We know surprisingly little about some of those aspects of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan's career which lie outside the roles of naval historian and publicist. About his belated appointment to the 1898 War Board, we are at last beginning to learn some important details; but still very obscure indeed is the earlier "secret strategy board" of which Mahan was a member from the outset. We know that this latter board was set up by Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Tracy in the first half of 1890. In addition to Mahan, its members were Professor James Russell Soley, his former colleague at the Naval War College and the newly appointed Assistant Secretary, Commander William M. Folger, the Chief of the Ordnance Bureau, and some unidentified naval intelligence officers. So far as its duties were concerned, we have for a long time known only that it was this board which more than a year later, in September 1891, advised the Secretary on possible operations in the event of war with Chile.
Captain Mahan's "War" with Great Britain
By Kenneth Bourne and Carl Boyd