John Rodgers, born near present Havre de Grace, Md., 11 July 1772, entered the Navy as Second Lieutenant 8 March 1798 and was assigned to Constellation. He helped capture French frigate L'Insurgente 9 February 1799 and took command of her as prize master. He was promoted to Captain 5 March 1799 and 3 months later took command of Maryland. In March 1801 he transported the ratified French-American Peace Treaty to France.
Placed in command of John Adams the following year, he sailed for the Mediterranean to attack Barbary forts and gunboats at Tripoli. His brilliant record fighting the corsairs won him appointment as Commodore of the Mediterranean Squadron in May 1805.
A year later he returned to the United States to take command of the New York Flotilla. After the Embargo Act was passed at the close of 1807, Rodgers commanded operations along the Atlantic coast enforcing its provisions.
In the spring of 1811, upon word that a British ship was impressing American seaman off Sandy Hook, N.J., Commodore Rodgers, in President, was ordered to investigate. On 16 May he defeated British corvette Little Belt in a spirited engagement which foreshadowed his brilliant success in the forecoming war with England.
On the sixth day of the War of 1812, still in President, Rodgers drove off British frigate Belvidera and chased her for 8 hours before she escaped. During the remainder of the war he captured 23 prizes and on land rendered valuable service defending Baltimore during the attack on Fort Henry.
Following the war, Rodgers headed the Board of Navy Commissioners until retiring in May 1837. Commodore Rodgers died in Philadelphia 1 August 1838.
John Rodgers, son of Commodore John Rodgers, was born near Havre de Grace, Md., 8 August 1812. He entered the Navy as a midshipman 18 April 1828. Service in the Mediterranean on board Constellation and Concord opened his long career of distinguished service. In the mid-1850's he succeeded Comdr. Ringgold in command of the North Pacific Exploring and Surveying Expedition, which added greatly to our knowledge of far eastern and northern waters.
In the early months of the Civil War, Rodgers organized the Mississippi Flotilla and supervised construction of the first ironclad gunboats on the western rivers. He took command of ironclad Galena in April 1862 and operated with distinction in the James River while supporting General McClellan's Peninsular Campaign. He was promoted to Captain 16 July 1862 and transferred to monitor Weehawken. In her he distinguished himself during the attack on Fort Sumter and in capturing Confederate ram Atlanta. The latter service won him the thanks of Congress and promotion to Commodore.
After the war, Rodgers commanded the Boston Naval Station until 1869. He was elevated to Rear Admiral in December 1869 and given command of the Asiatic Squadron. In this post he ably handled diplomatic duties in addition to his naval responsibilities. Back in the United States he commanded Mare Island Naval Station and the Naval Observatory. He died in Washington 5 May 1882.
John Rodgers, great grandson of Commodore Rodgers, was born in Washington 15 January 1881 and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1903. His early naval career included service on ships of various types before studying flying in 1911 and becoming the second American naval officer to receive a pilot's license.
He commanded Division 1, Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet in 1916; and, after the United States entered World War I, he commanded the Submarine Base at New London, Conn.
Following the war, he served in European waters and received the Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding work on minesweeping operations in the North Sea. After several important assignments during the next.5 years, he commanded Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, in Langley in 1925. That year he made the first attempt at a non-stop flight from California to Hawaii. In command of seaplane PN-9, he departed San Pedro 31 August, but a fuel shortage forced his plane to land short of her destination 1 September. While ships searched for the plane, Comdr. Rodgers led his crew in improvising sails from the plane's wing material to continue the trip afloat. Finally, 9 days later, after sailing the plane to within 15 miles of Nawiliwili Bay, Kauai, Rodgers hailed Submarine R-4 and was towed into port.
After this experience, he served as Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics until killed in an airplane crash 27 August 1926.
(Str: dp. 455; l. 160'; b. 27'; dr. 6'6"; cpl. 22; a. 3 3-pdrs., 1 1-pdr.)
The first John Rodgers, a lighthouse tender, was built in Newburgh, N.Y., and taken over by the Navy at the beginning of World War I under Executive Order of 11 April 1917 which placed the Lighthouse Service under Navy control. She was assigned to the 3rd Naval District and operated there until the Lighthouse Service was returned to the Department of Commerce 1 July 1919.