Dr. Scott Mobley studied history at the US Naval Academy and stayed in the Navy until retirement. He then went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to earn a PhD in history. The work for his PhD led to the publication of his book “Progressives in Navy Blue.”
1:23 – Scott talks about how he got into writing and history. He majored in history at the US Naval Academy. He stayed in the Navy until retirement and then got a PhD in history afterwards at the University of Wisconsin. He became interested in the book’s subject matter while pursuing his PhD. The book comes from his dissertation.
3:55 – The main themes of the book are maritime strategy, American Empire and the transformation of the US Navy from 1873 to 1898.
5:35 – The modern Navy was born at the end of the 19th century from a Navy of warriors to engineers.
7:05 – The backdrop of an American empire changes much of what the Navy is about. The role and missions of the Navy changes.
9:46 – During the US Civil War, the US Navy went from a commercial Navy to a whole new Navy but it returns to a commercial Navy after the war. But eventually it goes back to second place in the 1880s and becomes more of a war fighting Navy.
13:26 – Two groups of Navy thinkers emerged after the Civil War. One was based on technology. They were dissatisfied with the direction the Navy went in in the 1870s.
17:18 – The other group of thinkers were strategic in focus. They worried more about planning for wars. They focused on policy rather than technology. Mechanism was the term used in the 19th century for technology.
19:07 – Bradley Fisk was on both sides of this debate. But in the 1890s these groups were fighting for limited funds.
26:06 – Torpedo technology is the one technology Congress supported right after the US Civil War. Technical subjects were taught to Navy officers at this school.
30:26 – Fears of international turmoil got Navy officers worried about future war involving the US.
32:05 – The Endicott Board was a joint board between the Army and Navy to discuss coastal fortifications. They discussed how to defend the US against modern mechanized threats.
36:43 – Navy officers embraced progressive technologies and ideas quicker than the general public in the 1880s and 1890s.
38:19 – Peacetime war planning efforts, contingency planning, began at this time for the first time in the US. There was no Naval plan for the US Civil War until the war started.
40:25 – Scott possibly found the first strategic peacetime war plan in the papers of a junior Naval officer. The plan was focused on a possible war with Canada. The plan was read by Mahan and possibly incorporated into Naval War College classes.
45:25 – Scott was surprised to learn that the building of modern warships was not motivated by empire as many scholars have claimed. Naval growth was spurred by a desire to defend the US. Some wanted empire but the majority wanted to protect US shores.
51:46 – The US did not have an empire-focused Navy after 1898. The US didn’t have enough gunboats for an empire.
Guests: Dr. Scott Mobley
Host: Cris Alvarez
Tags: military, history, military history, conflict, war, interview, non-fiction book, navy, empire, mahan, civil war