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Thatcher, Henry Knox

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Rear Admiral, USN (1806-1880)

Rear Admiral Henry Knox Thatcher, USN (1806-1880)


Henry Knox Thatcher was born in Thomaston, Maine, on 26 May 1806. He briefly attended the U.S. Military Academy before receiving appointment as an Acting Midshipman in the Navy in March 1823. Most of the next four years was spent on board the frigate United States in the Pacific. He became a Passed Midshipman in March 1829 and in 1830-1831 served in the brig Porpoise and sloop of war Erie in the West Indies. During more than two decades in the rank of Lieutenant, beginning in 1833, Thatcher had extensive service at sea in the West Indies, the Mediterranean and off Africa and South America, as well as duty at Boston, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine. During the early 1850s he commanded the storeship Relief.


Promoted to Commander in 1855, while serving as Executive Officer of the Naval Asylum at Philadelphia, Thatcher commanded the small sloop of war Decatur in the Pacific during 1857-1859. He was Executive Officer of the Boston Navy Yard from November 1859 to November 1861, and thus played a role in the vast expansion of the Navy that began with the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861. While commanding the large sloop of war Constellation in the Mediterranean he attained the rank of Commodore. From September 1863 until January 1865 Thatcher served with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, then became commander of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, directing the successful effort to capture Mobile, Alabama, in the weeks preceding the war's end in April 1865. He remained in command in the Gulf of Mexico until May 1866, then, as a Rear Admiral, was placed in command of the North Pacific Squadron. Though officially retired in May 1868, when he reached the age of 62, Thatcher served as Port Admiral at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1869-1870. Rear Admiral Henry K. Thatcher died at Boston, Massachusetts, on 5 April 1880.


Two U.S. Navy destroyers have been named in honor of Rear Admiral Thatcher: USS Thatcher (DD-162) of 1919-1940, and USS Thatcher (DD-514) of 1943-1948.


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