1898, March 30 – Letter from George Hesse to brother Lewis Hesse

George writes his brother Lewis from Key West Florida, where he has broken his arm & was nearly killed during torpedo practice, but they do manage to win their war game against the USS Iowa.  Read a transcript of the letter below (original misspellings & all) or click on the image links to view the actual letter. As you read the transcript of the letter click on the links to view information & images about what they are discussing.


Click on a link to view the image: (some images can be further enlarged by clicking on them once they open)

Envelope Front     Envelope Back      Letter Page 1      Letter Page 2-3      Letter Page 4-5     Letter Page 6


Transcript of letter:

Key West Fla 3/30/98

Dear Bro: –

I have a hard time writting this letter for I have had my left arm broken.  I broke it last Saturday afternoon & came very near getting killed at the same time I will tell you how it happened; we were out in the Gulf having torpedo practice & a young fellow by the name of Joe Moore & myself were in a boat 14 ft long & acted as a target for the officer on the ship to shoot the torpedo at, well we were about 700 yds from the ship when they fired the glamed thing, & the locking gear of the steering engine would not unlock, & it made a surface run, that is, it would not go under the water as it should, & there it came at us like a steam engin & we did not have tiem to even jump over board & it hit the boat & smashed it into kindling wood & I was thrown about 20 ft into the air & when I cae down I hit on some of the wood & broke my arm.  It was the most thrilling thing I ever saw for it was making 50 ft jumps, just like a greyhound & in one of these jumps she strikes us & we went up. Moore got off with a black eye, he said, that when we started up.  I kicked him there.  Well we had a trial of the torpedoeboats last night to see if we could slip up onto the “Iowa” close enough to fire a torpedo & we did too but it was just by the skin of our teeth, we went out just after dark & was to try to get in on her before 12 o’clock.  The rules were, that we were to have 2.00 minutes after they found us with the serch light to get close enough to fire a torpedo well we scouted along just outside of the range of the serchlights & when we thought we had a chance we started direct for the ship about 26 knots & (??) will we got inside of 600 yds before they found us & if ever you saw & ship full of scared peple it was here last night for they had all the confidence in the world that they would be able to pick us up beofre we got inside of a mile, well just as soon as they saw us, they fired a red rocket & then we had 2 minutes to get in yet & we were only about 700 yds away & going like the wind, well when we passed her stern we had 1 minute & 27 seconds to spare, what do you think of that?  As to war I do not now think that we will have any war for every thing is as quiet as can be down here in Key West now & no one would imagine that there was even a rumor of war here.  Well I want you to write as soon as you get this for I am wanting something to think of & if you write a good long letter & tell me all you have to do it will occupy my mind & my arm won’t hurt so bad.  Well I must quit now for it is 8 bells & every body is expected to be in bed in 20 min so

Good Bye & God bell you from Your loving Bro


George A. Hesse

U.S.T.B. Dupont

Key West Fla.


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