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quid pro quo

March 22 2013 at 8:05 PM
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Nelson  (no login)
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Response to CL-12 in Tjilatjap Drydock pics

Yep, three 3-inch guns on Marblehead's side for sure, and no doubt they're L/50.

You may enjoy something sent to me recently, which combines early 20th century naval ordnance and one of your favorite naval officers: Text-Book of Ordnance and Gunnery (Second Edition), Revised and Arranged for the Use of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, by Commander William F. Fullam, U.S. Navy, and Lieutenant Thomas C. Hart, U.S. Navy (Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, 1905).

Actually, that citation hints at some fascinating realities:

(1) A mere decade before, when Hart himself was a student at the USNA, he and his fellows were termed cadets (or naval cadets).* Upon graduation, the former cadet could count on at least two years with the Fleet with the rank of passed midshipman, a warrant officer, before promotion---and commission---to ensign. Whether exceptions were made for particularly distinguished graduates, with direct commission to ensign, I do not know at this time, but will endeavor to find out. In 1902, the USNA students once again became midshipmen, and a decade later, the mandatory two-year trial period with the Fleet as passed midshipmen was abolished, and upon completion of study, the midshipmen were directly awarded commissions as ensigns.

(2) I have recently seen a photograph of a group of naval officers in China in the early 20th century, all of whom are wearing sidearms, with one of them, from all appearances an ensign in the U.S. Navy, identified as Passed Midshipman So-and-so. It would seem intuitive that some difference in uniform attended this early post-graduation rank, e.g., a fouled anchor in place of the commissioned officer's star or a difference in color in sleeve braid, but this b&w photo reveals naught.

(3) Hart graduated in 1897, and a mere eight years later, he was a full lieutenant AND instructor of ordnance at the USNA. He did serve the obligatory period as a passed midshipman, so that's a mighty fast elevation in rank. There was probably the usual acceleration in promotion rate due to the brief Spanish-American War, but even so, Hart's fast rise in rank as a junior officer suggests he was well above par among his peers.

*[Back story: In the early 1890s, the USN was looking to replace the steel or bronze breechloading landing and boat howitzers manufactured during the 1870s and 1880s. It tested 6-pounder BL landing guns submitted by the Hotchkiss and Driggs-Schroeder arms companies. They were by no means bad guns, but after all said and done, the navy considered them too light for the task of effectively supporting naval landing parties. Therefore they were "...turned over to the Naval Academy authorities for the use of the cadets." (annual Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, 1892), and "Six more 6-pounder field guns.....are being made at the Washington Navy-Yard for the use of the cadets at the naval academy." (annual Report of the Chief of BuOrd, 1893). As I wrote, they were once again designated midshipmen in 1902. And please note: the italics are mine.]


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