Richardson Clover was born in Maryland on July 11, 1846. He entered the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on July 30, 1863, on appointment from Missouri, where he was a resident at that time. Completing the four year course with the Class of 1867, and after service at sea, then required by law, was commissioned Ensign on December 18, 1868. He was subsequently promoted as follows: Master, March 21, 1870; Lieutenant, March 21, 1871; Lieutenant Commander, May 19, 1891; Commander, September 16, 1897; Captain, April 11, 1902; and Rear Admiral, to date from November 8, 1907. He was retired in the rank of Rear Admiral in July 11, 1908.
During the Civil War he was a Cadet Midshipman at the Naval Academy, and after graduation in 1867, served as a Passed Midshipman and later Ensign on board the Contoocook, flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron. From January 1871 until December 1873 he was on bboard the Ticonderoga, operating with the South Atlantic Squadron. He returned to the United States early in 1874, and from May of that year until November 1877 was attached to the coast survey steamer Hassler.
Assigned next to the Wyoming, on European Station, he returned to the United States in May 1881, and on July 26, that year, reported to the Coast Survey Office for duty. He subsequently commanded, in succession, the Coast survey schooners Palinaurus and Patterson, the latter engaged in surveying the Pacific Coast. Granted a leave of absence, effective March 1, 1886, he returned to duty under instruction in Torpedo Service, at Newport, Rhode Island, on June 1, 1887, and on December 22, 1887, was ordered home to await orders.
Special service on board the Dolphin in 1888 and 1889 preceded a tour of duty in the Hydrographic Office, Navy Department, Washington, DC, during the period December 5, 1889 until May 1893, where he served as Acting Hydrographic from January to June 1891, and as Hydrographic from June 1981 to May 1893. He then had a leave of absence until ordered on March 24, 1894 to the Chicago, being repaired at the Navy Yard, New York, New York. He served as Executive Officer of that vessel, flagship of the Commander in Chief, European Station, until April 30, 1896, when he assumed command of the Dolphin, a dispatch boat on special service. He remained in command until May 1897.
In April 1898, after the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, he took command of the Bancroft, operating as a unit of the North Atlantic Fleet, and following the cessation of hostilities, served from October 15, 1898, until December 1899 as Chief Intelligence Officer, Office of Naval Intelligence, Navy Department, Washington, DC On April 2, 1900, he reported as US Naval Attaché, London, England, and while there until May 1903, was promoted to the rank of Captain, from April 11, 1902. He then returned to his home is Washington, DC, where he waited orders from June to October 1903.
Under orders of October 28, 1903, he assumed command of the Wisconsin, a first class battleship, assigned to the Asiatic Fleet, on December 12, that year. He remained in command until December 1905, then returned to the United States to again await orders a his home in Washington, DC On May 6, 1907, he was designated President of the Board of Inspection and Survey, Navy Department, and while serving in that capacity was promoted to Rear Admiral, to date from November 8, 1907.
Rear Admiral Clover was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on July 11, 1908, upon reaching the statutory age of sixty-two years. He was granted leave to travel aboard for two years. He died on October 14, 1919, in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
He had the Civil War Medal (as a Cadet Midshipman, USNA, 1863-1865) and the Spanish Campaign Medal (Spanish-American War, 1898).