Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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  • Crew
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  • Exploration, Expeditions and Voyages
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Location of Archival Materials

Officers of Peculiar Skill: Petty and Forward Officers of the U.S. Navy 1797–1860

Michael J. Crawford, 2017, ISBN 978-1-943604-23-4

(508-compliant PDF) 


Officers of a Peculiar Skill cover image

Available for free: 508-compliant PDF (6.8 MB)

Ships, arms, facilities, regulations, and administrative structures, however necessary, do not make an effective navy. A navy needs able officers and skilled seamen. What is more, to function effectively, a naval vessel in the age of sail required not merely boatswains, gunners, carpenters, sail makers, coopers, armorers, and like artisans who were familiar with the operations of a merchant vessel, but such specialists who also understood a warship’s operations. Although America’s maritime settlements boasted skilled seafaring men, the infant navies of the American Revolution lacked personnel—not just commanding officers, but also warrant and petty officers—with the experience and habits, found in long-established navies, required to keep a warship in fighting trim. Studies of the American naval tradition have generally neglected these lesser officers. Operational and biographical studies focus on commanding officers, while studies of life before the mast tend to look at the common sailor. The monograph analyzes the careers of the U.S. Navy’s petty and forward officers in the sea service from its founding to the eve of the Civil War.

Published: Tue Jun 11 12:24:02 EDT 2019