Benjamin Harrison, from whom the first Harrison, was named, was born about 1726 in Charles County, Va., and attended the college of William and Mary. As a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, Harrison protested against the Stamp Act. An early advocate of independence, he served in the Continental Congress 1774-78 and as Governor of Virginia 1781-84. Harrison died 24 April 1791. His son and great-grandson were both Presidents of the United States.
Napoleon Harrison was born in Martinsburg, Va. (now West Virginia), 19 February 1823 and was appointed Midshipman 26 February 1838. Serving in California during the Mexican War in Portsmouth, he was a volunteer in the expedition to rescue Kearny's command, and spent 5 days en route from San Francisco to Monterrey in a small boat carrying despatches. In 1862 Harrison commanded Cayuga at the passage of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, leading the battle line past the forts and upriver to New Orleans. He later commanded Mahaska. in the James River Flotilla, Minnesota in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and various ships in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. After the fall of Charleston in 1865 Harrison served at Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H. Following the Civil War, he taught at the Naval Academy and in 1870 took command of his last ship, Congress. Captain Harrison died 27 October 1870 at Key West, Fla. The second Harrison was named after him.
Harrison, a former fishing schooner built in 1761, and named the Triton was chartered 22 October 1775 as part of the small fleet outfitted by General George Washington to capture much needed supplies and to aid him in the siege of Boston. Under Captain William Colt the ship set sail from Plymouth, where she had been obtained, on October 26. Although Harrison was not sturdy or particularly seaworthy. Captain Coit succeeded in capturing two British provision ships 5 November. Continuing her cruise against British shipping, the ship departed again 13 November 1775 and after 'being chased by frigate Tartar on the 23d, brought two more prizes into port 1 December. Harrison remained at Plymouth, was frozen in for a time in January, and after making two short unproductive cruises decommissioned.