Who Are We?
The Sampson and Preble Society (SAPS) serves as a community of interest for midshipmen drawn to history and interested in history's practical application in both officership and warfare. It seeks to facilitate collaboration among students across all majors - not just from History and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences - by providing a weekly meetings, activities, and planned trips to explore sources, artifacts, and places of historical significance. SAPS focuses on cultivating camaraderie among members and developing historically-informed decision makers.
- Affiliated Subgroups
- Tactical Decision Games
- Movie Nights
- Walking History Tours
- Contact Us!
Blue and Gold Podcasting
A collection of midshipmen-produced podcasts - both independent volunteer and assigned classwork - that explore historical topics of interest ranging from ancestors' struggles during the Dust Bowl period to the roots of modern French democracy. The most prominent series, Life at the Academy, explores how student life, brigade culture, and the academic climate at Annapolis has changed over time.
Combat Action Lab
Naval Academy Combat Action Lab (NACAL) establishes a common framework for discussing operational problems and for preparing midshipmen for the Fleet and future wargaming efforts at Quantico and Naval War College. Midshipmen in NACAL accomplish this goal by meeting weekly and participating in strategic war games ranging from the boardgame classics like Assassin's Mace to computer-based simulations like Command: Modern Operations.
Comprised of a rag-tag team of highly-motivated students, Monuments Mids is an all-volunteer team who assists the museum staff in Preble Hall. Their duties and responsibilities range from artifact preservation and cataloguing, providing guided tours, and boosting the museum's public image.
Phi Alpha Theta
Phi Alpha Theta is the National Honor Society in History and is comprised of chapters from properly accredited colleges and universities. All students in these institutions who have completed the required number of history courses and are maintaining high standards in all their college or university studies are eligible for membership. The Omega Kappa chapter of Phi Alpha Theta at the United States Naval Academy is the largest chapter in the Mid-Atlantic region. Although its functions and mission are no different from any other chapters, Omega Kappa arranges its extracurricular activities through SAPS.
SAPS regularly hosts a leadership meal and historical tactical decision game (HTDG) with representatives from Phi Alpha Theta, NACAL, and Monuments Mids. These HTDGs placed midshipmen in a historical context and wartime decision making roles. In one such HTDG, each midshipmen played Benedict Arnold and had to defend Lake Champlain against British forces in 1776.
Given a map, historical background, force strength, and time available, each midshipmen made (5) iterative decisions against a set British scheme of maneuver administered by the facilitator. No midshipman was aware of the tactics involved in the Battle of Valcour Island, which made for a historically relevant debrief. The facilitator then drew a comparison between the 1776 campaign and the one conducted in 1816. Midshipmen where able to connect the geographic, political, and military implications for each tactical engagement.
Every few weeks, SAPS watches a movie based on historical events and provides a forum for midshipmen to have fun, reflect, appreciate, call out, debate, or critique the film's accuracy. Movies in the past have included Monuments Men (which inspired the Monuments Mids group!), Master and Commander, and select episodes of the HBO miniseries The Pacific.
Once per semester, SAPS hosts "Histopardy!" - a night of intense History trivia with teams comprised of midshipmen and faculty members! Our game masters, Professors Thomas Burgess and Ernie Tucker, challenge the contestants with questions from across all of known history from topics as popular as presidential trivia to obscurities like Indian common law. Also, Sampson Hall faculty and Preble Museum staff provide food and drink for the dozens of midshipmen who come out to participate.
At least once per semester, SAPS conducts a historical walkabout along points of interest in American History in the Annapolis area. On our most recent trip, midshipmen joined Major Brewster for an hour-long tour that began at the Tripoli Monument, continued up Stribling Walk, and concluded at Bancroft Hall. The mids considered the historical significance of the Barbary Wars as an expeditionary military campaign in support of international commerce and its parallels to the Global War on Terror. The 400 meter walk up Stribling allowed for a discussion of about 400 years of American History from 1620-2020 and its subsequent historiography. The group explored the significance of geography, colonization, military campaigns, and international relations throughout the course of American History.
For more information about the Sampson and Preble Society, please check out the History Department's Instagram page (@usnahistory) or contact any of the following: