The proposition to erect the institution now known as the Naval War College was not received with favor by the naval profession. It was said to be chimerical, impracticable, and wholly uncalled for. Moreover there was no precedent for such a thing to be found in history. And yet there was an undefined feeling in the navy that in the matter of education there was something wanting. The daily routine of man-of-war life was, after the novelty had worn off, not very inspiring, and to many that seemed all the profession had to offer. "Is this all?" it was asked. Is this the sole fruit of four years' hard study at the Naval Academy? Each one was left to answer that question for himself. Each graduate of the Academy was left to his own devices, to continue his studies or not as he thought proper. It was soon found that in the naval profession, as in other walks of life, there is a specific gravity of mind as of matter. Young officers of intellect and love of their profession were quick to specialize in one branch or another of their calling and thus rise above the dead level of mediocrity. To the Bureau of Ordnance is due great credit for encouraging officers to take up the study of that branch, and the service has derived much benefit from such a wise policy. Others took up navigation or hydrography. Still there was something wanted. Numbers of officers of marked ability, having no taste for the subjects named, were feeling about blindly if haply they might find a wider field for their activities in scientific research. This feeling found expression in 1882 when a number of officers went to the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D. C., and took up various scientific subjects. One studied ichthyology; another mineralogy, and accompanied the Geological Survey to Nevada and subsequently took up the study of fossil botany; another studied mineralogy, and went on a geological expedition to Montana; another took up geology and went to Montana; another ethnology and went on an ethnological expedition to Arizona and still another took up marine invertebrates. Professor Baird, the head of the Institute, spoke highly of the proficiency of these young officers in the several branches of their choice. But no one of that day, as far as known, ventured to explain how these various studies, valuable as they were of themselves, prepared the young officer for the higher branches of his profession. That there were higher branches seems to have been but dimly perceived by the profession itself.
The most striking example of the misconception of the nature of the naval service, by the members themselves, is to be found in the Prize Essay of 1879 published in the Naval Institute. The author was a good representative officer of his class and had taken a single number on graduating from the Naval Academy. His treatise on naval education brought out the fact that he did not comprehend the true character of his own profession. The essay owes its importance, not to the fact that it was awarded the prize, though that itself was significant, but that, in a general way, it reflected the prevailing thought of the naval service. Higher education in the several branches of the profession was advocated on all sides; but the objective of the navy, as a whole, did not enter into their calculations. It seems not to have occurred to them that the sole reason a navy has for its existence is to prevent war; or, if needs must be, to engage in war; and if unhappily war, then to prosecute it with all the ability and resourcefulness and vigor the country can command in order that its horror may be short-lived. While urging advanced courses in the higher mathematics, in the science of ordnance, nautical astronomy and the rest of it, they overlooked their own science—the science of war. In advocating the cultivation of the arts of gunnery and navigation, mechanical engineering, and the mechanic arts generally, they took no account of their own special art—the art of war. It was obvious that the time had arrived when all the Naval Academy stands for, the foundation of a great and noble career, should be made manifest, not to the naval service alone, but to the whole country. Hence the proposition for a place where officers might have the opportunity of studying the science 'and art of war and the laws of war as laid down by the accepted authorities on marine international law. These are great and comprehensive subjects, the mastery of which taxes man's highest intellectual powers. Since history began the great masters of the art of war can be counted on one's fingers. True, great admirals have appeared on the world's broad field of battle without the aid of a war college: nor can war colleges insure the production of great admirals. The truth of these platitudes, uttered as they have been with all the gravity of a Delphian Oracle, is freely admitted. But it is undeniable that such institutions are of greatest benefit to those who avail themselves of the advantages they offer. It is of little moment how much an officer may know, if only, by some mental process of his own, or by some natural or acquired gift, he comes to discern the true principles of the science of war. The war college is a means to that end. It will enable an officer to make the fewest mistakes in war—and that is all that can be claimed for it. But that "all" is much. His whole life then becomes one school. He then attains the highest ideal of education—"in peace a statesman, in war a militant seaman—in all times, on all occasions, acute to judge, and resolute to act.
Naval and military histories show that opposing armies, or fleets, rarely meet on equal terms. At Trafalgar the morale of the allied fleet was greatly inferior to that of Nelson's command; and Rojesvensky's fleet was whipped before it left the Baltic. "Greatness" in a military or naval sense is a comparative term. A "great captain" is one who by force of intellect and resourcefulness—a knowledge of his business, in fact—has been enabled, by his combinations, to overcome an apparently formidable opponent, but one who, for one reason or another, proves unequal to the occasion. Of all causes leading to defeat, ignorance of one's own profession is the least excusable; hence the war college, to repeat it. The proficiency of Nelson in the art of naval warfare was simply the proficiency a man of vigorous intellect acquires in an art to which he applies his mind with diligence.
The plan for the higher education of naval officers, when unfolded to the chiefs of the line bureaus of the Navy Department, was coldly received. And no wonder. Their lines of thought lay in a different direction. The very qualities that had fitted them so well for their respective offices, had not prepared them to enter, with any degree of zest, an entirely new field of investigation. But the Secretary of the Navy, the Hon. Wm. E. Chandler, free from the trammels of naval traditions, and with an intelligent appreciation of all that makes for the betterment of the naval service, was readily open to conviction. He at once ordered a board to investigate, and report on the proposed plan. On the receipt of the favorable report, he lost no time in issuing General Order No. 325 of October 6, 1884, establishing "a college for an advanced course of professional study for naval officers." In his letter of February 11, 1885, to the Senate, the Secretary of the Navy stated among other things that "the college is intended to complete the curriculum (naval) by adding, to an extent never heretofore undertaken, the study of naval warfare and international law and their cognate branches (Senate Ex. Doc. No. 68-48th Congress, 2d Sess.). It is clear from the tenor of the Secretary's letter that the war college was not intended to furnish a "post-graduate" course, as that term is generally understood; but to throw open to officers of mature years the most comprehensive course possible of professional study.
By the order establishing the college, it was put under the Bureau of Navigation and the old Poor House on Coaster's Harbor Island, Newport, R. I., was assigned to its use. It will be recalled that at the time referred to the idea of stripping the American man-of-warsman of all the characteristics of a sailor had not then obsessed the "Young Navy." The training service was entirely afloat where it was intended to be kept, while the war college work was entirely on shore; hence there was not the slightest danger of the one interfering with the other by putting the college on the island.
The first college term, under Commodore S. B. Luce, U. S. N., as president, opened September 3, 1885, with a class of eight officers and closed September 30 of the same year.
The Secretary of the Navy, the Hon. Wm. C. Whitney, in his annual report of November 30, 1885, wrote "The Naval War College began its first session September 3." The instruction consisted of lectures on military science, the art of naval warfare and marine international law. The college now fairly in operation, by giving officers an advanced course of instruction on subjects directly connected with the most important duties of the profession, fills what has hitherto been a serious want in our system of naval education."
In his annual report of October 19, 1885, the Chief of Bureau of Navigation (Captain John G. Walker, U. S. N.) wrote: "The first session of the Naval War College opened September 3. In the course just ended a successful beginning has been made of this highly important work…Owing to the short time for preparation, etc., the course of instruction was not as complete as it is hoped ultimately to make it; but enough has been done to assure the final success of the institution . . . . and it can but commend itself to the earnest and hearty support of the Department and of Congress." This was certainly very encouraging.
In the annual report of the Secretary of the Navy of December 1, 1886, Congress was informed that the second session of the Naval War College, now in charge of Captain A. T. Mahan, was attended with most satisfactory results. It is to be noticed that the college represents the first systematic attempt that has been made in the navy to give officers a higher training in the art of war which is the end and aim of their profession" . . . . "A striking feature of the program consisted in parallel courses upon the science of coast defense conducted by Commander Goodrich of the navy, and Captain Bixby of the engineer corps of the army, thus securing a presentation of the subject from its two essential standpoints." . . . . "The importance of the work to be done by the college can be hardly overestimated."
The annual report of the Bureau of Navigation of November 9, 1886, is of the same commendatory character, concluding with the remark that " the Naval War College may now be said to be fairly established and I beg to commend it to the earnest support of the Department."
The friends of the college felt greatly elated by this official commendation, and became more assiduous than ever (were that possible), for the continued success of the undertaking.
Third term-1887. In the annual report of the Secretary of the Navy of December 6, 1887, there is no allusion to the war college. This was ominous. But the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation under date of October 25, 1887, reported that "the third term of the college opened September 5, with a class of 22 officers of the navy and marine corps, and will close December 22 next." "The course was opened with a lecture by Commander Sampson . . . . relative to the objects for which the college was established and the necessity for its existence." "A list of the subjects treated by the several officers, who will lecture during the term, will be found in the program . . . . all of which treat very closely on the art of wan."
In the third annual report of the president of the college, Captain Mahan, it is stated that the course of lectures of the past two years have been materially developed; subjects already treated have been enlarged, and recent and much new matter introduced, all bearing upon the practical question of carrying on naval warfare to the best advantage. This exhibits a healthy growth. The report goes on to say: "It is proper to remark that this matter, the art of naval war, has never received systematic treatment, and, so far as known, amid all the immense activity now bestowed upon the development of the materiel of war, nowhere in the world is there an organized attempt being made to effect such treatment except at the Naval War College.".... "It is as yet the singular position of the college among educational institutions that its has first of all to collect, digest, and arrange in suitable form for instruction the branches which it has to teach." . . . . "This deficiency, which so clogs the movement of the college is among the strongest arguments for its establishment, except with those who are ready to maintain that naval men do not need to study methodically the higher branches of their business." Reference is then made to the presence in port of the North Atlantic Squadron and the practical exercises of the college class in connection therewith, adding: "Thus that squadron will co-operate with the ends of the college in accordance with the original plan, and it may be believed to the benefit of the officers of the fleet and of the class." Appended to the report is a list of 146 lectures by specialists all intimately connected with naval operations and naval warfare.
In 1888 the Hon. Secretary of the Navy reported through the President to Congress: "The Naval War College now in its fifth year has done good work in furnishing, in the shape of lectures on technical subjects, the results of the close application of specialists having access to all of the best means of information to officers of the navy who, for various reasons, have not been able to keep pace with the advance of naval war." It is earnestly recommended that whatever changes may be made in the administration of the college nothing may be done to interrupt the attainment of its main object, namely, the systematic study by naval officers of the practice and methods of modern war applied to the special necessities of the United States." In the words we have italicized is an unmistakable sign of imminent danger. It is the headsman deprecating the impending stroke.
The strongest endorsement the college had received, up to this date, is to be found in the annual report of the Chief of Bureau of Navigation of October 25, 1888: "The fourth annual session of the Naval War College," he writes, "opened 6th of August. The program as reported by the president of the college shows a continued improvement and extension of the course of study." . . The program shows that the course at the college has been strictly confined to the purposes for which the institution was intended and is at the same time comprehensive and searching within its proper scope. The subjects treated are of the first importance to the naval profession…Much credit must be accorded to the officers who have voluntarily . . . . given their time and labor to the preparation of lectures for the college." "Their efforts have not been without important fruit; for the institution whose novel plan and method in the beginning awakened sharp professional criticism has steadily grown in favor, and now counts among its ardent supporters not only all the officers who have followed its courses, but it is believed the great majority of the service generally, which recognizes in the college the instrument for supplying a long-felt want . . . ," and more to the same end. The entire passage of this just and appreciative characterization of the college is worth reading in the light of subsequent events.
The fourth term of the college had not yet begun when the president of the college received from the Navy Department, the following order:
NAVY DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, August 1, 1898
Capt. A. T. Mahan, U. S. Navy, Naval War College, Newport, R. I.
SIR: In view of the great scarcity of officers for active duty, the Department requests that the course of the war college be limited to three months, beginning August 6. The order will be issued with such limitations. In view of the fact that during the last year's course less than an average of two lectures per day were delivered, excluding Saturday and Sunday, the Department feels that the interest attached to the course will not be impaired by condensing the course into a shorter period.
(Signed) W. C. WHITNEY,
Secretary of the Navy.
With this was given to the press the following:
The amendment to the naval appropriation act, inserted in the Senate, directing the Secretary to consolidate the War College and Torpedo School, is in the interests of both these institutions. The Torpedo School grew up first as a school for the education of officers supplemental to the Naval Academy. Line officers found themselves ignorant of the new things. Torpedoes and mines and electricity aboard ship, all were new. Classes were made up yearly from the naval officers and sent there for instructions in these and kindred subjects. Then the new college started, where courses of lectures were delivered on miscellaneous subjects, again covering instructions supplemental to that of the Naval Academy. A channel less than half a mile wide flows between these two institutions, and Congress is asked to provide for each separate and distinct educational institution for line officers, making three altogether: The Naval Academy, the Torpedo School and the War College. The officers instructing, and those receiving instruction, are all ordered and given shore duty by the department. The bill provides that two of these shall be consolidated. I have favored the war college in each of my annual reports, but I do not deem the present arrangement wise or sensible and I have not seen any other person understanding the matter who does. (See Army and Navy Register, August 11, 1888.)
This order was like "a bolt out of the blue." It cut off, at a blow, 30 lectures already prepared, or that were in the course of preparation; all the practical exercises in working out tactical problems in the field, and the discussions they gave rise to; and broke up the "school of application," as the North Atlantic Squadron came to be known.
Following this came:
NAVY DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D. C., January 11, 1889.
GENERAL ORDER No. 365.
Under a provision contained in the act entitled "An act making appropriations for the naval service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1889, and for other purposes," approved September 7, the institution on Coasters' Harbor Island, in the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island, known as the "Naval War College," is hereby consolidated with, and made a part of, the Torpedo Station on Goat Island, in said harbor, which station, as consolidated, will hereafter be known as the "Naval Torpedo Station and War College" and is placed under the command of the officer in charge of the torpedo station.
The library and movable property belonging to the Naval War College will be transferred to the Naval Torpedo Station and War College.
The custody and control of the large building and surrounding structures, with the adjacent grounds, on Coasters' Harbor Island, heretofore occupied for the purposes of the Naval War College, will be turned over to the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting for the use of the Naval Training Station on that Island.
The establishment of a more thorough system of instruction, to be pursued at the Naval Torpedo Station and War College, being now under consideration, suitable orders relating thereto will, after such system shall have been adopted, be issued by the department.
WILLIAM C. WHITNEY,
Secretary of the Navy.
In his annual report of December 1, 1888, the Secretary of the Navy stated that: "In each of the annual reports of this Department for the last three years attention has been called to its unbusiness-like methods, etc." The case under consideration furnishes a singularly apt illustration of the truth of this statement. There were three bureaus concerned. An executive order had placed the war college under the Bureau of Navigation, and assigned to its use the old Poor House on Coasters' Harbor Island, then vacant. But the Bureau of Equipment having the training system under its charge wanted the entire island, buildings and all. It was, therefore, decided to get rid of the war college. The simplest way to do that was to transfer it to the torpedo station. But the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance did not want it there: "I suggest for your consideration" (he wrote to the Secretary of the Navy), "the evident advantages of discontinuing this class" (the war college class), "at the Naval Torpedo Station." (Report of October is, 1890.) Poor college!
It had become a waif: a nullius filius!
The president of the war college, Captain Mahan, who had not been consulted on the question of transfer, entered a vigorous and conclusive argument against this sudden change. "If by 'consolidation,'" he wrote in his report of October 13, 1888," is meant the merging of two lines of thought radically distinct, and, in temper of mind opposed, under a single directing intellect, the result will be the destruction of one or the other." "The torpedo station deals with materiel. The conduct of war, on the other hand, which is the object of the college, from management of single ships up to that of a naval campaign or the naval policy of a country, is affected by conditions wholly different from those which modify the action of the materials from which the naval weapons are made, under the stresses to which they may be subjected; and hence the habits of mind and interests engendered by the pursuit of physical research or of mechanical invention, tend more and more to diverge from, and to look coldly upon, the investigation of the problems of war." "If 'consolidation' means that the development of the art of war, and of torpedo manufacture, are to be carried out by the same man, one or the other will dwindle and disappear, and the sufferer will be the art of war, because, though of the first importance, it is less consonant to the present temper of the age, and, as yet of the navy; it is younger, weaker, more unfriended."
Too true! It was the study of the art of war that was to "dwindle and disappear." Cast out from Coaster's Harbor Island, its original habitat, and not wanted at the torpedo station, the war college languished in the uncongenial surroundings of Goat Island to the verge of extinction.
In the address of the president of the war college, Captain A. T. Mahan, U. S. Navy, at the opening of the fourth annual session, August 6, 1888, he said: "Last year, Congress refused to make any appropriation for the college, and the work has been pursued during the last 12 months, and more, under the apprehension that similar action would be taken in the present session; and so compel the abandonment of the work. This fear has been happily removed." . . . . "Besides the doubt as to the action of Congress, involving the whole question as to whether our really arduous work would be wholly thrown away, there have been other drawbacks and disappointments, which, as they affect the cause, must be mentioned." He then proceeds to detail the obstacles which the college had to overcome. No one not actually engaged in the campaign can understand the number, variety and, at times, gravity of those obstacles. Let them now be forgotten!
Fifth term-1889. The consolidation of the war college with the torpedo station necessitated the transfer of the college from under the general supervision of the Bureau of Navigation to that of the Bureau of Ordnance. In the annual report of the latter, October 16, 1889, it is stated that "pursuant to the act of Congress approved March 2, 1889, the Naval War College has been consolidated with the torpedo station…"On the conclusion of the course of torpedo instruction a war college class of three months was inaugurated, the members of the class being mostly the same as those who had composed the torpedo class."
By a reference to the report it will be seen from the list of lectures given that they all treated exclusively of military or naval matters either on shore or afloat, as in previous years, and were not on "miscellaneous subjects," as stated in the memorandum.
The sudden change of attitude on the part of the secretary towards the college is readily accounted for. The relations between the secretary and his Chief of Bureau of Navigation had become strained. He seems to have become dissatisfied with the manner in which details of officers to duty had been made; hence his order of August 4, 1888, assigning to a board of bureau chiefs the duty of detailing officers to duty. The order added, that "This order is not intended as a reflection upon the method of making the detail heretofore in use by the Department, etc." * However that might be, the college lost the influence of its strongest supporter (navigation) and left the field clear to the Bureau of Equipment of the Board of Detail, whose interest in the training service led it to oppose the college.
The Sundry Civil Act of August 7, 1882, provided "for repairing and extending wharf and the erection of boat-houses on Coaster's Harbor Island five thousand dollars. And the cession by the State of Rhode Island. to the United States of said island for use as a naval training station is hereby accepted."
Equipment took the ground that the training station was for naval apprentices only, whereas the Secretary of the Navy assumed that "naval training" included officers as well as the enlisted force. At any rate the island became government property, and Congress had exclusive jurisdiction over it, Equipment to the contrary notwithstanding.
In the naval appropriation act of March 2, 1889, appears the following item: "For the construction of a building for use by the Naval Torpedo Station and War College as consolidated by order of the Secretary of the Navy January II, 1889, one hundred thousand dollars to be immediately available, said sum in full for all expenses of designing, erecting and furnishing said building."
Thus by a formal act of Congress the war college was to be permanently established on Goat Island, and a site for the new building was actually selected. The enemies of the college had "won out," as the saying goes.
To revert to the memorandum attached to the letter of the Secretary of the Navy to the president of the war college, dated August 1, 1888, it was stated that "the amendment to the naval appropriation act, inserted by the Senate, directing the Secretary to consolidate the war college and torpedo station," is understood to have been in accordance with an agreement entered into by the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. W. C. Whitney, and Senator Aldrich, of Rhode Island, by which such consolidation should be effected "in the interests of both these institutions." By way of a douceur to the friends of the college, $100,000 was appropriated for a building for the war college, as we have seen. The material aid rendered at this time by Senator Aldrich must ever be held in grateful remembrance by the friends of the college.
It was in this state of the college affairs that a change of administration took place. Under date of November 30, 1889, the Secretary of the Navy, General B. F. Tracy, reported to Congress: "Recent legislation and administrative regulation has so far complicated the situation of the Naval War College at Newport, R. I., that the Department does not feel justified in undertaking the construction of the building authorized March 2, 1889, until Congress shall have expressed itself more definitely on the question of the site." "The Department feels no doubt, however, as to what that site should be. Goat Island has a restricted space, which is already sufficiently taken up…On the other hand, Coaster's Harbor Island offers an excellent site with an abundance of room." . . . ."The present condition of things, in which the college is made a sort of appendage to the torpedo station, under the Bureau of Ordnance should be corrected. It is attaching the greater to the less. The work of the Bureau of Ordnance has no connection with that of the war college and no reason can be assigned for placing the college under that bureau. The war college is, unquestionably, one of the most important institutions connected with the navy." " Its establishment in 1884 represented a marked advance in naval development. Its work, even in the restricted sphere to which it has hitherto been confined, has been of immense benefit to the service, and it is of the highest importance that nothing should be done that will in any way interfere with its efficiency." "For the present the Department has only to recommend that the building for which appropriation was made at the last session be placed on Coaster's Harbor Island, and that the appropriation be made under the head of 'Bureau of Navigation.'" And further on in the same report (page 49) reference is made to "the foundation of the war college, which has developed the study of problems of modern warfare in a manner at once scientific and practical." General Tracy brought to the administration of the affairs of the navy a wide experience in public life and a fine military record gained in the Civil War. He was thus enabled to appreciate the military character of the naval profession.
On July 11, 1890, Professor James Russell Soley became Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Professor Soley had been a member of the college faculty, having occupied the chair. of marine international law. He was a staunch and an appreciative friend of the college and had already, by his many good offices, placed it under a deep debt of gratitude. Under the circumstances Secretary Tracy deemed it expedient to place the college under his supervision, much to the gratification of the friends of that institution.
Agreeably to recommendation of Secretary Tracy the naval appropriation act of June 30, 1890, contained the following item: "Bureau of Navigation. Naval War College and Torpedo School on Coaster's Harbor Island: For maintenance of the Naval War College and Torpedo School on Coaster's Harbor Island ten thousand dollars; and the Secretary of the Navy is hereby authorized to cause the building for use by the war college and torpedo school, for the construction of which the sum of one hundred thousand dollars was appropriated in the act of March second, eighteen hundred and eighty-nine, to be erected on Coaster's Harbor Island."
Turning now to the annual report of the Bureau of Navigation of October 15, 1890, we learn that the act of Congress making the appropriations for the navy approved June 30, 1890, having transferred the Naval War College and Torpedo School from the torpedo station to Coaster's Harbor Island, "plans for the college building are now being prepared."
1890. There was no war college term this year.
Thus ended one stage of the campaign. The Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting had gained its point. General Order No. 365 of January 11, 1889, had assigned the building that had been used by the college to the officers of the training service. Henceforth, there was to be no more friction between the two. The war college was to have its own building; the training service had its buildings. It was hoped the two would now live together in peace. That hope, unhappily, was not to be realized.
The sixth war college term, 1892, was under Captain Mahan, as president.
The Chief of Bureau of Navigation, under date of October 25, 1892, reported that "the building for the Naval War College and Torpedo School on Coaster's Harbor Island, Newport, R. I., has been completed and the college was opened September 1. Twenty-two officers are attending the course of instruction which will continue until the 31st." The report of the president of the war college is not included this year among the papers appended to the annual reports.
The Secretary of the Navy, however, in his annual report of December 10, 1892, states that "The Naval War College and Torpedo School has been reopened in the new building constructed for the purpose," adding: "The Department is deeply impressed with the importance of the college to the navy, as a means for insuring the development of the science of naval warfare as distinguished from the development of the naval materiel," etc.
1893. There was no college course this year, nor is there any hint in the annual reports of the Secretary of the Navy or the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation going to show why the college term was suspended. The annual report of the secretary, the Hon. Hilary A. Herbert, of November 18, 1893, page 52, simply says: "during the past season I visited and inspected personally . . . . the war college and torpedo station."
With the exception of the estimate "of $8000 for maintenance and care of grounds," the Bureau of Navigation is silent on the subject. This silence boded no good to the college.
With a change of administration came another change in the policy of the Department in regard to the college. Secretary Herbert as chairman of the Naval Committee of the House had earnestly advocated removing the college to Annapolis (see Congressional Record, June 18, 1886, page 6134). The Bureau of Navigation was unfriendly, and Equipment was an avowed enemy. Matters looked squally! On May II, 1893, Captain Mahan, president of the college, while engrossed by his arduous labors, was suddenly detached and ordered to the command of the U. S. S. Chicago.
Among the "lectures on miscellaneous subjects," referred to in the memorandum of the Navy Department of August 1, 1888, were the lectures delivered by Captain Mahan, which were subsequently published under the title of "The Influence of Sea Power upon History." This course of lectures gradually expanded until they covered the entire field of naval science, including naval strategy. This led the lecturer to see the importance to the United States of the Sandwich Islands. These views finding their way to the public press were not satisfactory to the administration, the policy of that day being to oppose the acquisition of those islands. Whether the detachment of Captain Mahan from the college was in consequence of those publicly expressed views of its president or not, cannot be affirmed; but it certainly had the appearance of cause and effect. It is the man at the mast-head who first cries out "Land O!" Now everybody can see the value, from a military point of view, of the possession of that naval base, the Hawaiian Islands.
On the detachment of Captain Mahan, the command of the college devolved upon Commander C. H. Stockton. The Department was informed that arrangements had been made for a summer course; but no class was ordered; the Office of Detail could find no one to send!
November 15, 1893, Captain Henry C. Taylor, U. S. N., was ordered to the college as its president.
The Training Service.—To a full understanding of the history of the war college a few words in relation to the training service are necessary.
The "circular relating to the enlistment of boys in the U. S. Naval Service" of April 8, 1875, provided that the naval apprentices on enlistment should be sent to the Minnesota. It was intended that all the training of boys for the navy should be on board ship. In the U. S. Navy Regulation Circular No. 33, of June 4, 1883, it was stated that:
Coasters' Harbor Island having been ceded and conveyed to the United States by the State of Rhode Island, the Naval Training Station at that place is hereby permanently established. The training system . . . . will be under the immediate supervision of the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting. . . .
A suitable vessel will remain permanently at the station . . . . No apprentices, nor any of the personnel attached to the institution, shall be quartered on shore.
(Signed) Wm. E. CHANDLER,
Secretary of the Navy.
The Minnesota proving of inadequate size for the purpose, her place was taken by the New Hampshire, one of the old line-of-battle ships. The New Hampshire as the "permanent" school ship was moored in the stream. In an evil hour she was hauled in and tied up to a wharf where she made a bed for herself in the mud; surrounded herself, in due time, with a cesspool, and, in consequence of sickness aboard, had to be hauled out in the stream again. (See report of medical board of August 31, 1889.)
An effort was now made to have the training station transferred to New London, and the New Hampshire was sent there as a preliminary step. Thus it came about that the naval apprentices were marooned on the Island. Some of them were put in the rigging loft which was fitted up for their use, and others put under tents. Some of the officers were actually quartered in the war college building by orders from the Secretary of the Navy. (See letter of the Secretary of the-Navy in answer to resolution of the Senate of February 19, 1895.) This was an entering wedge to get possession of the entire building.
The opposition to the war college now became more pronounced than ever. Navigation had reported: "the institution (the college) whose novel plan and methods in the beginning awakened sharp professional criticism," etc. And Admiral Porter wrote: "The Naval War College is but the beginning of an institution that will in the future, I believe, confer great benefit on the service. There are some officers who retard its progress by their opposition, etc." (Annual report of 1885.) And again: "The war college has encountered a most remarkable opposition ever since its establishment." (Report of 1888.) That opposition grew in intensity and was transferred from the abstract question of a college to those of its advocates who represented it.
The tension had now reached the acute stage. The officers of the training service exhibited towards the officers of the college a vindictive spirit that strained the relations to a point approaching rupture. They had succeeded in getting possession of a part of the college building, and aimed at getting the whole. The Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Herbert, was known to be unfriendly, and certain of the bureaus or their representatives were open and active enemies. "In six months my boys will be eating their grub in the lecture room of the war college!" was the proud boast of the commanding officer of the training station. Few and short were the days of the college!
In August, 1893, Secretary Herbert on board the Dolphin visited Newport, for the avowed purpose of breaking up the war college. He came, he saw, and was conquered. "What hast thou done unto me?" cried Balak, King of the Moabites, "I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether." "When I started out on this trip," Mr. Herbert declared, "I meant to break up the war college . . . . but now I intend to do all I can to assist it," and he was as good as his word. Subsequently in an address at the college he said:
The opinion was once widely entertained that this college was intended for a post-graduate course and that, this being so, it should be located, if allowed to exist at all, at the Naval Academy. I was of this opinion myself until three years ago on a personal visit I inspected its workings and examined fully into its plans and purposes. Then I discovered, what the public is beginning to understand, and what the navy itself is now coming fully to appreciate, that it is in no sense a post-graduate course that is being pursued in these walls; that not only are the theory and art of war being thoroughly studied and developed here, but knowledge is being acquired and practical information is being amassed without which the Navy Department cannot possibly, in the event of war, utilize the naval resources of our country.
Ships and guns, torpedoes and men, are all of little use unless officers know how to fight them. Individual ships, however bravely and skillfully they may be handled and fought, can accomplish but little if officers do not know when, where and how to dispose them; while at the same time skill in handling, courage in fighting, and knowledge of the proper disposition of ships in battle, will often all be of little avail without continual and prompt supplies of everything needed in the exigencies of war, all of which must be reckoned beforehand. Successful war means all of these things and more besides. It means, if the exigency requires, the exertion by a nation of its utmost power, the utilization of all its resources, the tapping of every source of supply, the employment of every manufactory, every ship and every man that can be useful, and all this with the utmost promptitude and dispatch. Further than this, plans of attack and defense must be devised, and these cannot be successfully made without the most accurate knowledge of harbors, inlets, safe and unsafe passages, tides and everything else pertaining to the possible theaters of impending war. A study of these and still other problems constitute the work which, I am glad to say from a careful personal inspection of results, you have been successfully performing during the years just passed. I congratulate you, gentlemen, and you particularly, Mr. President, upon the results you have achieved. For myself I shall rejoice, if when I shall lay down the office I now hold, it can be said I contributed, in such a manner as I could, to the successful workings of this institution.
This frank and manly admission by Mr. Herbert of his former error in judging of the college on insufficient grounds, and the very handsome manner in which he atoned for that error, redound greatly to his credit.
Mr. Herbert's experience in the Southern Army during the Civil War enabled him to understand and appreciate the true character of the war college. But although Mr. Herbert had become, through his own personal examination, a convert to the college views, he was still to a certain extent influenced by the more aggressive party opposed to it. General Order No. 421 of March 14, 1894, consolidated all the stations at Newport, and the commanding officer of the training station was put in general command of all. This put the college under the command of its most pronounced enemy, which made it exceedingly unpleasant, to put it mildly, for the officers of the college.
This was followed by General Order No. 496 of Acting Secretary of the Navy, the Hon. Charles H. Allen, revoking the order of consolidation.
All these various plans for disposing of the war college seem to have originated from the same source. The report of the Phythian Board of 1891 had proposed uniting all the Newport stations under one head. Nearly every one, save those most concerned, had some different plan of his own for the college. The Bureau of Navigation wanted a "real war college" of its own design— "the country thus having a real war college where the art of war can only be practically learned at sea." The letter of the Bureau of Navigation, giving a plan, will be found in the Army and Navy Register of November 20, 1897; also the letter of Captain Goodrich, at the time president of the war college.
The Hon. Charles Herbert Allen, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, wanted the war college to be sent to Annapolis. He advanced six reasons in support of his proposition. His views have no interest save as they reflect those of the bureaus inimical to the college. The arguments of Mr. Allen (which had been advanced long before by Mr. Herbert) would apply with equal force to the transfer of the artillery school at Fort Monroe to the military academy at West Point. He overlooked the fact, as others had done, that the college had been located at Newport by Act of Congress, and nothing short of an Act of Congress could dislocate it. Others again thought the college should be in Washington, D. C., and so on. "He that builds by the wayside has many masters."
Comments on departmental business methods are unnecessary: the bare record as given in the present case justifies the severest strictures that have been made upon it.
Captain Henry C. Taylor, U. S. Navy, reported for duty as president of the war college on the 15th of November, 1893, as already stated.
When Secretary Herbert visited the war college in 1893 for the purpose of breaking it up, as narrated, he took the precaution to look into the reasons to justify his action. He then became convinced that so far from there being just cause for such a proceeding there was every reason why the institution should receive his support. As a result there will be found in his annual report of November 17, 1894, the warmest commendation of the college and its methods. "My careful examination of this whole question greatly impressed me with the importance of at once establishing the institution upon a firm and substantial basis." It had been the intention of the Department to supplement the college course with exercises in the North Atlantic Squadron, but the exigencies of the service did not admit of it.
Term of 1894.—The seventh term opened June 12, 1894. The annual report of the president, Captain H. C. Taylor, is particularly interesting and encouraging. The class consisted of 25 officers including Commander C. G. Flach, and Commander Baron Ugglas, both of the Royal Swedish Navy; two officers of the U. S. Revenue Marine and three officers of the Rhode Island Naval Reserves.
The report states that "throughout the term of nearly four months a valuable course of reading has been carried on on international law, strategy, naval and military history and biography, etc. "The desire on the part of the members of the class to read and inform themselves in professional subjects appears to have been notably quickened by the war problems upon which their minds have been concentrated." "The results of this summer's course, which are far beyond my most sanguine anticipations, justify my urging upon the Department a continuance of the war college." "Its scope," he adds, "not to be increased, but the field in which it works can be more thoroughly and satisfactorily covered if the work be made continuous and the college be recognized by the Department as a permanent institution with a small regular staff." Here we find from this very able officer a clearly expressed doubt of the permanency of the college. The report is addressed to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
1895. Eighth Session.—Secretary Herbert in his report of 1895, continues his intelligent and appreciative notices of the war college. "Under the able superintendency of Captain H. C. Taylor, U. S. N.," he writes, "this institution has, during each of the two past years, made a distinctively forward step. It can no longer in any quarter be regarded as a post-graduate school to carry officers forward in the theoretical studies pursued at Annapolis; but it now stands out clearly as an undeniably practical institution for the study of war as a science, 'evolved from historical research, and of war as an art, applied to problems arising out of hypothetical and possible cases of attacks upon and defenses of our own country, its coasts, and cities."—"That it was to be a school of war, and nothing but war, was not at first recognized by the public mind in or out of the navy."
The report of the president of the "Naval War College and Torpedo School" for 1895 (Captain H. C. Taylor), shows continued progress. The course opened June 1, 1895, with a class of 25 officers with the addition of Lieutenant T. Fritsche of the Royal Danish Navy; one officer of the U. S. Revenue Service and one officer of the Rhode Island Naval Reserves. The report gives a summary of the work done adding: "In conclusion I am happy to be able to state that the session just drawing to a close has been even more successful than that of last year. The approval and support of the officers in attendance, corroborating those that have gone before, may well be taken to represent the established conviction in the service of the serious importance of the study of the art of war."
The opposition to the college was beginning to be less manifest.
Ninth Session. 1896.—The Hon. H. A. Herbert, Secretary of the Navy, in his annual report of December 2, 1896, continues his very interesting and illuminating notices of the war college. He states that: "The Department during the last three years has given every possible aid and encouragement to the war college and the results have been most gratifying." After making some pertinent remarks on the general subject, which are well worth reproducing here did space admit, he adds: "there has been nothing in our naval history to turn the minds of naval officers in the direction taken by the studies which have occupied the war college during the last three years."
The president of the college, Captain H. C. Taylor, under date of October 10, 1896, reported that the college opened on the first of June with 28 officers of the navy in attendance, and a number of officers of the State militia. Among the latter appears the name of Lieut. T. H. Newberry, of the naval militia of Michigan, and more recently Secretary of the Navy.
The following named gentlemen, on the invitation of the college, delivered addresses during the session as follows:
Hon. H. A. Herbert, Secretary of the Navy: "On the Sea and Sea Power as a factor in the History of the United States."
Hon. John A. Kasson : "International Arbitration and its effect upon National Politics."
Hon. E. J. Phelps: "The relations of the Navy to Diplomacy."
Gen. Francis J. Lippitt : "The rights of Vessels in Foreign Ports."
Prof. T. S. Woolsey: "The right of Search and its Limitations in Time of Peace."
Mr. Charlemagne Tower: "Military Operations of Sir William Howe in the War of Independence." (Two lectures.)
We must here take leave of Mr. Herbert with the grateful acknowledgments of the friends of the college for his sympathy and support. His paper above referred to is a very valuable contribution to the college literature. It was subsequently printed in pamphlet form for distribution. An extract from it has been already given.
"In conclusion," the president of the college writes, "it affords me pleasure to state that the session which has just drawn to a close has been even more successful than those of the two past years. The sentiment of approval of the college methods has rapidly gained ground during the past few years among the officers of the navy and many distinguished citizens."
The opposition to the college seems from the later reports to be subsiding.
Tenth Session. 1897.—" The recent session of the college extended from June 1 to September 15," writes the Secretary of the Navy, the Hon. John D. Long, in his report of November 15, 1897. Twenty-one officers of the navy and one of the army attended the course; also four officers of the naval militia." He states further that "the work of the college is of importance and value to the service."
Commander C. F. Goodrich, U. S. Navy, relieved Captain H. C. Taylor as president of the college December 31, 1896.
"The course was opened," Commander Goodrich reports, "with an able address by the Hon. Theodore Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, which has been printed and distributed to the service."
At other times during the summer the officers had the benefit of listening to addresses by well-known civilians on subjects closely concerning naval officers and the relations to our international policy, as follows:
Hon. John D. Long, Secretary of the Navy.
Moorfield Storey, Esq.: "A Civilian's view of the Navy."
General Francis J. Lippitt : "Naval Captures."
Charles H. Cramp, Esq. : "The necessity of Experience to Efficiency."
Hon. C. S. Hamlin: "International Law of the Bering Sea Question."
There were a number of other lectures on professional subjects, viz.:
Captain A. T. Mahan: "Strategy."
Captain H. C. Taylor: "Naval Tactics."
Commander C. F. Goodrich: "Coast Defense," etc.
The report continues: "In conclusion it affords me pleasure to state that the session which has just drawn to a close has been, it is hoped, no less successful than those of the past three years. The sentiment of approval of the college methods has rapidly gained ground during the past few years among officers of the navy and many distinguished citizens and by none more than those officers, who, coming with a prejudice against the institution, have left it with an undisguised sympathy with its ends and practices. Prejudice is the child of ignorance. When the great majority of officers shall be alumni of the war college there will be less criticism of its purposes."
It may be stated here, parenthetically, that "prejudice," the offspring of ignorance, still exists, and this too, notwithstanding the fact that the college has been in existence for a quarter of a century. It has been shown that each president of the college in succession has spoken in the most encouraging manner of the growing interest of officers in the higher branches of their profession; but when it is considered that at each session of the college only from 20 to 25 officers attend, for only about four months each years it will be a long time yet before the great body of the navy will be alumni of the college. The college staff, moreover, is numerically, wholly inadequate.
In the annual report of the Secretary of the Navy of November 15, 1898, there is no direct allusion to the war college. But there is clearly an implied reference to it. On April 21, Congress declared war against Spain. The study of the art of war in the college was now transferred to the practice or the art in the theater of actual hostilities. The Secretary, while not using the word "college," yet recorded a very important fact intimately connected with it. He informed Congress, through the President, that: "The Naval War Board as finally constituted during active operations in the recent war" (with Spain), "was composed of Rear-Admiral Montgomery Sicard, Captain A. S. Crowninshield, and Captain A. T. Mahan (retired), and was constantly in session at the Navy Department. It was equal to every demand, and through it, proper control was exercised by the Department over all movements in the field! at the same time all officers there were left ample discretion and were never hampered in their work. The board was charged with delicate and most important duties, and yet the Department is not aware of an error in its performance of them." . . . . "The head of the Department can only, in a measure, aid with a touch here and there. Untrained in the art of naval warfare, without professional knowledge of the technicalities of the service, he is at best only the director of its general progress."
On the Naval War Board Captain Mahan stood for the war college. Now one of the principal objects the war college had in view was to enable officers to prepare themselves for the very duty for which the secretary so highly commends the Naval War Board; for duty, in short, as members of the Naval General Staff which it was hoped would some day be recognized as indispensable to a form of naval administration founded on the canons of common sense. The General Board of to-day is the outgrowth of the Naval War Board of the Spanish War. The navy owes this to the late Rear-Admiral H. C. Taylor, who was one of the very strongest friends of the college from its earliest inception; and an earnest and judicious advocate of all the college stood for.
It must strike anyone at all conversant with naval matters that if a Naval War Board hastily convened at the breaking out of war was such a very important factor (as it undoubtedly was), it would be a far more important factor if convened long in advance of war. For 13 years before the Spanish War the college had been preparing for war in spite of much opposition, and for 13 years Congress had known that the Navy Department was totally unprepared for war. Such is its legal status to-day. Fortunately for the country, steps have now been taken to put our business methods in better shape, so that, in the event of a recurrence bf hostilities—which Heaven forbid—the Naval War Board or its equivalent, may not be found wanting.
The Spanish War freed the college from active opposition. The president of the college became a member of the General Board and thereby a participant in administering the affairs of the navy. Henceforth the status of the college was assured. We may now concern ourselves with results only and go back to the beginning of its career to show its aims and objects. Naval strategy was made one of the principal branches of investigation. As there was no treatise on the subject, an immense amount of history had to be gone over to learn what had been done in past ages in that respect. There were works, however, treating of military strategy; these had to be studied, and, by what is commonly known as the "comparative method" of investigation, was evolved naval strategy. This raised naval warfare from the empirical to the scientific stage.
Grand tactics, or the tactics of admirals, could be learned only by an analysis of the great battles of the past, hence a careful study of naval history was necessary. To the foregoing subjects was added the laws of war, as treated under the head of marine international law.
One of the first steps in the establishment of an institution somewhat novel in its character, was to furnish the facilities for carrying on these studies and to suggest certain lines that might be followed to advantage.
The foundation once laid, is was assumed that those who were to conduct the course, conjointly with those in attendance, would rear the superstructure. To this end a few officers came together each one of whom took up a particular branch of study. The results of those studies were given out in the form of lectures, and the freest discussion invited. Contributions by members of the class in attendance were cordially invited and gratefully received. Such is the case to-day. In short the college is, to borrow a term from political economy, a sort of co-operative or joint-stock affair, where all work in unison for the common good.
The next step in the process of development was to get at the philosophy of navies, to show the reason of their being, their influence on the destiny of the state, and their true functions in peace as well as in war. The necessity of a navy to a maritime state having been shown, then its relative proportions were to be determined, as well as its character due to the position held by the state in the great family of nations, and the foreign policy sought to be carried out—whether the attitude of the state was to be purely defensive, or whether it was to be the offensive-defensive, that is, to defend by assuming the offensive. If the latter, then to show the necessity at all times for an advanced state of preparation. Thus was emphasized the fact that one of the most important factors of naval strategy belongs essentially to a time of profound peace. These and kindred subjects are among the largest and most important that can engage the attention of the naval officer who aspires to serve on the Naval General Staff, or to command a fleet during war.
That is one meaning of college. It is a place of original research on all questions relating to war and to statesmanship connected with war, or the prevention of war.
It will be seen from what has just been said of the "philosophy of navies" that the lectures on those broad lines led quite naturally to the consideration of the influence of a navy on the history of a state and thence on history generally. These lectures covered a wide field, and treated the subjects under consideration in the most exhaustive manner. They made clear how in the beginning ocean commerce gradually expanded and became a source of wealth and power to the state; how vessels engaged in that commerce were often obliged to be armed to guard against piracy; and how vessels of the state armed for the purpose had to be sent out to protect those engaged in foreign commerce; hence arose navies. Those navies were erected upon a foundation of ocean commerce. The great minister Colbert, under Louis XIV, we are told, inaugurated the brilliant reign of that king. The wealth of France was to be developed on the lines of production encouraged, trade stimulated to healthful activity, a large merchant shipping, a great navy, and colonial extension. Some of these are sources, others the actual constituents, of sea power; which may be said, of a seaboard nation, to be the invariable accompaniment, if not the chief source of its strength. The development of the greatness of France went on rapidly for a few years. Then came the parting of the ways, Louis drove the Dutch carrying trade to the ships of England, and sacrificed the growing commerce of France. Thus England gradually forged ahead to the front rank as a sea power; even in war her prosperity was great. The merchant shipping of France on the other hand was stricken and the splendid growth of the Royal Navy, "that had excited the jealousy of England, was like a tree without roots; it soon withered under the blast of war."
Our experiment of building a formidable navy without the foundation of a mercantile marine is one that will be watched abroad with interest. The fact that our fleet when circumnavigating the globe had to depend for supplies on foreign shipping suggests that our navy may, like that of Louis XIV, be "like a tree without roots and soon wither under the blast of war."
These lectures delivered at the Naval War College from the chair of naval history were not intended originally for publication. They were not written with that view. But those who had the privilege of hearing them, struck by their originality of conception, the freshness and vigor of the style and particularly the broad and comprehensive views of the matter under treatment, were insistent upon their being put in a permanent form. It was difficult, however, to find a publisher willing to take the risk of putting on the market the work of a comparatively unknown author treating of a subject of little general interest. Through the good offices of a gentleman, himself of cultivated literary tastes, who had heard the lectures and appreciated their value, a publisher was at length found. Such is the origin and growth of the works now known as "The Influence of Sea Power upon History," "The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire," and "Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812," by Captain A. T. Mahan, U. S. Navy. The sea power series covers a period included between the year 166o and 1815. The by-products include the "Life of Nelson," a standard work, and numerous other contributions to the literature of the naval profession, the whole forming a splendid literary memorial of which any one might well feel proud.
In addition to lectures there have been given out for solution problems dealing with the larger operations of war. These required the use of charts covering the entire theater of war, and a painstaking study of all the attendant conditions. Success in war, it is understood, is largely a question of positions, hence the constant study of maps. The laboratory method has also been employed with success. Ex pede Hercidem.
It is well understood that in going through the war college course there is nothing approaching compulsion. An officer may avail himself of the advantages offered him or not, as he pleases; but it has been found that interest in one's profession is the only incentive needed. That has sufficed. Knowledge acquired by self-effort is more thoroughly assimilated than knowledge acquired from lectures. It is a healthy and hopeful sign when officers who have made good use of their time at the college during the all-too-short term, are anxious to return to it. They have discovered that there is more in their profession than they had dreamed of; that while they had been completely absorbed in the study of a part, they had lost sight of the whole. Specialization must not be carried to excess.
It was fortunate indeed that the chair of marine international law should have been filled, at first, by so competent a person as Professor Soley.
Professor, now the Hon. James Russell Soley, a graduate of Harvard and of the Law School of Columbia University, was for some years at the head of the department of history and law at the Naval Academy. His familiarity with naval affairs qualified him in an eminent degree to treat of those parts of marine international law which most nearly concerned naval officers and their treatment of international questions on foreign stations. His lectures, always interesting and instructive, were listened to by those in attendance at the college with marked satisfaction. Their literary style was of a high order. It has been a subject of great regret that they were never published.
To Rear Admiral C. H. Stockton, U. S. Navy, is the navy indebted for the Naval War Code. This code has received official recognition. In his letter of instructions to the United States delegation to the Hague Conference of 1907, the Secretary of State, Mr. Root, wrote: "As to the framing of a convention relative to the customs of maritime warfare you are referred to the Naval War Code promulgated in General Order 551 of the Navy Department of June 27, 1900, which has met with general commendation by naval authorities throughout the civilized world, and which in general, expresses the views of the United States, subject to a few specific amendments suggested in a volume of international law discussions of the Naval War College of the year 1903. The order putting this code into force was revoked by the Navy Department in 1904 not because of any change of views as to the rules which it contained, but because many of these rules, being imposed upon the forces of the United States, by the order, would have put our naval forces at a disadvantage, as against the forces of other powers upon whom the rules were not binding. The whole discussion of these rules contained in the volume to which I have referred is commended to your careful study."
Again: in reply to the invitation of Great Britain to assist at an international conference in order to arrive at an agreement as to the generally accepted principles of international law, the United States Government recognized once more, in the, most formal manner, the authority of the Naval War College on questions of this character. Under date of September 5, 1908, the Secretary of State wrote to the British Ambassador . . . . "I have the honor to transmit herewith copies of the Naval War Code of 1900 and of the volume of international law discussions of the Naval War College for the year 1903 containing amendments to be made to the Naval War code of 1900, to serve as a basis of discussion in the conference . . . . ,,etc." Rear-Admiral Stockton, who, as president of the war college, had prepared the Naval War Code referred to above, and Prof. Grafton Wilson, of Brown University, and lecturer on international law at the college, were the United States delegates to the convention, and are among the signatories of the Declaration of February 26, 1909. That the college has become an exponent of marine international law is due of late years very largely to the ability and industry of Professor Wilson.
It was an implied compliment to the college and the position it had won that Rear-Admiral Mahan, who had, as its president, gained such world-wide distinction, was sent out as the naval delegate to the Peace Conference at the Hague in 1899.
In 1903 Rear-Admiral Charles S. Sperry, U. S. Navy, was ordered as president of the war college. As a direct but wholly unlooked for consequence of his services at the college he was sent, June 19, 1906, as a delegate to the Geneva Convention for the Treatment of Sick and Wounded, and in June, 1907, as naval delegate to the Second Hague Conference where he acquitted himself with great credit.
Thus in the broad domain of war as well as in the field of marine international law the college has justified its being. It has accomplished to some extent what it set out to do: to bring young naval officers to a realizing sense of the true significance of the dignity, variety and extent of their profession.
Under the enlightened system of naval administration now happily inaugurated, the continued growth and usefulness of the college is assured.