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Henry E. Eccles papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSC-052

Content Description

The papers, in the main, cover the period 1898-1987 and fully document his naval career and his retirement years. They are divided into six series.

Series I, family papers, consists of genealogical materials taken from Morgan City, Louisiana Archives on the Brashear and Lawrence families, a history of Morgan City, LA, and correspondence and newspaper clippings regarding the restoration of the Lawrence family cemetery in Bayside, Long Island. Correspondence, speeches and writings of various family members are found here too, as well as biographical and autobiographical materials on Admiral Eccles.

Correspondence, Series II, is divided into five subseries; Naval orders and career correspondence, personal correspondence, official correspondence, letters of condolence to Mrs. Eccles on the death of Admiral Eccles, and miscellaneous correspondence of others that was found in his papers.

Eccles' correspondence reveals aspects of his naval career, his many professional and intellectual interests and associations, and his study of military logistics. Major segments focus on his official naval orders and assignments, including his entrance into the U.S. Academy; his command of the USS JOHN D. EDWARDS; his assignment with CINCNELM; and his Naval War College and George Washington University associations. Other areas include the administration of the Advanced Base Section, Service Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 1944-1945 (this material is especially valuable because of its unofficial nature and the unique perspective it offers on life at the working level in the Advanced Base Section); the writing and publication of his four major books and articles; the education of military officers, specifically Naval War College education; the establishment of the Naval War College Logistics Department; the Ohio State University Defense Studies Program; the George Washington University Logistics Research Project; and civic and community affairs in which he participated. The fourth segment, correspondence of others, contains letters sent and received by Professor Vincent Davis and other civilian and military figures.

Most of his correspondence was directed to military men, political leaders and university professors. These include Vice Admiral Robert Carney, Admiral Arleigh Burke, Vice Admiral Lot Ensey, Vice Admiral Edwin Hooper, Commander John Tynan, Captain Edward K. Scofield, Colonel Fred Long, Admiral Thomas Robbins, Colonel Fred Gluck, Admiral Hyman Rickover, RADM Eugene La Roque, and Senators John Pastore, Claiborne Pell and John Chafee. Academicians include C.B. Tompkins, William Marlow, M.A. Woodbury, Vincent Davis, Theodore Ropp, William Reitzel, Daniel Howland, Sir Basil Liddell-Hart, Lady Katherine Liddell-Hart, B. Mitchell Simpson, Paul Schratz, Donald Marshall, George Griffin and Mark Stoler.

Series III, speeches and writings, is divided into two subseries: Eccles' speeches and writings and those of others. Rear Admiral Eccles gave numerous speeches to church and civic groups, military audiences and professional associations on logistics, political, national security and current affairs topics from 194 7 to 1983. Rough notes and outlines for speeches are part of this series, as well as lectures and lecture outlines on logistics given at the Naval War College between 1946 and 1980.

In terms of volume, writings are the most important part of this series, and of the collection itself. Eccles wrote voluminously throughout his lifetime on political and military affairs, international relations, the relationship of logistics, strategy and tactics, military theory, Vietnam, the art of war, nuclear weapons, disarmament, Star Wars and arms control. His writings include notes, drafts and typescripts of some of his major works: Operational Naval Logistics, Military Concepts and Philosophy and Military Power in a Free Society, published and unpublished articles, book reviews, letters to the editor, and notes on military, naval, political, educational, economic, environmental and social topics.

Subseries II, speeches and writings of others, contains materials written by military figures and prominent civilians. Speeches treat with military, logistics, national defense and national security topics. Published and unpublished articles and excerpts from works of leading statesmen, military analysts and academicians which Eccles consulted in the course of his own work complete this series.

Subject Files, Series IV, consist of correspondence, memoranda, reports and notes on all aspects and phases of logistics studies and programs both at the Naval War College and elsewhere; The Naval Research Logistics Quarterly; the Asiatic Fleet during World War II, including files on the USS JOHN D. EDWARDS and the Battles of Java Sea and Badoeng Strait; Eccles' CINCSOUTH and CINCNELM service; the publication of Milton Miles' A Different Kind of War; the Institute for Strategic Studies; the George Washington University and Ohio State University Logistics Research projects, with which he was associated; maritime strategy; and his electives courses on the Middle East, Military Theory, and Principles of Logistics.

Miscellany, Series V, contains published materials regarding the World War II Advanced Base Section, Service Force, Pacific Fleet; career photographs; citations and awards; certificates; programs; notices; newspaper clippings; conference materials; diaries; charts and graphs; slides; and schedules and invitations.

The papers of Herbert F. Rosinski, a prominent scholar in the field of defense studies and a longtime friend and colleague of Admiral Eccles, form Series VI. They are divided into three subseries: correspondence, 1955-1961; speeches and writings, 1939-1960; and miscellany, 1958-1962. The Eccles-Rosinski correspondence as well as Rosinski's own writings on defense, military strategy, seapower and the theory of war are the most important segments of this series.


  • Creation: 1898 - 1986


Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical Note

Known as the grand old man of naval logistics, Rear Admiral Henry E. Eccles spent the last forty years of his life studying, teaching, consulting and writing in this vital but unglamorous field. He was born in Bayside, New York, on December 31, 1898, to Reverend George Warrington Eccles, an Episcopal priest, and Lydia Lawrence Eccles. During his youth he was educated at home, then attended Trinity School in New York City before enrolling in Columbia University. After a year at Columbia, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy where he graduated with the class of 1922. Mechanical engineering and submarines were his specialties during the early years of his naval career, but the onset of World War II created a need for able officers to direct the most massive logistics effort to date and he found himseH, along with others, immersed in logistics work.

From 1940 to 1942, Admiral Eccles commanded the destroyer JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD 216) stationed in the Pacific. He saw action in the Netherlands East Indies Campaign at the Battles of Java Sea and Badoeng Strait and was awarded The Navy Cross, The Silver Star and The Order of The Bronze Lion, the Netherlands. Subsequently, he returned to Washington for duty in the Base Maintenance Division of the Officer of the Chief of Naval Operations where he helped to coordinate logistics planning for all advanced bases. In 1943, he went to Hawaii to head the Advanced Base Section, Service Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet for the last two years of the war. As Director, he coordinated the planning, construction and support of advanced bases in the Central Pacific Ocean area and supervised the training of their personnel. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his accomplishments in this field. Immediately after the war, in 1946, he served on the Joint Operations Review Board, a group of fifty officers from all the services tasked with analyzing World War II military operations.

Logistics continued to be the focus of Rear Admiral Eccles' post-war career and his retirement years. His expertise in this field and his interest in developing it as a distinct military specialty led to an assignment at the Naval War College in 194 7, where he was tasked with organizing and heading the new Logistics Deparbnent. During the next three and one-half years, he lectured on logistics at the College and elsewhere, organized the logistics curriculum and library, and wrote his first book, Operational Naval Logistics (1950), a pioneering work in the fundamentals of that discipline.

In 1951, he left the Naval War College for a dual assignment as Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Eastern AtJantic and Mediterranean in London and the new NATO Command in Naples. In this capacity, he organized and directed a multi-national, multi-service logistics staff. This was his last active duty assignment before he retired with the rank of rear admiral in June, 1952.

RADM Eccles settled in Newport, RI, where he maintained a close association with the Naval War College over the years, although he was never formally employed by the institution. He lectured on logistics there, served as an unofficial confidante and advisor to Naval War College Presidents, and taught Electives Courses on Principles of Logistics, International Relations and Military Theory. His influence on students with whom he came into contact was considerable. A dynamic lecturer, he encouraged original thinking and had little patience with sloppy or unsubstantiated reasoning.

Retirement gave Admiral Eccles the time and opportunity to write extensively in the logistics field. Over a twenty year period, three of his landmark works on logistics and military thought were published: Logistics in the National Defense (1950), Military Concepts and Philosophy (1965), and Military Power in a Free Society (1979). All were highly acclaimed and are classics in their field.

In addition to writing and teaching, Eccles was employed as a consultant by the George Washington University Logistics Research Project and was also associated with the Air Force School of Systems and Logistics. In this capacity, he advised, conducted studies and prepared articles and papers on logistics topics. In all of his writings he emphasized the intimate relationship of logistics with strategy and tactics and endeavored to elevate the prestige and importance of this fundamental branch of military science. According to Eccles, a successful military strategy depended upon an understanding and an effective implementation of the logistics function. He was instrumental, along with others, in developing the field of military logistics from an empirical state into a science.

As a scholar and intellectual, Rear Admiral Eccles' interests ranged widely over the whole spectrum of military affairs-from an exposition of military theory and the role of the armed forces in a democratic society to practical considerations of the civil-military relationship and the unionization of the services. His approach to these and other issues was in the tradition of a classical theorist, not offering easy, prescriptive answers to complex problems, but restating the issues in a clear, concise manner, always distinguishing the important from the trivial. His writing and thinking on military logistics, strategy, and tactics will be of considerable importance to future generations of military officers and scholars.

In June 1985, Admiral and Mrs. Eccles moved to a retirement community in Needham, Massachusetts. Prior to his departure from Newport, the Naval War College Library was named in his honor. After a short illness, Admiral Eccles died on May 14, 1986, in Needham. A memorial service was held in Trinity Church, Newport, RI, on May 17.

After a disastrous fire in October, 1986, the Eccles Library was refurbished and rededicated in his honor on December 9, 1987.

Chronology of Naval Service

Born, Bayside, New York, December 31.
Attended Trinity School, New York, N.Y.
Attended Columbia College, New York, N.Y.
Appointed to U.S. Naval Academy.
Graduated from U.S. Naval Academy and commissioned Ensign, USN.
USS MARYLAND (BB-46), Signal Officer.
USS NEW YORK (BB-34), Assistant 1st Lieutenant.
USS CHEWINK(AM-39), Submarine School, Promoted to Lieutenant (JG).
USS S-28, Navigator & Communications Officer.
USS S-25, Engineering Officer.
Columbia University, M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Promoted to Lieutenant.
USS O-1, Commanding Officer.
USS R-13, Executive Officer.
USS R-13, Commanding Officer.
Submarine Base, New London, CT., Engineer and Repair Officer.
USS SALT LAKE CITY (CA-25), Assistant Engineer.
Promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
Design Construction Division, Bureau of Engineering, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.
USS JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD-216), Commanding Officer.
Promoted to Commander.
Base Maintenance Division, Officer of Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.
Naval War College, Command Course, Student. Promoted to Captain.
Advanced Base Section, Commanding Officer, Commander Service Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Joint Operations Review board, Member.
USS WASHINGTON (BB-56), Commanding Officer.
Naval War College, Department of Logistics, Chairman.
Naval War College, Acting Chief of Staff.
Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics, CINCNELM, London, England; Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics, CINCSOUTH, Naples, Italy.
Retired June 30, Promoted to Rear Admiral on retired list.
George Washington University Logistics Research Project, Consultant.
Naval War College, Newport, RI. Last public lecture, "Logistics-The Bridge."
Naval War College Library named in his honor, June 10.
Died, Needham, Massachusetts, May 14.
Eccles Library rededicated, December 9.


115 boxes

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Rear Admiral Henry E. Eccles presented his papers to the Naval War College Foundation in several lots, in 1977, 1980, and 1985 respectively. After his death in 1986, Mrs. Eccles deposited letters of condolence and materials on the Eccles papers project to be added to the collection.

Processing Information

Materials were removed from their binders and stored in acid free folders and boxes in October 2019.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Naval War College Archives Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US