Daniel Ammen was born on 15 May 1820, in Brown County, Ohio. He was appointed Midshipman in the US Navy from Ohio on 7 July 1836, and was promoted to Passed Midshipmen on 1 July 1842. Thereafter he received promotions as follows: Master, 10 May 1849; Lieutenant, 4 November 1849; Commander, 16 July 1862; Captain, 25 July 1866. He attained flag rank, commissioned Commodore, on 1 April 1872, and was promoted to Rear Admiral on 11 December 1877. He was transferred to the Retired List on 1 June 1878, and died in Washington, DC, on 11 July 1898.
After his appointment as Midshipman in the Navy in July 1836, he was ordered, 30 September of that year, to the Store Ship Relief, attached to the South Seas Surveying and Exploring Expedition. On 1 July 1837 he was transferred to the US Frigate Macedonian, preparing for service with the Exploring Expedition. From March 1838 to November 1939 he cruised in the West Indies aboard USS Levant and USS Vandalia. In March 1840 he was ordered to the Sloop of War Preble. After a cruise along the coast of Laborador, the Preble sailed for the Mediterranean, January 1841, to join tho squadron of Commodore C W Morgan, USN. In May young Ammen was transferred to USS Ohio, in which he returned to Boston in July 1841.
After attending the Naval School at Philadelphia during the winter of 1841-42, he was on survey duty in Delaware Bay, and the next year served in the Receiving Ship Experiment at Philadelphia, and USS Savannah, preparing for sea duty at New York. Previous to the Savannah's sailing for the Pacific in October 1813, he was transferred to the Store Ship Lexington, in which he made several trips to the Mediterranean to deliver supplies. From April 1845 to April 1847 he was attached to USS Vincennes on a cruise in the East Indies; and during the period 1847-1849 he was on coast survey duty.
In October 1849 he was granted three months' leave with permission to visit Europe and then join the Meditorranean Squadron. Assigned duty on board USS St. Lawrence by Commodore Morgan in the Mediterrnean, he returned to the United States in November 1850. Following another tour of coast survey duty, he was ordered to the steamer Water Witch, which sailed for South America on 8 February 1853, under command of Lt. Thomas J. Page, USN, on an expedition to explore the La Plata and Parama Rivers. In May 1854 he was transferred from the Water Witch to USS Bainbridge of the Brazil Squadron. Upon the return of that vessel to the United States he was granted three months' leave.
In April 1855 he reported for duty at the Naval Observatory, Washington, DC. Detached in August 1857, he was ordered to the steamer Saranac, which subsequently sailed for the Pacific. He was later transferred to USS Merrimack, flagship of the Pacific Squadron, and remained aboard that vessel from June 1858 until her return to the United States in February 1860. On March 20, that year, he was ordered to the Naval Rendezvous at Baltimore, Maryland, where he was on duty at the outbreak of the Civil War.
In May 1861 he was ordered to USS Roanoke, operating with North Atlantic Squadron, and in September he assumed command of the gunboat Seneca of South Atlantic Blockading Squadon. While under his command, the Seneca took part in the Battle of Port Royal on 7 November, the expedition up Wassaw Sound on 5 December, the attack on Port Royal Ferry, 1-2 January 1862, the expedition up the Wilmington River, 26-29 January and shared in the capture of several Confederate vessels and the town of Fernandina, Florida. In August 1862 he was transferred to the gunboat Sebago, which he commanded only a short time before returning North, arriving in Washington, DC, on 4 October. On 11 October he was ordered to command the iron-clad steamer Patapsco, then building at Wilmington, Delaware.
The Patapsco was placed in commission on 2 January 1863, and on 2 February, he reported with her at Beaufort, North Carolina, for duty with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, to take part in the attack on Fort McAllister on 3 March, and in the operations against the forts in Charleston Harbor on 7 April. Rear Admiral (then Commander) Ammen was detached because of ill health, and ordered North. He remained on sick leave until September, when he returned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron as Aide on the Staff of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, USN, and aboard, USS Philadelphia, flag ship, took part in the operations against Charleston, S C, that fall. However, in January 1864 he was again found "unfit for service" by a medical survey and authorized to return North.
During March and April 1864 he received as temporary commander of USS Shenandoah, of North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. From October of that year until 17 January 1865, he commanded USS Mohican on blockade duty off Wilmington, NC, participating in the attacks on Fort Fisher, 24-25 December 1864, and 13-15 January 1865. From January 17 to March 7 he was attached to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, operating off Charleston, SC. Upon arrival of the Mohican at the Boston Navy Yard in April, he was detached and the vessel placed out of commission.
In July and August 1865 he was employed in the recovery of naval machinery at Charlette and other points in North Carolina. From September of that year until March 1866 he was in command of the US. monitor Miantpnomah, of North Atlantic Squdron. He was on special duty at Hartford, Connecticut, from November 1866 to August 1867; commanded the US steamer Piscataqua from August 1867 to February 1869. That vessel sailed for Asiatic Station on 16 December 1867, to serve as flagship of Admiral SC Rowan, USN. Upon his return to the United States in the spring of 1869, Rear Admiral Ammen was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, Navy Department, and served in that capacity from May 1869 to October 1871.
He served as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department, from October 1871 to June 1878, one during that period received his promotions to Commodore and Rear Admiral.
The USS Ammen (DD 35, and later DD 527) was named in honor of Rear Admiral Ammen.