Last week, we unveiled the beginning of a contest to decide (by you the reader) who was the greatest naval officer, North and South. In the final week, we will square the Union and Confederate winner face to face to see who wins. Last week's winner was Admiral David D. Porter, who beat out Admiral David G. Farragut by a slim margin.
For week two, we have several important Union officers up on the voting block. You can vote on the left panel of this blog. We have provided the following information about each officer courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command:
Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren (1809-1870) was a naval ordnance innovator and commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron during the Civil War. Dahlgren became a midshipman in 1826. Service on the U.S. Coast Survey (1834-37) distinguished his early career. In 1847, Lieutenant Dahlgren was assigned to ordnance duty at the Washington Navy Yard. Over the next fifteen years, he invented and developed bronze boat guns, heavy smoothbore shell guns, and rifled ordnance. He also created the first sustained weapons R&D program and organization in U.S. naval history. For these achievements, Dahlgren became known as the "father of American naval ordnance." His heavy smoothbores, characterized by their unusual bottle shape, were derived from scientific research in ballistics and metallurgy, manufactured and tested under the most comprehensive program of quality control in the Navy to that time, and were the Navy's standard shipboard armament during the Civil War. Promoted to commander in 1855, captain in 1862, and rear admiral in 1863, he became commandant of the Washington Navy Yard in 1861 and chief of the Bureau of Ordnance in 1862.
With help from his friend Abraham Lincoln, Dahlgren took command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in July 1863, and for the next two years led naval forces besieging Charleston in the Union navy's most frustrating campaign. Dahlgren cooperated magnificently with Army forces, but underhanded machinations by the ground force commander hindered the effort. Dahlgren's courage remained beyond question during naval attacks on enemy fortifications, but he never figured out how to counter the enemy's underwater defenses. As a leader, he took good care of his enlisted men, but failed to inspire his officers. After the war he commanded respectively the South Pacific Squadron, the Bureau of Ordnance, and the Washington Navy Yard.
Samuel F. Du Pont
Samuel Francis Du Pont, born 27 September 1803 in Bergen Point, N.J., became a midshipman 19 December 1815. He commanded the sloop Cyane during the Mexican War and gave distinguished service at San Diego, Mazatlan, San Jose, and other ports. In command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron from 18 September 1861 to 3 June 1863, he directed many operations along the coast including the victorious campaign which resulted in the fall of Port Royal, S.C., 7 November 1861. For this accomplishment he received the thanks of Congress. Rear Admiral Du Pont died 23 June 1865 in Philadelphia, Pa.
John Rodgers, son of Commodore John Rodgers, was born near Havre de Grace, Md., 8 August 1812. He entered the Navy as a midshipman 18 April 1828. Service in the Mediterranean on board Constellation and Concord opened his long career of distinguished service. In the mid-1850's he succeeded Comdr. Ringgold in command of the North Pacific Exploring and Surveying Expedition, which added greatly to our knowledge of far eastern and northern waters.
In the early months of the Civil War, Rodgers organized the Mississippi Flotilla and supervised construction of the first ironclad gunboats on the western rivers. He took command of ironclad Galena in April 1862 and operated with distinction in the James River while supporting General McClellan's Peninsular Campaign. He was promoted to Captain 16 July 1862 and transferred to monitor Weehawken. In her he distinguished himself during the attack on Fort Sumter and in capturing Confederate ram Atlanta. The latter service won him the thanks of Congress and promotion to Commodore.
After the war, Rodgers commanded the Boston Naval Station until 1869. He was elevated to Rear Admiral in December 1869 and given command of the Asiatic Squadron. In this post he ably handled diplomatic duties in addition to his naval responsibilities. Back in the United States he commanded Mare Island Naval Station and the Naval Observatory. He died in Washington 5 May 1882.
Charles H. Davis
American naval officer and scientist, b. Boston. Appointed a midshipman in 1823, Davis directed operations of the Coast Survey for a time along the New England coast. He established the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac in 1849 and published several hydrographic studies. In the Civil War he was fleet captain and chief of staff to S. F. Du Pont in the successful expedition (Nov., 1861) against Port Royal, S.C. On May 9, 1862, he replaced A. H. Foote in command of the Upper Mississippi flotilla of gunboats. The next day he repulsed the attack of a Confederate fleet near Fort Pillow, and on June 6 he annihilated the Confederate fleet before Memphis, taking the city the same day. He then joined Farragut in an unsuccessful attempt to take Vicksburg. Davis was chief (1862-65) of the Bureau of Navigation and superintendent (1865-67, 1874-77) of the Naval Observatory. For his victories at Fort Pillow and Memphis he was promoted to rear admiral in Feb., 1863.