An Admiral's Yarn, 1941 (approximate): Finding Aid
Published in September 2019
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: MS 529
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
- Title: An Admiral's Yarn
- Dates: 1941 (approximate)
- Size: 0.42 linear feet (1 manuscript box)
- Creator: Laning, Harris, 1873-1941
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: Harris Laning was an Admiral in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1895. The Harris Laning Memoirs, entitled An Admiral's Yarn were written circa 1941. The memoirs span Laning's entire life and career in the United States Navy, from his boyhood in Petersburg, Illinois through his retirement to the Philadelphia Naval Home.
Biographical Chronology of Harris Laning
- Born on October 18 in Petersburg, Illinois to Caleb Barrett and Mary Esther Harris Laning.
- Admitted to the United States Naval Academy as a member of the Class of 1895.
- In June, graduates from the United States Naval Academy and is attached to U.S.S. Philadelphia (Protected cruiser: C-4), and later U.S.S. Oregon (Battleship: BB-3), for mandatory sea service.
- Commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy.
- Attached to U.S.S. Marion (Screw steamer) in Hawaii.
- In December, transfers to U.S.S. Mohican (Screw sloop-of-war) following the decommissioning of U.S.S. Marion is decommissioned.
- Attached to U.S.S. Monadnock (Monitor: BM-3) for duty in the Philippines.
- Assumes command of U.S.S. Panay (Gunboat) during the Philippine Insurrection, followed by a return to duty aboard U.S.S. Monadnock.
- Ordered to the United States Naval Academy as an instructor in the Department of English, History and Law.
- Attached to U.S.S. Dolphin (Gunboat: PG-24), which was serving as the Secretary of the Navy's yacht.
- Assigned to the United States Naval Academy's Department of Ordnance and Gunnery, with additional duty as Captain of the Navy Rifle Team.
- Ordered to U.S.S. Nebraska (Battleship: BB-14) as Navigation Officer during the cruise of the Great White Fleet.
- Returns to the United States Naval Academy for duty in charge of Physical Training.
- Serves as Captain of the U.S. Olympic Rifle Team at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm.
- Transferred to U.S.S. Cassin (Destroyer: DD-43) for fitting out and duty as her first commanding officer.
- Assumes command of the Sixth Division, Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, followed by command of the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla.
- Assigned to the war plans office of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
- Transferred to the Bureau of Navigation for duty in charge of personnel detailing.
- Appointed Chief of Staff to Commander, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet
- In July, transferred to Destroyer Squadron Three, Atlantic Fleet as Chief of Staff.
- Assigned to the Naval War College for instruction, followed by duty as head of the Department of Tactics.
- In June, assumes command of U.S.S. Pennsylvania (Battleship: BB-38).
- In September, reports as commanding officer, Naval Training Station, San Diego.
- Appointed Chief of Staff to Commander, Battle Fleet.
- Assumes command of Battleship Division Two, Scouting Fleet.
- On June 16, appointed President of the Naval War College.
- In May, appointed Commander Cruisers, Scouting Force, U.S. Fleet with the rank of Vice Admiral aboard U.S.S. Chicago (Heavy cruiser: CA-29). Later assigned additional duty as Commander Cruisers, U.S. Fleet and Commander Cruiser Division Five.
- On April 1, assumed command of Battle Force with the rank of Admiral aboard U.S.S. California (Battleship: BB-44).
- Assumes command of the Third Naval District and New York Navy Yard.
- On November 1, retires from the United States Navy.
- Appointed Governor of the Philadelphia Naval Home.
- On February 2, dies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Description of Contents
The Harris Laning Memoirs, entitled An Admiral's Yarn and comprising 0.42 linear feet of microfilm printouts, were written circa 1941. The memoirs span Laning's entire life and career in the United States Navy, from his boyhood in Petersburg, Illinois through his retirement to the Philadelphia Naval Home.
An Admiral's Yarn, originally drafted in two volumes, is divided into fifty-one, chronologically arranged chapters. Beginning with Laning's childhood in Petersburg, Illinois, and studies at Peekskill Military Academy, the memoirs discuss Laning's time as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, including his summer cruises and his time aboard U.S.S. Philadelphia (Protected cruiser: C-4) during mandatory sea service; his cruises aboard the wooden vessels U.S.S. Marion (Screw steamer) and U.S.S. Mohican (Screw sloop-of-war); duty in the Philippines before and during the Philippine Insurrection; his direction of personnel efforts during World War I; commands of destroyer flotillas, the Navy's cruiser force, and the Battle Fleet; work as an educator at both the Naval Academy and Naval War College; and his work with the Navy Rifle Team at the 1907 National Matches and 1912 Summer Olympics. The memoirs close with Laning's appointment as Governor of the Naval Home in Philadelphia upon retirement.
An Admiral's Yarn is arranged in fifty-one chapters.
Access and Use
Access is unrestricted.
Copyright and Permission
An Admiral's Yarn 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.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Upon receipt, the manuscript of An Admiral's Yarn was initially cataloged as E746.L28A1.
Provenance and Acquisition
Gift of Ernest M. Eller in October 1969.
Location of Originals
The original of Laning's memoir is presumably held by the Naval War College as part of the Harris Laning Papers.
Related Archival Material
Additional material in this repository pertaining to Harris Laning can be found in his Alumni Jacket and Midshipman Conduct Record.
The Harris Laning Papers, MSC-115 can be found in the Naval Historical Collection Archives at the Naval War College.
Materials Cataloged Separately
No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.
Publications Citing These Papers
An edited edition of An Admiral's Yarn was published by the Naval War College Press in 1999.
Processing and Other Information
An Admiral's Yarn, MS 529
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:
Cherpak, Evelyn M. Register of the Harris Laning Papers. Newport: Naval Historical Collection, 1991.
Laning, Harris Alumni Jacket, RG 405, Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.
This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in September 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in September 2019.
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
- Admirals -- United States -- Biography
- Battleships -- United States
- Cassin (Destroyer: DD-43)
- Cruisers (Warships) -- United States
- Destroyers -- United States
- Dolphin (Dispatch boat : PG-24)
- Laning, Harris, 1873-1941
- Midshipmen -- United States -- Conduct of life
- Monadnock (Monitor : BM-3)
- Naval War College (U.S.)
- Panay (Gunboat)
- Philippines -- History -- Philippine American War, 1899-1902
- Rifle practice
- United States Naval Academy -- Midshipmen -- Cruises
- United States Naval Academy -- Social life and customs
- United States. Navy -- Officers -- Biography
- War games
Chapter 10: Still in Wood, 1941 (approximate)
Recommissioning U.S.S. Mohican (Screw sloop-of-war), difficulties with a ship's boy named Ross, transporting ammunition to Hawaii for transfer to Admiral Dewey's fleet in Manila, and frustrations over stationing in Honolulu during the Spanish-American War.
Chapter 18: Annapolis Once More, 1941 (approximate)
Duty at the Naval Academy as an instructor in the Department of English, History and Law, experiences with first promotion examination, experiencing snowfall in Annapolis, summer training cruise aboard U.S.S. Chesapeake, and life with an African-American servant.
Chapter 21: More of the Dolphin, 1941 (approximate)
Gunnery practice aboard Dolphin, inspections of progress on the Panama Canal, escorting inspection parties, target practice competitions, and transporting the Japanese delegation to Portsmouth to negotiate the end of the Russo-Japanese War.
Chapter 28: In Destroyers, 1941 (approximate)
Attachment to the newly commissioned U.S.S. Cassin (Destroyer: DD-43) in 1913, shakedown off the Dry Tortugas, evolution of the Battle Fleet, interactions with the ship's cook (Carter), convoying the S.S. Morro Castle to Veracruz, and blockading Tampico following the Veracruz Incident.
Chapter 30: War, 1941 (approximate)
Attachment to the war plans office of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, problems of transporting troops through a war zone, transfer to the Officer Personnel Division, and the task of building an officer corps large enough for World War I.
Chapter 43: President of the Naval War College, 1941 (approximate)
Assumption of duties in June 1930, description of war games, demands on Laning as a public speaker, the 1930 America's Cup, the role of visiting lecturers, and the relationship between the War College and the General Board.
Chapter 46: In Heavy Cruisers, 1941 (approximate)
Duty as Commander Cruisers, the increased role of cruisers as a result of the Washington Naval Treaty, development of cruiser tactics, inspection by the House Naval Affairs Committee, U.S.S. Chicago's collision with the freighter Silver Palm, and the Pasadena Rose Parade.