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

By W. D. Puleston | Go to book overview

Chapter XXI Mediterranean Cruise

FROM Southampton the Chicago crossed the channel to Havre and then proceeded to Lisbon. Mahan was nearing the waters made famous by Nelson. "We are now just off Cape Trafalgar, with Cadiz in the distance, and I have swept with my glass the field of the great battle, which naturally looks much like any other bit of sea," he wrote to his wife. To the physical eye, yes, but to Mahan's inner vision phantom ships appeared, he could see Nelson in the Victory impatiently standing down upon the allied line, he could hear him exclaim: "See how that noble fellow Collingwood carries his ship into action!" could hear him praising the cool resolution of the seamen around him compelled to endure a murderous fire without reply.

Mahan had treated Gibraltar and its various sieges extensively in his sea power books, and in consequence, when the Chicago touched there, the Governor and officers of the British Army and Navy gave him a very cordial welcome. The Governor escorted him through the fortress. Captain Lake, the senior naval officer, showed him a copy of the first book on sea power presented to him by Vice Admiral Sir George Tryon, who during the previous summer had gone down with his flagship Victoria after her collision with the Camperdown. Mahan learned that Admiral Tryon had made a practice of presenting the book to his favorite captains. A warm friendship sprang up between Captain Lake and Mahan.

The Chicago stopped at Malaga about the middle of October and Mahan visited Granada. He was delighted with the scenery and climate, and felt that he understood why the Moors "wept when they looked their last on such a

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