From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Reed '63

Date of birth: 1843

Date of death: January 11, 1868

Age: ~25

Naval Academy Register

John Henry Reed was admitted to the Naval Academy from Michigan on September 28, 1859 at age 17 years 1 months.


From Find A Grave:

Lieutenant Commander Reed drowned with Rear Admiral Henry Bell. They were on board the USS Hartford waiting for several days to cross the Yodo River near Osaka Bay. Their launch hit a bar and capsized. The water was freezing cold. Reed was trying to save a sailor that could not swim and both drowned. They were first buried at Hiogo, Japan, and then the remains were brought back to the United States. A procession brought his remains to his father John’s house at 126 Cass Street, and the service was at the Church of St. James.

Reed was a graduate of the US Naval Academy Class of 1863. Previously, he was a member of Chicago's recreational military drill team - the (Elmer) Ellsworth Zouaves - who later toured in 1860. Reed is buried between his mother Jane and his brother Horace. His sister Mary is buried next to her father. Their father was described as "a man of wealth, enterprise, and business integrity" (Prairie Farmer, vol 21, 5/30/1868) upon the opening of the Reynolds, Reed (John and Horace) & Bowen Brothers woolhouse at 19 & 21 Randolph.

From "Dangers of Naval Life" by Arthur H. Dutton, former Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, in the January-June 1909 issue of "The Overland Monthly":

On January 11, 1868, Rear-Admiral Bell and his Flag-Lieutenant, John H. Reed, were drowned by the capsizing of their boat while proceeding up the Osaka river, Japan.

He was on his way to shore from USS Hartford (1858), the flagship of Rear Admiral Henry H. Bell.

John is born in Geneva, New York and is buried in Chicago.


From the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Acting Midshipman, 28 September, 1859. Ensign, 25 November, 1862. Lieutenant, 22 February, 1864. Lieutenant Commander, 25 July, 1866. Drowned 11 January, 1868.

From researcher Kathy Franz:

  • 1861 – on frigate Potomac and ship Roanoke of the blockade squadron off Charleston, S.C.
  • Also in 1861, on USS Hartford, Mississippi River campaign. When New Orleans was captured, he was the third man on shore, and he lifted the flag at the Mint.
  • 1863 - Executive officer on monitor Weehawken which helped pound Fort Sumter to rubble during two separate bombardments on 23 August and 1–2 September. It later sunk in December due to heavy ammunition in its forward compartments.
  • 1865 - Lehigh
  • 1866 – 1868 – USS Hartford

Related Articles

Edward Hazeltine '63 was also involved in an operation under Farragut during the Civil War.

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.

September 1861

Acting Midshipman, Second Class, Frigate Potomac

Others at this command:

September 1862

Midshipman, Steam Sloop Hartford

Others at this command:

January 1863

Ensign, West Gulf Blockading Squadron

Others at this command:

January 1864

Ensign, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron

January 1865

Lieutenant, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron

January 1866

Lieutenant, Hartford

Others at this command:

July 1867

Lieutenant Commander, Hartford

Others at this command:

Class of 1863

John is one of 14 members of the Class of 1863 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.