- Hugh Kelley.
The following extracts are from a letter sent by Captain Merriam, of the battleship Missouri to Thos. F. Dowling of Eau Claire, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Dowling, 332 Fifth street Baraboo.
"It is with deep regret that I write you of the death of your son, Charles F. Dowling, Seaman, U. S. Navy, which occurred the night of March 25th while the Missouri was at anchor in the bay of Magdalena, Mexico. Dowling was ill but a short time. He reported for treatment March 5th, and from that time until the end he received every care and attention that could have been bestowed upon him anywhere. Everything possible was done for his comfort. Our target practice was indefinitely postponed in order that the noise would not trouble him, and the ship moved to a position where the firing of guns upon the other ships would not be so loud.
"During his service of over two years he never had a report against him. His enlistment record is excellent, especially in sobriety and obedience. Dowling was much liked on board ship. He was an excellent young man, and Father Gleeson, formerly chaplain on board the Missouri, thought most highly of him, as did all the officers under whose notice he came. Father Gleeson was with him the night before his death and administered the last rites of the church.
...offer you my ?????d hearfelt sympathy in your loss. You have lost a good and honorable son, while we have lost an amiable and efficient shipmate. Our loss may be filled while we realize that yours is permanent. And for the following paragraph, dealing with the same subject, I am indebted to the reporter for the New York Herald, who is with the fleet:
"Aside from the regret caused by the illness of Rear Admiral Evans, the death of young Dowling is the one real note of sorrow that has fallen on the fleet during its stay in these waters. While the ships on the range were their 12-inch guns at the targets, six miles away, four hundred officers and men of the Missouri, and a squad of dark skinned marines from the Mexican gunboat Tampico, then lying in this port, were paying their last tribute to the dead. The roar of the guns, like distant thunder, and the beat of muffled drums on the shore mingled in reuiem symbolic of both life and death. It was a mournfully pituresque cortege that followed the body from the Missouri to the shore, along the dusty Magdalena street, and up the hill to the spot where the open grave awaited its tenant. The officers were in full blue uniforms with black ties. All flags were at half mast. On the carriage of a field gun rested the plain black box that contained the body. Over it lay the Union Jack. The band leading, the junior officers, marines and seamen of the Missouri following and the Mexican marines bringing up the rear, the march to the grave began to the music of a dirge that emphasized the lonliness of the adjacent hills. At the grave Father M. C. Gleeson, chaplain of the Connecticut, pronounced the ritual for the departed seaman, and the body was lowered into the grave while the band played, "Nearer My God, to Thee." The American marines then fired the usual three volleys and the Mexican squad paid a like tribute of respect."
Seaman Dowling does not sleep alone in this isolated graveyard. Another American seaman was buried here just before the fleet arrived. Besides there are graves of a score or more of Mexicans.