|Captain W.L. Rodgers|
As President of the Naval War College from 1911-1913, Captain William L. Rodgers was instrumental in shaping the curriculum. In The Field of Work to be Filled by a Naval War College he outlined the three goals of the college: to prepare officers for leadership and command in wartime, to develop the art and science of naval war by study and research, and to aid the General Board in war planning. The second objective in particular highlights the importance of studying works such as Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War (still required reading today), and the lessons of Themistocles and Agrippa's victories. In his 1936 letter donating the busts, Rodgers wrote, “I fear their great deeds and their places in the history of naval warfare is little known to most…The variety of fields of action of both put them above all modern admirals that I know of, who were good at their own profession only. These were great in all that they attempted.” At the time, Rodgers was writing, Greek and Roman Naval Warfare: A Study of Strategy, Tactics and Ship Design from Salamis (480 B.C.) to Actium and the two generals left quite an impression.
Themistocles was an Athenian statesmen, orator, and general who lived from 514-450 B.C. He was responsible for the development of an Athenian fleet and in 483 B.C. he persuaded the Assembly to modernize and enlarge the navy. Themistocles’ navy defeated the Persian invasion at Salamis. Rodgers wanted students to know that, “…besides being a great admiral, Themistocles was a statesman, diplomatist and ruler, and that a Salamis he turned back the invasion of an alien civilization and preserved Europe.”
Rodgers understood the importance of what these two warriors achieved strategically. His prescient gift supported the college's strong emphasis on history which continues to this day. No longer adorning halls and classrooms at the college, the busts now form part of the exhibit Sailors and Scholars: The History of the Naval War College on the museum's second floor.
Gift of Vice Admiral W.L. Rodgers to the Naval War College 76.45