‘At the door of life by the gate of breath,
There are worse things waiting for men than death.’
—Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)
In one of the earliest photographs of combat at sea, the crew of the two-year old USS Oregon (Battleship No. 3) watch the fall of a shot at the Spanish armored cruiser Cristóbal Colón during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba on Sunday, 3 July 1898. The cruiser, the sole survivor of Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete’s Caribbean squadron after its attempted breakout from the port, was pursued for more than an hour before her captain, seeing the futility of battle against overwhelming odds, turned toward shore and scuttled his ship. Just five weeks earlier, the Oregon had completed an epic 14,000-mile voyage around South America from San Francisco in 66 days to join the Atlantic units.
This and other photographs are available as prints through the Naval Institute Photo Archive. You may place orders or leave messages 24 hours a day at 1-800-233-8764, contact [email protected], or visit our Web site, www.usni.org.