From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
Lambert Palmer '68

Date of birth: October 12, 1848

Date of death: November 24, 1877

Age: 29

Naval Academy Register

Lambert Gittings Palmer was admitted to the Naval Academy with an At Large appointment on July 20, 1863 at age 14 years 7 months.

Naval Academy Photo Album

1868 Palmer 1.jpg

Prior to the publication of the Lucky Bag in 1894, most portraits of officers and midshipmen of the Naval Academy were captured in yearly photo albums. The album for 1868 is available in the collections of the Naval Academy's Digital Collections.

Special thank you to historian Kathy Franz for identifying this resource and then extracting several dozen photographs for this site.

1868 Palmer 1.jpg

Prior to the publication of the Lucky Bag in 1894, most portraits of officers and midshipmen of the Naval Academy were captured in yearly photo albums. The album for 1868 is available in the collections of the Naval Academy's Digital Collections.

Special thank you to historian Kathy Franz for identifying this resource and then extracting several dozen photographs for this site.


Lambert was lost on November 24, 1877 when USS Huron (1875) went aground and then wrecked in heavy weather off Nags Head, North Carolina. Ninety-seven other officers and men were also lost.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


From records of the US Naval Academy Graduates’ Association:


Sea service, 6 years, 6 months; shore duty, 6 years, 9 months; unemployed, 1 year, 1 month; in service, 14 years, 4 months.

Lambert Gittings Palmer was born, October 12, 1848, in Baltimore Co., Md. His father, James C. Palmer, was a surgeon in the Navy, one of the most distinguished, accomplished, and highly educated officers of his corps, who at the time of his retirement was Surgeon General of the Navy. His mother was Miss Juliet Gittings, of Baltimore.

Palmer entered the Naval Academy at Newport, July 20, 1863, at the early age of fourteen, and graduated in 1868.

His sea duty as a Midshipman was on the South Atlantic Station, to which he was ordered in September, ‘1868, Arriving at Rio de Janeiro in October, he reported to Rear-Admiral Chas. H. Davis, and was assigned to the flagship Guerriére, in which he continued to serve until that vessel went out of commission in July, 1869.

His later service was: in the Juniata, European Station, August, 1869, to July, 1872; Torpedo School, September, 1872, to July, 1873; Naval Observatory, October, 1873, to October, 1875; in the Huron, North Atlantic Station, November, 1875, to November 24, 1877.

He was promoted to the grade of Ensign, April 19, 1869; Master, July 12, 1870; and Lieutenant, November 10, 1872.

In September, 1874, Palmer married Miss Fanny Ashhurst, daughter of Mr. William H. Ashhurst, of Philadelphia.

In the Huron he served as Navigator until the night of November 24, 1877, when that ill-fated vessel was wrecked near Nag’s Head, coast of North Carolina, in a gale of wind.

When last seen alive, Palmer was standing at his station by the side of his commanding officer. The morning light discovered his dead body upon the sands of the North Carolina coast.

His widow survives him, but his two children are dead.

Palmer was a gentleman of the best school, and an officer of the finest sense of duty. He was gentle, amiable, and generous; cordial and affectionate to friends, uncompromising and unflinching to those whom he considered coarse and unworthy. In the last hours of his life, in a position of great peril, he displayed in an eminent degree the striking elements of his nature—courage, fidelity, and devotion to duty. R. P. Rodgers

From Army & Navy Journal on December 1, 1877:

Lieutenant Palmer, son of ex-Surgeon General Palmer, was born in Maryland in 1851. He was appointed to the Naval Academy by President Lincoln on July 20, 1863, graduating in 1868, and was promoted to lieutenant Nov. 10, 1872. He was married about two years and a half ago to Miss Ashurst, of Philadelphia and Newport, and leaves to children, who are with their mother in Washington. He was transferred from the Huron about ten days ago to the Swatara, but succeeded in having the order revoked, and returned to his ship to meet his death. He was a steady-going and reliable young man.

From Find A Grave:

The National Republican, Monday Morning, November 26, 1877

Lieut. Lambert G. Palmer
If it proves, as is sadly anticipated, that Lieut. Lambert G. Palmer, of the ill-fated Huron, was among the number who perished in the storm and darkness of Friday night of Kittyhawk, the wedding of his sister and Mr. Adams, of the British Legation, which was to have occurred upon Thanksgiving Day, will doubtless be postponed. The young lieutenant whom we remember to have seen last summer so full of life and promise among the gay society of Fortress Monroe while his vessel was stationed in Hampton Roads, was only twenty-six years old. He was a son of Commodore J.C Palmer, United States Navy and brother of Aulich Palmer, United States Marine Corp and was appointed to the Naval Academy in 1863 by President Lincoln. Less than three short years ago he was married to one of Philadelphia’s [should be Baltimore] fairest daughters, Miss Ashurst, who now resides with her two babies – the youngest an infant of but few months – on Sixteenth Street, near F. It is generally a mistaken kindness that, fearing to break bad news too suddenly, withholds definite information, even for an hour. The heart is a muscle and cannot break, but any certainty, however terrible, is better than the agonizing suspense between hope and fear, which sometimes whitens heads and does the work of years in a single night.


From the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Midshipman, 20 July, 1863. Graduated June, 1868. Ensign, 19 April, 1869. Master, 12 July, 1870. Lieutenant, 10 November, 1872. Lost on the Huron, 24 November, 1877.

Related Articles

George Ryan '61, Sydney Simons '67, James Wight '71, Walter French '71, Frederick Danner '74, and Edmund Loomis '75 were also lost when Huron was wrecked.

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 1869
Midshipman, Guerriere

July 1870
Ensign, European Fleet

Others at this command:
January 1871
Master, European Fleet
January 1872
Master, Juniata

Others at this command:
January 1873
Lieutenant, Torpedo Corps, Newport, Rhode Island

Others at this command:
January 1874
Lieutenant, Naval Observatory

Others at this command:
January 1875
Lieutenant, Naval Observatory
January 1876
Lieutenant, Huron

Others at this command:
July 1877
Lieutenant, Huron

Class of 1868

Lambert is one of 11 members of the Class of 1868 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

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