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 Samuel Phillips Lee

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Samuel Phillips Lee

Civil War Union Navy Rear Admiral. Born in Fairfax County, Virginia, to one of the most famous families in the state the country, his grandfather was Declaration of Independence signer Richard Henry Lee, and his third cousin was Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Appointed a Midshipman in the United States Navy in November 1825, his early career entailed long voyages on Naval missions. He gained a reputation as a troublesome officer, and was suspended from duty as First Lieutenant of the “USS Peacock” by Commodore Charles Wilkes during an 1830s Pacific cruise (Wilkes would later be known for his actions in the Trent Affair during the Civil War.) Always aware of his families honor, he was involved in several duels and killed a man on a Mississippi steamboat. In 1841 he was transferred to the Coast Survey, however, he was soon seeing action again during the Mexican War serving as commander of the “USS Washington”. On hydrographic duty in 1851, he commanded the “USS Dolphin” on an oceanographic research voyage throughout the Atlantic Ocean that provided much valuable data. In 1861 he was taking the sloop of war “USS Vandalia” around the Cape of Good Hope when he heard that the Civil War had started; on his own authority he brought his ship back and it was assigned to the blockade of Charleston, South Carolina. He was highly successful on blockade duty and received over a $100,000 in prize money. Commanding his squadron over 2 years, his fleet grew from 48 to more than 100 craft. In 1862 he commanded one of the three gunboats that Union Admiral David G. Farragut sent to run past the forts protecting New Orleans, Louisiana and then to engage the Confederate fleet. He also participated in the naval action at Vicksburg, Mississippi. In September 1862 he was made acting Rear Admiral and assigned to command the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron operating off Virginia and North Carolina. He was successful at this duty, in part because he intercepted ships that got through the primary blockade by stationing another cordon of ships out at sea. But because Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles did not consider him to be aggressive enough, he was sent in 1864 to command the Mississippi Squadron, where he performed well in supporting the campaign of Major General George H. Thomas against the troops of General John Bell Hood along the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. After the war, he served on various boards and on post duty. Promoted to full Rear Admiral on 1870, he retired three years later. Two United States Naval ships have been named in his honor. In 1843 he married Elizabeth Blair, the only daughter of journalist and 19th Century political power broker Francis Preston Blair, which made him brother-in-law to future Civil War Union Major General Francis P. Blair Jr., and to Montgomery Blair, who would serve as United States Postmaster General in the cabinet of President Abraham Lincoln. The home that he and Elizabeth lived in was given to them by her father as a wedding gift, which Francis P. Blair had built beside his own home, which was located across the street from the White House. Today, both homes are used as one and, known as Blair House, is the Official Residence of foreign dignitaries who are visiting the United States.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 12 Oct 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12933
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Samuel Phillips Lee (14 Feb 1812–5 Jun 1897), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12933, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .