Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Captain Joseph K. Taussig, Commander, U.S. Destroyer Little

[Extract]

Sunday

May 19 [1918]

At sea.

Yesterday morning (Saturday [18 May]), . . . At 11 o’clock we shoved off and stood down the channel. At Hampton Roads sent the mail orderly ashore to see if there was any mail for us. Picked up Taffinder1 whose ship, the Occidente,2 was expected in from New York that morning but had not shown up. He wanted me to take him as far as the [Virginia] Capes in the hopes of meeting the Occidente coming in. This I did and we met the Occidente half way between the Roads & Cape Henry. Put Taffinder aboard her and stood on out to rendezvous off the sea buoy. On the way out stood past the whole first battleship squadron which was evidently on its way up the Chesapeake Bay.

     Just before getting to the sea buoy at about 2:30 pm the fog set in thick. Word was received that the President Grant3 was aground in the Newport News dredged channel but expected to come off a high tide. The fog lifted at intervals, but the whole convoy had to wait for the President Grant. The Re d’Italia4 I am sure I saw go on out to sea just before the fog set in. At any rate she was not at the rendezvous. Finally about seven o’clock the fog set in for a full due and we were directed to anchor. At 11 pm the fog lifted, we got up anchor and started to form column. Before the operation was completed the fog again set in thick, but we were off at any rate. I could distinctly hear the fog whistle of three steamers and I thought one of them was the Huntington!5 But after daylight this morning when the fog lifted I found I was with the Madawaska, Duc d’Abruzzi and Bridge. On our starboard beam, hull down, were the Pocohontas  and Zeelandia. The others were not in sight. By going 14 knots we soon raised them up ahead and before dark this evening we had joined forces – all being present except the Re d’Italia which I figure was probably 150 miles ahead of us.

     The speed of the convoy is 12½ knots which is supposed to be all the President Grant can maintain. She is the largest ship and has 4600 troops on board. The total number of troops in the convoy is about 18000. Two of the ships – the Occidente and Bridge6 have no troops on board. The Convoy formed in double line with Huntington out in front, and commenced zigzagging immediately as there have been persistent rumors that the Germans have a number of submarine cruisers about.

     The weather is fine with bright moon light.

Source Note: D, RNW, Joseph K. Taussig Papers, Mss. Coll. 97, Naval Historical Collection.

Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. Sherwoode A. Taffinder.

Footnote 2: U.S.S. El Occidente was a horse transport.

Footnote 3: Formerly the German liner Servian, President Grant served as a troop transport. DANFS.

Footnote 4: An Italian ocean liner that was chartered by the United States as a troop transport. Crowell and Wilson, The Road to France: 438.

Footnote 5: U.S. cruiser Huntington. With Little, and the destroyer Kimberly, it was part of the convoy escort. Ibid., 609-10.

Footnote 6: Bridge served as a cargo ship. DANFS.

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