John Ancrum Winslow, born in 1811 in Wilmington, N.C., became a midshipman in 1827. While serving at Tobasco during the Mexican War, he was commended for gallantry in action by Commodore Matthew Perry.
The outbreak of the Civil War found Winslow serving ashore as commanding officer of the 2d Lighthouse District. After Flag Officer A. H. Foote relieved Comdr. John Rodgers in command of the Western Flotilla, he requested that Winslow be sent west to assist him as executive officer. At Cairo, III., Winslow labored to fit out and man gunboats for service on the Mississippi and its tributaries. In October 1861, he assumed command of Benton at St. Louis. As that deep-draft gunboat was steaming down river to Cairo, she ran aground on a sandbar. While attempting to refloat the ship, Winslow was injured by a flying chain link and forced to return home late in the year to recover. When he was able to return to duty in the summer of 1862, Winslow was given comparatively minor assignments. He contracted malaria, became discontented, and asked to be reassigned to other duty.
Detached from the Mississippi Squadron, Winslow returned to his home in Roxbury, Mass., early in November and was confined to bed there for a month attempting to regain his health. On 5 December, orders arrived directing him to proceed via New York to the Azores where he was to assume command of screw sloop Kearsarge. Two days later, he went to New York where he embarked in Vanderbilt for passage to Fayal. However, when he reached that island on Christmas Eve, he found that Kearsarge had sailed to Spain for repairs; and he was forced to remain at Fayal until spring. When the screw sloop finally returned early in April 1863, he assumed command.
In Kearsarge, he cruised among the Azores seeking Confederate commerce raider Alabama until autumn when he shifted to European waters. At Ferrol, Spain, Winslow learned that CSS Florida, was at Brest, France, undergoing overhaul; and he promptly sailed for that port to prevent her from slipping out to sea again. While keeping track of the progress of the repair work on the Southern warship through spies, he also made runs along the coast of western Europe, checking on rumors of other Confederate raiders in the area.
In January 1864, Kearsarge returned to Cadiz for naval stores and repairs; and, while she was away from Brest, Florida put to sea on 18 February. When Kearsarge returned and learned that the quarry had escaped, she shifted to Calais, France, where CSS Rappahannock was moored. On 12 June, Winslow received a telegram informing him that Alabama was at Cherbourg. He hastened there in Kearsarge and, on 19 June, in an epic battle off that port, won a complete victory which gained him promotion to commodore.
Advanced to rear admiral in 1870, Winslow commanded the Pacific Fleet from that year to 1872. Shortly after his retirement, he died at Boston on 29 September 1873.
Cameron McRae Winslow, second eounsin of Rear Admiral John A. Winslow, was born in Washington, D.C., on 29 July 1854. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1874 and following extensive sea duty in succeeding years, then, Lieutenant Winslow served on board USS Nashville during the Spanish-American War. He was commended for extraordinary heroism when, on 11 May 1898, he commanded a boat expedition from Nashville and Marblehead which succeeded in cutting two submarine cables off Cienfuegos, Cuba, which linked Cuba with Europe. Despite withering enemy fire from point blank range which resulted in a bullet wound to his hand, Winslow retained command throughout the engagement.
Winslow commanded USS Charleston from 1905 to 1907 and battleship New Hampshire from 1908 to 1909. Promoted to rear admiral on 14 September 1911, Wins-low was Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, from 13 September 1915 until 29 July 1916 when he was retired due to the statutory age limit. Recalled to active duty in World War I, he served as Inspector of Naval Districts on the Atlantic coast until again retiring on 11 November 1919. Admiral Winslow died in Boston on 2 January 1932.
Winslow (Torpedo Boat No. 5) and Winslow (Destroyer No. 53) honored Rear Admiral John Ancrum Winslow, and Winslow (DD-359) honored Rear Admiral Cameron McRae Winslow as well.
The first Winslow (Torpedo Boat No. 5) was laid down on 8 May 1896 at Baltimore, Md., by the Columbian Iron Works; launched on 8 May 1897; sponsored by Miss E. H. Hazel; and commissioned on 29 December 1897 at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Lt. John B. Bernadou in command.
On 6 January 1897, Winslow departed Norfolk and proceeded via New York to Newport, R.I., where she loaded torpedoes and drilled her crew in torpedo firing before returning to Hampton Roads on the 30th.
During Winslow's seven-week sojourn at Norfolk, the battleship Maine sank in Havana Harbor; and the United States began drifting steadily closer to war with Spain. On 11 March, Winslow steamed out of Norfolk and headed south to Key West, Fla., a base much nearer the probable theater of operations in the approaching conflict. The warship operated from that port through the remainder of March and the first three weeks in April. On Monday, the 25th, President McKinley reluctantly ratified a joint resolution of Congress which proclaimed that a state of war had existed between the United States and Spain since the previous Thursday.
During the next fortnight, the warship patrolled the northern coast of Cuba near Havana, Cardenas, and Matanzas. Early in the morning of 11 May, Winslow left her blockade station off Matanzas and proceeded to Cardenas to replenish her coal bunkers. Upon reporting to Wilmington (Gunboat No. 8) for that purpose, she was ordered to take on a Cuban pilot and scout the entrance of Cardenas Bay for mines. Winslow then entered the bay in company with the revenue cutter Hudson. The two ships conducted a meticulous search of the channel, found no mines, and returned to Wilmington around noon to make their report. At this point, the commanding officer of Wilmington decided to take his ship, escorted by Winslow and Hudson, into Cardenas harbor in search of three Spanish gunboats reportedly in port. Winslow marked shoal water to Wilmington's portside and, upon reaching a point about 3,000 yards from the city, sighted a small, gray steamer moored alongside the wharf. The torpedo boat received orders to move in closer to determine whether or not the vessel was an enemy warship.
By 1335, Winslow reached a point approximately 1,500 yards from her quarry when a white puff of smoke from the Spaniard's bow gun signaled the beginning of an artillery duel which lasted one hour and 20 minutes. Winslow immediately responded with her 1-pounders, but enemy batteries ashore then entered the fray. The Spanish concentrated their efforts on little Winslow, and she soon received a number of direct hits. The first shot to score on the torpedo boat destroyed both her steam and manual steering gear. While her crew tried to rig some type of auxiliary steering system, Winslow used her propellers to keep her bow gun in position to fire. Then, all at once, she swung broadside to the enemy. Almost immediately, a shot pierced her hull near the engine room and knocked the port main engine out of commission. She maneuvered with her remaining engine to evade enemy fire and maintained a steady return fire with her 1-pounders. At this point, Wilmington and Hudson brought their guns to bear on the Spanish ship and shore batteries, and the combined fire of the three American warships put the Spanish gunboat out of action and caused the shore batteries to slacken fire.
All but disabled, Winslow requested Hudson to tow her out of action. The revenue cutter approached the stricken torpedo boat and rigged a tow line between the two ships. As Hudson began to tow Winslow out to sea, one of the last Spanish shells to strike the torpedo boat hit her near the starboard gun and killed Ens. Worth Bagley who had been helping to direct the warship's maneuvers by carrying instructions from the deck to the base of the engine room ladder. Ens. Bagley had the dubious distinction of being the first naval officer killed in the Spanish-American War; and in memory of his sacrifice and devotion to duty, Torpedo Boat No. 24, Destroyer No. 185, and DD-386 each carried the name, Bagley.
Badly damaged, Winslow was towed clear of the action. Her commanding officer and a number of others in her crew were wounded. Lt. Bernadou saw that the dead and wounded were transferred to Hudson, and he then left the ship himself after turning command over to Chief Gunner's Mate George P. Brady, who, along with Chief Gunner's Mate Hans Jphnsen and Chief Machinist T. C. Cooney, later received the Medal of Honor and was promoted to warrant officer.
The day following the engagement, Winslow arrived at Key West for temporary repairs there and at Mobile, Ala. She returned to Key West for 10 days before sailing north on 16 August. After brief stops at Port Royal, S.C., and at Norfolk, Va., the ship reached New York on 27 August and was placed out of commission at the New York Navy Yard on 7 September 1898 to begin more extensive repairs.
But for a short voyage to Philadelphia in mid-October, Winslow remained inactive until early in 1901, first at New York-in a decommissioned status-and later at the Norfolk Navy Yard where she was officially listed as "in reserve." In any event, the torpedo boat had returned to full commission by 30 June 1901 and-assigned to the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport-spent the next three years training naval officers and enlisted men in the techniques of torpedo firing and helping them to polish their skills in gunnery and shipboard engineering. In all probability, she also participated in some of the work done to improve the "automotive" torpedo.
Information on her activities between July 1904 and February 1906 is extremely sketchy, but she probably spent the majority of that time either in reserve or out of commission at New York. Whatever the case, Wins-low was recommissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 16 February 1906 and steamed south to Norfolk, where she was placed in the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla. Sometime during fiscal year 1909, she was transferred to Charleston, S.C., though she remained in reserve.
On 1 June 1909, the torpedo boat was turned over to the Massachusetts Naval Militia at Charleston. She moved north to Boston where she served as a school ship for volunteer seaman of the local naval militia until the following November. On 2 November 1909, the Massachusetts Naval Militia returned Winslow to the Navy, and she was placed in reserve at the Boston Navy Yard until the summer of 1910. On 12 July 1910, Winslow was placed out of commission at Boston, and her name was struck from the Navy list. In January 1911, she was sold to H. Hanson of New York City.