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Did You Know, October 9, 2023

Last week we mentioned that the Navy’s unofficial song, “Anchors Aweigh,” was composed by a U.S. Naval Academy bandmaster/music director. Tomorrow, October 10th, is the academy’s official birthday.

The museum’s connection to the Navy itself becomes readily apparent with a quick perusal of our website. “But what,” you might ask yourself, “is the possible link between the museum and the Naval Academy?”

In 1845, then Lieutenant James Harmon Ward was one of the academy’s five founders, serving as executive officer and teaching gunnery and steam engineering to young midshipmen. Considered “one of the most scholarly officers of the Navy of his day,” his classes led to the creation of two textbooks, An Elementary Course of Instruction in Ordnance and Gunnery and A Manual of Naval Tactics. He also wrote Steam for the Million: A Popular Treatise on Steam and its Application to the Useful Arts, Especially to Navigation.

Signage on the grounds of the museum tells us about the last day of then Commander Ward's life.

On June 27, 1861, as part of his charge to keep the river open to shipping to Washington, D.C., he led the Potomac Flotilla during the Battle of Mathias Point. Ward was mortally wounded, becoming the first U.S. Navy officer killed during the Civil War.

We hope that you will stop by the museum to read more of the story for yourself and come inside Wednesday-Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm, to learn so much more history!

Caption One:
Commander James H. Ward (NH 119396 courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command)

Caption Two:
Commander James H. Ward was aboard the steam tug USS Thomas Freeborn (left) at Mathias Point on June 27, 1861. (NH 59242 courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.)
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