Commander Charles J. Train to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long
U. S. S. “PRAIRIE”.
September 15, 1898.
As the connection of the crew of this vessel with the Navy is about to close, I have the honor to request permission to place on the files of the Department my appreciation of the value of their services, and to ask that they may receive the credit which I think is justly their due.
2. These men belonged to the Mass.1 Naval Militia, an organization which had nothing Naval about it, save the name; which was not formed for the purpose of providing crews for sea-going Men-of-War, and whose members possessed none of the qualifications for Seamen in the Navy of the United States, other than the patriotism, zeal and intelligence belonging to all New England boys.
3. They have now served with me for four months. During that time they have submitted with the greatest patience and good nature to the hard discipline of a Man-of-War, and their industry and subordination have been beyond praise. Not a man has been punished, except for the most trifling offenses. The hard labor of coaling, the constant drills, and in short the complete change in their conditions of life from those to which they had been accustomed have been borne by them most willingly and cheerfully, and that, too, in spite of the fact that the ship, for the greater part of her cruise, was performing duty of a sort and in places that furnished no chance of an occasional attack of an enemy to break the monotony and furnish the excitement which alone can make such a life endurable.
4. At the end of the cruise when the ship was called upon to bring two hundred fever infected, enfeebled soldiers from Santiago north there was nothing left undone by my men to alleviate their sufferings. They shared their food with them, gave them their mattresses and helped them in every possible way.
5. Today a better crew never trod a ship’s deck, and the State of Massachusetts has every reason to be proud of them, as I am to have had them serve under me.
6. I respectfully request that a copy of this letter may be sent to the Governor of the State of Massachusetts.2
Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 46. Addressed below close: “To the Secretary of the Navy,/Washington, D. C.” Docketed: “U. S. S. “PRAIRIE”./Tompkinsville, S. I./September 15, 1898./C. J. TRAIN./Com’d’r. Com’d’g./Commending the conduct of the/Mass. Naval Militia serving on/the U. S. S. PRAIRIE.” Rectangular “BUREAU OF NAVAIGATION” stamp, received 19 September 1898 with the document number: “139764.”
Footnote 1: Massachusetts.
Footnote 2: Massachusetts Governor Roger Wolcott.