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U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps

Navy Profiles
Edward Phelps Lull
Commanding the CSS Tennessee

Edward Phelps Lull was born February 20, 1836, in Windsor, Vermont. In 1845 he moved to Wisconsin with his widowed mother, and received an appointment to the Naval Academy, becoming an Acting Midshipman on October 7, 1851. Graduating in June, 1855, he served on Congress, Colorado and Roanoke before being assigned to the Naval Academy as an assistant professor of ethics and English in September 1860.1

On May 13, 1861, Captain George Blake, Superintendent of the Naval Academy, informed Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, that the school had been transferred from Annapolis, Maryland to Fort Adams, Newport, Rhode Island and instruction had started again. Lieutenant Edward Phelps Lull, a native of Windsor, was one of only four instructors remaining with the school, and the superintendent requested the four be retained, as they were "so very important in reorganizing the Academy and training the acting midshipmen." Captain Blake's request was not honored, and Lieutenant Lull was transferred to the screw frigate Roanoke when it was re-commissioned in June. He had previously served on Roanoke, from 1858 to 1861, before being assigned to the Academy. On July 13, 1861, RoanokeRoanoke> destroyed the schooner Mary off Lockwood's Inlet, North Carolina. Returning to the Academy in September, Lieutenant Lull was executive officer of the school and commanding officer of the training ship, USS Constitution, until December 1863, when he returned to active service and participated in the battle of Mobile Bay, where the Confederate ram Tennessee was captured. Now a lieutenant-commander, Lull commanded the captured ram in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron from late 1864 until May 1865.2

On January 26, 1870, the ship Guard departed Brooklyn Navy Yard and proceeded to the Darien wilderness, on the Isthmus of Panama, as part of a survey expedition under Captain Thomas Selfridge, to locate a site to cut a canal from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Commander Edward P. Lull commanded Guard, and was "as able a young officer as was to be found in the Navy."3

Between 1879 and 1881, commanding the screw sloop-of-war Wachusett," Lull was the military commander of Alaska.4

(to be continued ...)


1. Malone, Dumas. "Lull, Edward Phelps." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933, xi:500-1.

2. ORN, 4:392; "Roanoke," DANFS; Peck, 693; ORN, 6:163

3. David McCullough, "The Path Between The Seas, The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914," (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1977), 20, 26; "Guard," DANFS.

4. "Chief Executive, Alaska," sighted at; Internet.

See Researching and writing about Vermont Blue-Jackets in the Civil War for explanations of references.

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