From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
George Borchert '59

Date of birth: April 28, 1839

Date of death: September 1, 1867

Age: 28

Naval Academy Register

George Borchert was admitted to the Naval Academy from Savannah, Georgia on September 20, 1855 at age 16 years 5 months.


From Find A Grave:

George Anton Borchert (surname also shown as Borchet), born Savannah, Georgia, April 28, 1839; son of Anthony and Louisa Borchert; original service in the United States Navy, from September 20, 1855; graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1859; entered the Confederate States Navy, July 23, 1861, as midshipman; served on the New Orleans station, 1861; promoted 2nd lieutenant, February 8, 1862; later served on the CSS Baltic, and the side wheeled gunboat CSS Morgan, Mobile Squadron, Alabama, 1862 – 1863; by order of lieutenant commanding William P.A. Campbell, dated at Charleston, South Carolina, June 8, 1863, he was ordered to proceed to Wilmington, North Carolina, and there board the blockade runner Sirius, for Nassau; served on the cruiser CSS Rappahannock, 1863 – 1864, and the ram CSS Stonewall, 1865; appointed 1st lieutenant, Provisional Navy, to rank from January 6, 1864; served, post war, in the Mexican Imperial Navy, and later in the Colombian Navy; together with fellow ex-Confederate Navy officer, John W. Murdough, he was hacked to pieces and murdered by an armed mob at Cartagena, Colombia, September 1, 1867. [ORN 1, 3, 729 and 2, 1, 292 & 320; Register1863; JCC 4, 121; Georgia in the War, 1861 – 1865, 107; New York Herald dated Friday, May 12, 1865, page 1; CSS Rappahannock Muster Roll; 1860 U.S. Census; New York Times dated June 13, 1859; Daily News and Herald (Savannah, Georgia) dated Wednesday, September 25, 1867; Confederate States Navy subject file N – NF – Distribution and Transfers.]

Abstract from Laurel Grove Cemetery Keepers Book: The remains of George A. BORCHERT were removed from South America, and were buried on 23 May 1869 in Lot 578.


From researcher Kathy Franz:

George grew up with the delicious smell of baking breads and cakes. His father Christian Erdmann Anton (Anthony) Borchert was a master baker from Mecklenburg Germany. In 1860 Savannah, George's mother was Louisa Magdalene (Spann); brothers Charles, 21, a machinist; William 17, Backman 14, Henry 8, and John 4. His sisters were Maria 19, Matilde 16, Alice 9, and Florence 1. Also living in the residence were three bakers, a clerk, and an Irish servant.

Nine days before being admitted to the Naval Academy, George and his father were at the United States Hotel in Washington, D.C. They must have seen the sights before enrolling George in the Class of 1859. George graduated #10 in his class, and his first cruise was on the USS Constellation. With him were his classmates Wilburn Hall, Theodore Kane, and Walter Butt. Willie Leonard was also on board, and his journal is published as USS Constellation on the Dismal Coast. The ship captured many slave-trading vessels during its two-year cruise to the African coast.

On April 3, 1861, George had actually submitted a letter of resignation. Flag Officer William Inman thought how presumptuous of a midshipman; “he is only an apprentice on trial.” Yet on May 22, 1861, George commanded the captured slave vessel Triton back to the States. Once in New York, he completed the legal and administrative work, and on July 24, 1861, he resigned his commission to join the Confederacy. He was given $44.70 for contingencies and was assigned to the Confederate steamer Florida. In March 1862, he signed for several ordnance stores in Mobile, Alabama. 

At this time, George's brother William was a prisoner at Fort Delaware. An exchange of thousands of prisoners was done at Aiken's Landing on August 5, 1862, but William died there. George's friend James Tomb was a prisoner at Fort Warren and was also exchanged at Aiken, but he didn't know William was there. Tomb's journal is published as Engineer in Gray. He mistakenly thought William was Henry.

Between 1862 and 1863, George served on the CSS Baltic, the CSS Morgan, and the blockade runner Sirius. He was then assigned to the newly purchased CSS Rappahannock in England. The ship was first detained in England but escaped. However, her bearings burned out, and she was taken to Calais, France, where she was again detained.

The crew was sent to Copenhagen, and boarded on the CSS Stonewall. It left on January 10, 1865. The ship was considered formidable by the Union, and several ships tried to intercept her in the Atlantic. At war's end, the ship was in Havana.  

After the war, George decided to go to Mexico with a large contingent of Confederates. He applied for lands to settle on permanently. He was a friend of the ex-Confederate John Murdaugh who asked him to join him on a trip in August 1867. Murdaugh and Lt. Dornin were commissioners sent by General Gutierrez from Santa Martha to Cartagena, Colombia, to investigate goods stolen from the steamer Rayo. At the Bolivar Hotel, they were attacked by General Mendoza's men. George and Murdaugh were shot and stabbed to death. They were first buried in the Protestant graveyard there, but George was later re-interred in Savannah. [In April of that year, the Rayo was illegally holding American passengers and sailors at Cartagena. The sailors boarded her as the R. R. Cuyler out of New York City for Aspinwall; but at sea, the Colombian flag was raised, and they sailed to Santa Martha.]

During the Civil War, George's father Anton made bread from rice flour. The newspaper reported it was sweet, "nutricious" and cheaper to make -- wheat flour being scarce and expensive. The Confederates paid Anton for the goods he supplied, but the Union did not. They used his bakery from 12/22/1864 to 11/24/1865 and then damaged it. Anton asked for reimbursement of $300/month rent, wood, flour, lard, and damages. Finally, $6,705 was awarded to his estate by the U.S. Government in 1910. The suit was brought by his daughter Florence's husband William Scherff.


From the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Acting Midshipman, 20 September, 1855. Midshipman, 9 June, 1859. Dismissed 24 July, 1861.

Memorial Hall Error

In addition to his loss not being an operational one, George was not at the time a Lieutenant in the Confederate States Navy, since that organization ceased to exist two years prior. He should not be in Memorial Hall with his classmates.

Class of 1859

George is one of 5 members of the Class of 1859 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

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