Charles Edward Vreeland

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Rear Admiral Charles Edward Vreeland (10 March, 1852 – 27 September, 1916) was an officer of the United States Navy who upon his retirement was the most senior officer in the navy beside Admiral of the Navy George Dewey.

Early life

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Vreeland enlisted in the Navy as a naval apprentice early in 1866. After a brief service in the U.S.S. Sabine he was given a presidential appointment soon afterwards to enter the United States Naval Academy on 27 July, 1866, graduating from that institution on 7 June, 1870 as a passed midshipman. He received his commission as an ensign in November, 1873 after a series of cruises onboard screw sloops.

Naval Career

Vreeland was further promoted to Master and then Lieutenant after successive tours of duty on board the screw steamer Alert, the gunboat Ashuelot and the sloop-of-war Ticonderoga. He was then assigned to the United States Nautical Almanac Office in November, 1881 after a brief period ashore awaiting orders. In March, 1884, Lieutenant Vreeland began a three-year tour at sea aboard the sloop-of-war Hartford, after which he was assigned for two years at the Bureau of Navigation. He was then assigned briefly (from July to September, 1889) with the Office of Naval Intelligence and reported to the Coast and Geodetic Survey late in October, a posting he took until the spring of 1893, when Vreeland was assigned a series of tours as naval attaché — first in Rome, Vienna and finally in Berlin.

After returning home in late 1896, Lieutenant Vreeland was posted to the battleship Massachusetts in mid-January, 1897, and served aboard her until he was transferred to the gunboat Helena at the end of June, whereupon he served through most of the Spanish-American War on blockade duty off the port of Manzanillo until the end of July, 1898, even though he was named Executive Officer of the cruiser Dolphin in April of that year. He did not actually assume those duties until 24 August. He was detached from the Dolphin to serve aboard the U.S.S. Olympia on 6 November that same year, but was ordered to the U.S.S. Concord instead on 30 December due to change in orders. Vreeland was promoted to Lieutenant Commander, and served aboard various vessels in the Asiatic Squadron. He returned home on board the hospital ship Solace in March, 1900. From April, 1900 to before August 1902 he was a member of the Board of Inspection and Survey, during which time he was promoted to full Commander in mid-August, 1901. After his duty in the Board, he supervised the fitting out of the new monitor Arkansas (later renamed the Ozark) and assumed command upon her commissioning on 28 October of that year.

Two years later, Vreeland relinquished command of the Ozark and served on shore a series of special assignments for the Department of the Navy for the next few years, during which he received his promotion to Captain on 13 April, 1906. After finishing his on-shore assignments in Washington, D.C. on 17 April, 1907, Captain Vreeland went to New York Ship in Camden, New Jersey the next day to commission the new Connecticut Class battleship Kansas. He commanded the battleship for the next two years, which was an auspicious time, for the Kansas was picked to be part of the "Great White Fleet" that sailed around the world. Soon after the Fleet returned to Hampton Roads on 22 February, 1909 he gave up his command of the Kansas and returned home to await orders. On 10 May, he succeeded Captain Raymond Perry Rodgers as Chief Intelligence Officer, the head of the Office of Naval Intelligence until 8 December, when he was succeeded by Captain Templin M. Potts.

As his promotion to Rear Admiral was becoming imminent, he broke his flag in the U.S.S. Virginia as Commander, 4th Division, Atlantic Fleet. On 27 December, he became Rear Admiral Charles Vreeland.

On 19 April, 1911 he reported ashore for further duty in Washington. In the newly devised aide system for managing the Navy, Vreeland became one of the four principal advisors of the Secretary of the Navy, George von Lengerke Meyer. As Aide for Inspections, he reached the pinnacle of naval command. During his tenure, he represented the Navy at the coronation of George V, as well as heading the so-called "Vreeland Board" which reinvestigated the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in 1898, the controversial report of which — now widely regarded as erroneous — concluded that an external explosion sank the Maine.

On 12 December, Rear Admiral Vreeland ended his tour of duty as Aide for Inspections and succeeded Rear Admiral Richard Wainwright as the second Aide for Operations. While in that position, Vreeland struggled to improve the defenses in the Philippine Islands, agitated for increased naval construction, particularly of battle cruisers, and supported the development of U.S. naval aviation. It was also during his tenure that naval aviation found a permanent home in Pensacola, Florida. On 11 February, 1903 he was succeeded by Bradley A. Fiske as Aide for Operations, and Vreeland finished out his naval career as member of both the General and Joint Boards. He retired on 10 March], 1914.

Rear Admiral Charles E. Vreeland died in Atlantic City, New Jersey after a brief retirement marked by illness.

See Also


Naval Appointments
Preceded by
New Command
Captain of U.S.S. Arkansas
28 Oct, 1902[1] – 27 Oct, 1904[2]
Succeeded by
Rogers H. Galt
Preceded by
New Command
Captain of U.S.S. Kansas
18 Apr, 1907[3] – 14 Jun, 1909[4][Inference]
Succeeded by
Charles Johnston Badger
Preceded by
Raymond P. Rodgers
Chief Intelligence Officer
May, 1909 – 6 Dec, 1909[Inference]
Succeeded by
Templin M. Potts
Preceded by
Richard Wainwright
Aide for Naval Operations
16 Dec, 1911[5]
Succeeded by
Bradley A. Fiske


  1. Register of Officers, 1903. p. 14.
  2. Register of Officers, 1905. p. 14.
  3. Register of Officers, 1908. p. 10.
  4. Register of Officers, 1909. p. 8.
  5. Register of Officers, 1913. p.8.