Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Benham, Andrew E.K.
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Benham, Andrew E.K.

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Rear Admiral, USN, (1832-1905)

Andrew Ellicott Kennedy Benham was born on Staten Island, New York, on 10 April 1832. Appointed a Navy Midshipman in November 1847, he served in Asian and U.S. home waters for the next several years. While in the Far East, he was wounded during a anti-piracy action near Macao, China. Graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1853, Passed Midshipman Benham went to the Pacific as an officer of the sloop of war St. Mary's and, while so assigned in September 1855, was promoted to Lieutenant. Later in the decade he had Coast Survey duty and took part in the Paraguay expedition.


Lieutenant Benham served in USS Crusader in 1860 and 1861, including operations in the Gulf of Mexico during the first months of the Civil War. In October 1861 he went to the steamer Bienville, which helped maintain the blockade of the Confederacy's southeastern coast. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in July 1862, Benham next served in the steam sloop Sacramento, also on blockade duty, and between September 1863 and July 1865 commanded the gunboat Penobscot in the Gulf of Mexico.


During the later 1860s, Benham was advanced to the rank of Commander and served at the New York Navy Yard and in the steamer Susquehanna. He was a lighthouse inspector in 1870-1871 and 1875-1878, and in between commanded the monitors Canonicus and Saugus. He became a Captain in March 1875, commanded the steam sloop Richmond in the Far East in 1878-1881 and was assigned to the Portsmouth Navy Yard (Kittery, Maine) in 1881-1884.


In October 1885, a year after returning to lighthouse inspection duty, Benham was promoted to Commodore. He attained the rank of Rear Admiral in February 1890 and was Commandant of the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, in 1889-1891. Rear Admiral Benham commanded the South Atlantic and North Atlantic Stations in 1892-1894, and while in the latter position operated with his ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Though retired in April 1892, he had subsquent service as a Prize Commissioner and, for several years, as a member of the Board of Awards. Rear Admiral Andrew E.K. Benham died at Lake Mahopac, New York, on 11 August 1905 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetary, Arlington, Virginia.


The Navy has named three destroyers in honor of Rear Admiral Andrew E.K. Benham: USS Benham (Destroyer # 49, later DD-49), 1914-1935; USS Benham (DD-397), 1939-1942; and USS Benham (DD-796), 1943-1960.


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