Naval Doctrine - LUCE AND MAHAN

by Mitch on March 17, 2012 0 Comments

The most influential naval publicist of the Ironclad Age, and probably of all time, Alfred Thayer Mahan made his name with The Influence of Sea Power upon History (1890) and followed with other impressive historical analysis. He believed in the necessity of eliminating an opposing fleet in decisive battle so that sea power could subsequently be exercised. Commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1861, Mahan served the Union in the American Civil War as an officer on USS Worcester, Congress, Pocahontas, and James Adger, and as an instructor at the Naval Academy.


Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, intellects were stirring. The foundation of the US Naval War College under Captain (subsequently Admiral) Stephen B. Luce in the mid-1880s was, in retrospect, a seminal event. The United States had had twenty years to recover from its civil war, years when it had been preoccupied not only with reconciliation and reconstitution of the Union ...

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The Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 – Naval War II

by Mitch on November 12, 2010 0 Comments

Admiral Tōgō on the bridge of Mikasa, at the beginning of the Battle of Tsushima in 1905. The signal flag being hoisted is the letter "Z", which was a special instruction to the Fleet.

The Russians did not at any time during the conflict give up the notion that they must contend with the Japanese for command of the sea. Not surprisingly, Stark was quickly sacked. Blamed for his squadron’s lack of readiness, he was replaced by Vice Admiral Stepan O. Makarov, who arrived at Port Arthur on 7 March 1904 to inject new life into Stark’s seemingly listless officers and crews. In addition to repairing damaged ships at a naval installation that did not have suitable dry docks, Makarov’s central task was to convince his sailors to fight and die for Russia. His life-long motto was “Remember War!”

By the beginning of April the Retvizan and ...

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The Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 – Naval War I

by Mitch on November 12, 2010 0 Comments

Kokyo, “Engagement at Port Arthur, 14 February 1904.” Japanese woodblock print. Caption: “A picture of our destroyer advancing quickly like a bird in morning fog, venturing in the turbulent snowstorm, shooting and wrecking the enemy’s ship at Lushun (Port Arthur).”

Even though Russia and Japan committed vast reserves of manpower and materiel to the battlefields of the Manchuria, the central feature around which the war turned was the battle fought for command of the sea. Both sides understood this proposition, which explains why the war commenced with Admiral Togo Heihachiro’s surprise attack against the Russian Pacific Squadron at Port Arthur on the night of 8–9 February 1904. The ability to command the sea was key to winning the conflict largely because of logistics. With the desperately long and not quite completed Trans-Siberian railway as Russia’s only timely and secure means of transit and supply to the ...

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BOOK REVIEW: The Great Naval Game: Britain and Germany in the Age of Empire

by Mitch on October 2, 2010 0 Comments


Published by (April 2008)


Jan Rüger. _The Great Naval Game: Britain and Germany in the Age of Empire_. Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare Series. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. xv + 337 pp. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $101.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0521853532; £18.99 (paper), ISBN 978-0521723435.


Reviewed for H-Albion by Antoine Capet, Department of British Studies, University of Rouen, France


The Navy as Cultural Symbol



In the introduction to _The Great Naval Game_, Jan Rüger indicates that his book "is as much influenced by cultural, social and political history as it is by naval and maritime history" (p. 5).[1] Indeed, this book must not be read as just another "war book" reexamining the line-up in 1914 in terms of tonnage, gun ranges, cannon bore, etc.-- what Rüger calls "technology" (p. 209). Instead ...

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