Rear Adm. Samuel Eliot Morison wrote many popular and award-winning books on maritime history. He was the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes, two Bancroft Prizes, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
HISTORY OF UNITED STATES NAVAL OPERATIONS IN WORLD WAR II, VOLUME THREE, The Rising Sun in the Pacific 1931-April 1942, Little Brown and Company, Boston, 1948; Naval Institute Press, Reprint edition, April 15, 2010 Samuel Eliot Morison's treatment of Admiral Kimmel, the Commander of the Pacific Feet at Pearl Harbor during the attack, in his 1948 The Rising Sun in the Pacific was, in his words, uncharitable, and based on insufficient facts. His manly efforts to atone for his misgivings are commendable and important to history. His current publisher, the Naval Institute Press, should ensure that readers are aware of Mr. Morison's revised analysis, and the shortcomings that led to it. Thirteen years after writing The Rising Sun in the Pacific, Morison manifested second thoughts about his unfavorable treatment of Kimmel, and General Short, the head of Army Hawaiian Command; and his favorable treatment of others, specifically, the heads of the Army, Army War Plans, and Army Intelligence, Generals Marshall, Gerow, and Miles, respectively; and the heads of the Navy, Navy War Plans, and Navy Intelligence, Admirals Stark, Turner, and Wilkinson, respectively. The Saturday Evening Post published Morison's article, "The Lessons of Pearl Harbor," on October 27, 1961: "[Kimmel and Short] were no more to blame than officers in Washington--especially Admirals Stark and Turner, and Generals Marshall and Gerow. . . .The writer is greatly indebted to Mrs. Roberta Wohlstetter for permission to read her as yet unpublished study Warning and Decision at Pearl Harbor, and to Walter Lord's Day of Infamy (1957) for many facts that he did not encounter when he made his study of Pearl Harbor for The Rising Sun in the Pacific (1948) [emphasis supplied]." Morison was even more contrite in his 1961 letter to Admiral Shafroth, the President of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association (USNAAA): "I have come out of this study with a more charitable feeling toward Gen. Short and Adm. Kimmel than I felt before. It seems to me that they are, to put it briefly, no more blamable than a number of people in Washington--Turner and Gerow, Marshall, Miles, Wilkinson. If I were pushed to name one person as being more careless or stupid than all the rest it would be Kelly Turner; but he has not even received mention in the Congressional Committee Minority Report. "Mrs. Wohlstetter . . . is largely responsible for changing my views [and] ought to be thanked. "If you and your friends are getting up any sort of petition to have Admiral Kimmel's status restored or record changed, you can count on me to sign it." [Indeed, a USNAAA endorsed initiative by the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in 1984 was elevated to law in 2000. The chief sponsor of the bill was, then Senator, Joe Biden. See [...] for details.] Our leader at the Battle of Midway, Admiral Raymond Spruance counseled Morison in a letter under date of November 29, 1961 (author's file): "I have just read once more your Saturday Evening Post article on 'The Lessons of Pearl Harbor.' . . . . Certainly from the time I arrived in Pearl Harbor at mid-September 1941 until 7 December, I always felt that the Navy there was very much on the alert for a possible attack. This was especially true when we were operating at sea, but it also applied when the ships were in Pearl Harbor. . . . "I have always felt that Kimmel and Short were held responsible for Pearl Harbor in order that the American people might have no reason to lose confidence in their Government in Washington. This was probably justifiable under the circumstances at that time, but it does not justify forever damning these two fine officers." In a letter, dated March 10, 1960 (author's file), Admiral Dave H. Clark, senior Pacific Fleet material officer on Kimmel's staff, commander of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and President of The American Society of Naval Engineers, critiqued for Morison's edification several referenced pages of The Rising Sun in the Pacific in the following particulars among others: 1. Pages 78 and 79--Morison minimized the importance of the Japanese spy messages and ignored the fact that Kimmel made it a condition in accepting command that he be furnished full military and diplomatic intelligence, which, the record shows, he did not receive. 2. Pages 133 and 134--Morison failed to explain that the reason training in the Pacific Fleet was continued at the expense of alertness was only because Kimmel lacked the intelligence available to Washington which would have indicated that the time had come to suspend training and to utilize the men and material available to the utmost in the period immediately ahead. The tragic mistake was Washington not furnishing Kimmel and Short with the intelligence directly related to Pearl Harbor. 3. Page 134--Morison criticized Kimmel for not making Admiral Bloch his deputy ashore for cooperating with the Army in defense of Oahu, but, of course, this is exactly what Bloch's job was. 4. Pages 134 and 135--Morison again minimized the importance of intelligence denied to Kimmel. Clark noted that, the important and tragic error was that for some unexplained reason much intelligence applying directly to the Pacific Fleet and to Hawaii was not furnished to Kimmel, Bloch, or Short. No one can evaluate intelligence relating to their Commands as effectively as the Commanders in the field. There are those who have concluded that this intelligence was denied them through cupidity. Since no direct evidence proving this was ever adduced, Clark said it was either cupidity, or stupidity. Certainly, it is disappointing that the Congressional Investigation failed to determine why intelligence available in Washington and of vital importance to the discharge of their responsibilities, was not furnished Kimmel, Bloch, and Short. This could have been done through the simple interrogation of General Marshall and Admiral Stark, and depending on their answers, others higher or lower in the scheme of things as may have been necessary. 5. Pages 141 and 142--Morison again minimized the importance of intelligence denied Kimmel by endorsing Admiral Wilkinson's absurd testimony that Navy intelligence had "not the slightest" hint that Pearl Harbor was a Japanese target. Clark noted that, the President, the State Department, the War Department and the Navy Department had a vast amount of intelligence which strongly suggested that an attack on the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor was imminent, and none of this was furnished Kimmel, Bloch, or Short. Clark offered there was no doubt in his mind (and he believed any officer who ever served with Kimmel would express the same view) that had Kimmel been furnished the intelligence on December 2nd regarding the Japanese Consul at Honolulu being directed to furnish continually information regarding the ships in Pearl Harbor, and the further intelligence (available in Washington Saturday night, December 6) which pointed to 0730 Hawaiian Time December 7 as the hour of destiny, not only would training schedules in the Pacific Fleet have been interrupted, and the Fleet and the Army in Hawaii alerted, but air searches and all other measures would have been instituted to the extent possible with the forces available. In short, the Tragedy of Pearl Harbor would have been averted. In addition to Admiral Clark's comments, there were many more facts that Morison must have belatedly considered before his public mea culpa, such as: 1. Page 44--Morison should have been aware that his statement, "Admiral Richardson instituted a plane patrol to westward of Oahu that covered considerably more ocean than did the one subsequently set up by Admiral Kimmel," was so misleading as stated as to be historically worthless. In the week preceding the attack, there was a daily scout by patrol planes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, of a sector to the north and northwest of Oahu to a distance of four hundred miles, after which the planes required maintenance and upkeep. This distance covered was greater than that searched by Admiral Richardson at the time of the June 17, 1940 Alert--the only Alert received prior to the attack. (Report of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack Congress of the United States; Pearl Harbor Attack [hereafter PHA], U. S. Congress, Joint Congressional Committee [hereafter JCC] on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, 79th Congress, 40 parts, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946, Part 32, page 451 [Hereafter 32PHA451]) 2. Page 86--Morison should have known that his statement, "[Yamamoto] was cognizant of Admiral Kimmel's habit of bringing the Fleet into Pearl Harbor every weekend," was not true. The Naval Court of Inquiry found that the fact all the battleships were in Pearl Harbor on December 7th was pure coincidence, and not the normal practice. (Naval Court of Inquiry [hereafter NCI] Finding of Fact II, 39PHA298) 3. Page 100--Morison should have known that his statement, "The main and 5-inch batteries were not manned at all; the plotting room, directors and ammunition supply were not manned; and, in the machine guns that were manned, the ready ammunition was in locked boxes and the Officer of the Deck had the keys," was not true as determined by the Naval Court of Inquiry. (NCI Finding of Fact X, 39PHA302) 4. Page 128--Morison should have known that his unattributed statement, "on 20 August General Martin advised General Short that the most probable approach of a Japanese carrier force would be from the northwestward," would, and did, cause much unwarranted mischief. There was no most probable sector identified in writing before the attack--see CNO Trost's letter to SECNAV Dalton, under date of October 4, 1994, copy available at [...]. 5. Pages 134 and 141--Morison takes Kimmel to task for moving ashore by twice implying he was more interested in "Sabbatical rest" than operations at sea. Morison fails to mention that Nimitz, King, and Hart did the same thing for the same reason-- their staffs were too large to remain afloat. Morison wrote of the attack that, "One can search military history in vain for an operation more fatal to the aggressor." Likewise, one can search The Rising Sun in the Pacific in vain for any mention of an investigation more favorable to the accused, Admiral Kimmel, than the Pearl Harbor Naval Court of Inquiry (NCI). The NCI effectively exonerated Admiral Kimmel, and was the only tribunal that accorded Admiral Kimmel the opportunity to defend himself, yet Morison makes no mention of it. Such an omission by a competent historian is unconscionable, and demands redress. Even he thought so. Perhaps the Naval Institute Press should make its readers aware of Morison's errors, if not for Kimmel's legacy, Morison's. Tom Kimmel is a former naval officer, a retired FBI agent, and a grandson of Admiral Kimmel. Much more information is available on his website.