Thursday, December 29, 2011

Naval Namesakes: Peary Street

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

Many streets, buildings, and institutions in Rhode Island are named to honor the Narragansett Bay area’s rich naval heritage. This regular feature to the museum’s blog provides a brief look at the people, places, and events behind the names.

Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary (1856-1920) USN Civil Engineer and Polar Explorer

Peary and his wife in 1888
Peary Street on Naval Station Newport is named for Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary. Peary won international fame for his much disputed claim to have been the first explorer to reach the North Pole on April 6, 1909. Born in Cresson, Pennsylvania in 1856, Peary spent his youth in Maine and graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in Civil Engineering. On October 26, 1881 he was commissioned a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps. After surveying a bridge in Key West, the young officer reported to Coasters Harbor Island for special duty on September 1, 1883.  The island, recently gifted to the federal government by the state of Rhode Island,  was now the permanent home of the Naval Training Station.  One of his first assignments was to assist Commodore Stephen B. Luce, the station's commanding officer, in writing recommendations for improvements to the island. Fifteen months after his arrival, Peary left to survey a possible inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua. From the tropics he would head north in repeated expeditions to Greenland and the North Pole. He retired with the rank of rear admiral in 1911 and died in 1920. Though often overlooked in the wake of his subsequent exploits and achievements, this street reminds us of Peary's brief duty in Newport.

Four naval vessels and one Liberty Ship have been named for the famous explorer.

Street Sign Image by Christina Anderson
Peary Image, courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Naval War College Christmas Card, 1929

This Christmas card was sent out by the Naval War College in 1929 during the administration of Vice Admiral Joel R. P. Pringle.  It features a whimsical map of Coasters Harbor Island where the college and Naval Training Station reside. The map is embellished with illustrations of landmarks and nautical motifs commonly found on charts and maps.                                                     The permanently moored training ship USS Constellation dominates the southern end of the island near a depiction of a United States Marine guard at the entry to the base. Counter clockwise from the "Naval War College" are Luce Hall (with Mahan Hall directly behind), The Naval Station Administration Building (now Founders Hall/NWC Museum), Quarters AA (the President's House then designated Quarters B), three buildings for senior officers' quarters (C/D, E/F, and G/H), an unknown building which may be an auditorium, and what appears to be Barracks B (recruit quarters). An unknown building (possibly the chapel) and Quarters A (Commander of the Naval Station) are featured in the center.

Happy Holidays from the staff at the Naval War College Museum!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Bust of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 1946

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

Out of the chaos of the unprecedented attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, arose men of the highest caliber to lead the United States to victory over the Axis powers.  Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz, stands out as one of those individuals who became prominent as an exceptional commander in the face of extreme adversity.  His extraordinary career led famed artist Felix de Weldon to sculpt a portrait bust of the admiral.   December was a historic month for Admiral Nimitz's career and presents an ideal time to post on this work of art in the museum collection.                                              
In December of 1941, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Nimitz was selected as Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Oceans Area.   On December 31, 1941, then Rear Admiral Nimitz was promoted to Admiral. Throughout the war, Nimitz remained in his role as Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet.  On December 19, 1944, he was promoted to the rank of Fleet Admiral, a new rank established by Congress just days earlier. Nimitz, Ernest. J King, William D. Leahy, and William F. Halsey, Jr. were the only four officers to attain this rank. One year later on December 15, 1945, Nimitz became the Chief of Naval Operations, relieving Admiral Ernest J. King.  He retired as CNO exactly two years later.
Dr. Felix de Weldon, VADM Bernard L. Austin, and LTGEN
 Keller E. Rockey, USMC (Ret.) pose with the bust in 1964.
Chester Nimitz was an alumnus of the Naval War College, Class of 1923. His service to his country and attendance at the college were honored on June 5, 1964 when Newport resident, Felix de Weldon, presented the college with this plaster bust.  President of the Naval War College Vice Admiral Bernard Austin accepted the bust as well as a bronze model of de Weldon's Iwo Jima Flag Raising sculpture.  Eight years later when the artist presented a bronze cast of this likeness to CINCPACFLT Headquarters in Pearl Harbor, he remarked, “I keenly felt his [Nimitz's] brilliance and lucidity of mind as well as his simplicity and charm of manner.  He was a man of scrupulous impartiality with a great gift of logic.  His deeply penetrating mind and outstanding leadership left his mark on our Navy for all times.  Admiral Nimitz was loved and respected by all who knew him…” 

Visitors can see the bust of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in the museum's second floor exhibit on the history of the Naval War College. 

Gift of Felix de Weldon                                                                                          76.48.01
Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Steel Fragment from USS Arizona, 1941

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

December 7, 2011 marks the seventieth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This “day of infamy” was experienced firsthand not only by the sailors, Marines, and soldiers stationed at Pearl Harbor, but by their families as well. Particularly effected were the residents of the CPO and Nob Hill neighborhoods on Ford Island, adjacent to Battleship Row.

The primary objective of the attack was to cripple the United States Pacific Fleet. By 1941, the United States had achieved parity almost equal to that of the Japanese fleet. The targets on that Sunday were the seven battleships moored at Battleship Row: The USS California, USS Maryland, USS Oklahoma, USS Tennessee, USS West Virginia, USS Arizona and USS Nevada. The three aircraft carriers, Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga were not at Pearl Harbor during the attack.

The USS Arizona, suffered the most fatal damage when a Japanese bomb hit the vicinity of her forward magazines between turrets #1 and #2. The magazine detonated with a “massive blast." The battleship sunk almost immediately and the attack claimed 1,117 members of her crew.

USS Arizona's forward magazine exploding on Decemver 7, 1941

This week’s artifact is a piece of metal, measuring five inches in length by about two and a half inches in height. This steel fragment is believed to be metal ripped from the battleship during the explosion. The blast shook the nearby homes as shrapnel and debris rained down on the neighborhoods of Ford Island. The fragment shown here, reportedly entered the home of Captain Errol Willett, a Navy dentist stationed at Pearl Harbor.

The communities quickly acted to assist sailors who escaped the inferno of burning ships. In fact, Captain Willett's son, Peter and his fellow Boy Scouts rowed small boats out to the damaged ships to help rescue sailors. Many of the families also shared common shelters with badly burned and wounded survivors.  This artifact serves as powerful reminder of the trials endured by both the military and civilian community on that fateful day seventy years ago.


Artifact image courtesy of the Naval War College Museum
Arizona image courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command (U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Collection)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Copy Print of Alfred Thayer Mahan Pastel

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

On December 1, 1914, Alfred Thayer Mahan died at the United States Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C. Mahan gained international fame for his book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783, published in 1890. The book, based on his lectures at the Naval War College, was arguably the most influential treatise on naval strategy ever written. Mahan taught seamanship as a young lieutenant while the United States Naval Academy was in Newport during the Civil War. Stephen B. Luce asked him to be the Naval War College's first lecturer of naval history and tactics when the college was founded in 1884. He later served two terms as president (1886-1889 and 1892-1893). His theories on naval warfare and strategy are still studied all over the world.

This pastel, actually a copy print of the original color work of art, was donated by the artist Thomas A. Synnott in 1990. Synnott originally sketched the portrait of Mahan in 1953 at the request of Rear Admiral Richard W. Bates. Bates presented the likeness to the National War College in Washington D.C.

Gift of Thomas A. Synnott                                                                            1990.10.01

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ask a Question about Museum Collections

If you have a question about museum collections, please enter your email address in the first field and your question and other contact information in the second field. When you're finished just click submit. Thank you for your interest in the Naval War College Museum!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Naval War College Museum: Artifact Spotlight: Thanksgiving Menus, 1913 and 1...

For this year's Thanksgiving holiday we are reposting last year's blog on Thanksgiving menus. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Naval War College Museum: Artifact Spotlight: Thanksgiving Menus, 1913 and 1...: A Happy Thanksgiving to all. Please enjoy these two Thanksgiving Day menus in the museum collection. Click on the images to enlarge. ...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Painting of USS Saginaw's Gig

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

On 18 November 1870, five men set out in the captain's gig of the USS Saginaw from Ocean Island for Hawaii.  The side wheel steamer had recently completed a dredging operation off Midway and was on her way home to San Francisco when she struck a reef and grounded off Ocean Island. The entire crew was shipwrecked on the remote atoll. Led by executive officer, Lt. John G. Talbot, four of them were sent on a rescue mission to bring relief to their shipmates. Thirty-one days after leaving Ocean Island, they neared the Hawaiian Islands when disaster struck a second time. Off the coast of Kauai, the boat was overwhelmed by the surf and foundered. All aboard perished, except for Coxswain William Halford. Halford did finally obtain help for his marooned shipmates who were rescued in January 1871. For accomplishing his harrowing mission, he received the Medal of Honor.

In 1980, the Naval War College was presented with a painting that commemorates the gig's 1,500 mile voyage. The oil on canvas, aptly titled "The Gig of the Saginaw" was painted by Stanley Owens Davis, Sr., USNR (1917-1958) in 1937.

Gift of the artist’s wife, Margaret Davis and his son, LCDR Stanley O. Davis, Jr., USN.      1980.06.01

The gig is part of the Naval History and Heritage Command collection and is on loan to the Historical Society of Saginaw County in Michigan. The Saginaw wreck was discovered in 2003.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: First Marine Division Service A "Alpha" Coat, c. 1946

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps! As the Marine Corps celebrates its 236th birthday today, it is appropriate that we focus this week’s post on a collection received from the family of a local who joined the Marines during World War II. The late William Ferreira, a native of Fall River who grew up in Newport, completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island in the spring of 1945 and reported for duty with the 5th Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Division. The division had distinguished itself at Guadalcanal, Peleliu, and Okinawa in the Pacific.

Pvt. William Ferreira
Pvt. Ferreira’s service coat for the Service A uniform (“Alphas”) is shown here. On the left sleeve of the service coat is a unit patch for the 1st Marine Division. The Southern Cross (a constellation of stars which can be viewed only in the southern hemisphere) is shown by the five stars, while the number one with “Guadalcanal” indicates action at the 1942 Battle of Guadalcanal. Located on the left shoulder is the red and green braided Fourragere. The Fourragere was awarded to the 5th Marine Regiment by the French government for “especially meritorious conduct in World War I.” As this honor was conferred upon the entire regiment, it is still a part of the uniform today.   During his service as a Marine, Pvt. Ferreira was awarded (from top left to bottom right) the following ribbons: Presidential Unit Citation, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, and the Navy Occupation Service Medal. 
In September of 1945, the 5th Marine Regiment was deployed to Peiping (Bejing), North China for occupation duty. They remained in China until May 1947.  While there, Ferreira acquired the jacket below as a souvenir of his service overseas. The jacket is embroidered with a dragon surrounded by “North China” and “1946." The “U.S.M.C.” was probably added on later as it does not appear to be part of the original embroidered work. 

After his tour, William Ferreira returned to Aquidneck Island and settled in Portsmouth. He passed away on February 1, 2003 and is buried at St. Columba Cemetery in Middletown.

Happy Birthday and Semper Fidelis.

Gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Ferreira                                                                 2011.09

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum with thanks to the Ferreira Family

Mrs. King's husband is a USMC officer currently attending the Naval War College.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Blog Feature Allows Readers to Ask Questions

The museum blog now has two new features to make communication easier for our community of visitors, researchers, and historical/naval enthusiasts.  If you have a question about a particular blog post or a research inquiry about museum collections, you now have two options.  Please look at the new gadget on the sidebar of this page between the search and the archive gadgets. It has a field for your email address and for your question/comment. Fill both required fields out if you have a general question about museum collections, if you have an artifact research request, or if you have a suggestion for a future blog post.  This simple form is also useful if you do not wish to make your comment or inquiry publicly available on the internet.

The other way to comment on a specific blog article is by posting a message directly below the blog post.  Previously only available to registered users, this option is now open to everyone and can be made anonymously (though all comments are moderated). This blog was started to increase access to the museum's programs and to shine a spotlight on artifacts that are not frequently on display in our exhibits.  We value your feedback and want to hear from you!

Remember you can always follow the museum on facebook and leave public comments there as well.

Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Naval War Game Range Wands

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

A naval war game in Pringle Hall during the early 1950s
War gaming has been an integral part of the Naval War College experience since 1885 when Alfred T. Mahan and William McCarty Little evaluated the tactics of various historic naval battles by moving cardboard vessels over a sheet of drawing paper. In 1887 Lt. William McCarty Little delivered lectures on war gaming and its applications on naval warfare to students attending classes at the College. By 1894, President Captain Henry C. Taylor established war games as part of the curriculum.

Conducted initially on tables in Luce Hall, games were eventually moved to entire rooms, using linoleum checker board floors as grids. Pringle Hall opened in 1934 and became the center of war gaming on the campus. The second level was dedicated as a floor-size maneuver board with a mezzanine for greater viewing capacity.
Range wands on exhibit overhead in the NWC Gallery

Range wands were used by participants during war games to measure distances between combatant ships. The wooden sticks are painted with alternating black and white sections. A description in the "Conduct of Maneuvers" developed at the College in 1930 describes the first section as six inches long (representing 1500 yards) and all other sections at four inches long (1000 yards).  Varying in size, range wands could be 104" long and represent distances as far as 26000 yards. The wands were placed on the floor with the zero end at the center of the target ship. Students would then make note of which section the firing ship was in, evaluate, and plan moves accordingly.

The wands were used primarily during the Pringle Hall era (1934-1958) and earlier in Luce Hall as well. The evolution of war gaming took a huge step forward when in the fall of 1958, the Naval Electronics Warfare Simulator opened in Sims Hall. War gaming would now be done electronically, using computers and simulators. No longer needed, the wands and other war gaming equipment were stowed in a campus building until discovered several years ago.


Detail of two range wands on exhibit

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Naval Namesakes: Rochambeau Street

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

Many streets, buildings, and institutions in Rhode Island are named to honor the Narragansett Bay area’s rich naval heritage. This regular feature to the museum’s blog provides a brief look at the people, places, and events behind the names.

Comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807) Commander of French Army Forces,  Revolutionary War
Rochambeau Street on Naval Station Newport is named for Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau. Rochambeau was a French nobleman who commanded the land forces sent to America to assist the Continental Army in the War of Independence. After the British evacuated Newport in October of 1779, King Louis XVI of France authorized an expedition in North America. Newport was selected as the base of operations for Franco-American operations in New York and the Atlantic Coast because of its deep water port.

Rochambeau from painting by Charles Wilson Peale
Rochambeau and his forces landed in Newport on 11 July and he established headquarters at the Vernon House on Clarke Street.  The following March, General George Washington arrived to strategize with the French general.  Rochambeau left Newport for Providence in June of 1781. From there he marched his army south to link up with Washington's force near White Plains, NY. After reaching the Continentals, Rochambeau (along with Admiral de Grasse) helped convince Washington to attack Virgina instead of New York. In what became known as the "Celebrated March," the two armies marched to Yorktown, Virgina to lay siege to British forces under General Lord Cornwallis. Trapped between Washington's armies and a French naval blockade, Cornwallis was forced to surrender on 19 October 1781. This last major battle convinced the British to agree to a peace treaty that recognized American independence. The street name honors the fact that Rochambeau and the city of Newport  played a substantial role in the final battle of the Revolution.
A statue of Rochambeau unveiled on Broadway in 1934, now resides in Kings Park overlooking Newport Harbor.
 Street Sign Image by Christina Anderson
Rochambeau Image, Library of Congress

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Naval Aviator's Uniform, 1918

---Patricia McNamee, Curatorial Volunteer

As we are nearing the end of the centennial of naval aviation, it is an ideal time to focus on an artifact in the museum collection connected to the early years of aviation in the U.S. Navy. During the First World War (1914-1918), naval aviation was still in its infancy. On April 6, 1917 when the United States declared war on Germany, only 48 aviators and 54 aircraft were available. By war’s end, the Navy expanded with 2,000 planes flying out of 27 bases in Europe. The first official uniform for aviation, closely related to the U.S. Marine Corps summer uniform, was authorized on June 22, 1917.
The following year, the aviator's summer service uniform changed from khaki to the forest green color seen here. The upper pockets of the tunic-style coat were pleated and two lower pockets were added.  This particular coat bears the bullion aviator's wings and a victory medal ribbon bar on the left breast. Though by the end of 1918 aviators were authorized to wear leather puttees over the lower legs, this uniform has the earlier olive-drab wool wrap leggings of 1917. The breeches were adopted early on for greater comfort.

 Haywood is sitting in a Curtiss F-Boat,
 at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

The uniform was stored in a service trunk that belonged to Albert Haywood, Jr. (Aviator No. 2185). The trunk, donated by Haywood's son-in-law, contained several uniforms, personal items, and a piece of airplane canvas signed by other aviators. Born in Flushing, NY, Haywood was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy during the war and was relocated to Pensacola, Florida for flight training. Most of the uniform is believed to be Haywood’s except the tunic which belonged to another member of his squadron, Ensign Roy E. Davis.

The uniform will be on exhibit in November.

Gift of Dean Jacoby                                                                           2010.03

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Naval Namesakes: Porter Avenue

Many streets, buildings, and institutions in Rhode Island are named to honor the Narragansett Bay area’s rich naval heritage. This regular feature to the museum’s blog provides a brief look at the people, places, and events behind the names.

Admiral David Dixon Porter (1813-1891)   Civil War Naval Hero and Torpedo Station Founder

Porter Avenue on Naval Station Newport is named for the famous admiral David Dixon Porter. The son of Commodore David Porter and foster brother of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, Porter first saw service with the Mexican Navy in the late 1820s before obtaining a midshipman's warrant in the U.S. Navy. During the Mexican War, Porter served as first lieutenant on USS Spitfire and after the attack on Tabasco he was given command of that vessel. He rose to prominence during the American Civil War and held command during several significant operations. As commander of the Mississippi Squadron, Porter supported U.S. Grant's successful assault on Vicksburg. After the unsuccessful Red River Expedition, Porter took command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and led his forces during both attacks on Fort Fisher, North Carolina. 
After the war, Porter was appointed Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy and promoted to vice admiral. In 1869, while advising the Navy Department, he campaigned for an experimental facility where navy personnel could test torpedoes, mines, and other explosives. His efforts led to the establishment of the Naval Torpedo Station on Goat Island, Newport in July of 1869. The station was the first permanent naval installation in Newport and was soon followed by the Naval Training Station (1883) and the Naval War College (1884). Porter was promoted to admiral and made the navy's senior officer in 1870.

Street Sign Image by Christina Anderson
Porter Image, Naval History and Heritage Command

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Naval War College Convocation

On 16 August, the Naval War College held its annual convocation ceremony. The video, produced by the college's alumni affairs office, begins with an overview of the history of the college by Museum Director Dr. John B. Hattendorf.  President of the Naval War College Rear Admiral John Christenson speaks about the meaning of the college today as does this year's recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award, Dr. Clifford L. Stanley. Stanley, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, is a retired major general in the United States Marine Corps who graduated from the NWC College of Distance Education in 1983.

The very first academic convocation ceremony was held at the beginning of the academic year on 24 August 1972 when President of the Naval War College Vice Admiral Stanfield Turner addressed the staff and faculty in full academic attire.

VADM Turner leads first NWC convocation in front of Luce Hall

Video, Naval War College Alumni Affairs
Image, Naval War College Museum

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Porter Halyburton's POW Collection, 1965-1973

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

Since tomorrow, September 16, is POW/MIA Recognition Day it is the perfect opportunity to showcase artifacts from the museum collection related to the Vietnam Prisoner of War Experience.

Upon his retirement in 2006, Naval War College Professor Emeritus Porter A. Halyburton donated objects and papers related to his seven years of captivity in North Vietnam. As a navy pilot, LTJG Halyburton flew in 75 combat missions over Vietnam off USS Independence (CVA-62) before his F-4B Phantom was shot down near Hanoi on 17 October 1965. Over the next seven years he was mistreated and tortured in various prisons, such as the "Heartbreak Hotel" and the "Hanoi Hilton."

Halyburton and his fellow prisoners endured because of their leadership training, their faith in their country, their unity and faith in each other, and because of their amazing resourcefulness. They invented a tap code to pass along news and encouragement through cell walls.  Halyburton used mental exercises to memorize names and details for over 300 fellow prisoners. He and the others also taught themselves to speak German based on their shared knowledge of the language. He even used a handmade bamboo ink pen to write a diary.

The artifacts in this collection are all powerful examples of the material culture of the prisoner of war experience as they all tell the story of this extraordinary resourcefulness. The collection contains two items used during all seven years of Halyburton's captivity: an enameled drinking cup and the T-shirt worn when he was captured.  Perhaps the most versatile piece of equipment was a pair of red socks he received in the first care package from his wife Marty. Though he wore them on his feet at first, Halyburton later used them as gloves and Christmas stockings before finally sewing them to a shirt to make a dickey for extra warmth in winter. Some of the other artifacts from the collection are:

 Metal strap used to repair rubber sandals made from old tires

Length of string knotted at 30", Halyburton's waist size before 1970

Pencil stub (part of Halyburton's clandestine survival kit)

Sewing needle made from copper wire

Gift of Porter A. Halyburton                                                                         Ac. No. 2006.05

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Presidential Flag, 1960

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

 Most who are familar with President Dwight David Eisenhower will immediately associate places such as Gettysburg and Camp David as the president's favorite getaway spots during his two-term administration (1953-1961). Few would think of  Newport, Rhode Island with its exclusive mansions, and extensive naval bases as the vacation spot of a former Army general. However, President Eisenhower vacationed here during the summers of 1957, 1958, and 1960 and lived at the Naval Station during the first summer visit.

President Eisenhower in front of the Naval
 Station's Administration Building , c.1957

Ike arrived at Quonset Naval Air Station on 4 September 1957. He gave a speech at the Old Colony House and proceeded to the base to set up residence. Staff and press offices occupied structural additions to the Administration building (now known as Founders Hall, the original site of the Naval War College and home to the NWC Museum) while the president and first lady resided in Quarters A (now home to the Naval Station commander). While occupying the home, Eisenhower signed the 1957 Civil Rights Act and ordered federal troops to Arkansas to enforce integration at Little Rock Central High School.

Upon returning to Newport in 1958, President Eisenhower set up his summer White House at the former Commandant’s House at Fort Adams. On his last visit in 1960, he presented this flag to the officer, enlisted, and civilian personnel of the naval base. The presidential coat of arms is surrounded by 50 stars. Eisenhower’s executive order adding the 50th star for the state of Hawaii became effective on July 4th of that year. The flag is currently on exhibition in the Naval Station gallery along with a guest register for the Naval Hospital Chapel signed by him and first lady, Mamie.

Why did the former Supreme Allied Commander and graduate of the U.S. Army War College choose to vacation on Coasters Harbor Island, home to the naval station and the Naval War College? The golf of course! The historic Newport Country Club maintained one of the oldest golf courses in the nation. His visits certainly left a legacy: in addition to "Eisenhower House" at Fort Adams, Newporters named the grassy space on Washington Square, "Eisenhower Park."

Click here to view Eisenhower's daily schedule for the month of September 1957 or here for his entire second term including Newport visits in 1958 and 1960.

Transfer from Naval Station Newport                                                                  88.47.01

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: U.S. Navy Boat Cloak, c. 1933

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

Admiral W.V. Pratt's boat cloak
and service dress blue coat
The museum has a substantial collection of material related to the naval career of Admiral William Veazie Pratt (1869-1957). The collection of medals, personal items, and uniforms  includes his regulation boat cloak. This type of boat cloak, first authorized in the late nineteenth century was worn by commissioned naval officers through both world wars but was omitted as a requirement in the 1947 uniform regulations. The garment, made of heavy wool with a  rolling velvet collar, is fastened below the neck with a frog. This same regulation cloak was often worn by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, most famously at the Yalta Conference in 1945.  Even the statue of the president (who also served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy), at the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C. is seated wearing the cloak.

On 5 September 1925 Rear Admiral William Veazie Pratt began his term as President of the Naval War College. During his tenure, he restructured the staff to closely parallel the organization of fleet staffs and the Office of Naval Operations in order to ease the graduate’s transition to fleet duty. Pratt introduced the study of logistics, emphasized international relations, encouraged joint curricula and war games with the Army War College, and stressed the committee approach to strategic problem solving. He later became Chief of Naval Operations during the Hoover Administration.

Portrait of Admiral Pratt wearing the cloak as CNO
C.A. Slade, 1933. NWC Museum
 Gift of William Veazie Pratt, Jr.                                                                       75.03.08

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Naval Namesakes: Cushing Road

---Christina Anderson, Curatorial Volunteer

Many streets, buildings, and institutions in Rhode Island are named to honor the Narragansett Bay area’s rich naval heritage. This regular feature to the museum’s blog provides a brief look at the people, places, and events behind the names.

Cushing Road on the NWC Campus looking North

Lieutenant William B. Cushing (1842-1874) Naval Hero of the Civil War

Cushing Road on Coasters Harbor Island, NAVSTA Newport is named for William B. Cushing (1842-1874).  The road, well known as the mailing address for the College, honors a young officer in the Union Navy who made history when he sunk a Confederate ironclad with a spar torpedo. On the night of October 27-28th 1864 Cushing took a steam launch up the Roanoke River into Plymouth, North Carolina and attacked the CSS Albemarle, sinking it with the explosive device. This success made him a national celebrity.  After the Civil War Cushing continued to serve as an officer.  He passed away as a Commander and the Executive officer of the Washington Navy Yard in 1874.   In 1869, five years before his death, the Naval Torpedo Station was established on Newport's Goat Island. The station was dedicated to the experimentation and research of stationary and automobile torpedoes.
He is buried at the United States Naval Academy. There were a series of torpedo boats and destroyers named after him: USS Cushing (TB-1) of 1890-1920, USS Cushing (DD-55) of 1915-1936, USS Cushing (DD-376) of 1936-1942, USS Cushing (DD-797) of 1944-1961, and USS Cushing (DD-985), commissioned in 1979.
Street Image by Christina Anderson, courtesy of the Naval War College Museum
Cushing Image, Courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Eight Bells Book Lecture Series Schedule for Fall 2011

The museum is gearing up for the College's academic year with its increasingly successful Eight Bells Book Lecture Series. Please take a look at the upcoming program and join us on the 2nd deck of the museum for this fall's lectures.

The format of the Eight Bells Lecture Series has the author speaking about 40-45 minutes on the topic of his book and the facts leading to its publication. The last 15-20 minutes are given over for audience members to ask questions on the topic. Those who are able to remain after the allotted hour can stay and discuss the book further and have the book signed. Copies of the books are on sale in the Naval War College Foundation Gift Shop. As always, this event is a brown-bag affair which is free and open to the public. For those without Department of Defense ID cards, please call the Museum at least one work day in advance at 841-2101 to make reservations for any of these events or to visit the Museum.

Check the Museum's Facebook Events Page for the lastest information on the lectures listed here.

8 September  - Andrew Erickson and Lyle Goldstein – Chinese Aerospace Power

The fifth book in the series Studies in Chinese Maritime Development, Professors Erickson and Goldstein have edited a series of articles that evaluate the Chinese aerospace development and the resulting implications for U.S. maritime strategy. The book is a comprehensive survey of those developments and their potential significance to that strategy.

19 September  - David Ulbrich - Preparing for Victory

This is the biography of General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps from 1936 – 1943. A combat veteran, progressive manager, politician, visionary, he was the right man in the right place to prepare the Marine Corps for its expansion into the elite amphibious fighting force it became in World War II.

29 September  - AMB J. William Middendorf II – Potomac Fever: A Memoir of Politics and Public Service

Ambassador Middendorf details his career in business, politics, and service to his country. Easily read, this book offers keen insights and revealing commentaries into the times and many personalities that shared this political stage.

6 October  - James Bussert and Bruce Elleman – People’s Liberation Army Navy

Providing a look at the combat systems technologies on Chinese warships, this book documents the evolution of the Chinese Navy from the Communist takeover to the present day and its state-of-the-art fleet. The book provides specific and detailed descriptions of the platforms, weapons, and infrastructure while looking at both strengths and weaknesses within the system.

13 October  - Dr. Larrie Ferreiro – Measure of the Earth: The Enlightenment Expedition that Reshaped the World

This work traces the 1735 expedition to Peru to determine the shape of the earth. Scheduled to be three to four years in length, the Geodesic Mission to the Equator lasted nearly ten years and proved the earth was oblate and that Newton was correct in his theory on the shape of the earth. An interesting yet complicated journey that is explained in understandable detail.

18 October – Ben Runkle: Wanted Dead or Alive: Manhunts from Geronimo to Bin Laden

Early May 2011, in a dramatic late-night appearance at the White House, President Obama declared that “justice has been done” as he announced that Osama bin Laden was dead. Although this daring raid marked the end of the longest strategic manhunt in American history, bin Laden was not the first individual targeted as the objective of a military campaign. From Geronimo to Pancho Villa, to Manuel Noriega, to Saddam Hussein, the United States has deployed military forces to kill or capture a single person nearly a dozen times since 1885. Part military history, part action thriller, and part strategic policy analysis, Wanted Dead or Alive chronicles the extraordinary efforts of the military and intelligence agencies to bring America’s enemies to justice.

3 November - Dr. William "Bill" Morgan - Pacific Gibraltar
Based on new material and a sweeping reevaluation of existing sources in the U.S., Japan, and Hawai`i, Pacific Gibraltar is the first major account of the annexation of Hawai`i, the initial episode of U.S. overseas imperialism, in a generation. The book clarifies murky episodes in the story of annexation, such as USS Boston's mysterious return to Honolulu in time to land Sailors and Marines during the Hawaiian Revolution, President Cleveland's failed attempt to restore Queen Lili'uokalani, and the growing threat to the white rebel government from burgeoning Japanese immigration.

10 November - Ian Toll – Pacific Crucible

On the first Sunday in December 1941, an armada of Japanese warplanes appeared suddenly over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and devastated the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Six months later, in a sea fight north of the tiny atoll of Midway, four Japanese aircraft carriers were sent into the abyss. Pacific Crucible tells the epic tale of these first searing months of the Pacific war, when the U.S. Navy shook off the worst defeat in American military history and seized the strategic initiative.

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17 November  - Mike Matheny – Carrying the War to the Enemy: American Operational Art to 1945

Military commanders turn tactics into strategic victory by means of “operational art,” the knowl¬edge and creative imagination commanders and staff employ in designing, synchronizing, and con¬ducting battles and major operations to achieve strategic goals. Michael R. Matheny looks at the evolution of U.S. military thinking at the operational level and shows that it was at this operational level, particularly in mounting joint and combined operations, that senior American commanders excelled—and laid a foundation for their country’s victory in World War II.

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8 December – Kevin McCranie – Utmost Gallantry

Focusing on the oceanic war rather than the war in the Great Lakes, this study charts the War of 1812 from the perspectives of the two opposing navies at sea—one of the largest fleets in the world and a small, upstart navy just three decades old. While American naval leadership searched for a means of contesting Britain’s naval dominance, the English sought to destroy the U.S. Navy and protect its oceanic highways.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Volunteer Profile: Kassie Ettefagh

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

The museum said goodbye to yet another curatorial volunteer when Kassie Ettefagh finished up this month. Kassie came to the museum in September of 2010, working one day a week for nearly a year on a number of large collections registration projects. After carefully inventorying a large unregistered collection of uniform pieces that once belonged to former President of the Naval War College Vice Admiral Bernard L. Austin, Kassie photographed the collection and created records for each object in the database. Later, she was instrumental in creating worksheets of detailed information to register the museum's forty-two presidential portraits with the National Portrait Gallery's Catalog of American Portraits and the American Heritage National Portal to Historic Collections. The submission to the NPG is not yet complete but readers can view the portraits on the American Heritage site by clicking the link provided.

The third and most demanding task was registry of the collection of documents and naval memorabilia loaned by Ambassador J. William Middendorf. Kassie scanned all of the original documents, including letters signed by John Hancock in 1775 and documents signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. She also photographed all of the three-dimensional items and framed prints in the collection. Thanks to Kassie the collection of over one hundred pieces is now registered in the museum database and can be managed electronically.

Kassie, a graduate of Providence College, also works part-time for the Newport Historical Society. This fall she will be pursuing her Masters in Library and Information Studies at the University of Rhode Island. We wish her the very best of luck and thank her for a tremendous amount of hard work and service. The museum owes so much to volunteers such as Kassie who give their valuable time to help us take care of this wonderful collection.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Volunteer Profile: Joshua Howard

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

Josh working on his final blog for the museum
 Farewell to Josh Howard, who finished up his volunteering time at the museum last week. Josh joined the curatorial volunteer team in August 2010 and, as readers of the blog are well aware, he has been the the main writer and researcher behind the Artifact Spotlight posts which have appeared every Thursday since last October.  Josh's contributions were crucial because he helped open the doors of this wonderful museum to everyone with a personal computer or smart phone. On site, Josh has given two hundred hours of service researching naval history dates and museum collections. He spent more time writing at home. These efforts have gained a broader and more diverse audience for the the museum and its collections. Before our facebook page and this blog, the museum had a minute presence on the Internet. Josh has helped the museum turn this around.

A native New Englander, Josh brought a wealth of experience to the museum. He received his BA from Boston University and his MA in European Historical Archaeology from the University of Sheffield in the UK. and has applied his education on several archaeological excavations in Middletown, Newport, and in Dedham, Massachusetts. He will be continuing his education this fall when he begins the doctoral program in Anthropology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. We thank Josh for his tremendous contributions and wish him the best in his studies.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Painting of USS Constitution vs. HMS Guerriere, 1928

---Joshua Howard, Curatorial Volunteer
---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

On August 19, 1812, the 44-gun frigate USS Constitution engaged the British Royal Navy frigate HMS Guerriere. The famous battle in which the American ship dismasted Guerriere and captured her crew, took place approximately 400 miles off Nova Scotia.  The victory was the first of many ship-to-ship actions that displayed the impressive gunnery skills of American crews and the fortitude of American vessels. Though the Royal Navy vessels vastly outnumbered American ships and their blockade confined most merchant and naval vessels to ports, victories such as this improved morale and influenced generations of naval officers. Accordingly, this battle is one of the most often painted scenes in the Age of Sail.  The museum has a wonderful oil on canvas of the engagement painted by the prolific maritime artist, Charles Robert Patterson in 1928.

The painting is one of a series of four commissioned by Edward J. Berwind who was the last surviving member of the USNA class of 1869. The other three paintings were done of the battles between Bon Homme Richard and Serapis in 1779, United States and HMS Macedonian in1812, and Constellation and L'Insurgente in 1799.

Charles Robert Patterson was an English painter born on July 18, 1878 in Stockdalewath, Cumberland, England. He was a son of a shipbuilder and always had a deep fascination with the sea. In 1892 he went to sea as a cabin boy on a ship out of London and spent fourteen years at sea on board various vessels. Between voyages Patterson spent time studying art and moving around the United States. In 1920 he became a United States citizen and spent time on a number of U.S. warships to witness battle maneuvers. His works lead a revival movement in the romance and beauty of the Age of Sail in art. He created hundreds of works related to maritime themes including many for the U.S. Navy. Before his death in 1958, he painted several lunette murals in the U.S. Naval Academy's Memorial Hall.

A Gift of Charles Dunlap                                                                        76.41.02

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Intern Profile: Grace Christenson

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

Summer Intern Grace Christenson preparing a
WAVES officer coat to be photographed
 On August 12 the museum bid farewell to summer intern Grace Christenson. Grace arrived on board on June 6 and jumped in with both feet on a number of large curatorial projects. On the day she started, nine crates arrived containing the maps loaned by collector Henry Wendt for the traveling exhibit Envisioning the World: The First Printed Maps, 1472-1700. Grace assisted in carefully removing all the maps, inspecting their condition and assigning loan numbers. She then registered the entire loan in the museum collections database and assisted in the installation of the exhibit.

Grace also conducted an inventory of the museum’s uniform and textile collection. She carefully photographed all of the textiles, sewed numbers on them with cloth labeling tape, and created new box numbers and locations in the database before re-packing them in acid free boxes with tissue paper. In addition to a number of registry projects in which Grace tackled the backlog of uncatalogued artifacts, she took on the mammoth task of cleaning and organizing one of the museum’s offsite storage rooms in Mahan Hall. During this process, Grace and curatorial volunteer Patricia McNamee, created accurate locations for 596 framed pieces, prints, and textiles in the museum database. Not only has she vastly improved the museum's ability to track artifacts electronically, she has made this particular storage room a more secure and stable environment for historic collections. She also conducted research using archival documents, old newspapers, and oral histories for current and future exhibit labels. Perhaps her most rewarding opportunity was her practicum in  "Rhode Islandese" given by our curator Bob Cembrola.

Grace, a Newport native who has grown up in a naval family, will be beginning her sophomore year at University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She plans to graduate with a double major in history and business. We wish her the best in all of her endeavours and hope she'll come back to volunteer this winter!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Bust of Rear Admiral Ronald J. Kurth, 1990

---Joshua Howard, Curatorial Volunteer

The Naval War College Museum holds an impressive collection of over forty sculptures by Felix de Weldon (1907-2003) the renown sculptor of the United States Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.  A longitme resident of Newport and great supporter of the Naval War College, de Weldon donated busts and reliefs of twelve College presidents which he sculpted from 1946 to 1990. The last of these was a portrait of Rear Admiral Ronald J. Kurth, the 45th President of the Naval War College. Kurth relieved Rear Admiral John A. Baldwin, Jr. on August 11, 1987 and served until July 17, 1990. The plaster bust, painted to look bronze, was presented to the College by the artist in 1993.

Over the course of his naval career, Kurth served as a pilot, professor, Pentagon administrator, and diplomat. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy. He later earned his masters in Public Administration and his doctorate in Political Science of the Soviet Union/Russia at Harvard University. He taught the Russian language at the U.S. Naval Academy and served in several positions at the embassy in Moscow.

During his presidency, Rear Admiral Kurth led a successful campaign to receive institutional accreditation in order for the College to grant master’s degrees. This step not only made the college the oldest graduate-level military institution in continuous existence in the world but also, the first institution of its type to be accredited at the graduate degree level. Upon leaving the presidency of the War College, Rear Admiral Kurth retired from the United States Navy after a 36-year career. Subsequent to retirement, Kurth served as President of Murray State University in Kentucky, Dean of Academic Affairs at the Air War College, and President of St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Wisconsin.

Gift of Felix de Weldon                                                                                93.14.01

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Howell Torpedo, c. 1890

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

Lieutenant Commander John A. Howell had been experimenting with his design for a fly-wheeled automobile torpedo since 1871. Six years later the Naval Board authorized construction of a single torpedo for testing at Newport's Naval Torpedo Station. As these initial tests utilizing centrifugal pump propulsion were unsuccessful, Howell set out to design an improved model propelled by conventional propellers.

Torpedo boat USS Stiletto firing a Howell torpedo, c. 1895
In 1884, after receiving a substantial Congressional appropriation to purchase automobile torpedoes, the Navy Board recommended Howell's newer design. On August 5, 1885 the Navy conducted the first test of  three new Howell torpedoes in Newport Harbor. Initial testing was unsuccessful (the first two sank) and caused a delay. Once testing resumed in Lake Michigan (the clear water made recovery easier), performance improved and the Howell became the first automobile torpedo issued to the fleet. The Hotchkiss Ordnance Company in Providence manufactured the torpedoes and tested them in Tiverton.

The 11- foot long brass Howell was driven by a 130-pound flywheel spun to 10,000 rpm prior to launch. It had a range of 400 -700 yards, a speed of 25 knots, and a warhead filled with 100 pounds of gun cotton. The Howell MK 1 was used on torpedo boats and battleships until 1898 when  replaced by the Whitehead torpedo. The model on display in the museum, likely used for testing purposes, is one of the few surviving examples.

Transfer from Naval Underwater Systems Center                                                     87.63.02

Click here to learn more about the Howell Torpedo and view another existing model at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, WA.

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Naval Namesakes: Luce Avenue

---Christina Anderson, Curatorial Volunteer

Many streets, buildings, and institutions in Rhode Island are named to honor the Narragansett Bay area’s rich naval heritage. This regular feature to the museum’s blog provides a brief look at the people, places, and events behind the names.

Rear Admiral Stephen Bleecker Luce (1827-1917)   Founder of the Naval War College

Rear Admiral S.B. Luce, c.1888
Luce Avenue on Coasters Harbor Island, NAVSTA Newport is named for Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce. An 1847 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Luce was a fierce advocate for the naval education of recruits and officers. He was stationed in Newport during the Civil War as Instructor of Seamanship at the academy. While in this position he commanded the school ship USS Macedonian on her practice cruises with midshipmen. He also compiled and published the first textbook on seamanship in 1862. Luce later served as Commandant of Midshipmen (October 1865 to June 1868). He was instrumental in founding the nautical school at New York (now SUNY Maritime College) in 1874 and the Naval Training Station in 1883. 
Luce's crowning achievement was the founding of the Naval War College in 1884. As founding president, he envisioned the school as the highest level of professional military education and a "place of original research on all questions relating to war and to statesmanship connected to war, or the prevention of war."  Luce retired in 1889 but continued to teach at the college and remained active in naval affairs until his passing in Newport on July 28, 1917.

The navy has named three ships in his honor: USS Luce (Destroyer #99, later DM-4), 1918-1936; USS Luce (DD-522), 1943-1945; and USS Luce (DLG-7, later DDG-38), 1961-1995. Appropriately, the Naval War College and the United States Naval Academy have halls named after Luce as well.

View Larger Map
Street Sign Image by Christina Anderson
Luce Image, courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command