Henry A. Walke—born on Christmas Eve 1809 in Princess Anne County, Va.—was appointed a midshipman on 1 February 1827 and reported for duty at the navy yard at Gosport, Va. (Norfolk). Walke received his initial naval training at Gosport and, from July 1827 to November 1828, cruised the West Indies in sloop Natchez in the campaign against pirates in that area. He made a voyage to the Mediterranean in Ontario between August 1829 and November 1831. Walke received his warrant as a passed midshipman on 12 July 1833 and, after several months of post-sea duty leave, transferred to duty ashore at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 7 March 1834. Between January 1836 and June 1839, he cruised the Pacific Station in the 74-gun ship-of-the-line North Carolina, primarily along the western coast of South America protecting American commerce during a period of unrest caused by strained relations between the United States and Mexico and the war between Peru and Chile.
During service in the receiving ship at New York, Walke was promoted to lieutenant before reporting on board Boston on 5 October 1840. While Lt. Walke was assigned to that sloop of war, she made a cruise to the East Indies. Returning home in 1843, he went ashore for an extended leave before returning to sea in the brig Bainbridge in May 1844 for a cruise along the Brazilian coast.
He returned home early in 1846 and, after a year assigned to the receiving ship at New York, made an eight-month voyage in Vesuvius during which his ship participated in the Mexican War, blockading Laguna and supporting landings at Tuxpan and Tabasco. In October 1847, Lt. Walke went home for another extended leave after which he reported back to the receiving ship at New York on 22 September 1848.
On 23 June 1849, he returned to sea in Cumberland for a cruise to the Mediterranean which lasted until mid-January 1851. Following a post-voyage leave, he reported to the Naval Observatory on 22 April for a very brief tour before beginning further duty in the receiving ship at New York. That tour lasted three years, from 17 July 1851 to 17 July 1854, but consisted of two distinct periods separated by a very short tour of duty in St. Mary's during September of 1853.
In January 1861, as the American Civil War approached, Comdr. Walke found himself on board Supply at Pensacola, Fla. On the 12th, Capt. James Armstrong surrendered the navy yard to Confederate forces from Alabama and Florida. After providing temporary support for the defenders of Fort Pickens who refused to follow Armstrong's example, Walke took off some of the loyal sailors and navy yard employees and got underway for New York on the 16th. After arriving at New York on 4 February, the commander and his ship loaded supplies and reinforcements for Fort Pickens. Supply set sail on 15 March and anchored near the fort on 7 April and landed the troops and supplies.
Operations supporting the nascent Union blockade occupied the ship for the next month, at the end of which Walke received orders to New York to take command of one of the Navy's newly acquired steamers. Following that service—during the summer of 1861—and a four-day tour as lighthouse inspector for the 11th District early in September, Walke headed west in response to orders to special duty at St. Louis, Mo.
That assignment proved to be the command of Tyler, one of the river gunboats of the Army's Western Flotilla. In September and October, he took his gunboat downriver to bombard Confederate shore batteries at Hickman and Columbus in western Kentucky and traded a few shots with the Confederate gunboat Jackson. Early in November, his ship supported Grant's move on the Southern camp at Belmont, Mo., escorting troop transports, bombarding shore batteries and, finally, covering the withdrawal of Grant's mauled forces.
In mid-January 1862, Comdr. Walke assumed command of the ironclad gunboat Carondelet, also assigned to the Western Flotilla. In February 1862, during his tenure as Carondelet's commanding officer, Walke led her during the captures of Forts Henry and Donelson which guarded the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, respectively. In April, he led her in the passing of heavily fortified Island No. 10 and in the attack on and spiking of shore batteries below New Madrid, Mo. From April through the end of June, his ship participated in the drawn-out series of operations against Plum Point Bend, Fort Pillow, and Memphis. On 15 July, Comdr. Walke almost met his match when the Confederate ironclad ram Arkansas made its move down the falling Yazoo River toward Vicksburg. Carondelet supported by Queen of the West and Walke's former command, Tyler, engaged the Southern ironclad. During the brisk opening exchange, Carondelet suffered heavy damage and was forced out of action in a disabled, though floating, condition. Queen of the West retreated immediately, leaving only little Tyler to face the powerful ram. The Southern warship, consequently, made it safely to the stronghold at Vicksburg.
On 4 August 1862, Walke was promoted to captain and assumed command of the ironclad ram Lafayette then under conversion from a river steamer at St. Louis. He put her in commission on 27 February 1863 and commanded her during the dash past Vicksburg on 6 April and during the duel with shore batteries at Grand Gulf on the 29th. That summer, his ship briefly blockaded the mouth of the Red River early in June.
Later, on 24 July, Capt. Walke was ordered back to the east coast to prepare the sidewheeler Fort Jackson for service. He put her in commission on 18 August 1863 at New York, but his command of that steamer proved brief. On 22 September, he was transferred to the screw sloop Sacramento, which he commanded through the final two years of the Civil War, cruising the South American coast in search of Confederate commerce raiders. On 17 August 1865, he was detached from Sacramento and returned home to await orders.
On 31 July 1866, Walke was promoted to Commodore. From 1 May 1868 until 30 April 1870, he commanded the naval station at Mound City, 111. While waiting orders to his next assignment, Walke was promotedto rear admiral on 20 July 1870. He was placed on the retired list on 26 April 1871. However, his service to the Navy did not end for, on that same day, he reported for some variety of special duty under the senior admiral of the Navy, Admiral David Dixon Porter. That tour lasted until 1 October at which time he was appointed to the Lighthouse Board. Detached on 1 April 1973, he retired to a life of writing and sketching until his death on 8 March 1896 at Brooklyn, N.Y.
(Destroyer No. 34: dp. 742 (n.) ; l. 293'10"; b. 26'1½" (wl.); dr. 9'5" (aft) (f.); s. 29.5 k.; cpl. 86; a. 5' 3", 6 18" tt.; cl.Paulding)
The first Walke (Destroyer No. 34) was laid down on 5 March 1910 at Quincy, Mass., by the Fore River Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 3 November 1910; sponsored by Miss Mildred Walke Walter, granddaughter of Rear Admiral Walke; and commissioned on 22 July 1911 at the Boston Navy Yard, Lt. Charles R. Train in command.
Upon commissioning, Walke was assigned to the 9th Division, Atlantic Torpedo Fleet. After fitting out at Boston, she moved to the Torpedo Station at Newport, R.I., where she loaded torpedoes for training with the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet. During the fall and winter, the destroyer conducted battle practice and torpedo-firing exercises with the destroyers and submarines of the torpedo fleet. In addition, she operated with the larger units of the Atlantic Fleet itself during training in more comprehensive combat drills. Those exercises covered the entire Atlantic coast from Cape Cod in the north to Cuba in the south.
Such operations occupied the destroyer until 1 November 1913, when she was placed in reserve at the New York Navy Yard. Though in reserve for the next 17 months, Walke never went out of commission. During her semi-retirement, the ship retained a commanding officer and at least a partial crew. Though not active with the Fleet, she did get underway periodically to keep her machinery in good working order while always remaining close to New York.
In July 1915, the destroyer returned to fully active service, first to participate in the Independence Day celebration at Perth Amboy, N.J., and then to visit Washington, D.C., for the Grand Army of the Republican celebration in late September. By 5 October, she found herself off Newport, R.I., with the Fleet conducting maneuvers. On 1 November 1915, Walke entered the Charleston Navy Yard for a major overhaul. Those repairs were completed at the end of February 1916; and, in March, the ship moved south to Key West to prepare for gunnery practice.
However, in May, revolutionary disorders broke out in the Dominican Republic; and Walke was dispatched to support the troops and marines landed there to restore order. Between 6 May—the day the warship departed Key West and headed for Hispaniola—and 19 June, she cruised along the coast of Hispaniola, leaving the area periodically for fuel or provisions at Ponce, Puerto Rico, or at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After a brief visit to Haiti, the republic occupying the western end of Hispaniola, Walke returned to Key West on 19 June. On 21 July, she arrived at the Norfolk Navy Yard to begin an eight-month overhaul.
The warship completed her overhaul in March 1917 and got underway1 on the 25th, bound for New York. She arrived at Staten Island the following day. By coincidence, Walke entered the New York Navy Yard on 6 April 1917, the day the United States declared war on Germany. Two weeks and four days later, she emerged from the yard ready to go into action. After patrols off New York, the destroyer voyaged to Charleston, S.C., where she arrived on 3 May. Following a 16-day visit to Charleston, she headed north and arrived back in New York on the 20th. Three days later, she put to sea bound for European waters. Because of her limited fuel capacity, the destroyer made the first three days of the voyage under tow by the collier, Jupiter. Steaming under her own power after 26 May, she arrived in Gironde, France, on 5 June. Following brief service there and at Brest, Walke moved to Queens-town on the southeastern coast of Ireland. From that port, she patrolled the western approaches to England and France, hunting for U-boats and escorting convoys into British and French ports until mid-November.
On 17 November, the warship headed back to the United States. Again after making the first leg of the transatlantic voyage under tow because of her limited range, Walke arrived in New York on 30 November. From there, she headed south to Charleston, where she entered the yard in mid-December 1917. She completed repairs in March 1918 and returned to New York on the 16th. For the remainder of World War I, Walke patrolled the coastal waters of the United States from New York north to Cape Cod and escorted incoming and departing convoys into and out of New York harbor.
Following the end of the war, Walke settled down to a routine of east coast operations and Atlantic Fleet exercises. Early in December 1918, she visited Baltimore and returned to New York on the 20th. In mid-January 1919, she moved south via Charleston to join in winter maneuvers held in the Cuba-Haiti area. Returning north by way of Key West and Miami, the destroyer reentered New York on 14 April. Between mid-April and mid-July, the warship cruised almost the entire Atlantic coast of the United States—from New York to Key West—conducting torpedo practice and various other exercises.
On 18 July, Walke arrived in Philadephia to begin preparations for inactivation. Decommissioned on 12 December 1919, Walke remained at the Philadelphia Navy Yard until the mid-1930's. She received the alphanumeric hull designation DD-34 on 17 July 1920 but lost her name 13 years later on 1 July 1933 when it was reassigned to DD-416. Known simply as DD-34, she was struck from the Navy list on 20 March 1935 and was scrapped at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 23 April 1935 under the terms of the London Treaty on the Limitation of Naval Armaments.