Thursday, March 24, 2011

George Dewey: Admiral and Civil War Sailor

On this date in 1903 (24 March 1903), George Dewey (1837-1917) was commissioned as an Admiral of the Navy with the date of rank 2 March 1899.  He was the only person to ever hold that distinction.  Dewey himself, best known for his actions during the Spanish American War, began his service in the United States Navy during the antebellum period of American history.  After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1858, Dewey was sent to the USS Saratoga and later the Wabash as a Midshipman. 

During the American Civil War, Dewey was promoted to Lieutenant just one week after the war broke out at Fort Sumter.  During the period 26 April 1861, until 30 August 1867, he had consecutive service on USS Mississippi, USS Brooklyn, USS Agawam, USS Colorado, USS Kearsarge, USS Canadiagua, and again USS Colorado.

According to William J. Lawrence's A Concise Life of Admiral George Dewey, the young officer was personally commended by Admiral David D. Porter at the Battle of Fort Fisher for seizing the initiative to take out a number of works on shore.  The New York Times picked up the story in their depiction of the battle, thus making the future Admiral an up and coming star in the eyes of the American public. 

His service record during the Civil War included service in the West Gulf and North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.  By the end of the war, Dewey held the rank of Lieutenant Commander (3 March 1865).

1 comment:

  1. George Dewey, US Navy’s only Admiral of the Navy. An Act of Congress, 2 March 1899, created the rank of Admiral of the Navy. On 24 March 1903, he was commissioned him in that rank retroactive to the date of the act.