Born in Charleston, S.C., on 22 February 1795, Thomas Holdup was orphaned at an early age and was adopted by General Daniel Stevens. On 8 February 1809, he was appointed midshipman on board Hornet. From then until 1812, he served successively in Constitution, President, and John Adams. Late in 1812, he was assigned to duty with Commodore Chauncey and distinguished himself in the attack on Black Rock on November 28th. Commodore Chauncey appointed him acting lieutenant in January 1813 and his permanent commission in that rank, to date from 24 July, was confirmed by the Senate on 3 August. On 10 September, he again distinguished himself as captain of the sloop, Trippe, during the Battle of Lake Erie. In 1815, an Act of the Legislature of South Carolina enabled him to add General Stevens' surname to his own. Following the War of 1812, Thomas Holdup Stevens held many posts, both ashore and afloat, including tours of duty at the Norfolk and Washington Navy yards. He was promoted to master commandant on 3 March 1825 and, in 1829, he embarked on a two-year tour as commanding officer of Ontario, serving in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1832, he was assigned to the Navy Yard at Pensacola and in 1836 he was appointed captain, to date from 27 January 1836. After waiting two years for orders, he was appointed to command of the Washington Navy Yard on 29 February 1840. He served in that capacity until his death there early on the morning of 21 January 1841.
Thomas Holdup Stevens, Jr., the son of Thomas Holdup Stevens (above) was born in Middletown, Conn., on 27 May 1819. He was appointed acting midshipman on 14 December 1836 and, after two years at sea in Independence, was warranted midshipman. After three months leave, from April to June 1840, he served at the Depot of Charts and Instruments. Following a tour at the Washington Navy Yard and coast survey duty at New York, he attended the Naval School at Philadelphia, stood his examination on 2 June 1842, and was warranted a passed midshipman on 2 July. Between 1842 and 1855, Stevens served at various posts ashore, among which were two tours on coast survey duty, one tour as acting master of Michigan during her construction and 30 months as storekeeper in Honolulu, Hawaii. In September 1855, Lt. Stevens was dropped from the Navy under an Act of 28 February 1855.
On 29 January 1858, he was recommissioned a lieutenant. From then until the outbreak of the Civil War, Lt. Stevens served with the Home Squadron, principally in Roanoke, Colorado, and Michigan. On 4 September 1861, he assumed command of Ottawa. In November, he fought at Port Royal and helped capture Forts Beauregard and Walker. Between New Year's Day and 4 March 1862, he blockaded the coast of Florida and helped to capture Fort Clinch, and the towns of Fernandina and St. Mary's. He also commanded the first expedition up the St. John's River in March and April.
Late in April, he transferred to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and to the command of Maratanza. He commanded her in operations supporting McClellan's advance during the Peninsula Campaign in May 1862. On 15 July, he was promoted to commander and, from 9 May to 6 September, commanded Monitor. He was ordered to the command of Sonoma on 12 September and led her on to capture five Confederate ships and, in a 34-hour chase, privateer Florida.
On 18 June 1863, Comdr. Stevens was detached from Sonoma at New York and, on 3 August, he was directed to report to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Rear Admiral Dahlgren, the squadron commander, placed Stevens in command of the iron clad Patapsco and, between 21 August and 4 November, he led attacks on the defenses of Charleston harbor. By 1 July 1864, Comdr. Stevens commanded Oneida, operating with the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. There, he took part in operations before Mobile, Ala., until 3 August. Admiral Farragut then ordered him to command the double-turreted monitor Winnebago which he led in attacks on Fort Powell and in the Battle of Mobile Bay on the 5th. He resumed command of Oneida on 18 August and retained it through the end of the war and until August 1865.
In 1866, Comdr. Stevens was appointed lighthouse inspector for the 11th Treasury District. During that assignment, he was promoted to captain. He was detached from duty as lighthouse inspector on 14 September and, on 26 July 1870, was ordered to command Guerriere in the European Squadron. Stevens was promoted to commodore on 19 February 1873, to date from 20 November 1872, and was assigned to the Norfolk Navy Yard—first as commanding officer, then on a special assignment related to Norfolk harbor.
In 1879, he was promoted to rear admiral to date from 19 January 1880. On 19 August 1880, Rear Admiral Stevens was ordered to the command of the Pacific Station. He relinquished that command on 16 May 1881, pending his retirement on 27 May. Rear Admiral Stevens died at Rockville, Md., on 13 May 1896 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The first Stevens (Destroyer No. 86) was named for the first Thomas Holdup Stevens and the second Stevens (DD-479) honored both him and his son, Rear Admiral Thomas Holdup Stevens, Jr.
(Destroyer No. 86: dp. 1,284 (f.); l. 314'4 ½ "; b. 30'11¼ " (wl.); dr. 9'2" (mean); s. 34.54 k. (tl.); cpl. 122; a. 4 4", 2 3", 12 21" tt.; cl. Wickes)
The first Stevens (Destroyer No. 86) was laid down at Quincey, Mass., on 20 September 1917 by the Fore River Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 13 January 1918; sponsored by Miss Marie Christie Stevens; and commissioned at Boston on 24 May 1918, Comdr. Rufus F. Zogbaum, Jr., in command.
Stevens departed Boston on 3 June and arrived in New York two days later. On the 15th, she sailed for Europe in the screen of a convoy and reached Brest, France, on the 27th. The following day, she headed for Queenstown in Ireland, arriving there on 6 July. Assigned to the United States Naval Forces, Europe, Stevens operated out of that port and protected convoys on the Queenstown-Liverpool circuit until mid-December. She put to sea on the 16th and, after stops at the Azores and Bermuda, entered Boston on 3 January 1919.
Upon her return to the United States, the destroyer was assigned to Destroyer Division 7, Squadron 3, Atlantic Fleet. In the spring of 1919, she cruised to Key West, Fla., and visited New York, before getting underway from Boston on 3 May to participate in the support operations for the first successful transatlantic flight. She put into Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the 4th and stood out again five days later to guard for the Navy seaplanes' flight to Newfoundland. After returning to Halifax on the 11th, she put to sea and, by the 19th, reached Ponta Delgada, in the Azores. Along the way, she assisted in the search for one of the two downed planes, NC~3.
She completed her mission at Boston on 8 June and, a month later, shifted to Newport, R.I., for normal operations. She visited the southeastern coast of the United States during the fall and early winter of 1919 and was at Philadelphia from 17 December 1919 to 1 June 1920. Stevens operated off the New England coast until 3 November 1921 when she set course for Charleston, S.C. The destroyer returned to Philadelphia on 8 April 1922 for inactivation. She decommissioned there on 19 June and remained inactive until 7 January 1936 when her name was struck from the Navy list. On 8 September 1936, her hulk was sold to the Boston Iron and Metal Co., Inc., of Baltimore, Md., for scrapping.