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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND

 

Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1898


Naval Militia

Prior to the outbreak of hostilities it was found necessary in the preparations for coast defense and for the purpose of providing crews for auxiliary ships to make a large increase in the enlisted force of the Navy.

The only additional trained men available were the officers and men of the naval militias of the several States, which, under appropriations from Congress, had been armed and equipped and given a certain amount of training in the line of preparation for the defense of the shores and harbors of their several States. In the absence of authority for calling these men into service, the governors of these States patriotically granted them leaves of absence or permitted them to resign from the State organizations in order to enlist in the Navy. During the war about 4,00O officers and men were added to the enlisted force of the Navy in this manner, and were assigned to duty in the Auxiliary Naval Force, the Coast Signal Service, and especially on board of cruising ships, some of which, for instance the Yankee, Dixie, Prairie, and Yosemite, were entirely officered and manned by them with the exception of the commanding, executive, and navigating officers.

These organizations were largely recruited outside of the seafaring class, and lacked the experience in gunnery, navigation, and the habits of the sea which are essential to immediate efficient service in the Navy. On the other hand, they were men of a high standard of education and intelligence, and rapidly acquired while on shipboard the knowledge necessary for their efficiency. Considering their 1ack of experience, the services rendered by them were so valuable that the country has been amply repaid for the money expended in their instruction and training.

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20 February 1998