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Bill Thayer

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Annapolis
Gangway to the Quarterdeck
by
Captain W. D. Puleston, U. S. Navy

The Author

William Dilworth Puleston (1881‑1968), USNA 1902, was a career naval officer who wrote several books on naval history, the best-known of which is The Life and Work of Alfred Thayer Mahan (1939). He received the Navy Cross for valor in the North Sea minefields in World War I; in the 1930s he became Director of Naval Intelligence, his work apparently focusing on China and Japan — to the extent that anything is ever really known about spook work: see the rather detailed article "A US Naval Intelligence Mission to China in the 1930s" on the website of the Central Intelligence Agency — and was recalled to active service to work on economic warfare in World War II.

 p. vii 
Introduction

When the eyes of the entire nation are centered on its fighting services, the publication of a book recording the history of the Naval Academy is particularly timely. For the Naval Academy is the veritable cradle of the Navy, and has been so for nearly one hundred years. The author, a Naval Academy graduate, Class of 1902, reveals a deep affection for his Alma Mater and a genuine devotion to the naval service.

In his early chapters he describes the methods employed in training and educating midshipmen before the Naval Academy was founded in 1845. He shows how opposition to a naval school ashore was gradually over­come and how the achievements of its graduates in both war and peace endeared the Academy to the country. Some of the Academy's out­standing graduates who have distinguished themselves in the service and in civil life have been singled out for special mention, but the author considers the unknown sons of the Academy to be her greatest glory.

Captain Puleston performs a distinct service to the Navy by correcting an impression which has long prevalent and which has been fostered by responsible writers. That is the idea that ranking officers in our early Navy opposed the education of its junior officers. The leading officers of the old Navy, including such redoubtable characters as John Paul Jones, Thomas Truxtun, and Edward Preble, vigorously urged the adoption of some regular system of  p. viii education for its young officers. They differed only as to the means to be employed. The proponents of a naval school ashore won out. Captain Puleston explains how this was accomplished and how the Naval Academy, from small beginnings, developed into the modern institution of the present day.

John R. Beardall
Rear Admiral, United States Navy
Superintendent, United States Naval Academy

Contents

Page

Introduction, by Rear Admiral John R. Beardall, Superintendent, United States Naval Academy

vii

Foreword

ix

Chapter

Genealogy of the Naval Academy

1

Colonial Midshipmen

5

The First Midshipmen of the United States Navy

11

Early Education of Midshipmen

24

The Navy without a Naval Academy

32

Evolution of the Naval Academy

48

Midshipmen Practice Cruises

70

From the Mexican War to the Civil War

88

The Period of Naval Stagnation

102

The Naval Renaissance

117

The Hub of the Navy's Educational System

127

Buildings, Grounds, and Daily Routine

134

Academics and Athletics

154

Extracurricular Activities

176

How to Enter and Graduate

192
212

Appendices

The Academy and Its Alumni

219

Superintendents of the Naval Academy

235

Glossary: Current Naval Academy Slang

237

Now You Know That

242

Illustrations

The ensign has crossed the gangway to the quarterdeck

frontispiece

Four early American naval commanders

14

George Bancroft

50

Four members of the first Academic Board, 1845‑46

56

Commander Franklin Buchanan, first Superintendent of the Naval Academy

62

The U. S. sloop-of‑war Preble, first Naval Academy practice ship

80

Naval Academy practice ships Santee, Constitution, and John Adams

80

A bird's eye view of Annapolis in the late 1850's

90

First Class midshipmen on the deck of the U. S. S. Constellation, 1885

112

The United States Naval Academy, 1942

136

"Tecumseh," bronze replica of the figurehead of the Delaware

142

The "steady study method" enables plebes to prepare themselves for daily recitations

158

Examinations are as much a part of the academic system to‑day as they were in 1846

158

After preliminary instruction with rifles, midshipmen begin the marksman course on the rifle range

168

Broadside drill in the gun shed overlooking the bay is a preliminary to operating the turret guns aboard ship

168

Jackstay drill — practice in "knotting and splicing"

178

Boat drill is an important part of the plebe's summer curriculum

178

Youngsters measuring the altitude of the sun with sextants

194

Signal drill

194

Second Classmen operating generators in Marine Engineering laboratory

194

Midshipmen boarding motor launches to embark in battleships for the summer cruise

206

Regular and reserve ensigns distinguished themselves on sister ships to this destroyer at Pearl Harbor

214

Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here was the first edition; there may have been subsequent reprints or revised editions. It is in the public domain because the copyright (© 1942 by the author) was not renewed in 1969‑1970 as then required by law; details here on the copyright law involved.

Illustrations

All the illustrations in the printed edition are in black-and‑white: in keeping with my usual practice in other parts of my American Naval History subsite, I've colorized them to shades of navy blue, but have made no other changes. As can be seen from the table above, in the printed edition these illustrations are tipped in, singly or in groups, on photographic stock at appropriate places in the text. Not being limited by the constraints of print, I've moved some of them a little.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

Proofreading

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree; a red background would mean that the page had not been proofread. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was very well proofread. The inevitable typographical errors were few, and all trivial: I marked them with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, glide your cursor over bullets before measurements: they provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑sic‑‑> in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked. They are also few.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.



[image ALT: A photograph of a large group of low buildings by the shore of a body of water and behind several rectangular sea basins. It is an aerial view of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'Annapolis — Gangway to the Quarterdeck' by W. D. Puleston.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is the photograph of the Academy in 1942, the year this book was published, found facing p136 of the print edition.


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