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FW: ANB - Bio of the Day: Henry Knox Thatcher

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  • A.J. Wright
    fyi..Thatcher was involved in the Mobile/Gulf campaigns near the end of the late unpleasantness.....aj wright // ajwright@uab.edu ... From: ANB Biography of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 10, 2001
      fyi..Thatcher was involved in the Mobile/Gulf campaigns near the end of the
      late unpleasantness.....aj wright // ajwright@...

      -----Original Message-----
      From: ANB Biography of the Day [mailto:biod-request@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2001 1:00 AM
      Subject: ANB - Bio of the Day

      American National Biography Online

      Thatcher, Henry Knox (26 May 1806-5 Apr. 1880), naval officer,
      was born in Thomaston, Maine, the son of Ebenezer Knox, a lawyer
      and Harvard graduate, and Lucy Flucker. Henry was the grandson
      of his namesake, General Henry Knox, General George Washington's
      commander of artillery during the American Revolution. He was
      also a descendant of Deacon Samuel Thatcher, who immigrated to
      America in 1642 and settled in Watertown, Massachusetts. After
      schooling in Boston, Thatcher became a cadet at the U.S. Military
      Academy in 1822, but he soon left to enter the U.S. Navy.

      Thatcher became a midshipman on 4 March 1823. His first tour
      of duty was with Commodore David Porter's Washington Navy Yard-based
      operations against pirates in the Caribbean. Thatcher then was
      assigned to Pacific Ocean duty on board the United States, the
      flagship of Commodore Isaac Hull. Thatcher remained on this assignment
      from 1824 until 1827. He then returned to the United States and
      was promoted to passed midshipman on 23 March 1829. He was next
      aboard the USS Independence in Boston harbor.

      Thatcher's experience in command began in 1831, when he was
      dispatched to the West Indies as the temporary captain of the
      Erie. In that year he married Susan C. Croswell. The couple had
      no children of their own but eventually adopted a daughter. In
      February 1833 Thatcher was promoted to lieutenant and in the
      next year made another cruise to the West Indies, this time as
      a ship's officer on the Falmouth. His first experience in Mediterranean
      waters was in 1839-1841 aboard the Brandywine. He alternated
      these sea voyages with shore duties on the receiving ship Ohio
      and as an inspector at the Boston Navy Yard. In 1851-1852 Thatcher
      was in command of the store ship Relief of the U.S. Navy's Brazil
      Squadron. In 1854-1855 he was the executive officer of the Naval
      Asylum in Philadelphia, and in 1855 he was promoted to commander.
      By 1856 Thatcher had advanced to a position in which he was normally
      given independent commands. In the period 1857-1859 he was the
      skipper of the Decatur in the Pacific Ocean.

      Thatcher did not actively participate in the American Civil
      War until the conflict's last campaigns. When the war began,
      he was at the Boston Navy Yard. In November 1861 he reported
      to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to take command of the corvette
      Constellation, which sailed east to special duty in the Mediterranean.
      On 16 July 1862 Thatcher was promoted to commodore, and on 26
      August 1863 he was finally given the opportunity to serve in
      combat against the Confederate states. His first war duty was
      as master of the Colorado, then assigned to North Atlantic blockading duty.

      Thatcher's first serious action against the South was as a subordinate
      to David Dixon Porter, son of Admiral David Porter, whom Thatcher
      had served forty years before. From December 1864 until January
      1865 Porter and Thatcher battled the Confederates off the North
      Carolina coast. Finally, the southern bastion Fort Fisher fell,
      and Porter praised Thatcher's efforts during the fierce bombardment.
      In early 1865 Thatcher became an acting rear admiral and was
      ordered to the Gulf of Mexico, where he began operations in cooperation
      with Union army elements in the reduction of Mobile, Alabama.
      When Mobile surrendered, Thatcher left Mobile Bay and pursued
      the Confederate fleet up the Tombigbee River. He received the
      surrender of that fleet, and the Navy Department praised his aggressiveness.

      Thatcher next proceeded to the Union campaign against Texas,
      securing the mouth of the Sabine River and taking control of
      Galveston harbor. The navy then combined its forces in the Gulf
      of Mexico, and Thatcher, aboard his flagship the Estrella, was
      given command of the combined naval forces. The war ended while
      he was in this position of responsibility.

      Following the Civil War Thatcher was promoted to permanent rear
      admiral with date of rank from 25 July 1866. He commanded the
      North Pacific Squadron aboard his flagship the Pensacola from
      1866 until 1868. Admiral Thatcher retired from the navy on 26
      May 1868. During the period from 1869 until 1870 he was the port
      admiral at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He died in Boston, Massachusetts.

      Thatcher's long sea service contributed to the rise of the U.S.
      Navy as a force in international affairs. For much of his forty-five
      years of active service, he represented the United States abroad,
      protecting its commerce and its citizens. His performance in
      combat command was brief but competent.


      Thatcher's career is outlined in U.S. Navy, Bureau of Navigation,
      Record of Officers, 1818-1888, in the National Archives. His
      ancestry is traced in G. H. Preble, Henry Knox Thatcher (1882);
      Henry Bond, Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the
      Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts (1860); and Cyrus
      Eaton, History of Thomaston, Maine, vols. 1 and 2 (1865). A sketch
      of Thatcher's Civil War service is in J. T. Headley, Farragut
      and Our Naval Commanders (1866). An obituary is in the Army and
      Navy Journal, 10 Apr. 1880.

      Rod Paschall

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      Rod Paschall. "Thatcher, Henry Knox";
      American National Biography Online Feb. 2000.
      Access Date:
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