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Samuel Francis DuPont (1803–1865)

Distinguished for his “gallantry, efficiency, and skill” as a naval officer in the Mexican War, Samuel F. DuPont spent the following decade on shore attempting to improve naval and marine affairs and serving as a member of the board that established the Naval Academy at Annapolis.

DuPont was appointed a senior member of the Commission of Conference to establish naval operations for the North at the outbreak of the Civil War. He was then given command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, the largest fleet ever commanded by a naval officer up to that time. His capture of Port Royal, South Carolina, in November 1861 was the first major Union naval victory of the war and demonstrated the effectiveness of the navy’s improved ordnance against shore defenses. The victory earned DuPont the rank of rear admiral. In 1863, however, DuPont, leading a fleet of ironclads, failed to take Charleston and suffered the worst naval defeat of the war. He asked to be relieved of his command and was, thus ending rather ignominiously a forty-five-year career in the navy.

Daniel Huntington (1816–1906)
Oil on canvas, 1867–1868
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Transfer from the Smithsonian American Art Museum; bequest of Mrs. May DuPont Saulsbury to the Smithsonian Institution, 1927


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