Today, the World’s Columbian Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers the Naval Review at New York on April 27, 1893.
From The International Colombian Naval Rendezvous and Review of 1893 published by the Navy Department, August 1893:
The morning of the 27th of April, the day of the Review, opened cold, gloomy, and rainy; the ships, therefore, were not dressed with flags until 10 o’clock, half an hour before the time set for the President to go on board the Dolphin, at anchor off Twenty-third street, flying the flag of the Secretary of the Navy.
By this time the Patrol Division had cleared the waters around the fleet from the New York shore to 100 yards west of the port column and had established its cordon of vessels to prevent encroachments from outside the lines where there was assembled a compact mass of steamers, excursion boats, tow boats, sailing boats, and craft of every description, decorated with bunting and crowded with spectators. The shores were covered with people.
Hoping that the very inclement weather would improve, the President decided not to embark on board the Dolphin until 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
The excellence of the patrol arrangements could not have been better tested than by this unexpected delay, for though there were many hundreds of craft hovering about, watching and impatiently waiting, yet not one intruded within the reserved space.
It stopped raining at noon, but the weather the rest of the day continued cold, damp, and disagreeable.
At 1:30 p. m. a salute from the Dolphin, followed a few minutes later by the Miantonomoh’s signal, the firing of one of her ten-inch guns, announced that the President had embarked and that the Dolphin, now flying his flag, was under way.
The fleet called all hands and made ready to salute the President as he passed.
Following the motions of the Miantonomoh, the ships manned yards or rails, and on board each ship in turn, as the Dolphin passed her, the guard presented arms, the officers and crew saluted, the bugles sounded four flourishes, the drums gave four ruffles, the band played the “Star Spangled Banner,” and a twenty-one gun salute was fired.
The President of the United States stood well aft on board the Dolphin, in plain sight, uncovered, while each ship rendered him the honors due his office. Near him was the Secretary of the Navy.
As soon as the Dolphin reached the head of the fleet, the steamers of the vast concourse in attendance blew their whistles, while the shouts and cheers of thousands of spectators manifested the enthusiasm aroused by the occasion.
Following immediately after the Dolphin, as she steamed up the river between the two columns, were the vessels designated to accompany the reviewing ship, these being, in their order in the reviewing column, the U. S. Coast Survey steamer George S. Blake, the chartered steamer Monmouth, and the army steamer General Meigs.
On board the Dolphin was the President of the United States, accompanied by the Secretary of the Navy, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and invited guests, comprising the families of these officials, the members of the President’s Cabinet and their families, and former Cabinet officers and their families.
On board the George S. Blake were the members of the diplomatic corps. The invitations for this vessel, issued by the Secretary of the Navy, included also the assistant secretaries of the Department of State and the chief clerk of that Department.
The guests who had been invited by the Secretary of the Navy to witness the Review from the Monmouth included the justices of the United States Supreme Court, Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, governors of States, the mayors of the cities of New York, Brooklyn, Jersey City, and Chicago, major-generals of the Army commanding departments, rear-admirals of the Navy, the Superintendent of the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, the commandant of the New York Navy yard, other prominent officials,, and representatives of the press.
The General Meigs had been designated for the use of the Duke de Veragua and suite during the Review. The Duke, accompanied by the Duchess de Veragua, was escorted to the vessel by Rear- Admiral G. E. Belknap, U. S. Navy, detailed for this duty by the Navy Department, and was received on board by Major-General J. M. Schofield, commanding the Army of the United States.
The Duke de Veragua, a lineal descendant of Christopher Columbus, was in the United States on a special visit as a guest of the nation.
The officer acting as his escort during his visit, Commander F. W. Dickins, U. S. Navy, was also on board the General Meigs, as well as some guests invited by the Secretary of War.
The reviewing ship Dolphin, Lieut. B. H. Buckingham, U. S. Navy, commanding, was in commission as a vessel of the Navy, but the accompanying steamers did not belong to the Naval Establishment.
The George S. Blake; Lieut. George W. Mentz, U. S. Navy, commanding, had been placed at the disposal of the Secretary of the Navy by the Superintendent of the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey; the Monmouth had been chartered for the occasion, and the General Meigs had only been relieved for the time being from her regular duties under the War Department.
On the day of the Review these three steamers were temporarily employed in connection with a national celebration conducted by the Navy Department, and officers of the Navy were specially detailed for service on board.
Commander C. F. Goodrich was in charge of the General Meigs; Commander F. E. Chadwick, Chief Intelligence Officer, was in charge of the Monmouth, and was assisted by officers of the Intelligence Staff, while. Lieut. F. Singer, Staff Intelligence Officer, represented the Navy Department on board the George S. Blake.
When the Dolphin anchored, at 2:30, between the leaders of the fleet, the George S. Blake and the Monmouth took stations off her starboard and port bows and the General Meigs remained astern. The flag and commanding officers of the fleet, and the senior members of the diplomatic corps, then repaired on board, paid their respects to the President, and were entertained at luncheon.
During this time the channel east of the fleet was uncovered by withdrawing the patrol vessels guarding it, and for the next three hours the private vessels, which had been massed above and on the west side of the fleet, moved round, passing from the left of the Review column, around the Enterprise, and down on the right, dipping their colors, blowing their whistles, and renewing their demonstrations of a little while before.
This vast movement was admirably controlled by the patrol division, the police boats, and the city officials, and no accident of any kind occurred.
At half past 4 o’clock the President left the Dolphin and was landed by his barge at the foot of Ninety-sixth street.
As he left the reviewing vessel each ship of the fleet manned yards or rail and fired a salute of twenty-one guns.
With the last gun the President’s flag was hauled down, the patrol steamers were withdrawn, and all restrictions upon the movements of private vessels were removed.
The Naval Review was over.
Before this, at 4 o’clock, the Philadelphia got underway and steamed up the river until opposite the tomb of Gen. Grant, where she fired a salute of twenty-one guns in honor of his birthday.
She then returned to her position at the head of the port column.
In the evening the United States fleet gave an exhibition of search lights and Ardois night signaling, and many of the foreign ships were brilliantly illuminated, notably the English and German ships, the French Jean Bart and the Italian Etna.
The shapes of the hulls, the spars, smokepipes, etc., of these ships were hung with incandescent lamps so closely spaced that the vessels seemed to be outlined with a pencil of fire.
The English ships also gave a fine exhibition of pyrotechnics.
The World’s Columbian Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an image of the USS Dolphin during the naval review of April 27, 1893.