Off Key West
February 16, 1898
As you can see we are out of Havana at last, and once more in God's own Country [the unhurt crew were quickly sent to Key West in the belief that war was imminent and they would become prisoners of war if they remained in Havana]. We have 60 survivors, including all but the most seriously injured.The Captain and four other officers remained to look after the wreck. We expect to find some orders here as to what is to become of us, as we are absolutely without money or clothes. Am well and strong and ready for anything, but with nervous system rather strained. Need sleep but can never lose consciousness, as my brain goes over and over events of yesterday. I wrote you a lurid letter this morning telling you briefly of my escape - which was miraculous, so will not repeat it. Escaped without the slightest hurt, though of course a few bruises. Was writing you in my room at the time of explosion and had to fight my way out in darkness. Our door was closed and jammed, but found other and reached ladder as water rushed in. Ladder fell after I got up. No trouble after I reached deck. Men all killed aft - had to man boat with officers to pick up injured men in the water. Abandoned ship, and took refuge on SS City of Washington where [I] helped Dr. with wounded. Received every care and attention from officers and crew. Borrowed hat, shirt and slippers - my present costume - with which I am about to go ashore. Wounded men doing well. 103 Officers and men saved, 252 lost, two being Officers.
Will cable you on arrival as soon as I find out what is to
become of us. Expect to find orders waiting on dock, and hope they will
order us home for a week or two at least. Expect to find that at last Jingoes
have had their way and that war is declared. We must do our best! [rest
of letter missing]