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A Short History of the United States Navy
George R. Clark, Rear-Admiral, U. S. Navy, (Ret.)
William O. Stevens, Ph. D., Litt. D.
Carroll S. Alden, Ph. D.
Herman F. Krafft, LL. B.

The Author and the Work

The principal author of this superlative book — one of the five best books on my site — was a surprisingly hard man to find information on, but I've managed to cobble together this bare sketch of his career from a dozen fragmentary sources; if you have better or more connected information, I'll be glad to hear from you, of course.

George Ramsey Clark was born March 20, 1857, in Monroe, Butler County, Ohio, and was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from that State, entering June 9, 1874, graduating on June 20, 1878, and promoted to Midshipman June 4, 1880. He served on the Independence, the Tuscarora, the Wachusett on the Pacific Station, 1880‑83, and was commissioned Ensign on August 24, 1883; on the Michigan, Northwestern Lakes, 1884‑86, on the Trenton, the Alliance on the South American Station, 1887‑89, and on the Lancaster; is reported as on the rather mystifying "special duty, electric lights" at William Cramp and Sons Shipyard in Philadelphia, 1889‑90. Promoted Lieutenant j.g. in 1890, he served again on the Michigan from April 1890 to December 1892; then on the Atlanta and the Machias, North American Station, December 1892 to at least 1894. I next find him as a Lieutenant-Commander among the chief officers of the Monongahela in 1903; then in 1905 stationed at the Navy-yard at Norfolk. He was Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy in 1909‑1910, which must surely be the genesis of our book. He was promoted to Captain in June 1910, and with that rank in 1912‑13 he was Commandant of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, and Superintendent of the 9th, 10th, and 11th Naval Districts; and he closed his career as the first Judge Advocate General to hold the rank of Rear Admiral, from 1918 to 1921. Admiral Clark died on Dec. 14, 1945 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

A Short History of the United States Navy was written for the Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. It was first published in 1910 or 1911 and underwent many reprintings although it was only revised and updated once, in 1927.


The Navy in the Revolution


The Revolution (Continued). The Cruises of John Paul Jones


The Beginnings of a New Navy and the War with France


The War with Tripoli


The War with Tripoli (Continued)


The War of 1812. Causes and Early Events


The Captures of the Guerrière and the Macedonian


A Victory and a Defeat


The Sloop Actions of the War


The Battle of Lake Erie


The Cruise of the Essex


The Battle of Lake Champlain and the Conclusion of the War


Minor Operations


The Mexican War; Perry's Expedition to Japan


The Civil War: The First Year


The Battle of Hampton Roads; The Destruction of the Cumberland and the Congress


The Battle of Hampton Roads (Continued): The Monitor and the Merrimac


Operations on the Western Rivers


Operations on the Lower Mississippi


Battle of Mobile Bay


The War on Albemarle Sound


Actions in Foreign Waters


The Blockade and the End of the War


The Navy in the Years of Peace


War with Spain: The Battle of Manila Bay


The West Indian Campaign


Emergence of the United States as a World Power


The World War


The World War (Continued)


The Navy and American Foreign Policy


Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here was that of my own hard copy, J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia & London: the Twenty-second impression, of unknown date, bearing the following copyright notices:

Copyright, 1939, by George R. Clark

Copyright, 1910, by George R. Clark

Copyright, 1911, by J. B. Lippincott Company

Copyright, 1914, by J. B. Lippincott Company

Copyright, 1916, by J. B. Lippincott Company

Copyright, 1927, by J. B. Lippincott Company

The copyrights prior to 1923 have all lapsed, whether they were renewed or not. The 1927 copyright was not renewed in the appropriate years (1954 or 1955); and the 1939 copyright is in fact a renewal (R75238), which therefore lapsed on January 1, 1968. The work is thus in the public domain; details here on the copyright law involved.


In the printed book, all the illustrations are black-and‑white. In this Web transcription, to make them easier to read, I've colorized the maps and diagrams, to my usual scheme or very close to it.

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 authors' 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 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. 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 remarkably well proofread; a very few typographical errors are marked, when important (or unavoidable because inside a link), with a bullet like this;º and when trivial, with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, bullets before measurements 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.

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 flag with 13 horizon stripes and a field in the upper left-hand corner; on that field an upright anchor, fouled, with a rope passing from the ring over the right arm of the stock (from the viewer's standpoint), then behind the shank, then forming a large bight or loop passing in front of the left arm and behind the right arm about halfway between the crown and the flukes, and extending some ways below the crown. The image is further explained in the text of this webpage and serves as the icon on this site for the book 'A Short History of the United States Navy'.]

In the absence of an image from the book that would work graphically while being truly representative of American naval history, the icon I devised to indicate this subsite is a variant of the Serapis flag flown by John Paul Jones: substituting for the thirteen stars in the canton the same fouled anchor (from the shoulder boards worn as insignia by midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy) that I use for the broader Naval History site to which this book belongs.

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Site updated: 31 Mar 18