World War I Honor Roll

Howard W. Cassady

Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps


USS Reina Mercedes IX-25

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: October 19, 1918
Buried at: Camden NJ

SERGEANT HOWARD W. CASSADY was born in January of 1896, the son of Joseph P. and Della Cassady of Camden NJ. Joseph Cassidy, who was 34 year his wife's senior, worked as house carpenter. He later got a job as a shipyard official, probably at the nearby New York Shipbuilding Corporation. The Cassady (spelled Cassidy in some places) lived at 512 Jefferson Avenue, just off of Broadway in Camden's Eighth Ward in 1900. The Cassadys lived at 420 Webster Street when the census was taken in 1910. The later moved to 2005 Arlington Street, near Broadway and Jefferson Avenue in Camden NJ. Once grown, Howard Cassady moved back to the house on Webster Street. The family belonged to the Church of the Sacred Heart at Broadway and Ferry Avenue.

Howard Cassady had enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in January of 1917, and had undergone basic training at Parris Island SC. He served at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis MD, and was then assigned to the USS Reina Mercedes. While aboard ship he was stricken with Spanish influenza. He was removed to the United States Naval Hospital at Annapolis, where he died on October 19, 1918. 

Sergeant Howard Cassady was buried in Camden NJ.  He was survived by his parents, and younger siblings Mildred and Theodore. Mildred Cassady married George Titus in 1920 and lived on Arlington Street for many years afterwards, possibly into the late 1960s. Theodore Cassady lived their as well to at least April of 1930.

2005 Arlington Street - Camden NJ - December 2002

Facing South from Jefferson Street, 2005 is the first building on the right, as 2001 and 2003 were no longer standing when this photograph was taken. 420 Webster Street was razed many years ago, a garage stands in its place.

USS Reina Mercedes

The USS REINA MERCEDES had originally been part of the Spanish Navy. A cruiser, she was completely obsolete by 1898, and she played no active part in the Spanish-American War. Some of her guns were removed and used for shore defenses, and she was scuttled as a blockship at Santiago, Cuba. Her sister ship, Reina Cristina, was the Spanish flagship in the Battle of Manila Bay, 1 May 1898, and was lost in that action.

She was raised by the US Navy on 1 March 1899, then repaired and rebuilt in the US. She served as a receiving ship after 1902, mainly at Newport and Annapolis. By the 1950's she was serving as a residence for the commander of the Naval Academy. In 1957 it was deemed too expensive to maintain the ancient ship, and she was stricken and scrapped.


By Patrick McSherry 


Click here for an image of the REINA MERCEDES near the end of her career at Annapolis


The REINA MERCEDES had seen better days by the time the blockade of Santiago Harbor began. Her position near the entrance to the harbor made her subject to damage from the U.S. fleet, which scored many hits upon her. After the destruction of Admiral Cervera's the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Santiago, the Spanish forces made a courageous attempt to sink her in the channel leading to the harbor to stop the American vessels from entering. Though the vessel sank, she failed to block the channel. The REINA MERCEDES was later raised by U.S. forces.


The REINA MERCEDES, named for the wide of King Alfonso XII, was launched on September 12, 1887 at Cartagena, Spain. She served in the Instructional Squadron off Spain until 1893 when she was transferred to the Caribbean. Here she became the flagship of Spanish forces in Cuban waters. By the time of the Spanish American she was in poor shape mechanically, with only threee of her ten boilers operable.

When Richmond Hobson of the U.S. Navy attempted to sink the collier USS MERRIMAC in the channel leading into the harbor to bottle up the Spanish fleet, the REINA MERCEDES was involved in the bombardment of the American vessel.

On the June 6, 1898 bombardment of Santiago, the REINA MERCEDES received thirty-five hits, though protected by the hills near the harbor entrance. Two of the shells started fires, including a particularly bad fire in the forward paint locker. While directing the fire fighting actions, Commander Emilio Acosta y Eyermann was hit by a shell which took off his right leg at the hip and his right hand, horribly mutilating him. He said "This is nothing.....Viva Espana!" before he died. Acosta y Eyermann became the first Spanish Naval officer to die in the War.

Later, with the loss of the Spanish Fleet, and the removal of six Bustamente torpedos which were protecting the harbor entrance to permit the attempted escape of the fleet, the approach to Santiago was considered to be underprotected. To block the harbor, the order was given to sink the cruiser REINA MERCEDES across the channel.

Quickly, the ship was readied for its mission. At 8:00 pm on July 5, she made her attempt, with her commander, Ensign Nardiz, several engineers and sailors, and Pilots Apolonio Nunez and Miguel Lopez serving as a crew. Her bow anchors and the stern spring cable were made ready to anchor the ship in the proper location.

About Midnight, on July 5, 1898, the REINA MERCEDES was spotted in the searchlight of the USS MASSACHUSETTS as it was coming out of Santiago Harbor. The USS MASSACHUSETTS and the USS TEXAS opened a continuous fire on her. The vessel sunk, however it is not clear if she was scuttled or sunk by the fire from the American vessels. Regardless, she sunk in the location selected, however, a projectile cut the spring on the stern spring cable, and the ship drifted. As a result, the ship was sunk on the edge of the channel and did not block it.

Reina Mercedes in drydock being repairedThe Spanish were of the impression that the ship was too badly damaged for the Americans to refloat and reuse the vessel, and had considered it a minor victory in that they had kept the projectile-ridden vessel from falling into American hands. However, efforts to raise the vessel began on January 2, 1899, and were completed by March 1. She was towed to Norfolk Navy Yard, and then to Portsmouth Navy Yard, N.H. arriving there on August 25, 1900 for refitting.

Efforts to make the vessel into a training ship failed, and the REINA MERCEDES became a non-selfpropelled receiving ship. She was towed to Newport, R.I. in 1905 where she was placed near the USS CONSTELLATION. She remained there until 1912, except for a visit to Boston and New York in 1908. In 1912, the vessel was towed to Norfolk Navy Yard, and overhauled for use as a station ship at Annapolis, where she remained until being struck from the Navy rolls in 1957. At Annapolis, she was designated the IX-25. When the Spanish battleship ALFONSO XIII visited Annapolis in 1920, the REINA MERCEDES again flew the Spanish flag as a gesture of friendship. Until 1940, midshipmen were punished by having to live aboard the vessel for up to two months at a time, though she never was actually used as a brig. After 1940, she served as living quaters for enlisted men assigned to Naval Academy, and for the Commander of the Naval Station. The Commander was provided with quarters for his entire family, so the REINA MERCEDES was the only U.S. vessel on which dependents were permitted to live.

The vessel left Annapolis only for refitting in 1916, 1927, 1932, 1939, and 1951. She was again sent for refitting in 1957, but the costs were considered to be too high to warrant the completion of the work. The REINA MERCEDES was decommissioned on November 6, 1957 and sold to the Boston Metals Co., on Baltmore, MD for scrapping.


The REINA MERCEDES was unable to leave Santiago because of the condition of her boilers. She appears to have been a very slow vessel. Four of her six 16 cm guns had been removed to the fortifications.



Unprotected Cruiser (U.S. designation IX-25)


September 12, 1887


Three masts, two fully rigged, one schooner rigged.


Six 16 cm (6.3 inch) Hontoria guns, four of which had been

removed and used in the defenses of Santiago Harbor.

2 guns of approximately 7 to 10 cm

10 rapid fire guns

Whitehead Torpedos


280 feet


43 feet, 3 inches

Mean draft:

21 feet, 11 inches


2,835 tons


9 knots




(As a service to our readers, clicking on title in red will take you to that book on

Blow, Michael, A Ship to Remember , (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1992).

Clerk of Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899. Vols. 2, 4.

Iborra Abargues, Federico (provided image of sunken REINA MERCEDES).

Jane, Fred D., Janes All the World's Fighting Ships, 1898, New York: Arco Publishing Co., Inc, 1969.

Jeffers, H. Paul, Colonel Roosevelt: Theodore Roosevelt Goes to War, 1897-1898. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996).

Naval History Department, Navy Department, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships., (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1959).

Spanish-American War Centennial Website
Spanish Navy Webpage