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This webpage reproduces a section of
Annapolis

by
W. D. Puleston


published by
D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc.
New York • London
1942

The text is in the public domain.

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This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p219  Appendix I

The Academy and Its Alumni

In May, 1940, a board of visitors to the Academy, consisting of three Senators, three Congressman, and six presidents of universities, colleges, and technical institutes, concluded its report with an expression of its "deep feeling of admiration for the fine work being done in every branch of activity, for the morale of midshipmen and officers, and for the spirit of devotion to the Service which is so marked." The board believed that "Every citizen should have a feeling of pride in this great national institution." Every member of the board signed this report. One member, a Congressman noted for his sincere interest in the Navy and convinced that the United States of America has "the finest Navy in the world and by far the finest corps of commissioned officers of any navy," recommended that the Academy be turned into a "technical training school." He would require midshipmen to complete their "academic education" before they entered the Academy. He believed that the midshipmen enter too young to have absorbed "the civilian point of view of our great democracy." Without knowing it, he was offering the essential reason for midshipmen entering the Navy early, for they must absorb the point of view of the Navy in their formative years.

The report of the board is gratifying, but the Naval Academy must be judged by the records of its alumni, not by its good intentions, its efficient organization, its well-equipped buildings, and its attractive grounds. The records of some of its alumni will be offered, commencing with those who left the Navy after graduation.

During the naval stagnation between 1868 and 1898, Academy  p220 graduates were encouraged to resign. In 1882, graduates about to complete the six years' course were legislated out of the Navy. But even under normal conditions a few graduates resign each year. Some leave for physical reasons, usually defective eyesight; others become restless at the repetitious drills and slow promotion; others do not find naval life congenial and are not happy at sea. Some resign because of peculiar talents which can not be developed advantageously in the Navy.

Among the first to go and the most successful in private life were Robert M. Thompson, 1868, and Edward J. Berwind, 1869. A. A. Michelson, 1871, who measured the velocity of light, could not find an adequate outlet for his natural genius in the service. He was the Academy's greatest contribution to the scientific world. William H. Stayton, 1881, after serving in the Judge Advocate General's office, resigned and became a leading admiralty lawyer.1 During his presidency of the Alumni Association, Captain "Bill" endeared himself to old and young graduates alike.

After a successful business career, J. W. Weeks, 1881, served in the House and the Senate and as Secretary of War. Curtis D. Wilbur, 1888, became Secretary of the Navy. O. E. Weller, 1881, served in the Senate from Maryland, and R. B. Howell, 1885, from Nebraska. J. B. Robinson, 1868, Richmond P. Hobson, 1889, and E. V. M. Isaacs, 1915, served in the House. V. S. Houston, 1897, and S. W. King, 1910, served as delegates from Hawaii, L. C. Stark, 1908, as governor of Missouri. After serving as Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral W. D. Leahy,  p221 1897, was appointed Governor of Puerto Rico and later Ambassador to the Vichy government in France.

The Academy has produced a number of presidents of universities or technical institutions — C. H. Stockton, 1865; ira N. Hollis, 1878; G. H. Rock, 1889; Ralph Earle, 1896; W. T. Cluverius, 1896, and the following distinguished deans: M. E. Cooley, 1878; H. W. Spangler, 1878; W. F. Durand, 1880; Jerome Hunsaker, 1908. Winston Churchill, 1894, is the Academy's best-known novelist. Cyrus T. Brady, 1883 and E. L. Beach, 1888, wrote popular juvenile books. Admiral William L. Rodgers, 1878, Dudley W. Knox, 1896, Fitzhugh Green, 1909 and Holloway Frost, 1910, have well-deserved reputations as naval historians. Thanks to the U. S. Naval Institute, there are numerous Academy graduates with sufficient literary skill to develop a professional thesis in a style that any reader can understand.

A large group of graduates entered the ship-building and allied industries and contributed directly to creating the heavy industries in the United States without which a modern fleet can not be constructed. The research of W. L. R. Emmett, 1881, in electrical engineering made possible the engineering plants of the Lexington and Saratoga. F. T. Bowles, 1879, Lewis Nixon, 1882, Lawrence Spear, 1890, H. G. Smith, 1891, H. L. Ferguson, 1892, Gregory Davidson, 1892, W. G. Groesbeck, 1895, R. H. Robinson, 1896, J. W. Powell, 1897, Roger Williams, 1901, and R. E. Gillmor, 1907, have been associated with the construction of every type of ship and all naval equipment, including battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and submarines.

Graduates contributed largely to the creation of the Naval Militia. Among the pioneers in this movement were J. S. W. Miller, 1867; M. K. Eyre, 1880; J. W. Weeks, R. P. Forshew, Gilbert Wilkes, W. H. Stayton, Macdonough Craven, E. H. Harrison, and E. M. Harmon of 1881; W. B. Duncan, 1882; S. D. Greene, Jr. and J. H. Barnard, 1883; C. C. Poe, 1885; George Breed, 1886; Irving Blount, 1891; E. T. Fitzgerald,  p222 1896. Later graduates continued the same interest in the organization of Naval Reserve divisions. The Navy Department knows from experience that the services of any graduate of the Academy in civil life are at its disposal.

After being chiefs of bureaus, Rear Admiral H. I. Cone, 1894, and L. C. Palmer, 1896, became heads of the Shipping Board, and E. S. Land, 1902, became Chairman of the Maritime Commission. Edward McCauley, Jr., 1896, and H. L. Vickery, 1915, are also members of the Commission. George Wolfe, 1913, is president of a private shipping company. Other alumni have served with the Merchant Marine and have helped to maintain a close liaison with the Navy.

Graduates generally do well in industrial establishments, and Mr. Beach, the manager of the personnel of the Dupont Company of Delaware, wrote that Academy graduates "present a better front to the employer than the graduates of any other institution. They are poised, confident, assured and courteous; they have an attitude of definite purpose which is a prized asset to a man in any walk of life." Year after year, Mr. Beach had interviewed Academy graduates who, for various reasons, were leaving the service. He stated: "The naval authorities take men from the Kansas plains, the fishing ports of New England, the ranches of Texas, who represent all shades of economic security, and yet when the job is complete each young man lives up to the ideal of the Naval Academy in producing men of whom it can be said that they are officers and gentlemen."

It is evident that a good number of Academy graduates have succeeded in civil life. Some have not done well, which is not surprising, for the training at the Academy is designed to prepare midshipmen for service as junior officers in the Navy. But if every individual graduate leaving the Navy had gone to the top of his chosen profession, it would not justify the existence of the Academy. Has it produced and maintained a homogeneous, proficient corps of officers, capable of creating,  p223 maintaining, and fighting American fleets? Has it produced leaders receptive to new ideas and fit to command fleets during war? Unless these questions can be answered affirmatively, the Academy, at least in part, has failed.

In the middle eighties, Academy graduates who had taken the full four-year course, began to take charge of the Navy. Since that time, every important position in the Navy Department, the shore establishments, and the Fleet has been in the hands of graduates of the Naval Academy, except in the staff bureaus such as Medicine and Surgery, and Supplies and Accounts. No other school in the world has had such complete control of a navy.2 The Academy has had a practical monopoly on line officers in the Navy and the naval constructors,3 and has supplied many officers to the Marine Corps. These officers, except in the matter of appropriations, have had practical command of the entire Navy establishment.

Richard Gatewood and F. T. Bowles, Cadet Engineers, class of 1879, entered the Construction Corps after taking a postgraduate course in Scotland. J. L. Schock, J. J. Woodward, J. H. Linnard, all of 1881, and Lewis Nixon, 1882, followed. Since that date, graduates of the Academy have supplied practically all naval constructors, who have been in charge of the design and construction of the hulls of men-of‑war. Similarly, graduates who have subsequently specialized in gunnery and engineering have been responsible for the design of armor, armament, and engines. In a progressive art like ship-building there is always serious difference of opinion. The designs of our ships have been severely criticized, sometimes justly, and most often by line officers who are called upon to fight the ships. Undoubtedly many errors have been made, but on the whole American ships will compare favorably with all contemporary foreign ships. The design of the original Indiana  p224 class of battleships with four 13‑inch guns and eight 8‑inch guns was superior to any of its period.

Chief Constructor D. W. Taylor, 1885, was a pioneer in the development of "model tanks" in which resistance of various models to propulsion through the water could be tested. Admiral Taylor's experiments did much to develop the art of ship-building, and his model tanks suggested the development of wind tunnels in use by the Navy, Army, and civil designers of aircraft. Jerome C. Hunsaker, 1908, is a leading aircraft designer. Similarly, C. W. Dyson, 1883, devoted much of his life to the design of ship propellers, and designers in the Bureau of Engineering have continually improved the main and auxiliary engines and boilers. Like the constructors, they have made errors, but progress can be achieved only by trial and error.

W. N. Jeffers, 1840, the fourth midshipman to graduate from Annapolis, was the first graduate to become Chief of Ordnance, serving from 1873 to 1881. Among many able successors were W. T. Sampson, 1861, W. M. Folger, 1864, Joseph Strauss, 1885, N. C. Twining, 1889, and Ralph Earle, 1896. Obviously the success of the Bureau of Ordnance will depend in large measure upon the efficiency of heavy industry, particularly steel-making. In the early eighties, the steel industry in the United States was unequal to the task, and only gradually did it develop to the point where steel for guns and shells was equal to the demands of ordnance designers. John F. Meigs, 1867, served in the Navy until 1891, mainly in developing ordnance, and then resigned to enter a steel company to improve the steel necessary for naval ordnance. In designing breech mechanisms, telescopic sights, range-finders, and fire-control gear, Academy graduates, including B. A. Fiske, 1874, R. B. Dashiell, 1881, F. F. Fletcher, 1885, F. C. Martin, 1902, G. S. Schuyler, 1906, and W. H. P. Blandy, 1913, took leading parts.

Continual improvement in guns, projectiles, and sights increased the practicable battle ranges, and W. S. Sims, 1880,  p225 led in improvising gunnery methods afloat. President Theodore Roosevelt took a personal interest in the target practice, and with his support Sims revolutionized the gunnery methods and standards of the Navy. Sims was assisted by all the battery officers and many of the senior officers including C. P. Plunkett, 1884, Ridley McLean, 1894, L. C. Palmer, 1896, and T. T. Craven, 1896. Simultaneously the designs of torpedoes and mines were improved, and during the World War, the mine field stretching from Scotland to Norway, laid by Rear Admiral Joseph Strauss, a former Chief of Ordnance, was a material contribution to the defeat of the submarine.

No graduates of the Academy entered the Marine Corps prior to 1883, when nine graduates, including W. H. Stayton, C. A. Doyen, Lincoln Karmany, and George Barnett, who was its commandant during the World War, entered the Corps. The Marine Corps had already established its own high tradition and code of conduct, somewhat different from that of the line, but just as lofty and severe. Academy graduates have generally done well in the Marines, and J. A. Lejeune, 1888, was an outstanding commander of an Army division on the Western Front. Had the war continued, he would have been entrusted with larger formations.

What of the Navy High Command? During the Spanish-American War, the Navy, which was not organized for war, did not face a formidable enemy. The naval strategy of the West Indies and the Caribbean had been studied at the Naval War College under Rear Admiral Luce and Captain Mahan. There was general competence among the commissioned personnel, and some preparation, including extra target practice which had been made possible through the personal intervention of Assistant Secretary Theodore Roosevelt. Luckily, Assistant Secretary Roosevelt and Captain A. T. Mahan were friends, and they were in close touch during the year preceding the Spanish-American War. Before he left to command the Rough Riders, Secretary Roosevelt had been made Chairman of the Naval Strategy Board, which consisted of himself,  p226 Rear Admiral Sicard, class of 1855, A. S. Crowninshield, 1863, and later A. T. Mahan, 1859. This Board, under Secretary Long, directed the naval operations of the war. Practically all the alumni who had gone into civil life volunteered, and many of them were called into service during this short war. In Manila Bay, Admiral Dewey, and off Santiago, Admiral Sampson, showed that Academy graduates were still equal to the responsibilities of high naval command.

Subsequent to the Spanish-American War, in both the Filipino and the Boxer insurrections, naval commanders showed their ability to meet new and unexpected situations. Rear Admiral Bowman H. McCalla displayed rare resolution in the relief of Peking. His determination to proceed to the aid of the beleaguered garrison had much to do with the success of the operation. Among Sampson's captains at Santiago were F. E. Chadwick, 1864, who after his retirement wrote the only comprehensive history of that war;a C. E. Clark, 1863, who brought the Oregon from the Pacific; R. D. (Bob) Evans, 1863, who subsequently commanded the Atlantic Fleet on the first leg of its cruise around the world; and H. C. Taylor, 1863, who, next to Luce and Mahan, had most to do with the preservation of the War College. As Chief of Bureau of Navigation, Taylor did his utmost to establish a naval general staff, and did much to achieve Mahan's plan of concentrating all the battleships in one fleet, the Atlantic.4

Before the Atlantic Fleet reached California, Rear Admiral Evans was detached on account of illness. Rear Admiral C. M. Thomas, 1865, who became Commander-in‑Chief, died suddenly at Del Monte, and Rear Admiral C. S. Sperry, 1866, who succeeded Admiral Thomas, took command and completed the world cruise on schedule. When the fleet reached Hampton Roads in February, 1909, it was in better material condition than when it left; its personnel was better prepared for  p227 battle. The fleet lacked cruisers, but in battleships and destroyers it was second only to Great Britain.

During the First World War, Admiral W. S. Benson, 1877, Chief of Naval Operations, directed the activities of the Navy. Admiral H. T. Mayo, 1876, was Commander-in‑Chief of the Atlantic Fleet; Admiral W. S. Sims, 1880, was Commander of the Naval Forces in Europe. Admiral A. M. Knight, 1873, was Commander-in‑Chief of the United States Asiatic Fleet. All these officers had important and exacting duties which they ably performed. The three flag officers who saw the most active duty were Hugh Rodman, 1880, commanding the 6th Battle Squadron (American battleships) in the Grand Fleet, Joseph Strauss, 1885, who laid and recovered the gigantic mine field in the North Sea; and C. P. Plunkett, 1884, who commanded the 14‑inch naval railway battery in France, its long range enabling Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Pershing to attack the German main line of railway communications at Montmédy in October, 1918. These three entirely different tasks required resolution, judgment, and versatility. Admirals Rodman, Strauss, and Plunkett met every test. Admirals Wilson at Brest, Niblack at Gibraltar, Mark Bristol in the Adriatic and at Constantinople, and N. A. McCully in Russia and the Black Sea proved their professional fitness by directing the forces operating in their area. The performances of flag officers, from Admiral Benson down, showed that in spite of their long stagnation in the lower ranks, they had not lost their professional competence.

Among Rodman's captains in the North Sea were included C. F. Hughes, 1888, H. A. Wiley, 1888, and L. R. de Steiguer, 1889, all of whom subsequently commanded fleets. They brought to the fleets all the experienced gained in the North Sea.

The younger officers saw more active duty; the destroyers were commanded by the classes of 1898 through 1912. There was a uniformly high standard of performance of duty from the time Commander J. K. Taussig, 1899, reported "Ready now" to Admiral Bayly at Queenstown, until the armistice.b  p228 Lieutenant Commander H. R. Stark (now Admiral Stark, Chief of Naval Operations) brought a division of small coal-burning destroyers from Manila to Gibraltar. This operation, involving extreme logistical difficulties, was scarcely known outside naval circles.5

American submarine commanders in the war zone met the severest test of any officer personnel. Engaged in stalking German U‑boats, they were often attacked by their own forces. They proved their skill and courage from the moment they entered the war zone.

A naval aviation unit was established at Dunkirk a few miles from the German lines. Its members patrolled the English Channel in their slow planes, despite the immediate proximity of German fighters. Other aviation units were established in England and France under direction of Admiral Hutch Cone and T. T. Craven and Captain David Hanrahan.

During the First World War, officers ashore at navy yards and in the Department worked ceaselessly to provide the ships and stores. Their names are rarely known except to some curious naval student who reads them in the roster of various offices, or scans their portraits in the offices where they worked. Two officers must be mentioned, Admiral E. W. Eberle and Captain William H. Standley, Superintendent and Commandant at the Naval Academy, who trained the reserve ensigns at Annapolis and who proved the practicability of the Naval R. O. T. C. system.

Since the First World War, the commissioned personnel has faced a different situation. There was the customary hasty demobilization which navy morale enabled the service to surmount. Then followed an era when Americans convinced themselves there would be no more war. The Navy Department could not prevent the Navy's being reduced, but senior naval officers proved their loyalty to the nation by protesting  p229 cuts in appropriations, by pointing to the growth of the Japanese Navy and Japan's disregard of American rights in the Far East, and by opposing provisions of the Naval Limitations Treaty, although they knew such opposition meant the disfavor of the administration. Officers unselfishly sacrificed their professional careers in defense of the service.

Reducing the Navy and neglecting the fortifications in the Far East increased the difficulties of the Commander-in‑Chief of the Asiatic Fleet in protecting American interests in face of Japanese encroachments. Tension rose to a temporary climax from 1937 to 1940, when Admiral Harry E. Yarnell was Commander-in‑Chief, becoming acute when the American gunboat Panay was bombed in daylight during high visibility. Admiral Yarnell refused to withdraw American gunboats from the Yangtse River, with the brief statement that his ships were there to protect the lives and property of Americans in peril. The career of Admiral Yarnell proves that the Academy still produces that best of all combinations, a commander-in‑chief of sound judgment and resolute courage.

Have naval officers been receptive to the submarine and airplane? Commander H. H. Caldwell, 1891, commanded our first modern submarine in 1902, followed closely by Lieutenant-Commander C. P. Nelson, 1898. Other early entrants in the service included D. C. Bingham, 1902, Ralph Koch, 1903, and C. W. Nimitz, W. L. Friedell, Kenneth Whiting, and T. G. Ellyson, all of 1905. Both Whiting and Ellyson subsequently pioneered in aviation. C. R. Hyatt, 1907, A. S. Carpender, 1908, G. A. Rood, 1911, C. A. Lockwood, 1912, and Sherwood Picking, 1911, were among the early submarine commanders, along with Arnold Marcus, 1913, who gave his life in a vain endeavor to rescue one of his men during an explosion aboard A‑7 at Manila Bay. Picking was especially selected to command the V‑1, the first American 3,000‑ton submarine. By 1916 the submarine service had reached the stage where it was made a separate unit under Rear Admiral A. W. Grant.

 p230  Officers and men in the submarines perform their duties with the knowledge that a mistake on the part of one individual will submerge their craft beyond the depths for which its hull is designed, probably with fatal results. Kenneth Whiting had himself fired from a torpedo tube to test the practicability of escape from a sunken submarine. His experiment was carried on by others. C. B. Momsen, 1920, invented the "lung," and A. R. McCann, 1917, invented and developed the "rescue chamber." The submarine service has developed an auxiliary service of deep‑sea divers whose personnel have the same high courage of submarine crews. The salvage of the Squalus off Portsmouth, New Hampshire under the direction of Rear Admiral C. W. Cole, 1899, was possible only after years of patient experiment and training had developed both the rescue apparatus and the personnel. Unfortunate as the accidents to our submarines have been, they afford proof of the continued discipline, resourcefulness, and determined courage of the present-day Navy personnel.

A long list of naval aviators, headed by Admiral W. A. Moffett, class of 1891, T. G. Ellyson, 1905, John Rodgers, 1901, and Zachary Lansdowne, 1909, have given their lives to develop naval aviation. A longer list of naval aviators carries on under Rear Admiral J. H. Towers, 1906, pioneer aviator and now Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. Among Towers' predecessors was Admiral E. J. King, now Commander-in‑Chief of the United States Fleet and a qualified naval aviator. Naval aviators are flying faster and higher, and their planes are carrying greater loads. They are subjecting the new weapon to the same control they exercised over old weapons, fitting the new arm into the Fleet and also preparing it for independent missions far from the support of the Fleet.6

 p231  Under the progressive leadership of Rear Admiral W. A. Moffett, the Bureau of Aeronautics developed the aircraft carriers and perfected the catapults which made it practicable to launch planes from surface men-of‑war. Simultaneously the Navy's flying boats were improved until they were capable of operating independently and at a great distance from the main body of the fleet; this naval arm is prepared for distant scouting, to attack with torpedoes, or to serve as long-range bombers. Rear Admiral A. W. Johnson, 1899, was a pioneer in the flying boats. At the limitation conference in London, Admiral Moffett had great difficulty in preventing disarmament enthusiasts from scrapping American aircraft carriers; Moffett's leadership preserved for the Navy one arm, aviation, in which it had definitely established its superiority. He sponsored the first flight across the Atlantic, successfully accomplished by A. C. Read, 1906, and a flight over the North Pole, eventually accomplished by one of his aides, Rear Admiral R. E. (Dickie) Byrd, 1912. Moffett spurred his aviators to greater feats: he shared their dangers and, like many other naval aviators, gave his life to develop this naval arm.

The development of naval aviation necessitated more accurate predictions of the weather. The Navy Department continued the work begun at Blue Hills Observatory during the war, by giving specially selected junior officers a two‑year course in aërology. Graduates of this school serve in major aviation units of the fleets, and on the staffs of fleet commanders. Aërology is in its infancy. Naval aërologists maintain liaison with the scientists in the Weather Bureau and at technical schools and universities. The combined efforts of these scientific groups have added to the safety of flying over land and sea.

The record proves that the Navy has integrated submarines and aircraft into the fleets. Moreover, the adaptation of new weapons to the needs of the fleets has not been made at the expense of the efficiency of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. Officers on battleships increased the accuracy and rate of fire  p232 of their turrets and anti-destroyer batteries, developed anti-aircraft batteries, and, using their own aircraft to spot, extended the range of their guns to greater distances. Destroyer officers developed anti-submarine tactics and added anti‑aircraft guns to their batteries. Cruiser officers solved the problems of battleships and destroyers and prepared themselves to link the battle line and the destroyers. The High Command modified all former tactical concepts to allow for the new weapons, and maintained a judicious attitude between the extremists who would entrust the safety of the country to an untried weapon and the conservatives who would put entire faith in the old.

The only conclusive test that can be applied to the personnel of any navy is the test of battle against a well-trained enemy of about the same strength. It is impossible to say just how well the American Navy would emerge from such a contest. This can be said: American officers, from commanders-in‑chief to the lastest ensigns who have joined, have spared themselves no labor. The same endless drills that commenced in the first American squadron in the Mediterranean continue to this day in the fleets. There is only one danger, and that is somewhat remote: that the personnel will become overtrained and stale.

In addition to providing leaders, the Naval Academy must continue to produce junior officers capable of taking their places in ever larger and more complex fleets. Can it meet these increased requirements? The following evidence can be submitted by the writer. As a midshipman, he knew the classes of 1899 through 1905; he knew the classes of 1909, 1910, and 1911 as an instructor at the Academy; and he knew the class of 1922 as executive officer on board the Wyoming and the classes of 1933 and 1934 as captain on the Mississippi. From this experience he is convinced that the Classes of 1909, 1910, and 1911 were better prepared on leaving the Academy for their duties in the Fleet than was his own class of 1902; that 1922 was better prepared than 1909, 1910, and 1911; and that  p233 1933 and 1934 were better prepared than 1922. He believes the Academy accomplished this improvement because during the past forty years it has been more and more closely linked with the fleets. Its Superintendents and all its officers came from the fleets; they realize what the midshipmen need to know to become efficient junior officers. At the Academy the officers are assisted by a loyal and efficient group of civilian instructors. The continuous improvement in the preparations of midshipmen for their duties afloat is not a happy accident; it has resulted from the determination of the officers and instructors at the Academy to develop efficient junior officers for the fleets. It is their exclusiveness of purpose, their dedication of the Academy to the fleets, which have made this gratifying result possible.

In estimating the success of the Academy in meeting its responsibilities to the nation, the careers of some of its more distinguished graduates have been submitted in evidence. Another writer unquestionably would offer a different and perhaps a more representative list. Those submitted are sufficient to support the author's conviction that the Academy has not failed the Navy or the nation. It was difficult to close the list. Names of other splendid officers crowded the memory and justly demanded inclusion. Only limitations of space excluded them. The feeling of regret that exact justice could not be done to all graduates is tempered with pride that Academy alumni average high, and with confidence that the Navy could depend, for the present at least, on the general competence that has prevailed among its fleets ever since the Caribbean and Mediterranean squadrons were organized by Truxtun and Preble.

The host of capable officers who daily perform their allotted tasks, who can be depended upon for their utmost exertions in fair weather and foul, make the feats of Farragut, Pope, Sampson, and Dewey possible. These unknown sons of the Academy are her greatest glory.

In a measure, all that can be asked of the Academy is to  p234 provide a uniformly excellent corps of officers. But it could do still more. Every regular establishment tends to become a machine; even though the highest models are used, all our officers should not be fitted into the same mold. Leave enough flexibility in the Academy organization to let the unusual through; authorize the Superintendent to pass an exceptional midshipman, who can't quite obtain the sacred 2.5 or meet all the requirements. Remember that the Academy dropped Cushing for academic deficiencies and for spilling a pail of water on an instructor, and "bilged" John Rodgers out of the class of 1901. The Naval Academy need not fire another Cushing or Rodgers to assure a steady supply of highly competent junior officers to the Fleet.

In 1845 the Naval School was endowed with the heritage of the Old Navy. It could not live on ancient glories alone. It has been continually enriched by successive generations of high-spirited American youths who enter the Academy, the cradle of the Navy, with the resolve that they will equal or excel the splendid records of their predecessors. The Academy does much for its sons, but it has received more from them. The Academy can give professional instruction; it can inspire aspiring sons to merge their own fame in the greater glory of the Navy. But all the trophies in Memorial Hall will not evoke a single noble impulse in an unresponsive youth. The Academy can not put heart into the mean or the ignoble. Fortunately for the nation, its battleships, cruisers, destroyers, submarines, aircraft, and tiny mosquito fleets to‑day attract the same high-spirited, adventurous type of young Americans as those who went to sea with John Paul Jones, Thomas Truxtun, and Edward Preble. May they ever continue to do so!


The Author's Notes:

1 Captain Stayton married Annie H. Henderson, a lineal descendant of Commodore Truxtun. During the World War one of their three sons volunteered for the Army, one for the Navy, and one for the Marine Corps. In addition to being represented in the regular service by Captain T. T. Craven, U. S. N. and other descendants, Commodore Truxtun was represented by three volunteers.

Captain "Bill's" successor as President of the Alumni Association was E. J. Sadler, 1899, who successfully prospected for oil in all parts of the world, and also improved the processes of distillation. Sadler strengthened the position of the United States in the international struggle for oil and thus assisted its oil‑burning Navy.

[decorative delimiter]

2 In the absence of a naval general staff, it is possible for chiefs of material bureaus to obstruct Departmental action. But if the Chief of Naval Operations is supported by the Secretary of the Navy, obstructionists can be compelled to coöperate or resign.

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3 The constructors were recently amalgamated with the line officers.

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4 The United States Navy was the first modern navy to realize the advantage of concentration. President Theodore Roosevelt approved the recommendation of Mahan and Taylor.

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5 Naval Academy officers serving in destroyers received a welcome reinforcement from the reserve ensigns and junior lieutenants; many of the reserves also commanded sub‑chasers.

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6 Academy graduates have called in large numbers of aviation cadets from civil life who, like the reserve ensigns, are trained with the Navy and have been indoctrinated with naval methods and spirit. They soon earn their places in naval aviation and are in­distinguishable from their air‑mates from Annapolis, except that they are not available for general duty with the Fleet.


Thayer's Notes:

a French Ensor Chadwick, The Relations of the United States and Spain — The Spanish-American War: Vol. I Vol. II.

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b C. S. Alden and Ralph Earle, Makers of Naval Tradition, p300.


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