Spanish American War

Spanish American War

USS Maine entering Havana harbor, 1898. Contributed by Detroit Publishing Co., publishers, to Library of Congress.
USS Maine entering Havana harbor, 1898. Contributed by Detroit Publishing Co., publishers, to Library of Congress.

Frank C. Talbot (1878-1898) of Bath joined the crew of the USS Maine the day after Christmas in 1897. He had just completed one month of shipboard training. In mid-January, while docked at Key West, Florida, Talbot wrote his family to tell them how much he enjoyed life as a sailor and that the next day the Maine was headed for Havana, Cuba. It was the last letter they ever received from him.

Cuba, still a colony of Spain, was engaged in civil war for independence. Since Cuba was barely 100 miles from Florida many Americans lived there, had businesses on the island, or traded goods with the Cubans. The USS Maine’s mission was simply to watch over American interests on the island, in a warm port during winter. It should have been easy. Instead, precisely at 9:40 pm February 15th, an explosion tore apart the USS Maine. Landsman Frank Clinton Talbot and 252 others died that night. Another 14, who initially survived the blast, would die from their injuries, increasing the final death toll to 266.

Spain was blamed for the devastation of the USS Maine and on April 20, 1898, U. S. President William McKinley asked Congress to declare war on them. The Spanish-American War started the very next day.

For more on the destruction of the USS Maine go to: USS Maine

 

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