George Eugene Belknap was born on January 22, 1832, in Newport, New Hampshire. He was appointed a midshipman on October 7, 1847. During 1856-1957, he served with the East India Squadron, taking a prominent part in engagements with the Barrier Forts, Canton River, China, in November of 1856.
Admiral Belknap’s role in the Civil War was an outstanding one. He commanded a division of boats from USS St. Louis, which reinforced Fort Pickens, Florida, in April 1861. He participated in the operations in Charleston Harbor and commanded the ironclad Canonicus in attacks on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, on December 24-25, 1864 and on January 13-15, 1865, which occasioned its surrender. He “fired the last gun” against the Charleston defenses prior to their collapse.
In 1867-1868, he commanded USS Hartford on Asiatic Station, and led the expedition against Formosa. During 1873-1874, he performed important work surveying in the Pacific, and from 1875 until the time of his retirement on January 1894 performed eminently in diverse positions at sea and ashore. During the latter period he was commissioned Rear Admiral, to date from February 12, 1889.
Rear Admiral Belknap died at Key West, Florida, on April 7, 1903, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The USS Belknap (DD-251), named to honor Rear Admiral George Eugene Belknap, served in the US Navy from April 1919 until August 1945. She was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, as a until of Anti-Submarine Task Group 21.12, and three battle stars for operations in the European-African-Middle Eastern Area and the Asiatic-Pacific Area during World War II.
A second vessel to be called Belknap (DLG-26), building at the Bath Iron Works Corporation, Bath, Maine, is named for Rear Admiral George Eugene Belknap and his son, Rear Admiral Reginald Rowe Belknap, and will be launched on July 20, 1963. This vessel will be christened by Mrs. Leonard B. (Emilia Field Belknap).