Thursday, June 30, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: The First Printed Map of New England, 1565

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

The museum recently acquired an original woodcut print of the first map of New England and thus the first map depicting Narragansett Bay.  The map is a detail of the northern section of Giacomo Gastaldi's map of the east coast of North America (first published in Venice in 1548). The museum's map titled, NVOVA FRANCIA (New France), was published in Giovanni Batista Ramusio's Terzo Volvme delle Navigationi et Viaggi (Venice, 1565). Gastaldi based NVOVA FRANCIA and the earlier map  on the voyages of  Giovanni da Verrazzano and Jacques Cartier. The river systems are based on Verrazzano's assumptions of the Hudson River as well as Cartier’s voyage on the St. Lawrence River. In 1524, Verrazzano anchored in Newport Harbor and explored Narragansett Bay (depicted as Port du Refuge) for two weeks during his search for a Northwest Passage to China.   Flora is believed to be the southern shore of Long Island.

The Gastaldi Map of New France (New England) will be on display as part of a loaned exhibit, Envisioning the World: The First Printed Maps, 1472-1700. This wonderful exhibition of more than thirty original maps and books is open from 1 July through 30 November 2011 on the museum's second floor.

Purchased by the Naval War College Foundation with a generous donation from the Felicity Foundation.                                                                       L2011.07.01

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Naval Namesakes: Bainbridge 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.

Commodore William Bainbridge (1774 -1833)   Naval Hero of the War of 1812

Bainbridge Road on Naval Station Newport is named for Commodore William Bainbridge (7 May 1774 - 27 July 1833). Before he was commissioned a lieutenant in the United States Navy in 1798, Bainbridge was a a merchant ship captain. He saw active service in both the Quasi-War with France in 1798, the Barbary Wars, and the War of 1812. During the First Barbary War, Bainbridge and the entire crew of the USS Philadelphia were taken prisoner when the ship ran aground off Tripoli on 31 October 1803. Stephen Decatur, another naval hero, led the raid that recaptured and burned the frigate. After Bainbridge regained his freedom in 1805 he supervised the construction of gunboats for the navy and continued service in the merchant marine while on leave. He returned to service with the U.S. Navy in 1812 just before the United States went to war with Great Britain. Captain Bainbridge commanded the frigate Constitution during her stunning victory over HMS Java on 29 December 1812. He continued his service as Commander of Navy forces afloat at Boston, Commandant of the Boston Navy Yard, Naval Commissioner, and Commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard until illness forced him to leave the service in 1833. The U.S. Navy has named four ships in his honor: the brig USS Bainbridge (1842-1863); USS Bainbridge (Destroyer # 1), 1902-1920; USS Bainbridge  (DD-246), 1921-1945; and USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25, later CGN-25), 1962-1997.

View Larger Map

Street sign Image by Christina Anderson
Bainbridge Image, courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command

Monday, June 20, 2011

Volunteer Profile: Keri Upton

--John Kennedy, Director of Museum Education and Public Outreach

When her husband arrived in Newport to attend the Naval War College, Keri Upton knew she wanted to keep busy. Attending the Spouses' Welcome Coffee at  the O'Club, she sought out opportunities to volunteer in the local area and  she chose two venues to which she divided her time. Fortunately, the Naval War College Museum was one of those chosen. Keri took charge of the photographic digitization project and became the cornerstone of the effort. As a retired naval officer, she brought great depth of knowledge that allowed her to create detailed labels for many of the photographs that had previously lacked identification data. She organized the approach and procedures that all volunteers were to use and saw to it that each volunteer was trained to the skill level needed to maintain the program. Not a fan of the cold, snowy winter we experienced this year, she nevertheless found her way to the museum and maintained her hours. She and her husband have now returned to Virginia with its warm weather, a new house, and the promise of many pleasant hours pursuing a golf ball. We wish them both the very best. She will be greatly missed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Full Dress Blue Uniform of RADM Sherwoode A. Taffinder, c. 1940

--John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

CDR S.A. Taffinder, 1923
Sherwoode A. Taffinder was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1902. During his early career, Taffinder served on several vessels including assignments as engineer officer of USS Birmingham and USS New Jersey, and navigator of USS Rhode Island. As a commander he completed the senior course at the Naval War College in 1923, graduating with a distinguished class that included Chester W. Nimitz and Harold R. Stark. From 1932 to 1935, Captain Taffinder served as secretary of the College (head of administration). He continued his sea service and during the Second World War, he served as Commandant, Navy Yard Puget Sound and Commandant, Thirteenth Naval District, Seattle as rear admiral. Taffinder was promoted to vice admiral in 1944 and retired in 1947.

Taffinder's full dress rear admiral's uniform is now on display in the Sailors and Scholars Exhibit at the museum. It consists of a flag officer's cocked hat, dress frock coat (re-introduced for special full dress in 1922) two-star epaulets, flag officer's sword belt, and trousers with gold braid. The star and sleeve braiding (which bore the rear admiral pattern) has been removed from the cuff as was common when officers advanced in rank. His personalized officer's sword, complete with scabbard and sword knot has been separately mounted to appear as if it is suspended from his belt. Taffinder's medals, including the Legion of Merit awarded for his service as commandant of Pugent Sound Navy Yard and Thirteenth Naval Dsitrict would have been worn with this uniform as well.

Gift of Terry Taffinder Grosvenor and Lisa Stubbs                                          2008.18

Staff and Class of 1923
Taffinder (48), Nimitz (54) and PNWC William S. Sims (9)
 are among the many notable figures in this photograph

Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Jutland Sailor's Accordion, c. 1916

---Joshua Howard, Curatorial Volunteer

Between 31 May and 1 June 1916 the greatest naval battle of the First World War took place during the Battle of Jutland in the North Sea. The British Grand Fleet led by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe clashed with the German High Seas Fleet led by Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer. This battle was the largest and last of the great battleship engagements and was also the last time fleets met in such great numbers. This week’s artifact comes from this great battle. It belonged to a German sailor who lost his life in the engagement.

The battle began on the afternoon of 31 May when scout ships from both sides engaged each other. Though the battle initially went in favor of the British, a number of miscalculations and errors in communication caused them to lose the advantage. The battle raged well into the night when the main forces clashed.  Jutland ended in a draw though both sides claimed victory. The British fleet lost fourteen ships and suffered almost seven thousand casualties. The German fleet lost eleven vessels and suffered approximately three thousand casualties.  British dominance of the North Sea was confirmed as the Germans never again launched a major offensive. Instead the Imperial Navy focused on submarine warfare.

Coxswain Harry Schlie (1878-1916) of the Imperial German Navy served on board the SMS Hamburg, a Bremen class light cruiser. Schlie was killed during the battle on 1 June.   Among the personal effects later shipped home to his family was a German-made Horner Accordion with keyboard. This beautifully detailed instrument is part of a collection of instruments that also included two harmonicas.  The accordion is currently on exhibit in the art gallery in a special case that displays artifacts featured on this blog. Click here to view a complete register of the gift including manuscripts deposited at the Naval War College Library Archives.

Gift of Peter F. Schlie                                                                                     2002.05.07
Image courtesy of the Naval War College Museum