The Transport YUCATAN nearly rams the MATTEAWAN!

By Burr McIntosh

The Transport Yucatan
This is an account of an event that occurred while General Shafter's Fifth Corps was on its way to Cuba The transport YUCATAN (with the Rough Riders aboard) nearly rammed the Transport MATTEAWAN (with Bates Independent Brigade, 20th U.S. Infantry, and the 2nd Cavalry aboard). The photo was taken as the YUCATAN came towards MATTEAWAN.

...That evening, an hour before sunset, while the MATTEAWAN was lying at anchor - again waiting for a pilot - the procession of transports passed on the way to Egmont Keys. It was a succession of interesting and inspiring moments. As each one sped by, the band on board palyed a sirited tune, while cheers from the hundred of throats on both ships added enthusiam and excitement to the scene. Suddenly, out of the mist, I saw a large figure '8' loom up against the side of one of the fleet. I turned my machine [camera] on her at a distance of about two hundred yards. As she approached, it became evident that something was wrong with her steering gear. When one hundred and fifty yards away, her whistle blew and the huge anchor on the starbaord side dropped suddenly, while the heavy churning of the sea in the rear proved only too plainly that the YUCATAN was, for some unknown reason, getting beyond the control of her navigators. Her course changed and for a few moments - inasmuch as her bow was aiming directly as us who were standing on the bridge -visions of the first big 'scoop' crowded through my over-anxious brain. When about two hundred feet away, it became evident that she was finally under control, although not until her bow was witihin three feet of the MATTEAWAN did she come to a dead stop. The love of adventure and danger was so strongly engrafted into those on board both vessels that, instead of a sigh of relief, a very pronounced one of disappointment seemed to come from the breast of every man within hearing. A number climbed oer the railing of each vessel in an endeavor to shake hands with the men on the other. After a brief halt of a few moments the YUCATAN began to recoil, and was son speeding on her way. It developed that the steering apparatus has really become seriously confounded, and, had the vessel not been brought to a halt at the instant she was, it is highly probable that there would have been no 'Rough Riders'' deads to records in Cuba and, more, this addition to 'war literature' would not have been forthcoming. Thirty-five hundred pounds of dynamite, which was later be associated with the dynamite gun, rested in her bow."


McIntoch, Burr, The Little I Saw of Cuba. (New York: F. Tennyson Neely, 1899) 43-44

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