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To Master the Boundless SeaThe U.S. Navy, the Marine Environment, and the Cartography of Empire$
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Jason W. Smith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640440

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640440.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

’Twixt the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

’Twixt the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Chapter:
(p.140) 5 ’Twixt the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Source:
To Master the Boundless Sea
Author(s):

Jason W. Smith

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640440.003.0006

This chapter examines the full emergence of hydrographic surveying, charts, and knowledge of the marine environment as a strategic imperative that underpinned American empire broadly and naval operations specifically during the Spanish-American-Philippine War, 1898-1902. The emergence of a modern steam-powered, steel-hulled fleet complemented new ideas about the United States’ role in the world and the size of its navy in the writings of the naval theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan. During the War with Spain, a close look at the operations of the U.S. Navy’s blockade of Cuba highlights the significance of the marine environment amid a poorly-charted, circuitous and dangerous coastal waters and the necessity of accurate knowledge of these waters for tactical, operational, and strategic reasons. The Navy found itself similarly ill-prepared in the Philippines. This chapter argues that the practice of naval operations and warfare during this war showed the marine environment to be a dangerous natural enemy, every bit as if not more fearsome than the largely inept Spanish enemy. The Americans won the war rather easily and with great consequence for America’s imperial ascendancy, but the conflict had also made clear that American sea power did not rest far from knowledge of the sea itself.

Keywords:   Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection, Cuba, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Sea power, Naval operations, Blockade, Natural enemy

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