The U.S. Naval Academy was established in Annapolis, Maryland on October 10, 1845 with Commander Franklin Buchanan its first superintendent. The first class was comprised of 50 students and 7 professors.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, then superintendent Captain George S. Blake made the decision to move the Academy to Newport. Although it was part of the union, Maryland was a slave state at the beginning of the war, and many slavery sympathizers resided in the Annapolis area. Newport was seen as a secure location in the North, and Narragansett Bay was valued as a good training ground.

Ironside Naval ships during the Civil War

Several vessels including “Old Ironsides” arrived in Newport Harbor on May 8, 1861. Newporters gave a musical welcome to Superintendent Blake, his staff, and the student body. A 24 gun salute rang out from Fort Adams as Old Ironsides sailed past. Training continued in Newport for the duration of the War.

When the Civil War ended in 1865, the Academy moved back to its original home in Annapolis. However, one instructor, Commodore Steven B, Luce, remained in Newport to establish the Naval War College in 1881.

Midshipmen posing in front of the Atlantic House Hotel

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Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music for What'sUpNewp, SO RI, Folk Radio UK and more. He's also a DJ Tuesday night 6-9PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.