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The Spoils of War

In the days of sail when this country was young, the living wages of a sailor attached to a ship was, at best, minimal. If the ship was successful in combat and captured an enemy vessel, the government of the victorious ship would often award the captain and his crew the cargo of the captured ship and in some cases, the defeated ship itself.  Later, prize money was awarded to crewmembers for hard fought work during combat. This common practice was largely discontinued in the U.S. Navy before World War I.

I recently received an e-mail from a Mr. Craig Roberts. He indicated to me that his grandfather, Mr. Thomas J. Roberts was a Boilerman 1st Class on the USS Oregon during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba.  Mr. Roberts has provided a very interesting piece of history in the form of a prize letter addressed to his grandfather from the Treasury Department. Additionally, Craig has provided two outstanding photographs of the USS Oregon.  The images were edited by associate of Mr. Roberts, Mr. Pat Lee. I would like to extend a hearty thank you to Mr. Craig Roberts for the contribution and Mr. Pat Lee for the editing of the photos.  Finally, a "Bravo Zulu" to Mr. Thomas Roberts for keeping the fires of the USS Oregon stoked during the battle.  The speed the Oregon attained during the battle would not have been possible without the hard work of Boilerman Roberts and his shipmates in the engine and firerooms.


Courtesy: Mr. Craig Roberts, photo edit by Mr. Pat Lee

Above: Letter addressed to Mr. Thomas J. Roberts from the Treasury Department awarding him $22.02 bounty for the destruction of enemy ships at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba


Courtesy: Mr. Craig Roberts, photo edit by Mr. Pat Lee

Above: Crew of the USS Oregon take time out to pose for a photograph. Date unknown, but probably taken in New York after the Battle of Santiago de Cuba.



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