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Photo # NH 66627:  Lieutenant Commander William Gwin, USN.  Engraved portrait by J.C. Buttre

Online Library of Selected Images:

Lieutenant Commander William Gwin, USN (1832-1863)

William Gwin was born on 6 December 1832 in Columbus, Indiana. He entered U.S. Navy service as a Midshipman in April 1847, subsequently serving in the frigate Brandywine on the Brazil Squadron until late in 1850. During the next five years he was assigned to the sloop of war Germantown, flagship of the African Squadron, the steamer Princeton and the brig Bainbridge. In September 1855, while serving in the latter, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. From late 1857 until after the outbreak of the American Civil War in the spring of 1861, Gwin was an officer of the steamer Saranac and sloop of war Vandalia, both in the Pacific, and of the steam frigate Susquehanna in the Mediterranean.

Returning to the United States in mid-1861, Lieutenant Gwin began Civil War combat service in the newly acquired cruiser Cambridge and, later in the year, was assigned to the brig Perry. Early in 1862 he went west to begin a very active period on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, initially as Commanding Officer of the gunboat Tyler, which played a significant role in several combat actions between February and July. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in July, Gwin commanded the ironclad Mound City during much of the summer and in September took command of the big ironclad Benton. On 27 December 1862, in a heated engagement with Confederate artillery on the Yazoo River, his ship was seriously damaged and Gwin mortally wounded. Lieutenant Commander William Gwin died on 3 January 1863. In reporting his death to the Navy Department, Gwin's squadron commander, Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter, remarked: "The country has lost one of its bravest officers."

Four U.S. Navy ships have been named in honor of Lieutenant Commander Gwin: USS Gwin (Torpedo Boat # 16) of 1898-1925; USS Gwin (Destroyer # 71, later DD-71) of 1920-1939; USS Gwin (DD-433) of 1941-1943; and USS Gwin (DM-33) of 1944-1971.

This page features the only view we have of William Gwin.

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Photo #: NH 66627

Lieutenant Commander William Gwin, USN

Engraved portrait by J.C. Buttre, New York, featuring a facsimile of Gwin's signature below the figure.
Lieutenant Commander Gwin lost his life as a result of injuries suffered in combat on the Yazoo River on 27 December 1862, while he was in command of USS Benton.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 90KB; 575 x 765 pixels


If you want higher resolution reproductions than the "Online Library's" digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

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Page made 27 February 2005