Our Reception in Havana

The explosion of the Maine at Havana, on February 15, 1898, was the ultimate incident which impelled the people of the United States to regard Spain as an impossible neighbor. Although the war which followed was not founded on the destruction of the Maine as a political cause, that disaster was the pivotal event of the conflict which has terminated Spanish possession in the Western World. Considerations like these must continue to give the Maine a unique place in the history of the United States, especially since the character and magnitude of the disaster make it one of the most shocking on record.

The story of the Maine leading up to the explosion may be said to begin at the Southern drill-ground of the North Atlantic Squadron, as far back as October 9, 1897. The New York, Iowa, Brooklyn, Massachusetts, Indiana, Texas, and Maine - all now historic - had been on a cruise along the New England coast, ending at Bar Harbor on August 31. From Bar Harbor they proceeded in squadron to the Southern drill-ground, about twenty-five miles to the eastward of Cape Charles, a locality set apart for drills by reason of its comparative remoteness from the common commercial route of coasting vessels, as well as its convenient depth of water for anchorage. The squadron was under the command of Rear-Admiral Montgomery Sicard. The night of October 8 terminated a period of hard work of the kind which brought overwhelming victory later. Part of the time had been spent at Hampton Roads in recoaling, and at Yorktown in sham fighting on shore, and in small-arms target practice. The days at sea had been spent in squadron evolutions, target practice, and signaling, and the nights, at least in part, in night-signaling, search-light drill, and in secondary-battery practice, simulating the conditions of attack by torpedo-boats. It was not mere routine; it was the business of warfare, pursued with stern official conscience, under a commander-in-chief who throughout his whole career had been conspicuous for official conscience.

On the night of October 8, the squadron was at the Southern drill-ground awaiting the arrival of the Brooklyn, which had gone to Hampton Roads for minor repairs. It was expected that the whole squadron would get under way for Boston that night. We of the Maine were wondering at the delay of the Brooklyn, when, toward midnight, the torpedo-boats Dupont and Ericsson joined the squadron from Hampton Roads, with dispatches for the commander-in chief As a result of these dispatches, the Indiana (Captain H. C. Taylor) was detached and sent to Hampton Roads, and the Maine, my command, to Port Royal, South Carolina. The Indiana got away during the night, but the Maine was repairing some injury, and did not part company with the squadron until dawn of the following day. Thus began a virtually unbroken tour of independent service for the Maine, which was connected more or less intimately with the disturbed condition of affairs in Cuba, and culminated in the explosion at Havana. The Maine arrived in Port Royal Sound on October 12. The next day she was taken up the river, and moored in a hole just large enough to fit her, immediately above the naval station, and about four miles below Beaufort. She remained there until November 15. Having visited the place before, she excited no interest among the people of that locality. Excepting our pleasant association with friends, at the naval station, we had a dull time. Having been ordered to Port Royal unexpectedly, the depleted state of my own larder made it difficult for me to return the dinners given me at the station. I resorted to invention, which suggested roast pig highly ornamented. My pig was brought on the table whole, bearing a silken banner emblazoned with the legend: "This little pig went to market." My guests were courteous enough to make me believe that the pig was acceptable. My next subterfuge was to have been a possum. I had him undergoing the fattening process, but the Maine left before he had reached an amplitude that was satisfactory. One Sunday morning some of us were taken to a negro church by a party from the station. The officiating clergyman was a stout, thick-set negro, doubtless a very good man. He felt keenly the difficulty of preaching to a well-educated party of white people, and remarked, with some concern, "You got me in a tight place!" After the prayer and hymn, he announced his text with a striking attitude. With uplifted hands and wide-spread arms, he paused for attention, and, getting it, gave the text, which was: "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley." He said various things strange to cultivated ears, but his sermon was effective, and deeply impressed. those for whom it was primarily intended.

Crew of Maine after shore drill

Although my orders to Port Royal gave me no information as to the purpose, it was hoped at the time that the ship might be able to dock there; but the water outside the dock proved to be too shallow. It is probable, however, that in the visit of the Maine to Port Royal it was intended to have a United States man-of-war nearer Cuba. Many citizens were then very restless as to the safety of our own people in that island. I had no instructions to take any measures whatever; the Maine was simply awaiting further orders. She made good use of her time at Port Royal. The battalion was repeatedly landed and drilled at the station; every member of the crew was given target practice with small arms, and her ten-inch guns were tested for rapidity of fire. It was the custom in the North Atlantic Squadron to have aiming-drills every afternoon on week-days. No scheme alone can teach gunners to hit. Correct aim comes from practice - and more practice.

We left Port Royal on November 15, as already stated, and steamed north to the Norfolk navy-yard, where the vessel was docked and put under slight repairs. While at Norfolk, Lieutenant- Commander Adolph Marix, the executive officer,- and a very able one,- was detached, He was succeeded by Lieutenant-Commander Richard Wainwright, who afterward got his opportunity, and distinguished himself in command of the Gloucester, off Santiago de Cuba.

The Maine and the Texas were the first of the modern steel battle-ships built by the United States. The Maine was originally designed as an armored cruiser, with a considerable spread of square canvas. Her sail plan in my possession shows her as a bark with squaresails to topgallantsails, but no headbooms. It was then contemplated to give her 7135 square feet of canvas. Later, sails were abandoned, and she was styled a second-class battle-ship. She was designed at the Navy Department and built at the New York navy-yard. Her keel was laid October 17, 1888; she was launched November 18, 1890, commissioned September 17, 1895, and left the navy-yard at 10 A. M. on November 5, 1895, drawing 22 feet and 1 inch forward and .2 I feet and 8 inches aft. When fully supplied with coal and provisions she was "down by the head." The Maine differed greatly in appearance from all other vessels of the United States navy. Instead of one superstructure, as commonly seen, she had three, forward, after, and central. All were of the same breadth transversely. Their sides at the bow and stern were formed by the continuation upward of the outside skin of the ship. Along the sides of the superstructures there was a clear deck-space affording enough room for formations and drills. I have frequently been asked to state the color of the Maine's outside paintwork. Her hull was white to the rail; the superstructures, funnels, and masts, and all permanent fittings above the rail except the pilot-house, were dark straw-color. The pilot-house was of varnished mahogany. The boats and bower-anchors were white; the guns and search-lights were black. There were larger ships in the navy than the Maine, but none more delightful to command or to serve in. Her quarters were ample for everybody, although certain compartments were rather too hot for comfort in warm weather. The members of the crew were berthed chiefly in the forward and the central superstructures, and on the berth-deck forward of the junior officers' quarters. This distribution of the crew, when considered in connection with the region of the explosion, explains the loss of so many of the crew as compared with the officers. The quarters of the officers were aft; mine were in the after-superstructure, all of which had been apportioned to quarters for a flag-officer and the captain. The Maine was not a flagship ; therefore the captain acquired the admiral's quarters in addition to his own. The ward-room staterooms were on the berth-deck, below the captain's cabin. On the starboard side of the compartment immediately forward of the wardroom was the ward-room officers' mess-room; and forward of this, also on the starboard side, and in the same compartment, were the junior officers' quarters. All forward of this compartment was assigned to the crew. It was chiefly on the berth-deck that the greatest destruction of sleeping men resulted from the explosion. The Maine had two "winged" or "sponsoned" turrets; that is to say, they were at the sides and projected a few feet beyond the hull. They were placed between the superstructures, one on each side of the ship, as is shown in the many photographs of the vessel. In each were two ten-inch breech-loading rifles. In addition, she carried six six-inch breech-loading rifles, besides seven six-pounder and eight one-pounder rapid-firing rifles. She had four above-water torpedo-tubes on her berth-deck, all in broadside. The arrangement of her compartments was simple for a battle-ship, so she responded readily to any work done on her to make her look clean and orderly. She had two hundred and fourteen water-tight compartments, as ascertained by a recent inspection of her drawings. All that were not occupied by the officers or crew were closed . at night. The following are statistics relating to her : extreme length, 324 feet; beam, 57 feet; displacement, 6650 tons; indicated horse-power, 9290; trial speed, 17.45 knots. She had an armored belt extending 180 feet at the waterline on each side, over which was a flat, armored deck. Joining the two forward ends of the belt was a heavy steel bulkhead, at the bottom of which was an armored deck that continued to the stem. The flat steel deck above armor dipped down abaft the belt, and was continued to the stern, one deck below, with a slightly diminished thickness. Her barbettes and turrets were of heavy steel. The barbettes rested on the armored deck below. A more complete description of the Maine is given in Appendix A.

General Fitzhugh Lee

From Norfolk the Maine was ordered to Key West, where she arrived on December 15, and moored in the harbor off the city. My orders there were confidential, but they were of such a nature that they might at any time have been made public with propriety, had the government so desired. They were, in brief, that the Maine was to proceed to Havana in case of grave local disturbances in that city, to give asylum to American citizens, and to afford them the usual protection. The immediate judgment as to the necessity for the services of the Maine was to come from General Fitzhugh Lee, United States consul general at Havana. I promptly opened communication with General Lee, both by letter and by telegraph. My letters were sent in such a way as to be entirely secret. There was no impropriety in the measures that were taken. True or false, the Havana post-office was not free from the suspicion of delaying letters. It was arranged between General Lee and myself that on the receipt from him, by telegraph or otherwise, of the words "Two dollars," the Maine was to make preparations to start for Havana two hours after further notice. The actual start was to be made on the receipt of a second preconcerted message.

The form of our correspondence was a matter between General Lee and myself. Toward the last it was deemed necessary to make occasional tests to ascertain if telegraphic communication continued open. Therefore nearly every day I sent a message to General Lee, and he answered it. Some of these were rather absurd. In one I inquired of General Lee the state of the weather on the south side of Cuba. He promptly replied that he did not know-which was quite as gratifying as if he had been fully informed. At another time I cabled, "What is the price of bullfight fans?" to which he replied, giving me quotations. Afterward I bought some of the fans commonly used, as souvenirs of a Havana visit, and they were lost with the Maine.

One night, about six or seven o'clock, I received the preliminary message. The Maine was immediately prepared for sea. Knowing that Key West would be alert as to any sign of movement, I gave orders that all hands should repair on board immediately upon the firing of a gun from the Maine then, in company with a number of the officers, I went on shore to a dance at the hotel, my particular object being to divert suspicion. I was asked a number of questions as to the departure of the Maine but we had managed so well that some of the crew had already given out that we were going to New York.

The final message to the Maine from General I Lee never came. During the whole visit I was kept fully informed as to the state of affairs at Havana. The riot that occurred in the streets on January 12, in which certain newspaper offices were the chief object of attack, most naturally led us to fear that there might be danger to American citizens.

It is probable that too great importance was attached to that riot by the press of the United States: early news is not always the most accurate news; nevertheless, it was sufficiently grave. when viewed by a country which could not control the situation and whose interests were involved. The continued immunity of those who participated seemed to give promise of further trouble. Like most riots, that one was swelled by unexpected numbers-and purposes, too, probably. With excited mobs it is a short and rapid step from one purpose to another: the final purpose may have little or no relation to the first one. It did not appear that any demonstration was intended or made against Americans. A Spanish lady; an apologist for the riot, told me that it was begun by young Spanish army officers who were stung by insinuations or insults published by the Havana press against the Spanish army in Cuba. In the same spirit that leads students to occasionally redress a wrong excitedly and by force, the young Spaniards made an attack on the newspaper offices; citizens then took part, and the trouble grew beyond the intention of those who began it.

Adolph Marix

While at Key West I was directed by the Navy Department to assist the collector of that port in operating against filibustering expeditions, I being senior officer present during the whole visit. At that time the Spanish press was indignant because it assumed that the United States was doing nothing to put a stop to filibustering. Certainly the American public had far more ground for indignation; it was almost impossible to put a complete stop to filibustering where there were so many bases of operation as existed along the Florida reefs and on the coasts north of them. It was generally the case that when an expedition was able to leave the United States, it landed in Cuba according to schedule. At one time five vessels engaged in watching for filibusters were in touch with the Maine by telegraph; and the Maine's steamlaunches, as well as the Marblehead's launches, were out at night, bringing-to vessels moving out of Key West harbor. We did our work conscientiously.

At Key West I both accepted and gave a few luncheons or dinners. People from ashore appear to enjoy shipboard entertainments beyond reason as conceived by those who entertain afloat; novelty garnishes the feast, I suppose. John R. Bell, my cabin steward, was a "character" - one of the lovable, old-fashioned sort of "colored folks." He had not much merit as a chef, excepting that he could always find delicate lettuce, even, it seemed, where it had never before been known. He was honest to the core, and true to his duties. I never knew him to give himself any pleasure on shore, excepting the sad one of decorating the grave of a naval officer whom he had loved and served. It was impossible to find fault with him without punishing one's self. One could object to his acts only by delicate suggestion or kindly subterfuge. Periodically he would make me a pound-cake. I would cut from it a single slice, which I would secretly throwaway. The cake would then adorn my sideboard in its remaining integrity · for many days, to Bell's evident pride. His range of desserts was small. When he felt that he had run through his gamut, and needed time to think, he would make me an apple-pie, a colossal monstrosity that I abhorred. I would eat of his apple-pie -the same pie- day after day until it neared its end, when immunity would be claimed on the ground of its extreme richness. It was Bell's habit to agree with me before I had fully expressed any wish or thought. He would agree with me audibly at every stage of a verbal direction. There were noble deeds known tome that he had done secretly year after year. No man can do more than his uttermost best, and that old Bell did habitually, according to his simple understanding.

I had been to Key West many times, but not since 1878. In the meantime. the city had grown and had polished itself amazingly. Formerly orders to visit Key West were regarded as nearly equivalent to confinement to the ship. The place had no attraction in itself, and there was hardly any exchange of courtesies between the residents and the naval officers. The market offered little but fish and turtle. But during the Maine's visit we had a most agreeable time, and made the acquaintance of many people. The city had decidedly "gone into society." Young naval officers were beginning to marry there, and with good reason, according to my view of the matrimonial market. Various cities, in turn, have appeared to hold the monopoly of naval marriages, notably Norfolk, Virginia, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Erie, Pennsylvania. Why not Key West, by way of geographical distribution?

On Christmas eve, and again on Christmas night, the Maine was illuminated with hundreds of electric lights, to the great delight of the people of Key West, very few of whom had ever seen such a display. The arrangement of the Maine's lights was worked out on board. It appeared to be generally conceded that it was surpassed only by that of the Brooklyn, which had been made at a navy-yard for Queen Victoria's Jubilee. The Maine's lights were strung fore and aft in a double rainbow, from bow to stern, and across the mastheads and funnels. There was also a row of lights completely encircling the ship along the ridge-rope of the awnings, which was at the height of the superstructure- deck. The following is quoted from one of the local newspapers:

"The beautiful illumination of the battle-ship Maine, on Christmas eve and night, was one of the finest displays of electricity ever witnessed in the city, or perhaps in the South. Hundreds of incandescent lights from the bow to the stern, up the masts and funnel, and around the ship's sides, made her one mass of lights. It was a picture not often seen in the tropical regions."

It became known after a time that the other large vessels of the North Atlantic Squadron, under command of Rear-Admiral Sicard, were to come to the waters about Key West for fleet drills and evolutions. At that time of year it was impracticable to have the drills elsewhere. The United States could not afford to abandon its best winter drill-ground for no other reason than its proximity to Cuba. The squadron came and had its drills, as intended, but until war was opened never went nearer to Cuba than Key West and Tortugas, nor, so far as my knowledge goes, was it ever intended that it should.

Secretary of the Navy boards the Maine

During our visit to Key West I had inquired as to the best pilot for the reefs. There was a general concurrence of opinion that Captain Smith was the best man. . He held himself subject to my call during our whole stay at Key -West, when I might have been obliged to go out at night with the search-lights. Very few vessels of the Maine's draft had ever entered Key West harbor, for the reason that there is not enough water inside to allow deep-draft vessels to swing clear of their anchors. The bottom is hard, so anchors do not bury. There is no great difficulty in piloting, except that it is advisable to hold rigidly to the channel, which is narrow, so far as its depth has been tested by vessels passing through. The danger to be feared arises from the possibility of striking detached "coral heads" that have not been detected in the surveys that have been charted. A number of these heads at Key West and Tortugas have been discovered by the contact with them of United States men-of-war. The squadron was duly reported off Jupiter Inlet, on its passage south. We knew, therefore, at Key West, very nearly the hour when it would arrive off the reefs. The Maille had received orders to join the squadron when it appeared. It arrived off the reefs on Sunday, January 23, 1898. I sent ashore for our pilot, who in response was obliged to report that the pilot commissioners refused to let him take the Maine. out, because their local rule of precedence re quired that the pilot who brought us in should by right take us out. I appealed against this rule as being merely one of local convenience or comfort, out of all proportion to the value of the Maine and the important public interests involved. The board of pilot commissioners weakened not - neither did I. The Maine went out without a pilot; so somebody lost nearly one hundred and fifty dollars, which remained in the coffers of the United States. While passing out I made sketches and copious notes of all the ranges and bearings used by the Maine, intending to formulate them and send them to the commander-in-chief, in the hope of relieving others of our vessels from .petty and vexatious rules. My sketches and notes were lost with the Maine. After the departure of the Maine, the torpedo-boat Cushing, Lieutenant Albert Gleaves, was charged with the maintenance of communication with General Lee.

On Sunday, the squadron, which included the New York, Iowa, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Texas, arrived off Key West. These vessels were joined by the Maine, Montgomery, and Detroit, from Key West harbor. When I went on board the flagship New York to report to Admiral Sicard, he looked so ill that I was greatly pleased at having ordered in advance all the arrangements at Key West that were deemed by him necessary to maintain and report communications with General Lee. Continued ill health made it necessary, about a month afterward, for Admiral Sicard to relinquish the command of the United States naval force on the North Atlantic station. It was only natural that I should greatly regret the detachment of Admiral Sicard. He had done me the honor to suggest that I take command of his flagship on the detachment of Captain Silas Casey, when the latter concluded his tour of sea service. After long consideration, I requested permission to decline the command of the New York, for the reason that there was a greater field for the acquirement and exercise of professional skill in a separate command. Underlying my declination was also the hope that I might, ultimately, reach Havana with the Maine.

That night the squadron, eight vessels in all, remained at anchor outside the reefs off Sand Key light. The next day it got under way, and steamed west for Tortugas. In the afternoon we sighted a large English steamer aground on the reef to the westward of Sand Key. She signaled for immediate assistance. The Detroit was sent to aid her, and the remainder of the squadron stood on. About 6 P. M. the squadron anchored for the night on the bank, about ten miles to the southward of the southeastern entrance to Tortugas Roads. After anchoring, the vessels were directed by signal to bank fires. Approximately at nine o'clock, while all the vessels were engaged in receiving night-signals from the flagship, the Maine, which was occupying an easterly berth, sighted a vessel to the eastward making Very's signals to attract attention. The flagship, being well to the westward, did not see her for a long time. From the disposition of the lights shown by the arriving vessel, it was evident that she was of a very low free-board and very narrow beam. This, with her high speed of approach, convinced me that she was a torpedo-boat coming from Key West. I surmised that she was coming with despatches for the commander-in-chief. It occurred to me, also, that she was bringing orders for the Maine to go to Havana. It was an intuition, but nothing more. Without waiting for a signal from the commander-in-chief, I ordered fires spread and preparations made for getting the Maine under way. The gig was also lowered and manned. The stranger proved to be the torpedo-boat Dupont, commanded by Lieutenant Spencer S. Wood. She reached the flagship about a half-hour after we had sighted her. Then there was an interval of suspense, which was concluded by a signal made from the flagship for the Maine to prepare to get under way, and for her commanding officer to report on board the flagship. The Maine at once replied, "All ready." I was in my gig and away almost before the signals were answered. It was a very dark night. The sea was rough and the tidal current strong. Suddenly the Dupont appeared right ahead of the gig, as if she had risen out of the sea. Her one visible light almost blinded me. She had seen us, but we had not sighted her until close under her bow. We made fast alongside. I went on board, and then sent the gig back to the Maine. The Dupont steamed near the flagship, which vessel sent a boat for me. There was more rough work in boarding the New' York. I reported to the commander-in-chief, in obedience to signal.

Maine Entering Havana Harbor

Admiral Sicard announced that he had received instructions from the Navy Department to send the Maine to Havana. I do not know personally the precise reason which induced the United States government to act at that particular time.

On the 24th of January, the day during which the events just recorded took place, General Lee received the following telegram from the Department of State at Washington:

It is the purpose of this government to resume the friendly naval visits at Cuban ports. In that view, the Maine will call at the port of Havana in a day or two. Please arrange for the friendly interchange of calls with the authorities.

On the afternoon of the 24th, General Lee went to the palace and notified the authorities and read the telegram to them. Immediately after receiving the telegram, however, he sent the following reply to the Department of State:

Advise visit be postponed six or seven days to give last excitement time to disappear. Will see authorities, and let you know. Governor-general away for two weeks. I should know day and hour visit.

In the morning of the 25th, only a short time before the arrival of the Maine in Havana, General Lee sent the following telegram:

At an interview, authorities profess to think United States has ulterior purpose in sending ship. Say it will obstruct autonomy, produce excitement, and most probably a demonstration, Ask that it is not done until they can get instructions from Madrid, and say that if for friendly purpose, as claimed, delay unimportant.

After the arrival of the Maine, General Lee telegraphed to the Department of State as follows:

Ship quietly arrived, I I A. M. to-day; no demonstration so far. The same day he received from the Department of State the following telegram, dated the 24th: Maine has been ordered. Will probably arrive at Havana some time to-morrow, Tuesday. Cannot tell hour. Possibly early. Cooperate with the authorities for her friendly visit. Keep us advised by frequent telegrams.

My orders were to proceed to Havana and make a friendly visit. I was left to act according to my own judgment in the usual way; that is to say, it was undoubtedly assumed that I would know how to act on my arrival in Havana, and it was intended to hold me responsible for my action. The situation seemed to call for nothing more than a strictly careful adherence to the well-known forms of naval procedure and courtesy. It was to be expected that the Spanish people in Havana would prefer that the Maine should stay away; but with a lingering insurrection, the end of which was not in sight, with American interests in Cuba affected adversely,and American citizens in Cuba alarmed for their safety, the United States had decided to show its flag from a public vessel in Cuban waters. It is quite certain that I gave myself no concern over the diplomatic peculiarities of the situation. My vessel was selected to go to Havana, and I was gratified at the choice, just as any other commanding officer would have been. I volunteered the remark to Admiral Sicard that I should try to make no mistakes.

I rejoined the Maine by the same means that had been employed to reach the flagship. The Maine got under way about 11 P.M., and stood to the southward into the Gulf Stream. I wrote a long order in the night order-book relating to preparatory work to be done on the morning watch, and then turned in for the night. I did not desire to reach Havana at early daylight, but rather to steam in when the town was alive and on its feet; therefore a landfall was made at daylight the next morning, well to the westward. That was on Tuesday, January 25. The vessel was then slowed down and the decks were straightened up, so that she might present the usual orderly appearance for port. The crew was required to dress with exceptional neatness in blue; the officers were in frock-coats. When all was ready, the Maine was headed to the eastward, nearly parallel to the shore-line of the city, and toward the entrance. She was sent ahead at full speed as she passed the city, and the United States national ensign was hoisted at the peak, and the "jack" at the foremast-head. This disclosed at once the nationality and purpose of the vessel; that is to say, the Maine was a United States man-of-war that desired a pilot to enter Havana harbor. All pilotage in and out of Havana, or within the harbor, is under the direction of the captain of the port, who is a naval officer. The pilot service is entirely official.

Maine Entering Havana Harbor

No United States vessel had visited Havana during the previous three years. There was much doubt as to the nature of our reception - to me, at least, there was doubt, for I was not aware of the character of the diplomatic exchanges. I was sincerely desirous of a friendly reception, but it was my affair to be ready for all emergencies. The Maine was in such a state of preparation that she could not have been taken at much disadvantage; nevertheless, she presented no offensive appearance, and meant no offense. On board United States men-of-war it is commonly only a short step from peaceful appearance to complete readiness.

A pilot put off promptly to the Maine, and boarded her to seaward of the Morro quite in the normal way, without objection or unusual inquiry. He took her in through the narrow entrance slowly, and with such care and excellent skill that I complimented him for it after we were made fast to the buoy. I also commended him to the captain of the port later. The forts, shores, and wharves were crowded with soldiers and citizens. A few riflemen could have cleared our decks when in the narrow entrance and under the shadow of the lofty Morro and Cabana. Whatever feeling there was against us was kept in check by the populace. There were then in the harbor, moored to permanent mooring-buoys, two other men-of-war: the Spanish cruiser Alfonso XII, which never changed her position, from the time the Maine arrived until the Maine was sunk; and the square-rigged German training steamer Gniesenau. The Maine moved slowly in, passing between the two men-of-war, and was moored to a mooring-buoy chosen by the pilot, about four hundred yards south of the German vessel in the man-of-war anchorage off the Machina or Naval "Sheers." She never left this buoy, but carried it down with her when she sank. It was approximately in the position of buoy NO.5, as shown on chart No. 307, published by the United States Hydrographic Office, but was known at Havana as buoy NO.4. At the time of the explosion of the Maine, the Spanish despatch-boat Legazpi occupied the berth which had been held formerly by the Gniesenau, buoy NO.3; the Alfonso XII was at NO.4 of Chart 307. The day after the arrival of the Maine, the square-rigged German training steamer Charlotte entered the harbor. Other vessels were anchored or moored in localities more or less remote from the Maine - two hundred yards and upward.

Probably no forms of etiquette are more stable than those observed among navies in reciprocating courtesies. They are laid down in the navy regulations, and are established by rigid international convention. Those relating to reciprocal courtesies between naval ships and military and civil authorities are quite as well established; they are known in all ports much frequented by naval vessels. On the arrival of a foreign vessel in port, the senior naval officer present of the nation to which the port belongs sends an officer of the rank of lieutenant, or below, to the commanding officer of the arriving vessel, with an offer of civilities, or to express the wish of the naval authorities to give any assistance in their power. On the departure of the officer who makes this "visit of ceremony," an officer of the arriving vessel is promptly despatched to acknowledge the visit and to express the thanks of his commanding officer. The next step, in respect to visits, is for the commanding officer of the arriving vessel to call on the commanding officers of and above his own rank in the navy of the nation to which the port belongs. These visits must be returned, by convention, within twenty-four hours. It is also customary to visit the highest civil officer and the highest military officer. By these forms of naval ceremony, I was required to make visits at Havana to the captain-general (who is also governor general), the Spanish admiral in charge of the station, the captain of the port, and the captain of the Alfonso XII. Visits are also exchanged in the United States service between the captain of an arriving man-of-war and the consular representative of the United States. General Fitzhugh Lee, as consul-general, was entitled to the first visit.

In command of the Maine at Havana, I had but one wish, which was to be friendly to the Spanish authorities, as required by my orders. I took pleasure in carrying out my orders in this respect, and sacrificed every personal inclination and promise of pleasure that might have interfered. The first Spanish officer to come on board was a naval lieutenant who represented the captain of the port. His bearing was both dignified and polite (which, by the way, is invariably the rule with Spanish naval officers), but I thought he looked embarrassed and even humiliated in carrying out his duty. I greatly regretted that such should be the case, and did all that I could to make him feel at ease. After the arrival of a second Spanish lieutenant, who seemed to take matters more philosophically, and of a German naval lieutenant, the naval officer who had arrived first appeared to lose his embarrassment. I made all the visits required of me by usage, and was everywhere received with courtesy. It is hardly to the point whether there was any great amount of actual friendliness for us beneath the surface. The Spanish officials on every hand gave us absolutely all the official courtesy to which we were entitled by usage, and they gave it with the grace of manner which is characteristic of their nation. I accepted it as genuine.

It is not essential to enter here into the details of usage in connection with gun salutes. It is enough to say that convention required the Maine to salute the Spanish national flag, and also to salute Admiral Manterola. But such salutes are given only when it is known that they will be returned. I therefore deemed it prudent to determine this point, although the visit of a Spanish officer to the ship would ordinarily be thought sufficiently convincing. In the course of conversation with the Spanish naval officer who was the first to visit the Maine, I said: "I am about to give myself the honor of saluting your national flag; from which battery will the salute be returned?" He replied: "From the Cabana." With that assurance, both salutes were fired and returned. The salute to the Spanish admiral was returned by his flagship, the Alfonso XII.

Shortly after the arrival of the Maine, I sent my aid, Naval Cadet J. H. Holden, ashore to report to General Lee, and announce that I would soon follow. I gave orders that no officers or men of the vessel should go ashore, unless by my express order. It was desired first to test public feeling, private and official, with reference to the Maine's visit. My visit to Admiral Manterola was made in full dress, with cocked hat, epaulets, etc. I landed at the Machina, the man-of-war landing, which is virtually at the Spanish admiral's residence. There was a crowd assembled, but only of moderate size. There was no demonstration of any kind; the crowd closed in about me slightly. I thought the people stolid and sullen, so far as I could gather from an occasional glance, but I took very little notice of anybody. On my return, however, I noted carefully the bearing of the various groups of Spanish soldiers that I passed. They saluted me, as a rule, but with so much expression of apathy that the salute really went for nothing. Some members of a group would salute, while others would not. They made no demonstration against me, however, not even by look.

The same day I made my visit to General Lee, and arranged with him for my visit to the acting captain and governor-general, who at that time was General Parrado, Captain-General Blanco being absent on a tour of the island. It is customary in the case of high officials to make the visit at an appointed time. When I made my visit, on January 27, accompanied by General Lee, there seemed at first to be a probability of embarrassment. We called at the palace of General Blanco at the appointed time, and apparently nobody there knew anything about our appointment. The ever-present American newspaperman relieved the situation; he ascertained that General Parrado was in a residence across the way, where he was expecting us. We promptly repaired the mistake, and were received by General Parrado with great courtesy. He had a table spread with refreshments for our benefit. All of my official visits were returned promptly. General Parrado returned my visit in person,and was given the salute of a captain- and governor- general; that is to say, of the governor of a colony - seventeen guns, the same salute which is prescribed for the governor of one of the United States.

All visits were made without friction and with courtesy on both sides, and apparently with all the freedom of conversation and action usually observed. I showed General Parrado through the Maine, and he seemed much pleased.

It had been announced in the local newspapers that there would be a series' of bull-fights in Havana, in which would appear Mezzanine, the famous "gentleman bull-fighter of Spain." I had decided to go to a bull-fight, notwithstanding the day of its celebration was Sunday. I was anxious to know from my own observation the true feeling of the people of Havana toward the Maine. Learning that the common people were likely to be greatly excited at the bull-fight, I decided that my presence there would afford the very best opportunity for my purpose. I told General Parrado of my intention, and he at once offered me a box. I declined the offer, saying that some of the officers of the Maine and I would go simply as ordinary observers. . However, within a day or two, General Parr ado sent me tickets for a box, which was an act of kind ness greatly appreciated by us. Later he sent a case of fine sherry to the officers of the Maine. The Maine had been for so long away from our large cities that I lacked anything distinctly American that would have been appropriate to give to General Parrado to express in a reciprocal way our appreciation of his gift, so I sent him, with the best of good wishes, a copy of my own work on "Deep-Sea Sounding and Dredging," published by the United States Coast Survey in 1880.

Maine fires salute

On the first Sunday after the arrival of the Maine at Havana, General Lee gave a luncheon party to the officers of the ship, at the Havana Yacht-Club at Marianao, a place on the sea-shore, about eight miles west of Havana. There we met some Cuban gentlemen, one or two members of foreign consulates, and a number of press correspondents. In going there I was taken by the sea route, in a small steam-launch owned by one of the Cuban gentlemen. We went close alongshore, past all the batteries west of the entrance. There was no impropriety in this, because one could see the batteries to better advantage merely by driving along one of the most frequented driveways of the city. At Marianao there was a small Spanish garrison. Sentries were posted at various places, and at one time, I believe, they had occupied the roof of the club-house. There was no excitement or even special interest shown by the soldiers at the appearance there of United States officers. The entertainment passed off very pleasantly. General Lee toasted the naval party, and we toasted General Lee. Short complimentary speeches were made on each side.

Maine dinner

The box at the bull-fight which had been provided us by the courtesy of General Parrado contained six seats. I reserved one ticket for General Lee, one for Naval Cadet Holden, and one for myself. The other three I sent to the ward-room and the junior officers' mess, to be chosen by lot. The party, therefore, consisted of six people. We returned to Havana from the yacht-club by train, and could not help remarking the suitability of the country for guerrilla warfare. While we were yet in the train, an American gentleman discussed with us the propriety of going to the bull-fight. He explained that the common people on such occasions were generally greatly excited, and as our visit to Havana was not well regarded by the populace, there was a probability that one single cry against us might set the audience aflame. I believed that it was inconsistent with the friendly visit of the Maine that her officers should not be accorded the same freedom of appearance and action that was permitted to officers of other Navies, therefore I reasserted our intention to go. Our friend said: "Well, if they will allow you there, they will allow you anywhere." As we emerged from the train and passed out of the station on our arrival at Havana, I was handed by somebody (I think by one of the newspaper correspondents) the bellicose circular which has since been published in the newspapers. It was a small printed sheet containing a protest to the public against submission to a visit from the Maine, and, translated, reads as follows:




What are you doing that you allow yourselves to be insulted in this way? Do you not see what they have done to us in withdrawing our brave and beloved Weyler, who at this very time would have finished with this unworthy, rebellious rabble who are trampling on our flag and on our honor?

Autonomy is imposed on us to cast us aside and give places of honor and authority to those who initiated this rebellion, these low-bred autonomists, ungrateful sons of our beloved country !

And, finally, these Yankee pigs who meddle in our affairs, humiliating us to the last degree, and, for a still greater taunt, order to us a man-of-war of their rotten squadron, after insulting us in their newspapers with articles sent from our own home!

Spaniards! the moment of action has arrived. Do not go to sleep! Let us teach these vile traitors that we have not yet lost our pride, and that we know how to protest with the energy befitting a nation worthy and strong, as our Spain is, and always will be!

Death to the Americans! Death to autonomy!

Long live Spain! Long live Weyler!


Spanish bulletin

I put it in my pocket, and we went to the bullfight by means of the ferry plying between Havana and RegIa. I have been asked many times what I thought of the circular. At the time I thought it of no importance whatever, and I have not changed my opinion. It could only have been the screaming appeal of some bigoted and impotent patriot. When a would-be conspirator finds it necessary thus to go out into the public streets and beg anonymously for assistance, he demonstrates that he is without friends of executive spirit. Circulars of that kind are not uncommon in Havana, General Lee received them frequently. In his case, the date was generally set for his destruction. He gave himself no concern over them, but let it be known generally that anyone attempting to injure him bodily would be treated very summarily by himself. His poise in matters of that kind made murderous bulletins positively humorous.

There had formerly been a bull-ring in Havana, a well-appointed one, but for some reason it was closed, and the smaller ring at RegIa, across the bay from Havana, had taken its place. When we arrived at the ring, we found that our box was high up above the rows of seats, and close to the box occupied by General Parrado, who was the presiding official at the sport on that day. Members of his staff were with him. Stationed at intervals throughout the audience were individual soldiers, under arms, and there were about twenty assembled in the seat directly in front of our box. General Parrado bowed to me pleasantly, but I thought that he and the officers about him were not entirely free from embarrassment because of our presence. General Parrado was always especially kind in his intercourse with me. I felt very friendly toward him. Occasionally, on looking up suddenly, I detected glances at me, on one side or another, that were far from friendly. That was to have been expected; but on the whole the forbearance of the audience was remarkable and commendable.

Six bulls were killed during the day. Our party arrived as the first one was being hauled away dead. After the fifth bull had been despatched, it was decided, as a considerate measure in favor of General Parrado, that we should leave the building and return to Havana early, so as to avoid the crowd. We therefore left very quietly, just before the sixth bull entered the ring. We tried to reach the ferry promptly, so that we might return to Havana on a steamer having but few passengers. Three members of our party were successful in this attempt; but General Lee, Lieutenant Holman, and I failed. On our arrival, a steamer had just left the landing. We then hailed a small passenger-boat, and were pulled to the Maine. While General Lee and I were conversing on the quarter-deck of the Maine, a ferry-boat came across the bay, carrying back to Havana a large number of people from the audience. There was no demonstration of any kind. The passengers were doubtless those who had left early, hoping, like ourselves, to avoid the crowd. The next ferry-boat was densely crowded. Among the passengers were a number of officers of the Spanish army and of the volunteers. As the ferry-boat passed the Maine there were derisive calls and whistles. Apparently not more than fifty people participated in that demonstration. It was not general, and might have occurred anywhere. I have never believed that the Spanish officers or soldiers took part. It is but fair to say that this was the only demonstration of any kind made against the Maine or her officers, either collectively or individually, so far as was made known to me, during our visit. Adverse feeling toward us was shown by the apathetic bearing of soldiers when they saluted, or of tradesmen when they supplied our needs. After the Maine had been sunk, and when the Montgomery and the Fern were in Havana, Spanish passenger-boatmen exhibited bad temper by withholding or delaying answers to our hails at night. The failure of the Spanish authorities to compel the boatmen to answer our hails impressed me as being very closely akin to active unfriendliness. It was at the time when the Viecaya and the Oquendo were in Havana, using picket-boats and occasionally search-lights at night, apparently to safeguard themselves. Hails were made sharply and answered promptly between the Spanish men-of-war and the boats constantly plying about the harbor at night. It must have been plain on board the Spanish men-of- war that the boatmen were trifling with us. This was after the Vizcaya had visited New York.

The feeling of moral responsibility :in the United States for the safety of the visiting Spanish cruiser, as against a belief that she would be molested, is exemplified in Appendix B, which contains an extract from the New York "Herald" of February 19, 1898.

Havana Yacht Club

I have been taken to task on some sides in the United States for going to a bull-fight on Sunday. Perhaps I should confess that I attended two bull-fights in Havana, on successive Sundays, that being the only day, I believe, on which bull-fights take place. On the second occasion I went with an American friend and a party of Cuban gentlemen who stood well with the Spaniards. This visit was neither attended nor followed by any demonstration unfavorable to Americans or the Maine. We entered, remained, and left quite in the usual way. Two bull-fights exhausted all interest that I felt to see that historic sport. The love for domestic animals which is part of an American's nature-ingrained from babyhood - revolts at the sight of a poor, non-combatant horse calmly obeying the bridle while his entrails are streaming from him. To comprehend the Spanish bull-fight, it should be considered as a savage sport passed down from generation to generation from a remote period when human nature was far more cruel than at present. If the sport had not so developed, it is a fair inference that it could not now be instituted or tolerated. Similar considerations might be thought to apply to our own prizefights; but the highest class of people habitually attends bull-fights, while this is not true of prizefights. During the progress of the last bull-fight that I attended; several poor, docile, passive horses were killed under circumstances that were shocking to the American mind. In a box near that which my friends and I occupied, a little girl ten or twelve years of age sat apparently unmoved while a horse was prostrate and dying in prolonged agony near the middle of the ring.

As to the circular that was given to me before going to the first bull-fight, it may be stated that I received a second copy through the Havana mail. The second copy was probably sent by some American who judged it to be important. I sent it horne, and afterward it was reproduced in the newspapers. It is reproduced here. I think General Lee sent a copy of that circular to the secretary-general of Cuba, Dr. Congosto. There was nothing to do in respect to the circular, even though I had believed it an influential attempt to foment disturbance. Every precaution that could be taken against injury or treachery was taken on board the Maine, so far as could be permitted under the restrictions of my orders requiring me to make a friendly visit. If one, when dining with a friend at his horne, were to test the dishes for poison, he would not be making a friendly visit. The harbor could not be dragged without giving offense; it could not be patrolled by our own picket-boats at night, nor could the search-lights be kept going: but every internal precaution was exercised that the situation suggested. There were sentries on the forecastle and poop, quartermaster and signalboy on the bridge, and a second signal-boy on the poop, all of whom were charged with the necessity for a careful lookout. The corporal of the guard was specially instructed as to the port gangway, and the officer of the deck and the quartermaster as to the starboard gangway.

Instead of the usual anchor-watch, a quarterwatch was kept on deck at night. The sentries were supplied with ammunition; a number of rounds of rapid-fire ammunition were kept in the pilot-house and in the spare captain's pantry inside the after-superstructure. An additional supply of shells was kept at hand for the six-inch guns. In order to be prepared more completely to work the hydraulic mechanism of the turrets, steam was kept up on two boilers instead of one; special instructions were given to watch all the details of the hydraulic gear and to report defects. The officer of the deck was charged by me to make detailed reports, even in minor matters, acting on the suspicion that we might be in an unfriendly harbor. I personally instructed the master-at-arms and the orderly sergeant to keep a careful eye on every visitor that came on board, and to charge their own subordinates to the same purpose. I instructed them to follow visitors about at a proper distance whenever the ship was visited below; they were carefully to watch for any packages that might be laid down or left 'by visitors, on the supposition that dynamite or other high explosives might be used. They were also required to inspect the routes over which visitors had passed. The officer in charge of the marine guard was required to make at least two visits during the night to the various posts of the vessel. The dipping lines or hogging- lines of the collision mat-a large mat to haul over holes, under water; in the hull- were rove and kept standing. The purport of my own orders and 'instructions was that we should consider the Maine in a position demanding extreme vigilance, and requiring a well-sustained routine both by day and by night.

Capt Sigsbee in captain's cabin

Until the night of the explosion nothing whatever was developed to show that there was any special need for extreme vigilance. Many people visited the ship, chiefly in parties. It is probable that nearly all were Cubans. These were chiefly representatives of the refined class in Havana, who took great pride in visiting the ship - more, perhaps, than I could have wished, in view of the situation. There must have been three or four hundred of them on board from time to time. They were warmly demonstrative toward us, and at first were inclined to ask us to return their visits. I believe some of the Maine's officers took advantage of their invitations; but I always explained that my position in Havana was a delicate one, that I desired to know socially both the Spaniards and the Cubans, but that I should not feel free to accept hospitalities from Cubans until the Spanish people first showed a willingness to accept the hospitalities of the ship. I often made inquiries in a rather jocular way as to the politics of the ladies who visited the ship. The ladies pointed out to me visitors of different shades of opinion, but I have my doubts whether any of them were really in sympathy with the Spaniards. I let it be known everywhere that it would please me greatly to entertain the Spanish people on board, and made considerable effort to bring about the desired result, but without success. It was evident that the Spaniards would not visit us socially; they would do their official duty, but would not go beyond it.

I finally decided to make a very special effort. I knew two charming young Spanish ladies of American descent on their mother's side. Both were engaged to be married to Spanish army officers. Their father had been a Spanish officer. All their associations had been in Spanish military- circles. They assured me that it was a mistake to suppose that the Spaniards would not visit us in a friendly way. To demonstrate their view, they offered to bring aboard the Maine, on a certain day, a party of Spanish officers. The ladies came at the appointed time, their mother being one of the party; but with them there was only one Spanish officer, and he was in what we might call a civil branch of the army. Each lady gave a somewhat different excuse for the absence of the officers, which only served to make it clear that the officers would not come at all, and that there was a general understanding that the ship should not be visited by Spanish officers, except officially.

I then believed that I had made all the effort that was proper to put the visit of the Maine on a friendly plane socially. I made no effort thereafter beyond continuing to make it known in a general way that Spaniards would be welcomed. For about two days after the arrival of the Maine, her officers were not permitted to go ashore; after that they went freely, day and night. During the whole visit the crew remained on board, with the exception of an occasional visit to the shore, on duty, by some well-trusted petty officer.· I regretted very much to retain the crew on board, because it had been my custom to give liberty freely before visiting Havana. Even the bumboat men did not seem to care especially for the custom of the men, doubtless because of the undercurrent of feeling against us. The crew never complained - not in a single instance that I am aware of; they took the situation philosophically. I myself drove through the streets of Havana, day or night, entirely alone, just as I liked, without hindrance of any kind. To all outward appearance Havana was as orderly a city as I have ever seen.

It was impossible to be at Havana without hearing much about reconcentrados. I never spoke of them to Spanish officials, but at different times conversed with non-military Spaniards on the subject. To my surprise, they were perfectly frank and outspoken in their admissions of the terrible suffering and death that had been wrought. The statistics that they gave me were not diminished as compared with those received from the Cubans; in fact, their figures were higher as a rule; but there was this difference: the Cubans placed the blame upon the Spaniards, and the Spaniards upon the Cubans. A Spanish lady, in speaking of General Weyler in connection with the reconcentrados, said of him that he was not a man of sentiment, but cold by nature, a soldier with a stern sense of duty.

Prior to the destruction of the Maine, I was unwittingly involved in one case of official friction. According to precedents, I was entirely in the right. The autonomistic government of Cuba had been established by General Blanco. The members of the government were much respected gentlemen of the island. As captain of the Maine, I was not expected to show any political preference, but it was my duty to preserve good relations with the government as it existed. In visiting the captain-general, who, as already stated, is also the governor-general, and the naval authorities, I thought I had fulfilled all the courtesies required by usage; therefore it had not occurred to me to visit the civil members of the autonornistic council. In my cruises about the West Indies, I had made visits to colonial governors and to the naval and military authorities; but it had never been expected of me to visit the members of the legislative council of a British colony. I was therefore greatly surprised to find that it had been reported to the United States government in Washington that I had failed to visit the members of the autonomistic council. I received several telegrams from the Navy Department referring to the matter. The despatches may not have been clearly deciphered on board the Maine, but I did not gather from them that I was required to make a visit to those officials. I hesitated to act without decisive orders after the matter had been carried to the government at Washington. Finally, I thought that I could detect in the telegrams a desire on the part of the Navy Department that I should, of my own volition, make the visit.

Wardroom of the Maine

General Blanco had then returned to Havana, where he resumed his custom of giving receptions to gentlemen on a certain night in each week. General Lee had made an appointment for me to visit General Blanco officially the next day, and I took advantage of the reception to promote good feeling. In civilian's evening dress, I attended General Blanco's reception with General Lee, and took pleasure in the act. I said to General Blanco that I attended his reception that evening informally, and that I would come officially the following day, according to appointment. General Blanco is a fine type of the Spanish gentleman - a man of distinguished bearing and address. I remarked to General Lee that the captain-general might pass for a very benevolent United States senator. This was a double-edged compliment, intended to cut favorably in both directions. At the reception and on all other occasions General Blanco received me most kindly.

Soon after our arrival at the reception, General Lee introduced me to Dr. Congosto, the secretary-general of Cuba. Dr. Congosto immediately said: "May I introduce you to the members of the autonomistic council?" I replied that the introduction would give me great pleasure, and that I should gladly have acted on an earlier invitation. I was then introduced to several members of the council, including Senor Galvaez, the president. All were men that one would feel honored to meet, whether officially or privately. I thought I had a right to speak plainly, because I had been put in a false position. I informed the gentlemen that there had been no time since my visit to Havana when I should not have given myself the honor of visiting them immediately had I received an intimation that a visit would be agreeable. I stated that I had not made a visit because no precedent for it in naval etiquette was known to me, and that visits to civil officials on shore, if in excess of usage, might not be taken kindly, because a return visit afloat might be inconvenient. I expressed the pleasure that I should take in going as far beyond precedent as might be agreeable to them. If permitted, I should visit the council officially the following day, after which I hoped the gentlemen of the council would visit the Maine and receive a salute.

The next day, with General Lee, I called on General Blanco officially, just as I had called on General Parrado when he was representing General Blanco. I admired General Blanco as a man and as a patriot, and desired to receive him on board the Maine and do him honor. I gave him an urgent invitation, stating at the same time that I knew it was not necessary etiquette for him to return my visit personally. He seemed pleased, and remarked pleasantly that there was a decree against captains-general visiting foreign men-of-war, for the reason that many years ago a captain general, while visiting an English man-of-war, had been abducted. I replied that on merely personal grounds I would be glad to run away with him, but I promised good behavior. He stated that it might be possible to make a visit-he would think it over. I assured General Blanco that the visit of the Maine was sincerely friendly, and that my orders contemplated nothing further than the ordinary visit of a man-of-war. He expressed his appreciation of my commands against giving liberty on shore to the Maine's crew, and asked, as had other officials, how long the Maine would remain at Havana. To this question I always made the same reply, viz., that when our war-vessels were in telegraphic communication with the Navy Department it was not customary to include in their orders the time of their departure from a port; they were required to await further orders. I repeated to General Blanco what I had already said to General Parrado, that I hoped the Spanish men-of-war would reciprocate by reviving their friendly visits to the United States; that the cordiality of their reception could not be doubted. An exceptionally pleasing ceremonial feature terminates a visit to Spanish officials. It was observed in this case. After taking leave in the usual way, in the room where the interview was held, General Blanco and Dr. Congosto accompanied us to the head of the stairs, and the civilities were repeated. There they remained until we had reached the first landing below, when we turned, and the visit was ended by mutual salutation. After leaving General Blanco, I called on the members of the council, and was received with cordiality. I think the members of the autonomistic government had really felt that I was trying to evade a visit. I was glad to convince them to the contrary. It was well known: to the authorities at Havana that General Lee had expressed officially an unfavorable opinion as to the influence and acceptability of autonomy in the island, and they were keenly sensitive on the subject. They may have believed that I was trying to weaken autonomy; if so, an invitation to visit the council would have made a test.

Captain-General Ramon Blanco

The gentlemen of the council returned my visit promptly. They were received with honors, and shown through the Maine. We greatly enjoyed their visit. Near the close, refreshments were served in my cabin, and Senor Galvaez made a complimentary speech in Spanish, which was interpreted to me briefly. The last thing that I desired was to involve myself in the politics of the island. I conceived that it would be highly injudicious on my part, as a foreign naval officer, to seem to take sides in any way, either by expression or by action. I made a response to Senor Galvaez's speech, assuring him that it had given me much gratification to make my visits to the council, and renewing my statement that I should have made an earlier visit had I known that it would have been agreeable. I welcomed them formally to the ship, and expressed the hope that they would return with their families and friends, and make social and informal visits whenever they thought they could find pleasure on board. Believing that the gentlemen of the council were desirous that I should give some expression of approval of the autonomistic form of government, I evaded the point, and said only: "I beg to express my admiration for the high purpose of your honorable body." My reply was afterward printed in at least two newspapers in Havana, but the terms made me favor autonomistic government for the island. I disliked this result when I considered it in connection with the censorship, but raised no protest against it. Judging from outward evidence, the autonomistic government was then unpopular and without effective influence, as reported by General Lee. My courtesy to the members of the council could hardly have gained popular favor for the Maine.

The next day the families and friends of the members of the council, including ladies, came aboard, and were received by me and the officers. It was a merry party, and many evidences of good will were given. This ended the only frictional incident prior to the destruction of the Maine.

While lying in the landlocked harbor of Havana, the Maine looked much larger than her actual size; she seemed enormous. Doubtless her strength was overestimated by the populace of Havana. The people apparently believed that we had sent our best ship to make a demonstration. There was much misconception on all sides, even among Spanish officers, as to the fighting strength of the United States navy. Evidently the Spaniards did not regard us as their equals in battle; their traditional pride made them overestimate their own fighting ability or underestimate ours. .On the other hand, to show how people may differ, I have never known it to be entertained in our own service that the Spanish navy could match ours. The Spanish naval officers that I met were alert, intelligent, and well informed professionally. They all had their polished national manner. Superficially, at least, their vessels were admirable; they seemed clean and well kept. Their etiquette was carefully observed, but apparently their crews were not comparable with ours, either in physique or in intelligence. I saw very little drilling of any kind on board the Spanish men-of-war at Havana. After the destruction of the Maine, General Weyler was credited in the press with the remark that" the Maine was indolent." If General Weyler did in fact make the remark, he must have got advices relative to the Maine that were not well based on observation. While at Havana, the Maine had no drills on shore, as a matter of course, but afloat she carried out her routine of drills day after day, except that she omitted" night quarters" and" clearing ship for action," as likely to give rise to misunderstanding. She also exercised her boats under oars and under sails, and had gun-pointing practice with the aid of a launch steaming about the harbor. In this latter practice, care was taken that our guns should never point toward the Spanish men-of-war. Every morning and evening the .crew were put through the development drill. Most of the drills of the Maine were in plain view from without, by reason of her structure; she had no bulwarks on her main or upper deck.

Signal drill on deck of the Maine

After the destruction of the Maine, and while the Vizcaya and Oquendo were in the harbor, we could observe no drills taking place on board those vessels, although it is possible that they might have gone on without our being able to observe them. There was much ship-visiting on board. In everything they did, except in respect to etiquette, the practised nautical eye could not fail to note their inferiority in one degree or another to the vessels of our own squadron at Key West. Our vessels were then having "general quarters for action" three times a week, and were keeping up their other drills, including night drills, search-light practice, etc. Vessels of the Vizcaya class, in the captain's cabin and officers' quarters, were one long stretch of beautiful woodwork, finer than is the rule on board our own vessels. The smaller guns of their primary batteries, and the rapid-firing guns of their secondary batteries, were disposed between the turrets on two decks in such dovetailed fashion that in order to do great damage an enemy needed only to hit anywhere in the region of the funnels. I remarked several times - once to Admiral Sampson, who was then Captain Sampson of the court of inquiry on the destruction of the Maine - that the Spanish vessels would be all aflame within ten minutes after they had gone into close action, and that their quarters at the guns would be a slaughter-pen. Future events justified the statement. Afterward, when I boarded the -wreck of the Infanta Maria Teresa near Santiago de Cuba, her armored deck was below water, but above that there was not even a splinter of woodwork in sight; in fact, there was hardly a cinder left of her decks or of that beautiful array of bulkheads. It may have been that the Maine remained longer in Havana than had originally been intended by the Navy Department. It was expected, I believe, to relieve her by another vessel; which vessel, I do not know. I had hoped that the Indiana or the Massachusetts would be sent to dispel the prevailing ignorance among the Spanish people in regard to the strength and efficiency of our ships. The department may not have accepted my views.

Before reciting the details immediately connected with the destruction of the Maine, it may be said that I did not expect she would be blown up, either from interior or exterior causes, although precautions were taken in both directions. Nevertheless, I believed that she could be blown up from the outside, provided a sufficient number of persons of evil disposition, and with the conveniences at hand, were free to conspire for the purpose. It was necessary to trust the Spanish authorities in great degree for protection from without. I believe that the primary cause of the destruction of the Maine was an explosion under the bottom of the ship, as reported by the court of inquiry.