Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Mary Caroline Wing Mayo to Mary Elizabeth Tennant

[Extract]

Washington,— D.C.       

March 20th.—1917

Dear ones all;

     You will be glad to know that I had mail from H—1 yesterday. He had been so busy that he had not written to any one. . . . Henry’s last was written on the 14th. He had learned of the President’s decision to arm our ships so thought we might expect war at any time.2 Cuban affairs were gradually getting better but he had marines and sailors in many places.3 He said he would be glad when the Government troops would reach their places so he could get his men back. He is not allowed to tell what he is doing but I can judge what important things he has to do when he tells of the Admirals and Captains coming to him each with a tale of woe. I have seen two officers recently who have come from the fleet— Capt. Plunkett and Comdr. Kalbfus.4 Both of them called upon him just before leaving and told me that he is looking very well. He sent word that he is able to eat three meals a day and still belongs to the Don’t Worry Club.5 Admiral Reiter6 called Friday night. He had been to the Dept. that afternoon and said that the unanimous opinion there is that “Mayo is just the man for the place”. He added that he is one man in a thousand because he had confidence in himself and is not afraid to take responsibility. Just now Chester7 is with his father for some temporary duty. He expected to be gone about six weeks. I am so glad to have them together[.] If all active officers have to go to sea and retired ones take their place I am wondering if he will be kept there. Todays news seems very threatening and one wonders how much longer war can be held off. The Germans are real murderers and deserve no mercy-yet-war is horrible— I have not yet received my Red Cross work but hope to next week. . . .

Yours Affectionately

Carrie.8

Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, Henry Mayo Papers, Box 1.

Footnote 1: Admiral Henry T. Mayo, commander of the Atlantic Fleet. The fleet was then in the Caribbean on maneuvers. To get a sense of these maneuvers see the memorandum from the commander of the fleet’s battleship force to Mayo, 7 February 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520.

Footnote 2: President Woodrow Wilson. By “arm the ships,” Mayo is referring to the Armed Guard program. For more on this program see: Information for Ship Owners Concerning the Armed Guard Program and Regulations Concerning Armed Guards, both dated 13 March 1917.

Footnote 3: On “affairs” in Cuba, see: William S. Benson to Josephus Daniels, 2 June 1917.

Footnote 4: Capt. Charles P. Plunkett, director of gunnery exercises, and Lt. Comdr. Edward C. Kalbfus, Plunkett’s assistant.

Footnote 5: The “Don’t Worry” movement was a religious movement started by Theodore F. Seward in the late 1800’s. In a book he wrote in 1898, Seward called it a movement of spiritual emancipation and Christian optimism. Seward, The Don’t Worry Movement. A Wave of Spiritual Emancipation. A Gospel of Christian Optimism (New York, 1898).

Footnote 6: Retired RAdm. George C. Reiter. Among the posts Reiter held during his career in the Navy was commander of the Navy fleet in the Philippines.

Footnote 7: Henry T. Mayo’s son, Chester G. Mayo, was a paymaster in the Navy with the rank of lieutenant commander. He was previously stationed at the Boston Navy Yard.

Footnote 8: Mary Caroline Wing Mayo, preferred to go by the name Carrie.

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