Researching and writing about USS Maine, people have asked me about what happened next. I thought, what do you mean? They re-sank the ship in deeper water, and it was re-discovered a few years ago. What else is there to tell? But then I thought about the ship’s crew and that famous slogan to remember the Maine! In the end, it is all about the legacy of USS Maine and how we remember it.

Bow view of USS Maine. Photo taken 1895-1898. (NH 60255-A, Naval History and Heritage Command)

After the explosion and sinking, numerous bodies were retrieved. For the next few days, they lay in state at the City Hall in Havana, Cuba. Nine bodies were never recovered. That February, many of the dead were buried at Havana’s Colon Cemetery. Several critically injured crew members were transported to Key West, Florida.

Many of those injured sent to Florida subsequently died and were buried at City Cemetery, Key West. Nineteen crewmen, several of them unidentified, were interred there under a statue of an American sailor holding an oar. It is known as the U.S. Battleship Maine Monument Key West Cemetery, Florida.

The last surviving officer of USS Maine was Wat Tyler Cluverius Jr. He had been an 1896 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and had joined USS Maine in 1897. Cluverius was on board at time of the explosion. Later, an admiral and president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, he died Oct. 28, 1952.

George Fox was the final survivor of USS Maine. He was 19 when the ship exploded and sank. Fox had been in his hammock when a double blast sank the ship. He received a nasty head wound. To his dying day, George Fox was convinced the Spanish were responsible. He suggested the Spanish pilot who had moored the vessel had intentionally placed it over a mine. George Fox died at Wisconsin Veterans Administration Hospital after a lingering illness on Dec. 27, 1964. He was 86 years old.

After the war on Dec. 28, 1899, remains of USS Maine dead were transferred from Havana to Arlington National Cemetery. Wreaths were used to decorate the coffins in what was called USS Maine’s Last Muster. The remains of 163 men were brought from Havana and reinterred.

On May 9, 1910, Congress authorized funds for removal of the wreck from Havana harbor, as well as proper reinterment at Arlington for a further 70 bodies estimated to still be inside. These funds also paid for removal and return of the ship’s masts. On Oct. 6, 1910, USS Maine’s foremast was recovered and eventually sent to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. There, it was erected on academy grounds on May 5, 1913.

During the 1911 Vreeland Board inquiry and subsequent salvage of the vessel, remains of 66 men had been found, only one positively identified. Engineering officer Harry J. Keys was returned to his hometown. The rest of the newly discovered remains were removed to the armored cruiser North Carolina for repatriation and eventual burial at Arlington.

USS Maine wreckage being towed out of Havana Harbor by tug Osceola, escorted by North Carolina and light cruiser Birmingham. (Public Domain)

The battleship USS North Carolina and cruiser USS Birmingham escorted the towed wreckage of USS Maine to its final resting place on March 16, 1913. The USS Osceola also participated as the wreck was towed three miles from Havana and sunk in 600 fathoms in the Atlantic.

USS Maine sinking after being scuttled off the shore of Cuba (Public Domain)

On Memorial Day 1915, President Woodrow Wilson dedicated the USS Maine Mast Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. This was the ship’s main mast, also recovered in 1911. Part of this memorial also includes the USS Maine ship’s bell. The 1898 explosion destroyed the bell, however, half of it was recovered during salvage operations and is now attached to the memorial door.

Photo of the USS Maine ship’s bell. It had been broken in half by the 1898 explosion, now it is attached to the door of the memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo from collection of Charles H. Lagerbom)

All-told, roughly 165 crewmen of USS Maine were buried at Arlington, although remains of one sailor were later exhumed and moved to his hometown of Indianapolis. Of the remaining, the identities of only 62 are known.

There is a Cuban Friendship Urn, also known as the Cuban-American Friendship Urn or USS Maine Memorial. It is now located on Ohio Drive near the 14th Street Bridge in East Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. The urn, which once stood atop a marble column in Havana commemorating the Maine sailors who died, was a symbol of the friendship and bond between Cuba and the U.S.

An October 1926 hurricane in Cuba knocked over the marble column, but the urn survived. It was added to a marble plinth and sent to the U.S. two years later, located at the Cuban Embassy on 16th Street. There it stood for years until U.S.-Cuban relations deteriorated during the Cold War, at which point the memorial was moved to East Potomac Park.

After some digging, I found that there had been a monument to USS Maine victims located in Havana. This came from a photograph taken in 1930, but whether it survived the Cold War or still remains is not known.

One of the most imposing monuments is the USS Maine Monument in New York City. It is located at the southwest corner of Central Park at the Merchant’s Gate entrance, near the junction of 59th Street, Eighth Avenue, Broadway, and Columbus Circle. Completed in 1913, it is quite a sight. If you are ever in the Big Apple, go check it out.

Atop its center pylon is a woman’s bronze figure called Columbia Triumphant. Sculpted by artist Attilio Piccirilli, Columbia rides in a seashell chariot drawn by three sea horses. What I find pretty cool is that this part of the monument was cast in bronze from some of the recovered guns of USS Maine. The memorial also has a plaque by artist Charles Keck.

In Portland, a 6-inch gun recovered from USS Maine is located at Fort Allen Park. In June 2013, the memorial piece was removed for rehabilitation. Refurbished by local conservator Jonathan Taggart and returned to its place by a crane crew, it now quietly sits taking aim at Peaks Island.

USS Maine gun at Fort Allen Park in Portland (Photo courtesy of John F. Berube)

There is also a recovered USS Maine projectile in Lewiston.

At Blaine House, the state governor’s residence in Augusta, there is a USS Maine silver set. Commissioned in 1895 for the vessel, it is decorated with a pine cone and pine needle design. The set was recovered from the wreck and is now located in the State dining room, where it has been on exhibit since 1922.

Photo of the USS Maine silver, now located at the Blaine House State Dining Room. (Public Domain)

Bangor’s memorial to USS Maine almost did not happen. Mayor Flavius O. Beal and Congressman Frank E. Guernsey got the city to accept receipt of the ship’s bow shield and scrolls when they were recovered during the 1911 salvage operations. A committee was formed in 1917 to identify a location for a memorial and decide on a design. Nothing happened and the project languished until 1920.

At that time, a city employee actually sold the USS Maine’s relics for scrap, but fortunately Bangor recovered most of them. With a vow to renew action, Davenport Park, near the corner of Main and Cedar streets, was selected as the memorial site and local architect Edwin S. Kent produced a design. It cost $5,300 and was dedicated Oct. 17, 1922.

The monument is triangular shaped with 12-foot sides and mounted on a granite plinth. Made of ashlar granite blocks, it is capped by a projecting cornice, giving it the effect of the bow of a ship. Atop the memorial is a bronze light standard with an eagle at its crown. The plinth contains a bronze plaque with the inscription:

“To the memory of the soldiers and sailors of the Spanish–American War 1989. Shield and scrolls recovered from wreckage of USS Maine blown up Havana Harbor, Cuba February 15, A.D. 1898. Erected by the city of Bangor, A.D. 1922.”

The USS Maine bow shield and scroll recovered from the wreck, now a memorial in Davenport Park, Bangor. (Photo by Charles H. Lagerbom)

One other way to honor the legacy of USS Maine was to give other ships the name. The USS Maine battleship (BB-10) was in service from1902 to 1920 and was sold for scrap in 1922. The USS Maine (SSBN 741) was the 16th submarine of the Ohio class of ballistic missile submarines commissioned July 29, 1995, at Kittery. Originally assigned to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, in 2006, its homeport was shifted to Naval Submarine Base Bangor, Wash. It was the third U.S. Navy ship to bear the name.

All these memorials and burials and monuments hopefully mean the USS Maine, its crew, and its story will not be forgotten — when all is said and done, maybe we have made a good effort to remember the Maine!

Charles Lagerbom teaches AP U.S. History at Belfast Area High School and lives in Northport. He is author of “Whaling in Maine” and “Maine to Cape Horn,” available through Historypress.com.