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This webpage reproduces an article in
Naval Institute Proceedings
Vol. 61 No. 10 (Oct. 1935), pp1414‑1440

The text is in the public domain,
the 1935 copyright not having been renewed in 1962 or 1963.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p1414  The Departments​*

The midshipmen at the Naval Academy receive their academic and practical instruction in eleven branches or departments. These are under the immediate supervision of the Superintendent who is also the senior member of the Academic Board.

A brief historical sketch of each Department, the Library, and the Postgraduate School is given herewith. Although the Library is not a department, it is included because it plays a large part in the work of the midshipmen and is closely allied to all Departments, especially that of English and History. The Postgraduate School is an activity that is not classed as a department at the Naval Academy because midshipmen are not concerned in its activities. A brief description of this very important school is given, however, for general information. Great strides have been made in successfully continuing the technical education of the Naval Academy graduate.


When the Naval School was formally opened in Annapolis on Friday, October 10, 1845, Lieutenant James H. Ward, U. S. Navy, became in reality, if not in name, the first Commandant of Midshipmen. His official title was Executive Officer. In addition to his duties as Executive Officer he was chief instructor in gunnery and steam and was the president of the Academic Board. His principal concern was in connection with the academic side of his duties and the carrying out of schedules relating thereto.

During the period 1845‑50, it appears that the School in its effort to get a start was rather adapting itself to its students and hence little was accomplished along the line of building up discipline. It must be said, however, that the first superintendent, Commander Franklin Buchanan, in his excellent opening address to the students, set forth some very sound views on discipline and struck the keynote for the future trend and aims of the Naval Academy. He said in part,

Every indulgence consistent with the rules and regulations of the institution will be granted to those who merit it. The laws of the Navy point out the punishment of those who violate orders; and no commander is justified in over-looking offenses against those laws, however painful it may be to him to enforce them. . . .

It is at all times an unpleasant duty to a commander to be compelled to punish the misconduct of his juniors; but as an omission on his part to do his duty makes him as culpable as the offender himself, no officer who feels a proper respect for the service or himself will subject himself to so unpleasant a situation. We have no right as individuals to do that which may involve others in our misfortunes; and when we, as naval men, intentionally violate the laws that govern us, we cannot without dishonor to ourselves expect to escape punishment by making others responsible for our crimes.

Every effort was made by Commander Buchanan to make the midshipmen live up to the ideals that he saw for them and there are several cases recorded wherein he brought about dismissal because of some serious breach of discipline. But many of those connected with the running of the School began to feel that reorganization was needed. Hence, the Secretary of the Navy was petitioned by the Academy authorities to appoint a board to study and bring about a reorganization of the School.

In 1850, a board headed by Commodore  p1415 W. B. Shubrick was convened by the Secretary of the Navy to draw up a code of regulations. It was under this new code that the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy on July 1, 1850. Under this reorganization the course was put on a 4‑year, continuous basis. This was the point at which the students were now required to adapt themselves to the School rather than the reverse. Here was laid the corner stone of the first discipline or executive department, although we do not find it as a distinct department until many years later.

The first Commandant of Midshipmen under the new regime was Lieutenant T. T. Craven, U. S. Navy. He, as his predecessors and as many of his successors, had academic as well as executive and disciplinary functions, and in addition to these duties commanded the midshipmen's practice cruise ship. Under this new organization, the Commandant of Midshipmen and Executive Officer of the Academy was also the head of the department of, and principal instructor in, seaman­ship, ordnance and naval gunnery, naval tactics, and the art of defense.

The Commander was assisted in carrying out his various duties by several officers detailed for the purpose. The senior officer under each sub‑head was called a senior assistant to the Commandant and other instructors under these were called assistants to the Commandant. This general organization continued until 1875.

From the opening of the School until 1874, the students were called "acting-midshipmen." In the fall of 1874, the name "cadets" was adopted as the collective designation for students of the Academy, comprising cadet-midshipmen, or cadet-engineers.

In 1875, the Commandant of Cadets, as he was then called, ceased to be the head of an academic department and headed what came to be known officially in 1890 as the Department of Discipline. He had under him several officers as assistants whose duties corresponded to those of a duty officer of the Executive Department of to‑day.

In 1892 the title "cadet-midshipman" was changed to "naval cadet." Again in 1902, there was a change in the title of the student and he came to be known as a "midshipman." Accordingly, the Commandant came to be known as the Commandant of Midshipmen and the Head of the Department of Discipline.

The Department of Discipline was known as such until 1914 when its name was changed to that which it bears today, the Executive Department.

Of those who have been Commandants of Midshipmen, a number have gained a high position of regard in the history of our Navy. Among these are: Lieutenant C. R. P. Rodgers, Commander S. B. Luce, and many others of more recent times. Many Commandants of Midshipmen came back in later years as Superintendent.

From the founding of the School until about 1865, the only apparent organization of the student body was into mess crews. These were primarily for meal formations. In 1865, we find the organization to consist of four divisions of five gun's crews each. Each gun's crew consisted of from 16 to 20 midshipmen. A cadet lieutenant commander was in charge of the battalion and a cadet lieutenant commanded each division. For infantry drill, each gun division formed a company with a cadet lieutenant as its captain. This great gun organization remained in effect until about 1892 when we find the organization of a battalion of four companies. The battalion commander was a midshipman lieutenant commander.

In 1903 an increase in the number of midshipmen resulted in the formation of a brigade consisting of two battalions.

The brigade organization, varying in make‑up of numbers of companies or divisions was effective until 1914 when the  p1416 student body became a regiment consisting of four battalions of three companies each. This regimental organization, varying from time to time as to the number of companies in each battalion, has remained in effect since that time. To‑day the midshipmen are organized as a regiment consisting of four battalions of two companies each.

Under the Commandant of Midshipmen, there are 17 line officers assigned to duty in the Executive Department. The Executive Officer of Bancroft Hall is the Regimental Officer. Under him there are 4 officers, each of whom is in command of a battalion, and under each battalion officer are 2 company officers, making a total of 8 company officers. One officer is detailed as First Lieutenant of Bancroft Hall, 1 as Assistant to the Commander, 1 as Assistant to the Executive Officer, and 1 as Officer Inspector of Uniforms.

The company and battalion officers stand duties as officer of the watch in Bancroft Hall. They are assisted in carrying out their duties by a midshipman watch squad in which first classmen hold the key positions and under classmen such positions under them as mates of the deck, messengers, etc.

The Executive Department of to‑day is far from being a mere police force. The every‑day contacts between officer and midshipman are pointed toward giving the midshipman the officer attitude through wise counsel, sound advice, and firm but just and understanding discipline.

Through the regimental organization, the midshipmen are given wide duties and responsibilities in connection with running the regiment. They are given ample opportunity to develop leader­ship and self-confidence, and to exercise those qualities which will be assets as naval officers.

The policy of the Executive Department to‑day carries the keynote which Commander Buchanan struck in his opening address when he said to the midshipmen,

You will recollect that a good moral character is essential to your promotion and high standing in the Navy.

Seamanship and Navigation

Prior to the academic year 1933, seaman­ship and navigation were taught in separate departments. In 1933, as a result of repeated recommendations of the various Boards of Visitors, several basic changes were made in the curriculum at the Academy. As a result, the Departments of Seamanship and Navigation were combined into one department. Separate staffs of instructors are still assigned to each subject under the supervision of the Head of Department.


On August 7, 1845, the Secretary of the Navy, George Bancroft, wrote Commander Franklin Buchanan that he proposed to establish a school for midshipmen for the study of "the theory of morals," and sundry other subjects. The basic naval subject of naval tactics and seaman­ship was not included in the Secretary's recommended curricula. Commander Buchanan in his plan for the "Naval School at Fort Severn" asked that a "sloop of war or brig be connected with the institution as a school of practice in seaman­ship, evolutions, and gunnery." In organizing the faculty, the executive officer of the School was assigned additional duty as instructor in naval tactics.

On July 1, 1850, when the Naval School was organized under the title of Naval Academy, the Commandant of Midshipmen was made Head of the Department and principal instructor in seaman­ship and  p1417 naval tactics. The text in those early days was a manuscript copy of a translation from the French, made by Rear Admiral Goldsborough. On June 25, 1851, Brady's Kedge Anchor was adopted as the official textbook.​a

In October, 1860, Lieutenant C. R. P. Rodgers was ordered as the first Head of Department of Seamanship and Naval Tactics. Among the many distinguished officers who have headed the Department since that date are Lieutenant Commander Stephen B. Luce, who wrote the Luce's Seamanship which for so many years was the standard work on that subject, and Lieutenant A. M. Knight who in April, 1901, published his Modern Seamanship, which to this day is the standard and authoritative treatise on the subject. By 1916, Seamanship Department Notes, The Watch Officer's Manual, The Deck and Boat Book, Navy Regulations, Battle Signal Book, and Tactical Steaming Data, in addition to Modern Seamanship, were the books by which the midshipmen were instructed.

Revised and modernized, Knight's Modern Seamanship remains the basic text to this day. The Watch Officer's Manual has become The Watch Officer's Guide. At present the principal text is The Fleet, a new publication which outlines the purpose and scope of the naval establishment, delineates the position which the Fleet occupies therein, describes the purpose and methods of operation of the various types of ships, explains the channels and forms of communication by which the various units are correlated, and orients the midshipman in the Fleet so that he will understand the part he is to play as a young watch officer. Naval Aviation treats briefly the uses, capacities, and present limitations of naval aircraft. Finally, a few lessons are devoted to the more important chapters of that bible of the Naval Service, the U. S. Navy Regulations.

The experience of 90 years of instruction of seaman­ship indicates the importance of immediately and continuously illustrating the theory of seaman­ship with its practical demonstration aboard ship. The U. S. S. Preble was early attached to the Academy and continued there as practice ship until the Civil War. In 1869, the Head of the Department of Seamanship reported that

The advantages derived from this happy plan of combining the theoretical instruction of the Academy with the practical work of seaman­ship on board a vessel attached to the institution were soon evidenced.

The present assignment of a destroyer to the Academy as a practice ship partially fills the vital need recognized by the Board of Visitors in its report of 1935.

Department of Astronomy, Navigation, etc.,
U. S. Naval Academy,

Annapolis, Md., April 26th, 1869.


In obedience to your order of the 19th inst., I beg leave to make the following report:

The department of Astronomy, Navigation and Surveying was established as a separate department, in 1853, previous to which time, its branches were included under the head of the department of Mathematics. From its establishment to September, 1865, the Head of the Department was a Professor of Mathematics in the Navy. Since that date, a line officer of the navy has had charge of it. At present, there are four assistants — three line officers and an assistant professor.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Respectfully submitted,

R. L. Phythian,
Lieut-Comdr, and Head of
Dept. of Astronomy,
Navigation, etc.

Vice Admiral
D. D. Porter, Superintendent,
U. S. N. academy.

Continuously since the day of Lieutenant Commander Phythian, the Department of Navigation was commanded by  p1418 a line officer. In 1933, as noted above, the Department of Navigation was combined with the Seamanship Department into one department.

When Matthew Fontaine Maury was a midshipman in 1825, Bowditch's Practical Navigator was the standard text of navigation. Revised and brought up to date many times, it has been continuously in use at the Academy as text or reference book. After only two years in the Naval Service, Maury submitted his first treatise on navigation, which was so advanced for his time that when young Maury came up for promotion, the Examining Board could not understand his more direct methods. Ironically, he failed in his specialty and lost several years in seniority. However, in 1836, Maury's book was adopted as the standard text of the Naval School at Norfolk. When the Academy was organized, his book, Bowditch, and Herschel's Astronomy were the texts which guided these early students.

Professor William Chauvenet was a member of the original staff of the Naval Academy. Two of his books, Spherical and Practical Astronomy (1854) and Lunar Distances and Equal Altitudes (1869) became textbooks for the midshipmen. In addition, Professor Coffin's Navigation was a required test.

In the early days of the Academy, the elements of navigation were taught during the first year of the course. Commencing about 1865, nearly all of the professional subjects were taught in the last two years of the course. Commander W. C. P. Muir's Navigation was introduced to the Academy about 25 years ago. Commander Muir was Head of Department from 1903 to 1909. For the past 9 years, Captain Benjamin Dutton's excellent treatise Navigation and Nautical Astronomy, has been the basic text of the course, but Bowditch, of course, continues its excellent service to the Naval Academy and the Navy. For the past 2 years, astronomy and surveying have been taught to the second class during the summer term. Seven months have been devoted to navigation during second-class year. For the coming year, midshipmen of the first class will be given one practical work each week to keep navigation fresh in their minds and a refresher course during May to prepare them for practical navigation in the Fleet.

The present course in navigation is very complete. Piloting, celestial navigation in all of its ramifications, old and new methods of solving the astronomical triangle, deviation of the compass and its compensation, tides, currents, the sailing directions, aërial navigation, and the mooring board are all presented to the midshipmen. For two weeks of first-class cruise, each midshipman is assigned the sole duty of performing practical navigation at sea.

Without adequate practical experience, no person may become a competent navigator, but the midshipman of to‑day graduates well grounded in the fundamentals of navigation. After graduation, experience is the only teacher which can make an officer a skilled navigator, even as experience combined with study of the essentials made Bowditch and Maury and Muir the greatest navigators of their day.

Ordnance and Gunnery

When the Naval School was started in Philadelphia in 1844, the course in ordnance and gunnery consisted of a series of lectures by Lieutenant J. H. Ward. The following year, when the school was moved to Fort Severn at Annapolis, ordnance and gunnery were combined with the use of the steam engine as one of the branches of instruction. Lieutenant Ward's lectures were continued, while infantry drill and  p1419 pyrotechny were put into the course but not under the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery. Instruction in these two subjects was conducted by Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.H. H. Lockwood, a professor of mathematics, a graduate of West Point, and later a brigadier general in the Civil War.

In 1847, Lieutenant J. A. Dahlgren relieved Lieutenant Ward, whose lectures in the meantime had been published and adopted as a textbook. Lieutenant Dahlgren remained but a short time before going to other ordnance duty and Professor Lockwood took charge of the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery, steam being then transferred to another department. Exercises in field artillery were begun the next year with two 6‑pounders secured from the Army, but like infantry it was placed under another department.

In 1851, there began an increase in the theoretical work of the Department. Jeffers' Theory and Practice of Naval Gunnery was adopted, and the following year Professor Lockwood's pamphlet of Great Gun Exercises was added, also the Navy Ordnance Instruction, just issued for the first time. Within the next three years several additional textbooks were adopted.

In 1858, instruction in ordnance and gunnery was placed in the Department of Seamanship, Gunnery, etc., Lieutenant Simpson relieving Professor Lockwood of this instruction.

In 1862, after the School was moved to Newport, artillery drill was revised by Lieutenant S. B. Luce.

In October 1862, Lieutenant Simpson was relieved of ordnance and gunnery instruction by Lieutenant Commander E. C. Matthews who took charge also of howitzer drill. He was relieved by Lieutenant Commander C. C. Carpenter, who in turn was relieved in 1865 by Lieutenant Commander Ramsay. Infantry drill was this year transferred to the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery as artillery drill had been in 1862. In 1866, Lieutenant Commander Ramsay was relieved by Lieutenant Commander Sicard.

While at Newport theoretical work in ordnance and gunnery had suffered somewhat under the influence of the war. Practical work was increased, great gun drill being conducted on board the Macedonian and target practice from a small battery on Goat Island. Work in field fortifications, landing parties, etc., was introduced and became of paramount interest.

After the war, when the Academy returned to Annapolis, the Department began to settle down and to develop as a unit, but it was not until 1875 that the Commandant ceased to be the nominal head of both the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery and Department of Seamanship. In this development the Santee was fitted up as a gunnery ship, and so used for years. Pistol and rifle galleries were constructed.

But as the years have passed old guns and equipment have given way to new, sometimes a little behind but, in general, keeping pace with the rapid development which has taken place. Textbooks have been revised or superseded as the times required. Infantry and artillery drill have been transferred to the Executive Department, aviation ordnance has been introduced into the course, modern guns, Torpedo equipment, and fire-control systems have been installed and kept up to date. The Postgraduate School depends on this installation for instruction of its ordnance class.

The rifle range, now across the Severn, has been enlarged to 96 targets and arranged to accommodate the firings of rifles, pistols, and machine guns. One of its temporary structures has been converted into a gas chamber to be permanently replaced at a later date.

The old shore battery has developed into the present Gun Shed which houses a modern gun battery; its battery of range  p1420 finders includes one for anti-aircraft use.

The Department with its 19 officer instructors fresh from the Fleet works in close co‑operation with the Bureau of Ordnance and the Division of Fleet Training in Washington, the liaison enabling it to keep up to date in materials and methods used in the Fleet.

Besides the regular fire-control and gas drills held in the Armory and in the Gun Shed, others are held every few days on board the destroyers recently assigned to the Academy; and during the practice cruise standard target practices are held with gun crews composed of midshipmen. Graduates are sent to ships of the Fleet with an actual working knowledge in ordnance and gunnery which enables them to fit immediately into the organization on board.

The present Armory, which was first occupied in 1903, is a splendid structure which adequately fills the needs of the Department and serves many other activities. Fortunately, it has undergone no material alteration, as such section-room expansion as becomes necessary at times is taken care of by the overflow section rooms of Bancroft Hall. The hitherto constricted plaza forming its entrance has just been cleared and enlarged. In addition to its own collection of historic trophies, it serves to house others which some day may find a home in an adequate Naval Academy Museum.

Marine Engineering

Established in 1867 under the name of Steam Engineering, this Department has been named at various times Steam Engineering, Marine Engineering and Naval Construction, Engineering and Aëronautics, and Marine Engineering.

The colloquial name of "Steam" is however that by which midshipmen have always designated it, and is a convenient abbreviation for informal use.

The subjects now taught by "Steam" are descriptive geometry, engineering drawing, mechanism, metallurgy, shop practices, thermodynamics, steam boilers, reciprocating engines and turbines, internal-combustion and Diesel engines, naval auxiliary machinery, and naval warship construction.

The history of the teaching of engineering at the Naval Academy falls into four main divisions which we may liken to the great periods of human history, the prehistoric, the classical, the middle age, and the modern.

First Period (1845‑65)

This is the "prehistory" of the Steam Department. It antedates the establishment of a separate department, but it explains the developments which followed.

During these critical 20 years, the Academy struggled to justify its own existence, to win its way in the Navy, and to survive the disruptive forces of the Civil War.

In 1845, steam vessels had been a part of the Navy for 5 years only. They numbered some 6 fighting steamers and 10 or so auxiliaries and experimental ships.

The Corps of Naval Engineers had been called into being by Captain Matthew C. Perry who championed the steam naval vessels and commanded them in the Mexican War and on his Japanese Expedition. Congress gave the engineers legal standing in 1842 and in 1843 the rather haphazard force of engineers was graded and arranged in rank and seniority on the basis of severe professional examinations. The corps, numbering about 35 members, was headed by an "engineer-in‑chief" and had the grades of "chief engineer" and "first," "second," and "third assistant engineers." Its establishment, therefore, preceded that of the Naval Academy by a few years only.

 p1421  Secretary Bancroft in his letter of August 7, 1845, to Commander Buchanan included "the use of steam" in the subjects to be taught to midshipmen at the Academy. The mobility given to war vessels by steam was an important new military weapon which all officers must understand, just as at present all must know the military characteristics of aviation, though only a few become aviators.

The subject did not then rate a separate department and was taught by Lieutenant Ward along with his instruction in gunnery. After two years when Lieutenant Ward left the Academy, a "short course in the steam engine" was included in the Department teaching chemistry and natural philosophy. Those who taught steam were in turn Surgeon J. A. Lockwood, Professor William F. Hopkins, and Professor Augustus W. Smith. An assistant professor, W. R. Hopkins, served under the last two professors. These five persons taught all the "steam" of the first 20 years of the Academy. The Department of Mathematics taught descriptive geometry and the Department of Drawing taught "line drawing" in a manner somewhat on the engineering drawing of to‑day.

Second Period (1866‑81)

This period may be called the "classical" period. The Academy in a few years established a full engineering-college course and graduated some of the most eminent engineers who have influenced naval history and who have made a great impression on the mechanical and marine engineering of their generation.

The Civil War had increased the steam Navy to over 600 vessels, with new types of vessels and of engines, and great advances in engineering were ready to be released for civil uses.

The Navy could no longer be thought of without its steam vessels, but the Civil War had brought to an acute stage the fundamental difficulty inherent in the existence of two sets of naval officers, one set competent to navigate and fight the ship and one set competent to drive them, but neither set competent in or at all sympathetic with the duties of the other set. Engineers must be trained for the Navy and the line and engineer officers made to work in harmony.

Secretary Welles had proposed that midshipmen be trained both for line and engineering duty, but this suggestion, too far ahead of its time, made no headway. The idea died because of pressure from each side. It was finally decided to take in a separate student body to be trained as engineers and at the same time to increase the engineering courses for the line midshipmen.

Admiral Porter, then Superintendent, brought the Academy back to Annapolis in 1866. He established engineering as a separate department, under a high-ranking chief engineer, W. W. W. Wood, with 8 assistants, 1 a chief engineer and the others first and second assistant engineers.

The "Old Steam Building" was erected and equipped and a class of "Acting Third Assistant Engineers" was formed.

At first the student engineers were older than the midshipmen and they were men of some previous engineering experience. The course given them was a 2‑year course. This plan continued in operation from 1866 to 1868 and, after a lapse, again from 1871 to 1876. After 1876, the course was made a 4‑year course and the "cadet engineers" were of the same age as the midshipmen and were educated in closer contact with them.

During this period the successors to Chief Engineer Wood were Chief Engineers Thom Williamson, H. L. Snyder, C. H. Baker, and J. P. Sprague. Among the noteworthy assistants in teaching steam were J. C. Kafer and Charles H. Manning. Each of these taught for 8 or 9 years, in periods interrupted by sea  p1422 service, and after resigning from the Navy made eminent careers in civil life.

Among graduates of the first class of engineers in 1868 were Charles W. Rae and G. H. Kearney. Both of them returned more than once to instruct in the Department and later to head it. Rae finally became engineer-in‑chief.

Among the graduates of 1875‑78 were Asa Mattice, A. B. Willits, Stacy Potts, G. S. Willits, F. H. Eldridge, W. L. Cathcart, and W. F. Worthington. All had notable naval careers and Mattice and Cathcart resigned in middle life and became eminent as civilian engineers.

In 1878, the first class graduated from the 4‑year course. Notable graduates were F. W. Bartlett, later an instructor and head of department, F. J. Schell, J. I. Gow, and F. W. Bieg, all prominent instructors in the Department in due time; also R. S. Griffin, later engineer-in‑chief, and H. W. Spangler, M. F. Cooley, and I. N. Hollis, three noteworthy educators in the engineering field.

In 1879, F. T. Bowles and R. Gatewood graduated. They were the first of the scientifically trained naval constructors. In 1880, W. F. Durand and T. W. Kinkaid graduated. Kinkaid remained in the Navy; Durand became a noted educator and research investigator. In 1881, J. M. Whitham graduated and later he rose to eminence as a practi­cing consulting engineer in civil life.

Judging from results, the 4‑year course in engineering was second to none in the country at that time. The future line officers of that date received also a very considerable training in engineering.

Third Period (1881‑98)

This "middle age" of the Steam Department began at a period of national neglect of the Navy. The aims were necessarily more modest than in the previous age, and the output much more strictly confined to officers who made their careers in the Navy itself.

Captain F. M. Ramsay, the first Superintendent who was himself a graduate of the Naval Academy, reorganized the curriculum and the entire regime. Congress had abolished the distinction between cadet engineers and cadet midshipmen and had merged the two bodies into one. The aim was evidently to harmonize line and engineering.

Until 1890 all midshipmen were educated alike for the whole 4‑year course, and any special training for the Naval Engineer Course was left until later years. All midshipmen were required to be instructed in "practical engineering," or, as we would now say, to be operating engineers.

Drawing, which had been taught by a separate Drawing Department since 1853, continued under its independent administration but lost its artistic and topographic character and became largely mechanical.

Captain W. T. Sampson as Superintendent obtained a modification to the law for identical education at the Academy. The classes graduating between 1890 and 1898 were educated alike for the first three years of their course. In first-class year an "engineer division" was formed within the class and a partial separation in studies was made. All were kept in one list, however, in their competition for final order of standing. Under these circumstances a midshipman of the engineering division could hardly be alienated from the rest of his class, yet he began his technical education at an earlier stage.

The Department was headed during these years by Chief Engineers E. Farmer, H. H. Fitch, C. W. Rae, and G. H. Kearney. The two last mentioned were graduates of the first class of engineers, 1868.

 p1423  Fourth Period (1899‑1935)

In May, 1899, Congress amalgamated the line and engineers and established the present policy in the Navy. Midshipmen are now educated equally for duty in the line and as operating engineers. All get duty of both kinds and those with particular interest in engineering are expected to return for postgraduate design duty and other higher engineering assignments.

F. H. Eldridge, '75, was head of the Department for 2 years and he was succeeded by J. K. Barton, '73, who headed it for 5 years. Barton was active during the building and equipping of the new "steam building," Isherwood Hall, and in rounding out the course of instruction into a very complete one. The Steam Department then was at its maximum in subjects and time of midshipmen assigned to it.

Commander F. W. Bartlett succeeded Barton in 1907. As an instructor under Eldridge, he had converted the drawing course as inherited by "steam" at the demise of the old separate Drawing Department into one designed strictly for engineering purposes. As head of the Department, he took over the subject of descriptive geometry from the Department of Mathematics and, in partner­ship with the professor of drawing (a civilian official inherited from the Drawing Department) he converted that subject also to a fundamental one in engineering.

Graduates and officer instructors of the recent past can hardly be included here. The Department has upwards of 30 instructors, most of whom serve for a 2‑year term. Since 1898, there have been from 1 to 8 civilian instructors, all of whom are specialists in some branch of engineering.

The educational policy of this whole "modern" period has been to give as thorough a course as possible, aimed at produ­cing graduates who will make good operating engineers. There has been a growing tendency to replace the study of actual machines by the study of the principles explaining the design and operation of the machines, and to replace manual shop work by engineering laboratory tests. This tendency is in full force today.

The Department under its present head and staff will live up to the traditions of its brilliant past.


The establishment of the Department of Mathematics was coincident with the founding of the U. S. Naval Academy. In reality, it antedates the founding of the Academy, because mathematics was one of the principal courses given to midshipmen at the old school at the Naval Asylum in Philadelphia, from which the idea of the present Academy developed.

The first Head of Department, Professor William Chauvenet, then a young man 25 years of age, was one of those largely instrumental in the founding of the Academy; in fact, he is described as having been second only to Secretary Bancroft himself in this regard. Professor Chauvenet, who had much to do with the initial organization of the Academy, is reported to have been the most prominent member of the original academic staff, and, by reason of his recognized ability, is said to have added much to the prestige of the School. He remained as Head of Department until 1853, when he became Professor of Navigation and Nautical Astronomy. He resigned in 1859, three years later to become Chancellor of Washington University, of St. Louis. He was one of the leading mathematicians of the day, and wrote valuable textbooks on geometry, trigonometry, and astronomy which were used at Naval Academy and elsewhere for many years. In fact, many of his works are still published and consulted.

 p1424  Due to the lax, or low, entrance requirements, the original course in mathematics was necessarily somewhat elementary. It began with arithmetic and advanced through algebra and geometry to plane and spherical trigonometry. Astronomy and navigation were also given under the Department of Mathematics until placed under a separate Department in 1853. Mechanics was given under the Department of Natural and Experimental Philosophy.

After 1853, descriptive geometry and analytical geometry were added to the mathematics course, and elementary differential calculus was given to the higher sections (best students) of the second class. After 1872, the latter subject together with mechanics was given by the new Department of Physics and Chemistry, originally Natural and Experimental Philosophy.

The changes throughout the years in the mathematics curriculum have been gradual. They have been influenced by improvements in the public school system, which have made possible higher entrance requirements, and by the development in the engineering sciences, which have made the understanding of more advanced mathematics a requisite for the modern naval officer.

In 1876, the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics was organized under the leader­ship of Professor J. M. Rice, who had for the previous 12 years been an assistant in the Department of Mathematics. The new department took over instruction in calculus and mechanics, and also covered such subjects as "least squares," "strength of materials," and "naval architecture." In 1895, this Department became the Department of Mechanics. It was abolished in 1899, re‑established in 1902, and in 1907 was again merged with the Department of Mathematics.

The time devoted to mathematics has been gradually shortened from three academic years (in about 1851) to two years (in 1935). The present course includes solid mensuration (elementary solid geometry, with problems involving logarithmic and slide-rule computation), college algebra, plane and spherical trigonometry, analytical geometry, the calculus, and mechanics. Differential equations are touched upon slightly.

During these ninety years, the Department has borne upon its rolls many interesting men and outstanding mathematicians. Samuel P. Langley, later to become connected with early aviation experiments and to have an aircraft carrier named for him, was an instructor of mathematics at the Academy from 1866 to 1907. The records for length of service are held by Professors William Woodbury Hendrickson and William Woolsey Johnson.

Professor Hendrickson was appointed to the Naval Academy in 1860, moved with it to Newport in 1861, and graduated in 1863, becoming an acting ensign. In 1874, as a lieutenant commander, he came to the Department of Mathematics as an assistant. In 1873, he transferred to the Corps of Professors of Mathematics and became Head of Department. With the exception of 7 years (1890‑97) spent at the "Nautical Almanac Office," he remained as such until 1907. His total service in the Department was 30 years, 27 years as Head of Department. The ability of this Department to produce the mathematics marks of all who have passed through the Academy since 1862 is largely due to the careful manner in which he preserved all the old records.

Professor William Woolsey Johnson, in his later years affectionately known to the midshipmen as "Old Woolsey," first came to the Naval Academy as an assistant professor in 1864, after having spent two years at the Nautical Almanac Office. In 1870, he left the Academy and, after  p1425 2 years at Kenyon College, Ohio, and 9 years at St. John's College, Annapolis, returned to the Academy in 1881. From then until 1912, he served in the Departments of Mechanics and Mathematics, retiring after 37 years' Naval Academy service at the ripe age of 81. Professor Johnson was a deep student and, through his textbooks and many articles on mathematical subjects, is known, both in this country and abroad, as one of the outstanding mathematicians of his time.

Electrical Engineering

The first organization of the Academy in 1845 provided for six professor­ships, one of which was that of natural philosophy under Professor Henry H. Lockwood and another was that of chemistry under Surgeon John A. Lockwood. Under the professor of natural philosophy was taught not only the various branches of physics but also magnetism and electricity. The subject of electricity was comparatively little developed and its application to the Navy almost negligible.

In 1850‑51, a reorganization of the courses resulted in chemistry being included in a department called Natural and Experimental Philosophy. The subjects treated included mechanics, the use of steam, steam engines, chemistry, heat, electricity, light, mineralogy, and geology. This course was confined to the two upper classes. Professor W. F. Hopkins replaced Professor Henry H. Lockwood at this time. The latter, a graduate of West Point, was assigned to a new Department of Gunnery and Infantry Tactics. In 1854, Lardner's Course in Physics was adopted for the first class. Up to that time the school had no physics or chemistry laboratory equipment worthy of notice.

In 1859, Professor A. W. Smith was appointed Head of Department, being succeeded by Professor H. H. Lockwood, at the death of Smith in 1866. During the regime of Professors Smith and Lockwood, many improvements were made in laboratory facilities and equipment and in methods of instruction. Smith's Mechanics was adopted as a textbook for the second class and Silliman's Physics for the first class. The name "Skinny" as applied to physics and chemistry originated it is said during the time of Professor Smith, inspired by the "skinny" appearance of that gentleman.

The first naval officer to serve as head of the department was Lieutenant Commander (later Rear Admiral) W. T. Sampson, who succeeded Professor Lockwood in 1869. Sampson served to 1871 and again from 1874‑79. The building now housing this Department is Sampson Hall, named after that distinguished officer. In 1871, the name of the department was changed to "Physics and Chemistry," which it retained until 1913.

The course was rearranged in 1875 when the study of elementary physics was assigned to the third class for the first term and chemistry for the second term. The development of the courses follows closely the development of our Navy in general. Professor Soley says of chemistry at this time:

The latter subject is deemed of special importance, not only as being an essential part of a liberal education, but as having a direct practical application in the Service. Its importance to the naval officer is readily illustrated by the improvements which have been made in the art of war by the introduction of guncotton and nitroglycerine, the picrate and chlorate powders, and their various applications in torpedoes and otherwise, for use in military operations. These improvements in military science have begun and ended in the chemist's laboratory; and it follows, as a necessary consequence, that scientific attainments are among the most important of professional qualifications.

The second class at this time studied electricity for one term, the textbook  p1426 being Jenkin's Electricity and Magnetism. The first class was assigned the study of heat and light, taking up also electricity and its application to the various methods of exploding mines and torpedoes. A study of magnetism was important in view of the increasing use of iron in shipbuilding and the resultant complications in the errors of the compass.

It was during the time of Sampson's regime that an outstanding scientific accomplishment was completed by one of the department staff. Sampson had assigned a young officer named Michelson the routine task of giving a lecture on the velocity of light. The subsequent developments from this assignment are so important to the scientific world that a short resumé of the facts in the case are included in this brief historical sketch.

At the time referred to, 1878, Albert A. Michelson was 26 years of age, having graduated from the Naval Academy in 1873. In preparing his lecture to the first class, young Michelson decided to set about obtaining more accurate data than were then available on the velocity of light. He assembled and set up his own apparatus on the Naval Academy water front, on a base line of approximately 2,000 feet, reaching from about the present Isherwood Hall to the eastern end of the Gymnasium. At the eastern end of the base line, a fixed mirror was set up and at the western end a revolving mirror was placed. As Professor Thomson says of the apparatus and his data:

By use of a lens of long focal length (150 feet), Michelson was enabled to reflect light over a distance of 2,000 feet. The time intervals were measured by means of a revolving mirror whose speed was kept accurately constant by means of a hand control on an air turbine, the speed being measured by the stroboscopic effect with a tuning fork of known frequency. Thus time intervals of four-millionths of a second were measured to an accuracy of 1 part in 200,000. A final result of 299,740 kilometers per second in air, or 299,828 kilometers per second in vacuo, was obtained.

The remarkable feature of this early experiment is the fact that after a lifetime spent in seeking more accurate data, the velocity of light as determined by Michelson in 1925‑29 was accepted as 299,800 kilometers per second in vacuo, a difference of only 28 kilometers per second. For any reader who desires a more detailed account of Michelson's life and work, he is referred to U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings of January, 1930. One article therein is by Professor William H. Crew, "The Researches of Professor Michelson" and another is by Associate Professor Earl W. Thomson, U. S. N. A., "The Velocity of Light." At the time of his death in 1931, Michelson was recognized as the world's greatest authority on light and one of the foremost physicists of all time.

The subjects of chemistry, physics, and electricity continued in this Department, with laboratory equipment and textbooks keeping abreast of the latest developments in these subjects. The rapidly growing importance of electricity in the building of the "new Navy" reflected itself in the Academy course. The introduction and development of wireless telegraphy on ships of the Fleet demanded that the study of radio be included in the course. So important had electrical engineering become that in 1907‑08 a separate Department under that name was started. This arrangement continued until 1913 when the two departments were merged under the name "Electrical Engineering and Physics."

To many officers in the Service the thought of physics and chemistry at the Academy is closely associated with the name of "Skinny Paul" Dashiell, who served 40 years in this Department. Paul J. Dashiell came to the Academy after having obtained his A. B. and Ph. D. degrees from the Johns Hopkins University and after having taught organic chemistry at Lehigh for two years. He became a Professor of Mathematics, U. S. Navy, in  p1427 1906, holding the rank of captain when he retired in 1932.

The name of the Department changed again in 1933 to "Electrical Engineering." The subjects of physics and chemistry were not subordinated, the change in name being for brevity. At the present time chemistry is given to the fourth class and physics to the third class both terms. Two hours per week is devoted to chemistry and 3 to physics. The course is supplemented by laboratory work and by lectures in each subject.

Electrical subjects are studied during second- and first‑class years. The second class has magnetism, electromagnetism, storage batteries, direct-current electricity, and the first principles of alternating current. The time assigned is 3 hours and 2 hours per week for the first and second terms, respectively. The first class has alternating current the first term and electronics and radio the second term, for 3 hours and 2 hours per week, respectively. The electrical courses are supplemented by practical work in the laboratories and by lectures.

The chemistry, physics, electrical, and radio laboratories are to‑day the equal of any undergraduate school in the country. They are fully equipped with modern apparatus and each one sufficiently large to take approximately 200 students at one time.

English and History

In a slender pamphlet entitled Plan for the Naval School, August 28, 1846, Commander Franklin Buchanan, the first Superintendent, states the necessary specifications for admission of a candidate, not less than 13 nor more than 17 years of age: "He must be able to read and write well, and be familiar with geography and arithmetic. The Academic Board will examine him on these branches, and certify for his admission into the School." To our thinking these were rather modest requirements even for that period, but some youths nevertheless could not make the grade.

"English studies" in its first years comprised English grammar and composition, geography, and history. The Head of the Department was Chaplain George Jones, a graduate of Yale and the leading man of his class. He had served as tutor at Yale. He was one of eight that comprised the first Academic staff, and he continued on this duty until 1850, when he joined Perry in his expedition to Japan. When Professor Joseph E. Nourse (1850‑65) had taken charge, the scope of the Department was enlarged to include ethics and political science. Wayland's Elements of Moral Science was the textbook for the former, and the prospectus of the lectures and lesson assignments shows under "practical ethics" a formidable program: "Duties to God," "The Sabbath," "Personal, Intellectual, and Religious Liberty," "Veracity, Contracts, and Oaths," "Society, Government, the State," etc. Apparently these highly moral concepts had a reverse influence, arousing in midshipmen the "old boy," or perhaps an effervescence of natural humor. Although no one thought of "gouging" in other subjects, nearly everyone "gouged" in ethics.​b Another Head of Department of the early years was Professor James Russell Soley, a graduate of Harvard (1873‑82). He must have been a man of force, for he wrote a history of the Naval Academy, a life of Admiral Porter, and other works of substantial value; and later he became Assistant Secretary of the Navy. But the records show no especial contribution which he made to the department.

Although one can hardly within the limits of this article refer to all the 22 officers and professors who have been in  p1428 charge of the Department during its history, comments are given on a few. Professor Edward K. Rawson, Corps of Professors of Mathematics, was Head of the Department of English and Law, as it was known in 1904, when the service of the present Head of the Department as an instructor began. Professor Rawson was a graduate of Yale; for many years he had served as chaplain in the Navy, and he was a man of delight­ful culture. The emphasis at this time still was on rule and abstractions. Midshipmen began their English study with a textbook of rhetoric, and this was followed by three other textbooks of rhetoric, with almost no writing beyond the correction of faulty sentences. One of the novelties for the new‑comer was the spelling report, which must be handed in once a week by every midshipman caught in error. There was a prescribed form given out by the Department and it reads as follows:

U. S. Naval Academy,

Annapolis, Maryland,

October 5, 1903.


1. I respectfully state that, during the week ending October 4th, I misspelled the following words:

don't, October 1st,
too, October 1st,
often, October 2d,
despair, October 3d.

Respectfully submitted,

J. M. Jones,
4th Class.

The Head of the Department of English and Law.

Another oddity was Craig's Rules for Shall and Will, formulated years before by Commander J. E. Craig, Head of Department, and printed on a fairly long sheet which every midshipman must learn verbatim. Craig's Rules regularly appeared as one of the questions upon both the November monthly and the semi-annual examinations. But there is no evidence that any midshipman ever allowed these Rules to mar his fluent style.

Three of the four textbooks in rhetoric were abandoned in 1907 when Commander George R. Clark (1907‑10) was made Head of Department, and he gave the instructors an electric thrill by asking, "Why not include some plays of Shakespeare in the course?" Commander James J. Raby (1915‑17) and others who had a genuine respect for culture also introduced liberalizing ideas. But the greatest change came in 1917 when Dr. C. Alphonso Smith (1917‑24), lately Poe Professor of English Literature, University of Virginia, came to the Department. He was a writer and lecturer of distinction, and in earlier years had been a colleague of Woodrow Wilson at the Johns Hopkins University. He had the support of the President and the Secretary of the Navy, but he knew absolutely nothing about Navy ways, and was persona non grata to the Superintendent and others in authority. In due time, however, he learned the wisdom of requesting leave of absence when he was about to go off on a lecture tour. He soon became intensely enthusiastic about naval affairs, and his warm sympathy, his contagious love of literature, and his great gift in lecturing and telling good stories completely won the Academy over.

The present Head of the Department of English succeeded Dr. Smith on the latter's death in 1924. One of the responsibilities immediately placed upon him by the Superintendent, Admiral Henry B. Wilson, was the organizing of a course of Friday evening lectures for the first class. This was related to the midshipmen's course in Modern European History, and by drawing upon the historians from the universities and men of affairs from the large cities, the move was success­ful in not only quickening and broadening the interests of midshipmen but  p1429 interesting many of the officers and their families as well, for the lectures were open to the personnel of the station.

Another development during the administration of Admiral Wilson was after-dinner speaking. This had been introduced 12 years previously at the suggestion of Captain Gibbons when Superintendent, with a series of dinners, attended by groups of the first class taken in rotation, two instructors being in charge. But for years the dinners were not especially good, nor well served. And there was no place in Bancroft Hall which enjoyed privacy or in any degree suggested a banquet room. Instructors of the Department appealed to the midshipmen's imagination by suggesting as a reason for the dinner some grand hypothetical occasion such as might possibly confront the officers of our Navy. But the midshipmen would not scintillate, and very often the toastmaster suspected that the first-class man had a plebe write his speech for him. Within a year all was changed. The plan was tried of inviting an officer or professor from another department to be the guest of honor at each dinner, thus making the dinner a real occasion. A large recitation room conveniently located in the second wing of Bancroft Hall was transformed into an attractive banquet room. An appropriate set of china replaced the heavy porcelain, the same as that used in the mess hall. And the chef was instructed to provide a dinner different from that served in the mess hall, including some real delicacies. At once the speaking came to be regarded more seriously, and it has become one of the distinctive activities of the Department.

A third development was that introduced in the first-class Modern European History course, two years ago. An additional period per week, second term, being assigned to the Department, it was devoted to historical research in the Library and to the writing of long papers. Realizing that in a class of 400 or 500 provision must be made so that there would not be interference such as would make the plan impossible, the Library was open for the first class four evenings a week, and they were allowed great freedom in choosing the hours which they spent there. The plan has worked well, the best evidence of its success being the interest and enthusiasm of the midshipmen shown in the long papers submitted.

The Department, which for 22 years had gone under the simple name "English" was changed in 1930 to "English and History" — for the reason that it was giving quite as many courses in the second branch as in the first. These courses at present are as follows:

Class First term Second term

Composition and literature

Composition and literature


Naval history

History of the United States since 1865


Comparative literature

— — — — —


History of American diplomacy


History of Modern Europe (1500‑1815)

History of Modern Europe (1815– the present)

After-dinner speaking

After-dinner speaking

The tendency in recent years has been to abandon that which is largely memory work and to substitute for it a few fundamental principles which may be constantly emphasized and applied. In studying composition, literature, or history, midshipmen are constantly called upon to write, and the 4‑year curriculum affords practice that should not be quickly lost. With more advanced entrance requirements, midshipmen can now devote more time to literature and to modern thought.  p1430 In history they read more widely and stress the underlying forces and the principal lines of development. The Department trusts that many of the young officers are going forth with a strong desire for further reading and study, the most potent force there is for continued progress and culture.


The Department of Languages was one of the original six departments of the Naval School founded in 1845. At its inception, Professor Arsene N. Girault constituted the entire staff of the Department. The title appears a trifle pretentious when it is considered that French was the only language taught. In 1850‑51, however, as a part of the radical change that was being made, the Department was divided into the Department of French, under Girault, and the Department of Spanish, under Professor E. A. Roget. French was taught 3 and 4 hours a week to the third and fourth classes and 2 hours a week to the second class, while Spanish, apparently held in little esteem from 1853 to 1867, was an elective course for the first class and was taught through the medium of French. In the latter year, Spanish came into its own, being taught as a 3‑year course directly without detouring through a third language.

As the Academy expanded, the Departments of Languages were enlarged in proportion, so that by 1866 the staff consisted of 9 instructors. In that year Girault was succeeded by Professor L. V. Dovilliers as Head of the Department of French, the latter in turn being replaced three years later by Commander E. Y. McCauley — the first time that this, one of the so‑called cultural departments, was headed by a naval officer. After another 3‑year interval, the Department of French and the Department of Spanish were merged into the Department of Modern Languages, under Commander W. Scott Schley, who is much more widely known for the part he played in the Spanish-American War. Although this merger was permanent, the policy of pla­cing the Department under a naval officer was abandoned in 1876 when Professor L. C. Prud'homme was designated as Head of Department, an assignment which lasted until Lieutenant Commander J. Schouler took over in 1882. Since then there has been no departure from this policy.

The increase in Congressional appointments in 1902 approximately tripled the number of midshipmen, resulting in such a shortage of instructors that in the spring of 1903, Midshipman (now Captain) R. S. Holmes was detailed to instruct under classmen. The following year saw a reorganization and modernization of the Department with a staff of 2 officers and 10 civilian instructors.

By 1915, it was finally decided that the teaching of two languages to a student in the time allotted was impracticable; the presentation of two languages to a group by one instructor in a week created confusion which resulted in a loss of time. Accordingly, in the interests of efficiency, the Department adopted the policy, which is still in effect, of dividing the regiment in halves and teaching one language for the entire course to each half.

The year 1903 marked the advent of Professor Arturo Fernandez, the present dean of the civilian staff of the Department,  p1431 who will be remembered by practically all naval readers of these pages. The other professors now in the Department who have served over a quarter of a century are W. E. Oliver and M. A. Colton.

The largest staff in the history of the Department existed in 1922, comprising 31 civilian instructors, under Commander Milne, U. S. Navy. In 1926‑27, the staff was changed so as to consist of an approximately equal number of officers and civilian instructors, and at present the proportion of officers has been increased to 60 per cent of the total.

In 1929, examinations for qualification as interpreter were instituted. Any midshipman who considers himself proficient may take the examination consisting of three parts — writing, conversation, and dictation. Those who qualify are reported to the Bureau of Navigation which lists them as naval interpreters. Officer instructors are normally selected from among these interpreters and those who have seen service in French- or Spanish-speaking countries.

The greatest change since 1859 was effected in 1930 when Italian and German were added to curriculum. The policy then, as it is now, was to select two sections of midshipmen with special qualifications in languages as well as other academic subjects from each class for instruction in the added languages. This policy will be varied in the future to accord with the demand for proficiency in the various languages.

A most interesting and novel experiment in the field of pedagogy was instituted last year. The manifold advantages of a centralized dictation exercise for all students of a language were attained by the installation of a public-address system. A microphone in a dictation system, connected with loudspeakers in classrooms, each containing from 15 to 30 students, makes it possible for one instructor to dictate to one‑half of an entire class, thus obtaining an absolute comparison of the aural proficiency of all members of the group. The results obtained by the Department in this method of instruction have led to its wide discussion in colleges and universities throughout the country. A description of this novel installation with illustrations appears in the May, 1935, issue of the Naval Institute Proceedings.

Since the founding of the Naval Academy, the course in languages has consisted of from 2 to 4 years' instruction. Textbooks have been changed from time to time, as has the scope of the course. Nautical phraseology was touched upon as early as 1870, and since 1911 it has become an unchanging feature of the curriculum. The nature of this article and space requirements render it advisable to omit an account of all the various changes throughout the years and to present a general description of the Department and course as they are at present.

The teaching staff of the Department of Languages consists of 16 naval officers and 11 civilian instructors. The present 3‑year curriculum includes preliminary phonetics; fundamental grammar and idioms; application of grammar and idioms in reading, writing, dictation, and simple conversation; brief review of grammar in connection with composition, dictation, and conversation; advanced reading, writing, dictation, and conversation and naval interpreting. Standard textbooks are used in all these stages except the last, in which is employed the work Naval Phraseology in French, Spanish, German, and Italian, prepared by the Department of Languages and published by the U. S. Naval Institute.

 p1432  Economics and Government

The Department of Economics and Government has no history; it hopes to participate in the future. It is the youngest of the academic domains having made its bow to the scholastic world of the Naval Academy in the fall of 1933.

During the year 1931‑32, the Academic Board, under the leader­ship of the Superintendent, Rear Admiral Thomas C. Hart, U. S. Navy, undertook a comprehensive study of the entire curriculum. The objective was to endeavor to broaden the general educational foundation without sacrifi­cing any of the essentials of professional instruction and training. The task was not an easy one but through a fine spirit of co‑operation under effective leader­ship a large measure of success was attained. Out of this effort was born the new department.

Of necessity the time assigned to these new subjects was small; two recitations a week through first- and second-class years. This must be the Department's excuse for not providing more comprehensive courses in these two live and rapidly changing fields of human interest. In the first term of second-class year, the usual basic college course in United States government is given; in the second term, a course on the governments of Europe; in first-class year, extending through both terms, a course in the fundamentals of economics supplemented by a short course in personal finance. In addition, the new department adopted a waif, the short course in military law, which despite its importance to the young officer didn't seem to have a logical home in any other department.

Being new and untrammeled by tradition, the Department has adopted some innovations in section-room procedure. Each period begins with a 10- to 15‑minute written recitation on the lesson assignment of the day; this gives the basis for the daily mark. The remaining 35 to 40 minutes is utilized for explanations by the instructor, questions by the midshipmen, or more frequently discussions by the whole section of any question at all germane to the subject matter of the course. The attempt is to combine the advantages of the Naval Academy system of daily accountability for a definite text assignment with the conference or round-table method of instruction. Lectures by men of standing and attainment in the fields of politics and business are given throughout both courses.

Another innovation is the short course, mentioned above, in personal finance. All that can be given in the time available is some instruction and advice on the financial problems which confront the young officer so soon after graduation; the kinds and varieties of insurance available and for what purposes each is best suited; the useful functions which commercial banks can perform for an officer at sea; the pitfalls of speculation and a few sound principles of investment for those fortunate enough to acquire a little money by saving or from other sources. This appears to be the most popular part of the entire course.

The Department has made its modest appearance in time to participate in the ninetieth anniversary. It hopes to be a seasoned a veteran with a record of some successes along with the inevitable failures by the time the Naval Academy reaches the century mark.

Physical Training

The history of the Department of Physical Training carries no intriguing romance but instead it provides a tale of gradual adjustment. In point of years one of the youngest of all the Departments, its mission would really seem to make it the oldest  p1433 because physical training, in the sense that physical effort was expended and development ensued has always, been an integral part of the life of midshipmen within these walls. In the earlier years this effort was spread over many fields so that when the Department of Physical Training, as such, came into being it was the cohesive agency accepting and administering certain functions that had been under the purview of many other departments and adding considerable of its own.

The ground surrounding old Fort Severn furnished the area for establishing the Naval Academy but the fort itself, gunless in its dotage, was the center of physical activities as its walls provided the enclosure for the first gymnasium. Within it along with boxing gloves, side horses, parallel bars, and other awesome paraphernalia, there was located a green-black tank filled with chilly water for the embryo officers first to establish their aquatic skill. This domain came under the supervision of the Discipline, now termed Executive, Department.

Sword and cane drills under the tutelage of the redoubtable Swordmaster, Corbesier, can be vividly recalled in the minds of many officers of our Navy who learned "Advance," "Retard," and "Moulinet Right" before this erect and master­ful figure, and under his all‑seeing eyes. The fanci­ful legend of his departure from the old world after a duel that resulted in little less than righteous murder had its appeal to the impressionable minds of his midshipmen students, legend though perhaps it was. Swordsmanship was borrowed from the Department of Ordnance and furnished one of the foundation blocks of the new Department.

With the construction of Macdonough Hall early in the present century and with its better equipment, it was possible to bring most of physical instruction under a single roof, then shared with the Department of Seamanship. Physiology and Hygiene exercised supervision over the new scientifically designed "muscle machines." The weak squad was recruited under the eaves of this building. Physical exercises continued to be supervised by the Discipline Department.

It was not until 1923 that the Department of Physical Training was born. The Athletic Officer moved from a cubby hole in Bancroft Hall to his logical office in the gymnasium to assume immediate charge over a systematically planned course of physical exercise and training, dovetailed in with the schedule of academics.

The Head of this young Department logically has the ex‑officio duties, under the Superintendent, of recommending policy and control of athletics, that spectacular and much publicized phase of the midshipmen's lives. Through this Department come many of the happy contacts of the midshipmen with the students of other colleges, which give to the regiment their athletic traditions with their inspirational uplift and which promotes good sportsman­ship and good will, generally.

The Navy Athletic Association is an adjunct of the Department. Founded in 1892, it is the medium that conducts the business and provides the financial support for the intercollegiate athletic program which last year comprised 191 intercollegiate contests in 17 different sports — not to count a myriad of well-supervised inter-class and inter-company meets thrown in for good measure of recreation, providing the opportunity for every midshipman to engage in pleasurable encounters and keeping the Naval Academy from becoming an institution where "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

 p1434  Hygiene

As far as can be determined from a study of the available records and conversation with individuals having knowledge of conditions surrounding the establishment of the Naval Academy, it is apparent that the development of the Medical Department is expressive of the transition through which the practice of medicine in general has passed within the last 90 years. In addition we have experienced, in this time, a very marked increase in Navy personnel, so that the problem of properly caring for the sick and conducting the necessary procedures incident to physical examinations and general hygiene has necessitated a gradually increasing staff of medical officers and modern equipment to meet the demands.

On November 8, 1845, shortly after the Naval Academy was established, the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable George Bancroft, directed a letter to Commander Franklin Buchanan, U. S. Navy, the Superintendent of the Naval School, that is expressive of conditions at that time. In that letter Secretary Bancroft approved the transfer of a midshipman to the Naval Hospital at Philadelphia for treatment and in the second paragraph said:

I request that you will inform the Department what arrangements, if any, have been made at the Naval School establishment, for medical treatment of the sick connected with the School, separately and apart from their quarters, or sleeping apartments.

The implication here being that a sick bay was being conducted in connection with the dormitories but that there was no known means of hospitalization or treatment of the acutely ill in Annapolis. In the following year, 1846, according to information contained in Professor Soley's Historical Sketch of the U. S. Naval Academy,​c a hospital was built on the plain below the Superintendent's house. The small bungalow-type building contained five rooms above and three below.

The original hospital functioned as such until about 1855 when a larger building was erected in the vicinity of the present Officer's Club. This new hospital was built to hospitalize the sick midshipmen. At the time there were 500 midshipmen, 100 officers and their families, and 100 marines.

On August 1, 1871, a larger and more modern hospital was erected on the plateau over­looking the Severn River, in the general vicinity of the present Golf Club. It is evident that that this establishment was unsatisfactory from the beginning because of poor drainage, the prevalence of mosquitoes, and the incidence of malaria among the physicians and attendants. Accordingly, in 1876, this hospital was closed on the recommendation of the Surgeon General to the Superintendent, Admiral C. R. P. Rodgers, U. S. Navy. This building later was used as a storehouse until 1910 when it was demolished. Following the closing of the hospital, all acutely ill patients were transferred to the Naval Hospital in Washington for a period of some years. Among the records now available there are numerous re­quisitions showing expenditures of pay for coach hire for transportation between Annapolis and Washington. Between the years 1876 and 1907, all patients requiring prolonged treatment and who could not be cared for in the Sick Quarters were transferred to the Naval Hospital in Washington.

This arrangement for the hospitalization of acute cases continued until 1907 when the present Naval Hospital, located on a promontory over­looking the Severn River, was put into commission. Ten years later, in 1917, additions were made to the original hospital that resulted in added bed space and greater facilities for the treatment of the sick. At this time the  p1435 staff of the hospital consists of 11 officers, 10 nurses, and 60 hospital orderlies. The efficiency of the professional personnel and the modern equipment insure the highest type of treatment available to all patients.

At about the time that the Naval Hospital was completed Sick Quarters, in the Naval Academy proper, was established under the colonnade in Bancroft Hall. Less than a year later, Sick Quarters was moved to the fourth floor of that building since it was found that the original location was too dark and damp to be used for the purpose intended. The area on the fourth floor has been continuously occupied by the Medical Department since that time but it has been enlarged by a like area on the same floor for the accommodation of the dental clinic.

The Naval Dispensary, established to give necessary treatment to officers and their families, was also located under the colonnade, in Bancroft Hall, in 1907, but later, in 1912, it was moved to its present location in the basement of Mahan Hall where more room was available.

As has been stated, the Medical Department of the Naval Academy originated in a very simple way, with one or two physicians to care for the sick midshipmen as well as the families of officers. In the beginning it is understood that there were but 160 naval cadets on the reservation and relatively few officers. Then the physical demands of the Medical Department were very few and the equipment used at that time would hardly be referred to as such today. There was no occasion for elaborate outlay since the practice of medicine itself was restricted. Now, however, we are confronted with a different picture. The problems of the modern day department cover every field of medicine and surgery as well as hygiene, aside from the course in the latter subject that is given midshipmen of the first line.

A corps of physicians, four in number, are constantly on duty in connection with Sick Quarters in Bancroft Hall. Here all physical examinations on midshipmen are conducted annually, protective inoculations are given against communicable diseases, and sick call is conducted twice daily. Midshipmen with mild conditions not demanding special diet or bed treatment over 24 hours are retained in Sick Quarters, but others in need of longer treatment are hospitalized at the local Naval Hospital. In addition, the staff in this location handles problems in hygiene that arise in connection with the mess hall, the dormitories, and the Naval Academy Dairy.

The dental department, located in Bancroft Hall, is made up of 8 dental officers who are in attendance upon both officers and midshipmen. These officers have been specially selected for their known efficiency and, since the equipment is modern in every respect, the type and volume of work accomplished during the course of a year is very impressive. As a result of the work accomplished it is believed that the health of the regiment is very materially benefited.

Still another branch of the Medical Department that has a definite bearing on the general health of the regiment is that functioning in an advisory capacity to the Department of Physical Training. The physician detailed here is not only in constant attendance at all athletic contests but also supervises measures taken to correct improper posture and poor physical development. In addition he advises as to the availability of individual midshipmen for competitive athletics following injuries and supervises the treatments given athletes, in connection with the Department of Physical Training. Still another important duty of this officer is the hygienic supervision of the two swimming pools in the gymnasium. It is a well-recognized fact that epidemics of certain diseases may originate in swimming pools. For this reason bacterial counts are regularly  p1436 made on the water in the pools and necessary steps are constantly taken to prevent contamination.

Early in the history of the Naval Academy, 1876, it was evident that the authorities were greatly interested in the physical development of midshipmen. Efforts were apparently being made to evaluate muscular strength and to correct postural abnormalities during the academic period. As an aid in this direction, a dynamometer was installed in the Department of Physical Training. This instrument was looked upon as an important guide in the estimation of muscular strength and as a result of its use the groundwork was established for the present system used to correct physical defects based on abnormal station and posture. Since the time indicated, there have been great strides made in evaluating these conditions. At present, aside from machine-made measurements and general physical examinations, a record is made of each midshipman's posture by photograph. A picture is taken of the midshipman against a detailed scale. Interpretation of the photograph indicates the procedure necessary to correct the individual defect present. With this information at hand, it has been possible for those in charge of physical training to be of material assistance to individual midshipmen by instituting a course of training suited to their personal needs.

Of secondary importance only to the medical care of midshipmen has been that afforded officers and their families. This branch of the service has grown very materially in the past few years. Less than 14 years ago one medical officer attempted to cover this relatively large field but today there are three. The scope of the work these officers accomplish may best be expressed in terms of office calls and house visits made during the period of a year. During 1934, 11,518 house calls were made, 21,893 patients were treated in the Dispensary, 96 obstetrical cases were treated and 148 major operations were performed on members of service families. In addition, a large number of ear and nose operations were performed on members of families, children were given physical examinations prior to the school year, and protective inoculations were given children of officers against the most common contagious diseases. To accomplish this large volume of work, it was necessary to utilize the services of the Emergency Hospital in Annapolis, to treat the more serious cases, but a great number, where operation was not necessary, were treated in their own homes. The cost of hospitalization, of course, was borne by the officers concerned. In those cases involving the families of enlisted men who were unable to pay for hospital treatment, the Navy Relief Society has defrayed the expense. The total outlay by this Society for that purpose averages about $1,000 a year.

Within recent years a naval flight surgeon has been assigned for duty in connection with aviation at the Naval Academy. Since all flight activities are centered about the station ship, the physician having this detail has been assigned duty in connection with both station ships and, in addition, conducts aviation physical examinations of midshipmen. Aviation officers in attendance at the Postgraduate School are required to keep up their flight time, and during each summer midshipmen of the second class undergo flight training. Duty in this connection together with general supervision of hygienic conditions at the Engineering Experiment Station absorb all of the time that the medical officer in attendance has at his disposal.

The function of the Senior Medical Officer at the Naval Academy is essentially one of co‑ordination and administration. The varied activities of his Department together with problems in general hygiene  p1437 relative to the water supply, illumination of dormitories and classrooms, liaison with the state health authorities, and the solution of problems involving the Academy as a whole are both ever present and interesting. In past years, many outstanding physicians have held the position of the Senior Medical Officer but space does not allow the mere enumeration of their names or reference to their accomplishments.


The beginning of the Library was coincident with the founding of the Naval Academy, as shown by a letter of Secretary Bancroft to Lieutenant Ward, dated September 15, 1845. In this letter $100 is allotted to the purchase of books for a library. Furthermore, in Marshall's History of Naval Academy (1862),​d1 it is stated that the Honorable George Bancroft caused to be transferred to the Academy a few hundred miscellaneous volumes that had accumulated on ships of war and in navy yards.

It is not known where this nucleus of a library was first set up, but probably it was in the rooms assigned to the use of the Department of Mathematics, as Professor Chauvenet, head of that department, was the first librarian. However, it was not long before the Library had quarters exclusively its own. These consisted of one spacious room on the second floor of the Mess Hall. Soley states that this building was the first erected in the grounds after the Navy Department took possession. It was begun in the summer of 1846, and on January 21, 1847, a ball was given to celebrate its completion.​e In its room in this building the Library remained until 1861, when it was packed in boxes and taken to Fort Adams, Massachusetts, and kept there in one of the casemates until 1865, when the Academy returned from Newport. About 1,000 volumes were taken from the boxes and arranged for temporary use while the Academy was at Newport. This little collection consisted of the most important of the books of reference, and to it were added at Newport 633 new volumes.

In 1866, the Maryland "Government" house and grounds were deeded to the Naval Academy. This property was between Dahlgren Hall and the Superintendent's house; and in 1869 the "Governor's Mansion" having been prepared as a permanent home for it, the Library was moved to that building, where it was housed on the first floor in a very appropriate and a very attractive manner.​f A few years later an annex was erected to accommodate the accumulation of books. It was hexagonal in shape, about 38 by 30 feet, with shelves around the wall rising to between 7 and 8 feet, and a circle of small windows above; with a long table through the center for periodicals. This chamber was called the "board room" because the Academic Board held its sessions there for a time. It was at the rear or garden side of the "mansion" (toward the Bay). As may be supposed, this chamber was of very limited capacity and soon it formed but little more than the connecting gallery to a new annex of two stories and basement. The Library remained in those quarters until 1901. The development of the new Naval Academy required the removal of the old Governor's Mansion and the consequent shift of the Library to the old Lyceum or Institute building. In that building it remained until 1907, when it was transferred to its present quarters in Mahan Hall.

At the start the Library was placed under the care and supervision of the Head of the Department of Mathematics; a few years later it came under the care of the Head of Department of Astronomy and Navigation; and after another interval  p1438 of several years it was transferred to the care of the Head of Department of English, where it remained until 1924, and then was placed directly under the Superintendent. It appears that the heads of the first two departments mentioned were titular librarians; actually, however, the conduct of the Library seems to have been entrusted to the assistant librarian, one of the instructors.

The librarian has always had the helpful counsel of the Library Committee. This committee was composed of the heads of two of the academic departments and the librarian until 1933, when it was increased in number to the heads of four of the academic departments and the librarian.

The Library has been the recipient of numerous gifts from officers, civilians, and institutions. Those most notable are the Park Benjamin collection (1,200 vols.) which traces the history of electricity; the Brooklyn Naval Lyceum collection (upwards of 4,000 vols.); and a similar collection from the Boston Naval Lyceum, of about the same number of volumes.

The Library's beginning was modest, even humble, with a scratch collection of miscellaneous volumes and $100 for purchasing others; but it appears that funds were provided in the years following for additional purchases, until 1851, when, according to Marshall,​d2 a regular annual appropriation of $2,000 was begun. This sum was raised to $2,500 in 1905; and in 1925 the annual appropriation was increased to $5,000. The collection itself has grown to 81,000 numbered volumes, from which total, however, several thousand have been withdrawn as obsolete or worn.

Much evidence exists that the Library has been fortunate in the service it has received. Its progress seems to have been marked by faithfulness, diligence, and good judgment on the part of its librarians. The names of several of those who served in the formative and early years naturally suggest themselves at this time. First, Professor Chauvenet and then Professor Coffin in their capacity of director; and with them, serving in turn as acting librarian, were Professors Tafel, Zumbrock, and Forde. They seem to have started building up the Library on lines which have been consistently followed ever since, namely, naval literature as the primary feature, supported by as rich a variety of books in all fields of literature as the funds could buy. In 1869, Mr. Poole, of the Boston Athenaeum, came especially to rearrange or reclassify the books and to recatalogue them on cards. This work was of vast advantage to the Library and it was done with such soundness of judgment that the classification maintains itself to this day and bids fair to go on indefinitely.

Postgraduate School

Up to the end of the nineteenth century, the Navy depended upon civilian life to provide such specialists as were necessary for its more technical branches, and the Naval Academy graduate received all of his postgraduate instruction in the "school of hard knocks." However, in 1881, two cadet engineers, desiring to become naval constructors, obtained permission to take a course in naval architecture at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, England. Thereafter, two or more graduates each year pursued a similar course at Greenwich, Glasgow, or Paris. There was no very definite policy concerning this special education. The Navy Regulations (1893) state that,

naval cadets who show a peculiar aptitude for the profession of Naval Construction, may be selected by the Secretary of the Navy for such a scientific mechanical education as will fit them for said profession.

 p1439  It was not until 1900 that steps were taken to provide facilities for higher education in the Navy itself. At that time, a course of postgraduate instruction for prospective naval constructors was started at the Naval Academy under Naval Constructors Spear and Hobson, but was soon afterward shifted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the meantime, after the amalgamation of the Line and Engineer Corps in 1899, the necessity for specialization in marine and electrical engineering was considered and in 1906 postgraduate courses in these subjects were inaugurated in Washington, under the Bureau of Engineering. In 1909, control and supervision of postgraduate instruction was shifted to the Superintendent of the Naval Academy. Three years later the curricula were increased to include naval construction, civil engineering, ordnance, and radio telegraphy, and a Postgraduate Department was created, to be an integral part of the Naval Academy, but separate from the undergraduate departments and independent of the Academic Board. Although the Postgraduate School was the focal point for naval education on these subjects, full advantage was taken of civilian universities to give the final schooling in the specialties chosen.

This was the postgraduate system when, in 1917, all student officers were detached for war service and higher education was ignored for two years.

Following the war, it was desired to get the Postgraduate School off to a new start. Larger quarters were assigned in the old Marine Barracks, but the status as a department of the Naval Academy was not changed, and instruction was begun in a large variety of subjects, including mechanical, electrical, and radio engineering, naval construction, civil engineering, general ordnance, ordnance design, fire control, torpedoes, explosives, metallurgy, and ballistics. The course in law at George Washington University, which had previously been taken by a few officers from the office of the Judge Advocate General, became a regular postgraduate course within the purview of the Postgraduate School. Then, to this extensive list, there was added aëronautical engineering in 1920, Diesel engineering in 1924, and aërology in 1926.

But in the meantime, in 1919, a special board was appointed to make a thorough study of all matters pertaining to the education of line officers of the Navy. This board, composed of Captain D. W. Knox, Commander E. J. King, and Commander W. S. Pye, laid the foundation for the present postgraduate system. In its report, the board recommended four periods of instruction for line officers, so distributed through the officer's career as to make it the general rule that an instruction and training period would precede the employment in an advanced stage of usefulness. The four periods of instruction are the Naval Academy, the General Line Course at the Postgraduate School, the Junior War College, and the Senior War College.

It was not until 1927 that the General Line Course, as recommended by the Knox-King-Pye Board became a reality. This course has already increased from an original enrollment of 15 student officers in 1927, to 170 in 1934.

The policy of the Navy Department in regard to the postgraduate phase of a naval officer's education was expressed in a Bureau of Navigation letter in 1931 as follows:

The plan for officer education contemplates that eventually all line officers shall take the general line course at the Postgraduate School when ordered to their first tour of shore duty, [and]

From the officers who complete the one‑year general line course there will be selected a limited number of officers for a year's postgraduate training at the Postgraduate School in a prescribed specialty with the idea of developing them as operating specialists. Either from this group or from the  p1440 original group, there will be chosen a small number of design and production specialists in each branch, who will have in addition to the second year of postgraduate work a third year of instruction at a civilian university.

For the most part this plan is being carried out at the present time. In 1930, an operating communications course was started and, in 1931, the mechanical, electrical, and Diesel engineering courses were combined into a single marine engineering course. In 1932, the naval constructors and civil engineers ceased taking any instruction at Annapolis and began to receive their entire training at Massachusetts Institute of technology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In 1933, a course in marine engineering (operating) was introduced.

Now, in 1935, there are 144 officers taking the general line curriculum, divided into groups, and with the curriculum slightly modified, according to the technical subjects in which they intend to specialize; 4 take aërology; 23, marine engineering (design); 26, marine engineering (operating); 10, radio engineering; 24, communications; 25, ordnance engineering; 12, aëronautical engineering, and the remaining 19 take the unmodified general line curriculum.​g There are 104 officers in the second year at Annapolis, studying a prescribed specialty; 48 more are taking a third year away from Annapolis, continuing their studies at the various naval manufacturing plants and at civilian universities. The universities attended are University of California for marine and radio engineering; Carnegie Institute of Technology for ordnance metallurgy; University of Michigan for ordnance explosives and aëronautical engineering; Massachusetts Institute of technology for torpedoes and aërology; Harvard University for radio engineering; California Institute of Technology for aëronautical engineering and aërology; and L'Ecole d'Application du Génie Maritime, Paris, for naval architecture. These numbers do not include the 33 candidates for the Construction Corps studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the 4 candidates for the Civil Engineers Corps at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the 15 officers taking law at George Washington University, nor the 35 officers taking the finance and supply course, instituted in 1934, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

It is in this fashion that the Navy attempts to keep abreast of the times and to have its officers informed on all the technical complexities of their profession.

The Editor's Note:

* Editor's Note. — The historical sketches of the Departments have been furnished by officers in these Departments. The Naval Institute is indebted to them, individually and collectively, for their research which enables the Proceedings to give a short, authentic history of each Department.

Thayer's Notes:

a Brady's manual, full title The Naval Apprentice's Kedge Anchor; or Young Sailor's Assistant, was found so useful that it was updated many times, and several of the revised editions can be found online. Surely in 1851 the Academy used the most recent edition, the 5th, published in that year; but all the editions I find online are later, except one: the first edition (1841).

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b Recent structured research confirms this anecdotal evidence of the counterproductive effects of pushing morals down our throats (or at least the 21c version of morals) when we are busy at work, as indeed midshipmen are: an article titled "Ironic evaluation processes: effects of thought suppression on evaluations of older job applicants" that appeared in the Journal of Organizational Behavior 21:689-711 (2000) gives the following as its abstract:

This research explored ironic evaluation processes initiated by suppression instructions conveyed during diversity training. Raters watched one of three training videos: a video providing information about age diversity and recommending that they try to suppress age-related thoughts; a video providing information about age, sex, race, and ethnic diversity and recommending that they try to suppress demography-related thoughts; or a control video containing no suppression recommendations. All raters then evaluated a series of job applicants. During the evaluation task, some raters were cognitively busy while others were not. Ironically, busy raters instructed to suppress age-related thoughts evaluated an older applicant less favorably than raters in other conditions. These results suggest that organizational diversity training including instructions to suppress stereotypic thoughts may have detrimental effects on evaluations of non-traditional job applicants if raters are cognitively busy when they implement these instructions.

In sum, though the end may well be a good one, this isn't the way to do it.

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c p129.

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d1 d2 p52.

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e See p1382 of this same issue of the Proceedings, in which, however, the Library does not explicitly figure.

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f For other details, and four photographs, see pp1406‑1407 and 1411 of this same issue of the Proceedings.

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g Sic; but the breakdown only adds to 143.

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