From The Bald Heretic:
On February 15, 1898, a mysterious explosion destroyed the American battleship Maine in Havana Harbor and helped propel the United States into a war with Spain. My great grandfather, Lt. John J. Blandin was the officer of the watch when the Maine blew up. The Spanish were blamed and we went to war. In actuality the explosion was a malfunction. My great grandfather was the highest ranking officer to die as a result of that explosion and, as a result, has his name on the Maine memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. He died on July 9, 1898…about 5 months after the explosion. ...
Interestingly enough, the US NAVY convened a tribunal annually for 100 years to discuss the disaster. On the 100th anniversary my aunt sent them the letter my great grandfather sent to his wife right after the explosion. They had never seen it. It caused quite a stir.
This is what it said…note the PS and PPS:
SS City of Washington
Havana, Cuba, 1898
You have read of our wreck, and I suppose Dr. Greer has informed you that I am all right. I was on watch when the explosion took place. A more complete and sudden wreck one can’t imagine. All of us left alive climbed onto the poop, and then looked around to see in anything could be done. We pulled out the wounded where we could. The wreck sunk and rested on the bottom, and was soon burning fiercely. When the Captain saw that nothing more could be done, he gave the order to abandon ship. We had two boats left that would float, and the Spanish man-of-war sent 5 boats, the steamer Washington sent 2 boats, and we got all who were alive into them, 80 men and officers were saved, out of 340. So we lost 260 men, or near that. About half of those saved are badly injured, and some will die. We all went to the American Steamship “City of Washington”, of the Ward Line, and were treated with every courtesy. I have just learned that we are to go to Key West this afternoon, and suppose I will get home soon.
Two officers were lost, Jenkins and Merritt, both good friends of mine and fine fellows.
As for myself, I am uninjured. I lost everything except the clothes I have on. Tell Jack that I had a letter to him finished, but it was lost in the wreck.
Thank God, my darling that my life was spared again. Lots of love to my darlings from you own
P.S No one can tell what caused the explosion. I don’t believe the Spanish had anything to do with it.
P.P.S Don’t publish this letter.