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tv   The Civil War Civil War Naval Leadership  CSPAN  December 22, 2021 6:56pm-8:02pm EST

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immense archive to look at how issues of the day developed over recent years. and talking wit features extensive conversations with historians about their lives and work. many are also available at podcasts. you can find them now on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts. the recent pam palestinian historical park civil war symposium continues now on american history tv. >> our privilege to introduce closing speaker. after lunch we're going to do the panel discussion.demy wheree taught for 30 years and served as department chair from 2017 to 2020. he served as the earnest j. king professor of maritime history at the u.s. naval war college. he is an author and editor of 29
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books earning him awards including the lincoln, the roosevelt and the dudley knox medal for lifetime achievement. his most recent books are world war ii at sea a global history, operation neptune and battle headway. let's give a warm welcome to a simon. >> thank you let me say i'm glad you introduced the staff and that's great but i'm so impressed was he and his team with the way they put on this wonderful symposium. so great to be back in sealed new friends in this venue and particular so i'm grateful for that. i'm also very impressed by the way with all the people that have stood at this podium before me and the way they have taken on questions not just of what
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happened but questions have how do we know what happened and the most important question of all and the one i often get org. for my students when i was teaching at the naval academy and that is this one, so what? i mean there's the stuff that happened but what does that mean and i really want to congratulate again the people who stood here at this podium before me over the last couple of days for taking on that hard question and it matters because history is not just stuff that happened. history is what defines the world in which we live and failing to understand it and has a devastating impact on that world so if think the people in this world all know that understand that encircling my predecessors here know that and understand that and helps us all figure out what those things
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are. i would call that applied history. they think what i tried to do with my students at the naval academy and a certain extent my students at the naval war college as well as to say you need to understand history because it will help you understand the world in which you live. it's a study in decision-making and leadership as well as knowledge. i know this is a civil war group and i know i have spent four years of my life on civil war stuff but i spent the last 15 or so years during world war ii topics. a friend and a civil war community who are still mad at me about that but i can live with that injury and what i'm going to try to do this morning is talk about with a foot in each camp if you would about the naval leader from the civil war
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and the naval leader from the second world war and look at them and see if we can't find some aspect of their experience, about their temperament that would help us understand le their experience, of their temperament, that will help them understand leadership. i have been told, studying leaders of the past would make my students better leaders. i hope that is true. i am not sure that leadership is something that can be taught, but if it can, eventually history study and depth, over a long period of time, not quickly reading a book or list of precepts, that will not do it. but studied overtime and considered is the best possible laboratory for improving yourself as a leader. i doubt if any of my former students confronted a situation
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in let's say, afghanistan, in which they have said oh! i know what to do here! because of what grant did in the wilderness! or what esper winds did in midway. that is not how it works. the ancient historian once wrote, you never step in the same stream twice. by the time you step in it the second time, the water is different, the pebbles have shifted under your feet, the branches floating past or different, the stream may be frozen this time. still, having crossed that stream once, or even witnessed other people crossing that stream, can prepare you for the kinds of problems. some of them familiar, some entirely new. that can confront you when you try to cross it again. that i think is what mark twain meant when he said that history does not repeat itself, but it
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does often rhyme. a lot of people are quoting that these days. i am not sure they know what they are saying. but that is okay. let's take a look at these two individuals. i was going to tease john and ask him to identify the confederate admiral on the right wearing confederate gray, i don't think he would have got that one last night, let's see. you will have a long time to gaze at this photo. this is my only slide, here it is folks! so, get used to it. that is pete, you will know, it is david glasgow on the left. it is not a confederate admiral on the right, it is -- just by looking at those steely eyed stairs.
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and the similarity in body language. do you know the particular difference here? well, yes there is the sort. that is true. naval officers do still carry sorts, but only on formal occasions such as photographs. that is a candid shot of nimitz on the right. he is standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. it is unopposed photo of farragut, in those days you had to stand very still well somebody took your photo. there is something else. yes, right over left left over right. i thought about this. i said what could explain it? left hand? no, neither one is left-handed, that does not help. would it is, i am pretty sure chester nimitz, when he was lieutenant commander he was explaining an engineering problem, with a diesel engine which he helped perfect in the 1930s, and was pointing something out to a group of
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visitors he had a glove on his left-hand, he said this gear are right here, that gear grabbed the glove and pulled his hand right into the gear, and took off his ring finger. all the way down to his naval academy class ring which saved his hand. there you go. he had a mangled left-hand. i suspect that is why he has that left hand tucked inside his right elbow. other than that, there are a lot of similarities in the photograph. more about nimitz later, let me do farragut first. i will just focus on him so you are not distracted by the wounded ring finger. in many ways, david farragut was a personification of 19th century america. it is easy to check off the particular characteristics that allow me to make that argument. he is the son of an immigrant.
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therefore, a first generation american. as were many in the 19th century. he was a western pioneer, born in tennessee in 1801, only five years before tennessee became a state, still very much frontier area when he was born in 1801. tennessee of course, a southern state. he was essentially a self made man, as we will see in a few minutes here, and he was a dedicated champion of the national union, as many immigrants are. given that, he was pretty close to being, as i suggest, it kind of every man in the 19th century. his father emigrated to america from an orca when it was still part of spain, spanish with his name active language -- it was spanish at the time that
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his father loved it. when he arrived in the united states after several years, he married another immigrant, a woman from scotland which is where his name glasgow comes from. one particularly arresting thing about their son's he started his naval career very young. i am obligated to my friend for explaining a lot about the naval academy in mid 19th century, founded in 1845, but of course it's also exists as a naval school. you could pull people out who would serve many years already, either before -- and some them back to school for a year because in the middle of the 19th century, of course steam engineering was coming into play. it wasn't enough just to know which rope to pull, or how to be steely eyed in your expression. you actually had to know some
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stuff. that explains why the naval academy came to be. but, it was a process between 1840 and 1845. when i began teaching there, my students, years ago my students were mostly 18 or 19 years old when they arrived at the naval academy. i had somebody on his 17, if you are in the early 20th who cannot have reached their 23rd birthday, you cannot be beyond her 23rd birthday when you start at the naval academy, according to statute. so, those who were 22 or about to turn 23 usually had several years in the enlisted ranks. i remember a particular case that amused me because the way the naval academy is set up now, those who are rising juniors take charge of the incoming -- they are terrified, they have all their hair cut off, they are marched around, square
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lined, keep your eyes in the box, and they are guided around by the second class women who are sort of aping all of the movies they have seen about drill instructors. they are doing a lot of yelling, that is unsatisfactory, and what is this, and so on. there was one guy that just would not be intimidated in this particular [inaudible] eyes in the box, knew the answer to every question, and the 19 or 20 year old who was yelling at him couldn't figure out why he couldn't rattled this young kid. one of the requirements then after about two or three days was an expectation, so they had to fall out wearing what they call their whites, which was a sailor suit, they had to fall back into their rooms, change into their dress uniform, and come out in five minutes. we are going to have an inspection. so, they all dash, and they change, they come out, they got on the square, this would be
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drill instructor approaches this man who is so far unintimidated will, and he looked at him, and oh my god he had four rows of combat ribbons on his uniform, including two purple hearts, and a bronze star with combat v.. i'm not gonna imitate that guy. he just didn't say a word, walked down the line. they either come because they have prior enlisted service, or they come because they have prior college. a lot of people apply to the naval academy, they do not get in, they go somewhere else, apply again, don't get, and they continue where they are, i have students who came to me already with a bachelors degree in hand. i had a plea with a bachelor degree from yale in history in my class. she got a b, by the way. so i tell you all about to ask you this question. how old do you think farragut was when he became a midshipmen?
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he was nine. i heard somebody say 11. he had his first command at 11. he was on board a ship on the caribbean and they captured a pirate vessel and needed to put a price for on vessel, and midshipmen farragut was assigned to be commander at 11. in the first top of the 19th century, as john explained, there really wasn't a naval academy. west point, founded in 1802, naval academy 1845. as i say, i think the reasons for bought or because it was perceived in the early 19th century that the way to become, the way to learn to be a naval officer was on the job, but with the application now steam engineering, and some more complex technological stuff, they decided maybe going to school would be a good idea after all. some were sent for a year, some
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became to. by 1856, they had the full four year traditional collegiate education, so even though it was founded in 1845, you really don't have people with a four-year education experience -- four years of the mid-shipman say until just prior to the civil war. the way it worked once you got an appointment because you knew somebody, usually, your congressman perhaps, the mayor who knew the congressman, you would apply to your senator, your congressman, you have to pass the test, you have to be literate, you have to read and write, you have to have computational skills, hopefully some algebra. prior to that, by and large, you were apprenticed to a captain. these young gentlemen learned the ropes, literally learned the ropes, until they were ready to take a test both written and oral, and if they passed the test they became
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what was called a past midshipmen. that made them eligible for a commission as a lieutenant when there was an opening. so, somebody had to die pretty much, or resign. so, how did farragut become a myth shipman at nine in the situation? the story begins ironically enough in new orleans, we're almost exactly 50 years later than flag officer farragut would win his first great historic victory. here is the story. by now, his father is a widow or. his wife had died. he is a civilian employee in new orleans, one day he was fishing. on the mississippi one a canoe came drifting past him with nobody in it. that is rather curious, so he rode forward, looked inside and there was a man lying prone in the bottom of the canoe, unconscious. an elderly man. could not wake him up, could
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not identify him, no identification. so, he brought him home. put him in bed, nursed him, that him, never again -- two weeks later he died. it was, as fate would have, it 84-year-old father of the commander of the navy, david porter. when porter learned about this, he was so grateful to his father he said i don't know how i can repair -- repay you, i am willing to take one of your sons into service as a midshipmen. it is quite a generous offer actually, because then as now appointments as midshipmen were pretty valuable, much treasured. so, he gratefully accepted the offer and said he sent his nine-year-old son james. wait a minute, i thought his name was david?
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that is a story too. as young farragut grew to manhood, he decided to change his first name from james to david. that got a little complicated two years later in 1813 when captain porter's wife gave birth to his son whom they named david. this of course is david dixon porter, who is often referred to as farragut's foster brother. they grew up in the same household they served the same father figure, things of david porter as his father. these two, not blood relations in any way, but foster brothers by adoption if you will. for the next 40 years, david farragut was promoted along with his peers, indeed ahead of most of his peers, reaching a rank of captain which was the highest rank you could achieve in the united states navy up to
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the civil war. i am often asked about this, how come there were generals in the army but no admiral's in the navy? the reason actually reaches back all the way to the british civil war, the english civil war and the 17th century. the generals fought for parliament against the king, therefore called the british army, but the navy fought for the king against parliament and therefore was then and it still is today the royal navy. the perception was that navies than our instruments of empire, and autocracy. so, we do not want any of those are morales in our united states of america generals you see represent the people and the militia, but the navy that is too suspicious. so no admiral's in the united states navy. early on in 1862, when they needed somebody to supervise a number of captains, they came up with this rank flag officer, but the first person ever to bear the title admiral in the
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united states navy is this guy. late in 1862, in part for his performance at new orleans, he was made americans first rear adm.. in 1860, as we all know, lincoln was elected president and the protests about that led to the secession crisis. at the time, captain farragut was living in norfolk virginia. not only because then, as now, it is a good navy town, but also because he had married a woman. his first wife susan had died 20 years before in 1840, his second wife was a virginian by birth, by residents, and she was even named virginia. so here is a man, born in tennessee, raised in louisiana, living in virginia, married to a southern woman whose family owned slaves.
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you know, talking the other day about george thomas and the dilemma he faced as a virginian who stayed with the union, the consequences he paid both personally and professionally, what about farragut? here i think is a moment that reveals a lot about farragut, when he learned in april's -- that the state of virginia had voted to secede from the union -- particularly lincoln's call for volunteers to put down the rebellion, farragut went straight home and announced that he would not live in a disloyal state for one more hour. he told his wife he was leaving, now. this active mind may cause years of separation from your family, so you must decide quickly whether you will go north with me, or remain here.
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he packed a release that he could carry, headed for new york that afternoon. she went with him. you might want to compare this episode not only with george thomas, but tour particularly with robert e. lee's actions when he heard of virginians decisions. it was one of the most poignant chapters and the biography, freeman describes how he underwent an agonizing trial. when he had to choose between the state and his country. according to freeman, he stayed up all night pacing back and forth in an upstairs bedroom, unable to decide where his duty lay, his wife downstairs listening to those footsteps, back and forth across the hardwood floor, and in the morning he came down to tell her that he had decided to resign as commission and seek
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service with virginia. freeman's chapter on this episode is entitled, the decision he was born to make. farragut's the decision was the one he was born to make two, but for him there was no agonizing, no midnight pacing back and forth, no uncertainty, the moment he heard that virginia was being disloyal, he knew that he was an american first. the moment virginia abandoned the union, he abandoned virginia. and yet, despite that, there was some uncertainty in washington about his loyalty, and frankly about his age. he is 60 years old. today of course, we know that is the springtime of your life. but, in the middle of the 19th
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century, that was considered pretty long in the tooth. the union was planning an assault on the city of new orleans and the spring. the secretary of the navy, the assistant secretary, fought farragut, one of the most senior and accomplished officers in the navy list, they wondered if he was up to the task. so, they asked a man they thought would surely know. they asked his foster brother, david dixon porter. porter's reply is interesting. the letter started out well enough, he said i see no reason why he should not be competent to do all that is expected of him. okay, so far so good. then he added that while his foster brother was likable, and personally brave, quote, he has no administrative qualities, he wants stability, and loses too much time and talking.
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well, at least he didn't say he drills at the mouth. very likely, porter made these comments because he was angling from the command himself. he didn't get it, if you think mail is slow today, it was even slower than. by the time porters letter arrived in washington, farragut had already captured new orleans. a century later, charles before would publish a book about the fall of new orleans with the title the night the war was lost. that may be a slight exaggeration, but it does acknowledge the strategic impact of farragut's accomplishment. another characteristic of farragut's character beside his steadfast loyalty and his boldness of action was that he was politically savvy. two years later during lincoln second presidential campaign in
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1864, farragut was in new york where the hartford was -- and he attended a union rally at the cover union, and according to the new york herald, someone identified him in the audience, pointed him out, and the person on the stage called for him. come up, and give us some words admiral farragut. the crowd rose to his feet, speech! speech! farragut bowed and smiled, and waved. but replied in a words that would not have been more welcome to abraham lincoln if you had written them himself. here is what he said. i was invited here this evening not as a politician, but as a naval officer. to see the unanimity and the union feeling which prevails here. i must leave politics to you, my fellow citizens, i metal not with politics. nor give speeches. i will endeavor to do my duty
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on the sea, while you do yours here. imagine lincoln reading that the next day, given the troubles he had with ambitious cabinet officers, the team of rivals, and political generals like cohen and others. it is no doubt a relief to him to hear that here was an officer, at least, who stayed above the frame. tempted by the adulation of the crowd, or the fruits of political offense. later that here of course, farragut did do his duty on the scene when he charged into the bay at mobile, alabama. most of you know the story, hartford was halfway into the bay when there was a muffled thump and the ship immediately to his right suddenly reared up out of the water, fell back in again, rose up, the propellers
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still spinning, and shot down like an arrow taking most of its crew with it. sunk by a confederate torpedo. perhaps designed by hunter davidson. when that happened, the ship directly in front of farragut, the brooklyn, stopped. then it began to back down. the ships are in a line formation when the league ships began backing down, you can imagine the chaos likely to ensue, and this of course as one fair get took things into his own hands, in order to have his whole column collapse like an accordion, he ordered -- steamed pass the brooklyn, directly into the marked minefield. as he passed, the captain called across to tell him that there were torpedoes in the water, doug ahead, to which farragut replied.
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give me a minute ... here is the thing to remember about that moment. this was not an active and thinking bluster. it kind of forlorn charge like the leg brigade, even perhaps -- it was a practical response to a swiftly unraveling circumstance. and, it was absolutely the right decision. any other decision would have led to chaos. stop, try to turn around, back down, crash, immediately to your right, under the guns of those 42 pounders. disaster. so, once through the minefield without any casualties, farragut's squadron easily defended the --
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along with sherman's chapter of atlanta, farragut helped secure lincoln's reelection and i have always believed that is the single most strategically impactful event of the civil war. lincoln's reelection in 1864. so, it is easy for me to hold up farragut as an example of good leadership for my midshipmen, my students at the war college as well, commanders and captions mostly. thinking loyal for his faithfulness to his mentor, for his instinctive and unblinking loyalty to his country, and his quick thinking in a crisis. so, what about the sky? i wanted to talk about nimitz this morning partly because i think he fits the point i am trying to make about the application of history to the leadership, but also to be
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honest because i have just finished writing a wartime biography of chester nimitz, due out in the spring. great father's day present. nimitz at war. just about his years in command in the pacific. now, interestingly, nimitz is the son of immigrants as well, first generation american, in this case german immigrants who lived in the hill country of texas. the town where he was born, fedex bergh, was named for the german prince frederik, and still has a german flavor to it. if you had not been there on main street, there are german restaurants, your halls, you would think you are in munich. there is also a wonderful museum there, the national museum of the pacific war, served on the board of directors there for six years. people often perplexed as to why the national museum of the
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pacific war is in the hill country of texas. the answer of course is because that is where chester nimitz was born, there is a small nimitz museum there that grew enormously, and if you have not been in the last ten years, it is a completely different place these days. and, like farragut, nimitz was also raised by a surrogate parent. his father, nimitz's father died of a heart attack at 29. four months before chester nimitz was born. so, he was raised by his mother, and particularly by his maternal grandfather, german speaking grandfather, who taught him among other things not to obsess about things over which you have no control. a calm, patient is more valuable than panicked activity.
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now, nimitz did not go to see at nine. by then, the united states naval academy had come into being, and young boys did not go to sea to become midshipmen. they went to school. in fact, chester nimitz had no plans to go to seattle. a turning point in his life occurred when he was watching an artillery demonstration at a county fair in behar county, supervised by a group of recent army officers from west point. chester nimitz was very impressed by their uniforms. they looked sharp. he asked them about this place called west point. whatever they said convinced him that is what he wanted. so, he had his grandfather approach his congressman and asked about attending west point, only to be told that all the appointments were filled for that here, and the congressman said, what about the naval academy? well, nimitz had never heard of
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the naval academy. but, it sounded okay. so, he took the test, and passed it, and went off at 17. now, nimitz never had to choose between his state and his country as farragut did. but here is an interesting story about his loyalties that i found in the letters of his wife, she wrote this down several years later. so, like a memory and history, we can take it with perhaps a grain of salt. here is a story she related. when he left for -- his aunts and uncles were worried that he might come back, stripped of his texas character, and imbued with all sorts of yankee notions. so, of course they were horrified when he came home five years later with a young wife in tow. the beautiful 20 year old catherine vance freeman who was from brooklyn.
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during that visit, some of chester's relatives wanted to make sure she knew what was what down here in texas. so, as members of the family sat around together over coffee, one of them pointedly asked chester what would he do now that he was an officer, if texas succeeded from the union. would he fight for texas, or for that federal government in washington? catherine remembered the woman looking directly at her when she asked this question, as if to say now you will see where things stand, yankee girl. chester smiled graciously and answered quietly, why of course i would fight for the united states against any rebellion. catherine said the woman dropped her teacup. now, this is not quite the same as deciding to leave home on an hours notice, and it is
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hypothetical in any case. but, chester made his loyalty clear. one central aspect of chester nimitz's life, and his command temperament as well with his calm and deliberate demeanor. he smiled readily, but it was usually this smile -- a tight leaped, almost skeptical looking smile. almost as if to say i am waiting to take -- before i commit to you. some believed that it was to show he had a reserve about people. there may be some of that. but, the real reason is that had not been raised in the hill country of texas, he had never seen a dentist until he got to the naval academy. i got his dental records and to me by his grandson. it is fascinating to look at. it says the following teeth are missing, one, two, three, four,
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five, seven, eight, nine, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. five left. all of them gold. he did not want anybody to see that. that is why all of his photographs he has this expression on his face. like farragut, nimitz could make bold decisions, at least as bold as farragut's dash into mobile bay. in june of 1942, as many of you know, for warned of a japanese approach to the small midway, he decided to confront that assault, even though on paper he was badly overmatched. aware that his strategic mission as specifics commander was to hold on the defensive end deep a civic until germany was defeated. he might easily have said i am going to let the japanese have midway idle because they will not be able to sustain it.
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it is 3000 miles from tokyo. i can salvage there is supply lines, there will be sorry they ever went there. arguably, that would have been a smart, strategic move. instead, nimitz decided to send everything he had, all the ships, all the planes out to meet the threat. like farragut's decision, it was not simple audacity, it was not impetuous. he carefully assessed the circumstances, measured the strengths of each side, and employed what he called calculated risk. it is a phrase he used often with himself and his subordinates. i expect you to apply calculated risk. i just -- i'm going to stop there for a minute. i want to say how do you learn calculated risk, but by reading history? the japanese hard more carriers,
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he had the airstrip on midway, plus three carriers. that kind of even the odds. thanks to the kubrick, earthy knew they were coming. they didn't know he knew. here is another example that is wet less well-known. a year and a half after that, in the aftermath of the costly american victory at terrell, where 1000 marines were killed and 3000 more wounded fighting for an island less than one square mile in size, there was a lot of second guessing about the plan to invade the next island, much stronger, much larger. all three of nimitz's subordinate commanders --
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all decided that attacking it was too ambitious. it would be wiser, they said, to focus on to smaller outer islands. take those first as kind of a warm-up, and then attack it at some future date. nimitz explain his rationale capturing the two outer islands would not bring the japanese control on the marshals, which was the goal, and kwajalein would eventually have to be taken anyway. on the other hand, kwajalein fell, the outer islands would all become strategically impotent. besides, we have learned lessons from what happened. we can apply them to this new invasion. it is operational commanders were not convinced. always willing to hear advice, nimitz invited everyone in the room to share their views. he went around the room, person to person. every single one said we should
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attack the outer islands first. nimitz waited until everyone had spoken, and then he waited another long moment and said, well, thank you. we will attack kwajalein. now, that should have ended it. but it didn't. springs and turner continued to argue. turner was especially confrontational telling nimitz, your plan is reckless and dangerous. finally, nimitz said all right that is it, if you do not want to do, it i can find people who will! do you want to do this or not? well, yes sir we do. i guess saying that is fine we will hit kwajalein, it does not have the same ring as deport torpedo -- but it was the same sentiment. it was carefully calculated.
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nimitz was convinced the japanese did not intend to go all in to defend kwajalein, that they would not commit the fleet, and he was equally confident the adjustments you have made to the invasion protocols since terrell out would make it successful. nevertheless, he risked a great deal here by going ahead, despite the unanimous opposition of all his subordinates, if that attack had failed or if it had succeeded with very heavy casualties, that might have been the end of his command. but, he carefully considered the risks, and ordered the attack. it went off like clockwork. the americans in the entire campaign lost 300 killed. the japanese lost 8000 killed. it was the beginning of the end for them, and they knew it. here is another aspect of
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nimitz's command to truman that i feel compelled to mention because it is fun. that is because you had a sense of humor. he did not tell jokes, a fellow officer explained, he told stories that had a humorous side. many of them were shaggy dog stories, with a long even interminable buildup. this by the way is a characteristic he shared with another civil war figure, you may have heard of, abraham lincoln did this to. i think for the same reason. it was a way to deflect visitors, or to subdue emerging arguments. lincoln, or nimitz would be in the midst of one of these conversations, and interrupt to say, that reminds me of a story. and everybody was quiet for a minute while he told the story. one of his favorites was about a young doctor who arrived at the home of an expectant father, an expectant mother.
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do not worry at all said the doctor, i have got this in hand. everything is going to be fine. leave it to me. the doctor went into the back room with the expectant mother leaving the father to pace the hallway outside. well, after a minute he came out and asked for a butter knife. which the father provided. the doctor goes back in the room. two more minutes past, and i am doing a deliberately, because this is the way nimitz did it. he would pause, he would wait. a few minutes later, the doctor came out and he said i need a screwdriver. the father brings him a screwdriver, goes back in the room. more time passes. he came out and asked for a pair of pliers. which the father provided -- i could do this all day, but i am going to stop here. nimitz did carry on with this. finally, the father, and probably his audience by now said, welcome on, what is going on here! doctor's everything all right?
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he said, it is fine i just cannot get my bag open. [laughs] now, some of nimitz's the stories we're risk a, or at least would passed for risky in the 19 40s. catherine, his wife would sometimes stop him, but out in pearl harbor at the all-male dinners that he hosted in the admiral's home, they were a staple. so, with his dusk to move to the dinner table to the card table, he might tell the story of the aspiring woman bridge player, who was invited to a bridge party of the local reigning champion, a law, the woman's husband who was not great at cards was partnered with the hostess, and he was hopeless. he forgot what suit they were, and he trumped his partner's ace, it was a disaster.
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when he excuse himself to go to the bathroom, the wife apologized to the hostess. i am so sorry for my husband. the hostess waved that off. do not worry about it for a minute, she said. it is true, this is the first time all evening when i was pretty sure what he was holding in his hand. now, it might be possible, here we go, and might be possible to make a list of the characteristics shared by these two men for a leadership manual. i am not a fan of lists. i hope there is no political scientists in here for me to make fun of, but political scientists love lists. they will cherry-pick a few characteristics, and they will say here are the five things you can do to be successful at business, or the seven secrets of affective people, or
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whatever it might be. i am of the school that reading, and understanding history provides you with an artificial experience that will inform your judgment and decision-making rather than consulting a list. but, if we did have a list, raymond's bruins gave a swathe was probably a pretty good one. he wrote his wife during the war about his boss, he served as nimitz's chief of staff for 14 months. he said nimitz it's a marvelous combination of tolerance of the opinions of other, wise judgment after he has listened, and determination to carry things through. tolerance, judgment, determination. he knew what he was talking about, we can see all of those characteristics and both of these guys, i think. they could, and did, not only tolerate the views of others,
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but encourage the views of others. they went out of their way to solicit ideas not just from peers and seniors, but from junior officers as well that were closer to the gun smoke. and, to take those ideas seriously. listen carefully. abel ewing those ideas, they have calculated all possible factors, the plans of course, but these circumstances, who was involved, the likely outcome, and even if they had to make a quick decision, farragut at mobile bay, perhaps nimitz deciding to attack -- they did not make rash decisions having calculated the odds they applied a quiet but firm judgment. and, once that decision was made, they demonstrated a powerful determination to carry it through, not to change course in mid stream, because as we all know you can never step in the same stream twice.
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thank you, i look forward to your questions. [applause] >> here's one up here. this is the pregnant pause before the question. >> i was curious whether anyone had gone to the naval academy without receiving any did merits as leaving at west point. >> what a great question. i don't know the answer. but the merits were handled differently in the institutions. west point being west point -- >> [laughs] >> they were really into this. each cadet had a page and on the page the transgression was listed. mostly blank pages as well. lee was not the only one under the circumstances. there was no such book at the naval academy.
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and there was no specific demerit system. you would have march, just as one of the punishments at west point was to spend x number of hours marching back and forth that was occasionally applied. but i don't think they had the same system whereby you can look at the book and count the merits. so, it's hard to know. a follow-up? >> [inaudible] >> not now, no, at all. there are two sorts of the merits, one is bad behavior. your shoes are not shined information, you are late class, absent without leave. these are transgressions handled by -- punishment. that can result in all sorts of things. a traction of liberty or confinement to the yard. by the way, we don't have a campus. we have a yard. the other one is honor. anything that touches upon your honor, that is not handled by the adults.
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by the commissioned officers. it is handled by the honor council of the brigade. they interview, they talk, they gather evidence and they decide if one of their own has in fact compromised his or her honor and they apply whatever punishment, including expulsion is allowed. okay? excuse me. >> thank you -- are you saying that, in spite of being a west point drop out, or reject, nimitz had a better museum than farragut? >> [laughs] >> [laughs] >> first of all, he is not rejected or dropped out. the way young men, and in the 19th century, old men, were admitted to the academies,
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depended on congress. they had the choice of this. and the individual candidate had to be, you know, literate and had have all four arms. to. arms to arms into legs. both eyes, apparently not teeth. but beyond that, it's really the gift of the congressman. and of course this is great for currying favor if you need to. that does not happen anymore. nowadays, the students, young high school students, mostly, like you would apply to any other college. a big packet of forms. you have to pass a physical exam. you have to have certain scores on your acts or sats and that may be facing out. i have a grandson who is a college applicant this year and apparently people are requiring those anymore. i don't know, i've been retired from the naval academy long enough to not be aware of that. but i did serve on the
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admissions board of the naval academy for many years. and i'm telling you, the people we had to turn down our wonderful. as for the relationship between army and navy and the quality of the museum, i am hesitant to say except to say that i think the museum in fredericksburg is worth a visit. as is the one in new orleans, which is of course absolutely wonderful an even larger. so i will advocate for both of those museums. there's a question here. >> thank you. was farragut fully aware of what gore was doing in the background to usurp authority? >> how did he handle that? >> yeah, he was mostly, where he. yes because it's a small officer corps prior to the civil war. there were 42 ships in --
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and the size of the offices officer corps expanded commensurately. they knew everybody, everyone knew everybody. so there were some of that going on. he knows that his supporters not his strongest champion. and the big brother who always got -- you know, he is promoted ahead of me, it's a psycho historical or psycho analysis, whatever you want to apply to that, that could be appropriate. but then porter had other problems as well. he worked on the edge, a lot. in the red river campaign, of course, he was known for picking up a lot of that cotton along the banks. and seeing if he could take monetary advantage of those circumstances. but yes, i think in general he was aware. but he was tolerant of that as well. he also knew david dixon porter had great skills and pluck.
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and helped grant, critically, at vicksburg. and therefore there was no falling out as a consequence of that. john? >> i love the comparison between the two. you are the person to do it. but i want to ask an open-ended question. since you mastered civil war history in world war ii history, and have been in both fields for so long and so well, as you've worked, any other comparisons either of people or episodes that come to mind as you are working in world war ii? anything that comes to mind that you find notable? >> that's a great question. i think it's important to recall that these are two existential wars of american history. these are the two wars that had to be fought. a lot of force are josh like that. we choose them, we went to vietnam, we went to afghanistan,
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who knows where we will go next. those are wars of choice. the spanish american war, the mexican american war. these wars are existential. there was no way, in my opinion, that slavery could have been eradicated from the american culture absent a war like this. it had to be fought. in world war ii the enemy was genuinely evil. we tend to think world war ii is a template for american wars. but this is the way wars are fought. you declare it, you go all out and everybody is going down the same road. and you utterly win with unconditional surrender, you get rid of the bad guy, who hopefully kills himself before we hang him and then you return to peace and everybody is prosperous ever after. no other war is like that. this is a unique confrontation in world war ii. but it had to be fought because the enemy really was evil. really did have to be
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eradicated. we had to win unconditionally. those were necessary things. so what these two wars have in common, is that they are the wars america had to fight and had to win. now because of that, there's a tendency within the two cultures -- obviously america is fighting a civil war in the first example -- but within the north, copperhead's notwithstanding, it felt a little bit like world war ii for people, all pretty much pulling on the same rope. they had to resort to a draft. they both had to build up internal industrial production that had never previously existed, not just for the ironclads but for a lot of things. you know, canned ham, armor, the army began canning meets to feed the troops at the front, a whole new industry. the expansion of railroads, even in the midst of war. the civil isn't industrialized -- proto-industrialized -- total industrialized war, world
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war ii was a fully industrialized war. so these two wars have transformational impact on american culture and individuals like these where the ones who brought it to success. and i think it doesn't mean that they are of greater generations. i'm not going to demean the greatest generation. some of you are here. but i am going to say that each generation has its opportunity. some generations have greater opportunities. i had a colleague at the naval academy who said the thing that determines whether you will make flag rank has already been decided. it's not your fitness reports or your performance. it's not your great in this class. it is your birthday. if, when you are about 30, or 35, we go to war, you are probably going to make it. the great class of 1846 at west point, why did they all become
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generals, because there was a civil war? absent the civil war, none of them would have made general. the same thing is true of the naval academy class of or about the same time. i don't know if that is responsive or not, john. but the opportunity to pontificate is great. >> [laughs] >> is there a parallel between them and the first furled world war? did farragut achieve that position? >> yes, farragut was not only the first rear adm. in 1862, he's the first full admirable, admiral, for stars. that remain the highest rank until 1945, when congress passed an act allowing admiral's to wear five stars, one of which was, of course, chester nimitz. this is a great trivia contest
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who were the other three? >> [inaudible] >> it lay, he very, good king. and -- there was a big argument, about whether will be halsey or spruence. and halsey was the, darn everyone, and spruence said, let's contemplate and halsey got it because i think he was supported by vincent, chair of the naval affairs committee. and there is a group active now trying to get spur wins a posthumous appointment. so yes, they each got that honorary appointment. there was no chief of naval operations in the 19th century. forget did not have that. he was older and therefore four stars became much beloved
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veteran of the war. then he worked for a while for the united nations and then went into retirement. and he hated retirement. not like me, i love retirement. but imitated it. he wanted to get up every morning, every day, with something important to do. and once that was no longer the case, he went into a kind of decline and died in 1966. anybody else? alex has got one back there. yep. >> sir, you mentioned a book titled, the night the war was lost. -- >> yeah -- >> and you said, in my view, it's hyperbole. and he said that more had come out about the confederacy and new orleans. can you speak a bit about how -- farragut is there any way for farragut you to lose that battle? >> there are any number of ways to lose the battle. new orleans is not atlanta.
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it is not charleston. new orleans was the largest city in the south. it is of course the cork on the outlet for the mississippi river valley. what made it so important commercially is not only the products of the south, products of the midwest, they all came down to new orleans for trans shipment. so plugging that up was an important element of the blockade. it was a near mortal blow to the confederacy in terms of seizing that system. and could farragut have lost it? i think the easiest way for him to lose it is to say, it looks too difficult to me. that courseit was protected byo substantial masonry for. it's i mean, some of the force in the river system were thrown up -- for donaldson and fort henry -- they were thrown up with mud and wood. they could have been overcome by ironclad. but they had substantial results there. and in the navy, one of the trivia questions last night was about the csis manassas, the
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first ironclad to engage in battle, in the defense of new orleans. the easiest way to lose it is to say, i don't have to do this. here's an interesting tidbit. one of his subordinates was david dixon porter, who commanded the gunboat. not the gunboat, the mortar routes. mortar routes are essentially boats with 13 inch mid chips that can fire. and they stay below the city and fire long-range mortars into their forts until they evacuate. but farragut said no, no, we will break through that. and crash and pull up in front of new orleans, which had been stripped of much of its local offenders because they were concentrating at the battle of shiloh. and he is ranked there by the jackson staff shooting along the front of new orleans. you've all seen the photographs, pointing into the city, and
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saying, gotcha. so the way not to do it is to not try. and of course that was not his option. are we done? lunchtime! thank you everybody! >> [applause]
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university of southern mississippi professor susannah ural. >> i i want to get right to our speaker. we are so happy to have susannah >> i want to get right to our speaker. we are so happy to have susannah ural here. she has been so gracious to come in and actually give our first speech tonight. because it susannah ural is professor of history and co-director for the study of war -- scholar of war and


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