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USS Maine 1897 | by Tim Evanson
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USS Maine 1897

The USS Maine (ACR-1) cruisingin the north Atlantic Ocean in 1897.


The USS Maine was the first battleship ever built by the United States. Obsolete as soon as she launched, she patrolled the North Atlantic for 18 months before being sent to Havana, Cuba, to help calm anti-independence riots there (fomented by Spanish military officers). Her first night in the harbor, she blew up -- and 260 of her 355 crew died, nearly all of them sailors (not officers). Only a third of the ship remained.


The "yellow press" in the U.S. claimed a Spanish mine sank her, and this caused the Spanish-American War. The war lasted 10 weeks, and Spain lost Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the U.S.


The Maine stayed where she was until 1911-1912, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers raised the latter third of the ship. It was towed three miles out to sea and sunk in 1,200 feet of water. The remaining two-thirds of the ship was just scrap. Some relics (like dishes, swords, bayonets, the ship's bell, etc.) were taken back to the U.S. Some scrap was melted down into commemorative plaques, medals, or insignia. But most of the scrap was taken out to sea and dumped.


In 1899, the 160 Maine sailors buried in Colón Cemetery were disinterred and reburied at Arlington National Cemetery. Two U.S. howitzers and an anchor from another ship were placed there as a memorial. About 60 more dead were found about the Maine when it was raised. These remains were returned to the U.S. in December 1912, and buried at Arlington as well. The memorial mausoleum was created at Arlington near the Maine burial field, and the mast of the USS Maine was set into it. Today, it's known as the USS Maine Mast Memorial.

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Taken on May 19, 2013