Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

By W. D. Puleston | Go to book overview

Chapter VI Asiatic Station

ALL Mahan's close friends among his classmates at Annapolis, except Spencer, went South during the Civil War. Correspondence with them abruptly stopped. He heard that Cenas had been in Richmond at its surrender. As soon as peace was restored he reopened correspondence with Ashe, and the old Annapolis intimacy was quickly resumed. Meanwhile Mahan was ordered from the U.S.S. Muscoota to temporary duty at the Washington Navy Yard. Captain Earl English was fitting out the Iroquois at the New York Yard for the China Station, and the department had approved his delightful "roundabont road" to China, via the West Indies, Brazil, South Africa, Madagascar, Comoro Islands, Persian Gulf, India, Singapore, and Hong Kong. When Mahan learned the itinerary he applied and was ordered for duty as the executive officer, to report on January 1, 1867.

He spent the Christmas vacation at West Point with his family. His brother Frederick was in his third year at the Military Academy; Dennis, in his second at the Naval Academy. Jenny, his youngest sister, was home from boarding school. With the family temporarily reunited under the Dean's roof, the holidays passed all too quickly.

The Iroquois sailed from New York in February. During the cruise Mahan wrote regularly to his father, mother, and his sister Jane; and occasionally to his brothers Frederick and Dennis, and his Uncle Milo. He resumed his correspondence with Ashe in Raleigh. His mother was his closest confidante; next came Ashe. Both of them understood his variable moods and both could appreciate the religious thoughts which pressed for utterance. He wrote

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