A few hands of “White Squadron,” anyone? Preserved in the archives of the U.S. Naval Institute, this educational card game from 1896 teaches players about the ships of the U.S. Navy while they engage in a variation on the “Go Fish” theme. In addition to providing hours of mad fun at the card table, the game offers a fascinating snapshot of the Navy at the dawn of the American Century. To a young nation flexing its muscles, its new improved sea force was increasingly a source of public pride. Each card features a sentence or two of descriptive detail about its ship along with her photograph. Manufactured by the Fireside Game Company of Cincinnati, White Squadron features a 52-card deck, but instead of being divided into four suits, it’s divided into 13 “fleets”—Fleets A through M, each containing four ships from the U.S. Navy of 1896. (The Maine, for example, is in Fleet B, two years before her explosive Havana Harbor fate.) One needn’t be either a naval strategist or a cardsharp to have a go at White Squadron. Each player is dealt five cards; the rest of the deck forms the draw pile. The object is to complete as many four-card fleet sets as possible. Player A asks Player B: “Do you have the USS Iowa (C-4)?” If Player B’s holding the Iowa, he has to give her over, and Player A gets to go again. If Player B doesn’t have that first-class battleship in his hand, he says, “Take a hike, buddy,” or words to that effect, and Player B must draw from the top of the pile. As soon as you complete a fleet, you set that quartet of ships on the table face-up. In the game, as in life, he who ends up with the most fleets wins.