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