James Thomas Cruse – Midshipman, United States Navy

His gravestone in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery reads:”Died July 19, 1907, from injuries received in explosions on the battleship Georgia on July 15, 1907, aged 19 years and 7 months. His own unselfish words when aid was offered make his epitaph:

‘Never mind me, I am all right. Look after those other fellows.'”

Thanks to Michael T. Stein for helping to solve this mystery:
Brigadier General Thomas Cruse married Beatrice Cottrell on February 14th, 1882
Fred Taylor Cruse
James Thomas Cruse (deceased)

James Thomas Cruse is buried under a large monument, just a few feet from where his parents are buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Contemporary press report:

Eight Killed on Battleship

Powder Charge Explodes in Eight-Inch Turret of the “Georgia”.
A Son of the Admiral — Midshipman Goldthwaite Succumbs to Burns.
Spark from Funnel May Have Ignited Powder — Battleship Races to Charleston Navy Yard.

BOSTON, July 15.– Through the explosion of a powerful charge of powder in a turret of the battleship Georgia today, eight officers and men  were killed and thirteen injured, some of whom will die. The crew in the after superimposed turret had just sent an eight-inch shell through a  target off Cape Cod, and was about to try to repeat the performance, when the  powder charge was ignited and almost every man in the turret  was terribly burned.   Naval officers believe that a spark from the smokestack of the battleship fell through the ventilator of the turret and ignited the powder.

The Dead

BURKE, WILLIAM JOSEPH, seaman, Quincy, Mass. GOODRICH, CASPAR F., Jr., Lieutenant, son Rear Admiral Goodrich, Commandant of the New York Navy Yard. HAMILTON, GEORGE G., ordinary sea man, South Framingham, Mass. MILLER, GEORGE E., ordinary sea man, Brooklyn, N. Y. PAIR, WILLIAM, seaman, 154  Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. THATCHER, WILLIAM J., Chief Turret Captain, Wilmington, Del.  THOMAS, WILLIAM M., seaman, Newport R. I.

The Seriously Injured

BUSH, JOHN A., ordinary seaman, New York; face, arms, and chest burned, probably fatally. CRUSE, JOHN T., Midshipman, Nebraska; hands and face burned, very seriously. ERIC, CHARLES L., ordinary seaman, Frankfort, Ind.; face, arms, and hands burned. FONE, JOHN A., ordinary seaman, Trenton, N. J.; arms, back, neck, and face burned. GILBERT, HAROLD L., ordinary sea man, Southwick, Mass.; two thirds of body burned. HANSELL, CHARLES, gunner’s mate, first class, New York; face and hands burned. MALECK, JOHN C., ordinary seaman, Cleveland, Ohio; arms and face burned. MEESE, LOUIS O., ordinary seaman, Berea, Ohio; face and chest burned. ROSENBERGER, SAMUEL L., ordinary seaman, Philadelphia; arms and face burned. SCHLAPP, FRANK, boatswain’s mate, second class, North Adams, Mass.; back, chest, arms, and face burned. THOMAS, JAMES P., ordinary seaman, Brooklyn, N.Y.; face, arms, chest, and back burned, fatally. TAGLUND, ORLY, chief yeoman, Richford Minn.; arms, back, and face burned. WALSH, EDWARD J., seaman, Lynn, Mass.; chest and face burned, fatally.

Capt. McCrea’s First Day Capt. Henry McCrea hoisted his flag on the battleship only yesterday morning, and today took her out for target  practice with the North  Atlantic Squadron, consisting of four battleships and several cruisers. Admiral Charles M. Thomas was in command. The accident happened shortly before noon. Lieut. Goodrich, a son of Admiral Caspar F. Goodrich, Commandant at the New York Navy Yard, was in command of the after superimposed turret. With him were Midshipmen Kimball, Goldthwaite, and Cruse and twenty men. The starboard  gun in the turret had fired a projectile through the target. A shell came up through the ammunition hoist and was placed in the gun while two bags of smokeless powder, each weighing about forty pounds, were brought up to charge the gun.  Back of the little conning tower through which Lieut. Goodrich was peering toward the target, which bobbed white and plain on the water a  mile and a half away, was the turret grating, by means of which it is ventilated. This grating is several feet square and the space between the  bars is wide enough for a man to thrust his hand through. But even with it open the turret was very hot and the men were almost stripped.

Loader Shouted a Warning

The two big bags of powder which had been sent up were in the loader, whose name was withheld by the ship’s officers. He stood at the breech of the gun, all ready to insert the charge. At this instant the turret was seen to be smoky, and the two men who stood near the loader saw a black spot on the bag indicating that the charge had ignited and was smoldering. The loader discovered the spot at the same instant, and threw himself forward on his face, shouting a warning to his turret mates. The other men who had seen the spot were Eich and Hansell, and they threw themselves on the floor of the turret. Before the other men of the crew could understand what caused the loader’s cry of warning there was a blinding flash as the powder exploded. Flames, smoke, and nauseous gas filled the little superstructure. The loader, who was nearest the powder, was terribly burned. Eich and Hansell, although scorched, escaped with injuries much less severe.

Blinded by the smoke and maddened with pain, the men screamed in agony. Some staggered blindly up the ladder to the hatchway in the top  of the turret, while others crept along the floor, begging for assistance. Headed by Capt. McCrea and Chaplain Charles S. Charlton, many sailors and marines rushed to their assistance.

Two Leap Into the Sea

Among those brought out was Lieut. Goodrich, who was unconscious. As soon as he regained the open air, he revived enough to become conscious of his burns. The flesh had been eaten away to the bone in places on his arms and face, and he could not stand the smart of the wind. With a cry of agony he rushed to the side of the ship. Before any one could stop him he had plunged into the water. The salt cut into his wounds, and he screamed and leaped about in the sea. Seaman John C. Malek, who was also frightfully burned, tore himself away and cleared the rail with a leap. It was fortunate that a repair boat in charge of Chief Carpenter Yates was close by. He got a small boat over the battleship and pulled the men on board.

For a time there was some confusion on the ship. Discipline was relaxed by officers and men in the anxiety to help the injured. Order was soon  restored, however. Capt. McCrea immediately set his signal apparatus to work, calling for surgeons from the other ships and reporting to the Admiral. Soon launches were hurrying from the other vessels, and the doctors came on board to help.

Race of the Battleship

When the extent of the accident was realized it was decided by Admiral Thomas that the Georgia should put for Boston at full speed. Orders were sent to the engine room to crowd on every ounce of steam, and it was not long before the vessel was tearing through the water at better than a nineteen-knot clip. There was no respite in the run of more than sixty miles. She started before 1 o’clock. The Georgia was still making great speed when she flashed by Boston Lightship. She scarcely slowed for the  Narrows, and she came racing across Massachusetts Bay at a clip that caused other boats to hasten out of the way, and gave many of the small ones a lot of trouble from her wash. Many of the harbor men wondered what ailed her till they saw the flag at half-mast, and realized that an accident had occurred. The vessel did not slacken her speed till she reached the upper harbor. Then her engines were shut off, and her momentum carried her into the navy yard. She was docked at 5 o’clock, less than five hours after she began her race.

Six Die on Shipboard

Fast as she had come, however, she had been unable to cheat death. On the way across Massachusetts Bay, Midshipman Goldthwaite succumbed to his tortures, and a little later death ended the suffering of Turret Captain Thatcher and Seaman Burke, Thomas, and Miller. Seaman Hamilton died while the ship was approaching the navy yard pier. When the Georgia arrived at the navy yard dock, about 4:45 o’clock, a great crowd was awaiting her. All of the un-engaged sailors, marines, and workmen in the yard were on hand, as well as the officers of the yard and of the various ships that are in port. With the exception of the officers and three priests, however, no one was permitted upon the dock. A detachment of marines, with fixed bayonets, kept the crowd at a distance. As soon as the ship was made fast to the dock five ambulances drove up to receive the injured men,  who were taken to the Naval Hospital, a short distance away, where a large number of surgeons had gathered. Only two of the injured men  were able to sit up. As soon as the last of the dead had been removed from the ship preparations were made for sailing and she soon left the navy yard. Orders had been received from Washington ordering the ship back to the target grounds, and tomorrow the Georgia will resume her practice.

Terrible Suffering of Men

At the hospital both the living and the dead were found to be terribly burned. Three of the men were mutilated beyond recognition. Eyes were  burned out, and faces, bodies, arms, and legs blackened. It was soon seen that Lieut. Goodrich, Bair, Walsh, and Thomas had only a short time to live. Six doctors and attendants watched constantly at the bedsides of Lieut. Goodrich, who was barely alive, and at 6:30 o’clock it was said that a half hour would probably put him beyond suffering. Then he rallied enough to give the surgeons hope that his father would be in time to see him alive. Thomas was at this time in great agony, but was begging piteously that he might live.

In almost every case, however, the men, though conscious, uttered not a sound of complaint or suffering.

Two Heroes of the Disaster

Most of the men were so badly hurt that they could not tell of their experiences. Two instances of heroism, however, are told by the officers of the ship. Midshipman Cruse was terribly injured, but even as he lay on the floor of the turret with his face and body afire he was true to the traditions of the service. A surgeon stooped over him to help him, and he summoned a smile and whispered something faintly. The doctor bent to here  it, It was: “I am not much hurt. Take care of the other poor fellows first.” Only Tagland, Chief Yeoman of the ship, with his own body shielded Midshipman Kimball from the flames and saved that young officer form injury. Tagland was badly burned.

Theories on the Accident

Rear Admiral Thomas has ordered an investigating board to examine into the cause of the accident. Until it makes its report the real cause of the explosion will be in doubt. It is uncertain that the board will be able to determine definitely what ignited the cases of powder. One belief is that a spark form the discharge of the after-turret guns floated back to the turret through a gun port and settled on the powder cases. Another theory is that the spark that caused the trouble came from the smokestacks of the ship and floated through the ventilator. A floating spark seemed evident to naval men, but whether from a gun or a funnel furnished a topic for discussion. One of the navy yard officers this evening gave out a brief statement from Capt. McCrea, which read:

Statement by Capt. McCrea

“At 10A.M. July 15, while engaged in target practice with the eight-inch guns; mounted in the after superimposed turret, firing at the target at the time, a powder charge became ignited, injuring about twenty men and doing some damage to the turret.

“Until a thorough examination is made by the board convened by the division commander, Rear Admiral Charles M. Thomas, U.S.N., we have no theory to advance as to the cause of the deplorable accident which resulted in the serious injury of twenty brave men, six of whom have since passed away.

“A charge of powder had just been stopped at the breech of the gun ready for loading. Suddenly one of the powder bags was found to be burning in the loader’s hands. It created great heat, and all in the turret were badly burned. Two of this turret’s crew had their clothing ablaze and hurried out the only exit and plunged quickly overboard, being picked up by our steamer near by. Chief Carpenter Yates, in charge of the repair boat, luckily saw the two men jump overboard and hastened to their succor.

“When Admiral Thomas was informed of the extent and serious nature of the resultant injuries the Georgia was immediately directed to proceed post haste to Boston.”

Investigation showed that little damage was done to the guns or turret by the explosion.


Cannot Understand the Explosion — Fine Discipline on the Georgia.

WASHINGTON, July 15. — Admiral Brownson, with a number of officers, remained on duty until a late hour tonight, hoping to receive some light on the cause of the disaster on the battleship Georgia. None of the experts in the various bureaus of the department is able to explain what took place. This is the fourth similar casualty within the last few years in target practice, and as each has occurred and the cause been worked out devices of different kinds have been found to prevent a recurrence. The ignition of a charge of powder on the Missouri while engaged in target practice off Pensacola April 13, 1904, caused the death of twenty three men. In that case the desire to make a high record in quick firing led to the violation of the rule against bringing up from the magazine several charges. They were piled up in the turret and bits of burning powder set fire to them. To remedy the conditions that made that accident possible, automatic shutters were devised to close the hatches in the turrets. The next affair of the kind took place on the Massachusetts on Jan. 18, 1905, at San Juan, when a  premature explosion of brown powder, ready to be place in an eight-inch gun, killed nine men. In that case a man somewhat excited by the frenzy for making a quick-fire record, swung a charge tongs up behind his head and happened to “short circuit” two electric wires. The current melted a copper fixture and the drops of red hot copper fell into a charge of powder. Following this, the switchboard was removed from turrets and only the necessary number of wires left in.

It was later found that in target practice it was a common thing for the gunner to place the detonating fuse in the breech block before swinging it into place, and an accident due to this practice took place on the Iowa, killing three men and wounding four seriously. A fine twelve-inch gun was burst in this accident. To put a stop to premature detonation shields were arranged to fall over the breech block automatically when out of the gun so that no fuse could be in place until the gun was closed. The explosion on the Kearsarge off Cape Cruz, near Guantanamo, when two officers and eight men were killed and five badly injured, took place April 13, 1906. Following this gas ejectors were installed on all guns so as to blow out all particles of burning matter left in the bore of the gun after a discharge.

With all these devices employed to prevent accident it is not strange that the expert officers of the navy are at a loss to understand how the trouble on the Georgia was caused. The turret in which the Georgia’s men were at work was the after turret, which is superimposed on the big 12-inch gun turret. The 8-inch turret is 17 feet wide, 22 feet long, and 7 feet high. In it are two 8-inch guns, one of which is only used in target work. The ship was moving at a medium speed and the  target, which is 14 feet high by 30 long, was distant 4,000 yards. The Georgia finished her preliminary target practice last week. Lieut. Commander Scoville was sent up from the Bureau of Ordnance to inspect the work, and his report came in to-day saying everything was in excellent order on the ship, men were under magnificent discipline and the work done had shown the best attainable training and skill.

It is understood at the Navy Department that the Georgia had just completed her preliminary target practice and was entering upon the record practice. She had made some remarkable scores and had given general satisfaction. The ships were on what is known as Barnstable Range, near Provincetown, just inside of Cape Cod, and about 63 miles from Boston, where there is little shipping to be exposed to danger.


President Awaits Official Advice Before Expressing His Sorrow.

OYSTER BAY, N. Y., July 15. — No information, official or otherwise, was sent to President Roosevelt today from naval sources regarding the disaster on the battleship Georgia. In the absence of such official information no comment was made.

The substance of the news dispatches, however, was communicated to Sagamore Hill to-night by Secretary Loeb.

WASHINGTON, July 15. — Admiral Brownson to-night stated that the Navy Department had not notified President Roosevelt of the explosion on the battleship Georgia. The delay had been caused by the contradictory official reports from Boston.


Admiral Finds His Dying Son Unconscious — Young Man Was Popular.

BOSTON, July 15. — Rear Admiral Goodrich, accompanied by Mrs. Goodrich and their two daughters, arrived here to-night after a race from  New York, and went at once to the bedside of Lieut… Goodrich at the  Naval Hospital. They found the injured man unconscious, and the physicians extended no hope of his recovery. He died without regaining consciousness.
Rear Admiral Caspar F. Goodrich, Commandant of the New York Navy Yard, whose son, Lieut. Caspar F. Goodrich, Jr., was killed in the Georgia disaster, returned to New York to resume his duties at the navy yard, after a short vacation in Maine, yesterday morning. He was still acknowledging the greetings of the officers under him when he received the news of his son’s injury. The Admiral was almost prostrated by the news, and, accompanied by Mrs. Goodrich and their other son and two daughters, left on the first train obtainable for Boston. Before leaving the navy yard Admiral Goodrich telegraphed to the naval surgeons at Boston to wire him at various points along the railroad line as to his son’s condition. Admiral Goodrich left New York at 5 P.M.

Lieut. Goodrich was the only member of the Goodrich family besides the Admiral in the navy. The other son is still at school. Lieut. Goodrich, who was one of the most popular of the younger officers in the navy, was often spoken of by his fellow officers as the “heir apparent.” This sobriquet was given to him when he was on the cruiser Chicago, when that vessel was the flagship of the Pacific Fleet, in the period that Admiral Goodrich was the commander in chief in those waters.

Lieut. Goodrich was borne in Italy and was appointed a cadet at the Naval Academy in September, 1897, the appointment being accredited to  Connecticut, of which State Admiral Goodrich is a native. He was one of the first of the younger officers assigned to the Georgia when that ship was placed in commission. Of the other officers in the turret at the time Cruse was a Kentuckian and received his appointment to the Academy form Nebraska.

The Georgia was the ship selected by the Navy Department for him to begin his first duties as an officer of the line. Midshipman Faulkner Goldthwaite was also seeing his first active service as an officer of the line on the Georgia. He was appointed a cadet to the academy from Connecticut in 1903.

Special to The New York Times.

WILMINGTON, Del., July 15. — William J. Thatcher, Chief Turret Captain, who was killed today on the battleship Georgia, was the son of Mrs. Louisa A. Thatcher of 1,108 West Sixth Street. His father, Joseph L. Thatcher, was a warrant officer in the navy. The young man was 23 years old. He first enlisted in the navy as an apprentice in November 1898. He became a Quartermaster in 1900 on the cruiser Isla de Cuba. In August, 1904, he became Turret Captain on the Iowa, and last April was transferred to the Georgia.

NEWPORT, July 15. — William Morton Thomas, one of the ordinary seamen killed on the Georgia, was a son of Mr. and Mrs. John Thomas of this city. He was 19 years old, and enlisted in the navy two years ago at Providence. After he had served for a time at the Naval Training Station here he was sent to the battleship Georgia.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/19/1907
  • BURIED AT:   SITE 1758

cruse1 cruse2

Contemporary Information Concerning Midshipman James Thomas Cruse

Midshipman, United States Navy

Courtesy of Virginia Hinds Burton, Great Niece, December 2005, Who Writes “I recently received from Helen Cruse Lemberger, additional information about her uncle, James Thomas Cruse, who was killed in the explosion of the battleship Georgia in 1907.

You have a very interesting report about his heroism after the explosion, but according to two sworn affidavits from surviving seamen John Bush and John Fone (? could be Tone or Fine) Midshipman Cruse was even more heroic.  He escaped from the turret after the explosion, but immediately returned with a hose and attempted to extinguish the flames and rescue his comrades.  If you would be interested in the documents, I will gladly photocopy them and send them to you.

Washington, July 19, 1907 – The body of Midshipman Cruse, who died in Boston as the result of injuries received at the time of the accident on the battleship Georgia, will be interred at Arlington Cemetery near this city Sunday.

Major Cruse, the young man’s father, has asked the Navy Department that Midshipmen R. T. S. Lowell, J. W. W. Cummings and Rufus King
and three other classmates be directed to act as pallbearers.



Chelsea – July 19, 1907 – The marvel of the Chelsea Hospital today was Midshipman James Cruse who, wounded unto death, made a desperate fight for his life, yet there was no hope that he would survive, and he passed away at 11 a.m.

Four day have elapsed since the awful catastrophe in the after upper turret on the battleship Georgia, and from the moment he was received at the hospital down to this morning his temperature was been o high that death was expected at any moment.  Thursday it was 106.1 with a pulse of 160; at 8 a.m. today it was 105.6 with a pulse of 150.

Towards the middle of the forenoon the young man fell into a peaceful sleep and while he was sleeping dissolution came.  There was no apparent agony or suffering; he simply passed away, and the parting between life and death was barely perceptible.

At the bedside were his father, mother and brother, and his uncle, Colonel Hogdson, U.S.A.  The body will be send to Washington, D.C. tonight and the interment will be in Arlington Cemetery.


Omaha, Nebraska, July 20, 1907 — Let me alone; I am all right.  Look after those other fellows.”

These brave words came from Midshipman James T. Cruse, who was one of the 20 injured in the explosion on board the battleship Georgia.

“It was just what might be expected from ‘Jimmy’ Cruse,” exclaimed one of the young Midshipman’s Omaha friends. “He certainly is a boy with plenty of nerve.  His companions knew him better by his strong will power than by any other accomplishments.  All of the boys said he would ‘make good’ when he went to Annapolis, and it will please them all to know of his display of heroism following the accident on the Georgia.”

Young Cruse comes from an Army family and has had the training of an army officer from childhood.  His father, Major Thomas Cruse, is Chief Quartermaster of the Department of the Missouri, with headquarters in this city.  James has a brother, Frederick, who has just graduated from West Point, and who was at his parent’s home on a furlough when the news came of the explosion on the Georgia.  The parents and brother left the same evening for Boston to care for the injured Midshipman.

Midshipman’s appointment to Annapolis was made by Congressman Stark, of the Fourth Nebraska District.  He was a hard worker and had a good position in his class, which graduated lat September.  His first assignment was to the battleship Georgia, October 5, 1906, and he has been attached to that vessel since that time.


Was Shot Off Too Quick And The Explosion followed

Washington, July 20, 1907  – By a process of elimination the naval board which has been investigating the accident whereby the men in the turret of the Georgia lost their lives, has arrived as the conclusion that a “delayed flare back” caused the catastrophe.  In one sense the verdict is received with a distinct sense of relief by the naval officers because it showed that they no new element of danger to contend with.  They had experienced flare backs before and thought that they knew how to deal with them.

A “delayed flash back” is caused by the closing off too soon the blast of compressed air which is supposed to expel from the bore of the gun the unburnt gases and fragments of smoldering power covering what might be left from the last discharge.

After the terrible accident in the Missouri’s turret three years ago, resulting in the loss of more than thirty lives, the experts having decided that the accident was caused by ignition of the new charge  of the unburnt gases and smoldering cartridge cloth of the preceding charge.  The Ordnance Bureau caused to be fitted to the breech of each of the great guns as air blast apparatus calculated to expel by compressed air any gas or cloth that might remain in the bore of the gun.. So far this has worked well and there have been no “flarebacks” since the device was installed.

In the case of the Georgia’s eight-inch guns what happened was this: the breech of the gun was thrown open and the air blast turner in at a pressure of one hundred pounds to the square inch.  This is sufficient for all ordinary purposes, with the important qualification that it should be continued long enough to drive the last remnant of gas or cloth from the gun bore.  In this case, the gases or smoldering cloths (which is not known now) were driven probably more than half way to the muzzle of the gun when the air blast was turned off.  The Georgia was steaming at ten knots into the wind, which blew into the muzzle of the gun.  The unexpelled gases or cloth were driven back by the breeze into the breech of the gun and out upon the powder charge that was just about to be inserted.

The explosion that followed was inevitable. The cause of the accident therefore, will, without doubt, be set down to the ambition of the gunners to make a record practice in point of speed.  Had the air blast been kept on for a second longer in all probability with accident would have been avoided. Three shots from an eight-inch gun in a turret in one minute, or ten shots from both guns in a turret in two minutes is record practice, and there is reason to believe that Lieutenant Goodwrich’s turret crew were about to smash that record.

The Navy Department has received from Ambassador James Bryce of Great Britain an expression of condolences on the recent accident on the Georgia.


Midshipman James T. Cruse To Be Buried Today With Full Military Honors

Washington – July 20, 1907 – Full military honors will be paid to the memory of Midshipman James T. Cruse, the tenth victim of the catastrophe on the battleship Georgia on the occasion of his obsequies in this city.  The remains of the young officer arrived this morning from Boston and were taken to an undertaking establishment, where funeral services will be held tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 o’clock.

The funeral party will be escorted to Arlington Cemetery by a battalion of Marines headed by the full Marine Band and the usual military ceremonies will be observed at the grave.  Major Charles G. Long, of the Marine Corps, will have command of the escort.

Eight bluejackets from the Navy Yard will act as body-bearers and the honorary pallbearers will be Assistant Paymaster J. H. Knapp, Midshipmen W. G. Child, W. P. Williamson, R. T. S. Lowell, J. W. W. Cumming and Rufus King.  All of these young men were intimate friends of the deceased officer, and Midshipmen Lowell, Cumming and King were selected by the family.

Midshipman Cruse was the son of Major Thomas Cruse, of the Quartermaster’s Department of the Army stationed at Omaha, Nebraska.  He was born at Owensboro Kentucky.



Under the headline, “Are We Ungrateful?” the Philadelphia North American prints the following editorial, which is one of the best along the line it pursues that we have ever read.  It tells the story of two brave boys, Midshipman Cruse and Seaman George Miller, and asks if we are appreciative of such heroes.  Not much has been said about the heroism of young Cruse and less has been said about that of poor George Miller.  The North American says:

“When Midshipman Cruse was brought out of the hell of the Georgia’s turret, his lungs seared by blazing gases and his whole body blistered and blackened, he gasped to the surgeon who bent over him: ‘I’m all right; look after those other fellow.’

“Young Cruse is dying.  The country loses as devoted and unselfish a son as England lost in Phillip Sidney, whose last words gave the cup of water he craved to a soldier dying next to him.  Sidney’s deem lives through the centuries.  How long will America remember Cruse?  Is there truth in the taunt that the Americas is careless mid his death – a scandal to the elder earth?’

‘Down in that turret of death was another man of whom nothing is known except his enlistment record reads: George Miller, Ordinary Seaman, Enlisted in New York; no kin; home, Memphis, Tennessee.’

‘He stood by the second gun, which had just been loaded, when the first flash told of danger.  Safety for him lay in an instantaneous dash for the ladder.  But the last powder bag protruded a little from the gun before him.  If he fled and the flames touched the bag, confined in the chamber of the gun, not a single one of the twenty-four men beside had a chance for life.  Miller did not choose the ladder.  He crowded home the charge, closed the chamber – and died.’

‘For this “ordinary seaman” there is but one fit comment: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  How will the humble, kinless George Miller be honored?’

‘There is not need to advocate undue exaltation of physical courage.  We acclaim our Hobsons and Bill Anthonys full as much as is good for them.  But no country can afford to be careless of its heroes.  and there was more than courage, there was moral greatness in the service of these two men.’

‘They were not marvels.  It will be an evil year for the nation when Annapolis does not graduate scores of Midshipmen who would stand the test of the American office and gentleman as Cruse stood it.  There is no likelihood of there coming a time when an American enlisted man will not be found to answer the supreme call of duty. But it was to these men that the opportunity came.  And it is not well for the nation to ignore their response.  Some means should exist to give fit recognition to such heroism.  If that means does not exist, then it must be created.'”



Washington – 21 July,1907  – With full military honors, Midshipman James T, Cruse, one of the victims of the explosion on the battleship Georgia, off the Massachusetts coast last Monday, was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery today.  After impressive funerals services at a local undertaking establishment, a battalion of Marines, headed by the Marine Band, escorted the body to Arlington, where the usual ceremonies were observed at the grave.  Major David D. Porter, U.S.M.C., was in command of the escort, and eight sailors acted as active pallbearers.

Among the many floral tributes was a handsome design sent from Oyster Bay by the President and Mrs. Roosevelt.

Major Cruse, Mrs. Cruse and Lieutenant Cruse of the Army, left for Philadelphia tonight after the interment of the deceased Midshipman.  Major Cruse will return to Omaha on Thursday.


After making a gallant fight against odds for recovery, kept alive for days by his indomitable courage, Midshipman James Cruse, the Owensboro boy was was injured in the explosion on the battleship Georgia in Cape Cod Bay on Monday, is dead, his death having occurred shortly before noon on Friday. The news of his death was received here in a telegram from Major Thomas Cruse, father of the young man, to the Messenger.

Little hope for the recovery of young Cruse was entertained when the nature of his injuries was discovered shortly after the explosion.  As the days passed, however, it was seen that remarkable will power of the boy was keeping him alive in spite of injuries that otherwise would have proved almost immediately fatal, and in some slight hope that he would be able to pull through.

Midshipman Cruse was a son of Major Thomas Cruse, and was born in Owensboro. His grandmother, Mrs. James B. Cruse, lives on Crittenden Street.  Only a few years ago, James Cruse was a curly-haired boy, playing about the streets of Owensboro.  He was an unusually handsome child and of very bright mind.  He had many friends both among boys and girls his own age and older people.

James Cruse was appointed to the Naval Academy from Nebraska a little over four years ago, his father being stationed at that time in Nebraska. At about the same time, his older brother Frederick Cruse, received an appointment to the military academy at West Point, New York.

Midshipman Cruse distinguished himself as an efficient midshipman, a scholar and athlete while at the academy.  In his last year at the academy, he was cadet lieutenant, commanding one of twelve companies of the brigades.  During his last year at the academy, his work was particularly creditable, and his class of over two hundred members, he stood second in ordinance, fourth in modern languages and ninth in seamanship. He also stood first in conduct, a very distinguished honor.

Cruse was a fine gymnast, and was a member of the academy team during the whole of his course, capturing it in his first class year.

He was graduated from Annapolis in April 1906, and in October was assigned to the battleship Georgia.

One of the first men found by the rescue party was Midshipman Cruse.  In spite of his terrible injuries, he asked those who came to aid him to leave him alone, saying “I’m all right; look out for the other fellows.”

The young man was taken, with others of the injured, to Chelsea Naval Hospital, Boston.  His father and mother arrived from Omaha Wednesday and were constantly at his bedside until the end came.

No information as to the funeral services has been received here.  The interment will be in the National Cemetery at Arlington, D.C. Sunday afternoon.


The Washington Post gives the following account of the funeral of Midshipman James T. Cruse on Sunday:Surrounded by the graves of the great heroes of the United States and in the presence of his mother, father and brother, his classmates, and officers of both the army and the navy, Midshipman James T. Cruse, the tenth victim of the catastrophe on the battleship Georgia last Monday, was laid to rest at 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon in Arlington Cemetery.

Full military honors were paid to the young officer.  The ceremonies were exceedingly impressive and were witnessed by a large crowd which gathered about the open grave to listen to the services.  The Midshipman’s cap, epaulettes, and sword were lain on the casket as it was lowered into the grave, which is in one of the most beautiful spots in the cemetery.  The ceremonies ended with the sounding of “Taps” by a bugler.

Long before 4 o’clock, 175 men, including the Maine Band, under the leadership of Lieutenant Santelmann, and the companies A and B of the Marine Corps, in command of Major David D. Porter, forming the funeral escort, gathered before Gawler’s chapel, on Pennsylvania Avenue, where the body laid in state.

Promptly at 4:30 o’clock, with the Marine Band playing “Nearer My God To Thee,” the honorary pallbearers – Assistant Paymaster J. H. Knapp and Midshipmen W. G. Child, W. P. Williamson, R. T. S. Lowell, J. W. W. Cummings, and Rufus King — formed in a double line, and the casket draped with the Union Jack and completely covered with beautiful flowers, was carried out and laid on the caisson by eight jackies in uniform.

Then, headed by the Marine Band playing a funeral march, the two companies of Marines and the eight Sailors, all marching on foot, started for Arlington.  A Commissary Department wagon, filled with floral tributes, followed the carriages. Among the flowers was a magnificent cluster of White Magnolias, tied with broad white satin ribbon, sent by the President and Mrs. Roosevelt.

Among the officers who attended the services were Admiral Cowles, Rear Admiral Williamson, Rear Admiral W. L. Capps, Quartermaster General Aleshire, Captain W. F. Halsey, Commander J. J. Knapp, Commander F. C. Bieg, Captain R. F. Nicholson and Major G. C. Long.

The family of Midshipman Cruse, consisting of his father, mother, Major and Mrs. Thomas Cruse, or Nebraska; Lieutenant Frederick T. Cruse, U.S.A., now stationed at Omaha, and his uncle and aunt, Colonel and Mrs. F. G. Hodgson of Philadelphia, all of whom accompanied the body from Boston, are now stopping at the New Willard.

The Cruses have  large number of friends in the Washington area, having lived here a number of years, when Major Cruse was stationed at Fort Myer.


The father and mother of Midshipman James T. Cruse, the Omaha boy who died of the frightful injuries he received in the Georgia disaster, will mourn for their son, but there is a noble solace that will not be denied them.

The brave Nebraska youth, as the rescuers came to him, burned and seared as he was by the burning gases from the exploded powder, forgetting his own necessities in the woes of others, said simply:” I am all right; look after those other fellows.”

When Sir Phillip Sidney, mortally wounded on the field of Zitphen, stopped the cup of water ere it reached his parched lips and handed it to a dying soldier with the remark, “Thy necessity is greater than mine,” he immortalized himself for all time.

But Sir Phillip Sidney was a veteran knight and soldier; a nobleman in whom the lessons of chivalry had been drilled.  Cruse was a mere boy, s son of the plain people, and his heroic act of self-abnegation came fresh and spontaneous from a boy’s heart.

“He is a gentleman who doth gentler deeds,” said the good old poet Chaucer.  Once and again the truth is borne home to us, as in this said instance.  The true gentleman’ status is not fixed by rank or position or birth or any of the extraneous incidents of life.  No more was Phillip Sidney, the flower of English chivalry, a chevalier, a gallant gentlemen, than was James Cruse, the Midshipman from Nebraska.


November 14, 1907Of my own free will, and without consideration of any kind except the personal feeling of justness that is due any one who performs a deed of bravery or heroism in which he risks or sacrifices his personal integrity, or offers up his life for the good of his fellow man, I make this affidavit in the presence of these witnesses.At the time of the explosion on the U.S.S. Georgia, I was a member of the crew under the charge of Lieutenant Caspar Goodrich in the after 8-inch super-imposed turret, Midshipman James Cruse was acting as one of the officials in connection with the target practice. When the explosion occurred, Midshipman Cruse escaped from the turret  – in what physical condition I cannot say, except that he was present at the moment the disaster occurred and in some way escaped from the turret.  I, myself, though severely burned and helpless, was still fully conscious an distinctly remember seeing Midshipman Cruse with a fire hose in his hands preparing to re-enter the turret to the aid or rescue of those remaining within.  Of this I am positive, and it is firmly fixed in my memory as I deliberately recall the events of that episode in my
life. Subsequent investigation shows that Midshipman Cruse was found in the turret; this makes the chain complete, and proves that he did return to the rescue of his shipmates, which culminated in his death from injuries received.

It is to record this act that I feel should be generally known to his friends and relatives to indicate the inherent qualities of Midshipman Cruse, who under the sad circumstances heroically performed the highest demands upon his service; a strict and unhesitating discharge of his duty.

Signed: John A, Bush, Seaman, U.S.N,

Signed: Howard Ames, Medical Inspector, U.S.N.
Signed: W. H. Bucher, Surgeon, U.S. Navy
E. W. Vickery, Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Navy


Correspondence of the Courier-JournalWashington – April 24, 1908 – In Arlington Cemetery, near here, where sleep many of the Nation’s most distinguished dead, a handsome marble shaft has been reared to mark the grave of James Thomas Cruse, a Kentucky hero, who gave his life in the effort to save his comrades.  The monument, which will not be formally unveiled, will fittingly recall to posterity the bravery of the lad who unflinchingly met death last summer from injuries that he received in the explosion in a turret of the battleship Georgia while it was at target practice in Cape Cod Bay.The simple epitaph tells graphically the story of his noble sacrifice.  It is as follows:

“His own unselfish words, when aid was offered, make his epitaph “Never mind me; I’m all right; look after those other fellows.”

When the explosion occurred Cruse was on one gun in the turret and his classmate and person friend, Midshipman Goldwaite, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, was at the other.  Goldwaite was so severely injured that he died about two hours later.  Cruse, although badly burned, got out of the turret and then, hearing cries for help, deliberately turned and went back in, badly burned as he was, and gave all assistance in his power.  When someone suggested that he was badly hurt himself he made his famous reply.

With the other badly burned men we has later taken to the Naval Hospital at Chelsea, Massachusetts. His injuries were found to be serious, and three naval surgeons were detailed to look after him constantly and expert specialists and trained nurses were hired.  Cablegrams and telegraphs cams from all over the world came to cheer him up, and President Roosevelt sent flowers every day.  In spite of all efforts to save him he succumbed to his injuries.

The interment was at Arlington on July 21, just 19 years and 7 months exactly from the date of his birth.  A full Marine Band turned out by ordered of the Secretary of the Navy, and all honors were accorded the dead hero.  A touching incident occurred when the funeral cortege, on the road to Arlington, passed through Fort Myer, Virginia, where Cruse had pent two years and a half as a boy.  The guard turned out, presented arms and the flag was lowered to half mast, an unusual honor.

Midshipman Cruse was the son of Major and Mrs. Thomas Cruse, now of Boston, the father being Quartermaster at the Army Depot there.  He was born at Owensboro, Kentucky, December 2, 1889.  His early days were spent traveling about the country with his parents to the different army stations.  He was in San Juan, Porto Rico, when his father was stationed at that point in 1899, and in 1900 circumnavigated the globe with his mother.  He entered the Naval Academy in July 1903 at the age of 15 years.

He immediately took a very high stand in his class, in languages and athletics and gained the gold medal granted by the Navy Department for general excellence in athletics.

In 1906 there was a great demand for officers to command the battleships that had just been completed, and eighty-six members of the class of 1907 were selected on account of their high standings, to be graduated on September 12, 1906, practically a year ahead of time.

The monument erected in Arlington Cemetery by the dead hero’s family is of imported granite.  The bronze work was done by Thomas Murray, a Boston artist.  The bronze plate on the shaft shows the class crest of the Naval Academy class of 1907, the Naval Academy, consisting of a fish torpedo.

Midshipman Cruse’s memory will also be commemorated upon a bronze plaque in the beautiful Memorial Hall at the Naval Academy at Annapolis.


Washington, D.C. – July 14,1908 – “Never mind me; I’ll all right; Look after those other fellows.”The foregoing simple epitaph on a monument erected at Arlington tell briefly but graphically of the noble sacrifice of Midshipman James Cruse, whose remains rest beneath the memorial stone.

The young man unflinchingly met death last summer from injuries received in an explosion in a turret of the battleship Georgia, while at target practice in Cape Cod Bay.

It is related that when the explosion came the gallant Cruse was at one gun in the turret, while his classmate and personal friend Midshipman Goldwaithe, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky,  was so severely hurt that he died about two hours later. Cruse, though badly burned, managed to get out of the turret. Hearing cries for help, h immediately retraced his steps, though terribly injured. He was rendering all of the assistance he could to the injured seamen when someone reminded him of his own deplorable condition.  Then it was he uttered the memorable words that are chiseled on his monument: “Never mind me; I’m all right.  Look after those other fellows.”

He was then taken to the Naval Hospital in Chelsea, where he died.

James Thomas Cruse was a Kentuckian.  He was just 19 years and 7 months of age when death came.

His remains were interred at Arlington Cemetery, but the monument was only recently erected.


I, John A. Pone, do solemnly swear that I am a Seaman in the U. S. Navy; that on July 15th, 1907, I was serving on the “U.S.S. GEORGIA,” while said ship was engaged in target practice off Barnstable, Massachusetts.

That while engaged in said practice, a charge of smokeless powder for eight-inch gun exploded in the after superimposed turret.

That I was in the turret at the time with about twenty others- officers and men.

That the great concussion, terrific heat and poisonous gases produced by the explosion killed or caused the death of a number of the men.

That Midshipman James T. Cruse was in the turret and stood immediately at my side.

That both Midshipman Cruse and myself were terribly burned and injured by the explosion, but neither of us was rendered unconscious.

That I saw Midshipman Cruse get out of the turret through the hatchway.

That Midshipman Cruse – seriously burned as he was – came back immediately into the turret, while it was filled with the poisonous gases and terrible heat, and endeavored to use the hose to extinguish flames and rescue his comrades.

Signed:  John A. Fone, Seaman, U.S. Navy

Subscribed and sworn before me this eighth day of November, nineteen hundred and seven.  John A. Kelly, Notary Public, 7th and Allegheny Avenue, Philadelphia. Commission expires February 2, 1910.

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