During the first two years of this vessel’s service on the North Atlantic station the writer, then fresh from the Naval Academy, gained on her decks and in her engine-room his first practical ideas of the naval customs and practices of his country. The Tennessee was then the largest vessel in commission in the American Navy and the era of mastless steel cruisers was yet so far away that she was not suspected, by the youngsters at least, of being obsolete and stood as the type of all that was excellent and majestic in ship construction. And the routine and discipline observed in the daily life of the ship was in perfect accord with the era her type represented which period is commonly designated as that pertaining to the old navy. The admiral lived in stately splendor in spacious apartments far aft on the gun deck, into which few but his orderlies and servants ever ventured to intrude, and his appearance abroad in the world of the ship’s life always produced the bustle and commotion incident to a great and unusual event.
The Steam Navy . . .
The Steam Navy of the United States, published in 1896, is a one-volume treasure trove, and among its many gems is author Frank M. Bennett’s vivid recollection of life at sea in the steam frigate Tennessee during the early 1880s.
By Frank M. Bennett