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Bill Thayer

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The United States Navy
Rear-Admiral Thomas P. Magruder
U. S. N.

Illustrated with Official Photographs
from the Navy Department

The Book and the Author

Thomas Pickett Magruder was born in Yazoo County, MS on November 29, 1867, graduated from the Naval Academy in the Class of 1889, and was commissioned Ensign in July, 1891. He was cited for gallantry as a cutter commander at Cienfuegos, Cuba in the Spanish-American War, commanded the naval guard of the United States Army world flight in 1924, and in that same year searched for, found, and rescued Italian aviator Lt. Antonio Locatelli who had crashed off the shore of Greenland: a grateful Italian government awarded Admiral Magruder the Order of SS. Maurizio e Lazzaro. Admiral Magruder died May 26, 1938 at Newport, RI, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

A much more detailed account of his career will be found in "The Clan Gregor Admiral", an obituary by Captain Edwin Pollock, USN.

What Admiral Magruder is most often remembered for today, though, is an article he wrote titled "The Navy and Economy" and published in the September 24, 1927 issue of the Saturday Evening Post: in it he contended that the Navy was top-heavy with officers, hamstrung by red tape and burdened with idle ships and shipyards, and as a result was wasting 35¢ out of every dollar it spent. About a month later, Secretary of the Navy Curtis Dwight Wilbur relieved him of his command of the Philadelphia Navy Yard and the Fourth Naval District: Time (Nov. 7, 1927) may have written that he "so loves the Navy that he dared accuse it of large faults", but the Navy Department would have none of that, and he was put to "waiting orders" for nearly two years. It would seem, however, that the Department came under some pressure from a public which found it quite believable that bureaucrats might be wasting its money, and which felt that Admiral Magruder had in fact done a service to the nation: he was finally allowed to return to command for the last two years of his career before his mandated retirement at age 64.

The United States Navy was written during that otherwise fallow period of the Admiral's career, and it gives us a snapshot of the Navy at that critical time between the two World Wars when the United States government was slowly dismantling it with the notion that this would advance the cause of world peace. The book is essentially descriptive, and sometimes even a bit technical; but the politics and economics of a strong Navy are never too far from the writer's mind.


Battleships and Battle Cruisers


Light Cruisers






Sea Power and the Merchant Marine


Aircraft Carriers


The Next Step


List of Illustrations

Rear-Admiral Thomas P. Magruder, U. S. N.


Battleships at Battle Practice


Battleships and Destroyers Leaving Port


Torpedo Just Missing a Battleship


The U. S. S. California and Destroyers Passing in Review


The U. S. S. Colorado


Battleships Steaming Full Speed in Column


Battleships Steaming Full Speed on Line of Bearing


Light Cruisers Landing Destroyers to an Attack


Rear-Admiral Magruder, Commander of Light Cruiser Divisions, With Captains and Staff, 1925


Destroyers Out of Commission, Navy Yard, Philadelphia


Destroyers Attacking, Assisted by Light Cruisers and Airplanes


Destroyers, Protected by Light Cruisers, Attacking by Divisions


The Destroyer Converse Off the Philadelphia Navy Yard


Destroyers Maneuvering Before an Attack


Fleet Submarine V‑1


Submarines Out of Commission, Philadelphia Navy Yard


Idle Merchant Ships Laid Up at Hog Island


U. S. S. Saratoga in the Panama Canal


U. S. S. Saratoga in Full Dress


Plane Catapulted from U. S. S. Richmond


The Dirigible Los Angeles Moored to the U. S. S. Saratoga


The Los Angeles Taking on Fuel from U. S. S. Saratoga


Airplanes in Formation


Douglas Torpedo-Plane Formation


Admirals at Maneuvers, San Diego, 1924


Conference at Balboa, Canal Zone, After Spring Maneuvers, 1926


Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here appears to be the first and only one. It is in the public domain because the copyright was not renewed in 1954‑1956 as then required by law: details here on the copyright law involved.


In the printed edition the 26 illustrations, all photographs, are tipped in on glossy pages at more or less appropriate places. I've moved most of them to what I feel are somewhat better spots. Their original placement is given in the table above, but the links are of course to the new location.

The two photographs that follow, fa­cing p168 in the printed edition, have nothing to do with that chapter, nor in fact with anything else in the book:

In the printed edition the author's portrait that serves as the Frontispiece (at the top of this page) is reversed. This oddity was probably not a mistake, but an aesthetic decision on the part of the publishers, so that the admiral would face the book's title page rather than look away from it. I've returned the photograph to its original state; as you see, his decorations are on his left again where they belong, and we read "© Bachrach" in the lower left corner, unreversed.

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.


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 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 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 what was actually printed. 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 over­looked 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 naval vessel accompanied by four smaller ships, all steaming more or less parallel toward the lower right-hand corner of the frame. It is a photograph of the USS California and destroyers passing in review; the image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'The United States Navy' by Thomas P. Magruder.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is a colorized version of the book's photograph of the U. S. S. California and destroyers passing in review, fa­cing p28.

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Site updated: 31 Dec 17