Enlisted Officers in the

United States Navy



Midshipmen in the United States Navy


During the Civil War period Massachusetts was well represented by distinguished Naval commanders of the old school who reflected great honor on the State. Among these were Commodore Charles H. Davis, who commanded the Mississippi flotilla from June to October, 1862, and in February of the following year attained the rank of Rear Admiral ; the Selfridges, father and son, the younger of whom. Lieutenant Commander Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr., so distinguished himself in the Vicksburg and Red River campaigns in 1863, in the attack on Fort Fisher in January, 1865, and on other occasions that at the close of the war he was unanimously recommended by a board of admirals to be advanced thirty numbers in rank for conspicuous gallantry in battle ; and John Ancrum Winslow, who as Captain commanding the kearsaege on one June morning in 1864, off Cherbourg, France, sent the Confederate cruiser Alabama to the bottom of the ocean of which it had so long been a scourge.

Nor should we omit to mention Lieutenant Joseph B. Smith, who laid down his life defending the frigate congress from the attack of the iron clad Merrimac in Hampton Roads in March, 1862, nor Lieutenant Commander Jonathan M. WainwTight, who fell while in command of the Harriet lane in the harbor of Galveston, Texas, where she was attacked by overwhelming numbers on the first day of January, 1863.

But the expansion of our Naval establishment immediately after the outbreak of the Civil War demanded a correspondingly large increase in its officer personnel. Hundreds of ships and craft of all kinds which could be converted into war vessels were secured by purchase or charter or otherwise and added to the Navy. Each vessel so acquired demanded its full complement of ofiicers and men. The seamen were secured by enlistment, the officers by appointment, and as temporary volunteer officers they had the term "acting" prefixed to their rank.

Section 2 of the Act of Congress approved July 24, 1861, confirmed any appointments which the Secretary of the Navy either had made or might thereafter make of acting lieutenants, acting paymasters, acting assistant surgeons, and acting masters and masters' mates, these appointments to continue until the return of the vessels to which they were respectively assigned or until the suppression of the insurrection.

Again, Section 20 of an Act of Congress approved July 16, 1862, provided that the pay of all these volunteer officers appointed under the first act named should be the same as that of officers of like grade in the regular Navy.

Finally by Section 3 of another act, approved March 3, 1863, the appointments of acting assistant paymasters and acting ensigns were authorized under the same conditions as those of other officers named above. Hundreds of volunteer officers of the ranks above given, together with acting first, second, and third assistant engineers, appear in the Navy Register as early as 1862. Many of these acquitted themselves, with great distinction during the progress of the war and proved themselves fully the equals of officers of the regular Naval establishment.

Thousands of these emergency officers were appointed from time to time, nearly two thousand from our own State. Many remained in the service until the end of the war and were advanced in rank from time to time. At the close of the conflict most of them resigned and were honorably discharged from the service, and the Na^'y returned to its peace time status.

N. B. In the following lists the terms Recg. Ship, School Ship, Store Ship, Supply Steamer, etc. have been used before the names of vessels entitled to such designations. Where no designation is used the regular term U. S. Ship is to be understood.

So numerous were the transfers of officers from ship to ship that it is not assumed that the name of every vessel on which an officer may have served is given in all cases.  Again, as there were frequent transfers of vessels from squadron to squadron, it is often impossible to determine to what squadron a ship was attached at a given time, as the
dates of transfer are unknown. The official Navy Registers of 1863, 64, 65, and 66 only show the squadron to which a ship was attached on January 1 of each year.

It has only been attempted to give the names of the vessels and the names of the squadrons to which each officer is known to have been attached at some time during his service.

The receiving ships as a rule were not attached to any squadrons but were stationed at navy yards or naval stations, the Ohio at Boston, the north Carolina at New York, the PRINCETON at Philadelphia, the Alleghany at Baltimore, etc.

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