This force was organized for service in the war with Spain under the terms of a joint resolution of Congress approved May 26, and its provisions were immediately applied in the preparations for coast defense which had been progressing since March 23.
The personnel of the force was almost entirely contributed by the naval Militia organizations of the various States. A small percentage was supplied by the merchant marine. Ten of the old monitors which had been laid up for many years were put in commission and officered and manned by the Naval Militia. Many of these vessels cruised from port to port and went to sea for target practice, which gave the officers and men valuable training. In addition, this service afforded a sense of protection to the people along our entire coast line.
Ten yachts and five tugs were purchased out of the appropriation of $3,000,000 carried by the joint resolution, their cost aggregating $593,500. At the time of its maximum strength the fleet of the Auxiliary Naval Force included 41 vessels in commission. These were distributed at various important ports and strategic points on the coast, which, for the purposes of administration, was divided into 9 districts, 6 on the Atlantic, 2 on the Gulf, and 1 on the Pacific coast.
The duty of protecting mine fields and of maintaining quarantine regulations was performed by a fleet of 8 converted yachts, 10 converted tugs, and 1 side-wheel steamer, all officered and manned by men from the Naval Militia, and by 4 revenue cutters, with their regular officers and crews, which were stationed on the Pacific coast.
The officers and men of the force displayed special aptitude for the work connected with patrol duty, owing to their intimate knowledge of home waters and their acquaintance with the harbors, bases of supply, and local prevailing weather conditions.