JOHN G. TALBOT, LT, USN
John Talbot '66
Date of birth: August 16, 1844
Date of death: December 19, 1870
John Gunnell Talbot was admitted to the Naval Academy from Kentucky on April 15, 1862 at age 17 years 8 months.
Born at Danville, Kentucky, Talbot was appointed a midshipman in 1862 and graduated from the United States Naval Academy on 12 June 1866. Commissioned ensign on 12 March 1868, Talbot attained the rank of master on 26 March 1869 and of lieutenant on 21 March 1870. He was serving as executive officer of Saginaw when that steamer grounded on a reef off Ocean Island in the mid-Pacific on 29 October 1870 and broke up. Lt. Talbot and four men volunteered to go to Honolulu, the nearest port, 1,500 miles away, for help.
The men began the voyage in an open boat on 18 November and reached Kauai, Hawaii, on 19 December. However, as the party attempted to get through the heavy surf to shore, their boat capsized. Lt. Talbot and three others drowned while attempting to swim through the rough breakers to shore. The lone survivor, William Halford, reported the wreck of Saginaw, and her crew was saved.
He is buried in Kentucky.
The boat he sailed on is preserved in Saginaw, Michigan.
Midshipman, 15 April, 1862. Graduated June, 1866. Ensign, 12 March, 1868. Master, 26 March, 1869. Lieutenant, 21 March, 1870. Drowned 19 December, 1870.
USS Talbot (Torpedo Boat No. 15) was named for John.
The Last Cruise of the Saginaw includes long and detailed passages on John's experience.
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.
MIDN 2/c Benjamin Edes '65
MIDN 2/c George DeLong '65
MIDN 1/c Charles Kennedy '65
MIDN 3/c John Phelan '66
MIDN 3/c Lyman Spalding '66
MIDN 3/c George Totten '66
MIDN 4/c Charles Brown '67
John is one of 5 members of the Class of 1866 on Virtual Memorial Hall.
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