USS Brooklyn medal, awarded by the borough of Brooklyn to the to Sailors and Marines who served onboard the cruiser of the same name during the Spanish-American War of 1898. The Brooklyn was the flagship of the Flying Squadron under Commodore Schley. The ship played a leading part in the destruction of the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba on July 3, 1898. Everyone onboard earned a "Sampson Medal” with USS Brooklyn top bar, but it is not well known that every crew member also received this beautiful medal from the proud citizens of Brooklyn.
This is a very large medal, measuring 50mm (2 inches) in diameter. The fourth photo shows the size of this medal in comparison to a Dewey Medal. Due to the heavy weight of the medal, as the ribbon aged, the suspension bar would often tear through, separating the medal from the top bar. For this reason these medals are often missing the top bar, as is the case with the medal in this auction. The ribbon currently attached is a piece of old ribbon that was recently added as a replacement. An OMSA journal article from 1972 notes that different color patterns are seen on the original ribbons: some are solid green; some half green and half white; and others are half blue and white. The meaning of the different colors is unknown although the green and white probably refer to the Irish heritage of many Brooklyn resident.
The medal has several scratches on the obverse and one edge knock but is in otherwise good condition, as shown in the photos. This is a scarce medal that is missing from most Spanish American War collections. It is a "must have" for anyone with a Sampson medal to the USS Brooklyn, including Marine Corps recipients.
The USS Brooklyn was a US Navy armored cruiser, commissioned 1 December 1896, Captain F. A. Cook in command. Brooklyn's first assignment was a special cruise to Britain with representatives of the United States for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The cruiser returned to the east coast in July 1897 and cruised there and in the West Indies until becoming flagship of the Flying Squadron under Commodore W. S. Schley, 28 March 1898.
During the Spanish-American War, the Flying Squadron arrived at Cienfuegos, Cuba 21 May 1898 and established the blockade of that port. On 26 May the Squadron arrived at Santiago de Cuba, where the Spanish Fleet was being held behind the protection of the forts. Brooklyn was a key vessel in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba in which the Spanish Fleet was destroyed. Although she was struck 20 times by whole shot, Brooklyn suffered only one man wounded and one killed. Brooklyn returned to Tompkinsville, New York, 20 August 1898; participated in the Spanish-American War Victory Celebration at New York 5 October 1898; and in the Dewey Celebration at New York in September 1899.