Adventures and Letters
The Spanish-American War
When the news reached Richard that the Spanish-American War seemed inevitable he
returned at once to New York. Here he spent a few days in arranging to act as
correspondent for the New York Herald, the London Times, and Scribner's Magazine,
and then started for Key West.
Off Key West--April 24th, 1898.
On Board Smith, Herald Yacht.
I wrote you such a cross gloomy letter that I must drop you another to make up for it.
Since I wrote that an hour ago we have received word that war is declared and I am now
on board the Smith. She is a really fine vessel as big as Benedict's yacht with plenty of
deck room and big bunks. I have everything I want on board and The Herald men are two
old Press men so we are good friends. If I had had another hour I believe I could have got
a berth on the flag ship for Roosevelt telegraphed me the longest and strongest letter on
the subject a man could write instructing the Admiral to take me on as I was writing
history. Chadwick seemed willing but then the signal to set sail came and we had to
stampede. All the ships have their sailing pennants up. It is as calm as a mirror thank
goodness but as hot as hell. We expect to be off Havana tomorrow at sunset. Then what
we do no one knows. The crew is on strike above and the mate is wrestling with them but
as it seems to be only a question of a few dollars it will come out all right. We expect to
be back here on Sunday but may stay out later. Don't worry if you don't hear. It is grand
to see the line of battleships five miles out like dogs in a leash puffing and straining.
Thank God they'll let them slip any minute now. I don't know where "Stenie" is. I am
now going to take a nap while the smooth water lasts.
--Flagship New York--
April 26, 1898.
I left Key West on the morning of the 24th in the Dolphin with the idea of trying to get on
board the flagship on the strength of Roosevelt's letter. Stenie Bonsal got on just before
she sailed, not as a correspondent, but as a magazine-writer for McClure's, who have
given him a commission, and because he could act as interpreter. I left the flagship the
morning of the day I arrived. The captain of the Dolphin apologized to his officers while
we were at anchor in the harbor of Key West, because his was a "cabin" and not a "gun"
ship, and because he had to deliver the mails at once on board the flagship and not turn
out of his course for anything, no matter how tempting a prize it might appear to be. He
then proceeded to chase every sail and column of smoke on the horizon, so that the