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Alden, James (31 March 1810–06 February 1877), naval officer, was born in Portland, Maine (then part of Massachusetts), the son of James Alden, a ship owner, and Elizabeth Tate. Nothing is known of his early life or education, and no information is available about his marriage or children, if any....

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Allen, William Henry (21 October 1784–18 August 1813), U.S. naval officer and hero of the War of 1812, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of militia general William Allen, a veteran of the Revolution, and Sarah Jones, sister of William Jones, future governor of Rhode Island. William Henry’s parents were prosperous members of Providence society and intended for him to follow a civilian career. His early education provided him with a good grounding in penmanship and mathematics (the latter proved useful in his naval career) and also with considerable skill as an artist. He made very competent sketches in his letters and the blank pages of his journals and did pen and ink portraits of his family. His only surviving likeness, a profile portrait, is probably based on a sketch done by Allen himself....

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Bainbridge, William (07 May 1774–27 June 1833), naval officer, was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of Absalom Bainbridge, a physician, and Mary Taylor. His parents and grandparents sided with the king’s forces in the revolutionary war, and Dr. Bainbridge served as surgeon to a Loyalist regiment. This resulted in the confiscation of the family property and probably affected William Bainbridge’s view of himself: he was both conservative in politics and touchy—suspicious that, in the eyes of others, his family background cast a shadow on his own loyalty....

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Barron, James (1769–21 April 1851), naval officer, was born in Virginia, the younger of two naval sons of James Barron, a merchant captain and officer of the Virginia navy in the Revolution, and Jane Cowper. The older son, Samuel Barron, also commanded in the U.S. Navy and was senior to James. James Barron began his sea service before the age of twelve on board his father’s ship in the Virginia service. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in 1798, presumably having sailed in merchant vessels in the intervening years, since he would be known throughout the service for his masterful seamanship. In 1790 he married Elisabeth Mosely Armistead, another Virginian; the Barrons’ first child, Jane, was born in 1791....

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Biddle, James (18 February 1783–01 October 1848), naval officer, was born north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Biddle, an affluent mercantile entrepreneur and politician, and Hannah Shepard. Biddle attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he developed a lifelong love of literature. He and his younger brother, Edward, received their midshipmen’s warrants on 14 February 1800 and joined the frigate ...

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Blakeley, Johnston ( October 1781– October 1814), naval officer, was born near the village of Seaford, County Down, Ireland, the son of John Blakeley, a merchant. (His mother’s name is unknown.) In 1783 the Blakeley family emigrated to the United States, settling in Wilmington, North Carolina. Johnston’s mother and his only sibling, a brother, died after their arrival in Wilmington. In 1797 he enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study law. The death of his father in October 1797 and the destruction by fire in 1798 of the properties his father had bequeathed him prompted Blakeley to leave school and seek a career in the U.S. Navy....

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Bridge, Horatio (08 April 1806–20 March 1893), naval officer and author, was born in Augusta, Maine, the son of James Bridge, a judge and financier, and Hannah North. He attended local schools in Augusta before entering Hallowell Academy and then Bowdoin College, from which he graduated in 1825. At Bowdoin, Bridge was a classmate of ...

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Franklin Buchanan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1428).

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Buchanan, Franklin (13 September 1800–11 May 1874), U.S. and Confederate naval officer, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of George Buchanan, a prominent doctor and abolitionist, and Laetitia McKean. He entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in 1815, a few months after the end of the War of 1812, and was ordered to the new frigate ...

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Burrows, William W. (06 October 1785–05 September 1813), naval officer, was born in Kensington, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, the son of W. W. Burrows, a former commandant of the marine corps. William received an early education based on the classics and modern languages, especially German. He displayed a talent for art, frequently drawing naval vessels. His father, upon seeing this interest in the sea, arranged for his son to be instructed in various aspects of the navy. After William made satisfactory progress in this field, his father procured an appointment for him as a midshipman in the U.S. Navy. On 10 November 1799 William joined the crew of the 24-gun ...

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Carter, Samuel Powhatan (06 August 1819–26 May 1891), naval and army officer, was born in Elizabethton, Carter County, Tennessee, the son of Alfred Moore Carter, an iron manufacturer, and Evalina Belmont Perry or Parry. Carter’s middle name is given as Powhatan on his gravestone, but Carter family descendants insist he bore his mother’s maiden name, Powhatan being a nickname acquired during the Civil War. As a middle initial only appears in his signature and on all extant documents, the question cannot be resolved, but the nickname story is plausible....

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Champlin, Stephen (17 November 1789–20 February 1870), naval officer, was born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, the son of Stephen Champlin and Elizabeth Perry. His parents’ occupations are unknown. He was cousin to the celebrated commodores Oliver Hazard Perry and Matthew Calbraith Perry...

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Chauncey, Isaac (20 February 1772–27 January 1840), naval officer, was born in Black Rock, Connecticut, the son of Wolcott Chauncey and Ann Brown, occupations unknown. Chauncey entered the merchant marine early in life and at nineteen secured his own command. He was commissioned a navy lieutenant on 11 June 1799 and ordered to superintend construction of the frigate ...

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John B. Hattendorf and Patrick G. Williams

Collins, Napoleon (04 March 1814–09 August 1875), naval officer, was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Little is recorded of his parents or youth. He never married. Appointed a midshipman in 1834, he served with the West Indies Squadron until September 1839. Completing his examinations at the Naval School at Philadelphia, Collins was promoted to passed midshipman in July 1840. He subsequently served aboard the sloop of war ...

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Colvocoresses, George Musalas (22 October 1816–03 June 1872), naval officer, was born on the Greek island of Chios, the son of Constantine Colvocoresses and Franka Grimaldi. In 1822 he was kidnapped by Turks, who massacred most of the Greek population of the island, and was taken to Smyrna. His father, who survived the slaughter, ransomed him with the assistance of relatives. Seeing little hope for the boy’s future in Greece, the elder Colvocoresses seized an opportunity through the Greek Relief Committee to put his son on board the U.S. brig ...

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Conner, David (1792–20 March 1856), naval officer, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the son of David Conner, occupation unknown, and Abigail Rhodes. As a boy, he worked at a Philadelphia counting house. On 16 January 1809 he joined the navy with a rank of midshipman. Conner sailed with Captain ...

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Crane, William Montgomery (01 February 1784–18 March 1846), naval officer, was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the son of William Crane and Abigail Miller. His father was a revolutionary war colonel distinguished at the siege of Quebec. Crane became a midshipman on 23 May 1799 and spent several years aboard the frigate ...

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Craven, Tunis Augustus MacDonough (11 January 1813–05 August 1864), naval officer, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of Tunis Craven, a merchant, navy purser, and storekeeper, and Hannah Tingey. After his father became a storekeeper at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Craven attended grammar school at Columbia College in New York City. Craven’s maternal grandfather was Commodore ...

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Dale, Richard (06 November 1756–26 February 1826), naval officer, was born in Norfolk County, Virginia, the son of Winfield Dale and Ann Sutherland. His father had been a noted shipwright of the Portsmouth region, and in 1768 Dale, aged twelve years, joined the merchant marine. By 1775 he was rated as chief mate and commanded several vessels engaged in the West India trade. The following year Dale served as a lieutenant in the Virginia state navy until his capture by the British. During confinement at Norfolk, friends persuaded him to abandon the American cause, and he signed on as mate aboard a Loyalist tender. Dale received a severe wound fighting in this capacity, but he remained loyal to the British until captured by the American brig ...

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Charles Henry Davis. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-104940).