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Joseph K. Taussig papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSC-097

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of fifteen boxes of papers and two slipcases that document Taussig's life and naval career from 1884 to 1947. The papers are divided in to eight series: Correspondence, diaries and journals, published and unpublished writings, fitness and medical reports, subject files, miscellaneous imprints, hooks and newspapers and photographs.

Series I, personal correspondence, contains letters sent to his parents, his brother Hawley and female cousins from the U.S. Naval Academy and subsequent assignments through 1917. There are both holograph and typed copies. Personal correspondence received includes letters from ADM John Jellicoe, RN and ADM Lewis Bayly, RN. Official navy correspondence contains requests for leave, promotions, orders, and claims. The letters are arranged chronologically.

The larger portion of the correspondence treats the publicity created by Taussig's Senate testimony in 1940, where he predicted war wilh Japan in the Pacific. He received letters in support of his views and critical of his censure by President Roosevelt. These files are arranged alphabetically. In addition, there are several letters to Captain Paul B. Ryan from Taussig's son and daughter regarding his editing of the diary from the USS Wadsworth.

Holograph journals and diaries compose Series II. They include a journal of the Spanish American War kept aboard USS New York in 1898, one of the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901, one kept aboard the USS Wadsworth, 1917, one in the USS Little. 1917- 1918, one from the USS Trenton, 1926-1927, and two for the years 1936-1938. The journals contain pictures, postcards, newspaper dippings, drawings, invitations, and poems, as well as prose entries for the cruises or time periods involved.

Published and unpublished papers comprise the third series in the collection. There are several articles on naval topics in this segment, as well as Captain Paul Ryan's unfinished edited manuscript entitled "The Queenstown Patrol, 1917: the diary of CDR Joseph K. Taussig, U.S. Navy. Captain Ryan prepared the diary for publication, but died before the manuscript was completed. William N. Still completed the work and it waas published in 1996 by the Naval War College Press.

Fitness and medical reports, Series IV, cover Taussig's naval career from 1901-1947. Miscellany, Series V, contains career-related newspaper clippings, the report of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, and biographies of classmates and officers who served on destroyers during World War I. Certificates and calling cards complete the series. Series VI, Subject Files, contains papers of Rear Admiral Edward D. Taussig relating to the taking of Guam for the United States. Career and family photograph albums and single items complete Series VII. Series VIII consists of published books, pamphlets, and newspapers.


  • 1884 - 1967


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

Joseph Kneller Taussig, son of Rear Admiral Edward D. Taussig and Ellen Knefler. was born in Dresden, Germany on August 30, 1877. He graduated from lhe U.S. Naval Academy in January 1899, where he was a track and foolball slar and president of the Naval Academy Athletic Association during his senior year. As a naval cadet in the USS New York, he saw action at the Batlle of Santiago during the Spanish-American War.

After graduation, Taussig served in USS Newark on the Asiatic Station during the Philippine Insurrection. He took part in the Allied Relier ExpediLion to Peking during the Boxer Rebellion. He was wounded, advanced four numbers in grade, and in 1943 received the Purple Heart for the action at Tientsin. After he recovered in Japan, he served briefly in USS Nashville, then in USS Culgoa, and, finally. in the Yorktown commanded hy his father.

Assignments as a navigator in the Topeka, Amphitrite, and Celtic followed. In 1907, Taussig joined the USS Kansas on the round the world cruise of the Great White Fleet, but in 1908 was detached to serve as aide to his father, then commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard and the Fifth Naval District. He next became aide to his former skipper Admiral Charles B. Vreeland, Commander of the Second and Fourth Divisions, Atlantic Fleet.

As World War I raged in Europe in 1915, Taussig was readying the USS Wadsworth for commissioning. As commanding officer of Destroyer Division Six, he was stationed in Queenstown, Ireland, in 1917 where he uttered his famous phrase: "We are ready, now, Sir" in response to Vice Admiral Lewis Bayly's query as Lo lheir readiness for sea duty. Given command of USS Little in 1917, he returned again to Europe to patrol the French coast.

In 1919, he attended the senior course at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. This was followed by almost a decade of service at the College. Taussig served on the College staff from 1919 to 1920, then returned in 1923 for a three year term as chairman of the Strategy Department, followed by another three years as Chief of Staff Command of the USS Columbia and USS Cleveland and six months as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet were other notable assignments in the 1920s. At this time, Taussig also began to make his mark in naval circles by writing articles for the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings offering policy suggeslions, many of which were later adopted.

In 1932, while serving as Chier of Staff to Commander, Battleships, Battle Force, he was promoted to rear admiral. He previously served as commanding offical of the battleship Maryland. Allhough Taussig's differences with former Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt over rehabilitating convicted sailors for sea duty hindered him from achieving a major command in the 1930s, he, nevertheless, served as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, Commander, Battleship Division Three, Commander, Cruisers, Scouting Force and, finally, as a capstone to his career, he assumed his father's former command, the Norfolk Navy Base and Fifth Naval District.

Prior to his retirement in 1941, Taussig, known for his outspokenness, testified before a Congressional Committee regarding the inevitability of war with Japan in the Pacific. His testimony caused an uproar and he received an official reprimand, which was rescinded after his son's injury in the Nevada during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Admiral Taussig received many medals during the course of his career, including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, the Order of St. Michael and St. George (England), Order of Merit (Chile), Sampson Medal, Spanish Campaign Medal, China Relief Expedition Medal, Cuban Pacification Medal, Victory Medal, Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, American Defense Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. In addilion, the USS Joseph K. Taussig (DD 1030) was named in his honor.

During World War II, Taussig returned to active duty, serving on the Procurement and Review Board, the Naval Clemency and Prison Inspections Board, the Naval Discipline Policy Review Board, and, finally, in the Secretary of the Navy's office. He wrote Our Navy: A Fighting Team, which was published in 1943. Taussig died in 1947.

After his death, Taussig's survivors included his wife, Lulie Johnston Taussig, who resided in Washington, D.C. and Jamestown, RI, two daughters, Emily Whitney Sherman of Newport, RI and Mrs. Margaret Philip Helmer of lrvine, California, and his son, Captain Joseph K. Taussig of Annapolis, MD.

Career Outline

Born, August 30, Dresden Germany
Graduated, U.S. Naval Academy
USS Newark (C-1)
USS Nashville (PG-7), USS Culgoa (AF)
Commissioned Ensign
USS Yorktown (GB no. 10)
USS Topeka (GBT), Navigator
USS Amphitrite (BM-2)
USS Celtic (AF-2), Executive Officer and Navigator
USS Kansas (BB 21)
Norfolk Navy Yard, Aide to Commandant
Fleet Commander, Aide and Flag Lieutenant, Second and Fourth Division, Atlantic Fleet
USS Ammen (DD 35), Commanding Officer
Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department
USS Wadsworth (DD 60), Commanding Officer, Division Six, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet; CO, Division Eight, Destroyer Force
USS Little (DD 79), Commanding Officer
Bureau of Navigation, Head, Division of Enlisted Personnel
Naval War College, Newport, RI, Student and Staff
USS Columbia (C 12), Commanding Officer
USS Cleveland (C 19), Commanding Officer
Naval War College, Department of Strategy, Chairman
USS Trenton (C 11), Commanding Officer
Naval War College, Chief of Staff
USS Maryland (BB 46)
Chief of Staff to Commander, Battleship Division, Battle Fleet
Promoted to Rear Admiral
Assistant Chief of Naval Operations
Battleship Division Three, Battle Force, Commanding Officer
Cruisers, Scouting Force; Commander, Cruiser Division Five, Commanding Offiver
Fifth Naval District, CO; Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, VA, Commandant
Retired, September 1, promoted to Vice Admiral
Returned to active duty, Procurement and Review Board, Naval Discipline Policy Review Board and Naval Clemency and Prison Inspection Board, Member
Died, October 29


18 boxes (14 boxes and folio items)

Language of Materials



Personal correspondence, including letters sent to his parents and other relatives, 1884–1933; Official correspondence, regarding naval matters, 1901–1927, and letters sent and received regarding testimony before U.S. Senate Committee on the possibility of war with Japan, 1940; Miscellaneous correspondence regarding manuscripts prepared by Paul Ryan, 1984–1987; Diaries and journals from USS Wadsworth, 1917; USS Little, 1918 and USS Trenton, 1926–1927; Articles and unpublished manuscript entitled “The Queenstown Patrol” edited by Paul Ryan; Fitness and medical reports, 1901–1947; Career and personal photographs, 1883–1947; Subject Files on commissioning of USS J. K. Taussig (DE 1030) and on Admiral Edward D. Taussig and U.S. Flag raising on Wake Island, 1898; Books, including Book of Naval Songs; Miscellany, including certificates, imprints and citations, 1899–1967; Newspaper clippings, 1895–1950.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers ofJoseph K. Taussig were presented to the Naval War College Foundation for deposit in the Naval Historical Collection by his wife in l988 through the good offices of their children, Mrs. William A. Sherman of Newport, RI and Captain Joseph K. Taussig of Annapolis, MD. In 2005, George Philip, grandson, of South Freeport, ME presented three of the admiral's journals, including the original holograph journal kept aboard the USS Wadworth during World War I, a journal kept during the Spanish-American War, 1898, and a journal kept in USS Neward during the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rehellion, 1899-190l. In 2006, Mrs. John McCain, granddaughter, donated a letter, several athletic programs, and Taussig's academic grades from the U.S. Naval Academy.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Naval Historical Collection Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US