Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander, Atlantic Fleet, to Caroline Wing Mayo

UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET

FLAGSHIP OF COMMANDER IN CHIEF

Jan 26. 1918 – 11 a.m

My own Carrie:

              We will be at anchor in Bay & in about half an hour. This is just a hasty note to give my first view of conditions and get the note in today’s mail. We had a fine trip down - a beautiful night and an absolutely smooth sea. As soon as we got into the Bay we struck the ice. The whole bay is full of it and we have ploughed through it all the way up. Navigational marks – buoys etc – are all adrift, so it had to be clear to enable us to find our way without making anchor. The river is full of ice and boating must be very hard. We will not get my barge out unless conditions better. But I hope to get anchor tomorrow and size things up a bit.

The mass of ice in the river is certainly a remarkable sight. The fact that the upper end of Chesapeake Bay is choked is not encouraging. We have just received orders to again send a battleship and tugs to break the channel for shipping in Baltimore. Curious work for a battleship isn’t it? The weather is fine – a very lovely day, not cold. If it would only get a little warmer this ice might all melt, but I suppose a lot more would come from all the rivers emptying into the Bay.

I turned in early last night but read until 11 P.M. – then had a fine night’s sleep.

I hope you are both warm and happy. Royall1 bringing the mail to sign. We are just coming to anchor. And I must end my note. Much love to mother and to my dear wife.

     With all my heart I am

                   Yours ever

                             Henry.

Source Note: ALS, DlC-MSS, Henry T. Mayo Papers, Box 3. Beginning in late November 1917 and continuing through the beginning of March 1918, a series of polar blasts trapped shipping from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and up the James, York, and Elizabeth rivers in a crippling sheet of thick ice.

Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. Hilary H. Royall.

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