Thursday, October 18, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: U-Boat Deck Gun Cartridge Case, c. 1917

UC-44 Deck Gun Cartridge Case
The Naval War College Museum has many artifacts which at first glance do not appear to be closely tied to the college or the region's naval history. While relocating some artifacts in a museum storage area, I came across this cartridge case. A brass plaque tells us this tube was recovered from UC-44 by divers of the USS Melville in 1917.

During the First World War, the German Imperial Navy employed the now famous u-boats to assault allied merchant shipping. UC-boats were a class specifically designed as coastal minelayers to disrupt traffic in Allied harbors. In 1917, British intelligence agents transmitted a false report that the area off Waterford, Ireland had been swept for mines. As expected, the Germans intercepted the message and ordered another minelayer to the harbor to deploy new mines.  The plan worked though not as intended. SM UC-44, the u-boat ordered to Waterford, was sunk on 5 August 1917 when one of its own recently dropped mines exploded.  The explosion killed all on board except the ships commander Kapitanleutnant Kurt Tebbenjohanns.


The following month, the Royal Navy raised the wreck to gather intelligence. In addition to recovering documents and equipment, divers recovered the bodies of nineteen crew members.

Besides mines and torpedoes, UC-44 carried an 88mm deck gun. After the initial salvage, divers from an American destroyer tender, USS Melville (AD-2) also recovered items from the remaining wreckage including several mines and this cartridge case used to carry ammunition for the deck gun. The case is made of copper and possibly lead, two non-ferrous metals which are resistant to sparks that could ignite black powder.


USS Melville (AD-2) in 1915
USS Melville  had many ties to the Narragansett Bay region. She was stationed at Newport, Rhode Island in 1916 before departing for Ireland when the U.S. declared war on Germany. During the war, the destroyer tender was commanded by Captain Joel R.P. Pringle. Pringle would graduate from the Naval War College in 1920, serve as chief of staff from 1923-1925, and finally as president from 1927-1930. Melville also served as the flagship of Admiral William S. Sims. Sims was President of the Naval War College in 1917 when he was dispatched to England in advance of America's entry into the war. He was appointed Commander-in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe during the war and resumed his presidency at the college after the hostilities ceased. Though we do not know exactly how the cartridge case came to Newport, it was part of a large donation of items related to the naval service of Lieutenant Commander Dallas Wait, a student at the war college during Pringle's administration.


Gift of Mrs. Dallas Wait                                                                                                               85.17.09

Image of USS Melville courtesy of the Naval History & Heritage Command

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Portrait of Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, 1945

In 1886 Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan arrived at the Naval War College in Newport to teach naval history and tactics. As he was a founder and president, his portrait is one of the treasures of the museum collection.

The following is reprinted from Faces of the Naval War College by John B. Hattendorf

Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840 – 1917) served as the College’s second president in 1886 – 1889 and as its fourth president in 1892 – 1893. In 1885, Admiral [Stephen B.]Luce chose Mahan to be the Naval War College’s first instructor in naval history and tactics. The lectures he delivered at the Naval War College in 1886 and 1887 were eventually published as The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660 – 1783 (1890). In 1892, he returned with a new set of lectures to deliver: The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire 1793 – 1805 (1892). These books were the first that drew international attention to the College. Later, he returned to lecture between 1895 and 1912.
In 1935, the Navy Department agreed to name the College’s previously unnamed library building in honor of Mahan. With the addition of a large reading room in 1938, the only thing that was lacking was a portrait of Mahan to be the focal point of the Rotunda. In 1939, the president of the College Rear Admiral Charles Snyder started a subscription campaign to fund the portrait. Following the observance of the centenary of Mahan’s birth in September 1940, Snyder’s successor, Rear Admiral Edward Kalbfus, made a direct appeal to the nearly 1,400 living graduates of the College, asking each to contribute one dollar.
The appeal to graduates was successful and the College commissioned the artist Alexander James (1890 – 1946), the son of Harvard philosophy professor William James and nephew of the novelist Henry James, to do the portrait. James used photographs of Mahan and a specially made rear admiral’s uniform from the 1906 period to paint the work.

76.30.01

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Red Admiral Flag, 1940



While preparing several flags in the museum collection for storage, I came across this red two-star flag. While some might assume this is the flag of a United States Marine Corps major general, it is actually a U.S. Navy rear admiral (upper half) flag. During the early 1900s, the blue flag officer's flag was reserved for the most senior officer present at a particular duty station. All other flag officers used the red flag. The tiered flag system was discontinued in about 1940.

This flag was used by Rear Admiral Sherwood A. Taffinder during his time as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. The hoist details that the flag was presented to him by the signal force of U.S. Fleet's flagship USS Pennsylvania (BB 38)  and hoisted 10 July 1940.

Gift of Terry Taffinder Grosvenor and Lisa Stubbs                                                                             2008.18.13

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: USS NEWPORT Commissioning Program, 1969

USS Newport (LST-1179) was a landing ship tank commissioned on 7 June 1969 at the Philadelphia Naval Base. The third ship named after the "city by the sea," USS Newport served in the Atlantic Fleet throughout the 1970s and 1980s. She was decommissioned in 1992.

The ship's crest is appropriately featured on the cover is fully integrated with symbols of the city and the state of Rhode Island. The crest is in the shape of a shield, an element from the state's seal. The white field bears an image of the old stone mill. This tower, also on the city's crest, is located in Touro Park and is one of the oldest structures in United States. Waves, invoking the sea, divide this image from one of a pineapple (a figure from the seal of Newport County) and an anchor which is the supreme maritime emblem as well as the dominant symbol on the Rhode Island State flag. Three stars on the crest reflect that the LST is the third ship bearing the name.

The back cover features a short article titled, "Newport and the Navy" which addresses the close relationship between the city and the service, an overarching theme of the Naval War College Museum.

Gift of William Rouzer                                                                                                              2012.16

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Sweetheart Handkerchief Holder, c. 1908

---Jen Nason, Curatorial Assistant

Most who have served in the armed services over the last two hundred years have left behind a loved one at home. Gifts and mementos for wives and girlfriends were especially popular in the early twentieth century as it was an important way for soldiers and sailors to keep a strong connection with family and loved ones back home. Letters were exchanged as often as possible, but there was a need to send physical tokens of affection such as jewelry and handkerchief holders. These "sweetheart" gifts varied in size and decoration and often included motifs associated with either the Army or Navy.   Gifts such as this "sweetheart" handkerchief holder, were also a way for those on the home front to show their patriotism. 

A handkerchief holder in the Naval War College Museum collection is an example of commercially sold items available before the First World War. The outside cover is green satin with a gold and blue braid on the edge. In the center is a clear cover that once displayed a photograph of a sailor or the ship he served in.  Two miniature gold anchors adorn the lower edge of the cover.  The inside features a colorful printed scene. An oval portrait set within an anchor on the left side depicts a waving sailor perched on a ship's ladder. Another portrait on the right side shows his sweetheart holding flowers and waving goodbye.  In between the two figures is a 46-star flag above the often duplicated poem: “Remember Me. Sweet be to thee life’s passing hours, and all thy paths be decked with flowers.” Below this scene is a pocket printed with a 46-star American flag to hold the handkerchiefs. While it is unknown who gave or received this sweetheart gift, it represents the sentiments of all servicemen and women who long to see their loved ones at home.

Gift of  Mrs. Oliver Cushman                                                                                                                82.20.01

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Bust of John Paul Jones

---Jen Nason, Curatorial Assistant

This plaster bust of naval hero John Paul Jones (1747-1792) is a copy of an original marble bust by renowned sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. The marble bust was commissioned in 1780 for the Masonic Lodge of the Nine Sisters in Paris, where Jones was a member. Many praised the sculpture for its faithfulness to the subject. James Madison wrote, “His bust by Houdon is an exact likeness; portraying well the characteristic features stamped on the countenance of the original.” Jones himself was so impressed with his portrait that he ordered plaster copies for friends such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin; men who had also been sculpted by Houdon. The bust would be important a century later when trying to locate the subject's unmarked grave.

Jones, who was just 33 years old at the time the sculpture was completed, died twelve years later in Paris. As he died in the midst of the French Revolution, his funeral did not attract much attention. He was buried in an unmarked, and eventually, forgotten grave in small Protestant cemetery. Fortunately, his body was prepared for burial in a way that made the discovery 113 years later possible. Jones was placed in a sealed lead coffin which was completely filled with alcohol to preserve the body. As some may have predicted, the United States did want Jones’ body back over a century later.  Under the orders of President Theodore Roosevelt, a team was assembled to find the body and return it to the United States for reinterment.  The team eventually found the cemetery that contained Jones’ remains.  They were then able close in on the correct grave through the discovery of five lead coffins. Three of the coffins had their owner’s names.  A fourth coffin was for made for a man over six feet tall, (John Paul Jones was 5’7" tall). The fifth coffin was sealed shut.

When the remains inside the sealed coffin were inspected, facial measurements from an early 1780 copy of the Houdon bust were compared to the remains in question. There was an astounding similarity between the bust and the remains; the maximum difference in measurement being two millimeters. An intensive autopsy and use of the bust of Houdon allowed for researchers and doctors to positively identify the remains of John Paul Jones. With the positive identification, the team of researchers was able to bring Jones back to the United States. In 1906, he was reinterred with full military honors at the United States Naval Academy chapel in Annapolis, Maryland. The original marble bust from the Masonic Lodge of the Nine Sisters is now at the academy as well.

Though a twentieth century copy, the bust on display at the Naval War College Museum was made from a 1780 copy at the Louvre for sculptor Felix de Weldon. de Weldon presented the copy to the Naval War College in 1964. The bust has remained a fixture at the museum to recognize Jones as captain of the Continental sloop Providence during the American Revolution.

Gift of Felix de Weldon                                                                                                        76.49.01

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Midshipmen Cruise Ceramic Plate, 1947

---Jen Nason, Curatorial Assistant

This decorative ceramic plate commemorates Admiral Richard L. Conolly's visit to Oslo, Norway in July of 1947.  Soon to be President of the Naval War College, Conolly was then Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. He commanded a task force that carried over 2,000 midshipmen on a training cruise across the Atlantic that summer. Joining the flagship USS New Jersey (BB-62), was the USS Wisconsin (BB-64) and several destroyers. This fleet left the U.S. Naval Academy with its eager complement on June 7 and set to return in late August.  There impressive itinerary for the cruise included Edinburgh, Oslo, Copenhagen, London and Guantanamo Bay. Though port calls offered a welcome distraction, the cruise offered valuable training in gunnery, seamanship, and shipboard operations. Midshipmen learned the tasks of daily life at sea and the skills needed to successfully run a ship during peacetime and in war.
The unknown artisan hand painted the words "Admiral Richard L. Conolly, U.S.N., COMNAVEASTLANT, Oslo-Norway-July-1947" around a scene of the Atlantic Ocean that includes the coasts of North and South America, as well as Europe and Africa. Conolly's flagship, the battleship New Jersey, is depicted along with a Viking ship to tie this visit to Leif Ericson's voyage from Norway to North America in the year 1000. It is conceivable that Norway's King Haakon VII presented this to Conolly during his inspection of the battleship on July 2.

When the division departed for Portsmouth, England, they were reviewed by Crown Prince Olav of Norway.  In their June 1948 National Geographic article documenting the cruise, Midshipmen William J. Aston and Alexander G.B. Grosvenor recalled, “Leaving Norway, we witnessed a magnificent demonstration of seamanship. Crown Prince Olav reviewed our battleship division as we steamed for Portsmouth, England. Rather than use a destroyer or large yacht, he stood in the cockpit of a 50-foot cruiser tossing and yawing in the choppy mouth of Oslofjord. Throughout the passing of our ships, the Prince adhered to the adage of the sea 'One hand for the ship and one for yourself.' Never before had we seen a boat do four-dimensional gymnastics. Yet at all times the Prince had his right hand raised smartly in salute as Wisconsin fired the 21 guns reserved for chiefs of state and royalty.”

74.05.01

Friday, July 13, 2012

Artifact Spotlight:Chevalier du Tastevin Badge, c. 1947

---Jen Nason, Curatorial Assistant

Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, a 1929 graduate of the Naval War College, famously commanded U.S. Naval forces at the amphibious landings in North Africa and Southern France during the Second World War. As he played a central role in the Allied victory in Europe, he was decorated numerous times by the U.S. and Allied nations. He received the badge, pictured left, on May 14, 1947. However, this is not a medal relating to his distinguished military career. It honors the appreciation of Burgundy wine. On a trip to Paris in 1946, Admiral Hewitt was approached by his friend, Jacques Moreau and invited to become a member of Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.  The fraternity, translated as Brotherhood of the Knights of Wine Tasting Cups, has roots in the early eighteenth century but was organized formally as the Confrérie in 1934. The purpose of the Confrérie is to celebrate the wine, food, and culture of the French region of Burgundy.  Moreau, a member of the group, was a vice admiral in the French navy who Hewitt befriended while stationed in Morocco in March, 1943. Hewitt recalled, “I said I would be honored, but having in mind that I might be asked to pass judgment on samples of wine, I doubted my ability to meet the test. [Moreau’s] reply was that my only test would be to go down into the [basement of chateau Clos du Vougeot] and know to enjoy what you drink.”

Hewitt receives his tastevin badge at a formal ceremony in
New York City.
Hewitt accepted the invitation and received his  certificate in November of 1946. The following May he attended a branch chapter meeting at New York City's Waldorf-Astoria hotel. After swearing to defend the wines of Burgundy and being dubbed on each shoulder with a the root of a Burgundy grapevine, Admiral Hewitt received his tastevin badge. The tastevin is a shallow silver cup used by wine tasters to test wines drawn from the casks in cellars. A taster may use it to judge the bouquet and color of the wine before sampling the contents.  The badge incorporates the silver cup suspended from a red and gold ribbon which symbolizes red and white wines. 
The certificate and tastevin are part of a large collection of Hewitt's medals, uniforms, and personal items at the museum. The Naval War College archives holds an equally impressive manuscript collection of Hewitt's personal papers, memoirs, appointments, and photographs. As a graduate, staff member, and advisor to the Naval War College, his service and accomplishments are emblamatic of the role of the college in United States Naval history.

Gift of Mrs. Floride Hewitt                                                                           73.01.23;51

Photograph, Naval Historical Collection. Naval War College Archives

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Navy Day Medal, 1913

---Jen Nason, Curatorial Assistant

A medal donated to the museum a few years ago tells an interesting story about one of Theodore Roosevelt's many visits to Newport.  The obverse of the medal features the image of a battleship, a fouled anchor, and the words, "NAVY DAY." Once containing a ribbon (not included) the medal was worn in commemoration of a two-day celebration held from July 2-3, 1913 in Newport, Rhode Island. Former President Theodore Roosevelt, hosted the event, held on Easton's Beach, as a political rally for the Progressive (or Bull Moose) Party he had formed the previous year.   An immense clam bake that boasted two hundred bushels of clams and hundreds of pounds of potatoes, corn, and watermelon, was served in a large tent constructed on the beach. Though the tent could shelter up to four thousand people, only twelve hundred attended the feast. The political leaders of the Progressive Party spoke to the crowds over the two days. Roosevelt gave a powerful speech regarding the importance of the Navy, in which he proclaimed, "The United States Navy is the best insurance against war, and the only guarantee of national honor if war comes.” The words were inscribed on the reverse of the medal.  The former President of the United States and Assistant Secretary of the Navy followed the great success of this speech with a review of the apprentice seamen at the Naval Training Station.  These celebrations of the nation's sea service earned this Progressive political rally the title of "Navy Day." This local event for a national political party should not be confused with the Navy Day celebrated on October 27 from 1922 to 1949.

The Newport Mercury called the Progressive party’s rally a “fizzle.” Thousands of visitors were anticipated to arrive within the city, yet smaller numbers attended. Still, the medal demonstrates the importance of Newport as a home to the U.S. Navy during its long history.  Theodore Roosevelt had visited the Naval War College and Naval Station on many occasions and would return again before his death in 1919. The medal is just one of many artifacts in the museum collection that represent the naval history of Narragansett Bay.

 Gift of Dr. George Linabury                                                                                                  2008.17.01

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: The Newport Poor House, 1819

---Jen Nason, Curatorial Assistant

Before Founders Hall became home to the museum in 1978, it was the original site of the Naval War College. The college occupied the building from 1884 until 1892 when a new structure (later named Luce Hall) was completed. It was here that Alfred Thayer Mahan gave his lectures on naval history and tactics that formed the basis for his seminal book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History,1660-1783, published in 1890. As the site of these lectures, the building was named a national historic landmark in 1964. However, Founders Hall had a long history as an asylum for the poor and mentally challenged prior its occupation by the United States Navy.  On 25 June 1819 Newporters laid the cornerstone for the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb on Coasters Harbor Island. Truly, this 193-year-old building is the museum's primary artifact.


The Newport Asylum, 1832
In March 1819, citizens at a town meeting decided that an asylum or poor house, was to be built for Newport on Coasters Harbor Island.  Benjamin Chase constructed the building using local  field stone. The main building consisted of a kitchen, storeroom, and closets in the basement.  Housing was on the first and second floors, while a large room for assemblies and religious services was on the third floor.
The people that resided at the asylum were of varied backgrounds. Some people were poor with no means of supporting themselves, some were orphaned children, some were declared insane, while others were petty criminals. Despite these different conditions, they all lived under the same rules and regulations enforced by an overseer. The occupants were all given work to perform: some cleaned the asylum, others tended a successful farm, and the orphaned children attended a school within the building. There were also designated meal times, washing times, and days of worship. Visitors were allowed once a week and contact between the men and women was forbidden. Inmates who failed to comply with the overseer were punished. The harshest punishments included incarceration in small cage on the first floor.  On occasion, the overseer would lock those who were declared insane in these solitary cages permanently. There were at times up to sixty people at the asylum, yet they must have felt an intense amount of loneliness and frustration. It was not until the 1850s that a bridge was constructed to link the town of Newport to the island, and even then the bridge was two miles away from the center of town. 

The Naval War College, c. 1884
After the 1850s, Newport created a larger jail in which to place its criminals and the state established another asylum in Cranston for the "insane."  Still, the poor and orphaned remained within the Newport poor house until the 1880s when the island was transferred to the U.S. Navy. During that time, the ideal of institutionalization started to fade away. The facilities of the asylum had improved to incorporate new technologies, and the living quarters had been enlarged. Yet, a separate orphanage was constructed in Newport, and the asylum’s poor dwindled down to about twenty people. Those who remained moved into a small building on Broadway Road in Newport. In October of 1884, Commodore Stephen B. Luce climbed the steps of the old asylum, and reportedly announced, "Poor little poorhouse, I christen thee United States Naval War College." Not long after, Alfred Thayer Mahan began his historic lectures on naval history and tactics to the first class of naval officers. The cornerstone laid on 25 June 1819, along with Mahan's lectures, formed the basis for the museum's local, national, and international focus.

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Engraved Copper Plate for NWC Diploma, c. 1925

---Grace Christenson, Curatorial Assistant




Graduation at the Naval War College is a formal academic ceremony that marks a student’s successful completion of a course of study at the College. Since tomorrow is graduation day it is fitting to look back at the first ever formal graduation ceremony held on 27 May 1925. This was also the first year that graduates were presented with formal diplomas. This engraved copper plate was used to print those first diplomas and many others after. The diplomas printed with this 11” x 8.25” plate featured a device that included the attributes of Minerva, the patroness of scientific warfare: a Grecian helmet with serpent, a Grecian round shield bearing the head of Medusa, a Grecian spear, and an olive branch. The Latin motto Ex Unitate Victoria means "unity leads to victory." The plate  also includes the reverse text “This is to certify that ____ has satisfactorily completed the course presented at the United States Naval War College for the year ____.”


Sample diploma printed in 1925 for Col. Frank E. Evans, USMC
Since that first ceremony, the graduation exercises have changed many times. Modern diplomas now feature the official Naval War College crest and specify the particular college the student is graduating from: the Naval Staff College, Naval Command College, the College of Naval Warfare, etc.) In 1970, civilian faculty began to wear their robes in an academic procession. In 1984, in honor of the institution’s 100th anniversary, the Naval War College Foundation presented a mace to the College. Carried by the most senior member of the faculty (the Faculty Marshal), the mace remains an integral part of the academic procession. Since the 1990s, the Naval War College has held graduations three times a year, in November, March, and June.  Also, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges accredited the Naval War College to award a Masters of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. This has allowed the College to award diplomas to international students who are not enrolled in the Masters Degree program.

The copper plate used for printing the original diplomas, along with other graduation memorabilia including the mace, sample diplomas, and an academic hood belonging to Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, are on display on the second deck of the Naval War College Museum.

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum                                    78.05.01

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Naval War College Library Globe, c. 1902

---Grace Christenson, Curatorial Assistant

This thirty-inch terrestrial library globe was made by William and Alexander Keith Johnston, Ltd. of Edinburgh, Scotland between 1902 and 1907. The two brothers started their first cartographic business in 1824 and their firm soon became one of the most prominent globe makers in Britain. They received several awards for their thirty-inch globes (the largest size they made) at the Great London Exposition of 1851, which featured many kinds of new advanced technology aimed at showcasing British industrial, military, and economic superiority.

Faculty and students of the Naval War College used the globe at its location in Mahan Hall which served as the College’s library from 1904 to 1976. In many ways, it is symbolic of the Naval War College’s mission and purpose. In a 1903 speech, Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce told an incoming class that the principal objective of the College was “the study of the Science and Art of War.” In that same speech, Luce also spoke about the importance of the College in the study of  peace and diplomacy but cautioned that, “he who waits for war to learn his profession often acquired his knowledge at a frightful cost of human life.” Luce told his audience that, “The game-board [for war], now, is the great globe itself.” This globe represents not only the importance of learning about and understanding the world geographically, it also represents the ever changing and political aspects of the world. Many of the national borders and names on this globe have since changed, and much of that is because of policies carried out by war, diplomacy, or other means. As the globe stood in the Mahan Hall Reading Room for several decades, one can easily imagine that many students have used it as a reference during their time here.

The Mahan Hall Library Reading Room, c.1940
On this particular globe there is a small label that reads “30 INCH TERRESTRIAL GLOBE BY W & A.K. JOHNSTON LIMITED. Geographers, Engravers, & Printers. EDINBURGH & LONDON.” Above these words is a symbol of the United Kingdom with a crowned lion and a unicorn on either side it. The globe not only depicts a highly detailed map of the world, but also charts the transatlantic cables and even the sites of some collisions. It is currently on display on the second deck of the Naval War College Museum with its original wooden stand.




Thursday, May 31, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Admiral R.A. Spruance's Distinguished Service Medal, 1942

---Grace Christenson, Curatorial Assistant


Admiral R.A. Spruance's USN Distinguished Service Medal
with two Gold Stars for subsequent awards

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Midway, one the most crucial American victories of World War II.  Admiral Raymond Ames Spruance, Task Force Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet during the battle, was awarded the U.S. Navy Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of his exemplary leadership.
Famed historian Samuel Eliot Morison called Admiral Spruance’s performance,  “superb,” describing him as “calm, collected, decisive, yet receptive to advice.”

In 1948, the Naval War College released a report which detailed the overwhelming importance of the battle and the many accomplishments of Admiral Spruance and his forces. The report called the battle, "an overwhelming American strategically and tactical victory," and stated that, "By destroying four of Japan’s finest aircraft carriers together with many of her best pilots it deprived the Japanese navy of a large and vital portion of her powerful carrier striking force.” The report concluded that the victory improved American morale, demoralized Japanese forces, removed threats to Hawaii and the West Coast, and halted the dominant Japanese offensive action from the first six months of the war.

Spruance graduated from the Naval War College in 1927 and later returned to serve on the faculty as the head of correspondence courses from 1932-1933.  He also directed tactics instruction for the junior class from 1935-1936, and for the senior class from 1936-1937.  After the war, on 1 March 1946, Spruance returned as the College’s twenty-sixth president.   He oversaw educational preparations for the Cold War era, laid the foundations for a broader curriculum, and helped establish the Naval War College Review. The museum holds an impressive collection of Spruance's medals, swords, and uniforms. The Distinguished Service Medal is currently on display in the College's Spruance Hall along with other artifacts related to Spruance's naval service.


Gift of Mrs. Margaret Dean Spruance                                                                                    70.04.02

Friday, May 25, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Admiral Luke McNamee Commemorative Rug

---Grace Christenson, Curatorial Assistant


On 29 May 1934 Rear Admiral Luke McNamee retired from active duty after forty-two years in the United States Navy.  McNamee graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1892 and rose to the rank of admiral while developing a long relationship with Newport and the Naval War College. He graduated from the college as a commander in 1916 and served on the staff  during Admiral William S. Sims’s presidency in 1917.  During the war, Sims became Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in European Waters and operations at the college were suspended. After serving on Admiral Sims’s Planning Staff in London, Captain McNamee returned to the college to serve in the tactics department. He directed revisions of instructional war gaming pamphlets to reflect the latest fleet practices, recent wartime experiences and the use of airplanes and submarines. He deepened his ties to region when he married the daughter of Newport native Rear Admiral William T. Swinburne.



PNWC Admiral Luke McNamee

McNamee was promoted to admiral when placed in command of the U.S. Fleet Battle Force in 1933. Later that year he was appointed President of the Naval War College and served in the position until his retirement from active duty. He died at Newport Naval Hospital in 1952 at 81 years of age.

The origin of the commemorative rug, embroidered with a red and gold eagle over the words, “COMMANDER IN CHIEF, ADMIRAL LUKE McNAMEE USN, For Remembrance” is unknown. It may possibly be in connection with his official service with the Battle Force. The rug was donated to the museum in 2011 as part of a large gift of books, scrapbooks, uniforms, and other items related to the careers of Admiral McNamee, Rear Admiral William T. Swinburne, and Rear Admiral William Fullam.

Gift of Alexandra de Koranyi                    2011.21.03

Images Courtesy of the Naval War College Museum
 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Portrait of Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry, 1911

---Grace Christenson, Curatorial Assistant


Throughout the Naval War College’s rich 128 year history, it has collected or commissioned portraits of all but ten of its presidents. In 1911, William S. Kendall painted this portrait of Rear Admiral Charles Stillman Sperry, who served as the Naval War College’s tenth president from 16 November 1903 to 24 May 1906 as a captain. Sperry later gave the oil on canvas to the college as a gift. The painting depicts Rear Admiral Sperry in 1908, during his time as the Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet. While many of the earlier portraits of college presidents were added to the collection as gifts, today the presidency of the Naval War College stands as one of only four commands in the U.S. Navy that have official commissioned portraits associated with the position. The other three positions are the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Superintendent of the Naval Academy.

Captain Sperry was appointed President of the Naval War College after successful competition of the Summer Course in 1903. Sperry served as president until 1906, at which time he was promoted to rear admiral. During his tenure, Sperry developed an extensive knowledge of international law. This knowledge served him well at his first flag assignments. He served as a delegate to the International Conference to Revise Rules for Treatment of Sick and Wounded in Geneva in 1906, and later as a delegate for the Second Hague Conference. Rear Admiral Sperry would also go on to command the Fourth Division of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet during the world cruise of the Great White Fleet.

The artist William Kendall, is perhaps best known for his portraits of women and children. His portrait of Sperry is currently on display in the museum art gallery.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: "Together We Win" Poster, c. 1917

---Grace Christenson, Curatorial Assistant


During a recent inventory project, the museum came across a small collection of World War I and World War II posters from the American and British home fronts. This particular poster, entitled “Together We Will Win,” is a World War I era poster issued by the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation. The  Emergency Fleet Corporation was an agency established to manage wartime merchant shipping after the United States declared war on Germany. James Montgomery Flagg painted the original scene of a seaman, civilian worker, and soldier walking arm-in-arm. Flagg is credited with creating nearly fifty other works to help support the home front war efforts during both World Wars. He is most famous for the iconic image of Uncle Sam in his  “I Want You for the U.S. Army” poster. 
Posters like this one were extremely effective during World War I and were therefore utilized again during World War II.  These posters were designed to unite the American people on the home front (irrespective of race, class, gender, or age) and help to coordinate efforts to sell war bonds, conserve food, build a labor force, and recruit for the armed forces. The posters shared common themes and ideas with propaganda used around the world, including the importance of patriotism in times of war, a need for sacrifice, and the idea that it was the duty of citizens to either become soldiers or serve in war-related jobs at home. The “Together We Will Win” poster illustrated the importance of both military and industrial wartime service and the need to unite these services in order to achieve victory.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Atlantic House Pitcher, c. 1860

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar


On May 8, 1861, the frigate USS Constitution entered Newport Harbor carrying the midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy.  During the opening weeks of the Civil War, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles authorized Superintendent George S. Blake to relocate the academy from Annapolis to Newport as the area had all of the attributes of a naval training installation and was safe from the threat of invasion. The school ships anchored off Goat Island, while the midshipmen occupied Fort Adams. Three months later the upperclassmen moved out of the fort's damp casemates to the luxurious Atlantic House Hotel located at the corner of Bellevue Avenue and Pelham Street opposite Newport's Touro Park.

The Greek Revival building was completed in 1844 when Newport was firmly set as resort town for the upper echelon of society. The hotel fell out of fashion by 1860 and was leased by the U.S. Navy. It provided a mess facility, administrative offices, classrooms, and quarters for upperclassmen. Amenities such as steam heating, and finely decorated wash pitchers like the one, pictured left, undoubtedly led underclassmen, called plebes, to dub the Atlantic House “Paradise,” while naming their classrooms and berths aboard USS Constitution, “Purgatory.”  
Constitution and USS Santee served as floating dormitories and classrooms for the incoming midshipmen. Predictably, the midshipmen preferred the accommodations at the hotel to the cramped conditions of a wooden sailing vessel. Park Benjamin, class of 1867, remembered, “Nothing could be more desolate than the outlook to the ‘plebe’ whose first experience brought him to these school-ships. During the day he sat and studied at one of the desks, long rows of which extended up and down the gun-deck, and occasionally marched ashore to the windy recitation rooms, where he contracted bad colds along with knowledge of arithmetic. The commissary department was always more or less out of gear, and the meals eaten in the blackness of the berth-deck by the light of a few ill-smelling oil lamps were wretched.”

Midshipmen pose with a Dahlgren boat howitzer
in front of the Atlantic Hotel, c. 1863.

Though confined to the hotel and nearby Touro Park for the majority of their time, the upperclassmen enjoyed Newport society while on liberty. Local families often invited faculty and students to dinners and social gatherings. Midshipmen were a fixture at regular band concerts and balls. The finely painted china pitcher, likely used by midshipmen to wash during their daily routines and before social functions, is currently on exhibit in the Early History of the Navy in Narragansett Bay Exhibit. Though the Atlantic House was demolished in 1877, this pitcher remains a witness to Newport's role in the naval history of the Civil War.


Some politicians and officers tried to permanently relocate the academy to Newport but classes resumed in Annapolis after the war.
 


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry A. Woods                                                                            P68.19.01

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Copper Spike from USS NEW HAMPSHIRE, c. 1820

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

In keeping with our recent blogs about USS New Hampshire (1864), the ship-of-the-line that served as an apprentice training ship at Newport from 1881-1891, we found another interesting artifact in the museum's collection.

The copper spike shown here was one of the many fasteners used in the construction of the USS Alabama (later renamed New Hampshire) at the Portsmouth Navy Yard from 1819 to 1825. The 9 ½ inch spike, stamped with the mark “US," is made by Revere and Sons Copper Company. The firm started by Paul Revere in Canton, Massachusetts, was awarded a contract to supply the United States Navy with copper spikes, sheeting and deck nails in 1816. Copper was considered the preferred metal for fasteners and fittings below the waterline due to its resistance to rust.

 On July 27, 1922, the USS Granite State (formerly USS New Hampshire), caught fire and sunk off the coast of Manchester, Massachusetts. After a destructive fire ended her long service with the New York State Naval Militia, Granite State was sold for salvage. The ship was en route from New York City to Eastport, Maine, when another fire sunk the vessel off the southwest corner of Graves Island. The wreck, a popular diving spot for many years, has yielded fasteners, timbers, and other items which now reside in museums and private collections.



Gift of Clifford Larsen                                                                                       2003.11.01

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: USS NEW HAMPSHIRE Stein, c. 1900

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer


Last week's blog post focused on the local street and field named for ship-of-the-line USS New Hampshire (1864). This week’s artifact spotlight is on a bone china drinking stein which is also a part of that ship's history. The stein is adorned with the crest of the First Naval Battalion New York Naval Militia. In 1893, after her service in Newport as the apprentice training ship ended, The U.S. Navy loaned New Hampshire to the New York State Naval Militia for use as an armory and training vessel. The ship was renamed Granite State and continued service to NY until she burned in 1921.

Manufactured by New York's Chittenango Pottery Company  between 1897 and 1904, the stein has a silver plate lid and was reportedly used in the wardroom.   Visitors can see the artifact currently on display in the museum's Training Station Exhibit.                                                                                              

Gift of Rear Admiral Louis A. Gillies               78.18.01

Monday, April 16, 2012

Education Update: A Naval Viewpoint on the Civil War

---John Kennedy, Director of Museum Education and Public Outreach


Dressed in his period uniform of a naval lieutenant, author Chuck Veit entertained the Eight Bells Lecture audience last Thursday, April 5, 2012. Mr. Veit is the president of the Navy & Marine Living History Association and has recently written a book A Dog Before a Soldier: Almost-lost Episodes in the U.S. Navy’s Civil War.

In his introduction, Mr. Veit faulted historians for ignoring the contributions by the U.S. Navy on the rivers and high seas and choosing instead to view the Civil War as a land war with a navy that played only a blockading role along the coast of the Confederacy. To illustrate his points, he gave specific examples of battles and referenced numerous primary and secondary sources to document his assertions. These documents included personal diaries, logbooks, newspaper stories, drawings, and legislative archives.

Coincidentally, the day of the lecture was at the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Shiloh. One hundred and fifty years ago on April 6-7, 1862, at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, the Union and Confederacy met and after two days there were 23,000 men killed, wounded, or missing. Up to that time, it was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. By war’s end, it would rank as the sixth bloodiest battle. Although a tactical win for the Union, the North bore the brunt of the casualties. Shiloh, which means “place of peace” in Hebrew, could have easily been a Confederate victory had it not been for the naval gunboats that shelled Confederate positions, pinning them down and thus allowing Union forces to bring fresh troops into position.

Malvern Hill, Hampton Roads, Fort Butler, and the capture of New Orleans are but a few of the examples cited in the book that support the author’s point of view, one shared by many of the senior army officers, most notably Ulysses S. Grant. The book is not to deny the sacrifice of the many men in the armies of the North and South, it is to bring out that the U.S. Navy played a more critical role in the Civil War than is generally recognized.

The next Eight Bells Lecture is scheduled for April 19 and will have Mike Matheny from the Army War College discussing his book Carrying the War to the Enemy: American Operational Art to 1945. For those interested in attending, please contact the Naval War College Museum at 841-2101 for reservations.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Naval Namesakes: Hampshire Drive

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer


Many streets, buildings, and institutions in Rhode Island are named to honor the Narragansett Bay area’s rich naval heritage. This regular feature to the museum’s blog provides a brief look at the people, places, and events behind the names.



USS New Hampshire (1864) Flagship of the Apprentice Training Squadron

Hampshire Drive on Naval Station Newport is named for the 74-gun ship-of-the-line USS New Hampshire.  The ship, originally named Alabama, was laid down at Portsmouth Naval Yard and completed for launch in 1825. Renamed New Hampshire, she was finally launched in April 1864 and commissioned for service during the Civil War.
Apprentice seamen marching towards South Point.
New Hampshire is moored at the end of the dock.
 In 1881 the USS New Hampshire became the flagship for Commodore Stephen B. Luce's Apprentice Training Program in Newport. Luce and others established an apprentice system to formally educate young boys and improve the overall quality of naval recruits.  The boys needed parental permission and criminals were not allowed to apply. New Hampshire, docked at “South Point” on Coasters Harbor Island, was the home of these boys for a six-month period before each was assigned to a training ship. In nearby buildings the teenagers were instructed in seamanship and gunnery as well as reading, writing, arithmetic, and history.

The street is not the only namesake of the old ship-of-the line at the naval station. In 1976 the base erected a small stone tablet at the corner of Knight Road and Porter Avenue (South of Hampshire Drive and north of South Point). The marker names the area New Hampshire Field. Now a parking lot, this section once served as a drill field for recruits, an athletic field, a barracks, and a swimming pool.

After being decommissioned in 1892, the New York State Naval Militia used the vessel as a training ship and renamed her Granite State. In 1921, she caught fire and sank in the Hudson River. The hull was sold as salvage in August 1921. While under tow to the Bay of Fundy, Granite State sunk once again off Half Way Rock located in Massachusetts Bay.

Street Sign Image by Christina Anderson
Images Courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Painting of USS SUPPLY

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

The museum is fortunate to have a very fine nineteenth century oil painting of USS Supply in the collection. In late 1846 the United States Navy purchased a ship-rigged sailing vessel for service in the Mexican-American War. That ship, the USS Supply, was commissioned in Boston on December 19, 1846.  During over three decades of service, the store ship supplied naval vessels and operations in the Gulf of Mexico, Middle East, Far East, West Africa, and the Mediterranean.




One of Supply's most notable missions occurred in 1853 when she served as Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s store ship on the expedition to open Japan. On July 8, 1853 the "black ships" of Perry’s expedition entered Toyko Bay changing the course of history for both nations. Just before the Civil War, Supply supported the operations of the United States Navy's African Squadron. During the war the vessel supplied blockading squadrons and even captured the Southern blockade runner Stephen Hart off Sarasota, Florida. The USS Supply was decommissioned April 23, 1879 in New York and sold five years later.

The oil on canvas was painted by W.R. May. Born in 1846, May served in the U.S. Navy and painted other vessels such as USS Franklin and the sloop-of war USS Portsmouth. His painting of Supply, possibly done in the 1870s, is currently on exhibit in the museum's art gallery. The work was orginally loaned for display at the Naval War College in 1956 but was gifted to the Naval War College Foundation in 1981.
Gift of John Sylvester Jr., Charles T. Sylvester, and Philip Yarnell                                               69.22.01

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Medals and Insignia of the First Female USN Master Chief Petty Officer

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

March is National Women’s History Month. Without a doubt, women have been an instrumental part of force readiness for every branch of service.  This week’s post honors a true trailblazer in naval and women's history: the first female Master Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy, Anna Der-Vartanian.

A native of Michigan, Der-Vartanian enlisted in the WAVES in 1943 during World War II.  After the war ended, she transitioned over to the regular Navy. Her duty stations included Naval Station San Francisco, Naval Air Training Command Pensacola, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and Pacific Fleet Public Information Office Pearl Harbor. From July 1959 to April 1960, Der-Vartanian served on staff at the Naval War College, where she coordinated preparations for the 1960 Global Strategy Discussions.

While at the college in December 1959, she was promoted from Senior Chief Petty Officer (E-8) to Master Chief Petty Officer (E-9). Der-Vartanian’s promotion made her not only the first female to achieve the rate of Master Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, but the highest ranking enlisted female in the United States military at that time. After YNCM Der-Vartanian's retirement in July 1963, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency as a counter-intelligence specialist. She passed away on 4 August 2011, just four years after her retirement from the CIA.


The shadow box shown here is a display of Anna Der-Vartanian’s twenty-year naval career. The box displays the rate insignias and medals she earned during her service. Below the master chief petty officer cap and collar device, are the insignias for senior chief petty officer and chief petty officer. The bottom row has her devices for first, second, and third class petty officer. Underneath the WAVE collar device are four medals (left to right): the USN Good Conduct Medal with four stars, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

The shadow box is currently on display as part of the museum's exhibit Sailors and Scholars: A History of the Naval War College . The box is displayed with the uniform of one of the first female captains in the U.S. Navy, Dorothy Council. The museum thanks the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the generous loan of the Der-Vartanian shadow box.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Yeomanette Photographs and Documents, c. 1919

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer


 Doris Conway and her brother Jack, c. 1918

In the middle of Women's History Month, today's blog post focuses on a watershed event in naval history: on 19 March 1917 the Navy Department authorized the enrollment of women in the United States Naval Reserve.  These were the first women since the establishment of the Navy nurse Corps in 1908 to serve. With an imminent declaration of war against Germany, naval shore installations had dire need for clerical positions. The Navy recruited women to serve as telephone operators, bookkeepers, accountants, typists, and stenographers, and drivers. Some women also served as electricians, camouflage designers, and photographers. Their service was critical to a large scale mobilization and to ultimate Allied victory.
Called Yeomanettes or Yeowomen,  their gender was officially indicated by placing an “F” after their rate, e.g. Y (F) 3c. Several hundred yeomanettes served at Newport. Many of them trained at the Yeoman school and served with the Supply Office of the Second Naval District. One woman to take advantage of the new opportunity of military service was twenty-one-year-old New Hampshire native, Doris Elizabeth Conway. Conway enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve Force on 20 May 1918 in Newport, RI.  She was promoted to Yeoman (F) first class and served with the Athletic and Amusement Department at Newport. Her trade was listed as "cashier." 

Letter authorizing Conway's
release from active duty.

 Like all of the yeomanettes, Doris Conway's service was not to last a full four years. Just prior to Armistice Day 1918, the Navy stopped enrolling women in the Naval Reserves. The following year, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels began to have female reservists reassigned as inactive. Not wishing to waste the valuable talents women reservists had brought to the Navy, Secretary Daniels had them transferred to similar civilian positions with the Department of the Navy.

 On 9 August 1919, Conway was released from active duty to assume a temporary civil service position as a clerk at the Naval Training Station. After her discharge on 20 May 1920, she was awarded the Victory Medal for her service is the World War.
Award Letter for Doris Conway's
Victory Medal

The official end of Yeoman (F) came by a special act signed by Secretary Daniels. The act cut enlistments so all female reservists would be discharged by 24 October 1920 though the last Yeoman (F) was discharged in March 1921. Over 11,000 served women served in the Navy from 1917-1921 and those that served in Newport remain a vital part of the naval history of Narragansett Bay.







Gifts of Mrs. Paula Craig                                                                                                                       86.20




Thursday, March 8, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: Battle of Hampton Roads Painting, 1981

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads. Although many naval engagements took place during the Civil War, this battle between the ironclad warships USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimack)  forever changed the manner in which naval vessels were designed and built.


On March 8, 1862, the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia sailed into Hampton Roads, Virginia with the James River Squadron.  Among the wooden blockaders of the United States North Atlantic Blockading Squadron were USS Cumberland,  USS Congress, and USS Minnesota. Virginia rammed Cumberland below the waterline, causing the wooden ship to sink rapidly. After forcing the surrender of USS Congress, the Confederate ironclad set fire to the Union frigate.  Minnesota then ran aground. The next day, Virginia returned to finish off the USS Minnesota but was met by the new ironclad USS Monitor. The two vessels pounded away at each other's armored plates. Though each would claim a victory, the battle was effectively a draw. Following the Battle of Hampton Roads, the Union Navy quickly built more "monitors" and put them into action. The days of the wooden hulled warship were at an end. The world's navies stepped up production of iron vessels which, with their revolving turrets, became forerunners of the modern battleships.
British maritime artist, Edward D. Walker commemorated the Battle of Hampton Roads in his 1981 oil painting. The turreted USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia dominate the foreground. The artist has enhanced the contrast of past and future by surrounding the revolutionary iron warships with the older wooden sailing and steam ships.

The Battle at Hampton Roads is currently on exhibit in "The Navy in Art" gallery at the Naval War College Museum.

Gift of Peter A. Brown to the Naval War College Foundation                                                          L2011.08.01

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Artifact Spotlight: USN Mailman 3/c Badge, c. 1944-1948

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

Mail service has always been an integral part of the United States military. In 1908 Congress authorized U.S. post offices on board naval vessels and the Navy established the rate of mail clerk.  In 1942, the Navy instituted the rate of Specialist—Mail  (Sp (M)) to deal with the challenges of increased mail delivery during World War II. These specialists often came from the civilian postal service and were assigned duties at stations but not vessels. One year later, the Navy established a training school for mail specialists. Recognizing the need for qualified individuals to handle mail, the Navy later created the new rate of mailman in September of 1944. This rate posed no limitation on service and thus a mailman could serve aboard ships. 


The Navy mailman shared many of the same responsibilities to their civilian counterparts. They  classified mail (first class, second class, domestic mail), prepared mail, and provided services such as return receipt, registered mail, airmail, special deliveries, and special handling. Mailmen sold stamps, sorted and examined mail, ordered mail supplies for sailors on board, and forwarded mail. One of their unique responsibilities was keeping a directory of all personnel aboard ship, those expected aboard, and those recently detached or transferred. On a ship with a fluctuating number of sailors on board at any given time, this was a large and ongoing responsibility.

The badge pictured is the rating badge of Mailman 3/c Jack O’Donnell.  The blue Petty Officer eagle is embroidered above an encircled “M” with four wavy lines representing a postal cancellation.

The mailman rating was utilized by the Navy from 1944 until 1948 when these duties were absorbed into the rate of teleman. The rate later changed to postal clerk in 1959. On 1 October, 2009, the rates of storekeeper and postal clerk were merged into one rate—logistics specialist.



Gift of Cheryl Moodie in memory of John (Jack) O’Donnell                                                                    2011.12.01