CAPTAIN DUNCAN N. INGRAHAM, CSN 1802 – 1892
Posted By : manager
Posted : February 28, 2022
By: Mike Thomas
The U.S. Navy has long honored notable Americans by naming warships after them. Leading the list is George Washington, with eight ships bearing his name. Four men, 3 of whom are former presidents, share second place with four ships named after them. Tho-mas Jefferson, James Madison, and U.S. Grant comprise this small group and native Charlestonian Dun-can N. Ingraham, a former Confederate Commodore.
Ingraham came from a sea-faring family. His father, a close friend of John Paul Jones, moved his family from Massachusetts to Charleston after the Revolutionary War. Ingraham married the granddaughter of Henry Laurens, a South Carolina patriot and President of the Continental Congress. He fathered 11 children, 3 of whom served the Confederacy. Ingraham began his naval career in 1812 as a 9-year-old Midshipman and, over time, rose in the ranks to Captain in the U.S. Navy with command of a warship. In 1853, his name became internationally known when he rescued an American citizen held on an Austrian warship at the port of Smyrna, Turkey, in a tense and stunning diplomatic action. In this well-documented affair, his stance and activities became a precedent “Ingraham” in international law. For this, he received special thanks in a Congressional Gold Medal and similar tributes from other organizations and groups. In 1856 he served as Chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography.
In January 1861, South Carolina established a Coast Police to protect its coast and inlets. Some records call the organization the South Carolina Navy. Captain Ingraham, who resigned from the U.S. Navy shortly after South Carolina seceded from the Union, was chosen to make this force a reality.
Building the South Carolina Navy from the ground up was no easy task, but by late spring 1861, In-graham had secured the services of seasoned officers, midshipmen, surgeons, and engineers. He obtained & outfitted six vessels crewed by full crews, which were turned over to the Confederate Navy when the S.C. Navy was dis-established. Ingraham was then placed in command of Charleston’s Naval Station. In January 1863, with his flag on the ironclad CSS Palmetto State and supported by the CSS Chicora, he successfully attacked the Union, blockading ships off Charleston’s coast. All in all, his leadership and organizational skills were invaluable to the defense of Charleston and the progress of the C.S. Navy. After the war, Ingraham remained in Charleston and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery.
Despite his Confederate service, his fame and reputation lived on and was formally acknowledged by the U.S. Navy in the early 20th century with the first USS Ingraham (DD-111), a destroyer. Built for WWI, it was commissioned shortly after the war’s end. Like many ships from that war, it was soon placed in reserve and eventually sold for scrap in 1936. Ingraham (DD-444), also a destroyer, was commissioned and sponsored by Ingraham’s granddaughter in 1941. The ship provided WWII service in the Atlantic until a tragic collision caused her to sink with significant loss of life in 1944. The third Ingraham (DD-694), another destroyer, was commissioned in 1944 and again sponsored by Ingraham’s granddaughter. This vessel sailed the seas in stellar fashion with substantial wartime action in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam before retiring in 1971. Finally, Ingraham (FFG-61), a guided-missile frigate, saw solid and commendable active service spanning 1989-2015.