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Dahlgren, John Adolphus Bernard (13 November 1809–12 July 1870), naval officer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Bernard Ulric Dahlgren, a merchant and diplomat, and Martha Rowan. Dahlgren received his early education at a Quaker school in Philadelphia. Because of his father’s position as Swedish consul, the Dahlgrens were a well recognized and respected family. When the elder Dahlgren died suddenly in 1824, the family was left in financial difficulty. Though initially denied entrance, thanks to family connections in February 1826 Dahlgren was granted an appointment as a midshipman in the U.S. Navy. His first assignment was to the frigate ...

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Davis, Charles Henry (16 January 1807–18 February 1877), naval officer and hydrographer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel Davis, solicitor general of Massachusetts, and Lois Freeman, the sister of James Freeman, the first Unitarian minister in New England. Davis entered Harvard College in 1821 but left two years later to become a midshipman and did not complete his degree until 1841. From 1824 to 1840 Davis served in the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the West Indies, the South Atlantic, and the Pacific; made warm friends, including ...

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Dewey, George (26 December 1837–16 January 1917), naval officer, was born in Montpelier, Vermont, the son of Julius Yemans Dewey, a prominent physician and insurance company president, and Mary Perrin. His mother died when Dewey was just five years old. After study at Norwich University, Dewey entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1854. The rambunctious plebe accumulated 113 demerits during his first year at the academy, but he graduated in 1858, fifth in his class of fifteen. After a cruise in the Mediterranean on the new frigate ...

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Du Pont, Samuel Francis (27 September 1803–23 June 1865), naval officer, was born at “Goodstay,” Bergen Point (now Bayonne), New Jersey, the son of Victor Marie du Pont, an importer who had been consul of France in Charleston, and Gabrielle Joséphine de La Fite de Pelleport. He was the only grandson of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours to spell his name with a capital ...

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Evans, Robley Dunglison (18 August 1846–03 January 1912), rear admiral, was born in Floyd County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Andrew Jackson Evans, a country physician, and Sally Ann Jackson. At age eleven, following his father’s death, Evans moved to Washington, D.C., to live with his uncle. There he attended public schools and developed an interest in the sea. At age thirteen Evans moved to Utah to establish residence in that state and from there gained an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, which he entered on 20 September 1860. Resisting family pressure to join the Confederacy at the outbreak of the Civil War, Evans continued his studies and graduated with the class of 1864, whose graduation was accelerated to 1863 to meet the exigencies of the war. At age seventeen he was commissioned acting ensign....

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Farragut, David Glasgow (05 July 1801–14 August 1870), first admiral of the United States, was born James Glasgow Farragut at Campbell’s Station, a few miles southwest of Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of George Farragut, a ferryboat operator, and Elizabeth Shine. Appointed a sailing master in the U.S. Navy in 1807, the father moved his family to New Orleans where George became close friends with David Porter, Sr. When Porter became fatally ill, Elizabeth Farragut nursed him until she died of yellow fever on 22 June 1808. After helping George Farragut retire to a plantation on the Pascagoula River near Mississippi Sound, ...

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Goldsborough, Louis Malesherbes (18 February 1805–20 February 1877), naval officer, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Charles Washington Goldsborough, the chief clerk of the Navy Department, and Catherine Roberts. As a result of his father’s political influence, Goldsborough was appointed midshipman in 1812, when he was only seven; however, he did not receive orders to sea until he was eleven. After being commissioned lieutenant in 1825, Goldsborough took a two-year leave of absence to travel and study in Europe....

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Mahan, Alfred Thayer (27 September 1840–01 December 1914), naval officer and author, was born in West Point, New York, the son of Dennis Hart Mahan, a professor of military engineering and dean of faculty at the U.S. Military Academy, and Mary Helena Okill. Raised in a household run on two guiding principles, strict military obedience and a stern literalist and fundamentalist form of Episcopalianism that emphasized constant prayer, Mahan did not have a happy childhood. In his autobiography, ...

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Meade, Richard Worsam, III (09 October 1837–04 May 1897), naval officer, was born in New York City, the son of Richard Worsam Meade II (1807–1870), a and Clara Forsythe Meigs. After attending the College of the Holy Cross and Mount St. Mary’s College, Meade entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1850. Graduating fifth in his class in 1856, he was promoted to passed midshipman that year. Commissioned lieutenant (1858), he served aboard the ...

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Porter, David Dixon (08 June 1813–13 February 1891), naval officer, was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, the son of David Porter (1780–1843), a distinguished U.S. naval officer who had served in the Quasi War, the Barbary Wars, and the War of 1812, and Evelina Anderson. Porter spent his youth in Washington, D.C., while his father served as naval commissioner. In 1824 he went with his father on the frigate ...

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Sampson, William Thomas (09 February 1840–06 May 1902), naval officer, was born in Palmyra, New York, the son of James Sampson, a day laborer, and Hannah Walker. An excellent student, Sampson did not have the means to attend college but in 1857 received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy from Congressman Edwin Barbour Morgan. Sampson ranked first in his class for three consecutive years and graduated in 1861. As a passed midshipman he was assigned to duty at the Washington Navy Yard, after which he reported to the sloop ...

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Sicard, Montgomery (30 September 1836–14 September 1900), naval officer, was born in New York City, the son of Steven Sicard, a merchant, and Lydia Hunt. His mother was the sister of U.S. Supreme Court justice Ward Hunt. Steven Sicard died in 1840, and the family moved to Lydia Sicard’s home town of Utica, New York. Montgomery entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1851 and graduated with the class of 1855....

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Sigsbee, Charles Dwight (16 January 1845–19 July 1923), naval officer, was born in Albany, New York, the son of Nicholas Sigsbee and Agnes Orr. Although his family history did not include any naval service, Sigsbee sought admittance to the U.S. Naval Academy. With the help of ...

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Walke, Henry (24 December 1808–08 March 1896), naval officer, was born on “The Ferry,” his family’s plantation in Princess Anne County, Virginia, the son of Anthony Walke and Susan Carmichel. In 1811 Anthony Walke, taking advantage of cheap land available along the Scioto River in the Virginia Military District of Ohio, purchased a homestead at Chillicothe. Walke attended the local academy. Offered an appointment to West Point, Walke declined, and instead on 1 February 1827 he entered the navy as a midshipman at the somewhat advanced age of eighteen....

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Wilkes, Charles (03 April 1798–08 February 1877), naval officer and explorer, was born in New York City, the son of John de Ponthieu Wilkes, a banker, and Mary Seton. He was educated in private schools and with tutors, concentrating on mathematics, scientific subjects, surveying, and navigation, though he studied languages and drawing as well. Determined to go to sea but at first denied a naval commission, Wilkes made three voyages as a merchant seaman between 1815 and 1818. He received his appointment as a midshipman in the U.S. Navy on 1 January 1818. Promotion to lieutenant came two days after his marriage to Jane Jeffrey Renwick on 26 April 1826. The couple had four children. On 12 March 1833 he reported for duty as head of the navy’s Depot of Charts and Instruments. In August 1836 Wilkes traveled to England and France to obtain equipment, books, and maps for the recently authorized exploring expedition to the Pacific Ocean. He hoped to play a significant role in the expedition as he had “studied with this view ever since the first Expedition was talked of” ( ...

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Worden, John Lorimer (12 March 1818–18 October 1897), naval officer, was born in Westchester County, New York, the son of Ananias Worden (occupation unknown) and Harriet Graham. On 10 January 1834 he joined the navy as a midshipman and sailed three years with the Brazilian Squadron. Following two additional years aboard the Mediterranean Squadron, Worden attended the Naval School in Philadelphia and graduated a passed midshipman on 16 July 1840. He took assignment with the Pacific Squadron for the next two years and, from 1842 to 1844, served at the Naval Observatory. Worden became a lieutenant on 30 November 1846 and spent the Mexican War off the coast of California aboard the storeship ...