Charles E. Vreeland
Charles E. Vreeland-born on 10 March 1852 at Newark N.J.-enlisted in the Navy
as a naval apprentice early in 1866. After brief service in Sabine, he received a
Presidential appointment as a midshipman at the Naval Academy on 27 July 1866.
On 7 June 1870, he graduated from the academy as a passed midshipman and, at
the end of July, reported on board the newly commissioned screw sloop California.
On 28 September, he was detached from that ship and was ordered to proceed in
Severn to duty in the screw sloop Congress, then cruising in the South Atlantic. He
was later transferred to the screw sloop Brooklyn and, between 1871 and 1873,
made a cruise in her to European waters. In July 1873, he was detached from
Brooklyn. After successfully completing the required post-sea duty examination in
October, he returned to sea in November in Powhatan and, less than a fortnight
later, received his commission as an ensign.
Successive tours of duty in Alert, Ashuelot, and Ticonderoga followed; and, during that period, Vreeland received
promotions to master and then to lieutenant. In November 1881, after a period ashore awaiting orders, he was posted to
the Nautical Almanac Office, where charts and tables were prepared for use by naval officers in celestial navigation. In
March 1884, Lt. Vreeland began a three-year tour at sea in Hartford, at the completion of which he went to the Bureau
of Navigation for a two-year assignment. Upon leaving that duty in mid-April 1889, he took torpedo instruction at
Newport, R.I. Then, a brief assignment with the Office of Naval Intelligence from July to September of 1889 preceded
his reporting to the Coast Survey late in Oetober. That employment lasted until the spring of 1893 when orders sent
Vreeland to Europe as naval attache-first at Rome, then at Vienna, and finally in Berlin.
Lt. Vreeland returned home late in 1896, was posted to Massachusetts in mid-January 1897, and served in that
battleship until transferred to Helena at the end of June. Vreeland was ordered to Dolphin as executive officer in April
1898, but he did not actually assume those duties until 24 August. Thus, he served in Helena through most of the brief
Spanish-American War on blockade duty off Cuba until July. He was detached from Dolphin on 6 November 1898 and
ordered to Olympia; however, those orders were changed in December, and he reported to Concord instead on the
30th. In March 1899, he became Lt. Comdr. Vreeland, and after completing assignments in Concord, Monterey, and
Baltimore-all on the Asiatic station-he returned home on board the hospital ship Solace in March 1900. In April, he
became a member of the Board of Inspection and Survey; and, during that assignment, he was promoted to full
commander in mid-August 1901. In August 1902, he took charge of fitting out of the "New Navy" monitor Arkansas
(later to be renamed Ozark) at Newport News, Va. When she was placed in commission on 28 October, he assumed
Two years later, Vreeland left his first command, Arkansas, and served ashore over the next two and one-half years,
performing various special duties for the Navy Department. Initially, he was a member of and recorder for the board
studying proposed changes to the New York Navy Yard. He was next assigned special duty in the Office of the
Assistant Secretary of the Navy. While assigned to the Navy Department in Washington, Vreeland received his
promotion to captain to date from 13 April 1906. Capt. Vreeland concluded that latest assignment in Washington on 17
April 1907 and, the following day, placed Kansas (Battleship No. 21) in commission at Camden, N.J. He commanded
the new battleship for the next two years-a very auspicious time for it coincided with the cruise of the "Great White Fleet"
around the world. Soon after the Fleet returned to Hampton Roads in February 1909, he relinquished command of
Kansas and returned home to await orders. On 10 May, Capt. Vreeland took over command of the Offlce of Naval
Intelligence. That duty lasted until 8 December 1909 when, with his selection for promotion to rear admiral imminent, he
broke his flag in Virginia (Battleship No. 13) as Commander, 4th Division, Atlantic Fleet. Nineteen days later, on the
27th, he became Rear Admiral Vreeland.
On 19 April 1911, he reported ashore for further duty in Washington. In his new assignment as Aide for Inspections, he
approached the pinnacle of naval command. He became one of the four principal advisors of the Secretary of the Navy,
George von L. Meyer, under the newly devised aide system for managing the Navy. During his tenure in that office, Rear
Admiral Vreeland represented the Navy Department at the coronation of King George V of England and headed up the
so-called "Vreeland Board" which reinvestigated the Maine disaster of 1898. The controversial report of that board-now
considered erroneous-concluded that an external explosion sank the warship
On 12 December, Rear Admiral Vreeland ended his tour of duty as Aide for Inspections and succeeded Rear Admiral
Richard Wainwright as the Secretary's second Aide for Operations. While in that position-the forerunner to today's office
of Chief of Naval Operations-Vreeland struggled to improve the defenses in the Philippines, agitated for increased naval
construction, particularly of battle cruisers, and supported the development of American naval aviation. During his tenure
as Aide for Operations, naval aviation found a permanent home at Pensacola, Fla. On 11 February 1913, Rear Admiral
Vreeland relinquished his duties as Aide for Operations to Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske, the third and last man to hold
the office under that title. Vreeland finished out his naval career as a member of both the General and Joint Boards. On
10 March 1914, he was transferred to the retired list. On 27 September 1916, after a retirement plagued by illness, Rear
Admiral Vreeland died at Atlantic City, N.J.