EDWARD P. WILLIAMS, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Edward Williams '53

Date of birth: 1834

Date of death: January 24, 1870

Age: ~35

Lucky Bag

The Lucky Bag was first published in 1894.

Loss

1853 Williams 1.jpg

Edward was lost on January 24, 1870 when USS Oneida was sunk following a collision with a British merchant steamer while departing Yokohama harbor, Japan. One hundred twenty-four other officers and men were also lost. He was the commanding officer.

A detailed account of the event is available here.

He was from Boothbay, Maine.

Career

From the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Midshipman, 9 September, 1847. Passed Midshipman, 10 June, 1853. Master, 15 September, 1855. Lieutenant, 16 September, 1855. Lieutenant Commander, 16 July, 1862. Commander, 25 July, 1866. Lost on the Oneida, 24 January, 1870.

From Together We Served:

  • 1847-1850, USS St. Mary's (1844)
  • 1850-1851, USS Plymouth (1844) - (Sloop of War)
  • 1851-1852, USS Saranac (1848) Sloop of war
  • 1853-1853, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  • 1854-1855, USS Dale (Sloop of War)
  • 1855-1855, USS JAMESTOWN (Sloop-of-war)
  • 1855-1857, USS JAMESTOWN (Sloop-of-war)
  • 1858-1858, NAVSTA Boston
  • 1858-1860, USS Dolphin (12 gun schooner)
  • 1861-1861, USS Mississippi (1841) Sidewheel steamer
  • 1862-1862, West Gulf Blockading Squadron/South Atlantic Blockading Squadron
  • 1862-1863, USS Paul Jones (1862)
  • 1864-1865, Boston Navy Yard
  • 1865-1866, NRD Boston
  • 1866-1867, New York
  • 1867-1869, Boston Navy Yard
  • 1869-1870, USS Oneida (1861) Screw sloop

Remembrances

From the Marysville Daily Appeal, 24 March 1870, via the records of the US Naval Academy Alumni Association:

The Officers of the Oneida. Below we give sketches of some of the officers who perished in the ill-fated Oneida:

COMMANDER EDWARD P. WILLIAMS Of the unfortunate officers who lost their lives by he sinking of the Oneida Commander Edward P. Williams alone achieved reputation during the late rebellion, although nearly all the others participated in the various naval engagements and were able and gallant men. Commander Williams was born at Castine, Me., in 1827, and was appointed from that State to the naval service on the 9th of September, 1847. On leaving the Naval School, he was ordered to duty on board the sloop St. Marys, on which be remained until 1850, when he was ordered to the sloop Plymouth, and made his first cruise on her. From this vessel he went to the steam frigate Saranac, and in June, 1852, was ordered to the Naval Academy. On the 10th of June, 1852, he received his warrant as passed midshipman, and as such served on board the sloop Dale until 1855, when he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, his commission bearing date of September 16th of that year. At the outbreak of the rebellion Lieut. Williams was ordered to the Atlantic seaboard, and took an active part in the engagement on the Ogechee River. At the lauding of the Union troops at Pocataligo upon him devolved the duty of covering the expedition, which he performed well. Subsequently he was ordered to the squadron operating against Charleston, and distinguished himself in the numerous engagements that took place between the rebel batteries on Morris Island and the Federal fleet. At this time he held the rank of Lieutenant Commander, to which be had been commissioned on the 16th of July, 1862. He was one of the leaders in the famous night attack upon Fort Sumter, which was repulsed by the garrison with heavy lots to the Federals in killed, wounded and prisoners. Among the latter was Lieutenant Commander Williams, who remained in prison at Columbia, S. C., for over a year. On his exchange be was assigned to shore duty, on which he remained until the 9th of February, 1869, when he was ordered to command the ill-fated Oneida. On the 25th of July, 1866, he was commissioned a Commander, which rank be held at the time of his death. He was in all respects an able, gallant officer, and his manner of meeting death was as heroic as his life.

Related Articles

William Stewart '61, John Phelan '66, Charles Brown '67, James Cowie '67, Charles Copp '68, James Hull '68, William Uhler '68, George Bower '68, and George Adams '68 were also lost aboard Oneida.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

January 1848

Midshipman, Sloop St. Mary's

Others at this command: MIDN Richard Bowen '53.

January 1849

Midshipman, Sloop St. Mary's

Others at this command: MIDN Richard Bowen '53.

January 1850

Midshipman, Sloop St. Mary's

January 1852

Midshipman, Steam Frigate Saranac

January 1855

Passed Midshipman, Sloop Dale

January 1856

Lieutenant, Sloop Jamestown

January 1857

Lieutenant, Sloop Jamestown

January 1858

Lieutenant, Receiving Ship, Boston

January 1860

Lieutenant, Brig Dolphin

Others at this command: LT Charles Flusser '53.

September 1861

Lieutenant, Steam Sloop Mississippi

Others at this command: LT Thomas Buchanan '55.

January 1863

Lieutenant Commander, Steam Sloop Powhatan

January 1864

Lieutenant Commander, Prisoner of War

Others at this command: LT Samuel Preston '62 and ENS Benjamin Porter '63.


Class of 1853

Edward is one of 9 members of the Class of 1853 on Virtual Memorial Hall.