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Thomas Benton Howard Papers, 1869-1920: Finding Aid

Published in February 2014

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 209
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Thomas Benton Howard Papers
  • Dates: 1869-1919
  • Size: 0.8 linear feet (2 manuscript boxes, 2 oversize folders)
  • Creator: Howard, Thomas Benton, 1854-1920
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Thomas Benton Howard was an admiral in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1873. The Howard papers focus on Howard's time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy, his service during the cruise of the Great White Fleet, his participation in the Military Order of the Carabao, the various Navy vessels he served aboard or were under his command.

Biographical Chronology of Thomas Benton Howard

  • On August 10, is born in Galena, Illinois.
  • In June, is appointed to the United States Naval Academy.
  • Serves aboard U.S.S. Alaska and U.S.S. Wabash of the European Station.
  • U.S.S. Wabash relocates to Key West.
  • Serves aboard U.S.S. Franklin of the European Station.
  • Is assigned to the Naval Academy in the department of Mathematics, as well as U.S.S. Constellation for the 1877 practice cruise.
  • Serves aboard U.S.S. Plymouth of the North Atlantic Station.
  • Is attached to U.S.S. Kearsarge of the North Atlantic Station.
  • Is assigned to the Naval Academy and the practice ship U.S.S. Dale.
  • Serves aboard U.S.S. Saratoga.
  • Is assigned to the Naval Academy in the department of Physics and Chemistry, and later the department of Mechanics and Applied Mathematics. Is also attached to U.S.S. Constellation for the 1889 practice cruise.
  • Is attached to U.S.S. Bennington of the Squadron of Evolution and the South Atlantic Station, which also takes part in the Naval Review of 1893.
  • Serves aboard U.S.S. Miantonomah.
  • Is assigned to the Naval Academy in the department of Physics and Chemistry, as well as U.S.S. Monongahela for the 1895 practice cruise.
  • Is attached to U.S.S. Concord and took part in the Battle of Manila Bay and the capture of Subic Bay during the Spanish-American War.
  • Serves aboard U.S.S. Charleston, battling insurgents in Manila (February 5) and taking part in the Battle of Caloocan (February 10) and the bombardment of Cebu (July 26-28).
  • In August, transfers to the monitor U.S.S. Monadnock, taking part in further bombardment of Cebu (September 12).
  • In February, receives command of U.S.S. Monadnock.
  • In April, is attached to U.S.S. Scindia.
  • In September, is assigned to the Naval Academy as the Head of Ordnance and Gunnery.
  • On March 4, Commands U.S.S. Puritan during the Presidential Inauguration.
  • Commands U.S.S. Chesapeake during the Naval Academy's practice cruise.
  • On February 5, is detached from the Naval Academy for service as commanding officer of U.S.S. Nevada.
  • Is attached to the Naval Academy as Head of Ordnance and Gunnery.
  • In May, receives command of U.S.S. Olympia and the Naval Academy practice squadron.
  • In August, is detached from the Naval Academy.
  • In October, receives command of U.S.S. Tennessee.
  • Takes part in the cruise of the Great White Fleet. During the cruise, receives command of U.S.S. Ohio.
  • Receives command of the Fourth Division of the Atlantic Fleet, with U.S.S. Georgia as flagship.
  • Receives command of the Third Division of the Atlantic Fleet.
  • In April, is detached from the Atlantic Fleet to await orders.
  • Is appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet.
  • In September, is detached from the Pacific Fleet to serve as President of the Naval Examining and Retirement Boards.
  • On August 10, is transferred to the Retired List.
  • On November 9, dies in Annapolis, Maryland.
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Description of Contents

The Thomas Benton Howard Papers, comprising 0.8 linear feet of documentation, span from 1869 to 1920, coving Howard's career in the United States Navy and subsequent retirement. The papers focus on Howard's time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy, his service during the cruise of the Great White Fleet, his participation in the Military Order of the Carabao, the various Navy vessels he served aboard or were under his command.

The collection consists of correspondence, orders, reports, publications, visiting cards, maps, and a notebook.

The Thomas Benton Howard Papers touch upon most aspects of Howard's career, but focus specifically on several key aspects. Howard's time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy is the primary focus of the lone notebook in the collection, which not only includes class notes, but various statistics on the Naval Academy Class of 1873. His service during the 1908 cruise of the Great White Fleet is represented by various publications on the locales visited, especially those in Australia, as well as planning documents, including maps and ground plans for several events. The fleet's cruise is also represented by some of the U.S. Navy vessel magazines in the collection. In addition to his service at sea and at the Naval Academy, Howard served on numerous Navy boards, courts-martial, and courts of inquiry, which are represented by their own correspondence, as well as occasional statements by those seamen called before the boards on which Howard was serving. Howard's social life is represented by materials from his involvement in the Military Order of the Carabao, as well as invitations and visiting cards from various social events. Details of the remainder Howard's career, such as his various assignments to the Naval Academy and service as Commander of the Third and Fourth Divisions of the Atlantic Fleet, can be gleaned from his official and personal correspondence, orders, and cruise reports.

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The Thomas Benton Howard Papers are arranged alphabetically by topic and document type.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Thomas Benton Howard Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Howard's notebook purchased by and transferred from the USNA Museum, Museum Accession No. 81.65. Provenance of remainder unknown.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to Howard's time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy can be found in his Midshipman Conduct Record at Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library. Photographs of Howard as a midshipman can be found in the U.S.N.A. photographic class book, '73, Photo Album 15 and Photo Album 96 at Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

Four photographs and four negatives of Thomas Benton Howard have been removed and added to the Special Collections Picture File and Transitional Picture File.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Thomas Benton Howard Papers, MS 209

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

"Thomas Benton Howard [obituary]," Army and Navy Journal. November 13, 1920: 298.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in March 1986. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in February 2014.

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Subject Headings

These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.

Name and Subject Terms

  • Arkansas (Monitor : BM-7)
  • Courts-martial and courts of inquiry
  • Georgia (Battleship : BB-15)
  • Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (Cuba)
  • Howard, Thomas Benton, 1854-1920
  • Melbourne (Vic.)
  • Military Order of the Carabao
  • Ohio (Battleship : BB-12)
  • San Diego (Armored cruiser : ACR-6)
  • Severn (Bark)
  • Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Sydney (N.S.W.)
  • Tennessee (Armored cruiser : ACR-10)
  • United States Naval Academy -- Midshipmen -- Cruises
  • United States Naval Academy. Class of 1873
  • United States. Navy -- Cruise, 1907-1909
  • War games
  • Yokohama-shi (Japan)

Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Ephemera
  • Manuscripts
  • Notebooks
  • Orders (military records)
  • Periodicals
  • Programs (documents)
  • Reports
  • Visiting cards
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Boards, 1904-1914

Letters and memoranda pertaining to boards on which Howard served, covering such topics as the sinking of the tug Mohawk, the training of firemen, bonuses given to battleships, the Office of Naval Intelligence, incidents involving the crew of U.S.S. Nebraska in France (1910), the Guantanamo Naval Station, and the Naval Examining Board.

Box 1 Folder 2

Correspondence - Official, 1899-1910

Letters and memoranda pertaining to Howard's orders, commendations, and letters of thanks. Specific topics include an accident on board U.S.S. Missouri (1904), an apparatus to prevent flarebacks aboard U.S.S. Nevada, and target practice aboard U.S.S. Ohio and Tennessee (1908). Also included are transfer receipts for Bureau of Navigation publications and a fitness report.

Box 1 Folder 3

Correspondence - Official, 1911-1919

Letters and memoranda pertaining to Howard's orders, commendations, recommendations, crew transfers, and letters of thanks. Specific topics include the disappearance of seaman Edward W. Lee of U.S.S. Georgia (1911), House Naval Committee hearings on Navy Personnel (1913), unfinished duties at Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet (1915), the Mexican Campaign Badge (1918), and the proposed transfer of the U.S. Naval Observatory to the Smithsonian Institution. Also included are transfer and custody receipts for confidential documents.

Box 1 Folder 4

Correspondence - Personal, 1897-1918

Includes cover letters, letters of thanks, invitations, and congratulations on the capture of Manila.

Box 1 Folder 5

Courts-martial and Courts of Inquiry, 1887-1911

Letters of memoranda regarding courts sat upon by Howard. Includes a statement by seaman Edward Murphy before his court-martial (1887).

Box 1 Folder 6

Cruise Reports, 1897-1901

Reports regarding Howard's service aboard U.S.S. Concord and the school ship U.S.S. Chesapeake.

Box 1 Folder 7

Cruise Reports, 1904-1911, undated

Reports regarding Howard's service aboard U.S.S. Decatur en route to Manila (1904), U.S.S. Nevada while attached to the Naval Academy (1904), U.S.S. Olympia (1907), U.S.S. Tennessee (1907), U.S.S. Ohio (1908-1909), U.S.S. Georgia at Brest (1910), and ships of the Fourth Division (1911).

Box 1 Folder 10-11

Great White Fleet, 1908

Includes newspaper clippings, event programs, memoranda, pamphlets, and itineraries. Topics include events in Sydney, Australia; visit to Yokohama, Japan; arrangements for calls in Sydney and Melbourne, description of Victoria, Australia; and an address by Cardinal Moran.

Drawer MSOS Folder 1

Great White Fleet, 1908

Includes a seating plan for a Suikosha event in Japan; a parade route map for Flemington, Australia; building plans and room assignments for the Imperial Hotel; a map of the Shinjuku Imperial Garden, and ground plans for a garden party in Yokohama, Japan.

Box 1 Folder 12

Military Order of the Carabao, 1904-1920

Correspondence, invitations, and seating assignments pertaining to the Order's meetings, dinners, and elections.

Box 1 Folder 13

Military Order of the Carabao, 1905-1916

Dinner programs, song books, by-laws, and member directories.

Drawer MSOS Folder 2

Military Order of the Carabao, 1912-1913

Table diagrams and seating arrangements.

Box 2 Folder 1

Miscellaneous, 1875-1918, undated

Includes materials pertaining to Philip R. Voorhees' steering apparatus patent, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, dedication of the General William Tecumseh Sherman statue, the unveiling of the Porter Memorial Window at the Naval Academy Chapel, the Atlantic Fleet roster of officers, the strategic importance of naval stations (Senate Committee Print), and the June 8, 1918 total solar eclipse. Also included is a reminiscence entitled "Some Experiences of a Visit to the Front," circa 1918.

Box 2 Folder 2

Official Orders, 1889-1900

Box 2 Folder 3

Official Orders, 1901-1903

Box 2 Folder 4

Official Orders, 1907-1919

Box 2 Folder 5

Personal, 1899, undated

Includes genealogical information, poems and songs dedicated to or about Howard, and an unidentified photograph, possibly from a South Pacific island or the Philippines.

Box 2 Folder 6

Ships' Magazines, 1907-1908

U.S.S. Arkansas' The Arkansas Traveller and U.S.S. Ohio's The Buckeye.

Box 2 Folder 7

Ships' Magazines, 1908-1909

U.S.S. Tennessee's The Volunteer.

Box 2 Folder 8

Ships' Magazines, 1915

U.S.S. San Diego's The Golden West.

Box 2 Folder 9

Social Events - Memorabilia, 1876-1916, undated

Invitations to State Department receptions and Naval Academy events, visitor cards, event programs, and menus.

Box 2 Folder 10

United States Naval Academy - Notebook, 1869-1915

Includes notes on steam; rosters of the Class of 1873, including class standing, marriages, deaths, Cadet Officers, and boat crews; hops and balls given by the Class of 1873; signatures of shipmates; Howard's monthly academic standing at the Naval Academy; notes on shipbuilding; notes on calculus; songs and poems; drawings and caricatures by Howard; and lists of officers on Howard's ships from 1889 to 1900. Inside the front cover is a menu for the 1907 Reunion of the Class of 1873 and a postcard of Admiral Howard Day, June 8, 1915 in San Diego.

Box 2 Folder 11

War Games, 1911-1912, undated

Memoranda, orders, and rules for war games engaged in by the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Fourth Division. Also includes two Naval War College publications: "The Strategic Naval War Game or Chart Maneuver" by Captain W. McCarty Little and "War and Policy" by J.S. McKean.

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