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Emmons, George Foster

MILITARY SERVICE

Age: 0, credited to Clarendon, VT
Unit(s): USN
Service: CAPT, USN;

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations

VITALS

Birth: 08/23/1811, Clarendon, VT
Death: 07/23/1884

Burial: Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore, MD
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Tom Ledoux
Findagrave Memorial #: 27705052

MORE INFORMATION

Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Yes, widow Frances A. F., 11/20/1886
Portrait?: navhist
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: None

DESCENDANTS

2nd Great Granduncle of C. Morley, California

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BURIAL:

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Tombstone

Tombstone

Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore, MD

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Biography

George Foster Emmons, born August 23, 1811, in Clarendon, Vt., was the son of Horatio and Abigail (Foster) Emmons. Horatio was an army officer in the War of 1812. George, appointed a Midshipman on April 1, 1828, was initially assigned to the New York Naval School. He cruised the Mediterranean on the frigate Brandywine from 1830 to 1833, was promoted to Passed Midshipman in 1834, and in 1836 was ordered to the bark Consort. In 1837, he was Master of the sloop of war Macedonian.

From 1838 to 1842, he served with the Wilkes Exploration Expedition, visiting the Antarctic, South Seas Islands and the Pacific Northwest. During the expedition he was promoted to lieutenant in February 1841, and commanded the sloop Peacock, which sank in the Columbia River. After losing his ship, he conducted an exploring party overland from the mouth of the Columbia River to San Francisco.

From 1843 to 1846, Emmons served on the Boston in the Brazil Squadron. During the Mexican-American War, he served on the Ohio of the Pacific Squadron.

From 1850 to 1853 Emmons was assigned to the Bureau of Construction and Repair in Washington, D. C., where he compiled The Navy of the United States from the commencement, 1775-to 1853, with a Brief History of Each Vessel's Service and Fate. From June 1853, to 1856, he commanded the Savannah, flagship of the Brazil Squadron, where he was promoted to commander in January 1856.

In May 1861, Emmons was appointed a member of the Light House Board, but that fall was ordered to active duty in the Gulf of Mexico, in command of the sidewheel steamer Hatteras, which he assumed command of in October, at Philadelphia Navy Yard. Hatteras departed Philadelphia on November 5, and Emmons reported his arrival at Key West, Fl., on November 13, and continued on to Fort Pickens by November 17. The next day, Flag-Officer William McKean, commanding the Gulf Blockading Squadron, ordered Emmons to take Hatteras to Apalachicola, in north Florida's panhandle, 80 miles southwest of Tallahassee, to relieve Montgomery.

Hatteras remained off Apalachicola, Fl., until January 7, 1862, when it was ordered to Cedar Keys, Fl., where he was to 'endeavor to capture or destroy a small armed steamer or schooner said to be at that place.'

On January 16, Emmons reported boat crews, including marines, from his vessel destroyed a Confederate battery, seven small blockade -runners, a railroad depot and wharf and the telegraph officer at Cedar Keys. He also captured 14 rebels from the 4th Florida Infantry.

By January 23, Hatteras had moved to Ship Island, and further to Berwick Bay, La., relieving the screw steamer Montgomery, and Emmons assumed command of blockading efforts there. On February 1, Hatteras arrived off Atchafalaya Bay, La.

On May 1, Hatteras captured the rebel schooner Magnolia, with a load of cotton, off Berwick Bay, on May 11, the steamer Governor A. Mouton, on May 17, and the sloop Poody, off Vermilion Bay.

On July 3, Hatteras captured schooner Sarah, on July 5, the sloop Elizabeth, on July 19, the steamer Indian No. 2, and on July 28, the brig Josephine.

On August 14, Emmons requested a port call to repair Hatteras' condensers, and get coal and supplies.

On September 13, Emmons sent a boarding party from Hatteras to the stranded schooner Jicaltipec, inbound New Orleans from Matamoras, Mexico. Emmons provided water and provisions, helped the vessel repair its rudder, and parted company with her the next day. Jicaltipec was carrying six Union soldiers who had escaped from prison in Texas.

On October 18, Emmons detached Hatteras, and was ordered to command the screw gunboat R. R. Cuyler. Emmons' relief came at an opportune time. Two months later, Hatteras engaged the Confederate raider Alabama off the Texas coast, and was sunk.

On December 5, Emmons took R. R. Cuyler to Pensacola for coal and supplies. By January 9, 1863, she was off Mobile Bay, Ala., when she was ordered to go in search of the above mentioned raider Alabama and Harriet Lane, which had been captured by the Confederates off Galveston, Texas on January 1.

Before R. R. Cuyler joined Wilkes' squadron, she was one of several vessels that attempted to stop the Confederate raider Oreto (Florida) from heading out to sea. At 3 a.m. on January 16, Oreto made for sea, and R. R. Cuyler and the screw gunboat Pinola were detached to chase her. Although R. R. Cuyler was considered a swift gunboat, Emmons lost contact with Florida in the darkness. He saw his career doing down the tubes. "From fancying myself near promotion in the morning, I gradually dwindled to a court of inquiry at dark, when I lost sight of the enemy." The incident obviously did not adversely affect his career, as his promotion to Captain became effective less than a month later, on February 7, 1863.

Emmons continued after Oreto, unsuccessfully, and put in at Cienfuegos, Cuba. On January 29, R. R. Cuyler and Santiago de Cuba headed to sea to try to find Alabama.

By February 3, R. R. Cuyler was off Lobos Cay, Cuba, and Emmons reported no luck in his search for the rebel raider. On February 11, Emmons arrived at Key West, and reported he had 'visited many places, overhauled a great many vessels, and circumnavigated the island of Cuba without falling in with a rebel vessel.'

On March 3, Emmons was in Havana, and received orders to return to blockading duty. He resupplied at Key West, and had returned to Mobile Bay by March 8.

On April 15, Emmons was detached from R. R. Cuyler, and ordered to report to Key West to assume command of the steam sloops Oneida, and take her to New Orleans.

In early to mid-June, while waiting to assume command of Oneida, Emmons conducted a court of enquiry into the loss of the bark Amanda, during a hurricane in late May 1863. Meanwhile, Oneida had been seized by Wilkes to support his efforts to capture Confederate raiders, Emmons' orders were canceled, and he was sent to take command of the screw sloop Monongahela in New Orleans.

On July 11, Emmons started upriver, and the next day arrived at and took command of Monongahela, replacing acting commander, Lieutenant Commander George Dewey (q.v.), who had assumed temporary command on July 7, when Commander Abner Read had been mortally wounded in an engagement.

During the next four days, Emmons conducted a reconnaissance of the Mississippi River between Donaldsonville and Port Hudson, and reported he had 'discovered no hostile demonstrations.'

By July 26, control of the Mississippi River had been turned over to Admiral David Porter's flotilla, and Emmons was making plans to return to New Orleans. On July 29, Admiral Farragut placed him in temporary command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, pending the arrival of Farragut's replacement, Commodore Bell.

On August 10, Commander L. C. Sartori relieved Emmons of command on Monongahela, and Commodore Bell ordered him to take command of Brooklyn and take her to New York. He started for New York on August 13, touched at Port Royal on August 21, Charleston the next day, and arrived at Brooklyn Navy Yard on August 25, where he relinquished command of the vessel.

On September 17, Emmons assumed duties as fleet captain (Chief of Staff) under Rear Admiral John Dahlgren, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

In mid-November 1864, Emmons was ordered to assume command of the screw sloop Lackawanna, then off Galveston, Texas, and assume command of the Third Division, East Gulf Blockading Squadron, relieving Captain John B. Marchand.

For the next several months, Emmons' correspondence reflects the blockading activities of the vessels under his command both in Texas and along the Mexican coast, his relationships with Confederate troops in the area under flags of truce, and correspondence with Mexican authorities.

By March 24, 1865, Emmons had taken Lackawanna back to New Orleans, and assumed duties as Senior Officer there.

On April 24, Lackawanna's log contained the following:

At 9 a.m. received information of a rebel ram coming down the river. Cleared away battery and loaded with solid shot. At 12:30 p.m. rebel ram William H. Webb came down the river. Opened on her with solid shot, four of which struck. Ossipee, Pembina, and Port Royal also opened fire on her. Hollyhock and Florida went in pursuit. At 3:45 p.m. the Ouachita (tinclad), of Admiral Lee's fleet, came down the river, reporting the William H. Webb having passed, and was ordered down in chase, though three and one-half hours astern of her. At 7 p.m. Hollyhock and Florida returned, announcing the burning and destruction of the William H. Webb.

At the end of May 1865, Emmons was in command of the Third Division, West Gulf Blockading Squadron at Mobile Bay. By mid-June, he had moved Lackawanna to Pensacola, and on the 21st, sailed her north, stopping at Key West on the 24th, and arriving in New York on the 28th, where Lackawanna was decommissioned a month later.

From 1866 to 1868 Emmons commanded Ossipee; the highlight of this tour was the conveyance of U. S. and Russian commissioners to Sitka, Alaska, to participate in ceremonies where Russia turned possession of Alaska over to the U. S. After commanding Ossipee, he spent the remainder of his career at shore stations.

He was promoted to Commodore on September 20, 1868. He served on the Ordnance Board in 1869. He was promoted to Rear Admiral on November 25, 1872, was head of the Hydrographic Office in Washington in 1873, and commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Rear Admiral Emmons retired on August 23, 1873, and made Princeton, New Jersey his retirement home. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Commandery of MOLLUS.

He died in Princeton on July 2, 1884, and is buried in Baltimore, MD.

He was married to the former Frances Antonia Thornton, whom he married on January 10, 1843; she was the daughter of the then purser of the navy.

Rear Admiral Emmons' papers can be found at the Sterling Memorial Library and Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, and the Naval War College Library, Newport, RI.

Sources: Peck, 691; Callahan; Benedict, 2:794; Caroon, 221; Cogar 1:52; Knox, 287; Malone, 6:149-150; DANFS; Kent 1915, 48; National Almanac, 108; ORN, 2:28-29, 30-34; 3:10; 12:473; 14:495-496; 16:773; 17:37-38, 41, 48-50, 71-72, 97-98; 18:76-77, 96-102, 121, 128-139, 461-462, 486-488, 500, 554-555, 666-667; 19:76-79, 94, 308, 502, 505-511, 528, 533-536; 20:338-339, 344, 400, 408-411, 419-420, 425-427, 440, 459-460, 481, 782; 22:106, 155, 159-163, 166-167; Eicher, 226.