President's Aid Had Gone on a Special Mission to the Pope
Special to The New York Times
WASHINGTON, April 15.-Major Archibald Willingham Butt, President Tafts Military Aid, [sic] was returning on the Titanic after a visit to Rome, where he went to see the Pope and King Victor Emmanuel. He undoubtedly went there as a personal messenger from the President. He is supposed to have been bearing home to President Taft an important message from the Pope.
Major Butt has been one of the most popular officers in the army. He was born in Georgia forty-one years ago. For several years before the Spanish war he was a newspaper correspondent in Washington, representing at one time The Louisville Post, The Atlanta Constitution, The Nashville Banner, The Augusta Chronicle, and The Savannah News. From his first arrival in Washington he has been popular in society.
He accepted the position of First Secretary of the United States Legation at the City of Mexico when former Senator Matt Y. Ransom of North Carolina was Minister, and remained there until the death of Ransom, when he returned to newspaper work in Washington. One of his diversions during his years of work as a newspaper writer was to write for magazines, and he produced several novels based on his life in Mexico and the South that rose to a more than ordinary level of finish and interest.
His entry in the army was due to the late Major Gen. H. C. Corbin, who was Adjutant General during the Spanish War and the years following, and who selected Butt as one of twenty young officers to go into the fifteen new volunteer regiments to go to the Philippines.
He was commissioned a Captain in the Quartermaster's Department and was slated to go to Manila on the transport Sumner by way of Suez. With great difficulty he got the order changed and went on the Dix from San Francisco with a cargo of 500 mules. His orders told him to unload the mules at Honolulu and give them a rest, but the young officer found the charges for feed and stables so high there he contented himself with swearing at the Hawaiians and kept every mule on ship and went on. He would have been courtmartialed if any of them had died, but he landed them all safe and well, and, in fact, better than when they came on board.
While in the Islands he wrote several reports on handling animals in the tropics that attracted attention, and one of his military articles so pleased President Roosevelt that he later asked him to become his military aide. On his return from the Philippines Butt was given a commission in the regular army and sent to Cuba with the Army of Occupation. He was stationed at Havana and did very good service there. Within a month after his return to duly in the Quartermaster's Department, President Roosevelt had him detailed to duty as one of his personal aides.
Butt kept up with Roosevelt in all his physical stunts, made the famous ride to Warrenton and back in one afternoon, climbed the heights of Rock Creek Canyon with the President and Prince Henry, and at the same time reduced the handling of crowds at the White House receptions to a fine art. He made the record there of remembering the names and introducing 1,280 persons in one hour. Major Butt was an ideal clubman, for he knew every one and was liked by all. While in Manila he was Secretary of the Army and Navy Club there.
He was a bachelor and lived in a fine old mansion here where he entertained his old friends in handsome style. His name was several times mentioned in rumors of his engagement to some of the prettiest and most popular young women in society, but one of the last things he did just before sailing for Rome was to deny in a jocular way a report that he was finally engaged and remarked that he had been a bachelor so long that he thought he had better stay so to the end of the chapter.
Throughout Washington to-night every comment on the disaster is followed by the expression, "I hope Butt is safe." Major Butt was a graduate of Sewanee University, Tennessee. He was promoted to the grade a year ego after an eleven years' record of most excellent service. He had a brother living in London, where his mother died a few years ago.