National Geographic : 1998 Feb
Deck officer the night the Maine went down, Lt. John ].Blandin was struck on the head by debris but was able to testify before the official inquiry in Key West. Five months later he died. Blaming the head wound, Blandin's daughterasked the Navy to add his name to the monument in Havana (below). Today his family preserves a hat, belt buckle, and letters-mementos of a careercut short. could go no farther, and looked down on a mass of wreckage, floating debris and foaming water, in which some men were still struggling and calling for help." Sigsbee, at the quiet suggestion of Wainwright, abandoned ship and, the last man to leave the Maine alive, followed Wainwright into the cap tain's gig, a small, oar-powered boat. Someone handed him his dog, Peggy, found by a sailor. Sigsbee ordered the gig to circle the wreckage and look for survivors. An officer shouted, "If there is anyone living on board, for God's sake say so!" The only answer was an echo. The gig headed for the City of Washington, where many survivors had been taken. Only 88 men out of a complement of 26 officers and 328 sailors and marines had survived. Two officers and 250 enlisted men had been killed, including teammates Bill Gorman and bugler C. H. New ton; among the 22 black sailors who died was the star pitcher, William Lambert. The only surviving member of the Maine's championship baseball team was right fielder John Bloomer, one of 59 men injured. Eight men died soon of injuries, and another six lingered awhile before they, too, died. Lt. John Blandin (above), who said he saw scenes of that terrible night every time he closed his eyes, lived in a state of mel ancholy after he arrived home in Baltimore. He seemed ever to be back in Havana, calling out to Sigsbee that the Maine was under attack. On July 16 Blandin would die in a coma. Not initially listed as a casualty, but surely a victim, was Sigsbee's haunted marine orderly, private William Anthony. On November 24, 1899, a New York City police officer found him sitting on a bench in Central Park, dying of a cocaine overdose. ON THE MORNING AFTER THE DISASTER Sigsbee looked out from the deck of the Washington and saw the remains of the Maine, settling in the mud of the seafloor. The tilted aft mast thrust from the wreckage, a mop, thrown up by the explosion, hanging in its rigging. Sigsbee quickly decided that a mine had blown up his ship. But he kept his suspicions to himself. In a cable to the Navy Department, hastily written aboard the Washington, he said, "Public opinion should be sus pended until further report." (Continued on page 108) REMEMBER THE MAINE?