Aug 23

#PeopleMatter: As Others Ran, Sailors and Marines Make a Stand at Bladensburg

Saturday, August 23, 2014 10:00 AM

 

Battle of Bladensburg A watercolor painting shows a depiction of the flotillamen and Marines under the command of Commodore Joshua Barney during Battle of Bladensburg, a last ditch effort by U.S. military to forestall the burning of Washington D.C. Though ultimately, the U.S. was defeated at Bladensburg and an injured Barney was forced to surrender his sword to the British General, he was taken prisoner and paroled instead of being killed because of the heroism of his men and himself showed in the face of battle. (Courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command Navy Art)

A watercolor painting shows a depiction of the flotillamen and Marines under the command of Commodore Joshua Barney during Battle of Bladensburg, a last ditch effort by U.S. military to forestall the burning of Washington D.C. Courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command Navy Art)

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford,

Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

When British Army Maj. Gen. Robert Ross marched through American defenses toward Washington, D.C., he certainly didn’t expect the battle’s last stand to come from Sailors and Marines.

But as his Army finally overpowered that small contingent of 400 flotilla men 200 years ago during the Battle of Bladensburg, it was no surprise to Ross he would find the valiant defenders under the command of a Sailor, Commodore Joshua Barney.

The British went on to burn government buildings of the nation’s capital later that afternoon, an embarrassing moment in the young nation’s history. Ross had little time to enjoy his victories Aug. 24, 1814. By the time Ross’ exploits were being celebrated in his homeland of Ireland a few weeks later, the American militia had redeemed themselves during the Battle of Baltimore where the British general was killed.

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Timing is everything

The United States declared war on Great Britain in 1812 when its former mother country refused to quit unlawfully stopping, boarding and impressing American merchantmen into their service due to Great Britain’s ongoing battle with France. In the United States, most of the battles were north along the borders of Canada.

But that changed in April 1814. The defeat of France’s Napoleon Bonaparte allowed the British to concentrate on one battle front: America. The Americans made the choice to burn Washington D.C. easy for the British since most of the American militia had gone north. Before British troops set fire to the White House, the Capitol Building and occupied the Washington Navy Yard, they had met with little resistance from the American people.

“Early in the war, around February of 1813, British Rear Adm. George Cockburn and his squadron were assigned to the Chesapeake,” said Christine F. Hughes, historian for the Naval History and Heritage Command. “The thought was to wreak havoc through psychological warfare to hurt the public and get at the James Madison administration. They did this by going up and down the Chesapeake Bay where there were some very wealth plantations and raiding. They took away tobacco, cattle, flour – anything they could take away easily and then they would burn what was left. He found it was easy, there was very little resistance to the raids.”

They kept at it through spring and summer of 1813 and started again in spring of 1814.

“The administration, even after seeing this debacle take place, had very limited funds,” she said. “They had to weigh what to do. They were getting reports up and down the coast from governors in every state asking for help. But they didn’t have it. The Secretary of the Navy at the time, Wayne Jones, had to report back, ‘Sorry, we are stretched too thin.’ So the coastline was left undefended.”

Why was it so easy? Because of a government divided.

“The war was divided amongst geographic lines and a lot of people were against it starting and against it when the war was going on,” Hughes said. “There were still contingents of federalists that were opposed.”

Also faulty thinking where strategy was concerned.

“The American strategic view of the war was to attack the British through Canada,” she said. “So we put all of our military in the north.”

It was that thinking that ultimately led to the last ditch effort to save the nation’s capital, which was the Battle of Bladensburg.

Everyone thought the British would hit Baltimore, which at the time was the more affluent, strategically important and larger city. Washington’s population was just around 7,000 at the time, compared to nearly 50,000 for Baltimore.

But there was a very important dissenting opinion.

“Amongst Madison’s administration, the president was the one who stood out as thinking that the British would come to Washington,” the historian stated.

Apparently the British sided with Madison. The British felt the American people would lose morale if they realized their government could not even protect itself.

“We had militia but often they were poorly trained and only brought up for emergencies and there were not enough people to defend the long coastline,” Hughes said.

It didn’t help with Great Britain’s appointment of Vice Adm. Sir Alexander Cochrane as the new commander of the North American Station in March 1814.

“He has a decided dislike for the American people, being a veteran of the American Revolution where his brother was killed. His orders were rather vague; to wreak havoc but not to go too far inland. The British were not intent on conquering us, just to have a better say in negotiations at the peace table. When he arrived, his second in command, Cockburn was very much in favor of going all the way to Washington D.C. He had seen how easy it would be.”

Cochrane and British Army Maj. Gen. Robert Ross had to be convinced, so Cockburn took them out on one of his typical raiding expeditions on Aug. 4, showing how easy it was to take what they wanted from a plantation along the shores of Maryland.

During that time, Commodore Joshua Barney, an American Revolution veteran and privateer, had used his flotilla of ships, mostly small barges and gunboats nicknamed the “Mosquito Fleet,” to keep the British busy. While not a great threat to the British ships, they kept the British on their toes. After a few clashes and a narrow escape, the British eventually penned the commodore in.

“When it became evident that he could do no more with his fleet, the Secretary of the Navy recalled him to Washington and he was told to destroy the fleet,” Hughes said.

In the meantime, militias were scurrying to find out what the British were doing next. “When the Americans finally decide the British are going to attack Washington from the north, they decide to try and meet them at Bladensburg,” Hughes said.

With all of the militia stationed in the district off to Bladensburg, Barney and his Sailors and Marines were ordered to burn the last bridge into the city. But waiting was not Barney’s strong suit.

“Barney was a man of action,” she said. “If there was a fight, he wanted to be there. He said, ‘you don’t need myself and 400 flotillamen and Marines to burn a bridge.’ He convinced the cabinet and the president to let him go.”

And so Barney and his men, with what artillery they could find and despite their exhaustion, trotted about six miles to join the fight, arriving last.

It was a battle even the British didn’t expect to win, as penned by British Lt. George R. Gleig of the 8th Regiment. The British had taken severe losses trying to storm the defenses of the Americans, who had suffered far fewer casualties. But as the British continued to push through, they were surprised to see the American defense crumble.

“….had they (American militia) conducted themselves with coolness and resolution, it is not conceivable how the day could have been won,” Gleig wrote of the battle. “But the fact is, that with the exception of a party of sailors from the gunboats under the command of Commodore Barney, no troops could behave worse than they did. The skirmishers were driven in as soon as attacked, the first line gave way without offering the slightest resistance, and the left of the main body was broken within half an hour after it was seriously engaged. Of the sailors however, it would be injustice not to speak in the terms of which their conduct merits.”

And Barney himself didn’t expect to see wave after wave of American militia running from the fight to what was later snidely referred to as the Bladensburg Races. “The enemy who had been kept in check by our fire for nearly half an hour now began to out flank us on the right, our guns were turned that way, he pushed up the Hill, about 2 or 300 towards the Corps of Americans station’d as above described, who, to my great mortification made no resistance,” Barney wrote in a letter explaining his actions to the Secretary of the Navy.

Yet Barney and his men stood their ground. With the ammunition wagons gone amid the general panic of retreat, there was nothing left but close-combat with the enemy. Many of Barney’s men were killed or wounded, with Barney taking a shot to his thigh after his horse was shot out beneath him. He continued fighting until he was so weak from loss of blood he could no longer stand. Overpowered, Barney ordered his men to retreat and for his officers to leave him.

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) - The swords of U.S. Navy Commodore Joshua Barney and British Maj. Gen. Robert Ross are exhibited as part of the National Museum of the United States Navy's new War of 1812 exhibit, "1814: From Defeat to Victory," on the Washington Navy Yard. Barney and 500 Sailors and Marines faced down more than 4,000 British troops at the Battle of Bladensburg. Though ultimately defeated at Bladensburg, an injured Barney was forced to surrender his sword to the British general. The exhibit's grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – The swords of U.S. Navy Commodore Joshua Barney and British Maj. Gen. Robert Ross are exhibited as part of the National Museum of the United States Navy’s new War of 1812 exhibit, “1814: From Defeat to Victory” The museum is located on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit’s grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Navy Yard. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

A few minutes later, Barney faced his British foes, Gen. Ross and Adm. Cockburn. Barney’s surrender was polite, according to “Memoirs of Commodore Barney” by his daughter-in-law Mary Barney (Boston, 1832).

“I am very glad to see you, Commodore,” said Gen. Ross. To which Barney replied: “I am sorry, I cannot return to you the compliment, General.”

Ross then turned to the Admiral and remarked: “I told you it was the flotilla men.” To which Adm. Cockburn agreed: “Yes, you were right, though I could not believe you – they have given us the only real fighting we have had.”

The two British commanders, out of respect for Barney’s efforts, “paroled” him by refusing to take him prisoner. After being treated by a British surgeon, the commanders made arrangements to take Barney to Bladensburg as requested. Barney would remark later British Capt. John Wainwright’s care of him was like that of a brother.

Since the bullet could not be removed, Barney never quite recovered from the wound he received at Bladensburg. Four years later, while traveling with his family to retire on property he purchased in Kentucky, Barney contracted an infection and died in Pittsburgh. A tragic end to someone who was the best of what the U.S. Navy and America represents.

 
Aug 22

You Are There: Burning of the Washington Navy Yard

Friday, August 22, 2014 12:05 PM
WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) -- Justin Chambers, Exhibit Specialist for the National Museum of the United States Navy (NMUSN), positions a swivel gun as part of the museum's new War of 1812 exhibit, "1814: From Defeat to Victory," at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit's grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) — Justin Chambers, Exhibit Specialist for the National Museum of the United States Navy (NMUSN), positions a swivel gun as part of the museum’s new War of 1812 exhibit, “1814: From Defeat to Victory,” at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit’s grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

It was bad enough the men of the Washington Navy Yard were ordered to set fire to the compound as the British broke through American army lines into Washington, D.C.

 But what likely burned the backside of the Yard’s commander, Commodore Thomas Tingey, even more was the discovery upon his return Aug. 26 that his house on the compound (known then as Quarters A, and known today as Tingey House, home of the Chief of Naval Operations) had been thoroughly looted and stripped of all hardware as well as doors and windows… not by the invading Brits, but rather by his D.C. neighbors outside the then short, wooden fence that marked and obviously inadequately protected the base’s perimeter.

 Shortly thereafter Tingey ordered the fence around the Navy Yard to be fortified and increased in height to 10 feet.

 Saturday is the 200th anniversary of the burning of the Washington Navy Yard. It was the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 24, 1814 when Tingey, the Yard’s superintendent, was told by the Secretary of the Navy to burn the yard and the three ships in various stages of completion, including two that were within a couple of weeks of launching, to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.

 Your visit to the Navy Yard will include a look at where those ships would have been berthed, some remnants from the ships and other artifacts of the time. Dr. Ed Furgol, historian, will also tell you about:

Quarters A, or more commonly referred to as the Tingey House, survived the burning of the Washington Navy Yard 200 years ago in 1814 only to be plundered by the neighbors. It is now the home of the Chief of Naval Operations. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

Quarters A, or more commonly referred to as the Tingey House, survived the burning of the Washington Navy Yard 200 years ago in 1814 only to be plundered by the neighbors. It is now the home of the Chief of Naval Operations. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

  • Commandant Thomas Tingey — Imagine putting your heart and soul into building a shipyard from its inception, guiding it along each step of the way for 14 years as the yard produced or overhauled one ship after another, where the then-15-year-old frigate USS Constitution was refitted for battle in the War of 1812. Still he had his orders directly from the Secretary of the Navy, and Tingey was a man of duty. As the longest-serving Superintendent of the Yard, Tingey’s decisions are still visible today, from the placement of Quarters A, to deciding right after its burning to increase the height of the wall surrounding the yard to 10 feet.
Quarters B also survived the fire. The wall behind the building, which had been the eastern-most perimeter of the Washington Navy Yard, was increased to 10 feet after the fire. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

Quarters B also survived the fire. The wall behind the building, which had been the eastern-most perimeter of the Washington Navy Yard, was increased to 10 feet after the fire. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

  •  Quarters A & B — It’s called the Tingey House by those at the Navy Yard, in honor of the man who lived in it the longest, but since 1978 it’s been the home of the Chief of Naval Operations. Quarters B was the home of the second in charge, which incorporated Washington, D.C.’s oldest structure when it was built with the wall as the yard’s eastern perimeter. The buildings, both on the National Register for Historic Homes, survived the fires set by the Americans, but were never under threat by the invaders. While the British were eager to burn down state houses that represented the upstart government, they were polite blokes in their plundering — they didn’t feel the need to burn what clearly were private residences. Tingey returned to the Yard the following morning, apparently minutes after the British left the premises. He was relieved to see his home standing, along with Quarters B. After squirreling away his personal belongings to trusted neighbors, Tingey was urged to leave the area because the British were still roaming the district. When he returned Friday morning, Tingey discovered both his home and Quarters B had been looted by nearby neighbors. Ironically, these were the same neighbors who had begged Tingey to not set the yard ablaze earlier Wednesday afternoon because the southwesterly wind most certainly would have pushed the fire into their neighborhood. Tingey held off as long as he could, waiting until he had confirmation the British had broken through the defense. The winds had died down, so at 8:20 p.m., Tingey gave the order to burn the yard.
The Latrobe Gate in 1814 was a much more modest masonry structure but it survived the burning of the Navy Yard by both Americans and the British. The second story was added in the 1880s. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

The Latrobe Gate in 1814 was a much more modest masonry structure but it survived the burning of the Navy Yard by both Americans and the British. The second story was added in the 1880s. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

  • Latrobe Gate — This historical gate warrants a close look for any visitor to the Washington Navy Yard. Built by Benjamin H. Latrobe, the architect of public buildings for Washington, D.C., it was a masonry structure at the time of the fire. “The design of the main gate of entrance to the navy-yard has been made with a view to the greatest economy compatible with permanence and appearance worthy of the situation. This gate will fall exactly into the range of the Georgia Avenue as well as of the Eighth Street east of the Capitol, one of the principal streets of this part of the city,” stated an 1804-05 report to the Secretary of the Navy. After the fire, increasing the height of the gate’s fencing to 10 feet was the first item on Tingey’s “to-do” list. Alterations in 1880 and 1881 added two stories across the gate and three stories on either side of it, to improve housing for the Marines who continue to man the gate today.

 

The Tripoli Monument, originally known as the Naval Monument, was at the entrance of the Washington Navy Yard during its burning in 1814. After the fire, gilded bronze items on the monument went missing. The monument now resides at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Photo Courtesy of the United States Naval Academy)

The Tripoli Monument, originally known as the Naval Monument, was at the entrance of the Washington Navy Yard during its burning in 1814. After the fire, gilded bronze items on the monument went missing. The monument now resides at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Photo Courtesy of the United States Naval Academy)

Tripoli Monument — Commissioned by Commodore David Porter and paid for personally by navy sailors and officers, the Naval Monument was originally erected at the Navy Yard in 1808. The nation’s oldest military monument is a tribute to the six naval officers who died in the Barbary War, including Lt. James Decatur, brother of famed naval officer Adm. Stephen Decatur. The infamously anti-British Adm. David Porter blamed the Brits for the monument’s mutilation during their brief occupation of the Washington Navy Yard. But others have suggested the “mutilations” could more accurately be described as pilfering. What went missing were the gilded bronze objects held by the marble figures: a pen held by the figurine History; a palm held by Fame; the standard emblem of Commerce described as a winged staff entwined by two serpents, and the forefinger and thumb of the scantily-clad Native American figurine representing America. Just the items someone might grab if they were, oh, taking hardware out of a nearby house or two. The monument was relocated to the Capitol grounds in 1831 and then permanently moved to the Naval Academy campus a few years later. The items that were stolen from the monument were never replaced. The monument was featured in the series “A History of the Navy in 100 Objects:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJK1YeZiMYo

 

A Google map of the Washington Navy Yard. The red overlay signifies the layout of the yard in 1814. Illustration by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford

A Google map of the Washington Navy Yard. The red overlay signifies the layout of the yard in 1814. Illustration by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford

  • Water, water everywhere…..Back in 1814, most of the Navy Yard as it is today was underwater. At the time, the west border ended along Adm. Leutze Park. Take an opportunity to follow the slope (old ramp) from the Naval History and Heritage Command headquarters (Building 57), down to where Building 36 now sits. All of that would have been the timber pond at the WNY in 1814. Furgol will discuss how the waterfront has changed and how the Anacostia River eventually forced the once-thriving shipyard to change directions to become the place to go for weapons and ordnance experimentation and now as the location for headquarters of dozens of commands.

 

The charred remains of the frigate Columbia, which was within days of completion, was a casualty of the burning of the Washington Navy Yard Aug. 24, 1814...by those who built her, not the invading British. It is part of a new exhibit "Defeat to Victory" at the National Museum of the United States Navy.

The frigate Columbia, which was within days of completion, was a casualty of the burning of the Washington Navy Yard Aug. 24, 1814…by those who built her, not the invading British. Her charred remains are part of a new exhibit “Defeat to Victory” at the National Museum of the United States Navy.

  • BONUS! Of the three ships left to burn in the Navy Yard, only one survived both the Americans and the British, the nearly completed schooner Lynx. Other ships not so lucky: the 74-gun frigate Columbia was within a few weeks of being launched, while gunboat Argus was in the final stages. One of the artifacts held by NHHC’s Collection Management Division is a piece of Columbia. This is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy. The frigate was one of four 74-gun warships and six 44-gun frigates the shipyard had been tasked to build. Another artifact that survived the burning of the yard was a little French 4-pound gun taken during the Quasi War by Capt. Stephen Decatur. It was on display at the Navy Yard in some Tripoli gunboats Decatur had taken during the Barbary Wars. Speculation has the British weren’t interested in taking it because the French typically used 4-8 pound balls, while the British used 3-6 pound shot.
WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – A map of showing the battles during 1814, a depiction of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Flag of the United States in 1814 greet visitors to the National Museum of the United States Navy as the museum's new War of 1812 exhibit, "1814: From Defeat to Victory," prepares to open at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit's grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – A map of showing the battles during 1814, a depiction of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Flag of the United States in 1814 greet visitors to the National Museum of the United States Navy as the museum’s new War of 1812 exhibit, “1814: From Defeat to Victory,” prepares to open at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit’s grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

 

–NHHC–

 

NOTE TO MEDIA: For additional information about naval history or the history of the Washington Navy Yard, please contact the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Communication and Outreach division at 202-433-7880 or via email at NHHCPublicAffairs@navy.mil

 

 
Aug 22

War of 1812 Exhibit ‘Defeat to Victory’ Opens for Family Day at Washington Navy Yard

Friday, August 22, 2014 8:00 AM
WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – A map of showing the battles during 1814, a depiction of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Flag of the United States in 1814 greet visitors to the National Museum of the United States Navy as the museum's new War of 1812 exhibit, "1814: From Defeat to Victory," prepares to open at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit's grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – A map of showing the battles during 1814, a depiction of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Flag of the United States in 1814 greet visitors to the National Museum of the United States Navy as the museum’s new War of 1812 exhibit, “1814: From Defeat to Victory,” prepares to open at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit’s grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

By the National Museum of the United States Navy, Naval History and Heritage Command

Please join us at the Washington Navy Yard from noon until 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24 for a Family Day when we commemorate two of the most important events of the War of 1812: the Battle of Bladensburg and the burning of the Washington Navy Yard.

To commemorate these events, the National Museum of the United States Navy will open the new exhibit “Defeat to Victory: 1814-1815” and holding a number of events. From noon to 4 p.m., families can enjoy craft activities including making model ships, pin wheels, and flags. There will also be a chance to get immersed in what the War of the 1812 would really have been like, with an opportunity to look through a sailor’s sea chest and surgeon’s kit, hear music in two special 1812 themed concerts by living history musicians The Chanteyman, and even see an authentic artillery drill!

Pride of Baltimore II will be docked alongside display ship Barry at the Washington Navy Yard until Aug. 25. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford

Pride of Baltimore II will be docked alongside display ship Barry at the Washington Navy Yard until Aug. 25. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford

Joining our celebrations is a visit from Pride of Baltimore II through Aug. 25 with public visitation from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day. This ship is a reproduction of an 1812-era topsail schooner privateer and her visit will give you a feel of how the Washington Navy Yard looked in August of 1814 when the Yard was bustling with the building, repairing and supplying of ships for the Navy. Visitors can tour the ship from the Riverwalk throughout her visit and on the 24th witness a gun demonstration at 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

A historical hour-long walking tour on the “Burning of the Washington Navy Yard” will happen twice, 7 p.m. on the 22nd and 4 p.m. on the 24th. Learn about this important event with members of the National Museum of the United States Navy, treading where men like Commodore Joshua Barney once walked. Attendees should meet at Building 76 of the National Museum of the United States Navy five minutes before the tour starts. Reservations for the tour can be made by calling 202-433-6897. Guests without U.S .military, U.S. Civil Service or law enforcement identification will need to register. We will need the names of all the adults, 18 years of age and older, as well as their driver’s license number and from which state it is issued. Last minute add-ons can be accommodated as long as they have a military ID/CAC.

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – The swords of U.S. Navy Commodore, Joshua Barney, and British General, Robert Ross are exhibited as part of the National Museum of the United States Navy's (NMUSN) new War of 1812 exhibit, "1814: From Defeat to Victory," on the Washington Navy Yard. Barney and 500 Sailors and Marines faced down more than 4,000 british troops led by Ross at the Battle of Bladensburg. Though ultimately the U.S. was defeated at Bladensburg and an injured Barney was forced to surrender his sword to the British General, he was taken prisoner instead of being killed because of the heroism of his men and himself in the face of battle. The exhibit's grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – The swords of U.S. Navy Commodore, Joshua Barney, and British General, Robert Ross are exhibited as part of the National Museum of the United States Navy’s (NMUSN) new War of 1812 exhibit, “1814: From Defeat to Victory,” on the Washington Navy Yard. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

The Family Day on Aug. 24 promises to be an exciting reason to visit the National Museum of the United States Navy. The museum is free, opening Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on weekends and Federal Holidays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Guests without U.S. military, U.S .Civil Service or law enforcement identification must be escorted by a member of their party with accepted ID, escorted by museum staff, or call five working days in advance for a reservation.

On weekdays, all visitors who require escort must enter the 11th and O Street SE gate to obtain a visitor pass and escort. On weekends, all visitors will enter the 6th and M Street SE gate. Those who require an escort will obtain one at the 6th and M Street gate. All adults 18 years of age and older must have current government photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. For questions about access or to make a reservation to visit the Washington Navy Yard, please call (202) 433-6897 or (202) 433-6826. For the most current information on hours, visitation procedures, and more information about the National Museum of the United States Navy, visit our website at www.history.navy.mil/NMUSN, and follow us on Facebook (National Museum of the United States Navy) and Twitter @NtlMuseumUSNavy.

The Washington Navy Yard and the U.S. Navy Museum is accessible by both the Navy Yard (green), Eastern Market (blue and orange) metro line stations and several Metro Bus routes including the D.C. Circulator. Please visit Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metro’s website for more details and service status.

  • Eastern Market Metro Station (Orange/Blue Line)
    Exit the metro station and walk south on 8th St SE for 0.5 miles.
    Weekdays: Turn left onto M St SE for 1 block and turn right onto 11th St. The O St gate is the last gate before the water.
    Weekends: Turn right onto M St SE and continue for two more blocks and enter the 6th and M St SE gate.
  • Navy Yard Metro Station (Green Line)
    Exit the metro station via New Jersey Ave.
    Weekdays: Walk east on M St until you come to 11th St and turn right. The O St gate is the last gate before the water.
    Weekends: Walk east on M St until you arrive at the 6th St gate.

Be advised that Metro’s weekend service adjustments August 22-24 beginning at 10 p.m. Friday night and continuing through system closing on Sunday. 

 
Aug 21

#PeopleMatter: Naval Aviator Earns First #MOH for Rescue of Downed Pilot

Thursday, August 21, 2014 8:00 AM
Hammann and Ludlow

Lt. George H. Ludlow in his seaplane, who was rescued after his plane was disabled by enemy fire on Aug. 21, 1918, by Ensign Charles H. Hammann, inset. NH Photo #49249

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

 A mission of dropping propaganda pamphlets might sound pretty tame these days. But in 1918, just months after the U.S. joined most of Europe in fighting the Germans, Austria-Hungarians, Ottoman Empire and Bavaria, it was a vital and often dangerous effort to turn the citizens against their oppressors. And in Austria, those caught dropping such leaflets were executed.

And so it was, 96 years ago today, a leaflet-dropping mission began with five fighters and two bombers – all Americans pilots – flying Italian planes from Porto Corsini, Italy to Pola, Austria. Porto Corsini is located just 65 miles from Austria’s largest naval port, where the occupying Germans and Austro-Hungarians were launching submarines and battleships into the Mediterranean campaign from the heavily defended port with 18 forts and 114 anti-aircraft guns.

That Americans were part of this mission was a remarkable partnership between Italy and the United States. Italian instructors trained American pilots how to fly their Macchi flying boat planes: the M.8 2-seater equipped with a machine gun and capable of carrying four 24-pound bombs and the single seat M.5 fighters with two machine guns and the ability to carry a couple of light bombs. Although using Italian planes with Italian mechanics, the base would be operated by the United States, and so it was July 24, 1918, when the American flag was first raised over U.S. Naval Air Station Porto Corsini, Italy.

The Austrians welcomed the American pilots the next day by bombing the new naval air station.

Back to Aug. 21, 1918, and the seven-plane leaflet flight on its first bombing mission. Within 15 minutes of take-off, a fighter and a bomber turned back due to motor problems, leaving four fighters flown by Ensigns George Ludlow, E. H. Parker, Dudley Vorhees and Baltimore-born Charles Halverstine Hammann. They were flying at 12,000 feet as they approached Pola, but the bomber couldn’t get higher than 8,000 feet. As the leaflets were dropped, Austrians responded with anti-aircraft fire. Five Albatross fighters took flight and within five minutes, the dogfight was on at 8,000 feet.

Ludlow attacked the lead plane, forcing him into a dive. But Parker and Vorhees struggled with machine guns that jammed, eventually forcing them to leave the fight along with the bomber. That left Ludlow up against three planes and Hammann facing two. Ludlow fired on one fighter until it was smoking, taking hits in his plane’s propeller and engine. With oil streaming behind, the plane burst into flames. Ludlow put his crippled fighter into a spin, knocking out the fire, and then pulled it up to make a water landing five miles off the harbor entrance of Pola.

Ensign Charles H. Hammann

Ensign Charles H. Hammann

Hammann saw Ludlow’s plane go down and once he realized the pilot was not injured, he pulled out of his fight to rescue his fellow aviator. If captured, he faced execution as a spy. Despite damage to his own fighter, Hammann landed on choppy water in 20 mile-per-hour wind. Ludlow wasted no time scrambling over to Hammann’s single-seat plane, perched behind the pilot’s seat and under the motor, hanging onto the struts to keep from being pulled into the propeller or swept to sea. Ludlow had already punched holes in the wings to help the plane sink, so once Hammann’s Macchi was airborne, he fired the rest of his ammunition into the crippled craft. As it slipped under the waves, Hammann headed back for the 60-mile trip to base. The Austrians, perhaps admiring Hammann’s daring rescue, made no effort to pursue what would have been an easy target.

But the danger to Hammann and Ludlow was far from over. Hammann still needed to land the plane in the always tricky 100-foot wide canal often hit with crosswinds. While the landing was good, water pouring through the bow caused the plane to flip, destroying it. The pilots suffered bumps and bruises, but both were back on duty a few days later.

For his effort, Hammann would receive the Medal of Honor, the first aviator to earn the honor. “Although his machine was not designed for the double load to which it was subjected, and although there was danger of attack by Austrian planes, he made his way to Porto Corsini,” the citation stated.

Ludlow earned the Navy Cross and the Italians honored Hammann and Ludlow with its Silver and Bronze Medals of Valor, respectively.

The Air Station itself was recognized as having “the distinction of being the most heavily engaged unit of the 78 U.S. Naval Forces in Europe,” as stated by Adm. Henry Thomas Mayo, Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, during a Nov. 10, 1918 inspection of the base.

Less than a year later, on June 14, 1919, Ensign Hammann was killed in an air accident while piloting a Macchi flying boat at the fledging Langley Field in Hampton, Va. He was but 27.

The Navy has named two ships after Hammann: USS Hammann (DD 412), which was sunk during the Battle of Midway in June 1942, and a destroyer-escort, USS Hammann (DE 131) that was commissioned in 1943 and decommissioned in 1974.

As for the rescued Ludlow, he would survive World War I, being discharged at age 29 as a lieutenant junior grade in 1926. But after the United States entered World War II, the 45-year-old Ludlow returned to his Navy in 1942 and served until retiring as a commander in 1953.

 

 
Aug 20

#PeopleMatter: Naval Observatory Residence Honors Fleet Admiral Leahy

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 12:36 PM
WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — The Leahy House in Washington, D.C. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — The Leahy House in Washington, D.C. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood

What used to be known as “Quarters BB” at the Old Naval Observatory was recently renamed “Leahy House” in honor of Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, who served during the Spanish-American War through to the Cold War.

But why Leahy?

Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, circa 1945

Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, circa 1945

The home’s current resident, Vice Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes Leahy does not share as prominent a place in history’s spotlight as some of his contemporaries.

“When you ask people to name all the five-star naval officers, they get [Chester] Nimitz, they get [Ernest] King, they get Bull Halsey,” said Tidd. “Almost nobody thinks about Fleet Adm. Leahy.”

Leahy started his long career as a Midshipman at the Naval Academy in 1897. He originally wanted to follow his father’s path as an Army officer, but West Point wasn’t offering any appointments, so he chose the Navy instead.

At that time in the Navy, by law, candidates for commission had to serve two years at sea before becoming officers. Leahy’s first two years were spent on the battleship Oregon, getting his first experience in conflict as the ship participated in the Battle of Santiago during the Spanish American War on July 3, 1898. Leahy donned his well-deserved ensign rank almost a year later on July 1, 1899.

During the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion in China, Leahy was there, serving on gunboat Castine, stores ship Glacier, and Mariveles, a gunship he commanded, between his commissioning date of Jul. 1, 1899 and 1902. During the American occupation of Nicaragua in 1912 he served as Chief of Staff to the Commander, Naval Forces in the country.

When Leahy took command of the dispatch gunboat Dolphin in 1915, he developed a close friendship with then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). It was a friendship that would influence his career profoundly later in life.

Leahy saw a lot of action on-ship and off during his career before WWII. He was a part of transporting troops to France in 1918 during WWI and sailing Turkish waters during the Greco-Turkish war in 1921. This was followed by auspicious assignments as Director of Officer Personnel in the Bureau of Navigation and eventually becoming the Chief of Naval Operations in 1936.

WASHIGNTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — A model of the guided missile destroyer USS Leahy (DLG 16) sits in a glass case at the Leahy House. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — A model of the guided missile destroyer USS Leahy (DLG 16) sits in a glass case at the Leahy House. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

As war clouds were forming over Europe, one month shy of the invasion of Poland, Leahy retired. If that was the end of his story, he would have been able to tell the story of a long and honorable career. But almost as premonition, an old sailing buddy of his that had become the President of the United States, FDR told him on the occasion of his retirement, “Bill, if we have a war, you’re going to be right back here, helping me run it.”

War there was. Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 and Europe started towards another “Great War,” WWII. Before U.S Involvement, Leahy acted as Governor of Puerto Rico, and as the U.S. Ambassador to Vichy France until recalled in May 1942.

Franklin fulfilled his latent promise two months later, recalling Leahy to active duty as the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. In this position, he presided over the Joint Chiefs, and also the combined Chiefs when the U.S. was host. His duties were extraordinarily diverse, and it is to his credit and an attestation of his work ethic that his job is now separated into three different government positions: the chief of staff of the White House, the National Security Advisor and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Leahy was the first promoted to the highest rank achievable, Fleet Admiral in 1944, and it was at this rank that he retired permanently in 1949.

Leahy continued to serve the Navy even after retiring a second time, in the office of the Secretary of the Navy and as the president of the Naval Historical Foundation. He died July 20, 1959.

So why Leahy? The reasons are numerous, including being the first five-star admiral of World War II, a diplomat and confidante of presidents, a strategist, a veteran of three wars and living nearly his whole life in service to his Navy and his country. His remarkable career can serve as both an icon and a lesson for its steadiness of the Sailor’s spirit through the gamut of adversity — during times of prosperity, depression, war and peace. One thing is for certain, as Tidd intended it, when we see the house named for Leahy, we’ll remember and appreciate the man who gave so much in service to the nation that repeatedly called on him during her darkest hours.

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — Members of the Leahy family pose for a photo beside a painting of Fleet Adm. William Leahy, Jul. 17. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

WASHINGTON (Jul. 17, 2014) — Members of the Leahy family pose for a photo beside a painting of Fleet Adm. William Leahy, Jul. 17. During World War 2, Fleet Adm. William Leahy was the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army and Navy, the President of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Zlotin)

 
Aug 19

USS Constitution: Presence Then, Presence Now

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 5:13 PM

By Cmdr. Sean Kearns
73rd Commanding Officer
USS Constitution

Cmdr. Sean Kearns, 73rd Commanding Officer of USS Constitution

Cmdr. Sean Kearns, 73rd Commanding Officer of USS Constitution

The Chief of Naval Operations’ Guiding Principles (Warfighting First, Operate Forward, Be Ready) were as important and applicable to the early chapters of our Navy’s history as they are today. In the months leading up to our declaration of war against Great Britain, Captain Isaac Hull personally witnessed the rising tension between our Navy and the Royal Navy. As he departed Cherbourg to bring USS Constitution home in January 1812, he was hailed by British ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Upon reaching Washington, D.C., Captain Hull’s suspicions that our country was on a trajectory to war were confirmed. By early-March, Constitution was undergoing a major refit and on June 18, the very day war was declared, Constitution sailed from Washington to Annapolis and received orders to sail to New York to rendezvous with other ships. Less than a month later, Constitution was nearly ambushed by a squadron of five British warships while executing these orders. Captain Hull and his First Lieutenant, Charles Morris, expertly evaded capture in the face of negligible winds and high temperatures in a 57-hour affair July 15-17, 1812 that became known as the “Great Chase.”

 On August 19, Constitution came across one of the five ships she evaded the previous month – HMS Guerriere. The ensuing 35-minute battle with Guerriere resulted in America’s first victory over a ship of the Royal Navy and earned Constitution her famous nickname, “Old Ironsides.” This victory would not have been possible without foresight and attention to world affairs and current events by Captain Hull. Nor would this victory have been possible without Captain Hull’s determination to train his crew in sailing their ship and firing her guns. And, perhaps most-importantly, this victory would not have been possible without the willingness and determination of Captain Hull to sail into harm’s way. This victory embodied principles laid out by John Paul Jones during the American Revolution; these principles live on in the CNO’s Guiding Principles.

One can conduct a cursory review of the events surrounding this chapter in USS Constitution’s history and easily find the Secretary of the Navy’s Four Ps (People, Platforms, Power, and Partnerships). At the time of her construction, USS Constitution was an expression of outer limits of shipbuilding technology; a hull design with a higher length-to-beam ratio for speed, heavy construction employing Southern Live Oak that made “Old Ironsides all but impenetrable, diagonal riders to reduce hogging, and a heavy gun armament. These signature features made for a strong ship that could sail fast and easily defeat ships of equal size. The U.S. Navy of 1812 was, as is the case today, a volunteer force which, because the U.S. Navy certainly offered a better quality of life and more pay than the Royal Navy or many of the merchants, attracted high-quality Sailors. Without the best and brightest Sailors or Captain Hull’s leadership, Constitution could never have served her long and distinguished career. After the War of 1812, Constitution would serve the Navy as a tool for diplomacy and partnership. From 1844 to 1846, the ship sailed around the world; her feats during this voyage include transporting the U.S. Minister to Brazil, rescuing hostages from Da Nang, and impressing the Hawaiian King Kamehameha with a demonstration of the Paixhans guns (precursor to the Dahlgren gun that fired exploding shells). She even received Pope Pius IX – the first Pontiff to ever set foot on sovereign American territory – on August 1, 1849, during her last voyage to the Mediterranean Sea.

For more on the USS Constitution click here.

Action between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere, August 19, 1812: "In Action" Oil on canvas, 32" x 48", by Michel Felice Corne (1752-1845), depicting the two frigates firing on each other, as Guerriere's mizzen mast goes over the side. Painting in the collections of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, transferred from the Navy Department in 1869. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Photograph, K-26254 (Color).

Action between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere, August 19, 1812: “In Action” Oil on canvas, 32″ x 48″, by Michel Felice Corne (1752-1845), depicting the two frigates firing on each other, as Guerriere’s mizzen mast goes over the side. Painting in the collections of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, transferred from the Navy Department in 1869. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Photograph, K-26254 (Color).

 
Aug 15

Welcome USS John Paul Jones and USS Preble

Friday, August 15, 2014 11:00 AM

Rear Adm. Rick Williams

Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

 

Rear Adm. Rick WilliamsThis week historic Pearl Harbor welcomes two new warships to our waterfront: USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) and USS Preble (DDG 88).

Each ship is named for a founder of the U.S. Navy – leaders who made their mark in the Revolutionary War, especially in the case of Jones, and – in Preble’s case – in the war against Barbary pirates.

On the deck of the captured Serapis, John Paul Jones salutes the Bon Homme Richard as it sinks with its colors still flying. (Taken from a print in the John Paul Jones house at Portsmouth)

On the deck of the captured Serapis, John Paul Jones salutes the Bon Homme Richard as it sinks with its colors still flying. (Taken from a print in the John Paul Jones house at Portsmouth)

Two hundred and thirty eight years ago this month, in August of 1776, John Paul Jones was temporarily promoted to Captain and assumed command of the sloop Providence.

He sailed from the Delaware with orders to “cruise against the enemy” off the northeast coast of America, where he captured supply ships, preventing them from reaching the British.

In the next three years he raided off the coast of England, rescued American prisoners of war and defeated enemy ships in some of the most memorable battles in U.S. Navy history.

More than 150 years ago, James Fennimore Cooper said in a Jones biography:

“There can be no question that Paul Jones was a great man … all the cruises of the man indicated forethought, intrepidity, and resources. Certainly, no sea captain under the American flag, Preble excepted, has ever yet equaled him, in these particulars.”

Commodore Edward Preble NHHC

Commodore Edward Preble
NHHC

If John Paul Jones is considered one of the fathers of the Navy, Commodore Edward Preble must be considered another of our founders.

Like Jones, Preble fought with fearless determination.

Two hundred and eleven years ago this month, in August 1803, he sailed the American frigate USS Constitution toward the Mediterranean.

Aboard Constitution and with Marines at his side, Preble led Jefferson’s Navy into Tripoli. He sailed with young men who would become captains in the War of 1812 – Stephen Decatur, James Lawrence, Isaac Hull and David Porter.

Preble defeated the Barbary pirates and established some of the foundations for the modern Navy and demonstrated our nation’s firm commitment to the rescue and return of our prisoners of war.

Between Jones and Preble, there have been ten United States ships named for these great heroes of our Navy. These namesake ships – most of them destroyers – have fought in the Mexican-American war, Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Cold War, Vietnam and in the Middle East.

It is a privilege to welcome USS John Paul Jones and USS Preble to Hawaii. I know you will bring advanced capabilities in radar and weapon systems, including Aegis ballistic missile defense and Navy Integrated Fires, and I’m grateful you’re joining our team. You’ll find a supportive family and many friends at DESRON 31 and MIDPAC. You’ll join other ships with proud namesakes and outstanding records of achievement.

Happily, many of the Sailors and families already serving here in Hawaii will be able to join shipmates aboard one of these fine warships arriving this week.

To USS Preble and USS John Paul Jones: Welcome Aboard and Aloha!

photojjjj

 

 

 
Aug 14

#PartiesMattered: At Japanese Surrender, Truman Authorizes Two-Day Celebration for War-Weary Nation

Thursday, August 14, 2014 1:38 PM
President Harry S. Truman announces the surrender of Japan at the White House Aug. 14, 1945. Accession number: 64-24

President Harry S. Truman announces the surrender of Japan at the White House Aug. 14, 1945.
Accession number: 64-24

 

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communications and Outreach Division

 Our historical celebration for today is about, well, celebration! It was 69 years ago today, at 7 p.m. Aug. 14, 1945, when President Harry S. Truman told the world the Japanese had surrendered.

“This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor,” Truman said that evening from the White House. “This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would.”

To mark the occasion, Truman announced a two-day holiday for Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 15-16, 1945, holidays shared by the allied nations of United Kingdom and Australia.

Why two days? “The reason we are making it two days is because we didn’t get to celebrate for the other,” Truman said, referring to the May 8 Victory in Europe Day.

Truman spoke directly to Federal employees on the need for a two-day holiday: “One of the hardest working groups of war workers during the past four years – and perhaps the least appreciated by the public – has been the Federal employees in Washington and throughout the country. They have carried the day-to-day operations of the government which are essential to the support of our fighting men and to the carrying out the war. On behalf of the nation, I formally express thanks to them.”

He requested all heads of departments, agencies and bureaus throughout government to excuse their employees for Wednesday and Thursday, operating with only skeleton staff.

“I hope all of the employees of government will enjoy this well-deserved – though inadequate – holiday,” Truman said in Press Statement 102.

Truman was quick to make sure all workers – federal, state and private — would get their pay during the 2-day celebration. That evening, he amended Executive Order No. 9240 on the overtime wage compensation regulations to temporarily add V-J Day to the list of time and a half holidays.

Crowd outside the White House after the announcement of the Japanese surrender on Aug. 14, 1945. Accession number: 73-2022

Crowd outside the White House after the announcement of the Japanese surrender on Aug. 14, 1945.
Accession number: 73-2022

And celebrate the nation did. The U.S. had endured four years of food and gasoline rations, recycling home appliances to produce more steel for more ships to be built and sending hundreds of thousands of young men into battle while women went to work in droves to take their place.

So across the country there was much rejoicing, revelry and even riotous behavior as inhibitions dropped with increased imbibing of alcohol. Bands played patriotic songs for impromptu parades, church bells were rung and people danced in the streets. In the garment district of New York, seamstresses threw out bits of fabric and ticker tape that piled up to five inches on the streets below. Women jumped naked into fountains in San Francisco, and crowds surged onto the White House lawn.

It was that evening at Times Square in New York City that Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped the iconic picture of a sailor planting a kiss on a very surprised dental nurse. A Navy photographer snapped this similar picture from a different angle.

US Navy photographer Victor Jorgensen captured a different view of infamous Times Square V-J Day kiss. His photo was published in the New York Times.

US Navy photographer Victor Jorgensen captured a different view of infamous Times Square V-J Day kiss. His photo was published in the New York Times.

Another reason to celebrate was Truman’s approval to reduce inductions of young men into the Armed Forces from 80,000 per month to 50,000 and for only those aged 26 and younger. The draft couldn’t end completely, he explained, since the war department would still need people to cover those who would get relief of long-service men overseas.

“In justice to the millions of men who have given long and faithful service under the difficult and hazardous conditions of the Pacific War and elsewhere overseas a constant flow of replacements to the occupational forces is thought to be imperative,” Truman noted. “Mathematically and morally, no other course of action appears acceptable.”

After two days of near riotous behavior, Truman had another announcement to give to members of the press during an Aug. 16 briefing.

“I have issued a proclamation setting aside Sunday as a day of prayer. After the two days celebration I think we will need the prayer,” Truman said to the laughter of the room.

The proclamation declared “This day is a new beginning in the history of freedom on this earth. Our global victory has come from the courage and stamina and spirit of free men and women united in determination to fight. It has come from millions of peaceful citizens all over the world turned soldiers almost overnight who showed a ruthless enemy that they were not afraid to fight and to die, and that they knew how to win.”

Calling upon the people “of all faiths,” Truman asked his “countrymen to dedicate this day of prayer to the memory of those who have given their lives to make possible our victory.”

Truman warned during an Aug. 16 press briefing there wouldn’t be an official V-J Day until Japan — with more than two million fully armed — formally signed the surrender document. Sadly, he was correct. As Americans were celebrating the end of the war, some members of the Japanese Imperial Army went against Emperor Hirohito’s announcement to put down arms. After surviving years in prisoner of war camps, hundreds of POWs were killed in the days following the Aug. 14 announcement.

Did the president envision V-J Day as a national holiday, the press questioned? Ever pragmatic, Truman said no. “I think they have had their holidays,” he said, referring to the 2-days of celebration. “There is too much to do to declare too many holidays.”

Truman finally got his V-J Day on Sept. 2, 1945 when Japanese officials signed the surrender documents onboard USS Missouri, which was used as the backdrop as a tip to Truman’s home state.

Sixty-nine years later, only one state celebrates what had been V-J Day. Rhode Island recognizes the second Monday in August as the end of World War II, although it is now called Victory Day.