throw dynamite but wet guncotton, the strong explosive of that period. It was designed to throw 250 pounds of gun cotton [sic] a distance of one and one half miles or a charge of 150 pounds a distance of two and one half miles and it did that very thing. The only trouble was that, with the daylight there was no chance of getting near enough to shoot a projectile without being sunk a dozen times and at night the search lights again prevented success. Still, she was used, fortunately against an enemy not alert or she would have made one trip only and only one.
Just who fathered this experiment I never knew, but I do know that the one who was called upon to put the guns in order was a Russian, and he surely knew it all and did put the guns in such shape that the experiment was a success during the Spanish War off Santiago.
The ship was a torpedo boat - not a Destroyer - and rather a small one at that. Within and a part of the hull were the three guns. These were tubes of about eight inches internal diameter and not very thick and were of brass. They were built in at a low angle and projected above the forecastle deck [near the bow] for a distance of about ten feet and were about four feet high above the deck. They were in the neighborhood of 80 feet long and ran down nearly to the keel of the ship on a slant. The lower parts of the tubes were hinged for a distance of about ten feet so that this last ten feet might be laid horizontally and par-
allel to the keel. This was done to receive the projectiles when the lower part of the tubes were swung back into position ready for firing.
The projectiles were torpedo shaped, the outer thin covering of metal of the color of a torpedo. Within these was packed the wet gun cotton. At the forward end was an opening in which, just before firing, was placed dry gun cotton. Still, another smaller opening was where a fulminate cap was last [screwed in place.] The wet gun cotton was absolutely safe, so that rifle bullets had been fired through it without igniting. The dry gun cotton was much less safe and the fulminate was - well fulminate. After the projectile was fired and hit something hard the fulminate set off the dry gun cotton and the dry detonated the wet. An arrangement was made so that, if the projectile hit the water, the explosion would be deferred until the projectile had time to sink to a depth of about ten feet before exploding, thus making a more or less solid background for the detonation to [butt] against and send its violent tremors in all directions through the water.
[O from p.72]
The projectile was sent on its way by compressed air. Air pumps of enormous size and weight were installed on board and the air was compressed into tanks to a pressure of 2200 pounds per sq. in. Along the keel were huge tanks about three feet in diameter - just how long I am not sure but at any rate the main ones were at least 50 feet long. In addition to the main tanks there was one carefully calibrated tank. This was much smaller and about 15 feet long but of the same diameter as the main ones. In this smaller tank was the firing charge. It was filled with the compreser [sic] air at 2000 lbs. pressure. Whether the temperature was considered I do not know, but it probably was and allowance made by a slight increase or diminution of the pressure. Between the firing tank and the guns were large brass pipes, full fifteen inches in diameter and strong enough to withstand this pressure.
These pipes led to valves for each gun, so that any one might be fired. At each gun was a huge valve that could be opened suddenly and the compressed air loosed to drive the projectile.
The ship was, of course, aimed for orientation. The distance the projectily [sic] went was managed by special valves arranged to cut off the supply of air at the proper time. If full distance was desired the full volume of the firing tank was allowed to rush to the projectile. In other words, it followed full stroke. If a less distance was desired the cut off valves shut off the rush of air at whatever portion of full stroke desired. The calibration for distance was done during many months of experimentation, shots being fired and the distance measured day after until a proper curve was made out for each gun, so that the gunners officer could quickly set the cut off valve for the desired distance. Of course this was on a level, as no earthly way could be to experiment with varying heights and nobody could accurately calculate on the curve of the projectile to determine how to hit an object away from the horizontal. This detail became very important off Santiago, when the only objects to be hit were up in the air.
However, as the result of the long series of experiments a very accurate rate chart was made out and the firing was fair always. It had been found that the probability of hitting a definite spot was three hundred feet either way from the spot. It might be anywhere in that length. Accurate enough for a fort of fair size but not much use for a small object.
After each shot the firing tank had to be filled again to the full pressure of 2000 lbs. When out for business requiring more that [sic] three or four shots the pumps were kept going all the time keeping the main storage tanks up to 2200 lbs. if possible. In our experience we usually fired three shots and the tanks held enough to do that. The
last time of all we surprised the Spaniards by firing five shots and the reserve air was enough. Of course it made a great difference whether the shot was for full distance or part stroke.
The projectiles were forward under the berth deck and were laid along in racks parallel to the center line of the ship. Runways and switches were arranged so these projectiles could be moved from their places and let to the proper gun and pushed into the swinging part at the bottom and thus to firing position. As near as I can remember there was room for thirty shells.
Of course the projectiles [for the base amount of gun cotton] were smaller than the larger ones, the eight inch ones for 250 pounds of guncotton and the six inch held only 150 pounds. When firing the smaller ones there was placed behind the projectile a wooden disc with felt along the edge as a wad to prevent the escape of the air.
As the ordnance officer was down in the bowels, he took his orders to fire from the bridge - a voice tube connecting. The Captain laid the vessel on the range and gave the order to fire to the ordnance officer. The valves were a peculiar, quick acting affairs that slammed open by force of the compressed air itself and was very ingenious. Also the cut off valve. These details I never knew.
The vessel was very thin and very light and low in the water, as are all torpedo boats. There was a raised forecastle about five feet higher than the main deck that extended from there aft. In this forecastle lived the crew. The boiler and machinery spaces took all the room from deck to keel from the forecastle aft to about the last forty feet which was the officer's quarters. There was a deck house along the center of the ship with passages on either side to the rail. Within this deck house was the chart house under the bridge, the galley and the wardroom with many windows. The bridge was on the
top of the deck house. There was about four feet freeboard along the side at the deck house - a little more forward and less aft.
There were four low type straight [away] tube boilers, each in a separate compartment with forced draft. The two huge air pumps were aft of the boilers, one above the other and each of the horizontal kind, long and heavy. There were four stages for pressure and when the pump was sending out its air to 2200 pounds pressure it was always possible to light a cigarette from the walls of the last pressure cylinder. These pumps held up as long as needed.
The engines were excellent and were always capable of going the sixteen knots they were designed for. They never gave trouble.
The tests on the Vesuvius had been completed and she was apparently found wanting and was laid up and out of commission when filibustering became rampant from Florida to Cuba and it would appear that our State Department had to do something about it. So, the Vesuvius was placed in commission in the summer of 1897 for the purpose of lessening this assistance to the enemies of Spain. She was just the ship for the purpose, as she was small and faster than any of the tugs engaged in this work of filibustering.
So down we went to Jacksonville, Florida as headquarters.
There were two tugs that did most of the work of landing men and guns in Cuba and they had no trouble in carrying out the designs of the Cubans running this end in the United States. It was a question of money. If plenty of money was ready, there was no trouble in buying the guns and ammunition and there were always plenty of Cubans ready to go. So, every week or two at this time a tug would leave some out-of-the-way shore of Florida at night and land the freight on the north coast of Cuba before morning and then would return and resume the regular work of towing. It was a cinch for the tug owners and easy money for the crew, who were paid a bonus for each trip. Adventurous too, and that appealed to the crew of the tugs, just as they are now engaged in a still easier way of making money and of having lots of fun at the same time.
Our commanding officer was Lt. Commander John Pillsbury and one of the best the Navy ever had and one who did magnificent work where ever he was from deep sea sounding to Chief of Bureau of Navigation - then the highest honor a Navy man could have. He soon had a grip on the situation. Of course practically everybody in Florida was in sympathy with the Cubans and with this sending help there, so everybody helped the under dog. Information as to the wherebouts [sic] of the various sherifs was given the right people and we all thought the various sherifs were told where not
to be at critical times. There were two tugs doing this work and both made their headquarters at Jacksonville when not sent to the ocean about forty miles down the river to tow a ship up to Jacksonville or to return one to the same ocean. Most of the shipping had arrangements for one or the other to meet their sailing ships off the bar at Mayport at the mouth of the river, so they rested at anchor or alongside a wharf at Jacksonville until needed. One of these two tugs was called "The Three Brothers" and was said to be owned by three brothers. One was captain of the tug and another was sherif of the county at Jacksonville and it was common belief that this sherif knew all about what was going on and took care not to interfere with his own tug nor with the other one either, called "The Dauntless". Both these were strong, powerful sea-going tugs and quite capable of going anywhere in any weather. So, the game was easy.
One trouble was the newspapers and the active reporters who were sleuthing for news to send north and who often send [sic] word of a gathering of men or of where they thought an expedition would assemble.
The real trouble was the United States attorney stationed at Jacksonville, who either had fear put into him or was conscientious about his duties. At any rate, after we came he seemed to find out from some source or other what was going on and he and Captain Pillsbury were really engaged in carrying out their orders, and the Captain was kept informed of all the attorney could find out.
The method of the cubans [sic] was to arrange and pay for a lot of ammunition. This could [readily] be freighted or expressed to any desired place and so disguised that it could not be discovered. This was easy. But a crowd of from twenty to fifty Cubans could not so easily be hidden especially as they had to take a train to get to the point of embarcation. So, the attorney seemed to get in touch with such a crowd of men and would
inform our captain. Then down the river [we] would steam and straight out to sea until all signs of us had disappeared. Then we would go either North or South to a prearranged place and get in communication with the attorney at Jacksonville. By that time he would have followed up his previous information and would tell the Captain the latest news and the ship would be directed to the new port or beach. Again a communication and this time the Cubans had known we were on to the game and would let the men dispurse and would hide the arms somewhere, waiting for another chance. This hide and seek game went on from the beginning and during six months we made at least a dozen trips up and down the coast and never caught a filibuster. But not one got away while the ship was there.
Only once was there a chance to catch them in the act. I was not on board at the time but the story was this.
One afternoon about 3:30 p.m. the Vesuvius went down the river and out to sea. Later she returned to the coast and to the North. There was a town called Fernando not many miles north of the mouth of the St. John's River and it had been reported that there would be an attempt to run an expedition from there. This time there was no railroad and crowd of Cubans to follow as they had been secreter in this town on the shore.
Along about midnight the Vesuvius crept along in the dark and voices were heard ahead, going quietly there was dimly see a flat barge and many voices were talking at once - rather a sure sign of Cubans or at least not Americans. A wait of an hour and nothing happened. Then from the ocean came a large steamer towards the barge.
Just why the captain acted as he did he never told us but we surmised that he had directions not to bring about an international complication. At any rate, just as the steamer neared he turned on his search
light and dashed ahead. The light showed up a barge full of men with a tug alongside and a large sized merchant ship coming that way. As soon as the search light appeared the steamer was turned and started out to sea and the name on the stern was clearly seen and noted. It was an English steamer.
Of course the expedition failed and the captain ordered the barge back into the harbor and when there he turned the barge and men and arms over to the United States Marshal, who had been told to be there.
Not a word did we ever hear of what was done about the English steamer, not about the Cubans and the arms. Those matters were in the hands of the State Department and we who were doing things were not consulted - and that was just as well.
At any rate not one cargo of arms and no men went from Florida to Cuba while the Vesuvius was on the job.
After the first two or three trips to sea when we disappeared we were told that whatever expedition had been started was at once stopped until it was known where we might turn up next. The men were taken off the train at some out-of-the-way station and concealed in the woods and the freight carefully secured and they just waited. Every scheme they had was baulked and filibustering died. And all because our captain was out to do his duty at all costs.
Once the captain of the Dauntless came on board with fire in eye and started to have it out with the captain. He asked finally what the captain would do if he left the port of Jacksonville against his orders and the captain told him very calmly that he would sink him. That seemed to the Dauntless' captain a most extraordinary thing - that in time of peace anybody would dare to fire a gun at his ship and he left remarking in a loud voice that he would leave at once and see what would happen. But he never did. Our captain had a very convincing way with him.
Altogether the Vesuvius must have taken away a lot of easy money from these tug people and it would seem that we had made enemies of the Captains of these craft, but later on, when we were off Santiago and these two same captains were there for the newspaper men, they were good friends indeed and brought us many well needed stored [sic] from jamaica [sic].
This filibuster chasing went on until the Maine was blown up in Havana harbor and we were soon ordered north so the Vesuvius might be made ready to do her part in the war that seemed surely coming. We had never used the guncotton guns and had never started the air pumps as we were ordered to let them along. So we went to the Navy Yard, Washington, D. C. to have these - our only real armament - put ready for use.
Shortly after the sinking of the Maine in Havana harbor, the officers of the ship discussed the probable war and then went into a wardroom conference as to the proper commanding officer for the fleet if war actually came. It was at once the unanimous conclusion of the officers - officers representing the naval service at large - that the one far above all others in ability for this important command was the one soon after chosen by the naval authorities, Commodore Sampson. It was to our delight when Sampson was made temporary Rear-Admiral [sic] and was placed in command. Well he carried out this important work at the cost of his own health, but he lasted it through to the perfect end.
Many were the wild conjectures as to many matters in the future and it was then that our captain suggested that we have a book ready at hand to put down these many suppositions as to what would happen. Every guess was registered together with the name of the officer making the "stab" and this book was kept going all through the war to our delight. It was called "The Book That Talks." When summed up after all was over, it was found that the percentage of true guesses was extremely low. The highest percentage was won by Capt. Pillsbury with a score of 46%. From that high the average went all the way down to as low as 20% by our optimist Lt. Quinby, now "Capt Jack" to the many who love him and nearly as low by our great pessimist Lt. "Bug" Sewell who was then suffering from the insidious disease to before long carry him off and which liver trouble was sufficient reason for anybody to unbeknowingly be a pessimist.
It was then that we discussed pro and con the question of optimist and pessimist and scornful were the remarks made by those on either side and at last we asked "Bug" the difference between an optimist and pessimist and his answer remains today. "Why a pessimist is one who uses his brains". So goes the wardroom discussion.
Lieut "Billy" Harrison smiled much and said little. Dr. Leys, the remaining member smiled much and said much and said it well.
Then on to the Washington Navy Yard where the air pumps and the pneumatic guns were made ready for use. None of us will ever forget the huge, red-bearded Russian who came from somewhere to superintend the work on the guns, loud talking, capable he was and the guns were well tested and never gave trouble. Then to Newport to get our gun cotton loaded projectiles.
While at Newport the guns were tested by firing three of the torpedo like projectiles. As my station was on shore to mark the line of impact with the water, all I knew was to [watch the ??? torpedo and] see the splash of where it struck and mark its position. There was no noise that I could hear when the shots were fired but, after the torpedo had gone below the surface there was a heavy muffled roar and water was thrown into the air as a stupendous geyser to a height of over 200 feet. Later, the boat that came after me was rowed out to the place where the shots had exploded and the whole bay was covered with large codfish. These had been on their way near the bottom and had become stunned and floated to the surface. We captured enough of these for the entire ship to eat. While we were reaching for them many came to and wriggled off and soon swam down. It would seem that few were killed outright, as there were none in sight when we left.
The firing had been succesful [sic] and we were wild to get down to the war which by that time was declared. So, south we went towards Florida and made good time until we came to the capes of the Chesapeake where we ran into a storm that nearly finished us and kept us out of the war zone for an added impatient ten days.
[Here storm p. 16]
The vessel finally arrived at our "Naval Base" (?) at Key West and, if there ever was a mess anywhere in the world it was this alleged naval base. There was nothing there - alot of old stores that nobody wanted, hopelessly old and inadequate tools in the miserable little machine shop, few officers and men on duty and no possibility of handling the situation. There were ships by the score, all kinds of ships. The battleships were far out in the deep water, cruisers nearer shore, colliers everywhere, torpedo boats and monitors, tugs and small boats everywhere - and all wanting something right now from the naval base. It was the old story of unpreparedness. We who knew the game and were bound to get our stuff and to have our work done and were willing to personally fight for them lived ashore all the day long and watched every chance. When we wanted anything in the storehouse, and we occasionally found something we could use, we simply took what we wanted and signed nothing. There are ways if you know how. Our work in the small machine shop was lying there untouched and the one engineer officer there was swamped and simply told us to go back on board and, when we had our work done, he would notify us. Not. We brought on shore our own lathe hands and simply dropped out whatever was being worked upon and put our job in and stood over it until completed. The foreman would come around and register a kick, saying that such and such a job on such and such a battleship had precedence, but we simply waved him away and got our work done. By this system of bulldozing everybody and keeping away from the one engineer officer were soon ready to move. Coal was a problem. Everybody wanted coal and wanted it first. We would watch the loading of a lighter for some ship and when ready would hitch on to it with any small steamer we could get hold of and tow it out to our nearby vessel. Orders from the non-commissioned officer on the one small wharf we laughed at and went our way.
It surely was pandmonium [sic] but we knew the game and were bound to be in the war every moment and we got there. How any of the others had any work done and any stores on board we cared little. But we were ready always.
This state of affairs along the one wharf and the water front went on until a retired lieutenant named Doty, "Bill Doty" was ordered there. Bill was a loud mouthed, aggressive, he-man and he surely did own that place after he came and no more do-as-you-please went. He was an old shipmate of mine in the Kearsarge in Europe and I knew the moment I saw him that there would be no more confusion except what he made himself and he made plenty of noise but everything went by rote after that. He was the man for the job and it was well he was available, as every officer on the active list was at sea if he could get there by begging, influence, or whatever method he might use. Bill Doty deserved special commendation but of course never got it. It was simply his job and that was that. The engineer officer also was relieved by a retired engineer who snapped the situation up in a day and manhandled anybody who tried to put anything like what I had done across. No more shifting work and no more grabbing stores. He was the right man in the right place. He had been retired for deafness and had been running for several years the large Amoskeag mills in New Hampshire, and was the right man. He seldom slept and personally went to all ships requiring repairs and personally arranged the sequences of repair work. Of course in a few months this naval base was really what it was called, as the Navy Department as usual spent money galore and shipped everything needed to this important spot during that war. Today this post is again as bad as ever and, if trouble comes in the Caribbean, again it will be a naval base and will be as hopeless as it was during Spanish War days. So it goes.
The Vesuvius was sent here and yon as a dispatch boat until the time the Spanish Fleet was well invested in Santiago. Soon the ship was
ordered there. We arrived off Santiago about 4 p.m. and the captain at once reported to Rear Admiral Sampson on the New Yorkwhile the small vessel lay near by. The New York was very high in the water from our view point and we looked up to after deck where sat Admiral Sampson in an easy chair under the awning. He was in white and looked his old self as I had known him many times.
The captain came back with orders to steam out to sea and not come back until after dark. The admiral did not want the Spanish to know what our ship was so as to give them a surprise that night.
Lieut. Victor Blue had just returned from a scouting trip ashore. He had landed fifty miles or so along the west coast and had met some of the cuban insurgents. They had led him through devious ways to the hills back of Santiago so that he could look down and see just where all the Spanish ships were. He described that the larger ships were well up the Bay towards the City of Santiago. The entrance to the Bay [sic] was narrow and devious among hills. Near the entrance and just back of the row of hills about 300 feet high was a small estuary or part of the bay and in this small body of water were anchored the Spanish destroyers. Of course the charts showed this body of water so it was clear just about where these destroyers were.
There were forts on either side of the entrance and high up on the hills. These were known, as shots had been drawn from them. These also were clearly marked on the charts we had. The admiral had given orders for our captain to come in at night and fire shots from our pneumatic guns aimed at one of these forts and then to try to shoot over the hill and drop a shot among the destroyers. This was more than the Vesuvius had been tested for - could not be tested for - and the captain and navigator worked a long time endeavoring to compute what might be the curve of the shot so that it might hit a spot 280 feet high. The distance away was
accurately known but just where to place the ship in the dark so as to have a shot strike the right spot was a matter of careful calculation and then a shrewd guess. Of course the search light from a battleship would light up the entrance so it was possible to tell rather accurately just where the ship was at any time, as points on shore could be used for lines of direction. However, that was his job. As for firing over the hill and far away, that was not easy either as it had to be guessed as to the height of the trajectory so as to clear the hill and then to land near the destroyers. If too near, the projectile would hit the hill on its way. If too far away the shot might not reach the distance. Well, our captain was just the man to handle such a problem from his long experience in surveying work. And he solved it as well as such a guess work thing might be solved.
The coast line at Santiago went right up steeply to hills about 300 feet high, concealing anything beyond. The entrance to the bay was narrow among these hills with an old Spanish fort, called The Moro, on the east side. This fort was not defended at all and was a beautiful old structure and was carefully let alone by our guns. It could do us no harm and it would have been a pity to ruin such a helpless and beautiful thing.
The battleships were arranged in a circle about the entrance to the bay and all were away about five miles. One of them each night would steam in to a distance of about a mile from the entrance and would play a searchlight steadily into this entrance. The purpose was to keep any Spanish ship - especially a torpedo boat - from dashing out of the harbor either to escape or to attack our ships. All ships were at all times ready for action.
At night, within this line of battleships were two small vessels that had been coast defense vessels before the war and had been turned over to
the Navy and were commanded by naval officers. These vessels were of light draft and were safe to cruise near the shore and watch to see whatever activities might be carried on by the enemy. Inside of these and right close to the line of breakers steamed back and forth all night steam launches as scouts to still closer watch what might be going on.
The Vesuvius had been carefully arranged so that no light whatever might be shown anywhere, as it was necessary for the ship to be unseen so she would not be fired upon, having no protection whatever and one shot might be sufficient not only to sink the ship but much worse might set off our cargo of explosive, which in turn might seriously damage any other ship near by.
So, this night we started in about midnight and slowly came to the line of battleships. We passed between two of our ships and could clearly hear conversation on board. We were not seen and moved slowly towards the shore keeping well away from that steady beam of light pouring into and lighting up the entrance. We saw no ship of our own that night but did see within the entrance a small pulling boat crossing the entrance. Everything on the shore in the line of the search light was as clear as in daylight - possibly clearer, as the light went under the trees that would shadow during the day. We went so near the shore that we could hear the birds twittering on shore. After finding just the position he wanted the captain was ready to fire. As I had never been on board when these guns were fired, I was much interested and was on the bridge with the captain and the navigator, Sewell.
The captain called in a low voice down the tube:?
"Are you ready, Quinby."
The answer came back faintly:-
All ready, Sir."
Then came the low order from the captain:-
Immediately I heard a low, sharp click from down below, as the firing valve opened, and then a low noise like a huge animal coughing and that was all.
We all had our glasses turned on the spot where we hoped the projectile would hit far up the hills and near the top and there was perfect silence for so long that I wondered what had happened to that force of destruction silently winging its way in the still night. Then there was a blinding light way up there and we could see a heavy dust swiftly rising from the hillside and later great gobs of flame poured all about a center and rolled away on either side and up, up. Then came the roar we had been waiting for and it war a roar indeed and it reverberated for a long time. Then silence once more and I wondered what had happened there. But the Spanish were game anyway and within a minute a gun went off and, for the first time I heard a projectily [sic] whistle overhead. Instinctively my head ducked into my shoulders as if my neck would go deep within. Then again came the same set of orders from the captain to the firing room way down in the ship and again came the cough and another shot sped on its way. The captain said he was trying a shot at the torpedo boats. This time we waited long and long and finally we heard a low muffled sound from afar. The captain said that sounded as if under water and that he hoped he had hit near a destroyer.
Again a third shot and the same whorl of fire along the hill and the same deafening roar. All this time the Spanish were firing guns from the battery we were trying to hit and they certainly had their nerve no matter how far away had landed our terrible projectiles.
At once, back full speed to get away from there before we were
discovered as a few men on shore could have swept the deck with ease. Then we turned about and silently slipped through our line of battleships. To many if not most of the fleet these sudden bursts of flame and the roars well up near the forts was as great a surprise as to the enemy, as few had ever had to do with the Vesuvius and less knew anything about her except from reading several years before that there was such a ship that fired such explosives.
During the day we lay drifting near the flagship and every few [nights] slipped in to repeat our stunt, always firing the three shots. One afternoon one of the smaller craft came near by and the captain was hailed by one of his classmates in command. He asked if we were to go in that night and then said he would hunt us up while in there. So, just as we were slowly getting near our position on the way in, we saw crossing the line of the search light this craft and the light was so strong that every rope stood out and the figures of the men on deck were clearly defined. Why the Spanish did not sink her we all wondered. Soon she faded away towards our side of the search light and we never saw her again that night, though the captain the next day said he had hunted for us all over the lot.
Only once were we discovered. This time we had just fired the third shot and were backing swiftly away from the harbor mouth - heading west and nearly parallel to the shore line. As I was walking aft on the deck to be sure the engines were right, suddenly from right aft came a blinding ray of a search light making us as bright as day. I could visualize the men at the guns with their fingers ready to touch the button, as this was whence the Spanish torpedo boats might come and we were like them, long and low. It seemed an age before the captain sent up his night signal and the light snapped out - to my intense relief. Later we found it was the Iowa, which was stationed there. Alert they were to see such a minute
speck in the dimness.
One night we passed silently so near one of our ships that we could recognize her in the loom. We had known that Captain "Jack" Philip had been sent up the river from Guantanimo [sic] to root the Spanish out of some old forts and to put a stop to the shelling of our forces there by snipers day and night. So we hear his voice telling in his own dear, inimitable way what he had done, as he had just brought his ship back into line. It was wierd [sic] and queer to hear his well known voice telling somebody about what he had done when we could not see him and could only dimly make out the outline of the ship as it loomed in the dark.
It would seem rather dangerous work and that the crew would be on edge and intense as we made these trips to send a "little touch of hell", as dubbed by somebody who knew, among the Spanish. But I never realized how inured we all become until one night as we started through the line of battleships and I was passing along the deck near the deck house. Some of the crew slept here in their hammocks as it was rather hot in the forecastle. As I came along a man shook one of the hammocks and said to the man inside, "Come on, Bill, we're going to shoot some more of them pills". The man in a drowsy voice remarked, "To hell with the pills" and contentedly rolled over a bit and nestled down in the hammock.
As to the effect of the firing we did, we never knew until after the war was over. There was in Santiago during the blockade an english [sic] vice consul who kept a dairy of events. One day he put down that there was great consternation as the report got about of the results of our firing. From the reports the concussion was stupendous. None of the shots had really hit a gun but many had come near and stunned the gunners. These forts were really not forts but spots where three or four guns were mounted near together. There was nothing to hit but a gun
and we never hit one. But the consul had written rumors about the first night when we fired over the hill to endeavor to hit the destroyers. The one shot fired did go over and did land in the water near two of the destroyers and scared the life out of everybody though it did little damage to the ships. Imagine being behind a hill and safe from any chance of danger and then without any warning whatever to hear a big thing hit the water from nowhere and then to have a frightful explosion that seemed to lift the craft out of the water. At any rate the destroyers went away from there at once and never returned and no other ships went there either. Thus from the diary of the consul. He also put in a story he heard and which I am not prepared to believe. These destroyers were coaled through holes in the deck. These holes were fitted with brass plates fitting into corresponding surfaces of metal secured into the deck. These plates were simply lifted off when the coal was put below. Of course the plates fitted into grooves and the plates were considerably larger in diameter than the openings in the brass castings they rested on. The story was that, when the torpedo from theVesuvius exploded under water and near this destroyer, brass plates dropped through into the coal bunker and had to be carried out of bunker and put back in place from above, as it could not be brought back as it came. Of course one would realize that the explosion would hump the deck up but that a round hold was enlarged at least half an inch in diameter and then closed to its original size is rather difficult to believe. As we sea-faring men say:- "I'll tow that alongside awhile before I hoist it aboard."
After the war was over some of us hunted up results as well as we could in the short time we had. We had landed on the Moro side of the entrance and climbed the hill to a sort of plateau near the Moro. Here had been a lighthouse made of cast iron plates and about twenty feet high and about ten feet in daimeter [sic], just big enough for the
lightkeeper to climb up the circular stairs to attend to the light. About a hundred feet away had been a small adobe building then used for about 100 of the spanish troops. We had heard that one of our shots had eliminated this building and killed many men. We found between the lighthouse and where the building had been a saucer shaped hole in the ground about six feet deep and about fifty feet in diameter. The light house had been smashed and most of it blown down, these cast iron plates lying about and there was no sige [sic] at all of the building.
Also, we saw where a shot had struck the side of a nearly vertical cliff a little farther on. Great slabs of the cliff had been broken away and had fallen into the small valley below. We had no opportunity to go up to where the forts had been and which most of our shots had been aimed at, so we could not say from seeing what had been done.
The same consul had related in his journal that the guns in the forts were mounted on earthen embraisures, easily replaced. One of them had been hit by a projectile from our ships when the fleet bombarded the forts, but they simply built up the adobe walls again and the gun was soon as good as ever. The same old story. You cannot entirely disable a fort by gun fire. You may drive the men away but cannot hurt many of the guns. If the many guns of the fleet firing in daylight could not hit these guns, why should anybody hope the Vesuvius, firing, at night and having to aim the ship by compass, might succeed in going as well.
These guns were served by gunners who lived well back of the guns and had runways back from the guns so they might [retire] and be in perfectly safe places when they wished. Back there they rested and slept.
This same record of the consul had in it a statement that after the first night the Vesuvius fired not a man slept until the firing was over and that most of them kept within their bomb proof holes until then. If we
did not fire at all for that night there was no sleep for the gunners. As we varied our times from midnight to four in the morning the hours of sleep of these spanish [sic]were most uncertain. Again the record stated that, as a result of this uncertainty the whole of the gunner forces at these two forts were on an extreme nervous edge all the time. Something to the good anyway for the Vesuvius.
The last [shots] the Vesuvius fired at Santiago was a day or so after the Spanish fleet had gone out and had been so well attended to. Just why we were sent in that night we never knew but while we were firing our first shots we heard a bombardment from some of the ships of the fleet the shots exploding within the entrance to the bay. Soon we had signals to the effect that a spanish ship was trying to come out and was near the entrance. Our captain at once had the guns set for firing over the hill so as to land just within the entrance. Two shots were fired.
After the war we found the sunken Reina Mercedes just within the entrance. The Spanish had tried to sink the ship across the channel so as to keep our ships from entering. They had failed as Hobson on the Merrimac had failed but the Spanish ship was not in the channel but was sunk on the East side of the entrance. We went on board and saw [but one] sign of gun shots. This seemed from its direction to have gone almost straight down through the decks and was a hole due to a large projectile. The optimist member of the party at once declared that it was one of our shots, as nothing else could drop a shot so nearly vertical and that the shots from our other ships would have been horizontal. His guess may have been true: we never knew. The water was too high for an exploration of anything below the upper deck.
For about a month the Vesuvius was a part of the blockade off Santiago, principally as a tender to the flagship - just lying idle and seldom moving more than enough to keep near the big ship. Occasionally the vessel was sent with messages to one or all of the band of battleships steadily holding their places in the circle about the entrance. We were not at all uncomfortable rocking to the low waves steadily rolling in from a general southerly direction. We had all the [from p. 72 # pump go] comforts. A "beef-boat" arrived every few days with meats and vegetables for the fleet. We would send a boat over to bring all sorts of vegetables and always with a quarter of beef and, best of all, as much ice as we wished, as these beef boats had ice to keep the meats and vegetables and no cold storage, So [sic], when the stores were unloaded they had ice for us and all we could use. Of course the battleships had their own ice plants and cold storage rooms and needed only to fill these up from the "Beef boats. We had another item impossible to the rest and that was fruit and plenty of fruit all the time. Our friends, the captain of the two tugs, the Three Friends and the Dauntless, that we had been guessing with and had prevented from doing any filibustering the previous year would draw near and ask us if we needed anything from Barbadoes where they were going with the newspaper people to send the cables of the news of the war. So, we had cigars and bunches of bananas hanging along our rail and oranges and other fruits in plenty all the time. Once we were sent along the coast to the west to communicate with the insurgents. We came near the shore at the designated spot and from the shore came off a small pulling boast with three ragged, hungry looking repscallions who came alongside. One came on board and was found to be one of the many cuban generals fighting his hopeless battle until
Uncle Sam came with his ships and who was now keeping the roads blockaded so the Spanish in Santiago had no chance of getting help from distant Havana except the one time when a really large force was sent for aid and simply joined the rest of the starving Spanish to surrender with them.
The general was found to be a cultured man of college education who spoke english perfectly and who gave the Captain all the news. In the mean time we found the boat well filled with the most wonderful [mangoes] we had ever seen since anywhere. These the boatmen wanted to give us but we were able to more than repay them by quantities of hard bread and tobacco at the sight of which their eyes and mouths watered - literally. They were so grateful they could not thank us enough and we were likewise grateful for we surely did need and enjoy these luscious [mangoes] that are perfect along this coast.
Often we were sent to Guantanamo, forty miles or so to the east. There was no radio in those days and no cable to Guantanamo so we, a fast ship, as ships went in those days, were used as a messenger. Just before starting there one afternoon there came on board two young marine officers to be sent there. Both had just been commissioned in the Marine Corps and both were young. Guilick was about 21 but Butley later called among other names "Old Gimbel Eye" was surely younger and it was rumored that it required somebody with a Nelson bad eye to let him in.
However, we landed them and they had their baptism of fire within two days and well they stood up under it.
The Marines had just landed and had their camp on the top of the hill just above the bluffs and their mess and store arrangements at the water edge just at the foot of the bluffs. They were sniped at by the spanish troops from the woods round about them. They had cut away the underbrush for a distance of 600 feet around them but the spanish
crept us at night to the edge of the woods and made holes to lie in and sniped all night. During the days details went well back and cut wide lanes parallel to their position so that night squads might keep the spanish far away from the main body. It was on these outposts that our two young marines had their first music together with Shaw and Neville and others I fail to remember. They had keen brushes with concealed Spanish and kept them away during the day but nothing could prevent the sifting through at night and the sniping. It was here at the main camp that my old friend Mahoney was stationed and at the worst of all spots. He had been given all the worst behaving men of the marines, the hard boiled and the regulation breakers and those nobody else could properly handle. He asked for them and everybody was glad to let him have them. So, while the sniping was at his worst and his men lying close to the ground were firing at a flash from a gun that "Jim" walked back and forth behind them, holding forth his own and only his own way, swearing like a (I was going to say trooper, but it is better to say marine) and keeping his men laughing and keen.
After a few days it was decided to put a final stop to all this, so the Marines went after them and drove them back to the only water within a radius of twenty miles and ruined their spring and there was no more sniping. In addition there was one of our ships, [the Dolphin,] bombarding the spring and the ravines thereabouts to add the pleasure of the Spaniards. It was there too that a marine (sorry I cannot remember his name) brought undying fame upon himself by standing on a most exposed hill top to signal with flags to the man-of-war firing from the ocean while all the spanish troops were firing at him at close range. However, they did not hit him and his work was done. It was all in the day's job.
It happened that the Vesuvius was just passing out from the entrance
of Guantanamo Bay while this was going on and we could see from our ship the man-of-war firing and could see the puffs of smoke showing where both sides were firing from among the trees, tropical foliage and dense. Also, we could hear clearly the rattle of musketry.
It was a good job and well done and Guantanamo Bay was after that just a quiet resort rather than a seat of war.
A few days after that I went up to the camp and yarned with many of these young officers who were most cheery and delighted with the chance of actually fighting. The commanding officer of the marines, Col. Elliot, later Major-General Elliot, Commandant of the Marine Corps, had his horse in camp all the time of the sniping. They all lived in tents and were comfortable, except at night. The Colonel and I went out after doves within three days after the big fight and he related all the occurrences and was quite enthusaistic [sic] about what his men had done.
Major Corcoran was in charge of the base camp under the bluffs and saw that all had plenty of food and stores. He ran true to form and was the same hard working, irascible martinet had had always been.
Many ships were in Guantanamo Bay and there was plenty of room for them all. The station ship there was the Marblehead, Capt. [McCalla] and a more energetic captain never was, ruling the Bay with a rod of iron and everywhere himself and his ship on the jump always.
Ocassionally a battleship would leave its post off Santiago and go to Guantanamo for stores and coal, as it was dangerous to take coal from a collier alongside a battleship. It had been done but there was no need of breaking stancheons, etc. from the lifting and surging of a heavy collier when we had such a superabundance of power off the port.
[Alligators from p.75]
Later on the army came, scores of merchant ships loaded with men. They passed near us, a man-of-war ahead as convoy, and went off Daigare about fifteen miles to the eastward. Many were in sight day after day.
Twice while we were off Santiago, the fleet bombarded the forts - apparently to make a break in the monotony and to give the crews in action, as there was little hope of doing material damage to the four or five guns whose muzzles were the only things in sight at the two forts well up the hillsides one on either side of the entrance. The fleet formed line with the flagship leading and all slowly steamed along the coast from east to west each firing first at the easterly fort and later at the westerly one. After passing the westerly one again the manoeuvre was repeated. We were in our usual place, drifting about five miles from shore and so had a fine view of the spectacle. All of our ships except the New Orleans, had smoke powder so that each ship had a cloud of smoke drifted ashore away from his except the New Orleans. We were much impressed with the one ship that was not clouded in smoke and wondered why our Navy was so far behind, for the New Orleans had been built and we bought it from the builders when the war began.
The hillsides near where the forts were located were one mass of bursting shells so that the whole top of the hills were soon shrouded in smoke from the bursting projectiles.
One ship, the Newark had on board Admiral "Johnny" Watson, often called "Fighting Johnny", who was then at Guantanamo Bay with his flagship Newark getting together ships for guarding the proposed attack of Porto Rico, the army to be led by General Miles. Admiral Watson, who was senior to Admiral Sampson, had been invited to join the fun that day. His ship, and the only one thus decorated, flew huge American flags at all masts and he sent his ship right into the entrance to Santiago so that the bow seemed from our position to be well inside. There he fired at the modern guns the Spanish had taken off their ships to place well back and so as to fire straight down the entrance to the harbor. We all felt like calling out - "Bully for Johnny Watson." But he fired his guns
from so near the shore that he had to raise them to extreme elevation to aim up at the batteries and so sprung several of the gun carriages so they had to be overhauled back in Guantonimo [sic] by the repair ship there.
The army landed and we heard rumors of them daily but really knew little that was going on until we got the papers from the United States. The newspaper men were sending cables from Jamaica daily and sooner or later we would get the papers. However, one thing we saw that much peeved us when we so much needed rain and the troops on land did not. From the beginning of our arrival we had spread tarpaulins everywhere to catch rain so we might supply our boilers with water. Our distillers were barely large enough to supply drinking water and we hoped the rain would amply help us. But, not a drop of rain all the time we were there and every day at about the same hour of the afternoon that brown pall would hang over just where we knew our arms was being drenched. So it goes.
The day before the fleet came out we were sent to the shore base of the army at Daigare with some message. When the boat returned, in it appeared the English Army representative, sent to watch the war. His name was Sir Arthur Paget. He was a large man in the fifties and charming and we much enjoyed the few hours he was with us. He said he had been invited by Admiral Sampson on board the New York at any time and asked passage there. Also, he said he was assured the Spanish fleet would come out the next day. Word had come by the underground from the French consul in Santiago to that effect and he believed it enough to get on board the New York if possible. He said most of the Army officers and the other foreign representatives with our army did not credit the report, but he had a hunch and acted on it. Lucky he, as he saw the affair.
We had orders to proceed to Guantanamo that night for repairs to our boilers. As I was the one who had stated the necessity, I was in a dilemma. However, three of us went to the captain and
begged him to ask for a change in orders. I told him I would hold the boilers together enough to make our full speed the next day and that a day later would do as well. The captain was as anxious as any of to see the show, if there would be a show, but would not consent to ask for a change in orders on such a rumor. It was as well he did not, for Admiral Sampson evidently did not pay any attention to the story and the next morning started to the conference with General Shafter and got far enough away so that his ship did not have an active part in the fighting the next day. Of course he was in command just the same, but he surely would have been glad to be in it. Also this event started the unfortunate controversy later.
So, we did not see the big game. What we did see was worth while telling as showing how everybody tried to get into the affair.
On the morning the fleet came out we were hard at work. We had a coal lighter on each side and were taking on coal rapidly. We had six boilermakers from the repair ship on board removing bad tubes and putting in new ones. One engine was apart for slight repairs. One boiler of the four was in use with light steam for auxiliary purposes.
About one o'clock in the afternoon we received word that the Spanish fleet had come out. There we were in about the worst possible condition for moving. The captain asked me when we could start. I told him right off with one boiler and one engine and that I would have the other engine ready in ten minutes and the other boiler in less than an hour. He asked me what speed we could make and I told him about three knots at first but increasing.
He immediately put the boilermakers on the lighters and cast them adrift. What became of them we never heard. Then, up anchor and off we started crawling through the water. As we started along came a torpedo boat booming along - the first one to get away. We found later
that "Johnny" Watson, the fighting admiral, had left his disabled flagship, the Newark, and had commandeeded [sic] the nearest torpedo boat and was on his way to get into the fight.
The next to pass along at full speed was the Marblehead, the ship that was the station ship there. The captain had left everything and had whooped along towards the west. We did not know what direction the Spanish fleet had gone, east or west. If the strong, fast Spanish ships should really get out they should out speed our heavier battleships. If they came our way, they would simply eat up any ships coming from Guantanamo Bay. However, out we went. I asked the captain what we might do if the fleet came our way and he replied that he would sink as many of them as he could. This pigmy with no protection would go up against those strong, well armed most modern cruisers. Well, he would have done it. We used to say among ourselves that the captain dreamed of seeing one of his torpedoes flying though the air and landing on the deck of a battleship and blowing it to smithereens. And this in spite of the fact that when the captain asked the Admiral what was hos [sic] post in battle he was emphatically informed to go way off and stay there.
So, along we went, getting the other engine going and the other three boilers so that we arrived off the entrance of Santiago about dusk and reported to the only battleship there. The Captain went on board and soon returned with the wonderful story of the day and danced all sorts of cake [walks] when he told us of the entire destruction of the Spanish fleet, even to the destroyers, that Capt. Wainwright with his unprotected yacht had riddled and sank. Of course there were shots from one of the battleships too but to Wainright went properly the credit. One of the officers on the yacht, Gloucester, told me that he was sweeping the ocean with a rapid fire gun gradually reaching forward so as to sweep the deck of one of these destroyers while on board the same destroyer somebody was
doing the identical thing and that she [sic] spray of bullets was constantly coming nearer the Gloucester. Huse said his spray arrived first and the firing from the destroyer ceased as his shots swept the deck of the enemy. These little touches were all we might know of the details of the great day.
That night we lay off the entrance near our big friend which kept before the entrance with the search light shining in.
It was a grand gesture of the Spanish. From what we read later, the Spanish admiral did not approve of leading his ships against such an overpowering force and that it would be much better for him to land more guns and troops and wipe out our army. However, he had preemptory orders to go out and go out he did with a magnificent gesture. All precautions were taken, however, and on each ship was a pilot who knew every beach along the coast and every ship was landed on a beach. The first two went along about five miles when they were on fire and we turned to shore and through a narrow opening in the reefs and hills and each was beached in a corner of this inlet, each on a fine sand beach from which the crew could land easily or swim easily to shore. Not a ship was sunk - all beached. The third one, The Viscaya went about fifteen miles and also was a fire and the ship beached, this time on a sand beach along the shore. Of course the fast one and the one that should have ran away from all our ships, went farther and was run ashore uninjured when the projectiles of the wonderful 0regon reached nearly to her, again on a sandy beach. These beaches were few and far apart along that shore but the pilots knew them all and found them instead of the rocky shore.
We often discussed what americans [sic] would have done under like circumstances. Only when the Vesuvius fired did the Spanish fire at night
they never fired during the day - and then they fired at the ship playing the search light. Only once was a ship hit in this way and that shot fortunately was a plunging one that [came down through the deck and] struck the captain's pantry and pretty well demolished it. As everybody was at battle stations, not a soul was in that neighborhood.
With the four or five fine modern guns on shore in the two forts, it would have been easy to drive the search lighted battleship away and why it was not done we could not guess. Then, with no search light, it would have been easy for a destroyer to come out any night and sink one or more of our ships in the dark, as witness the ease with which the Vesuvius slipped through the line going either out or in. The big ships loomed up in the dark and a destroyer could not miss with a torpedo.
Again, why the Spanish went out in the bright day instead of at night is another mystery - possibly the gesture accounted for that. If these fast cruisers had come out one after the other [at night], even with the search light showing until the first ship should quench it, it would have been a good chance for one or more of them to rush through the line of battleships and escape - perhaps with heavy wounds - and on the way to Havana, where there was any chance to run into the harbor. At any rate, Americans would not have supinely done nothing and at the end died.
One feature of the case was important, however. We found that before the war the engineers on all the spanish ships were Scotchmen and, when the cruisers were ordered from Spain to cross, these engineers with one exception resigned their places. They never were part of the Spanish Navy and it would not do for them to be caught on this side as British subjects. Hence, the main stay of engineering efficiency was at once gone. In addition, the coal on the cruisers was of the very worst sort, some they picked up somewhere in the West Indies after crossing. Also, the coal available in Santiago was had been out in the sun so long
that it was mostly dust and poor dust at that. This alone accounted for the poor speed of their fastest ship - the Colon - which could not keep up the first burst of speed and was within four hours caught by a battleship of theoretical thirteen knots when the Colon was rated as of 21 knots. Of course the Oregon did go faster than ever before but could not have made more than fifteen at the very best possible.
However, Americans did not have the bottled up fleet, or it surely would not have been bottle up long.
Within a few days after the battle our ship went to the wrecks of the flagship Maria Theresa and the Oquendo, the two that were driven ashore first. The bay they were in was about a mile deep and narrow. At the inner end there the two ships were one in each corner and about one quarter of a mile apart. Each was rammed hard into the sand and each was high on the sand in the bow while the stern was somewhat lower in the water. The water within was as high as that without. With our love of ships it seemed almost as if a live thing had been done to death.
When the ships struck all on board got ashore - at least all those who were not injured or dead - and there were many such - and were promptly surrounded by insurgents and captured - so near were these enemies to Santiago. However, our ships soon appeared and the prisoners were turned over to the Americans and were taken on board our ships, small one first like the yacht Gloucester, to be later transferred to the battleships that had not followed on the chase after the Colon. They were treated with the greatest of consideration, the Spanish Admiral being the guest of the commanding officer. It was at this time that Capt. "Jack" Philip gave his well remembered order. When some of the crew began to cheer, Capt. Philip called out:- "Silence, the poor devils are dying".
And so many of them were.
By the time we got to these sunken ships there was nobody on board
as the wrecks had not been placed in the care of our people who later took good care of everything. The gangway was shipped on the starboard side [of the Maria Theresa] and we went up. From the top we had to descent about four feet to the deck and there right alongside was what was left of a man. His [head,] arms and legs were gone, burned off we imagined, and the poor trunk alone was lying there. Several other dead men were about the deck and the whole deck showed the frightful fire that had caused the going ashore. Everything of wood was gone, even the decks, and the metal work was blackened. It was gruesome and we did not stay long. The Oquendo was the same but we entered a turret and found two dead men there. We saw shot holes, two of them, where projectiles had gone through the turret and apparently after the second one, nobody had returned for another chance.
On the Oquendo [a few days later] we found members of a Board examining her for effects of gun fire and for a report of the action. Among them we saw in overalls our old friend Hobson who had returned from his spanish prison a few days before and who now was on this board and was cheerfully grinning and noting results of our gun fire on the hull. Later we read with much interest his book on the sinking of the Merrimac - thrilling it was and it was fortunate there was [present] a man who could so accurately observe and remember. At the time we saw him there was little time for the yarn but he grinned and seemed none the worse for the episode. Just another instance of the way Navy men do stunts and that's that.
Later the Maria Theresa was raised and towed to Guantanamo and made seaworthy and started north to be from all accounts, unnesessarily [sic] abandoned and wrecked on Cat lsland. This was considered one of the cases of political interference and inefficiency put upon us.
[from p. 71]
[o to p.60]
The wet guncotten [sic] [on board] was of course packed into the torpedoes and was safe. The dry gun cotton was in discs about three inches in diameter and about half an inch thick. Ten or a dozen laid one above the other in high glass bottles with corks at the top. These were stood on a shelf at one end of the ward room just above where the captain always sat. Until we arrived at the seat of war at Santiago, the fulminates were stored just under the top on the after mast and were about forty feet above the deck. At Santiago they were kept under the captain's pillow. We remonstrated with him but he said he wanted them just where he could find them in a hurry. Nerve? Possibly - perhaps a sense of duty.
While at the Navy at Norfolk, Va. for repairs after the storm, one afternoon I stepped into the ward room and found the captain and ordnance officer sitting at the toble [sic] with dinner plates before each and on the dinner plates each had a small round disc about three inches in diameter and half an inch thick and of a yellowish-white color. They were sawing away at them with dinner knives, silver plated knives but both with most of the silver plating worn off the cutting edges which were of steel. I asked what they were doing. They continued rapidly cutting away and said they were making them smaller. Then I asked what it was and they continued to saw away most industriously and remarked that it was dry gun cotton. The discs were too small to properly fit the bottles and they were cutting them to size.
I did not remain there any longer than necessary. They knew what they were about but I, who knew nothing about gunncotton and especially dry gun cotton saw no need of further knowledge.
While lying off Santiago the ordnance officer used to daily look carefully to the condition of the dry gun cotton in the glass bottles on the shelf over the captain's head in the wardroom. One day he looked for quite a long time and remarked that he did not quite like the brown vapor accumulating in one bottle. He gently raised the bottle from the shelf and carried it to the side of the ship and climbed down some steps against the side and lowered the bottle gently into the water until it was entirely under the surface. Then he gentle [sic] released his hande [sic] and let the bottle settle down. Nice stuff to have right overhead daily.
[to p. 71]
While the blockade lasted day after day many were the schemes discussed as to some way of entering the narrow channel and sinking some of the Spanish ships. It was known that the entrance and the channel were sown with torpedoes and that there was at least one boom across. A torpedo boat captain, Usher, begged the admiral to let him go in. He was sure he could jump his vessel over the boom and would be glad to take his chance with the torpedoes. Nothing doing. The Admiral had too much sense unless the condition became desperate and we had the game in our hands anyway. Why risk one small boat even? He was right, as usual.
When the Army got into trouble and there seemed danger that it would be killed off by sickness at least, other plans were studied and one of them was arranged for and would have been carried out if the fleet had not come out just them. The plan was to make an assault on the west fort with the marines. They were to land and go up the hill, the Vesuvius firing projectiles just in advance - a creeping barrage. Even the name was unheard of those days and the idea apparently never before considered. To prepare for this and to have plenty of ammunition, twenty or more of our torpedoes were sent down on one of our smaller craft and were waiting for our need. Also, later, after driving the Spanish from their
forts, the Vesuvius was to fire shots into the channel to explode the torpedoes there in advance of the entry of our ships. So, plenty of torpedoes were needed for us.
After the fleet came out and there was no longer need for these extra torpedoes, one day a small craft drew near and the captain, an old friend of our captain, called over and asked if we would mind taking these explosives on our ship. As long as we had so many of the D-d things a few more would not matter and he would be D-d glad to get rid of them. Our captain said to send them along.
When the ships drew near a small boat was brought alongside the other ship and we saw some men coming along their deck carefully holding a torpedo. They gently slid down the gangway and carefully deposited the thing in the bottom of the boat - treating it like an egg.
It may have seemed like an illustration of "familiarity and contempt" but was in reality a perfect knowledge, as a spectacular show was ready for those on board the other ship. A block and tackle had been led on our decks and men tailed on for a pull and the end of the rope ended in an arrangement to slip over the torpedo. When all was ready the signal was given and our men ran along the deck and snatched up the dangerous (?) torpedo from the bottom of the small boat and bumped it like a bag of oats up to the deck and dragged it along at high speed for a distance of twenty feet. I have not forgotten to this day the look in the eyes of three men in that small boat. Their eyes popped open and stayed open. Each one seemed to think his end had come. While all of us knew the safety of that wet gun cotton. So it goes. A little knowledge is a fearsome thing.
0n one of our trips to Guantanamo Bay we anchored at night well away from the Base Camp of the Marines and nearly opposite to the entrance of the Bay and well back towards the shore line. This position brought us near the huge marshes extending back for miles towards the North and which marshes really made the delta of the river emptying into the Bay.
Late that night I was sleeping peacefully with the soft air wafting through the airport close to my pillow. I was awakened by the most unpleasant rasping sounds and listened for a time before I remembered having read of the roar of the alligator. This was what had awakened me, and any noise to awaken me, any noise to awaken a tired naval officer must be indeed an unusual noise. Of course the slightest change in the noise of the engine would at once recall the lost senses to the engineer, as he rests with "the song of the machine" going on steadily, but to be awakened by any other sound was most unusual.
This sound was like the mightiest of saws rasping through the heaviest and knottiest of logs in a saw mill and each heavy rasping sound lasted a long time to be soon repeated. This was the only time I ever heard the song of the alligator and it was very disconcerting until I realized what it must be and then I listened for a long time to this mighty roar of the huge reptile, a raucous, wild, unpleasant sound to be ever after remembered.
While returning to our post off Santiago after viewing the wrecks of the Maria Theresa and the Oquendo, somebody noted a cloth jacket floating near by and the Vesuvius was stopped to pick up this relic of trouble. It was the blouse of a Spanish naval officer and had no identification marks. However, somebody felt a heavier portion of the coat and it was ripped open and just over what was the position of the heart of the wearer was found a little piece of embroidered cloth that had been sewed within the coat. We were unable to make out its meaning or find any directions as to the name of the wearer, but we seemed to make out that this was a token of affection and probably a guard against danger sewed within the coat, probably by some woman who thus endeavored to guard her loved one and also to hide away some token known only to the two, at least so some of us diagnosed the matter. It was just a little touch of humanity that stays among all the memories of these stirring times. Many were the queries as to why this one coat was where it was and when it was taken off and why. The best guess seemed to be that the officer had been on one of the Spanish destroyers that were sunk outside the entrance to Santiago and that he had removed his coat so as to swim better and that the current had slowly drifted the coat out where we were, a mile or more from shore and three miles at least from the entrance. Pitiful.
REPAIR SHIP. This was one of the most successful and least heard from of the campaign against Santiago and the Spanish fleet. It was a merchant ship hurriedly bought by the Navy Department and hurriedly equipped and manned and sent to Guantanamo Bay. It was filled with machine shop tools, lathes, planers, drills, etc. for the heavier work of repairs and portable electric tools for the lighter work. There were blacksmith, electric, copper, shops: there was a huge distilling plant to sup-
ply drinking water and water for the boilers of ships: there was a well equipped boiler shop for both major and minor repairs: there was an electric welding and acetelene welding outfit: a shop for repairing the heat guarding apparatus of the boilers and steam pipes: in fact about every conceivable devise needed for the repair of parts of machinery and hulls of our ships. Better still there was a keen, active, ready lot of skilled mechanics who had volunteered for this duty, civilians who gave up their positions at home to serve their country in war. These unsung heroes put up with every discomfort in new surroundings and were on the job every day and all day to give their best for the Navy with little recompense and unknown credit. Best of all was a civilian (whose name I unfortunately cannot remember) who acted as head of repairs and in charge of the shops. He was a man of great executive ability and most of the civilians on board were men from his own shops either in Providence, R.I. or near there. He carried practically all his large force with him for this duty.
The ship was in command of an officer who had been in the Navy and had resigned some years before and was commissioned temporarily for this duty. The Chief Engineer was a regular naval officer named John L. Gow, a classmate of mine, and well he carried on his duty day and night, especially acting as a sort of laisson [sic] officer between the horde of navy men from every ship coming there constantly for work and the civilian head of the work. They were great friends and the combination made the most perfect aggregation possible - and well we needed help for repairs impossible with the forces on board ship or to help us out with additional machines and men when in a hurry to get back to the scene of action off Santiago.
The repair shop was called the Mellville, after our own great engineer, who was the hero of the Jeannette expedition and later was
for sixteen years the forceful and efficient Chief of Bureau of Steam Engineering of the Navy Department.
As soon as a ship came to anchor in the harbor of Guantanamo, a boat would hustle over to the repair ship with broken parts to be repaired or with requests for men to immediately repair some important mechanism on board. At the gangway would be Gow and the civilian Head and the trouble would be at once investigated and the decisions made and work started. The troubles became so many before long that the workmen on the repair ship had to be placed in three watches or they would have killed themselves trying to work night and day for the good cause.
Among the big jobs well done on this ship was to repair and put in good order the gun carriages sprung by Admiral "Johnny" Watson when he had his one chance of firing powder at one of the two seances off Santiago where Admiral Sampson gave the ships a chance to at least smell gunpowder in attacks on the two forts there, and when Johnny ran so close to shore that his guns were fired at top elevation and so sprung the carriages. These were repaired in good time so that the fleet commanded by Admiral Watson was ready to guard the army to Puerto Rico when General Miles landed his army at Ponce to the south and was advancing across to the capital, San Juan, when the war was over.
Also, this repair ship went to the scene of the wrecks of the Maria Theresa and Oquendo and anchored near and furnished the labor and brains that raised the Maria Theresa and towed it to Guantanamo Bay where it was repaired and put in condition to be towed to the United States. The story of that trip and the unnecessary abandoning of the ship and its grounding on Cat Island is told elsewhere by the regular naval officer on board (I think it was Carl
Jungen) who was not in command and did all he could to keep on and had to leave under orders of this same officer who was temporarily in the service. How the Navy hated that day!
Of the ships sunk off Santiago the only one to be raised and brought to the United States was the Reina Mercedes, the one the Spanish sank at the entrance of the harbor of Santiago in the endeavor
to fill the channel and thus prevent the American fleet from coming through and assisting the U.S. Army from within. This ship was also raised by the personnel of the repair ship and the repairs efficiently made so that today she is the station ship at the U.S. Naval Academy - the modern Santee, so well remembered by so many of us who spent time aboard for boyins pranks at the school.
The repair ship was kept in Cuba long ater [sic] the rest of the naval ships had gone back.