Temple, William Grenville
Age: 0, credited to Rutland, VT
Service: MIDS, USN
See Legend for expansion of abbreviationsVITALS
Birth: 03/24/1824, Rutland, VT
Burial: Congressional Cemetery, Washington, DC
Marker/Plot: Range 40, Site 23
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Tom Ledoux
Findagrave Memorial #: 12951
Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Not Found
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)
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Congressional Cemetery, Washington, DC
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William Grenville Temple, born March 23, 1824, in Rutland, Vt., was the son of Robert and Charlotte (Green) Temple. He was appointed Acting Midshipman on April 18, 1840, and began his training on the receiving ship Columbus, in Boston, from May to September 1840. He made his first cruise on the Constellation from September 1840 to May 1844. Subsequent training assignments included the flagship Potomac, Home Squadron, from August 1844 to March 1845, St. Lawrence, in Norfolk from March to October 1845, and Potomac, West Indies Squadron, from October to December 1845. He was then ordered to the recently created Naval School, at Annapolis, where he was promoted to Passed Midshipman on July 11, 1846.
He was onboard the Boston, West Indies Squadron, from October to December 1846. On October 5, 1846, the vessel was wrecked on Eleuthera Island, Bahamas; Temple was placed in charge of the sick and injured from the Boston, and took them back to Norfolk on the schooner Volant.
During the Mexican-American War, Temple served on the steamer Scourge, Home Squadron, from February to November 1847, the steamer Scorpion, Home Squadron, in November and December, and the Mississippi, Gulf of Mexico, from December 1847 to April 1848. While on Scourge, he participated in the siege of Vera Cruz, the capture of Alvarado on March 31, 1847, and the occupation of Tuxpan and Tabasco. In 1852, he wrote Memoir of the Landing of the United States Troops at Vera Cruz in 1847, which was initially published in P. S. P. Conner's The Home Squadron under Commodore Conner in the War with Mexico (1896).
Temple was ordered to Washington, where he served at the Naval Observatory from June 1848 to May 1849, participated in coast survey duty from May 1849 to August 1850, and was at the Coast Survey Office, in Washington, from August to October. He returned to the Naval Observatory for two months, probably in preparation for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec Hydrographic Survey, which he participated in from November 1850 to April 1852.
Temple cruised in the sloop-of-war Levant, Mediterranean Squadron, from April 1852 to May 1855. He returned to coast survey duty from June 1855 to April 1859, with stints at the Coast Survey Office, in Washington in 1855 and 1859.
Temple served as flag lieutenant of the Pacific Squadron, on the flagship Lancaster, from April 1859 to October 1861.
In November 1861, he was assigned to command the steamer Flambeau, and was immediately sent to the Bahamas and Nassau "to endeavor to interdict the rebel vessels which start from those points for the United States coasts."
In January 1862, Flambeau was ordered to depart Nassau to and report to Flag Officer Samuel Du Pont at Port Royal, SC; however, "should Lieutenant Temple not feel able to retain command of the Flambeau any longer, you will assign some other officer to that vessel and permit Lieutenant Temple to return home."
Prior to his departure from Nassau, Temple had a run-in with the U. S. Consul, Samuel Whiting. A Confederate steamer arrived in the neutral port and dipped her colors to another rebel vessel. Temple indicated he would have returned the salute if he had seen it, and the Consul took umbrage, opining Temple was not aggressive enough in his duties while in Nassau. Du Pont approved to Temple's statement. Temple was sent to New York on sick leave, and spent the next seven months on ordnance duty there.
Temple was promoted to Lieutenant Commander on July 16, 1862, and assigned command of the gunboat Pembina, West Gulf Blockading Squadron. From November 1862 to September 1864, he was fleet captain of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron, On January 15 and 16, 1863, Pembina was involved in the unsuccessful attempt of trying to stop the rebel raider Oreto (Florida) from departing Mobile Bay. From January 23 to 31, Temple was on temporary blockading duty at Pensacola. On April 10, 1864, Temple assumed command of San Jacinto, in Key West.
In mid-July, probably while on leave, Temple led a force of sailors in defense of the approaches to Washington, DC, during Jubal Early's attack on the capital.
Between November 1864 and May 1865, Temple commanded the steamer Pontoosuc, participating in both attacks on Fort Fisher, in the capture of Wilmington, NC, in the bombardment of forts on the James River, at Dutch Gap, and at the capture of Petersburg and Richmond. Temple also wrote a letter criticizing Major General Benjamin Butler's actions during the attack on Fort Fisher in December, which Rear Admiral David Porter cited in his report to Washington.
In the attack on Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865, Temple fired 275 rounds during the bombardment, and landed 40 men who participated in the assault on the fort. Seven of Temple's men were wounded in the assault.
On January 20, Temple reported that 'the officers and men of this vessel behaved admirably throughout the whole affair.' Specifically regarding the assaulting party, he said, 'our detachment displayed coolness and courage under a withering fire of grape, canister, and musketry from Fort Fisher, and that several of them were afterward prominent in bringing off the wounded.'
In a subsequent report, Porter recommended Temple, among others, for promotion for being 'under fire most of the time, and at close quarters,' and 'coolly performed what was required' of him.
Pontoosuc participated in a 13-hour bombardment of Fort Anderson, on Cape Fear River, on February 18, and Forts Strong and Lee, two days later.
Temple was promoted to Commander on March 3, 1865. On March 31, he recommended medals of honor for several of his men 'for gallantry, skill and coolness in actions during the operations in and about Cape Fear River, which extended from December 24, 1864, to February 22, 1865, and which resulted in the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington.' Among the men he recommended was Boatswain Mate Robert M. Blair, a fellow Green Mountain Boy.
On April 7, Temple assumed command of Hampton Roads from Commander Ed. T. Nichols. In the hectic days following President Lincoln's death, vessels under Temple's command were active in searching for the assassins.
After the war, Temple commanded the steamer Tacony, flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron from August 1865 until October 1866. He was Inspector of Ordnance, at Portsmouth Navy Yard from November 1866 to October 1869, a member of the Permanent Ordnance Board, Washington, DC, from October 1869 to October 1870, and served as the Navy Department's Assistant Judge Advocate from October to December. While serving on the Ordnance Board, he was promoted to Captain on August 28, 1870.
Captain Temple commanded the steam frigate Tennessee from December 1870 to April 1871, then returned to the Bureau of Ordnance, in Washington, from May to October 1871.
Captain Temple was chief of staff, European Station, onboard the screw frigate Wabash, from October 1871 to May 1873, commanding Wabash from July 1872 to May 1873.
In mid to late-December 1874, Captain Temple was delegated to escort King Kalakaua, of the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), in his visit to this country, for which service congress allowed him to accept the decoration of Knight Commander of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.
Captain Temple commanded New York Navy Yard from February 1875 to October 1877. He was promoted to Commodore on June 5, 1878. From October 1879 to September 1882, he served on the Examining and Retiring Board; he became its president in June 1881. From July 1881 to September 1882, he was also a member of the Naval Advisory Board.
In October 1882, he was appointed president of the Jeanette court of inquiry, which duty lasted until April 1883. From then until February 1884, he was awaiting orders.
He was promoted to Rear Admiral on February 22, 1884, and voluntarily retired from active service on February 29.
Rear Admiral Temple died June 28, 1894 in Washington, DC, and is buried in Congressional Cemetery in that city.
On October 7, 1851, he married Catlyna Tillman Totten (1820-1889), daughter of General Joseph G. Totten (1788-1864), in Washington, DC. She predeceased him by five years. They had no children.
Sources: Peck, 695; Benedict, 2:795; Callahan; Camp, 140; Cogar, 1:190-191; DANFS; Malone, xi:364-365; Evening Star (Washington, DC), June 29, 1894; National Almanac, 108; ORN, 2:30-34, 11:193, 265, 285-287, 387, 400, 437, 443, 455, 486-488, 599, 723, 12:21, 47, 72, 94, 105, 133, 143, 154, 348, 462, 472, 531, 17:680, 19:477-478, 528, 595, 22:46, Neeser, 2:240-243