Spanish American War Website Banner

Stephen Crane

By Corinne Miller

Please Visit our Home Page to learn more about the Spanish American War
Click here to read Crane's account of the signalman at the Battle of Cuzco Well


Stephen Crane, renowned author of The Red Badge of Courage and Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, was a correspondent for Pulitzer's World  during the Spanish American war. He was present with the Marines at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.


Stephen Crane, the youngest of fourteen children, was born to the Reverend Jonathan Townly Crane and Mary Helen Peck Crane on November 1, 1871 in Newark, New Jersey. He briefly attended Lafayette College and Syracuse University  before moving to New York City in 1891. It was here that Crane wrote his famous novel Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), the story of a girl who grew up in the slums of New York. Crane's greatest novel, The Red Badge of Courage (1895), takes place during the Civil War and was the first of  many works that Crane wrote about war. These works express Crane's intense interest in war.

Stephen Crane During the Spanish American War

Stephen Crane, seated, with fellow reporter Richard Harding Davis shipboard off Ponce, Puerto Rico

In April, 1898, two months after the sinking of the Maine , Stephen Crane was anxious to join the navy by any means necessary.  "Nothing could have held him back," Joseph Conrad, a dear friend of Crane, wrote of his ambition; "He was ready to swim the ocean." Unfortunately Crane was unable to pass the Navy's physical examination. Instead he signed on as a correspondent with Joseph Pulitzer'sWorld. Crane sailed on the THREE FRIENDS to Key West where he wrote ten dispatches for World in May alone, as well as many other works including "The Open Boat" a short story entitled "His New Mittens" and other stories.  On June 13, Crane had his first experience in war when the Spaniards launched a strong, unexpected attack at Guantanamo Bay's base camp for the 1st Marine Battalion. Crane dropped to the ground as bullets shot around him. However Acting Assistant Surgeon John Blair Gibbs of the 1st Marine Battalion was killed. Of this experience Crane wrote:

For the moment I was no longer a cynic. I was a child who, in a fit of ignorance, had jumped in the vat of war. He was dying hard. Hard. It  took him a long time to die... He was going to break ... Every wave,  vibration, of his anguish beat upon my senses ... He was long past  groaning. There was only the bitter strife for air which pulsed out into  the night in a clear penetrating whistle, with intervals of terrible silence in which I held my own breath in the common unconscious aspiration  to help. I thought the man would never die. I  wanted him to die. Ultimately he died.
Crane soon became ill from the rigors of war and on July 6, was diagnosed with yellow fever . Crane returned to England and took up residence with his wife Cora Stewart. Here he wrote a volume of war-related poetry titled War is Kind  and the short story "The Blue Hotel." Crane spent the last two years of his life, in failing health, writing in Europe. He died of tuberculosis when he was only 29 years old.

Colvert, James B., Stephen Crane. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, 1984).

Cohen, Stan, Images of the Spanish American War, April - August, 1898. (Missoula: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., Inc., 1997) 270 (Crane and Davis image).

Consolo, Dominick, The World Book Encyclopedia.  "Stephen Crane," (Chicago: World Book Inc., 1989) Vol. IV.

Texas University Education "Stephen Crane: Man, Myth, and Legend" (1997) 5 pp. Online . Internet. 3  Jan., 1999.

Texas University Education  "Highlights on Stephen Crane's Life: A Brief Biography" (1997) 2 pp. Online. Internet. 3 Jan., 1999

Support this Site by Visiting the Website Store! (help us defray costs!)
We are providing the following service for our readers. If you are interested in books, videos, CD's etc. related to the Spanish American War, simply type in "Spanish American War" (or whatever you are interested in) as the keyword and click on "go" to get a list of titles available through

Visit Main Page for copyright data

Return to Personal Profiles
Return to Main Page