Rear Admiral William Mervine

Submitted by Jim  Mervin

Rear Admiral Mervine, U. S. N. was born near Philadelphia, March 14, 1791.  He died Sept.15,1868.  He entered the navy in January, 1809, and had been in service nearly sixty years, twenty-five years at sea and four years on shore or other duty, and twenty-eight years unemployed.  He was on duty on board the sloop-of-war John Adams when the War of 1812 broke out, and, with other young officers he volunteered to join in the hostilities on Lake Erie.  In an engagement with the British at Black Rock, on the Niagara River, he was severely, wounded by a musket ball in the side. (See Cooper Naval History, Pages 339-341.)  Before the close of the war he was stationed at Sackett's Harbor.  Mr. Mervine was married to Miss Amanda M. Crane, of New York, in 1815, who survives him.  From this period until the nullification troubles in 1832 he made cruises in the Mediterranean sea and off the coast of South America in the Atlantic, and also one cruise in the Gulf of Mexico, after pirates. He went out as Lieutenant in the guard-ship sloop-of-war Cyane with the first colony sent out to Liberia.  Here he suffered a severe attack of yellow fever.

In 1832 he took his first command and went to Charleston Harbor to look after the secessionists and nullifiers, in the schooner Experiment.  During the Mexican difficulties, before the war, he took the responsibility of capturing a Mexican brig, which had two American vessels under her guns. This was an act of war, in which he was sustained by General Jackson. He afterwards made several cruises, and in 1845 or 1846, went out in the sloop-of-war Cyane with sealed orders to Commodore Sloat, commanding the Pacific squadron.  His orders proved to be very stringent, to attack and take possession of California in case any hostilities were committed.  After the first overt act on the part of the Southern Californians.  A council of war was held and Captain Mervine was ordered to attack the fort which he did, and took it, planting the first American flag, in that now State of California, at Monterey.  When Commodore Stockton relieved Commodore Sloat, Capt. Mervine took command of the frigate (74) Savannah, remaining in charge of it till the fall of 1847.  In 1849 or 1850 he was offered the command of the navy yard at Mare Island, San Francisco, but preferring sea service he was soon ordered to the command of the Mediterranean Squadron, with the steam-frigate Powhattan as his flag-ship, which, however, he did not reach, being recalled to some urgent duty on our own coast.

In I854 he was ordered to fit out the frigate Independence (40) and proceed to the Pacific and take command as flag-officer of that squadron.  He sailed in the fall of that year from New York and cruised there three years.  In 1861, at the outbreak of the rebellion, he was ordered to take Command of the Gulf Blockading Squadron, and sailed from Boston in the Mississippi (steamer) in June.  He planned the attack which was so heroically carried out by Lieut. Russell (see Harpers' Magazine, Nov., 1866, pp. 705, 706.)  He was recalled in the fall of the same year.  He was a brave officer, with a untarnished record--a man of spotless integrity.  Admiral Mervine was a gentleman of the old school, of a high sense of honor, punctual and exact in the discharge of ail his duties.  He was in his 78th year at the time of his death and departs in a good old age, having faithfully served his generation and taken, a Most active part in the most stirring events of the last fifty years. His name and services will be ever remembered.


Catharinus Mervine enlisted in the 14th Inf. Reg., NYSV on 4/2/1861 at Utica, NY as a Sergent Major. He was 26 years old.  He was promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant on 4/30/1861 and to 1st lieutenant on 8/24/1861.  He was discharged to accept an appointment as Asst. Adjutant General on General Charles Griffin's Staff with the rank of Captain on 8/11/1862.  He fought in most of the battles fought in the eastern theater.  He was slightly wounded in the arm by a musket ball.  He died of typhoid during the siege of Petersburg, VA on 8/17/1864.
Also served on the staff of Colonel (later General) McQuade who commanded the 14th Regiment.


The following  interesting letter in relation to the late Capt. Mervine is from Lieut. Wm. Fowler, son of Dr. Fowler (see note below), of this city, and a fellow member of Gen. Griffin's staff with Capt. Mervine.

Near Petersburg VA., August 19, 1864.

Dear  Father,

Captain Mervine died at City Point hospital at three o'clock on the afternoon of the August 17th.  He was taken sick about the 8th of the month, and went to the division hospital, but none of us imagined that anything severe was the matter with him.  Someone of the staff saw him every day, though the very unsettled state of affairs at our front prevented us from being as much with him as we desired.  I saw him last the night before he died.  The previous evening he had grown much worse, and then, I think, for the first time the surgeons were anxious about him.  When I saw him he was evidently very sick.  Gen. Griffin went early the next morning to see him, but the hospital was broken up, and the Captain removed to City Point.  We were under marching orders, and the General was therefore unable to go on there.  He was very much attached to Mervine, who had been with him all the time since he was made Brigadier, and regrets exceedingly that he did not see him.  When the General last visited the hospital Mervine was not dangerously ill, and the surgeon, doubtless from the best of motives, misled him as to his condition.  Yesterday morning at four the corps marched for the Weldon railroad, and have had some severe fighting.  This morning we heard of Capt. Mervine's death, and of course, are unable to go back and attend to his affairs, our staff being so small that we have not enough to attend to the duties here, and we expect an engagement every moment.  Our division purveyor, Mr. Doyle, has taken charge of the body, had it embalmed, and will forward it, accompanying it himself or sending someone.

Tell the family that no one could be more regretted here than Mervine is.  His record during the war is one that any may envy, and is his official capacity as well as socially, he had made warm friends throughout the division.  Every officer who was thrown in contact with him, and that comprises the majority in the command, regarded him with the kindest feelings.  He was always pleasant and accommodating to everyone, and few are the men in his position of whom that can be said.

The Admiral's daughter, Mary Amanda Mervine, had married Edward B. Sturges.  She died just after the birth of her second son, Mervine Sturges, in 1859.  Dr. Philoman Fowler was appointed the guardian of her two small boys.  Latter, in 1865, her widower husband married the daughter of Dr. Fowler, Anna Sutherland Fowler.

Cass is also buried in the Mervine family plot in the Forrest Hill cemetery.  Buried in that same plot along with the Admiral are:

Mrs. Mary (Smith) (Crane) Gird (the Admiral's mother-in-law)
Amanda Maria (Crane) Mervine (his wife)
Emily (Mervine) Drury (his daughter)
C. B. Mervine (his son)
Mary (Mervine) Sturges (his daughter)
Leander Drury (his son-in-law)