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

By W. D. Puleston | Go to book overview

Chapter XXVIII1 The Spanish War

FOR a long time Mahan had looked forward to taking his family to Geogname. He had finished his Life of Nelson and had no projects demanding immediate attention. He needed rest and a change, for biography had tried his patience and taxed his skill. Lyle had a heart attack the previous autumn at Groton and was obliged to leave school; he too needed a rest. Mahan had planned the European itinerary with care and expected to sail March 26.

As soon as he learned of the destruction of the Maine , however, he wrote the Navy Department suggesting that it might be advisable for him to remain in the United States. He was informed that there was no reason for him to alter his plans. When, later in March, Roosevelt confirmed this view, Mahan and his family Sailed for the Mediterranean. Stopping at the Azores, he learned that the United States was still at peace, and continued by way of Naples to Rome. On April 25, the day after Spain declared war, he received telegraphed instructions to "proceed to the United States immediately." The Assistant Secretary had fulfilled his promise. In Rome an English interviewer asked Mahan how long hostilities would last. "About three months," he replied.2

____________________
1
This chapter is based mainly on letters from Mahan to Long, 1898 to 1901; John D. Long, History of the New American Navy; H. W. Wilson, The Downfall of Spain; Trench Ensor Chadwick, The Relations of the United States and Spain: The Spanish War; Mahan, Lessons of the War with Spain; Appendix to the Reports of the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, 1898.
2
Almost exactly three months later, on July 26, the French Ambassador, M. Jules Cambon, opened negotiations with President McKinley.

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