Captain Kidder Randolph Breese, US Navy
14 April 1831 - 13 September 1881
"Carte de Visite" photograph, probably taken circa 1861-1862. He was serving on USS San Jacinto during the November 1861 Trent incident. Breese held the rank of Lieutenant between 1855 and 1862.
Born in Philadelphia, 14 April 1831. Appointed Midshipman, 6 November 1846, from Rhode Island, and, on the 25th of November, passed the required mental and physical examination at Annapolis; March 1847, was ordered to USS Saratoga, Commander Farragut, and served on her on the Mexican coast during the war. In the spring of 1848, Saratoga, going out of commission, was ordered to St. Mary's, and, on her arrival at Rio de Janeiro, was detached and ordered to the frigate Brandywine; served on Brandywine until the expiration of her cruise, December 1850; February 1851, joined the frigate St. Lawrence, then loading at New York with articles for the World’s Fair at London, and made that cruise in her, returning in August 1851; from October 1851 to June 1852 at the Naval Academy studying for examination.
Warranted 8 June 1852, and ordered to Mississippi, flagship of Commodore M.C. Perry during his Expedition to Japan; temporarily attached to Macedonian, in search of coal on the north end of the island of Formosa, and in investigation of the captivity of Americans by the savages of that island; on return of Mississippi to the United States in April 1855, was detached and granted leave; in July was ordered on Coast Survey duty, and was engaged in that work until August 1858; was then ordered to Preble, Paraguay Expedition, serving in that expedition and afterward on the Mosquito coast off Greytown, South Africa until September 1859, when he was invalided home with Isthmus Fever; November 1859, was ordered to Portsmouth off the coast of Africa, and took passage in Mohican to join her; served on board Portsmouth until August 1860, when he joined San Jacinto; remained on San Jacinto until the expiration of her cruise in December 1861.
In December 1861, was ordered to the command of the Third Division of Porter’s Mortar Flotilla, and participated in the attack on New Orleans and Vicksburg in 1862; was recommended for promotion by Captain Porter for services at this time. Was appointed Lieutenant-Commander to date from 16 July 1862. His services throughout the Civil War were honorably mentioned by Porter in his “commendatory despatch” of 28 January 1865, and follows: “Lieutenant-Commander K.R. Breese, my Fleet-Captain, has been with me nearly all the time since the Rebellion broke out. In command of a division of the Mortar Flotilla, which opened the way to New Orleans, he made his first record there. In the Mississippi with me for two years, engaged in harassing and dangerous duties, he always acquitted himself to me satisfaction. In charge of the mortars at the siege of Vicksburg, he helped to hasten the surrender of that stronghold. At Fort Fisher he led the boarders in the assault, and, though we were not successful in getting into the fort in the face of equal numbers, yet that assault gained the day, as is generally admitted on every side. Our troops obtained a footing without much resistance, then nobly maintained what they had won. Lieutenant-Commander Breese did all he could to rally his men, and made two or three unsuccessful attempts to regain the parapet; but the marines having failed in their duty to support the gallant officers and sailors, who took the lead, he had to retire to a place of safety. He did not, however, lose the ground, but remained under the parapet in a rifle pit, using a musket until night favored his escape. He is a clever, gallant officer, and I strongly recommend his immediate promotion to a commander.” August 1865, was ordered to the Naval Academy and served there until September 1866 as assistant to the Superintendent, Admiral Porter; November 1866, was ordered as a member of a Board to examine volunteer officers for entry into the Navy; June 1867, to the Washington Navy Yard as Inspector of Ordnance; July 1869, was detached from the Navy Yard and ordered as a member of a permanent Ordnance Board, 1 December.
After duty with various Boards he was ordered 29 June 1870 to the command of USS Plymouth, European Squadron; detached from Plymouth in October 1872; December 1872, ordered to duty in the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, and in June 1873 to the Naval Academy as Commandant of Midshipmen.
Commissioned as Captain, 9 August 1874, and in October was, at his own request, detached from the Naval Academy; Hydrographic Inspector, 1875, to command of Torpedo Station, 1875; detached from Torpedo Station, September 1878, and ordered to special ordnance duty. In command of USS Pensacola, Flagship of Pacific Station, January 1879 to June 1880. Died at Newport, Rhode Island, 13 September 1881.
Source: Adapted from “Kidder Randolph Breese, U.S. Navy.” Unpublished typescript in “Breese, Kidder Randolph” ZB file, Navy Department Library. This text appears to be adapted from Hamersly’s The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. See full bibliographic citation below.
14 April 1831 - Born in Pennsylvania.
6 November 1846 - Notice to School by 25th November.
3 December 1846 - Acting appointment as Midshipman, to rank from 6 November.
9 March 1847 - Detached and to Saratoga.
16 March 1847 - Transferred to St. Mary’s.
18 March 1847 - Warranted.
6 December 1850 - Detached from Brandywine and 3 months’ leave.
1 February 1851 - To St. Lawrence.
14 August 1851 - Detached and to Academy, 1st October.
9 June 1852 - Warranted as Passed Midshipman from the 8th of June 1852.
9 June 1852 - Detached from the Academy and to Mississippi.
25 April 1855 - Detached and 3 months’ leave.
10 July 1855 - To Coastal Survey under Lt. Stellwagen.
12 May 1855 - Detached and to Coastal Survey Steamer George M. Bibb.
25 August 1855 - Re-commissioned.
24 October 1855 - Detached and to Coastal Survey Office.
9 November 1855 - Warranted as Master from 15 September 1855.
12 November 1855 - Commissioned from 16 September 1855, as Lieutenant.
27 November 1855 - Detached from Coastal Survey Steamer George M. Bibb and to Coast Survey Office.
9 December 1855 - Detached and to the Coastal Survey Steamer George M. Bibb.
13 September 1858 - Be ready for duty in Paraguay Expedition.
15 October 1858 - Detached and to Preble.
7 October 1859 - Detached (sick) 19 September and 3 months’ leave.
23 November 1859 - To Portsmouth (per Mohican).
4 December 1861 - Detached from San Jacinto, 30 November, and to Bomb Flotilla.
5 August 1862 - Promoted to a Lieutenant Commander.
4 October 1862 - Detached, return North and to the Mississippi Squadron.
18 April 1863 - Commissioned from 16 July 1862.
6 October 1864 - Detached from Mississippi Squadron and Fleet Captain of North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
2 May 1865 - Detached and wait orders.
10 August 1865 - To Naval Academy, 5 September.
18 August 1865 - Report to Annapolis, 5 September.
7 August 1866 - Commissioned Commander from 25 July 1866.
13 September 1866 - Detached from Naval Academy and wait orders.
14 November 1866 - Member Board of Examiners, Hartford, Connecticut.
22 June 1867 - To ordnance duty, Navy Yard, Washington, but continue Member of Board. Board dissolved 5 December 1867.
20 July 1869 - Detached and 3 months’ leave.
1 December 1869 - Member permanent Ordnance Board.
29 June 1870 - Detached and to command Plymouth.
26 November 1872 - Detached 21st ultimo and wait orders.
16 December 1872 - To special duty as Inspector of Ordnance.
15 May 1873 - Detached June 4 and Commandant of Midshipmen, Naval Academy, 5 June.
30 April 1874 - To examination.
10 August 1874 - Letter of Promotion.
26 October 1874 - Detached from Naval Academy 31st instant and wait orders.
19 December 1874 - Inspector of Hydrography.
1 Mar 1875 - Commissioned Captain from 9 August 1874.
17 May 1875 - Detached 3 June and to command Torpedo Station, 5 June.
2 September 1878 - Detached 16th instant and to special ordnance duty.
17 January 1879 - Detached and to command Pensacola per steamer, 30th instant.
1 June 1880 - Detached and sick leave. Detached 10 June 1880.
23 July 1880 - Previous order modified and to be considered on sick leave from 10 June, for three months.
28 January 1881 - Member, Board Harbor Commissioners, 15 February.
13 September 1881 - Died at Newport Rhode Island.
Source: Adapted from: US Navy. Bureau of Navigation. ptain Kidder Randolph Breese, U.S. Navy, Deceased, Re: Service of.” Letter Nav-327-NI, dated 9 January 1941. Located in “Breese, Kidder Randolph” ZB file, Navy Department Library.
Documents in the Navy Department Library
Miscellaneous family letters dating from 26 September 1777 through 3 April 1893.
Note with "hair ribbon" from USS Plymouth, dated 19 March 1872.
Certificate of commissioning as Midshipman, dated 15 March 1848, signed by President Polk.
Examination journal (cover embossed Torpedoes. Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I.) kept by Breese, no date.
Sources of further information:
Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography. vol. 1. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887. [See “Breese, Kidder Randolph,” pp. 366-367.].
Callahan, Edward W. ed. List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775-1900, Comprising a Complete Register of All Present and Former Commissioned, Warranted, and Appointed Officers of the United States Navy, and of the Marine Corps, Regular and Volunteer. New York, L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1901. [See page 75 for a list of Breese’s dates of promotion and death.].
Hamersly, Lewis R. The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Compiled from Official Sources. 3d ed. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott, 1878. [See “Captain Kidder Randolph Breese,” pp.118-119. This biographical essay was modified to produce the narrative essay provided above in full-text.].
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. 30 vols. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1894-1927. [See indexes of Series 1, volumes 1, 3, 10-12, 16, 18-20, and 23-27 for “Breese, Kidder Randolph.” This series is available full-text online in PDF files.]
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 69 vols. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1880-1901. [See indexes of Series 1, volumes 15, 24, 34, 41, 44, 46, and Series 2, volume 5 for “Breese, K. Randolph.” This series is available full-text online in PDF files.]