A Navy Captain Recommends a Private for Promotion After USS Maine Sinking

The USS Maine sank in the harbor in Havana, Cuba, in 1898.
The USS Maine sank in the harbor in Havana, Cuba, in 1898. (Naval History and Heritage Command photo)

Soldierly Conduct

"The lights of the vessel were instantly obscured ..."

Captain C.D. Sigsbee, late commander of the USS Maine, detailing the actions of Private William Anthony, USMC, after the explosion and recommending him for promotion. An explosion resulted in the sinking of the USS Maine in the harbor in Havana on Feb. 15, 1898. A total of 266 crew members were killed.


Washington, D.C.

April 8, 1898


I desire to call the attention of the Department to the soldierly conduct of Private William Anthony on the occasion of the explosion of the Maine. At the time of the explosion, I was in the captain's cabin of the Maine. The lights of the vessel were instantly obscured and the apartments were filled with smoke; there was immediate and intense darkness.

On leaving my cabin through the usual passage forward, feeling my way along, I was met near the outer door of the superstructure by Private Anthony who was coming into the cabin to fulfill, on that dangerous occasion, the precise duties of his position by notifying me of the explosion. He ran against me in the darkness, apologized hastily and reported to me that the ship was blown up and was sinking. We then proceeded together to the quarter-deck.

The special feature in the case of this service performed by Private Anthony is that, on the occasion when man's instinct would land him to seek safety outside the ship, he started in the superstructure and toward the cabin, irrespective of the danger. The notion was a noble one, and I feel it an honor to call his conduct to the attention of the Navy Department with recommendation that he be made a sergeant.

Very respectfully,

C.D. Sigsbee

Captain U.S. Navy

Lately commanding USS Maine

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