Letterstime - Ein Geleitzug: Homeward Bound? Part XXI

“The Sixth of July saw the start the Baron’s next phase, itself both a beginning and an ending.  One question to which no one could know the answer, was how and to what extent had the sortie just days before changed the reaction of the British Royal Navy to the NEXT KM sortie.  The Baron had wanted this to be the first: fresh canvas, not fresh precedent.  The British would have benefitted far more than he from what had essentially been a profitless exercise just days earlier.  My grandfather’s solution was typical.  ‘When forced into waters muddied by others,’ I can hear him say, ‘the best thing to do is to churn them up some more.’  What the Baron could not have known was who else would stir.”

---- Baron Letters - Germany’s Nelson?, Lady Christine Letters of Alsace, Kaiser Imperial Press, Berlin, 1968

Late evening, July 5, 1915 - midnight of July 6 has already arrived in Germany

---- British Embassy, Washington, DC

The reception hall reflected the magnificence of the British Empire at the height of what would forever be called, ”The Victorian Age”.  Lannon admired the sumptuous fabrics, the heavy mahogany furniture, the glorious rugs, and the ornate pieces of art that adorned the walls, filled the shelves, and occupied the corners.  The room practically overflowed with the trappings of wealth and power.  Visitors and guests could easily assume that the building linked directly to the cornucopia of legend for, in a real-world sense, it did: the fabulously wealthy, world-spanning British Empire.  Lannon’s customers tended to be men who were themselves of considerable means and who liked to put their money into marble, bronze, and art glass, for America lingered still in its own “Gilded Age” (NOTE 1), but the current display easily dwarfed all the settings he had previously visited.

Quite self-consciously, Lannon fingered the just-invested bronze oval Albert Medal (NOTE 2) where it hung from its white-striped blue ribbon around his neck.  The ceremonies and reception had gone well, but matters of fairness still bothered him.  As ship master, it had indeed been his vessel and his decision to steer directly into what was an ongoing naval battle to rescue seven RN sailors, and it was consistent with the weight of precedent in matters naval that his medal would be the only one.  Nik, Claire, and Maggie had all received thanks and praise, but Lannon could not put out of his mind two facts.  First, they had shared equally whatever dangers had existed and, second, the only one of them to get medaled just also happened to be the nephew of the USN Chief of Naval Operations.  Still, the others seemed pleased enough with the at times almost lyrical expressions of gratitude orated by British officials and their formal letters complete with wax and watermark of thanks.  Even Claire’s Aunt Terilyn seemed to mellow as the evening progressed, though Lannon, having seen the rum go in, attributed it more to the punch than the pomp.

“Nate?”  Lannon turned with a smile at Claire’s voice.

“Yes, Princess?”  That got an impish grin out of her, just as it always did.  Chocorua was Claire’s hometown and - together - the source of his boat’s name.  Tonight, however, the title he gave her seemed especially apt, for she filled her gown with both regal grace and an athletic form, and had been drawing admiring glances all evening.

“Maggie and I, well ....”  She hesitated and glanced at her friend, similarly be-gowned, glowing,

 and fit.

“Your Grace,” Lannon bowed, extending the game and wondering where Nik had gotten himself off to.

“M’lord,” Maggie bluffed a curtsey together with a smile of her own.

“... we were just coming back,” Claire continued, “from ... the ‘necessary’ and surprised that navy captain of theirs.  You know, the one with the thick golden rope thing.”

“Gaunt?  The Naval Attaché?”  Lannon had seen him leave, walking towards a tuxedoed man who’d kept his eyes on Gaunt as he advanced towards him.

“Yes, that’s the one,” Claire nodded quickly.  “He was talking to a man in a tuxedo ....”  Her voice trailed off as she suddenly realized that such a description covered almost every man there not in a military uniform.

“Did he have a mustache like ... this?”  Lannon sketched a shape.

“Yes!  That’s him.”

“I saw Gaunt head over to him, but thought nothing of it.  Is there a problem?”

“Well!  Not for me, but HE looked like he was trying to swallow a porcupine!”

“And then he shut right up, face went blank as a slate,” Maggie added, “soon’s he saw us!”

“Hmmm.  Did you hear anything?  What he said, I mean?”

“He said something quite rude, actually!”  Maggie giggled.

“Several things, actually.  Not that we hadn’t heard them before,” Claire chuckled, hand held before her mouth.

“But he said them with such feeling!”


“Um, ladies, ladies, did you get any idea what set him off?”  Gaunt and all the other British embassy staffers had all evening been as smooth as river stones.

“Something about Germans and the New York Times,” answered Maggie.

“Yes,” Claire continued, “then he said something like, ‘What do you mean, “he doesn’t know, not exactly”!?’  He’s never been this late before.  Never!”

“That’s right!”  Maggie agreed.  “Then the other man raised his hands like ... this, like he couldn’t answer, but then said something about secrets being kept ‘this time’ and not being able to see it until ..., how did he put it, Claire?”

“I’m not sure.  Something like ‘when the sitting was complete’.”

“Hmm, ‘sitting’?”  Lannon scratched his head at that and looked around.  Where was Nik?  Maybe he could make some sense out of this.  Wait!  “The New York Times, it’s a newspaper, could that have been ‘setting’?  As in ‘type-setting’?”

The ladies looked at each other.  “Maybe.”  “Sure, could’ve been.”

“I don’t know when newspapers finish typesetting for their morning editions.  Maybe Nik does.  Maggie, any idea where he is?”

“No, he just said there was something he wanted to take a look at and that he’d be back in a bit.  That was some time ago now.”

“Just like Nik.”  Lannon paused as a pair of Brits joined them briefly, exchanged a few words, and then headed for the bar.  They’d stopped just for politeness sake and, Lannon suspected, to discreetly leer at Claire.  “Did I ever tell you how I met Nik?”


“It was up in Grafton, around the Ruggles.  (NOTE 3)  Picking through tailings, looking for garnets.”


“Uh-huh, he’d already found some, too.  Apparently, he discovered some really good stuff back as a kid and, to this day, he can’t see attle and not stop to look over the piles, rain, shine, or blizzard.”  (NOTE 4)

---- St. Pierre, pier, Place de la Roncière

The islanders screamed in exultation when they caught sight of the French Canadians from the schooner.  Between exhaustion and relief, they babbled out some semblance of what had transpired to them over the last many days.

They were met by, at first, disbelief and then dismay.  If there had been just one, or perhaps two, maybe it could have been dismissed as lunacy.  However, there were five islanders choking and half-sobbing out their joint and generally consistent accounting of events, however bizarre they might sound.  Most of the schooner’s crew reflexively crossed themselves and rolled their eyes towards the German-free harbor, though some remained skeptical nonetheless.  It took only a few minutes more for all to become convinced, for there was more than sufficient proof at hand, er, hoof.

After all, the horses had to have come from SOMEwhere.

So, they had already become believers when the islanders got to the part about the mines, meaning that the schooner’s crew had apparently just sailed through one or more fields and had, replete in their innocent ignorance, somehow managed to miss them all.  Conversation broke off then, as several Canadians discovered the need to relieve themselves of suddenly-filled bladders and bowels.  One man who had spent the previous hour arguing quite loudly that they should sail back away, unknowingly back through minefields, discovered that he had lost the strength to stand.

They would wait for full light.  Not one suggested otherwise.


Dawn, July 6, 1915

---- Wilhelmshaven

The harbor had begun to stir some time ago.  The minesweepers had left first, of course.

At first light, Borys had boarded S.31, his chosen TB from which to command the 17 Halbflotille der 9 Flottille which also included S.33 and S.35.  If the gangplank had creaked at his bulk, he had ignored it.  The TB’s officers topside could not help but note the scowl that came and went on his face.  They wondered if it reflected his dissatisfaction with them or their vessel, or perhaps just his being forced to leave his cruiser in the hands of the yard while going out on a  much smaller ship that was a stranger to him.  He stopped to look at the mines.  If anything, his features just got harder.

“Korvettenkapitän Borys, flags going up on Derfflinger.”

“Very well.”  The korvettenkapitän didn’t turn to face the light ship flagship, but just stepped on into the little pilothouse that held the bridge.  As he did so, the chief in charge of the mines went over to where the officer had been standing.  Weren’t they secured properly?  They looked right to him, the man decided, and turned to shrug at his mates.

“Is that coffee I smell?”  Borys asked as he entered the bridge area.  “Yes?  Oh, thank you,” he added, as he was handed a steaming cup.  “Ah!  That’s good,” he said as he sipped, then sipped again.  Then, in an easier tone, “Derfflinger - our number?”

The others relaxed at the changed sound of Borys’ voice.  The commander simply hadn’t had his morning cup yet; that’s all that it had been.  It wasn’t, of course, but they’d not learn that until the next morning.

“Regensburg’s, sir, and Frankfurt’s.  They’ve acknowledged and sent up flags to their half flotillas.  They’re casting off, sir.”

Borys nodded and raised the mug again.  KontreAdmiral Necki was sending Kapitän Zur See Joachim von Wolferein’s command out there first, to lead the way.  No surprise there, Necki had done it in the same sequence four days ago.

---- Graudenz

“Our number, sir.  Ours and Stralsund’s.”

“Very well,” answered Kapitän Niemczyk.  Käpitan Schneider said much the same just astern.  Both commanding officers had been watching Regensburg and Frankfurt lead out their half-flotillas.  Both now turned and issued the required orders.

Niemczyk trusted his navigator with the con and let his attention focus on his half-flotilla, then Stralsund’s.  After all, being in the van position meant there was no one to maintain position on. To his slightly surprised relief, all of the TBs fell in astern quite crisply.  

Maybe the last sortie had done them well after all?

Schneider, of course, did not have the same luxury as Niemczyk, as he had to pay more attention to gaining and maintaining the correct position on Graudenz.

---- Regensburg

Kapitän Zur See Joachim von Wolferein looked astern as his command approached the exit into the outer harbor.  He could see the next CL pair begin to make their way out into the center of the channel, pennants and flags flickering on their staffs and hoists.  The light remained insufficient to bring out colors, though the coal smoke likely would have to shoulder much of the blame.  Between mists and plumes, the whole harbor evidenced a troubling murkiness, like a tyro’s paintings, or photographs of children.

Among those back there along the line of his gaze was B.110.  Oberleutnant zur See Heinrich von Kelly watched the Old Man this time with little of the trepidation that had so consumed him just a few days ago.  Getting shot at did much to resort one’s priorities.  Down below, the #2 feedpump still clanked, but now it sounded merely like a feedpump.

Another on Regensburg’s after quarter was Korvettenkapitän Richard Vogel’s Frankfurt.  Vogel had not liked shelling a town last time, and hoped not to repeat that this sortie.  Still, the town had not shot back, unlike what had happened all too soon thereafter.  How things would have gone if the RN GF had not turned away had been a matter of much debate these last few days.  Vogel knew that answers might soon be forthcoming.

---- Derfflinger

Kapitän zur See Theodor von Engle relaxed a trifle once his command fully cleared the pier and no longer had any need of tugs.  The tension eased a bit more once Seydlitz joined them astern at Ahead Slow into the channel.  He carefully kept KontreAdmiral Necki in his field of vision as he scanned about.  Even after the last sortie, Theodor still half-expected to see Letters’ stocky form there, instead of the taller Necki’s.

Theodor would not have been much surprised to learn that Letters was keeping his hands off his binoculars and below the bridge rail, out of the sight of others, because he could not stop clenching them and unclenching them.

Certainly, Necki would not have been.

---- Bremen

Korvettenkapitän Nugal Conda counted himself a Letters agnostic.  This represented a small but distinct softening of his previous position on the matter of the ViceAdmiral.  An atheist believes there is no God.  An agnostic admits being unsure on the matter, but firmly believes no one else has any greater certainty.  When Conda had discussed it with his father, the older man had grinned broadly and said, “Be thou glad, my son, that Damascus is not a port city.”

Conda had rolled his eyes at that, but admitted that he could not dance around the fact that the Admiral had indeed been correct in anticipating that the British would both strive to and nearly succeed in cutting off Necki‘s return.  The July 3rd minuets (NOTE 5) with the enemy scouting forces had been tense affairs.  The dreadnought engagement had remained a cotillion, however, with all “partners” staying at a respectable distance.  Or was that “respectful”?

In either case, they had not come to grips, so it had not become a waltz as it had at DK.  (NOTE 6)  Then, the music had stopped and both had retired to their separate sides.  Derfflinger’s powerful but melodious whistle sounded just then, and Conda frowned as Seydlitz joined in chorus.

---- Roon

Ziethen also frowned as the battlecruisers gave voice, but his was one born of nervousness, not suspicion of augury.  It had begun.

What lay ahead?  He shook his head.  I must concentrate on the “now”, he told himself and took a deep breath.

The past is only prelude, he exhaled slowly as he recited the mantra, and the future is written by those in the present.

“Ahead Slow,” he ordered in an even tone.  “The others?”

His XO understood the question.  Ziethen’s two CLs - Berlin and Undine - were berthed nearby, but his two minelayers - Arcona and Albatross - were across the way.  Berlin and Undine had already edged nimbly away from the piers.

“Not yet, sir,” and he stepped out to call up orders to the lookout section.

---- Room 40

“Sir, confirmed.  Call sign matches their Admiral Necki.”

“Very good.  But is this a sortie or another damn exercise?”  There had been several of those these last few days.

“No sighting report yet, sir.”

“Three days, Geoffrey.  That’s dreadfully quick for the Huns.”

“Yes, milord.  Still, I would be remiss not to point out that they managed something of the sort just after … the battle.”  No British authority had yet dared attach a name to the debacle of May 30.  They certainly could not use the German one!  Thus, throughout the British Empire these last 36 days, many a spoken sentence had suffered just such a brief and uncomfortable internal pause.

“Any word on their minesweepers?”  Sartore’s distracting question drew quick glances of gratitude from the afflicted officers.  One theory had it that an outflux of minesweepers might be a reliable sortie indicator.

“Yes, sir.  At least, we think so.  The problem, Commander, is that the submarine we had there was forced down before they could report anything of substance.”

“Poor visibility?”

“Yes, sir.  Exactly.  They had earlier reported mists on the water and it was still nearly full dark.  A patroller who got lucky?  That’s happened before.”  “Yesterday, in fact,” added another morosely.  “Or,” the first continued with a nod to his colleague, “was today’s one of a line of sweepers?”

Sartore looked at the great map.  Tyrwhitt had kept two units at sea overnight and he had ordered a third to get underway.  The Grand Fleet had flushed out sweepers of its own to join the normal patrollers, with scout groups close behind.  The dreadnoughts and their close screen formations, however, remained in place, although they had begun to ready themselves for a sortie.  There was no need to rush the fleet out before the outfall had been swept and patrolled.  The move to Rosyth had bought them that time.

---- Imperator and Vaterland

Rain showers had arrived as the brief night drew to its end.  The Germans were delighted, mostly.  The American engineers were disgusted, unanimously.  The rain had come with a chill that belied the mid-summer of the calendar.  The drops mixed with the coal smoke, driving it onto the decks and making them filthy black and quite as slick as ice.

The Yanks did not much mind the chill; indeed, their complaint was that it was not cold enough.  The glossy and treacherous sheen that coated everything was NOT ice.  Simply put, the rain had destroyed their trebuchet ammunition.  Those on Imperator had labored long through the night, only to wake from brief pre-dawn naps and curse their luck.  They had foreseen many hardware failure modes and had crafted spares and cunning alternate parts, but no one had thought to gather and safeguard their intended ammo!

The engineers aboard Vaterland had fared no better.  They had used most of their ready ammo stocks in the deep of the night.  No one regretted that!  Like their countrymen on Imperator, however, they had simply assumed that the morning would be soon enough to gather more ammunition.

They stood around in groups in a sleep-deprived fog denser than that of the weather, and muzzily considered possible substitute ammunition.  Some stared dumbly across the intervening waves at each other, taking little consolation in the fact that their rivals were similarly stymied.  In absolute terms, there was no lack of throwable items, of course, but all the initial suggestions were either too valuable to lose or too dangerous to land.  Some items, like metal ingots, possessed both defects.

Those aboard Imperator had the greater motivation, having yet to enjoy their device.  Thus, it was hardly a surprise that they were the first to arrive at a solution.  It happened during breakfast, as they sullenly and distractedly and, as luck would have it, quite inattentively went about addressing their hunger and thirst.  It began when one man spilled his water glass all over the table and mopped it up with his napkin.  He stopped and stared at his hand.  Then, hefting the sodden thing and being a student of the classics - the classics of engineering that is – he mounted his chair, shouted “Eureka!” and pitched the water-heavy napkin full into a buddy’s chest.

The German waiters fled the bedlam that ensued and, 23 minutes later, the first of the soaked and knotted towel bombs pounded into the deck chairs aboard Vaterland.

---- HMS E-13

Conda did not know it, but his light cruiser was moments away from ramming a RN submarine.  The LCDR G. Layton had had his vessel on the surface when lookouts had spotted Regensburg at a distance.  Layton had pointed their bows at Wolferein’s command, hoping to avoid getting spotted by their lookouts.  This had been a success, but he had been given no time to enjoy it, because it turned out to put them dead ahead and beam-on to Schneider’s Stralsund.


Again, the sub escaped detection, but this time only by submerging.  Once at periscope depth, Layton had again tried his luck, though he waited for dead slow so as to minimize the periscope “feather.”

First, he did a quick 360.

“Cruiser, with torpedoboats trailing astern, four or more, bearing 030 - range 3,000 yards.  They’re past us - no problem there.

“Another cruiser beyond her.  Still got some mists, but it looks like she’s also got several torpedoboats in trail.

“That’s all ... no!  Wait!  Well, well.  What do we have here?!  Big ship, two of them.  Leader is Derfflinger Class battlecruiser!  Damn!  She’s too far past the beam for a shot.  Wait!

“Ready Tubes 1 and 2.  Second ship, she’s gotta’ be the Seydlitz.  We’ve got a ...  Oh, bloody hell!  Chief, take her down!  Now!  Make her depth 150 feet.”

The commander swore a blue streak as Bremen’s propellers thrummed the water directly overhead.  Six more sets of screws followed in excruciating deliberation, giving him an eternity to calm down.

“That damn, lucky cruiser captain!”  He remarked to his XO, neglecting the fact that, if he had missed Bremen for another 30 seconds, he and his crew would likely now be dead or taken prisoner.  “I sure wish I knew who in heaven his patron saint was.”

---- Room 40

Just over three hours passed before they received the next sighting report.  The second submarine had gotten back to periscope depth too late to make an attack.  When they surfaced, however, they had much to report.

“Derfflinger, Seydlitz, and four cruisers with half-flotillas,” one said, “that fits.  That’s their current battlecruiser force strength.  It’s what they had last January and again in May, and they reassigned however they needed to get back to that level just a few days ago.”

“Yes, but the commander sighted more than that.”  “True, said another, and heads nodded.  “Yes, and what do you make of that cruiser formation?”

“Rich,” began a voice at Sartore’s elbow, “any thoughts on where they’re going?”  It was Commander Jan, a senior aide to Commander - Grand Fleet.  They listened with only half an ear to the conjectures being offered in the center of the room.

“No, sir.  Well, not really,” Sartore amended.


“The sub claimed they’d spotted three big ships.  Unless the third one’s Lutzow ...”

THAT was an unpleasant thought!

“Still fitting out in the yards two days ago.”

“Yes, well, assuming she’s NOT Lutzow then, whoever she is, I don’t think she can keep up with the battlecruisers.  Blucher was the only armoured cruiser they ever had who could hope to do that, and she’s sunk, or scrapped.”

“Or might as well be, for all chance she’d be out there this morning.”

The reports on Blucher still seemed to lack a full definition of her fate or status.  She’d been seen to take one or two torpedoes and more heavy shell hits than could be counted.  The last sighting report on her on that terrible day had her dead in the water, on fire, listing heavily, and with small boats attending her.

“Very well, Rich, I’ll grant you the point.  But what does it mean?”

“Between that unidentified armoured cruiser and the three or four light cruisers she had in company, the Germans have seriously upgunned their battlecruiser force, even at the cost of a few knots.”

“The Harwich Force!”

“Yes, sir.  That’s my guess.”

“It makes perfect sense.  After the Huns shelled Southwald, Commodore Tyrwhitt hounded them almost all the way back to Wilhelmshaven.  With that sort of firepower ....”

“Of course, sir, it could be something else.”

“Yes?  Very well, what else could it be?”

“Well, sir.  At the May battle, Letters was driven from the field by a few flotillas, and he had FOUR battlecruisers that day.”

“Damn me, but that’s true, too.”

---- Wilhelmshaven

The High Seas Fleet began its own sortie late.  The delay came from the sightings of RN submarines in the late morning.  It was not until after three hours after noon that Letters was able to get out of the harbor and fully deployed.  Unlike three days ago, the Commander - HSF was not too concerned yet.  Admiral Necki had been informed of their tardiness and this time his orders most definitely did not leave him out on a limb near the coast of Britain.

In fact, there was little to be done this day, save get well out into the North Sea and wait.

---- Room  40

Despite all its protracted precautions, the HSF was sighted and its sortie reported.  The battlecruiser force, however, had yet to be re-sighted.  This could still turn out to have been little more than a sweep of the near environs by the Germans.  Some suggested that the new formation actually lent some support to that interpretation, with the Germans exercising their new arrangements at sea.

In any case, the senior officers and ministers could do nothing more than wait.  Tyrwhitt had been cautioned.  De Robeck had sortied the fleet without event from Rosyth and was en route to support the Harwich Force.

The morning ended quietly, and the afternoon began to wear on similarly, wearing on the nerves of all as it did so.  Matters would change dramatically therafter, but due to a totally unexpected cause.

---- Moltke

Admiral Hanzik still held his force at just under 16 knots.  Any faster and he would overtake his u-boat scouts.  He had fully expected to be sighted and reported this morning but there was no indication that it had yet happened.  The brief rain showers near dawn had helped suppress their plume early, but he knew his luck couldn’t last much longer.  Part of him wanted urgently to call for Ahead Flank but he resisted it.  He simply could see no reason to deviate from his plan.  Every hour he delayed being reported served to compress the RN reaction time.

And so he spent the morning pretending not to be amused by the madness going on just off his bows between the great liners.  Fearing rightly the distraction of the ongoing trebuchet sea battle, he sent up several times flag signals demanding sighting updates.  The Americans finally collapsed from exhaustion near noon, though it could have been hunger, and the day continued.

What Hanzik did not realize was that the British Admiralty’s orders concerning convoys had emptied the seas near Britain due to a combination of the concentration effect of the convoys themselves and the piling up of ships in harbors awaiting convoy formation.

Two other factors were also in play.  The first was that the British had pulled back their patrol line shortly after Die Kaiserschlacht and matters there were still in flux; the destruction of Rollonot at the Strait had had a greater effect than the Germans had dared hope.  Second, both of the u-boats in Hanzik’s distant van had taken and sunk a merchant that had first gotten off a wireless.  As a result, several merchants had sought harbor or delayed their sailings in the area.

---- Room 40

The first indication that Sartore and the others had that something had happened was a bit of a furor out in the hall.  The door muffled it until it was opened, by a harried aide bearing a message.  There had always been an occasional entrance by such as he, but Sartore could not recall any such noises.

The eyes of both Salvatore and Jan both followed the man over to where he handed it to the minister.

“Great Bloody Hell!”

He had everyone’s eyes then.

---- Washington, DC

It was early morning in Washington, DC, even as men sat down to their mid-day meals in Wilhelmshaven, London, and Paris, and those at sea ate theirs aboard Grosser Kurfurst, Warspite, and Moltke.  Even the exhausted and soaked Americans aboard Vaterland and Imperator were at table.

Those in the British Embassy had already lost their appetite.  Nonetheless, their reaction could arguably have been more muted than over at the Embassy of France, where three bolted from their morning repast in a race due to esophageal spasms.

---- New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer

“Invasion!”  “Germans Invade ....”  “Islands off Canada Conquered!”

The newsboys sang and the phones rang.  The leads were bold and the papers sold.  Both publishers had gone with expanded runs right from the start, and they were selling out anyway.  That was okay, both had decided, as they had the Extras already being drawn up.

“German Cavalry ....”

Few Americans had ever heard of St. Pierre and Miquelon.  In fact, most did not even realize that France held possessions of any name up off the Canadian coast.  That was changing this day.

“Hundreds Taken Prisoner!  Including Women and Children!”

Many workers had tucked copies aside, perhaps they might have value some day, like an assassination edition, or a war one.

This, then, was the subject of the cables which had so shocked and disturbed the British Admiralty.  His Majesty’s Government took it far worse.  What was happening in Paris, of course, simply defied even impolite description.

Room 40 proved no exception to the troubles and the disruptions would run unabated until nearly dusk, when a turmoil of an entirely different sort would begin.

---- Derfflinger

Admiral Necki had no knowledge of what was happening elsewhere.  His force had not headed westerly for another bombardment or even to challenge the Harwich Force but, instead, had slanted N-NW up into the North Sea.

There was no need, therefore, to retire upon the Main Body of the High Seas Fleet at all, as had been fully expected and indeed planned for.

As dusk neared, Necki ordered the hoisting of flags detaching Conda and Borys for their mission and sent the planned contingency wireless to Wilhelmshaven and the Baron.  Upon receiving the acknowledgement, he altered course due north and, along with the Ziethen Force, went to 18 knots.

He had no idea what had happened to the British and certainly had not idea where they were.

What he did not know, however, is that he had just told them where HE was.

Author’s NOTEs:

1) Historians do not entirely agree on any one exact set of years for the American “Gilded Age.”  Some define it as 1866 - 1901, many others 1876 - 1900, others still 1876 - 1917, and some even 1876 - 1929.  Whatever years one might prefer, the period involved begins with the recovery of the United States from the American Civil War (ended 1865) and generally concludes with the US entry into The Great War.  Thomas Fortune Ryan’s abodes in New York and Virginia both embodied the Age, and the Virginia house survives and can be (and the author and TLC have) visited:


Maymont, which the author and TLC frequently tour is another typical mansion of the Age:


See also:


2) For a description of the Albert (Lifesaving) Medals, see:




The text has Mr. Nathaniel Hawthorne Benson Lannon receiving the Albert Medal, Sea - Second Class, with his deeds in keeping with the "acts not of a character sufficiently daring and heroic” standard for the award of the Albert Medal, Sea - First Class.

3) The Ruggles Mine is in Grafton County, New Hamspire.  It’s name comes from Sam Ruggles who discovered large pieces of mica there on his property in 1803 and mined them in secret for sale in England so as not to reveal the location!


4) The author apologizes.  Well, no, not really.

5) The minuet has a single couple dancing as all the others in the ballroom look on.  As might well be imagined, it could be very intimidating.  See:


6) See: