Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Nimitz Library
Nimitz Library

Memoirs of a Naval Career, 1910: Finding Aid

Published in

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 215
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Memoirs of a Naval Career
  • Dates: 1910
  • Size: 0.63 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 manuscript box, 1 half-manuscript box
  • Creator: McCalla, Bowman Hendry, 1844-1910
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Bowman Hendry McCalla was an admiral in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1865. McCalla's memoirs offer an autobiographical account his life and U.S. Navy career, spanning from his childhood days at Nazareth Hall boarding school to his retirement from the U.S. Navy in 1906.

Biography of Bowman Hendry McCalla

Bowman Hendry McCalla was born on June 19, 1844 in Camden, New Jersey to Auley and Mary Duffield McCalla. Following the death of his parents, McCalla was placed in Nazareth Hall boarding school in Nazareth, Pennsylvania at the age of thirteen. After failing in an attempt to join the Army after the outbreak of the Civil War, McCalla applied to the United States Naval Academy, where he was admitted on November 30, 1861.

McCalla graduated from the Naval Academy in November 1864 as a member of the Class of 1865. Following graduation from the Academy, he was assigned to U.S.S. Susquehanna (Side wheel steamer) of the Brazil Squadron. McCalla advanced steadily through the ranks, receiving his commission as a lieutenant on March 12, 1868 and being promoted to lieutenant commander on March 26, 1869 and to commander on November 3, 1884. Three years later, McCalla received his first command aboard U.S.S. Enterprise (Screw sloop-of-war) of the European Station. In the final year of his command, he was court-martialed for striking a sailor with his sword, receiving a three year suspension. McCalla was returned to duty a year later by the Secretary of the Navy, but would not be fully restored until 1900.

During the Spanish-American War, McCalla was in command of U.S.S. Marblehead (Cruiser : C-11). While under McCalla's command, the Marblehead was responsible for cutting the cables off Cienfuegos, Cuba, and later, landing the first battalion of Marines for the invasion of Guantanamo Bay on June 10, 1898. Two months later, McCalla was promoted to Captain. Following his command of Marblehead, McCalla assumed command of U.S.S. Newark (Protected cruiser : C-1) in 1899. Leaving American waters, Newark sailed for the Philippines to aid in putting down the Philippine Insurrection. In December 1899, McCalla received the surrender of the Philippine provinces of Cagayan and Isabela in northern Luzon. The next year, Newark, still under McCalla's command, sailed for China to take part in the expedition to relieve the American Legation at Peking under Vice Admiral Edward Hobart Seymour and the Battle of the Taku Forts during the Boxer Rebellion.

Following his return to the United States, McCalla received his last command at the Mare Island Navy Yard. On October 11, 1903, he was promoted to rear admiral, and was placed on the Retired List three years later. Bowman Hendry McCalla died on May 6, 1910 in Santa Barbara, California.

Back to Top

Description of Contents

Memoirs of a Naval Career, published by the author in 1910, comprises a single volume, autobiographical account of the life and U.S. Navy career of Bowman Hendry McCalla, spanning from his childhood days at Nazareth Hall boarding school to his retirement from the U.S. Navy in 1906.

The memoirs touch upon McCalla's sea service aboard U.S.S. Susquehanna, Brooklyn, Sabine, Tuscarora, Wabash, Wachusett, and Powhatan, as well as his commands of U.S.S. Enterprise, U.S.S. Marblehead during the Spanish American War, and U.S.S. Newark during the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion. McCalla's memoirs also touch upon his education at the Naval Academy, his shore duties as a Naval Academy instructor and at the Navy Department, and participation in the Panama Expedition of 1885. McCalla also devotes time in his memoirs to his 1890 court-martial and subsequent restoration.

In addition to focusing on his U.S. Navy career, McCalla's memoir includes genealogical information as well as a chapter devoted to proposed efficiency reforms in the U.S. Navy.

Back to Top


The memoirs are foldered by chapter.

Back to Top

Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

McCalla's Memoirs of a Naval Career is 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.

Back to Top

Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Paolo Coletta in September 1978. Accession No. 78-019.

Back to Top

Related Materials

Location of Originals

The original of McCalla's Memoirs of a Naval Career is held by the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to McCalla's time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy may be found in his Conduct Record in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

Back to Top

Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Memoirs of a Naval Career, MS 215

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

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

Johnson, Allen, ed. Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Scribner, 1933.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in February 2014. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in February 2014. Supersedes a finding aid written in June 1986.

Back to Top

Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Brooklyn (Screw sloop)
  • China -- History -- Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901
  • Courts-martial and courts of inquiry -- United States
  • Enterprise (Screw sloop-of-war)
  • Kearsarge (Battleship : BB-5)
  • Marblehead (Protected cruiser : C-11)
  • McCalla, Bowman Hendry, 1844-1910
  • Newark (Protected cruiser : C-1)
  • Panama Expedition, 1885
  • Philippines -- History -- Philippine American War, 1899-1902
  • Powhatan (Side wheel steamer)
  • Sabine (Frigate)
  • Spanish-American War, 1898
  • Susquehanna (Side wheel steamer)
  • Tuscarora (Screw Sloop-of-War)
  • United States Naval Academy -- History -- 19th century
  • United States Naval Academy -- Students
  • Wabash (Frigate)
  • Wachusett (Screw sloop)

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Memoirs
Back to Top

Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Chapter I - Genealogy, 1910

Includes title page, table of contents, dedication, and list of sketches and plans.

Box 1 Folder 2

Chapter II- School Days at Nazareth Hall, 1910

Box 1 Folder 3

Chapter III - Appointment to the Naval Academy, 1910

Box 1 Folder 4

Chapter IV- Susquehanna, Brooklyn and Sabine (1865-1868), 1910

Box 1 Folder 5

Chapter V - Cruise of the Tuscarora, 1910

Box 1 Folder 6

Chapter VI - Cruise of the Wabash (1871-1873), 1910

Box 1 Folder 7

Chapter VII - Cruise of the Wabash (Continued) (1871-1873), 1910

Box 1 Folder 8

Chapter VIII - Cruise of the Wachusett, 1910

Box 1 Folder 9

Chapter IX - Duty at the Naval Academy as Instructor, 1910

Box 1 Folder 10

Chapter X - Cruise of the Powhatan (1878-1881), 1910

Box 1 Folder 11

Chapter XI - Duty in the Navy Department (1881-1887), 1910

Box 1 Folder 12

Chapter XII - Duty in the Navy Department (Continued) (1881-1887), 1910

Box 1 Folder 13

Chapter XIII - The Panama Expedition of 1885, 1910

Box 1 Folder 14

Chapter XIV - Cruise of the Enterprise (1887-1890), 1910

Box 1 Folder 15

Chapter XV - Cruise of the Enterprise (Continued) (1887-1890), 1910

Box 1 Folder 16

Chapter XVI - Cruise of the Enterprise (Continued) (1887-1890), 1910

Box 1 Folder 17

Chapter XVII - The Court-Martial of 1890, 1910

Box 1 Folder 18

Chapter XVIII - Life in Germany; Duty at Mare Island, and at the Naval War College, 1910

Box 1 Folder 19

Chapter XIX - The Restoration, 1910

Box 1 Folder 20

Chapter XX - The Marblehead in the War with Spain (1898), 1910

Box 1 Folder 21

Chapter XXI - The Marblehead in the War with Spain (Continued) (1898), 1910

Box 1 Folder 22

Chapter XXII - The Marblehead in the War with Spain (Continued) (1898), 1910

Box 1 Folder 23

Chapter XXIII - The Marblehead in the War with Spain (Continued) (1898), 1910

Box 1 Folder 24

Chapter XXIV - The Marblehead in the War with Spain (Continued) (1898), 1910

Box 1 Folder 25

Chapter XXV - The Newark (1899-1900) The Philippine Insurrection, 1910

Box 1 Folder 26

Chapter XXVI - The Newark (1900-1901) The Boxer War in China, 1910

Box 1 Folder 27

Chapter XXVII - The Newark (1900-1901) The Seymour Relief Expedition, 1910

Box 2 Folder 1

Chapter XXVIII - The Newark (1900-1901) The Capture of the Taku Forts and the Siege of the Legation in Peking, 1910

Box 2 Folder 2

Chapter XXIX - The Aftermath of My Oriental Service and the return of the Newark to the United States (1900-1901), 1910

Box 2 Folder 3

Chapter XXX - The Battleship Kearsarge; and the Last Commands of My Active Service in the Navy (1901-1906), 1910

Box 2 Folder 4

Chapter XXXI - Two Proposed Reforms in Naval Administration to Increase the Efficiency of the Navy, 1910

Back to Top