"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Winfield Scott Schley

ADMIRAL WINFIELD SCOTT SCHLEY. Hero of Santiago and inventor of the Loup de Loup. Early in the Spanish-American War he discovered that the Brooklyn Bridge was unsafe in cannon-ball-rush hours. His most celebrated battle was the desperate engagement with Maclay's History, in which the latter was riddled fore and aft with hot shot and compelled to surrender. 

This caricature of Admiral Winfield Scott Schley appeared in Thomas Fleming's 1902 book Around the Capital with Uncle Hank. The caption refers to a controversy that arose between Schley, known popularly as the hero of Santiago, and Admiral Sampson over who really was responsible for  victory at Santiago in the Spanish American War. In the course  of this dispute Schley was accused of avoiding the bridge of his flag-ship, the Brooklyn, and staying safely out of harms way behind the superstructure of the ship. Siding with Sampson, Edgar Stanton Maclay in his 1898 History of the United States Navy referred to Schley as a "caitiff, poltroon and coward." Fleming's reference to the Loup-the-Loup refers to a maneuver that Maclay describes as tantamount to running away in the face of the enemy.

Schley in turn used his influence with President Roosevelt to have Maclay's book banned at Annapolis and had Maclay fired from his government job at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC.  This degree of political maneuver earned Schley and Sampson a place on the cover of Punch.

A Political Game

The Library of Congress describes this cartoon:

Illustration shows two women leaning out windows, on the left is an Irish domestic representing the "Dem. Party" and on the right is a well-dressed matron representing the "Rep. Party"; between them hangs a balance scale labeled "Party Politics" with Rear Admiral Winfield S. Schley on the left, trying to upset the balance by pulling on the chains, causing the scale to swing wildly, and with Admiral William T. Sampson on the right, struggling to hang on.

Schley was born in 1839 at Richfield near Frederick Maryland. (See: Washington Slept Here Twice in the my Landmarks Blog.)

He graduated Annapolis in 1860. This daguerreotype of young Midshipman Schley was published in Leslie's Popular Weekly in 1899.

US Naval History and Heritage Command says this about Schley's early career:
Schley graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1860 and participated in multiple battles during the Civil War in the Western Gulf Squadron and on the Mississippi. In 1864, he was sent to the Pacific to serve as executive officer on sidewheel gunboat Wateree. Wateree almost didn’t make it around Cape Horn and was badly battered. After the war, Wateree operated along the west coast of Central and South America. Schley participated in operations ashore in La Union, El Salvador, to protect U.S. interests during a revolution. In 1866, at the request of Peruvian authorities, Wateree played a key role in the suppression of a rebellion by Chinese laborers in the Chincha Islands. (Known as “coolies” at the time, a term that is now a pejorative, the Chinese were virtual slaves, laboring under the most appalling conditions mining guano. Almost none survived their term of indentured servitude and the mortality rate on ships bringing Chinese laborers to Peru was 40 percent, rivaling that of the worst of the African slave trade. The Chinese who were imported to American to work on the railroads didn’t fare much better.)
And here we have a still young Commander Schley (US Navy History and Heritage Command).

At the rank of commander, Schley took part in the battle of Ganghwa (강화), a short lived invasion of Korea. Mclane Tilden wrote to his wife Nannie from the US Ship Colorado off Isle Boisée, Corea, June 21st 1871 that “Old Schley distinguished himself too, and came near extinguishing himself also. But he is as hearty as a buck, and I don't think any of us will be in any more danger during the cruise.”

 A. Leighton Howe is quoted in the Indianapolis Journal in July 21 of 1898 on page 2.

"Now as to Schley," went on Mr. Howe. "he is looked upon as the best Spanish and French scholar in the navy. His department at the academy was modern languages. I remember one thing in particular about him and that is his long legs. He is not noticeably tall, but his legs are of wondrous length and he can run like a deer. 

"In the navy they never tire of telling about Schley in Korea. During the trouble there we sent a landing party ashore in charge of Schley. The boat had no more than reached the shore when out jumped the marines to make a dash for the parapets possibly half a mile away- In the lead was Schley. In a jiffy he was far ahead of everybody, his legs working vigorously. And when the embankments were reached he had practically distanced all the others. 

I mention this not so much to call attention to the old man's legs as to illustrate his dash and absolute fearlessness.. 

Rescuer of the Dying Explorers

In 1884 Commander Scott lead a rescue mission to save the surviving members of  Greely's disastrous Lady Franklin Bay Expedition.

Cdr. Schley
Here he stands among the officers of Thetis.

Officers of Greely Relief Steamer “Thetis”

The US HHC brings the story up to Spanish American War:

...Lieutenant Commander Schley served as head of modern languages at the Naval Academy. As commodore of the “Flying Squadron,” Schley would be the victor in the decisive defeat of the Spanish Squadron in the Battle of Santiago in July 1898, during the Spanish-American War.
Commodore W. S. Schley

 As the “Hero of Sanitago,” Schley was honored in 1904 with a statue by Ernest Keyser in the Maryland Statehouse in Annapolis, which previously appeared in the Portrait Gallery.


Admiral Schley Cocktail:

1 oz. dark rum

1 oz. bourbon

1 lime

1 tsp. sugar

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