Archive for the 'History' Category

The Civil War ended, and when it did, the Navy returned to its roots of exploration and expansion, particularly in Asia. And, where Navy ships sailed, so did Marines. When sailors went into combat on land, Marines often led the charge. Our object today is a Medal of Honor awarded to a Marine during the little-known Corean Incident of 1871.



Today’s object helps us understand how the disciplinary and military justice system of the Navy has developed from the middle part of the 19th century until now. JAG and NCIS are not just TV shows – they are important parts of the naval justice system. The institution of formalized disciplinary codes and personnel began during this time, in addition to all of the other developments that we have already discussed in previous episodes. Although flogging is long gone in the Navy today, we go back and take a look at early navy punishments, and see how they compare with the Navy today.



The Navy evolved in all aspects from the War of 1812 to the Civil War. However, something often overlooked is how the personnel structure evolved and became standardized. The development of standard uniforms and insignia is one small way to look at this process, and today’s object, a pair of officer’s epaulettes, belonged to the Father of American Naval Gunnery, John Dahlgren.



Early submarines are often associated with Jules Verne’s famous book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. However, in the American Navy submarines had been in development for nearly a century prior to Verne’s writing. In fact, it was early American submarine designs that served as a guide for Verne’s book. Today, we take a look at the birth of the submarine in the U.S. Navy, and we do this through the lens of the actual pay documents issued by the State of Connecticut to the designer of the first American submarine during the Revolutionary War.



The Civil War split the country, and the Navy, into two. The Union and Confederate navies adapted to the conflict differently. Today we look specifically at how the Confederate Navy turned to commerce warfare and innovation to try to survive. Many of the key technologies essential to modern navies saw their first use in the Civil War, including the iron-clad warship, the submarine, and the torpedo boat. We look at all of this using today’s object, a small wooden letter opener made from the wood of the CSS Shenandoah.



The Navy underwent significant change in the years following the War of 1812. We have already discussed some of the significant technological innovations that came about during that period, so today we look at some of the results of those changes. New technologies created some new problems, and we address one of those problems today. Additionally, we think about how the fundamentals of naval warfare were changed by the steamship.



The 4th of July is one of the most loved and inspiring days of the year in the United States. However, in the early stages of the War of 1812, patriotism proved difficult, and inspiration was in scarce supply. USS Constitution’s victory over HMS Guerriere helped coalesce and inspire the American citizens to fight against the British.



The Navy has always been a model of innovation, but this has not always been easy. Faced with a problem of a power source (wind) that was inconsistent, naval leaders and scientists set out to see if they could solve this problem. They did, and the first Naval steamship was produced. Today, the Navy is faced with another problem: how to operate independently without dependence on external sources of fuel. Today’s object helps tie these two issues together.



After nearly three decades of peace the U.S. Navy went to war again, this time with Mexico. This conflict was fought both on the Pacific coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, and marked the Navy’s first large-scale amphibious operations.



After the War of 1812, the U.S. entered a new period of exploration, commercial expansion, and self-awareness. Just like today, when we travel abroad and bring back souvenirs from whatever exotic locale we visit, so did Navy sailors bring home artifacts and tokens while deployed with small squadrons which were protecting expanding American interests.



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