Monday, November 25, 2013

Author Spotlight: Caroline Zilboorg

Q. What initially sparked your interest in Mary Renault?

In the process of writing this book, I have often been asked how I came to choose my subject. Most people with whom I discuss it recognize Mary Renault as the author of historical novels about the classical world; many confess to remembering a title or two; and some vividly recall The Last of the Wine, her first “Greek” novel, published in 1956, or The King Must Die, the first of her two books about the mythical Theseus, or her sweeping trilogy about Alexander the Great. I was drawn to her by none of these. Indeed, I dimly recall looking at The King Must Die in my school library and deciding that it was about experience so distant from my own that I made another choice.

Then, after a summer of European travel in 1992, my family and I headed to Berlin for eight days in a pension on Knesebeck Strasse. We arrived early on a sunny August afternoon, but we found the doors locked and no one at home. As we strolled about in front of the building, waiting for the proprietor, I perused the display tables under the awning of a nearby bookshop, discovering among the secondhand volumes an alluring paperback copy of The Charioteer. The trove of books we had brought with us was nearly completely read, and I was very tempted by this one, even at six Deutschmarks. My children (two boys, then aged thirteen and twelve, and two girls, then nine and seven) needed to use the lavatory, so we wandered into the shop, were directed through and out into a nineteenth-century courtyard, to a small room on the left. I had seen the saleswoman raise her eyebrows at my request, but I was used to that: Any mother with four young children is used to such looks—there seem so many of us. When we returned to the shop, however, my husband beckoned me outside into the street. He was astonished; he had found a book he had long been seeking, Käte Kollwitz’s Tagebucher, but when he took it up to the counter to pay, he was told that he could not buy it: the shop was for “women only.” I should have guessed from its name: Lilith.

Leaving my boys to wait with my husband, I went back in to purchase The Charioteer, for I was now fascinated. The cover featured a pastel illustration of a gentle young man with auburn hair. Dressed in a khaki uniform, he looked down and off to the left, while behind him a crutch was propped. The back cover advertised the story as a “moving and sensitive portrayal of a modern homosexual relationship.” I had thought Renault only wrote about great men in the ancient world. What was this “modern” novel about the Second World War? And what was a book about a homosexual man doing in a lesbian bookshop? What, in fact, was Mary Renault doing there?

After hours of touring Berlin, I read The Charioteer late into the night over the next few days. It is a wonderful novel, and I realized by the end that it was, in complex ways I did not then understand, related to the Greek novels advertised inside as “Other titles by the same author.” I had no idea until several months later that this was the last book she would set in twentieth century England, but I already felt that, when I finished the project I was then working on, I wanted to write something on Mary Renault.

Q. What do you think would have happened in 1939 if Mary decided to publish her first book under her real name, instead of a pseudonym?

Mary Renault is, of course, not her real name. Mary Renault was born Eileen Mary Challans in London in September 1905.  She died in 1983 in Cape Town, South Africa, where she had lived with her partner, Julie Mullard, since leaving England in 1948.

Nobody ever called Renault ‘Eileen’, and until she went up to Oxford University, Renault was known to her family and schoolmates as ‘Molly’.  The nickname suggested someone diminutive and pretty and Irish, the cute little girl her mother always wanted, but Renault was none of these things, and claimed the more adult name of ‘Mary’ as she began her studies at St Hughes’ College in 1925.  It’s not surprising, having finally named herself and claimed an identity of her own, that she would retain ‘Mary’ when she chose a pseudonym at the time of the publication of her first book, The Purposes of Love, in 1939.  But why change her surname, her family name, the name she had inherited, as it were, from her doctor father? 

When she began her medical studies in 1933 Renault could not have known the extraordinary demands nursing would make on her, but she must have known that she was choosing a profession that would place her on a daily basis in close contact with the reality of physical bodies, an experience quite different from her rather abstract study of literature at St Hughes’.  She must also have known about the uniform she would be compelled to wear, complicated layers which concealed individuality and styled, as evident in the required headdress, on the traditional clothing worn by medieval nuns.  Even the names by which she would be known in the world of English nursing would emphasize her status as a professional at the same time that they masked her individuality and minimized her identity as a woman.  Within the hospital, she would be known by her surname alone or as ‘Nurse Challans’; on the wards, doctors, nurses, and patients would call her merely ‘Sister’.  By becoming a nurse, Renault was dedicating her life to serving others and would follow a rigid regime of long hours on duty in extremely hierarchical institutions.  She was expected to live in a cell-like room within the hospital or school, to be available on the wards or in the surgical theatre during any emergency, and to maintain the decorum and celibacy her vocation implied.

Nurse Challans, however, was engaging in two activities her superiors did not imagine: She was finally writing a novel, based autobiographically on her hospital experiences, and she was falling passionately in love for the first time--with another female student.  When Renault finished her novel in the late thirties, it seemed practical, even essential for her future as a nurse, to hide her identity under another surname.  It was likely a romantic impulse rather than any carefully-thought-out or complex symbolism that lead her to choose the name of a character in a Renaissance play, although in retrospect it’s tempting to conclude that she also wanted to claim for herself an identity so different from what her time and nation expected of her that she might even appear to be French.  Later Renault would go further and refuse to stabilize even the pronunciation of her pen name: was it ‘Renault’ in the continental manner (like, for instance, the car) or ‘Ren-alt’, as most English people would naturally say it?  She left the pronunciation entirely up to her readers, as if to declare that what she had written, both in her books and on their title pages, would need to stand on its own, would need to represent her, would need to stand for her, in all its ambiguity.

Q. What should feminists and members of the LGBTQ community take away from Mary’s story? 

It may be tempting today to criticize Renault for not being sufficiently radical.  Such criticism seems to me grossly unfair for several reasons.  Most obviously, it stems from a failure to understand the historical context which shaped Renault as a young woman coming to maturity in pre-war England and which influenced her reading public at least into the 1970s.  Such criticism also ignores Renault's rejection of any collective identity—for example, as a lesbian, but also as a woman, as a white South African, and as a progressive or a conservative within the culture of the Britain of her youth or the South Africa of her maturity—a rejection that can be understood not so much as naive and conventional but as sophisticated and even radical from a queer perspective that argues that ‘identity categories tend to be instruments of regulatory regimes, whether as the normalizing categories of oppressive structures or as the rallying points for a liberatory contestation of that very oppression.’  

Obversely, one might be tempted to pardon Renault for her bisexual position, treating her as either naïve or ignorant, caught inextricably in her own time and place, deprived of the knowledge and insights available to us as a result of recent lesbian and feminist research and theory.  Such patronizing would be, I feel, as unfair as it is unsubstantiated by the evidence not only of Renault’s writing but of her own life.  In her afterward, written at the end of her life, to the Virago edition of The Friendly Young Ladies, Renault was in fact pushed to defend her position.  I think we must take her at her word when she wrote, ‘I have sometimes been asked whether I would have written this book more explicitly in a more permissive decade.  No; I have always been as explicit as I wanted to be.’  Addressing the same question more specifically in a letter to me in 1996, Julie (Renault’s partner) would declare that the matter of sexual orientation and identity was both more complicated and simpler than any explicit or popular label.  Despite what their union may have looked like to others, despite what it ‘approximated’ in living arrangements, commitment and depth of feeling, there was nothing formal about their bond to each other.  Julie even went so far as to declare, ‘we hadn’t planned to remain friends or whatever we call ourselves.’  Both Renault and Julie would have scoffed at the idea that their partnership was in any traditional sense a ‘marriage’, although what it was remained unnamed, even unnameable.  Years later, however, they agreed that they never would have left each other.  In Julie’s words, it ‘just seemed we liked each other best.’ 

Q. What do you think artists today would think of Mary’s belief that “art should be not without political implications, but above and beyond politics” (193).

Feminists now recognize that the personal is political. All of Renault’s work is political in this deeper and larger sense.  She was in no way writing tracts for or against any particular political candidate or party platform or specific law, but she would have contended that her work always engaged with ethical issues.  Insomuch as ethical issues are or ought to be at the core of how people govern themselves and of what people expect from themselves and their society, Renault’s work is always engaged, always political… whether or not she was comfortable using the term. 

Q. Are you currently working on any new books or projects?

I recently published my own historical novel, Transgressions, about two writers, the English poet Richard Aldington and the bisexual American poet Hilda Doolittle, whose passion was challenged by the forces of war and their own bohemian views of art and marriage. With their circle of friends who included Ezra Pound and D.H. Lawrence, Richard and Hilda rebelled against convention both in their art and in their personal lives.

I am now working on another biography: a life of my father, the Russian-American psychoanalyst Gregory Zilboorg, from his birth as a Jew in Czarist Russia in 1890 through his death in New York City in 1959.  He served as secretary to the Minister of Labor in Kerensky’s revolutionary government and as a doctor at the front during World War I before escaping to America in 1919.  After analysis in Berlin in the late 1920s, he became a prominent psychoanalyst and his patients included wealthy and artistic figures, among them Marshall Field III, George Gershwin, Kay Swift, Moss Hart, Lillian Hellman and Thomas Merton as well as members of the Warburg and de Menil Families. He joined the Quakers in 1922, but turned increasingly towards more traditional Christianity and finally converted to Catholicism in 1954.  He wrote extensively and his works include a history of psychiatry, for which he is still known, while arguing in his later work that there was no incompatibility between psychoanalysis and religion.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sneak Peek! A Civilian in Lawton's 1899 Philippine Campaign edited by Michael E. Shay

In the midst of the Philippine-American War, twenty-two-year-old Robert Dexter Carter served in Manila as a civilian quartermaster clerk. Through his letters to his family, he provided a vivid picture of army life in Manila—the sights, the smells, and his responses to the native culture. In addition to his letters, his diary, and several related articles present a firsthand account of the historic voyage of the United States Army Transport Grant through the Suez Canal to Manila in early 1899. Carter’s writings not only tell of his sometimes harrowing experiences but also reveal the aspirations and fears of a young man not quite sure of his next steps on life’s journey.  Enhanced by photographs from collections at the Library of Congress and the Military History Institute, as well as many of Carter’s own whimsical drawings, the book will appeal to armchair historians and scholars alike.


Editor’s Note

Micheal E. Shay
In the process of reading and transcribing the letters of Robert Dexter Carter, I found that, although his spelling was generally good, his punctuation was almost nonexistent. Moreover, his sentence structure was poor, as he used run-on sentences. Capitalization was “hit and miss,” and in his haste to get his letters posted, he often left many articles and prepositions out altogether. In addition, some pages were missing or torn, while in other places some words and phrases were indecipherable. In order to make the text more readable, I have inserted a word or two, some obvious, where it fit the context, while some were my best guess. In any case, I kept such insertions to a minimum. Hopefully, I have remedied these deficiencies without altering the text or disturbing the flow of the young man’s thoughts. 

His principal correspondents were his mother and father, as well as his older sister, Mell. Sadly, none of their letters survive. He tended to write in batches, as he received his mail in batches, so some of his letters to all three are repetitive regarding certain topics. Accordingly, I have compressed some of the correspondence by eliminating much of this duplication where it would not harm the thread of the story. For instance, the reader does not need to know over and over again that Carter was paid $83.33 per month (a fact that galled him, knowing that the other clerks were paid $100). I have chosen not to use ellipses, since I believe that they are a distraction and would disrupt the flow. 

Finally, it is quite apparent that white Americans, even middle-class northerners like Carter, viewed African-Americans and the native peoples of the Philippines in a much different light than we do today. Epithets ranging from the obviously racist (“coon,” when referring to a black cook; “nigger,” with reference to the native Filipinos; “dago”; “gu-gu”) to the paternalistic (“little brown brothers,” used by governor (later president) William Howard Taft) appear throughout.1 As offensive as this speech is to me, as well as the modern reader, to “sanitize” this work would, I believe, deprive the reader of an authentic nineteenth-century voice. For that reason, I have chosen to leave the terms in the text.


“No body ever heard of a quarter Master in history as such or in relating any brilliant action.” —Quartermaster General Nathanael Greene (Letter to Gen. Washington, April 24, 1779)


The Quartermaster Department

If, in accepting General Washington’s orders to assume his new duties as quartermaster general of the Continental Army, Nathanael Greene viewed the assignment as the supreme vote of confidence in his abilities by the commander-in-chief, which it most certainly was, it would be difficult to glean that fact from his initial response. “Whoever heard of the exploits of a quartermaster,” an obviously disappointed Greene groused to a friend. A Rhode Island Quaker turned soldier, he was ambitious and had thirsted for a significant combat command. Although somewhat sensitive to slights, he was also devoted to Washington, and if only for that reason, with great reservations, and with the understanding that he could keep his line commission, he accepted the job.1 Admittedly, the supply situation was a mess, and some viewed the position of quartermaster as a means to profit first and a chance to advance Washington’s “Glorious Cause”2 a distant second. Although the ethics have changed (then making a profit was acceptable), Washington needed a man whom he could trust; one who would suppress his own ambition; and one who would strive to provide for the common soldier, who was always in his thoughts and prayers. After all, it was the soldier who bore the heavy burden. “Sunshine patriots”3 need not apply!

Greene hewed to that task for more than a year, and when he resigned (following the stunning failure of General Horatio Gates, the hero of Saratoga, in the Carolinas) and was returned to the command of soldiers, there were those in the Continental Congress who sought to sanction him. Washington’s defense of his subordinate was swift.4 Greene went on to re-form the army in the South and to lead a dogged drive against a skilled General Cornwallis, inexorably wearing him down and forcing him north to meet his fate at Yorktown. 

The function of the quartermaster, while often unglamorous, as Greene lamented, was, nevertheless, no less vital to the ultimate success of the Continental Army, or for that matter, any army in any age. In another era, General George C. Marshall observed: “The army with the higher breaking point wins the decision.”5 If the combat arm wins the battle, the support arm provides the critical staying power. The job of quartermaster encompassed the transportation of baggage and supplies, procurement of horses and mules, as well as forage for their maintenance. In addition to powder and ball, the quartermaster transported food and necessities to the army, whether stationary or on the move. Today we would call it logistics. By the time of the War with Spain, and the Philippine War that followed on its heels, the Quartermaster was one of several departments that made up the United States Army, each department head a virtual law unto himself, reporting, in effect, only to Congress.6 It was an inefficient system, as was clearly evident with what happened with the support of General Shafter’s forces in Cuba, and it would change, but not until after President Theodore Roosevelt declared the war over in the Philippines in 1902, and then only grudgingly.7

In the course of our foreign wars, beginning with Mexico in 1846, and later the War with Spain, the distances that the Quartermaster had to transport troops and supplies were relatively short, being wholly within our own hemisphere. The Philippine War was something very different, and, in a very real sense, the precursor to the massive missions the Army would undertake throughout the twentieth century, in the two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf. With each succeeding conflict, the military built a more powerful and efficient Quartermaster arm, capable of “delivering the goods” literally to every inch of the globe. Given the scope of the First Gulf War, the relative speed with which the combined military acted was superb; the scale of the effort in landlocked Afghanistan is truly astounding. Again, the expanded mission really began on a global scale in the Philippines, and in so doing, the role of the Army Quartermaster Department had certainly come a long way since the days of Nathanael Greene.

It was to this department that young Robert Dexter Carter was assigned as a “temporary” civilian clerk at a division headquarters. He had, therefore, an excellent vantage point from which to observe, firsthand, the operations of a quartermaster, the Army’s unsung hero, both from an administrative standpoint, as well as service in the field. In addition, he witnessed firsthand army politics, as well as the opportunities for graft by a few venal characters. Carter was also, to his extreme frustration, the victim of the inertia inherent in any bureaucracy, especially one so well entrenched in old attitudes and methods. He was an acute, articulate observer, if somewhat biased toward his father’s friend, Major General Henry Ware Lawton. His letters offer valuable insights from the standpoint of the lower ranks, particularly by those serving in less-heralded branches, which are more often than not the best sources—history from the bottom up.

Taken by themselves, Carter’s writings are important, since they help fill out the picture of service in the Philippines during the war with the nationalists. However, it is also within the larger context that they achieve importance, since they were written during this very important moment in time, which marked the transition of the United States from an inward-looking republic to, as some would characterize it, an outward-looking empire. For it was at this time that the United States solidified its interest in the Pacific and began the process of expanding its power both militarily and economically around the globe.8 Could an Isthmian canal be very far behind?9

The Carters

Robert Dexter Carter was born August 10, 1876, the son of Robert Goldthwaite Carter and Mary Maria Dexter. His father, a Civil War veteran whose gallantry as an enlisted man earned him an appointment to West Point, had hopes of a long military career. However, a disability contracted while in service in the southwest ended those plans, and he turned to other endeavors, including writing. Carter taught school and was the Washington bureau chief of the Public Service Publishing Company of New York.10 Twice brevetted for gallantry, he was belatedly awarded the Medal of Honor in 1900 for his actions while serving with the 4th Cavalry at the Brazos River in Texas in October 1871. Despite retirement, Captain Carter maintained close contact with influential former colleagues, including Maj. Gen. Henry Ware Lawton, with whom he had served in the 4th Cavalry.11 Undoubtedly, it was through Lawton’s influence that his son, Robert Dexter Carter, received an appointment to the Quartermaster Department as a civilian clerk, specifically in Lawton’s headquarters in Manila. Robert viewed this as a “stepping stone” toward reaching his ambition to be an Army officer like his father.

Young Robert was the third of four children of Robert and Mary, and their only son. Carter graduated from the Business High School in Washington, D.C., in 1894,12 and he went to work at a stock brokerage up until the time that he went to Manila. On January 16, 1899, the day before his departure, he married Helen F. Wright,13 the daughter of Charles and Mary Wright. Her father was a patent attorney in Washington, D.C.14 Carter was particularly close to his oldest sister, Mellie (“Mell”), and she, along with his father and mother, were his most frequent correspondents during his tour of duty in the Philippines. Although he signed a few letters to Mell with his family nickname, “Tod,” perhaps with an eye toward posterity, the majority are signed with a strained formality, “Robert Dexter Carter.”

The young man could at times be somewhat stuffy, and he definitely had a chip on his shoulder regarding officers his own age, obviously delighted when they were brought up short. Clearly, he wanted to be respected for the obvious skills and pride that he brought to his job, but he often failed to fully appreciate the fact that his colleagues might well have looked at him as Lawton’s pet. His standoffishness (he did not drink with them) and frequent visits to the Lawton’s home only served to solidify this impression.

Carter’s letters are liberally sprinkled with references and anecdotes about his patron, Major General Lawton and his wife, Mary (“Mamie”) Craig, as well as other important military figures. The glimpse into the Lawton’s family life, in particular, the sympathetic portrait he paints of this loyal army wife is both a reflection upon her fine character and a demonstration of her genuine concern for the men under her husband’s command.

Henry Ware Lawton

Physical courage was never in short supply with Henry Ware Lawton. A large, mustachioed man, he built a reputation as a profane, hard-driving, hard-drinking man of action. Much of his reputation was undoubtedly reinforced by the man himself, simply by living up to it. And if his troops complained at all about the hard marching, he was always there to set an example. He led from the front—where else would the commander be? He had no use for desk-bound generals, like his immediate superior, Major General Elwell Casa del Ayuntamiento (City Hall), U.S. Army Headquarters, Manila, P. I. Otis. Lawton was also a family man, the father of three girls and a boy, Manley, who was clearly the apple of his eye. From a young age, the boy accompanied his father, often dressed in a miniature army uniform. Lawton’s wife, “Mamie,” came from a prominent Kentucky family. She willingly followed her soldier-husband once again to his latest assignment in the Philippines, despite her own ailments.15

Lawton was born in Manhattan, Ohio, now a part of Toledo, on March 17, 1843. At an early age, he moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he spent his formative years. A large boy, at the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the 9th Indiana Infantry and became one of three sergeants. He later joined the 30th Indiana Volunteer Infantry where he became 1st lieutenant. Lawton eventually saw service in what is now West Virginia, and later at, among other battles, Shiloh, Stone’s River, and  Chickamauga. He emerged from that war a lieutenant colonel, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Atlanta near its close. His luck was incredible, never having suffered a wound, despite all the derring-do. He briefly tried the law as a career, but he quickly returned to the Army, where he remained for the balance of his life.

As with most postwar soldiers, Lawton’s service took him to the southwest. He, along with Carter’s father, served in the 4th Cavalry under the legendary Col. Ranald Mackenzie. Carter became disabled, and Mackenzie suffered a mental breakdown, but Lawton’s star rose higher in the  firmament. In 1886, he had the good fortune to lead the force that captured the Apache leader Geronimo.16 When war with Spain erupted, Lawton played a prominent role in the fighting in Cuba, capturing El Caney and protecting the flank of Roosevelt and his Rough Riders.17 He was a logical choice to play a major role in the Philippines.18

William McKinley, Cautious Imperialist

William McKinley was a cautious, savvy politician, much more adept at gauging the public mood, as we are now coming to find out. When faced with an important decision, his philosophy was to, in his words, “make haste slowly.”19 Much of his political support came from the business community, which was understandably nervous about a war with Spain, as the nation was just coming out of a deep, prolonged depression. With McKinley, though, it wasn’t just about politics. He himself was reluctant to rush to war, having lived through arduous service during the Civil War. As a quartermaster sergeant at Antietam, he braved withering fire to rush much-needed food and ammunition to the front line. For this he was commended and promoted, ultimately to the rank of major, a title he bore proudly the balance of his life. “I have been through one war. I have seen the dead piled up, and I do not want to see another,” he would often say.20

Although he did not rush to war with Spain following the sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor in February 1898, he was canny enough to rush through Congress a $50,000,000 appropriations bill to fund one, just in case.21 In addition, he placed a call for volunteers. The response was overwhelming. Young men, and even some older ones like Theodore Roosevelt,
raised on the Civil War exploits of their fathers and grandfathers, flocked to the colors. During the debate on the defense appropriations bill, the warp and the weft of the American political fabric was on full display, and the Teller Amendment was added, specifying that the United States would have no colony in Cuba.22 War with Spain did come, and it was over in the blink of an eye. However, although we eschewed a colonial interest in Cuba, the Platt Amendment was added to another appropriations bill in 1901 that authorized the United States to intervene in Cuban affairs in the event of political instability, among other reasons.23 Moreover, as it was important to our hemispheric ambitions, Puerto Rico was seized and retained without too much fuss or fanfare. The real dilemma came with Dewey’s equally swift victory at Manila Bay.

The year 1898 turned out to be one of the most pivotal ones in United States history. Victory in Cuba was followed by an even swifter one in Puerto Rico. Like falling dominoes, Hawaii was annexed, Guam was seized,24 and finally, the fate of the Philippines moved right to the forefront of the national debate. An already deep divide continued to widen between those who wished to expand America’s role in the world by projecting its strength, primarily by means of a modern navy, and those who did not. A vociferous debate took place in the halls of Congress and on the front page of the nation’s newspapers. The first group, the so-called expansionists, or “imperialists,” like Alfred Thayer Mahan, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Theodore Roosevelt, pushed for the seizure of the entire archipelago. In opposition were the “anti-imperialists,” just as vocal, just as committed, like Mark Twain, Samuel Gompers, and William James, who argued that an empire was antithetical to the notion of a democratic republic.25 Allied to the former were many in the country who hewed to the hubristic notion that it was the mission of the United States to Christianize the native Filipinos, most of whom were, at least nominally, Catholic.26

True to character, while the treaty with Spain was being negotiated in Paris, McKinley stumped the country testing the mood of the electorate. To the shock of some, particularly the Spanish, the president, who had earlier told a colleague that he doubted that he could even find them on a map,27 decided to keep the entire Philippines. He was, he rationalized, compelled by “duty and destiny.”28 By the time the treaty was signed, thousands of troops had been sent there, enough perhaps to hold Manila, but more, many more, would be needed to pacify the populace.

At the time of the War with Spain, the American Army was extremely small. Approximately 28,000 officers and enlisted men were scattered all over the country, mainly in the west, many in small, two-company posts. Each state had its own militia, poorly equipped and indifferently trained.29 Although the militia was potentially a ready-made pool of troops, for the most part, the officers were more than likely men who were popular in their local communities or had political connections. The problem for the president and the Regular Army was that by law, these troops could not serve outside of the United States. As a result, resort to a stratagem was taken. Each member of a militia unit would resign with one breath and, en masse, join as a volunteer with another. Thus was born the U.S. Volunteers. Not only did it more than solve the immediate manpower problem, it also provided an opportunity for some ambitious Regular officers who would be assigned to Volunteer units to advance in rank in what was normally a glacially slow promotion process. Hundreds of officers and their political godfathers bombarded the adjutant general’s office seeking one of the limited number of appointments.30 Volunteer units were among the first to see service in both Cuba and the Philippines. Technically, however, their tours of duty were supposed to end within sixty days from the end of hostilities with Spain, and soon after Carter arrived in Manila, there were calls to bring the boys home. The McKinley Administration played for time, ultimately interpreting this period of service to end upon the ratification and signing of the treaty in June 1899.31 Meanwhile, the Regular Army scrambled to fill its ranks, sometimes with less than ideal recruits, as Carter was quick to point out.32

United States Army Transport Grant

During the evening of January 17, 1899, as the big ship began to ease away from the dock at Pacific Street, Brooklyn, a steel mooring cable became fouled in the starboard propeller, very nearly ending the historic voyage of the vessel then known as the USAT Grant.33 Earlier in the day, Major General Lawton, his staff, and many of their families, along with nearly two thousand men, composed of the 4th Infantry Regiment and a battalion of the 17th Infantry,34 had boarded the troopship in anticipation of sailing to the Philippines the following morning. The route would take the ship across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal, across the Indian Ocean, and finally to Manila. She would be the first American troopship to do so. Given the length of the trip, prudence dictated that the ship be inspected. Accordingly, she was towed to Liberty Island, where, the following morning, two divers pronounced the ship sound.

Visiting dignitaries, including the adjutant general of the Army, Maj. Gen. Henry C. Corbin, and Secretary of War Russell Alger, who had been taken from the Adam’s Express Company pier in Jersey City to the Grant aboard a quartermaster craft, took part in an inspection and the ceremonial send-off. The vessel then steamed up the Hudson River to Grant’s Tomb, witnessed more fanfare, and returned downriver to moor, once again, at Liberty Island. The ceremonies done, the voyage would finally get under way the next morning.35

What better way to introduce the young man than through the brief diary of his historic voyage halfway around the globe?