This selection comes from The Great White Fleet: Its Voyage Arund the World, 1907-1909 by Robert A. Hart, published in 1965.
By late November most of the battleships were at New York, taking in supplies before moving on to Hampton Roads, Virginia, the port of embarkation. Hundreds of young officers came ashore to look at the new Metropolitan Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the notorious suffragette who smoked a cigar each day at noon in Washington Square. New Yorkers gawked, too, gathering around the men in blue, pounding their backs, paying their bills in restaurants, and taking them to the Metropolitan Opera House to hear Enrico Caruso in Rigoletto. They were national heroes and required no fancies from Roosevelt’s publicists to help them look and act the part. Naval popularity since the victory over Spain had drawn some of America’s best men to Annapolis. The United States Navy’s most valuable asset, Britain’s Spectator asserted, was its young officers – keen, ambitious, intellgent, and handsome. Society pages reported their successes in lower Fifth Avenue, where the daughters of the “best families” clustered around them in a lively competion for signatures in velvet-covered dance programs.
Most of the officers took trains to Philadelphia on November 30 for the Army-Navy football game. The crowd of thirty thousand at Franklin Field was loud in its cheers for Admiral Evans and a Navy halfback’s twisting run for a touchdown. The middies won, 6-0, over the heavily favored men from West Point. “Like good soldiers, they fought the sailors hard,” the AP story read, “but it was no use, for it was the Navy’s day.” Fleet personnel returned to New York in a jubilant mood. The next night at a farewell banquet they shouted hip-hip-hurrahs when Admiral Evans announced that his men and ships were ready for anything, “a feast, a frolic or a fight.”