THE SPANISH AMERICAN WAR
Marines and Sailors of the USS Vandalia

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Record 29/160
Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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Collection Clara Witzel Sterling
Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
Description Gelatin print of Marines and Sailors "At Quarters" aboard the USS Vandalia.
Year Range from 1880
Year range to 1889
Medium Photographic Paper
Notes Group photograph of Marines and Sailors of the USS Vandalia. The sailors and marines appear in full dress uniforms standing on the deck of the ship for inspection by officers. Horace M. Witzel was an officer on board this ship. Horace Mark Witzel was born in Oshkosh in 1858, the son of William Henry Witzel and Sophia Dahl Witzel. He was the older brother of Clara Witzel Sterling. He entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD in 1873 and graduated in 1877. He served on board the USS Vandalia and other ships. He was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. On Aprill 22, 1884 he married Adele Tennent Adams, the grand-daughter of John Quincy Adams, at Wilmington, Delaware. They had one daughter, Adele Adams Witzel, who died in 1931. He retired in 1905 with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He died in Milwaukee in 1927.
USS Vandalia, a 2033-ton Swatara class screw sloop, was built at the Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, Massachusetts. Commissioned in January 1876, she served with the European Squadron until late in 1878. From December 1877 until March 1878, she transported former President Ulysses S. Grant on a tour of the Mediterranean Sea and its historic ports. Vandalia was assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron from 1879 until 1884, operating from the Grand Banks fishing grounds to the Caribbean. She decommissioned for overhaul in October 1884.
Vandalia recommissioned in February 1886, and in August of that year left the east coast for the long voyage around South America to join the Pacific Station. She served as the Navy's Pacific flagship during much of the next two years. In early 1889, Vandalia was sent to Samoa to help counter German political and military activities in that island kingdom. While anchored in Apia Harbor, Samoa, on 15-16 March 1889, Vandalia was driven ashore by a violent hurricane. The ship was utterly wrecked, and suffered the loss of 43 of her officers and men, including her Commanding Officer, Captain Cornelius M. Schoonmaker. After recovery of fittings and armament, her wreck was donated to the Samoans for its salvage value and broken up.
Object ID P2000.27.210
Object Name Print, Photographic
People Witzel, Horace Mark
Print size 7.5" x 9.5"
Subjects Group Photographs
Male
Marines (Military personnel)
Sailors
Ships
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
Title Marines and Sailors of the USS Vandalia
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009