Having been requested to "ship" under a new rating and enter the lists as a narrator, it is with great misgivings that I submit herewith an account of my wanderings and doings as one of that class of American naval officers known during our war with Spain as "tug-boat skippers."
The title of "captain" could scarcely be bestowed upon one who, from necessity, more often resembled a canal-boat deck-hand in uniform than a naval officer of any nationality.
To begin at the beginning: When I reported to the New York Navy Yard on April 1, 1898, with orders directing me to report for duty as watch and division officer on board the U.S.S. Mayflower, I found that an "April-fool" had been prepared for me, and that I was to fit out and command the U. S. S. Algonquin. Not having the slightest idea what that vessel might be, I instituted a few inquiries, and, that evening, I beheld for the first time my future command, which turned out to be the old Morgan Line tug, El Toro. I wandered on board, and soon discovered that the "fitting out" would mean to supply her with everything, from a paper of tacks to a hawser or two.