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Badger I (Auxiliary Cruiser)

1898-1900 

The first Badger was most likely named for any of several burrowing mammals widely distributed in the northern hemisphere.

I

(Auxiliary Cruiser: displacement 4,784 (normal); length 326'6"; beam 42'0"; draft 18'6" (mean); speed 16 knots; complement 235; armament 6 5-inch, 6 Maxim 3-pounders)

The screw steamer Yumuri, built in 1889 at Chester, Pennsylvania, by John Roach & Sons, was purchased by the Navy on 19 April 1898 from the New York and Cuba Mail Steamship Lines. Converted to an auxiliary cruiser and renamed Badger, she was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 28 April 1898, Cmdr. Albert S. Snow in command.

Early in June, Badger began patrol duty along the New England coast between Provincetown, Mass., on the tip of Cape Cod and Bar Harbor, Maine. The auxiliary cruiser departed Portland, Maine, on the 26th to join the forces blockading Cuba. She arrived at Key West, Fla., on 1 July; remained there for two days; and then joined the North Atlantic Squadron off Havana on Independence Day 1898. After a week off that port, she moved to a new blockade station at Nuevitas located about two-thirds of the way down the northern coast of Cuba from Havana.

Her blockade patrols proved uneventful for a fortnight. Then, at about 3:40 p.m. on 26 July, she encountered three Spanish vessels, the steam tug Humberto Rodriques towing the former steamer San Fernando and the brigantine Safi, attempting to flee Nuevitas. In addition to the Spanish ensign, each ship flew the Red Cross flag while the two vessels in tow also flew the quarantine flag. Badger fired a blank round that persuaded the fleeing vessels to heave to. The auxiliary cruiser sent a boarding party on board the tug, who ascertained no justification for the use of the Red Cross and quarantine flags. Consequently, Badger took them as prizes and set out for the Dry Tortugas quarantine station, where she placed the 399 prisoners on board San Fernando and Safi, and Humberto Rodriques towed them to the blockade lines off Havana. Completing that mission, the tug's prize crew set a course for New York.

Meanwhile, Badger moved to Key West on 3 August and spent four days taking on coal and provisions. On 7 August, she got underway to resume blockade duty. The auxiliary cruiser arrived off Guantanamo Bay on the southern coast of Cuba, near the eastern end of the island, on the 9th. Hostilities ceased effectively in mid-August, and Badger departed Guantanamo on the 18th. She arrived back in New York on 23 August and moved thence to Boston, where her crew of volunteers was mustered out of the service. On 26 September, she headed south toward the Delaware capes and arrived at League Island, Pennsylvania, two days later. She underwent repairs during the three months she remained at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Badger departed League Island the day after Christmas of 1898 for Norfolk. Following additional repairs at the Norfolk Navy Yard, the ship stood down the Elizabeth River on 26 January 1899, firing a salute to Commodore Norman von Heldreich Farquhar in the receiving ship Franklin as she did so, and later anchored off Lambert’s Point, where she remained until 28 January, when moved further down the Elizabeth River into Hampton Roads. Bid a “pleasant voyage” by Nashville (Gunboat No.7) as she stood out through the mist at 10:10 a.m., and left her anchorage, Badger anchored in Lynnhaven Roads an hour and a half later, on 31 January, where she remained until upping anchor at 1:45 p.m. on 1 February, bound for Bahia, Brazil.

Badger sailed south, often utilizing sails to stretch her coal supply, and reached Bahia on 16 February 1899. Departing the Brazilian port on 21 February, she arrived at Montevideo, Uruguay, on the 27th. Standing out of Montevideo harbor on 4 March, she put in to Port Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, on 8 March. Three days later, on 11 March, the watch discovered the wherry missing at 4:45 a.m., as well as two men, Seaman H. Lawrence and Apprentice 2d Class A. M. Karsch, soon thereafter. Sending ashore an offer of a reward of 2₤ apiece for apprehension of the missing sailors, the ship sent a boat to search for the wherry, finding it shortly thereafter beached at the east end of the harbor; also missing were one water breaker belonging to the gig, a box of meat and a box of bread. By day’s end, Cmdr. James M. Miller, Badger’s commanding officer, had declared the men deserters from the naval service.

That same day, more somber pursuits involved Badger; during the afternoon watch on 11 March 1899, permission having been granted by Governor H. Gray Wilson of the Falkland Islands, Badger sent Surgeon Oliver D. Norton, Carpenter Joseph A. O’Connor, and Chief Carpenter’s Mate Allen ashore to superintend the exhumation of the remains of the late Rear Adm. James H. Spotts, U.S.Navy, who had died there in 1882, and the placing of them in a casket for transportation back to the United States. Cemetery authorities performed the work in the presence of Badger’s party and Colonial Surgeon Dr. Samuel Hamilton, who had known Spotts personally and who verified the body as being that of the late admiral. Badger’s funeral party participated, joined by a contingent of sailors, marines, and a band, from HMS Flora and HMS Swallow, officers from the ships, the commodore commanding the British squadron, Governor Wilson, the U.S. Consul, and a body of men from the Falkland Island Volunteers.

Proceeding out of Port Stanley’s harbor during the forenoon watch on 12 March 1899, Badger entered the treacherous Straits of Magellan during the afternoon watch on 14 March. On her way up the western coast of South America, Badger stopped at Valparaiso, Chile, anchoring at 6:08 a.m. on 22 March but getting underway again before the day was out, taking departure at 3:20 for Callao, Peru, ultimately dropping anchor there at 8:40 p.m. on 26 March. She sailed for San Francisco on 2 April.

Ultimately, Badger dropped anchor in San Francisco bay at 8:43 p.m. on 15 April 1899, and moved to the Union Iron Works yard during the 8-12 watch. Two days later, Rear Adm. Spotts’  remains were turned over to his son Harry and his nephew R. F. Spotts. Departing the Union Iron Works facility late on 25 April, Badger embarked members of the Samoan Commission beginning at 9:20 a.m. on 26 April: the Honorable Bartlett Tripp, Commissioner from the U.S., and Mr. E. V. Morgan, his secretary, the Honorable C. N. E. Eliot CB, Commissioner from England, and his valet, Mr. J. Janos, and Baron Speck von Sternberg, Commissioner from Germany. At 12:40, Badger took departure from San Francisco Bay with the members of the British, German, and American tripartite Commission set up to end the civil war in Samoa and to act as a provisional government of that island group pending the establishment of permanent political institutions.

Badger reached Honolulu on the morning of 3 May 1899 where she dropped anchor and coaled ship. During the forenoon watch on 5 May, the Hawaiian government extended the courtesy of a concert to the Joint High Commissioners when a tug came alongside with the government band embarked, the music enjoyed by Badger’s hard-working crew as they coaled ship simultaneous to the concert being accorded their shipboard guests. She got underway for Samoa at 3:30 p.m. on 5 May.

Ultimately, Badger anchored in Apia harbor at 7:41 a.m. on 13 May 1899, finding the cruiser Philadelphia, flying the flag of Rear Adm. Austin Kautz; the collier Brutus; the British men of war HMS Tauranga, HMS Porpoise, and HMS Torch, and the German cruiser Falke. Upon anchoring, Badger fired a salute of 13 guns, after which a flurry of required calls and boarding visits then ensued: a representative of Rear Adm. Kautz, followed by the British and German consuls, visited Cmdr. Miller and the Commission. Ens. Reginald R. Belknap, from Badger, meanwhile, returned boarding calls to Tauranga and Falke; Cmdr. Miller visited Philadelphia. Soon thereafter, Rear Adm. Kautz himself, accompanied by his staff, visited Badger, calling upon the Joint High Commission; Badger’s officers and crew, drawn up at quarters, received him, and upon his departure, rendered a 13-gun salute. A succession of British ships’ captains, including Cmdr. F. C. D. Sturdee (future victor of the Battle of the Falklands in 1914), then visited the embarked commission and the ship’s captain. The joint high commission then left the ship in Philadelphia’s barge to carry out a round of official calls; Philadelphia fired a 15-gun salute with the British, German, and U.S. flags at the yard; later, U.S. Consul Osborn visited Badger. Indicative of the troubled affairs at the time, the newly arrived auxiliary cruiser received the signal: “Allow no liberty for enlisted men until further orders,” and on 18 May, sent a 15-man party, in heavy marching order, ashore under Naval Cadet Everit J. Sadler, equipped with a 3-inch field gun, a Gatling gun and a Colts gun.

On 19 May 1899, Chief Malietoa and a retinue of chiefs came on board to confer with the High Commissioners during the morning watch; Chief Mataafa, accompanied by a retinue of chiefs, came on board for a conference during the forenoon watch on the 20th. On 23 May, four Mataafan chiefs came on board, after which Badger sent them in a ship’s boat ashore to confer with the members of the commission; afterwards the chiefs returned to their own boat alongside the ship. On 30 May, a detachment of sailors under Ens. Belknap, on Decoration Day, decorated the graves of marines and sailors at Molonu; one company of the party equipped as a firing party. Shifted to Malua on 31 May and anchored off that place during the forenoon watch. The Samoan Mataafa and a number of chiefs came on board, and native boats came alongside, about 20 in all, to deliver up arms to the custody of the Samoan Commissioners, and the ship received 1,831 rifles of various makes. At 1:30 p.m. that same day, the ship returned to Apia.

During the morning watch on 1 June 1899, Badger began receiving arms from the natives at 6:30; at 8:00 a.m., she hoisted the ensigns of the three nations of the commission. During the forenoon watch, Malietoa Tanu with chiefs came on board and interviewed the Joint Commission; his people turning over their rifles (1,338 in all) and ammunition. Mataafa's adherents that day turned over 5 rifles, and the following day [2 June], received from Mataafa chiefs, 1 Schneider rifle and one Mauser during the afternoon watch; during the morning watch on 3 June, the ship received 10 Sneider, 1 Mauser, 4 Remington, and 1 Springfield from Malietoa adherents. That same day,  sickness ashore resulted in her bluejacket and marine detachments returning to the ship.

Commander Sturdee, sent a letter of thanks over to the Americans on 4 June 1899 for the “commendable manner in which [they had] cooperated” in the joint British-American-and-Native force on shore; that same day, the ship sent four privates in charge of a corporal to serve as guard at the Hotel Internationale. On 6 June, Maleitoa and his chiefs visited the High Commissioners on board the ship, and later, the ship took delivery of five needle guns, a Springfield rifle and a Winchester, in addition to three revolvers; from Maleitoa’s adherents , surrendered at the Hotel Internationale, 3 needle guns, a double-barrelled breech-loading short gun. On 7 June, the ship received still more weaponry from Maleitoa’s adherents: 2 Springfields, 2 needle guns, one Martini-Henry rifle, and on 8 June,  one Springfield. On 9 June, the ship sent a guard of one corporal and four privates to the Hotel Internationale, and also received more weapons. On 11 June, all guards ashore returned to their respective ships. On 12 June, Mataafa’s people sent 2 Winchesters, 2 Springfields, 2 Mausers and 3 needle rifles.On 16 June, Maleitoa’s people brought in a Colt rifle, a Mauser, a Springfield, 2 needle guns; Mataafa’s forces turned over 27 needle guns, 14 Remingtons, 3 Winchesters, 4 Springfields, 1 Martini-Henry, 5 muskets and one non-descript rifle; more weapons showed up on the 19th.

Mataafa chiefs came on board to visit the High Commission at 2:00 p.m. on 20 June 1899, and Badger received from Mataafa’s adherents: 77 needle guns, 27 Remington rifles, 3 Martini-Henry, 8 Winchesters, and from Maleitoa’s people, 1 Winchester rifle. During the morning watch, generally overcast and cloudy, squally with heavy showers of rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Light to stiff breeze from the east. At 4:15, the Malietoa chiefs came on board and a meeting of Mataafa and Malietoa chiefs took place in Badger's wardroom at which they shook hands and rubbed noses in accordance with the Samoan custom, and made professions of good feeling toward each other. Both parties left the ship about 5:30. Maleitoa’s people were still bringing weapons on board the following day (21 June).

Badger embarked the Samoan High Chief Leoso, his wife and child, Kinasopo and Moagu and 26 men and children, also John Ah Suey, interpreter for the commission, for passage to Pago Pago during the morning watch on 22 June 1899; and  arrived later the same day. On 24 June, High Chief Mauoga came on board to pay his respects to the commissioners, Chief Mailo came on board later in the day and made a presentation of gifts to them as well. Ultimately, Badger stood out of Pago Pago harbor during the forenoon watch; received two needle guns from Chief Leoso. On board for the passage to Apia were Chief Leoso and his wife, five Samoan men, one woman and two children. Later, upon arrival, the ship discharged the pilot, discharged the pilot engaged for the trip and the interpreter, and sent the passengers ashore. Later, Falke sent over guns received from Mataafa’s people on 27 June, during Badger’s absence.

Badger took Brutus alongside on that date; then coaled over successive days; then hauled clear on 3 July 1899. On 14 July, Badger sent a marine patrol ashore; another guard ashore at the request of the high commissioners the next day; also on the 16th. The British commissioner, Eliot, left the ship with his valet and all of his belongings, on 18 July at Apia finally, Badger underway at 2:15 p.m. on 18 July 1899 for Hawaii, cheering ship as she stood out.

Badger made passage back to Hawaiian waters, often utilizing her sails, and moored at Honolulu at 5:09 p.m. on 26 July 1899. On 29 July, at 10:08, she went ahead slow, bound for San Francisco, and ultimately came to anchor at 6:48 a.m. on 6 August; the Honorable Bartlett Tripp, and Baron Speck von Sternberg and Mr. Morgan, the Secretary of the Commission, left the ship officially at 3:20 p.m.

For almost three months, Badger then cruised the west coast of the United States, ranging from Portland, Oregon to Eureka, California, visiting Astoria, Oregon, up and down the coast of Oregon, off the mouth of the Columbia River, visiting San Francisco, operating off Drake’s Bay, off Santa Barbara, off Santa Cruz, off San Pedro Bay, punctuating it with upkeep at the Mare Island Navy Yard and off San Diego conducting gunnery practice and training members of the California Naval Militia. On 31 October 1899, Badger was placed out of commission at the Mare Island Navy Yard.

Badger was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 23 March 1900, and  was transferred to the War Department on 7 April 1900.

Robert J. Cressman and Raymond A. Mann

8 March 2006

Published: Wed Jan 18 15:18:04 EST 2017