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Robie, Edward Dunham


Age: 0, credited to Burlington, VT
Unit(s): USN
Service: 3rd ASST ENG, USN, 2/1852; RADM

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations


Birth: 09/11/1831, Burlington, VT
Death: 06/07/1911

Burial: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
Marker/Plot: 01/0576
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery
Findagrave Memorial #: 17790594


Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Not found
Portrait?: Unknown
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


2nd Great Grandfather of Craig Anderson,

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Arlington National Cemetery, VA

Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may be buried there.


Edward Dunham Robie (11 September 1831 - JUNE 1911), born in Burlington, son of Jacob Carter and Louisa (Dunham) Robie

He was educated at private schools and the Binghamton (New York) Academy, where he was awarded a scholarship prize and a warrant as an assistant engineer, U.S. Navy in 1852.

Robie had already had a fairly exciting naval career by the time the Civil War started. He was Third Assistant Engineer on USS Mississippi, flagship of Commodore Matthew Perry, completing a circumnavigation of the globe, and making an historic visit to Japan, from 1852 to 1855, which opened up that nation to the world for the first time. Aside from taking daguerreotype pictures, he erected the first electric telegraph line in Japan, 1,200 feet long, and assisted in building the first steam railroad, one-quarter scale, all of which were designed to impress the Japanese, which they did.

The expedition returned to New York in June 1855, where Robie detached, and was assigned to Michigan, and served on the Great Lakes from September 1855, until March 1856, when he detached and was assigned to USS Susquehanna, Mediterranean Squadron. He was promoted to Second Assistant Engineer in June, and was active in the North Atlantic, providing support to USS Niagara's unsuccessful attempt to lay a trans-Atlantic cable from Ireland to Newfoundland. Susquehanna was reassigned to the Home Squadron, under Commodore Hiram Paulding, in April 1857, and participated in an expedition to Greytown, Nicaragua, to capture General William Walker's Filibusters. The squadron remained there until a yellow fever epidemic force them to leave late March 1858, returning to New York in early April.

Rand was promoted to First Assistant Engineer on 21 July 1858, and returned to Niagara, which made a round-trip voyage late that year to Monrovia, Liberia, transporting slaves liberated in August when a slave ship was captured off Cuba by the brig Dolphin. Niagara sailed from Charleston 20 September, reached Monrovia 9 November, and returned to New York 11 December, and was decommissioned there on 17 December.

In March 1859, Robie joined USS Lancaster, at Philadelphia, which transited via Cape Horn and joined the Pacific Squadron. Returning to Panama, he transferred to USS Saranac, and served as senior engineer on the west coast of South America until that vessel's return to New York in September 1861.

Promoted to Chief Engineer 21 September 1861, Robie joined USS Mohican, and saw action in the battles at Port Royal, Brunswick, Georgia, and Fernandina. After the capture of Port Royal, Robie was incorrectly reported in the press as having been killed. Robie "was afterward permitted to read very complimentary obituaries of myself, which I clipped at the time and have kept ever since." Robie then spent several months on blockading duty off the coast of Charleston, part of that time as Chief Engineer, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Rand returned to New York in September 1862, and superintended the building of USS Dictator. From January 1863 until August 1864, Robie was on the steamer Ericsson, when it reported to Rear Admiral Du Pont, commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, with experimental rafts "constructed for the purpose of destroying and clearing harbor obstructions, etc." Robie and Ericsson were involved in unsuccessful testing of these rafts."

From August 1864 to September 1865, Robie was Chief Engineer on Dictator, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. On 5 September, he made the last entry in the ship's steam log: "At 2 pm all stop valves were opened and safety valves raised. Crew were paid off and transferred, and vessel put out of commission."

In September and November, Rand served as a member of several Boards of Inspection and on court martial duty. From December 1865 to October 1866, he was on the Engineer Board of Examiners.

Robie went to the Pacific in 1866, on USS Ossipee, via the Straits of Magellan, and on arrival at Panama was promoted to Fleet Engineer onboard the flagship Pensacola.

In 1869, Robie served on a board under Rear Admiral Goldsborough, and made a minority report against the general condemnation of ships, including USS Wampanoag, a ship of unconventional design, that the Board recommended.

At Boston Navy Yard from 1870 to 1871, Robie was Inspector of Machinery Afloat. While serving on USS Wabash, Mediterranean Squadron, from 1871 to 1874, he improvised a steam steering engine for the vessel, the first successful steam steerer in the Navy.

Robie was in charge of the Steam Engineering Department at Norfolk, Virginia, from 1874 to 1877, and from 1877 to 1879, was stationed at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, then Cold Spring, New York, and finally served as president of a board "to determine best Steam Steering Gear for use in the Naval Service."

Robie was Fleet Engineer, Pacific Station, under Rear Admiral C. R. P. Rodgers from 1879 to 1881. From July 1881 to January 1884, he was Chief Engineer, Department of Steam Engineering, at Boston Navy Yard. He was subsequently at Brooklyn and Norfolk, from 1884 to 1891. After a tour on inspection duty from October 1891 to February 1892, he transferred to the Bureau of Steam Engineering at the Navy Department in Washington.

Robie retired 11 September 1893, with the rank of Commodore, having served 16 years and 11 months at sea, and 21 years and 9 months on shore duty. From May to August 1898, Robie was employed in the selection of auxiliary vessels at Charleston, Savannah, Baltimore and New York in support of the build up during the Spanish-American War. In 1906, by Act of Congress, his rank was raised to Rear Admiral "for his creditable record in the Civil War."

Rear Admiral Robie died in Washington; interment in Arlington National Cemetery (Section WD WS, Site 576).

Robie married Helen A. Adams, daughter of Moses and Ann Lockwood Adams, on 3 June 1858, in Waverly, New York.

Some of Admiral Robie's papers are at the Naval Academy Museum. Dictator's log book, April-July 1865, when Robie was Chief Engineer, is at the New York Historical Society. In 1908, the admiral said he had "kept a continuous diary of the events of his life" since 1852, but those diaries have not yet been located.

Source: draft biography to be included in Green Mountain Mariners: Vermonters in the Navy During The Civil War, by Tom Ledoux