NEWSLETTER / "No More Plebes" May 7, 2022

LINK to purchase access to 2021-2022 Academic Year photos, including Herndon and Sea Trials.

Here is the "multiple guess" (as the midshipmen call these things) question.

The Herndon Monument Climb is named after William Louis Herndon. Which of the following is not true of William Louis Herndon:

1) There is a city named after his family, YES

2) He was a midshipman at the Academy, YES and NO

3) He married the sister of the man considered the "Father of Oceanography",

4) His daughter married a president of the United States,

5) He wrote a book still being published printed today.

6) He inspired Mark Twain to write a novel about the Mississippi,

7) He was ordered to save the United States from a financial crisis

8 A very distant relative worked on the movie, "Breakfast at Tiffany's"



Prior to 1828, "midshipman" could be as young as 13. Here is Henry William Baynton, age 13, in 1780. Painting by Thomas Hickey.


Midshipman Henry William Baynton 13 old 1780 by Thomas HickeyMidshipman Henry William Baynton 13 old 1780 by Thomas Hickey



The word "midshipman" derives from the area aboard a ship, amidship, either where a sailor worked on the ship, or where he was berthed. (Wikipedia) prior to 1845, a sailor received his apprenticeship aboard ship. This was the case for William Louis Herndon. He was trained as an apprentice.

He became a midshipman on November 1, 1828. Six years later, in 1834, he was a "passed" midshipman. "Passed" means he was no longer an apprentice. It took years aboard ship to no longer be a midshipman. In 1841, four years before the Naval Academy was founded, he became a Lieutenant in the US Navy. He WAS a midshipman, but not in the Naval Academy meaning of the word.


In 1845 the Naval Academy was founded. Training to be a naval officer was replaced with four years at the Naval Academy and then two years aboard ship. After these six years you were "commissioned." The term "midshipman" gradually became used for the young men training to enter the Navy.

Here is a photograph taken in 1915 of three midshipmen: George Drewry, Wilfred Malleson, and  Greg Russell.

Midshipman George Drewry Wilfred Malleson Greg Russell April 1915Midshipman George Drewry Wilfred Malleson Greg Russell April 1915


The name of the Naval Academy yearbook is: "The Lucky Bag".

The term "Lucky Bag" comes from the tradition "amidship." Sailors would exchange gifts. Each sailor would put a gift in a bag. Then each sailor would randomly pick out a gift for himself.  He could or could not be "lucky."


Lucky Bag 1902 Scans386Lucky Bag 1902 Scans386