The First Naval War College Plan Against Spain by Lt. Cmdr. Charles H. Stockton


The Historical Setting
Stockton’s West Indies’ Strategy and the War Plan
The Legacy of the Stockton War Plan

Kenneth C. Wenzer 1
Naval History and Heritage Command


In a message to Congress on March 8, 1880 President Rutherford B. Hayes proclaimed:

The policy of this country is a canal under American control. The United States cannot consent to the surrender of this control to any European Power. . . . No European Power can intervene . . . without adopting measures on this continent which the United States would deem wholly inadmissible. . . . An interoceanic canal across the American Isthmus will essentially change the geographical relations between . . . the United States and the rest of the world. It will be the great ocean thoroughfare between our Atlantic and our Pacific shores, and virtually a part of the coastline of the United States. 2

To achieve Hayes’ goal, six years later Capt. Alfred T. Mahan immersed himself in Caribbean strategic studies. The original lectures delivered at the Naval War College are not available. Mahan in an edited 1911 version did point out that the United States, exposed to a weak position in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and without territorial presence, could never assert influence on the Central American Isthmus. Since he boasted, as he was apt to believe of his strategic thinking that “the light dawned first on my inner consciousness; [and] I owed it to no other man,”3 we may accept with assurance a prophetic quotation from his original lecture that the cure for these above-mentioned “evils”

is a subject that belongs to the province of our statesmen. Nevertheless, while the applying of any remedy is primarily a political question, the character of the remedy to be applied, being intended to cure military evils, must be determined by military considerations. 4

It was Lt. Cmdr. Charles H. Stockton, however, who not only wrote another strategic study of the Caribbean at the same time as his soon-to-be famous colleague, but was the first man to pen a war plan against the Kingdom of Spain’s most important remaining colony in the Americas, Cuba—the “Pearl of the Antilles.”

The Historical Setting

The Naval War College (NHHC Photo)

The Naval War College (NWC Archives)

The Naval War College founded in 1884 by Commo. Stephen B. Luce had experienced, for the most part, a stormy existence.  Luce undoubtedly must have felt proud, for he laid an enduring intellectual foundation, but it was two of his protégés who built the edifice. Many of us are acquainted with Mahan and we may have heard the name of Charles Herbert Stockton, but only as an expert in international naval law. 5 Further inquiry into Stockton’s strategic, tactical, historical, and war planning studies, both theoretical and practical, compels history to honor him as an outstanding naval thinker.

Stockton, a native Philadelphian, matured in a period punctuated by harsh change, depression, and growth; a country wrenched from agricultural pursuits to an industrial behemoth, one that could no longer proclaim innocence. Localism and regionalism gave way to a national and consumer economy with global connections. Tens of thousands of miles of telegraph wires and railroad tracks aided this growth, as well as other technological marvels. Increased mobility deepened urban culture and redesigned the city landscape. Between 1860 and 1890 extraction of natural resources, industry, manufactured products, and techniques of mass marketing transformed America.

Too much speculation and overproduction, along with overcapitalization of railroads, brought on instability. During the last three decades of the nineteenth century redistribution and withdrawal of money and land speculation created panics and depressions. Banks failed, railroads went under, farm prices sank, and people went hungry. In an economy driven by competition, employers in response to market fluctuations cut wages or fired workers, so labor violence ensued and reform movements flourished, yet American commercial interests also expanded overseas, especially in the robust period of the 1880’s.

In the midst of this change informed men looked to an isthmian canal as a major answer to overproduction and labor problems. A greater trade capacity with the Caribbean and Latin American markets commandeered by Yankee ingenuity and a more flexible exchange capability between the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts would be a boon. A canal would also infringe on the limitations set forth in the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (1850) with Great Britain. 6 The French had the gall to start digging in Panama, but Ferdinand de Lessep’s failure to surmount obstacles piqued more interest, and multiple American surveys favored a Nicaraguan route. 7 New U.S. commercial interests would most assuredly need protection, so there had to be a powerful navy. The defeat of the Freylinghusen-Zavala Treaty to obtain concessions in Nicaragua did not dampen the Navy’s ardor. 8

There was, however, a contradiction—in the decades following the Civil War, public policy allowed the Navy to languish, so that by the mid-1880’s the United States rated conspicuously low as a naval power and it suffered from a singular degree of ineffectiveness. Recoil from the horrors of the Civil War and a smug insularity no doubt contributed to this situation. There was also a growing realization among the country’s political leaders and naval officer corps that the world was in the midst of a revolution in industrial and military technology that threatened to leave the United States defenseless on the seas for the failure to keep pace with European countries. It was growing American wealth and a new willpower that eventually launched a large-scale naval building program. And so the “New Navy” with the ABCD steel fleet was born, as well as a concomitant pugnaciousness, best exhibited by Lt. Cmdr. Bowman H. McCalla’s takeover of a town in Panama. 9

Commander Charles H. Stockton USN (NHHC Photo # NH 44396)

Lt. Cmdr. Charles H. Stockton, USN (NHHC, NH 44396)

Such a visionary as Luce knew that in order to address these changes new strategies had to be developed at the Naval War College, including protection of the anticipated windfall from an American-controlled canal and war plans against European powers that maintained an irksome presence in North America and the West Indies. 10 Even though Luce envisioned the College as the vanguard of forward naval thinking, it nevertheless, faced oblivion. So Luce and his fellow advocates Capt. Alfred T. Mahan and Cmdr. William T. Sampson battled with its detractors including Secretary of the Navy William E. Chandler, Commo. Francis M. Ramsay, and Cmdr. Winfield S. Schley. 11 This warfare ripped through the officer corps in the 1880’s, and beyond. No less a challenge, the U.S. Congress insisted on an accounting for its financial largess. The parsimonious funding for the Naval War College, however, made it difficult to think, since there was a dearth of coal to warm the building during the bleak New England winters. In this precarious situation, a presumably well-bundled Lt. Cmdr. Charles H. Stockton completed his first contribution in 1887: “The Present Condition of Commerce and Commercial Routes Between Europe and the Pacific, with an Estimate of the Effect Produced on Them by a Trans-Isthmian Canal Including a View of the Military and Political Conditions of the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.”12

Stockton’s West Indies’ Strategy and the War Plan

In his lectures, Stockton was keenly aware of the ongoing dialogue in the second half of the nineteenth century in diplomatic, congressional, army, naval, and foreign circles regarding a U.S. or European-controlled Central American canal. To address the anticipated commercially ascendant United States, he took us on a strategic tour of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Stockton pointed out various features, military and naval capabilities, and commercial value of many countries, islands, and the southern U.S. On a secret mission to Central America in 1885 during a war, Stockton evinced first-hand knowledge of his subject matter. 13 Luce, now a rear admiral and commander of the North Atlantic Station, also fed Stockton on an ongoing basis reports about naval facilities and anchorages. 14

Stockton exhibited a deft ecumenicalism in his studies, with an astute grasp of current events, history, harbors and ports of different countries, Panamanian and Nicaraguan canal surveys, economic statistics, political conditions, and of course potential commercial growth with an American-dominated canal. He freely mentioned numerous updated reconnaissance findings about armament, fortifications, naval facilities, and other features. 15

Of paramount importance was the shortening of trade routes between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, not only for the U.S. but also for European countries. Stockton predicted that seven to eight million dollars of cargo would be conveyed in just the first year with the opening of an interoceanic canal and a “great epoch in the commercial history of the world will be begun.” 16

The West Indies (LC, Geography and Map Div.)

The West Indies (LC, Geography and Map Div.)

His mandate was to instruct naval officers in the “importance of the waters and passages of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea in a Military and Navy way” and alert them to “the modifications, in trade routes and trade movements which would likely to arise, from the opening of a ship canal, and to examine the predominance of the various Naval powers over these routes and over the bodies of water through which they pass.” 17  Trade routes, in his estimation, were tantamount to war routes. Of especial concern were the Yucatan Channel, the Windward Passage, and the potential growth of the Caribbean in commercial and military importance with the opening of the canal. 18

He wrote in detail on the natural resources of the West Indies’ islands and South American countries, be they vegetable or mineral, cited current export and import statistics, major ports with anchorage depths, water versus land transportation costs, and pointed out the important trade routes. He concluded by positing that what at stake was a major market.

I cannot pass from the West Indies and Caribbean coast however without calling to attention to [sic] the great trade existing between the United States and these countries, more especially in articles exported to the United States . . . for which we are the great and almost only market. Of the countries of the entire world doing trade with us, the countries in and along the Caribbean Sea furnish us with products and exports, exceeded only in value by the articles received from Great Britain and Ireland, amounting to over $11,000,000 in value; and to more than thirteen per cent of our entire import trade . . .  [as a market] of vital importance [it would increase U.S. exports to these countries, which would ensure greater commercial prosperity and expansion]. 19

Central and South American states, for the most part in a less-developed state compared to the U.S., would undoubtedly flourish. The canal would foster economic expansion, land transportation, agricultural pursuits, mineral exploitation, and a host of other improvements that would be made available. 20 And not to be forgotten was how these countries would percolate with activity since the United States was “one of the greatest of [sic] coffee drinking nations of the world.” 21

Stockton displayed an impressive command of contemporary market forces and consumption patterns that was overshadowed by an undoubted U.S. dominance. He claimed that:

In the matter of sugar alone, the West Indies provides us with nearly two-thirds of our entire supply, and as these countries are cut off more and more from the European countries by the enormous production of beet sugar under artificial stimulus of bounties, they turn to us and our increasing demand, as their last hope for future prosperity. In the U.S. 54 lbs. per capita of sugar is used, in G/B. [Great Britain] 74 lbs. is used. Two thirds of the world’s supply of sugar is derived from the beet root. 22

The Lt. Cmdr., was well aware of weakness of the U.S. Navy, and for that matter the strength of the Royal Navy, nevertheless, he looked to the strategic domination of the entire West Indies with the establishment of naval bases and coaling stations on the Gulf Coast and throughout the entire Caribbean. Chiriqui Lagoon on the east coast of Panama Stockton deemed as the ideal coaling station and naval base to protect the canal’s entrance, as did Mahan in his famous global geopolitical report submitted to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long under the auspices of the Naval War Board in August 1898. 23 Samana Bay in Santo Domingo was also considered to be of inestimable value. Pensacola was designated the primary naval base in the region, supported by Key West, the Dry Tortugas, and New Orleans. Tampa was singled-out as a port for supplies to be sent south, advice followed during the Spanish-American War. 24

Of especial importance was the Gulf of Mexico, regarded by the expansion-minded Stockton “as but the basin of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.” So

in order that the real value of the Florida Straits and the Yucatan Channel may be duly appreciated, it then follows that these passages and not the passes of the Mississippi are the real mouths of that river, and by these outlets only, can the products carried on this great water route reach the open sea. It is well also to note that neither of these passages are placed so as to be dominated by the United States to whom they are of so great moment. 25

In his strategic framework a real threat existed to an American-controlled canal from Spain and other potentially hostile European powers given their ability to poise their attacking forces from multiple locations in the West Indies.

The necessary supplies could be furnished [even overland to the Pacific Coast] . . . to an English fleet from Jamaica, St. Lucia and Barbadoes; to a French fleet from Martinique and Guadaloupe and to a Spanish force from Havana and Cuba. A German fleet would probably establish a base in the West Indies. This readiness of supply from the West Indies and the Caribbean emphasizes the urgent necessity for its control by our naval forces in case of war. 26

With the completed canal under the control of the United States vigilance would be a necessity.

To that end, Stockton noted the growth of German economic interests in the Western Hemisphere and feared lest Berlin swallow the Netherlands and take Curaçao and the rest of the Dutch Antilles. 27

The Republic of France was well situated with a presence on Guadeloupe and Martinique, and stressed that her repair and docking facilities at Fort de France were “unequalled . . . in the West Indies, Gulf or Mid-Atlantic.” 28 They would “serve as a base of operations against our trade to the land, and against our southern ports. . . . [and] for the command of the ship canal, whether carried out afloat or ashore.” 29 A blockade with landing operations on Martinique was therefore mentioned.

It was, of course, the dominant presence of the Royal Navy in St. Lucia, British Honduras, and Jamaica especially with the port and naval facilities at Port Royal that could cause serious problems. Port Royal presented “a most favorable military and Naval base for operations against Central America, the Isthmus and the Caribbean coast . . . against the Gulf coast of the United States and the Mississippi” and the Windward Passage. 30 He speculated only on two landing places for an assault on Port Royal after depicting the firepower of the forts, capacity of the port facilities, manpower, and other characteristics. 31

Stockton suggested maneuvers against these foreign possessions in a cursory manner. The initial military and naval thrust that he proposed was not directed towards these European naval powers but Spain, a country weakened by unstable politics and with a virtually nonexistent industrial base. What makes this prescient naval officer’s study so remarkable is that it contains the first strategic war plan against one of Spain’s last echoes of a global empire—Cuba. Spain, in his estimation, posed a constant threat.

Stockton emphasized the strategic location of Havana, the most important city and port in the West Indies, with an ideal location to launch naval operations in the Straits of Florida and the Yucatan Channel. As the key element in his framework, it was the transportation hub, communications and supply center, and focus of trade for the island. The capital was therefore the prime target, subsequently confirmed by all the pre-war plans of the 1890’s. At one time, Cuba supported the “entire Spanish navy from tribute paid.” 32 Havana had to be isolated and blockaded by land and sea to subjugate the entire colony. Stockton took great pains, with his thorough knowledge of this port, to hammer home this point. The harbor could handle deep-draft vessels, had a capacity for over 1,000 ships, and was well protected against inclement weather. It was home to the largest Spanish naval and military presence in the West Indies, but ordnance at the five forts needed updating and “it is remarkable that its naval resources have become unused and obsolete” given its invaluable position. 33 The “Naval Arsenal,” he writes

has machine and other shops/foundries, storehouses and a small marine railway, but no plant for docking or building iron or steel ships or heavy machinery. This establishment was officially declared closed on the 1st of January, 1885, from the inability of the island treasury to support it any longer. This fact is significant both of the waning power of Spain and of the impoverished condition of the Cuban Treasury. 33

To the east of Havana is Matanzas, only ninety miles from the Keys. Stockton indicated that it “would most likely be used in any aggressive warfare against American trade through the Florida Straits.” 35 The war plans by Train and Kimball in the 1890’s stressed his suggestion and opted for Matanzas as a base of operations against Havana. 36 In early 1898 Montgomery was dispatched to the former and Maine to the latter for the possible initial thrust against Cuba. Apparently he knew that Havana Harbor was not mined given the commercial extent of the shipping, nevertheless a “naval force would probably be kept out . . . by torpedoes and heavy obstructions in the entrance in addition to the fire of the fortifications.” 37 Capt.-Gen. Ramón Blanco y Érenas, the governor of Cuba, did “follow his advice” in April 1898.

Stockton in his aptly titled “Coup de Main” section, however, favored Mariel, west of the capital, as the initial landing place and base of operations and so did Capt. Albert S. Barker and Maj. Arthur L. Wagner in their final West Indian war plan composed eleven years later. 38 Stockton also estimated that a force of 60,000 to 100,000 men was needed to besiege the capital, as did McKinley and his military planners.

On the south coast of Cuba Stockton regarded the harbors of Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba to be of invaluable strategic importance, especially the latter, after Havana. It would be the natural center of all naval and military operations in southeastern Cuba and could command the Windward Passage. As with Havana the Spanish allowed the military and naval presence there to deteriorate, but given the topography of the harbor entrance it was capable of a strong defense with torpedoes and obstructions, a fear instilled in Commo. Winfield S. Schley and RAdm. William T. Sampson during the Spanish-American War. The surrounding area was blessed with an abundance of agricultural and mineral products, especially the highest quality iron ore for naval applications. Santiago was, however, totally dependent on the U.S. for coal and its stock of fresh provisions limited. RAdm. Cervera was apparently unaware of these circumstances seeking its harbor as a refuge and its inhabitants suffered grievously during the hostilities. Stockton also suggested a landing point east of the city, not far from where Gen. William R. Shafter disembarked in June 1898.

Cuba experienced much turmoil during the nineteenth century and Stockton, a keen student of history and current events, knew that the U.S. should be prepared to launch operations. The final Cuban insurrection did break out in 1895, culminating in the Spanish-American War.

The Legacy of the Stockton War Plan

The Stockton war plan, with its projected aggressive joint-service campaign against Cuba, was radical in character for it broke the accepted barriers of contemporary naval thinking. Before 1890 the predominant strategic thought, characterized by coastal defense, isolated foreign saber rattling by ship commanders, and commerce destroying, stunted the growth of the U.S. and her navy. 39 Stockton was apparently sensitive to American isolation, refused to accept the invulnerability of his country although far from Europe, reveled in an assertive Monroe Doctrine, championed a powerful navy to support commercial expansion with a securely controlled canal, harbored distaste for English command of the seas, and embraced coal and technology. Stockton followed in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams that Cuba would naturally gravitate to the U.S. In short, he was a man with vision who pointed out to his fellow officers, that “the apathy of Spain and its paucity of naval resources . . . [in the West Indies] are only equaled by the indifference and neglect of the United States upon the same matters.” 40

Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce (Stephen B. Luce (NHHC Photo # NH 59609)

RAdm. Stephen B. Luce, USN (NHHC, NH 59609)

Stockton’s work composed at the same time as Mahan’s inquiry into the strategic features of the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean Sea antedated the lost Spanish war plan written by Mahan by three years. 41 Notations on the Naval War College folder containing Stockton’s introduction suggest that his strategic lectures, or at least some of them, were read in 1887, 1888, and 1892. A revision is also indicated on June 9, 1894 and another reading on July 23, 1894. They were deposited in the Office of Naval Intelligence for scrutiny. Lt. Cmdr. Charles J. Train wrote a plan in 1894 and Lt. William W. Kimball’s famous contribution appeared two years later. Additional war plans against Spain were also prepared during the 1890’s. 42 In 1899 the Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute published an edited version of Stockton’s lectures with the war plans excised as “The American Interoceanic Canal: A Study of the Commercial, Naval and Political Conditions.” 43 Stockton also contributed numerous studies and was president of the Naval War College in 1893 and from 1898 to 1900, so his ties were ongoing and strong.

Stockton’s contribution not only served as the original inspiration, but also as the continuum for all subsequent war plans against Spain up to the outbreak of hostilities in 1898. Kimball’s detailed plan, however, should be rightfully regarded as the overarching template for the final war preparations. Stockton’s plan within its broader historical context merits further attention (in progress), however, for now let us accept it as a unique contribution worthy of the Naval War College.

One may readily understand that in 1896, the president of the Naval War College Capt. Henry C. Taylor, in a confidential letter to Luce, exclaimed that the Secretary of the Navy Hillary A. Herbert “is now . . . using me and the College as [a] General Staff and me as the Chief of same with considerable powers.” 44

(Return to April 2016 Table of Contents)


  1. Kenneth C. Wenzer, PhD is a historian who is affiliated with the Naval History and Heritage Command (hereafter, NHHC), Spanish-American War and World War I Projects, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC. The opinions and conclusions expressed in this article are solely those of the author; they do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Navy or any other agency of the U.S. Government. Gratitude is extended to Dr. Dennis M. Conrad (Supervisory Historian, Spanish-American War and World War I Documentary History Projects) and Dr. Michael Crawford (Historian of the Navy) at NHHC, Dr. John Kuehn (Gen. William Stofft Chair for Historical Research, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, ret. Cmdr., USN), Mr. Dana Wegner (Curator of Navy Model Ships and Historian on the Rickover team), Dr. Carlos Rivera (Professor, Ohio State University, ret. Lt. Cmdr., USN), and Ms. Barbara Bull, and Mr. Charles T. Creekman (ret. Capt., USN), Dr. David Winkler, and Mr. Matthew Eng of the Naval Historical Foundation. I am also indebted for the archival support and librarianship of Ms. Dara Baker and Mr. Scott Reilly at the Naval War College Archives (hereafter, RNN); Mr. Glenn Helm, Mr. J. Allen Knechtmann, and their staffs at the Navy Library and Archives; Mr. Jeffrey Flannery and his staff at the Manuscript Reading Room of the Library of Congress (hereafter, DLC-MSS); Mr. Christopher Killillay and his colleagues at both locations of the National Archives and Records Administration. Spelling and grammatical discrepancies have, at times, been silently corrected and regularized in the primary quotations
  2. Rutherford B. Hayes, “Message to the House of Representatives, March 8, 1880,” Letters and Messages of Rutherford B. Hays, President of the United States (Washington, DC: no pub., 1881), 291-92.
  3. Alfred T. Mahan, From Sail to Steam: Recollections of Naval Life (New York: Da Capo Press, 1968), 276. This book was originally published in 1906.
  4.   Alfred T. Mahan, Naval Strategy: Compared and Contrasted with the Principles and Practice of Military Operations on Land (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1911), 375. Chapter XI is the “Application to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea” and Chapter XII is “The Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.” Mahan edited these lectures first given in 1887.
  5. Charles H. Stockton, The Laws and Usages of War at Sea: A Naval War Code (Washington, DC; Government Printing Office, 1900) and A Manual of International Law for the Use of Naval Officers (Annapolis: Naval Institute, 1917).
  6. Lindley M. Keasbey, The Nicaragua Canal and the Monroe Doctrine: A Political History of Isthmus Transit, with Special Reference to the Nicaragua Canal Project and the Attitude of the United States Government Thereto (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1896), 202-16.
  7. Literature extolling or condemning one or the other of the two isthmian canal locations evolved into a cottage industry in the nineteenth century. See, for instance: Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua, The Inter-Oceanic Canal of Nicaragua: Its History, Physical Condition, Plans and Projects (New York: The Nicaragua Canal Construction Co., 1891) and José C. Rodrigues, The Panama Canal: Its History, Its Political Aspects, and Financial Difficulties (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1885).
  8. Kenneth J. Hagan, American Gunboat Diplomacy and the Old Navy, 1877-1889, Contributions in Military History, No. 4 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973), 158-59.
  9. James C. Rentfrow, Home Squadron: The U.S. Navy on the North Atlantic Station (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2014), 43. The ABCD fleet consisted of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Dolphin.
  10. Hagan, American Gunboat Diplomacy, 148-49 and 180-87.
  11. Ronald Spector, Professors of War: The Naval War College and the Development of the Naval Profession (Newport, RI: The Naval War College, 1977) and Albert J. Gleaves, Life and Letters of Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, U.S. Navy, Founder of the Naval War College (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1925).
  12. RNN, RG 14, Box 1, “The Present Condition of Commerce and Commercial Routes Between Europe and the Pacific, with an Estimate of the Effect Produced on Them by a Trans-Isthmian Canal Including a View of the Military and Political Conditions of the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea: Military and Commercial Examination of the Port and Countries of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea” (first lecture/introduction). On the bound-volume cover: “Locker U-2-d/Office of NAVAL INTELLIGENCE/Register No. 8310/Defenses/U.S./National/General Studies/Subject or Title. Strategic Studies in the Gulf of Mexico./Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean,/Lectures by Lt. Comdr. Stockton;/ U.S. Navy./1888.” On the left side: “8310 OLD SERIES.” Handwritten in the center: “I agree with Lt. Com. Stockton that these should not be made public in any manner without his consent. R.P.R.” (Lt. Raymond Perry Rodgers, chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence). On a center label below writing: “SECRET./To be kept out of view./Not to be removed from the Secret/Locker or Safe except by authority of the/Chief Intelligence Officer.” On the second page there are declassification stamps and the following: “MILITARY AND COMMERCIAL EXAMINATION/of the/PORTS AND COUNTRIES/of the/ GULF OF MEXICO AND CARRIBBEAN SEA/Part First: Florida Straits to Chiriqui Lagoon/Charts:/Key West, Havana, Pensacola,/Passes of the Mississippi, Chiriqui Lagoon.” and RNN, RG 8, Series 1, Box 27, “General Examination of the Gulf of Mexico, West Indies &c.” (second lecture) and “A continuation of the Examination of the Gulf of Mexico, West Indies, and the Spanish Main” (third lecture). On the coversheet, for the second and third lectures: Lt. Commander C.H. Stockton, U.S.N./The Inter-Oceanic Canal 1.” In the top-left corner: “38;” bottom-left side: “Panama Canal;” top-right corner: “51;” and top center: “(1894).” The first lecture/introduction is typed and the second and third lectures are handwritten.Some inconsistencies in the Stockton documents should be mentioned. The Report of the Secretary of the Navy of 1887 mentions six lectures. Stockton’s introduction, however, which serves as lecture one and as an overview for the entire series, indicates only five. The introduction and lectures two, three, seven, and eight are available. Lectures four through six, however, are missing. Lectures seven and eight were undoubtedly a later date. The introduction is located in a separate folder, so it is highly likely that there were several versions of these lectures. Lecture two contains the operations against the northern coast of Cuba including the Isle of Pines (pages 16-24) and lecture three the southern coast including the Bay of Nipe (pages 28-33). The first paragraph is from page one of the second lecture. The extract containing the northern Cuban section with the “Coup de Main” is from pages sixteen to twenty-four is from the same lecture. It is likely a second rendering, since within it there are documents from 1888 that are quoted. The second extract is from pages twenty-nine to thirty-five of lecture three and the “Recapitulation: Channel Passages” section also appears in the latter lecture on the last three pages.
  13. Stockton, Lecture 1; 14. For details pertaining to the 1885 war in Central America, see: Hubert H. Bancroft, History of Central America: 1801-1887, Vol. III, The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft (San Francisco: The History Co., 1887), 431-52.
  14. Stockton, Lecture 2; 8-9.
  15. There are shortcomings in Stockton’s plan, but since they are so flagrant it would be pedantic to address them.
  16. Stockton, Lecture 1; 11 and 26.
  17. Ibid., 1; 4 and 1.
  18. Ibid., 3; 34-36.
  19. Ibid., 1; 10 and 11. Bracketed words reflect Stockton’s thoughts from his original text.
  20. Ibid., 1; 12-26. The influence of the projected canal on the U.S. West Coast and the Pacific Basin will be discussed in a future article.
  21. Ibid., 1; 15.
  22. Ibid., 1; 11.
  23. Ibid., 2; 33-38. See: “Convoy and Landings at Daiquiri,” Naval History and Heritage Command, Spanish-American War Project (hereafter, NHHC: SAW). For a presentation of primary transcribed documents with annotation and analyses: (hereafter, NHHC: SAW).
  24. Ibid., 2; 6-7. See: “Sicard to Long, 13 August 1898, “Naval War Board,” NHHC: SAW.” Stockton also discussed the north coast of South America and other West Indies’ islands such as Puerto Rico.
  25. Stockton, Lecture 2; 1-2.
  26. Ibid., 7, 8. Bracketed words reflect Stockton’s thoughts from his original text.
  27. Ibid., 1; 14-15 and 16 and Ibid., 3, 6.
  28. Ibid., 3; 10-16.
  29. Ibid., 3; 14 and 16.
  30. Ibid., 3; 26 and 28.
  31. Ibid., 2; 25-27 and Ibid., 3, 7-9, and 25-28.
  32. Stockton, Lecture 2; 19.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Ibid., 16.
  36. See: Train Plan of 1894 and Kimball Plan of 1896, “Pre-War Planning,” NHHC: SAW.
  37. Stockton, Lecture 2; 21.
  38.   See: Barker to Alger, 4 April 1898, “Pre-War Planning,” NHHC: SAW.
  39. Donald W. Mitchell, History of the Modern American Navy: From 1883 through Pearl Harbor (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), 17.
  40. Stockton, Lecture 1; 19-20.
  41. Mahan’s lectures on this subject are first mentioned in the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for the Year 1888 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1888), 83-84 and were subsequently edited and published in Naval Strategy Compared and Contrasted with the Principles and Practice of Military Operations on Land (London: Sampson Low, Marston, & Co., 1911), 302-82. Later lectures were also incorporated in chapters eleven and twelve of this book. Mahan wrote to Luce about his war plan: “Mr. (Benjamin F.) Tracy at one time, in 1890, directed (Cmdr. William M.) Folger and me to draw up outline plans of operations necessary to be undertaken at once in case of war with foreign nations. I drew up two–that I remember–possibly more; in the case of Great Britain & of Spain. . . . This employment was at the time secret.” Alfred T. Mahan to Stephen B. Luce, 3 September 1901, DLC-MSS, Stephen B. Luce Papers, Reel 9. Further scrutiny of the original 1888 lectures in relation to Stockton’s contribution will be discussed in a future article.
  42. For annotated transcriptions of these and other plans, see: “Pre-War Planning,” NHHC: SAW.
  43. Charles H. Stockton, “The American Interoceanic Canal: A Study of the Commercial, Naval and Political Conditions,” Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute, Vol. XXV, No. 4 (December 1899), 753-97. This version was published after the Spanish-American War. Stockton points out on page 778: Whatever may be the future political condition of Cuba, care should be taken that is should never be, by the possibility of an entangling alliance with a strong naval power, a menace or a source of danger to the United States. So conservative a state(s)man as John Quincy Adams is quoted as having often said—and we were a weak nation at that time—that we ought to make war upon the greatest naval power of the world rather than allow her to acquire Cuba.
  44. Henry C. Taylor to Luce, 22 January 1896, DLC-MSS, Stephen B. Luce Papers, Reel 9.

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