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 second Winslow (Destroyer No. 53) was laid down on 1 October 1913 at Philadelphia, Pa., by William Cramp & Sons; launched on 11 February 1915; sponsored by Miss Natalie E. Winslow; and commissioned on 7 August 1915, Lt. Neil E. Nichols in command.
After trials off the upper east coast, Winslow joined the 6th Division, Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla. The destroyer participated in maneuvers in Cuban waters during the winter of 1915 and 1916 and, in the spring, began operations along the eastern seaboard. By October 1916, she was serving in coastal waters near Newport, R.I. During that assignment, the destroyer rendered assistance to the crews of Allied ships captured and sunk by the German submarine U-53. At the end of the month, the warship went into the New York Navy Yard and remained there through the end of the year. In January 1917, she steamed south to Cuba, where she joined the rest of the Fleet to participate in annual winter maneuvers. Following the Fleet exercise, Winslow returned north to the Chesapeake.
When the United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917, the destroyer rode at anchor in the York River near Yorktown, Va. She had been there guarding the river mouth since February when American relations with Germany began to deteriorate as a result of the latter country's return to unrestricted submarine warfare. Soon after Congress declared war, Winslow moved north to the New York Navy Yard to prepare for duty overseas. Less than a month later, she moved to Boston, Mass., from where she got underway for Europe on 7 May with five other destroyers. After a 10-day passage, Winslow reported for duty at Queenstown, Ireland, on the 17th. On the 21st, she began patrolling the approaches to the British Isles.
Winslow operated out of Queenstown for almost a year in a campaign to defend Allied supply ships against Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare. She escorted convoys into and out of Queenstown and went to the assistance of ships attacked by U-boats. Just after midnight on 11 June, she spied her first submarine and rushed to the attack. Her target submerged, and the destroyer dropped a series of depth charges. She failed, however, to find any evidence supporting the success of her attack and resumed her patrol. On 30 July, Winslow picked up the captain and 12 crewmen from the torpedoed SS Whitehall and brought them safely into Queenstown. She sighted another U-boat off Queenstown on 16 August; but heavy weather covered the submarine's tracks when it submerged; and Winslow made no attack. Six weeks later, on 24 September, the warship rushed to the assistance of an American schooner, Henry Lippett, being shelled by another submarine. When the destroyer reached the little sailing vessel, she was in flames; and the U-boat had just submerged. Winslow delivered a desultory depth charge barrage on what appeared to be the submarine's moving wake; then broke off the attack to assist the schooner's crew.
During the remainder of her assignment at Queenstown, Winslow attacked two more submarines, the first on 11 October and the second on 3 January 1918. In both cases, she depth-charged oil slicks which appeared to originate from damaged, submerged U-boats. In neither case did she receive visible confirmation of a sinking; however, during the 3 January attack, one of her depth charges threw a large mass of dark liquid high in the air. From this description, it appears that her depth charge brought up fuel oil from what was believed to be U-61. Unfortunately for Winslow, lack of more definite proof of this premise precludes crediting her with a sinking.
At the beginning of April 1918, the warship was reassigned to the United States Naval Forces in France. Operating from Brest, she spent the remainder of the war shepherding American troop transports into French ports. Although the destroyer engaged the enemy on at least seven different occasions, in no instance did she score a confirmed sinking. On 8 August, she helped rescue survivors from Westward Ho, sunk the preceding day by a submarine. On 5 September, she attacked the submarine that had just torpedoed Mount Vernon; but her depth charges, like those of Conner (Destroyer No. 72), Nicholson (Destroyer No. 52), and Wainwright (Destroyer No. 62), failed to shorten the career of U-82. Her final action of the war came slightly over a fortnight later when she depth-bombed a U-boat that attacked the convoy in her care. As in all previous cases, proof of a certain kill eluded her.
Winslow continued her patrols out of Brest through the end of hostilities on 11 November. After the armistice, she continued to operate in French waters and served as one of the escorts for George Washington when that ship brought President Woodrow Wilson into the harbor on 13 December. Fifteen days later, the warship departed France to return to the United States. She reached New York on 12 January 1919 and resumed peacetime duty with the Atlantic Fleet. During May, Winslow served as one of the rescue pickets stationed along the route across the Atlantic flown by three Navy NC-type seaplanes. After that, the destroyer returned to normal operations along the east coast and annual winter maneuvers in Cuban waters until placed in reduced commission at Philadelphia on 10 December 1919. In June 1921, she returned to active duty along the east coast until the following March. Winslow was placed out of commission at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 5 June 1922. In July 1933, her name was dropped, and she was known only by the hull number assigned her in July 1920, DD-53. She was finally struck from the Navy list on 7 January 1936, and she was sold for scrapping the following June.