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Thomas B. Buell collection on Raymond A. Spruance

Identifier: MSC-037.1

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence, oral histories, research materials, and photographs collected and used by Buell to complete his biography of Admiral Spruance, The Quiet Warrior.

All of the research materials assembled by Buell pertain to the life and career of Spruance, particularly his naval career during World War II and his ambassadorial post in the Philippines. Buell’s research is comprised of correspondence between himself and naval officers who knew him throughout his career and photocopies of Spruance correspondence. Also included are subject cards and subject files created by Buell with copies of Spruance’s fitness reports, articles, clippings, Buell’s notes, and photocopies of the research compiled by VADM E.P. Forrestel. Forrestel had also wrote a biography on Spruance for the Navy Department in 1966 focusing on Spruance’s World War II activities.

Also found in this collection are photographs, oral history recordings and transcriptions. Majority of the photographs are official U.S. Navy photographs, many of which were used by Buell in The Quiet Warrior. Photographs are of Spruance, his family, his World War II contemporaries, and scenes from the war in the Pacific. Oral histories contain edited transcriptions of interviews conducted by Buell with Spruance’s close associates as well as his wife and daughter. The audiocassettes for these interviews are included.

The bulk of this collection is made up Buell’s various drafts of The Quiet Warrior. Included are his handwritten first drafts, edited drafts, final draft, and galley proofs.


  • Creation: 1866-2002 and undated
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1971-1974


Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to all researchers, unless otherwise specified.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain, unless otherwise noted.

Biographical Note

Thomas Bingham Buell (1936-2002) was an author and a retired naval officer. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958, Buell served in the destroyer USS Hamner (DD-718) and on the first crew of the guided missile destroyer leader USS King (DLG-10). After studying ordnance engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School, he served in the commissioning crew of the guided missile destroyer escort USS Brooke (DEG-1). He also worked as a technical assistant for weapons at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and as executive officer of the guided missile destroyer USS John King (DDG-3).

From 1970 to 1973, he was stationed at the Naval War College. He graduated from the NWC’s College of Naval Command and Staff in 1971 and was awarded the Sims Award as Outstanding Student. Following graduation, he was appointed to the NWC faculty and it was during this time that he began his career as a naval biographer. His biography on Admiral Spruance, The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance was published in 1973. This book earned him the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award from Literary Achievement from the Navy League and the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature from the Naval Order of the United States. After leaving NWC, he served his last sea command on the USS Joseph Hewes (DE-1078) from 1973-1975. Buell’s last position in the Navy was from 1975 to 1979 at the U.S. Military Academy as a Naval Liaison Officer and member of the History Department faculty. After his retirement from the Navy on July 1, 1979, he worked in the defense industry for the Honeywell Corporation and Rosemont Company in Minnesota. In 1980, his second naval biography, Master of Sea Power: A Biography of Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King was published. This biography also received the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award and the Samuel Eliot Morison Award. In 1993, he was appointed the writer-in-residence on the Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He also guest lectured at Duke University. While in North Carolina, Buell wrote The Warrior Generals on the Civil War and Naval Leadership in Korea: The First Six Months.

Buell married Marilyn Douma Buell (1936-2003) in 1959 and the couple had two children: David W. (1961-) and Melora K. (1963-). Thomas B. Buell died on June 26, 2002 and is buried in Union City, Michigan.


7 Linear Feet (14 archival boxes, 1oversize box, 1 flat file)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of research materials collected by Thomas B. Buell, author and retired naval officer, for his biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, The Quiet Warrior, published by Little, Brown and Company in 1974.


This collection is arranged in alphabetical order by record type and then by title.

Custodial History

The copy of Robert E. Barde’s 1971 thesis on the Battle of Midway was a gift to the Naval War College from Barde via Thomas Buell.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Thomas B. Buell first deposited the bulk of this collection to the Naval War College Foundation (NWCF) 1976 as a restricted loan. In 1992, Buell permanently donated the collection as a gift to the NWCF. Since then, this collection has been on indefinite loan to the Naval Historical Collection by the NWCF.

Related Materials

  • Thomas B. Buell Papers, MS 423, Special Collections & Archives Department, Nimitz Library, United States Naval Academy.
  • Thomas B. Buell Papers, Collection Number 04915, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Charles J. Moore letters, MSC-015, Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
  • Naval War College Presidents records, RG-28, Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
  • Raymond A. Spruance papers, MSC-012, Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, R.I.


  • Buell, Thomas B. The quiet warrior: A biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1974.
  • Forrestel, Emmet P. Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, A Study in Command. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1966.
  • The reminiscences of Commander Thomas B. Buell, U.S. Navy (Retired). Interviewed by Paul Stillwell, Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute, 2005.

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed and described by Evelyn M. Cherpak in the 1980s following the order imposed upon the collection by the collector, Thomas Buell.

In 2019, Elizabeth Delmage reprocessed this collection to address irregularities created from its original arrangement and description such as misleading folder titles, accretions, and underfilled boxes. As a result, materials have been arranged in alphabetical order by record type and then by the folder title originally used by Buell and in the original register. In most cases, the old box and folder numbers from the 1986 register can be found on the reverse side of the folders and in a note in the updated finding aid to assist researching using obsolete citations.

During rearrangement, documents were refoldered and reboxed into acid free archival folders and boxes. Original binders were removed and discarded and preservation photocopies were made of all newspaper clippings.

Thomas B. Buell collection on Raymond A. Spruance
Dacs Finding Aid
Elizabeth Delmage
2019 Aug
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Naval War College Archives Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US