Down To The Sea

Edward Moran’s series of Victorian seascapes recall a vanished national mood—when the eagle screamed, when painters were sentimental and poets misty about the eyes.

I heard or seemed to hear the chiding Sea Say, Pilgrim, why so late and slow to come? Am I not always here … ? … I with my hammer pounding evermore The rocky coast, smite Andes into dust, Strewing my bed, and, in another age, Rebuild a continent of better men. Then I unbar the doors: my paths lead out The exodus of nations: I disperse Men to all shores that front the hoary main. …  Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Seashore” 

“God, Please Get Us Out Of This”

A carefree Sunday lay ahead for one of the mess cooks on USS Oklahoma. His pockets jingled, and a pretty girl awaited him for a picnic on a warm, white beach. Minutes later he lay entombed at the bottom of Pearl Harbor

The world was my oyster that Sunday morning in December, 1941. I was nineteen, breakfast was over, and liberty would be starting in an hour or so. A quick look ont a second-deck porthole of our battleship, the U.S.S. Oklahoma, confirmed my feeling that this was going to be a glorious day. There were still some early morning clouds, but the sun was warm, with just a breath of trade wind ruffling the waters of the harbor.

The Battle Off Samar

American forces had returned to the Philippines, and the Japanese Navy was about to make its last, desperate attempt to stave off defeat. Suddenly, by miscalculation, nothing stood between its most powerful task force and the American beachhead at Leyte Gulf but a small group of U.S. escort carriers. Could little Taffy 3 hold off Admiral Kurita’s gigantic battleships?

Wednesday, October 25, 1944 —a gloomy overcast punctuated by rain squalls gave the predawn sky a dirty yellow-gray hue. Six small United States carriers and seven escort ships moved through the somber seas east of the Philippine island of Samar. From the gently swaying flight decks of the carriers, white-starred planes took oil on routine early-morning missions.

What Is Sea Power?

In modern war, the true exercise of maritime power depends nearly as much upon the exertions of land and air forces as it does upon naval.” But it is still sea power.

The task of the military historian is beginning to look a trifle odd because the world is moving out from under him. Statesmen who have at their disposal intercontinental missiles with atomic warheads are not apt to find much nourishment in studies of conventional strategy. The lessons of even the most recent war—painstakingly studied and evaluated with profound thought—seem as out of date as an instruction in the tactical necessities of the Carthaginian war galleys.Read more »

A Yankee Skipper Who Preyed On British Shipping Relates His Wartime Experiences

American sea captain George Coggeshall tells of his experiences evading the British navy during the War of 1812 and spending over half a century at sea.

George Coggeshall of Milford, Connecticut, was a sea captain in the great Yankee tradition. His father had been a successful shipmaster but was ruined by repeated confiscations of his cargoes by British and French vessels in the years after the Revolution. Young George, too poor to attend school, had been sent to sea as soon as he was old enough to carry a message from the quarter-deck to the forecastle. In 1809, when he was only 25, he received his first command and altogether spent some sixty years of his life at sea. Read more »