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Document Signed by Four United States Navy Admirals

Silas Horton Stringham, Sylvanus William Godon, James Alden and George B. Balch, also Signed by Lt. Commander Weld N. Allen
(UNITED STATES NAVY). November 5, 1869-Dated, Navy Dept., Bureau of Navigation and Office of Detail, signed 4 men who were or became United States Navy Admirals
Original, 1 page, Partially-Printed Document, dated November 5, 1869, Navy Dept., Bureau of Navigation and Office of Detail, Signed Four Naval Officers who were or became Admirals, some were explorers (w/ Wilkes or Perry in Japan) and some fought in the Mexican and Civil Wars, Choice Fine.

The Admirals are Silas Horton Stringham (1798-1876), Sylvanus Wm. Godon (1807-79) (signs twice), James Alden (1810-77), and George B. Balch (1821-1908). It is also signed by Lt. Commander Weld N. Allen (1837-75) who was involved in testing a Civil War era Submarine named the "Intelligent Whale."

This document detaches 1st Asst. Engineer Oscar H. Lackey from the U.S. Steamer Albany and orders him to report to Rear Admiral Godon for duty on board the U.S. Steamer Swatara. The Swatara was the ship that brought prisoner John Surratt, one of the Lincoln conspirators back to the U.S. in 1867 after his capture in Egypt.

Admiral James Alden was appointed midshipman in 1828 and accompanied Charles Wilkes exploring expedition around the world in 1838-42. As a Lt. during the Mexican war he was present at the capture of Vera Cruz, Tuxpan, and Tabasco. In 1855-56 he was actively engaged in the Indian war on Puget's sound. When the Civil War started he commanded the steamer "South Carolina," reinforced Fort Pickens, Fla., and was in an engagement at Galveston, Texas. He commanded the sloop of war "Richmond" at the passage of forts Jackson and St. Philip and the capture of New Orleans (April 1862), and was also at Port Hudson.

He became a Captain in 1863, where he commanded the "Brooklyn" and participated in the capture of Mobile bay in 1864 and in the two attacks on Fort Fisher. In 1866 he was made Commodore and commanded the Navy Yard at Mare Island, California. In 1869 he was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. He made Rear Admiral in 1871 and commanded the European squadron. Alden signs on the front as Chief of the Bureau. Admiral S. H. Stringham, who dockets the reverse of the document, entered the navy in 1809 and served on various ships during the War of 1812. When on the frigate "President" he participated in the engagements with the "Little Belt" and "Belvedere." He then fought in the U.S. war in Algiers. From 1819-'21 he served in the sloop "Ceyane" on the coast of Africa, and brought home four slavers as prize-master.

He was executive officer of the "Hornet" in the West Indies in 1821-'4, for the suppression of piracy and assisted in the capture of the "Moscow," the most dreaded pirate ship at the time. As a Captain, he was commandant of the New York navy-yard (1844-6) and with the ship "Ohio" during the Mexican War he took part in the bombardment of Vera Cruz. From 1848-52 he was in charge of the Norfolk navy-yard, and from 1856-60 he commanded the Boston navy-yard. He was also flag-officer in command of the Mediterranean from 1853-'6. When the civil war began he strongly supported relief of Fort Sumter, but his advice was not followed until too late.

He commanded the North Atlantic blockading fleet, and planned the expedition to Cape Hatteras. On this occasion General Butler accompanied him with 900 troops. The squadron bombarded the forts, sailing in an ellipse, by which means the vessels concentrated their fire on the forts and maneuvered so skillfully that none were hit. Both forts surrendered after the bombardment, and the troops were landed to garrison them in August n August, 1861. Large quantities of guns and stores were captured and this was counted as the first naval victory of importance in the war. Stringham declined further active service on account of his age and was retired as a Commodore on December 21, 1861.

However, he continued to command the Boston Navy Yard from 1862-65 and was promoted to Rear-Aadmiral on July 16, 1862. He was port Admiral at New York from 1870-72. Admiral George B. Balch was born in Tennessee. He was appointed Midshipman in 1837. He volunteered for the American Exploring Expedition under Wilkes in 1838, but was not accepted on account of his youth. From 1838-40 he served in the Cyane, where he saw the bombardment of Beirut by the English, Austrian and Turkish fleets. During the Mexican War he took part in the first attack on Alvarado and also in the bombardment of Vera Cruz and was present at the surrender of Vera Cruz. As a Lt., he was the Executive Officer on the U.S.S Plymouth, part of Commodore Matthew Perry's Squadron (1 of 4 ships) in Perry's Japan Expedition (the first) of 1853-54, and led the survey boat (one from each ship) that went ashore. Balch recieved a bronze medal for the expedition from the Boston Board of Trade. During the Civil War he was E.O. of the USS Sabine and en route to Port Royal saved all but 7 of the men on the US Transport Governor which sank during a storm.

He then commanded the ships USS Pocahontas and later, the Pawnee, noted where his gunners were noted for their accuracy (the Confederates called the ship, "Hell and Damnation"). At Stono River, General Terry wrote that Balch saved his command, the ship being hit 46 times, one time even having her launch blown up by a torpedo. While in command of the Pawnee, Balch took part in the combined operations under Admiral Dahlgren and General Foster. In a later campaign in South Carolina where the Pawnee engaged 3 CSA batteries of eleven or twelve guns, he drove the Confederates from their earthworks and the Pawnee was hit 10 times. Shortly after the war, Congress jumped him from Lt. to Commander because of his heroics. By the close of 1866 he a Captain. In 1872, he made Commodore, commanding the U.S. Naval Home at Philadelphia. In 1878 he made Rear Admiral and from 1878-81 he was Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. From 1881-3 he commanded the Pacific Squadron, then retired. From 1902 until his death in 1908, he was the oldest living officer of the U.S. Navy. Balch boldly signs the front of the document as Captain.

Lt. Commander Weld N. Allen was born in Maine and appointed to the Navy in 1852. He was at the Naval School from 1852-6 and then attached to sloop Cyane, Home Squadron, 1857-8; brig Perry, Brazil Squadron, 1858-60; Navy Yard, Washington, 1861; commissioned as Lieutenant, February 24th, 1861. Just before the war he volunteered as a Lt. on the USS Pennsylvania which was involved in destroying the Norfolk Navy Yard on April 21, 1861 to keep munitions from falling into the hands of the Confederacy.

From 1862-3 he commanded the Gun boat Kanawha as a Lt. Commander, and later (1863-4) the steamer New London, both part of the Western Gulf Blockading Sqd. The New London captured a blockade runner while under Allen's command. He then commanded the steam-sloop Tuscarora (60 men) (South Atlantic Blockading Sqd.) at the two attacks on Fort Fisher in Dec. 1864 and Jan. 1865, where he was wounded in the arm during the second attack. From 1866-68 he commanded the steam-sloop Ticonderoga in the European Sqd., and in early 1869 he was in command of the receiving ship at Boston. From late 1869-73 he was on ordnance duty in the New York Navy Yard, where he was one of the officers that oversaw the Sept. 1872 test trials of "Intelligent Whale" a primitive submarine that took from 1864-66 to complete and was eventually purchased by General Nathaniel N. Halstead after the war, who sold to the Navy before he was murdered in 1871 by a jealous suitor of his mistress.

Unfortunately, the packing around the hatch was faulty and it began to sink, but was saved before it sank totally. Today, that "submarine" can be viewed at the N.J. National Guard Militia Museum. From 1873 to his death in Portland, ME, from apoplexy two years later at age 38 (too bad, probably would have been an admiral), he was in charge of the Light House District. Nice grouping of U.S. Navy notables. This document has a small hole top center and nick out of the right edge, neither affecting any text. An amazing, multi-signature United States Naval document.
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