In the midst of the Spanish-American War, Gunner’s Mate Third Class John Davis stood tall on board the USS Marblehead, facing a torrent of enemy fire during a crucial operation off the coast of Cienfuegos, Cuba.

John Davis: Life Before Service

John Davis was born on October 28, 1877, in Germany. He later immigrated to the United States, where he joined the Navy and served as a Gunner’s Mate Third Class. Davis was deployed aboard the USS Marblehead (C-11), the last Montgomery-class unprotected cruiser, to fight in the Spanish–American War—a conflict that would shape his military career and leave an indelible mark on his life.

USS Marblehead (C-11) / Image source: Wikimedia Commons

During his deployment aboard USS Marblehead, Davis partook in a vital operation to cut the cable leading from Cienfuegos, Cuba, on May 11, 1898.

The Raid on Cienfuegos

The Battle of Cienfuegos, or the Raid on Cienfuegos, was a crucial engagement during the Spanish-American War. Its objective was to tighten the US Navy’s blockade of Cuba by disrupting Spanish communications through the undersea cables. These cables served as vital links between the Spanish command, Havana, Santiago, and other Caribbean islands.