Collecting war memorabilia is a hobby that has grown in popularity during the last few decades. And this pastime is also extremely specialized. Some will only collect items from a certain period, while others will have collections of specific items that span several centuries. Some people love to collect military uniforms from every war ever fought, while others focus on WW2 US Navy uniforms and their immensely rich variations.
This happens for a reason. The history of our military offers an incredible wealth of opportunities that allow us to peer into our own past and see things from a different perspective. That’s why I decided to put together X relatively unknown facts about the U.S. Navy.
Our First Vessels Were Humble Fishing Schooners
During the days of the Revolutionary War, George Washington recognized the urgent need for building a naval force. The British forces had a constant supply line that could make the war drag on forever, and Washington knew that the only way to do something decisive and definitive was to reign in the seas.
However, the Continental Congress still had to discuss and decide on the matter, something that would take them months of bickering while the British strengthening continued. Using his authority as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, Washington took possession of a handful of fishing vessels and turned them into warships a month before the Continental Congress took an official stance and established the Navy.
The newly created committee also issued uniform provisions for the US navy that would set the tone for future rules for the naval outfit. However, given the material shortages of this time period, officers of the newly created navy would wear whatever they could, but it was hard to honor the uniform code to the letter.
After The Revolutionary War, The US Navy Was Disbanded
Despite having been key to ensuring an American victory, the Continental Navy had to be disbanded after the war. After the British surrender at Yorktown, a decisive victory with the help of the French, maintaining the Continental Navy was something the newly formed government could not afford. It’s a shame for a force that caused $90.000.000 in losses to the British by the end of the war and diverted much of that to American supply lines.
African Pirates Forced The Reinstatement Of The US Navy
American sea trade with countries in the Mediterranean was extremely important. However, without a defending force, and without the help of any strong allies in the area, North African privateers saw it profitable to seize American merchant ships and ask for ransom or enforce hefty tributes. The Continental Congress decided in 1794 to authorize the construction of six warships and reinstate the US Navy, which quickly secured the area and ended all instances of tribute and ransom. It was this time around when congress finally issued proper uniforms for the Navy, setting the blue and gold pattern still in effect today.
The Navy Fought Slave Trade
The Slave trade was banned in 1807 by congress. And the US navy was sent to patrol African coasts and stop boats suspected of carrying slaves. However, it wasn’t until 1842 that a permanent Navy squadron was assigned to cooperate with the British Navy to suppress the slave trade from Africa.
The US Navy Won The Largest Maritime Battle In History
The Battle of Leyte Gulf has been deemed the largest naval battle in history in terms of total ship tonnage. In 1944, Japan sent a decisive response to America´s move to seize the Philippine island of Leyte. They sent everything that could float to face our navy, resulting in the mother of all naval battles, and a pivotal event in the Pacific theater that would cement American superiority in the area.
Uniforms from this era are highly sought after as they represent a time when our Navy was widely regarded as a force for good. Today, pieces of garment, like WW2 US Navy uniforms, can fetch a handsome sum.
Some reputable makers today do a great job at keeping the flame alive, and crafting expertly sewn WW2 US Navy uniforms for collectors or military exhibitions of all sorts. Visit their website today and find out more about their incredibly meticulous high-quality products.