SAMUEL W. PRESTON, LT, USN
Samuel Preston '62
Date of birth: April 6, 1842
Date of death: January 15, 1865
The Lucky Bag was first published in 1894.
Samuel William Preston was admitted to the Naval Academy from Illinois on October 4, 1858 at age 17 years 6 months.
Biography & Loss
Born near London, Ontario, Canada, Preston was appointed Midshipman from the state of Illinois on 4 October 1858. Graduating first in his class, 9 May 1861, he was appointed Acting Master on 4 October 1861, and Lieutenant 1 August 1862. From 1861 to 1863 he served on various vessels attached to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Captured by Confederate forces during an attack on Fort Sumter on 8 September 1863, he was taken to Columbia Prison of War Camp at Richland County Jail in Columbia South Carolina and exchanged in the fall of 1864.
Ordered to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron as Flag-Lieutenant to Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter, he participated in the attacks on Fort Fisher on 24–25 December 1864, and 15 January 1865. He was killed while leading an amphibious assault of U.S. Sailors and Marines against the fort on the latter date.
Battle for the Capture of Fort Fisher, 13 January 1865:
All of the navy officers has gone into battle wearing dress uniforms, and as they charged, the navy man cheered loudly. Leading the assault party from the USS Malvern was lieutenant Preston. While the marine riflemen tried to keep the defenders of the fort off the ramparts, Preston and other navy officers led the charge up the beach but were hit with withering canister fire from the fort's cannons. Many of the charging attackers pulled their blue caps low over their eyes so as not to see the flashes of the enemy guns. The sailors were not trained in infantry tactics, and the assault became an unorganized mess. The marines failed to keep up their covering fire and joined the charge. Of the two thousand sailors who landed on the beach, no more than two hundred made it to the walls of the fort, but that number included all of the officers.
As the blue jackets approached the fort, North Carolina troops poured volley after volley of musket fire into the sailors. Preston fell no more than twenty paces from the fort's walls.
Samuel is buried in the Naval Academy Cemetery.
He is listed on the killed in action panel in the front of Memorial Hall.
Acting Midshipman, 4 October, 1858. Acting Master, 4 October, 1861. Lieutenant, 1 August, 1862. Killed in attack on Fort Fisher, 15 January, 1865.
Six ships in the United States Navy have been named USS Preston:
USS Preston (1864) was captured in 1864, commissioned in 1865 and decommissioned later that same year. USS Preston (1865) was captured in 1865 and sold in 1868. USS Preston (Destroyer No. 19) was commissioned in 1909 and decommissioned in 1919. USS Preston (DD 327) was commissioned in 1921 and decommissioned in 1930. USS Preston (DD 379) was commissioned in 1936 and sunk in November 1942. USS Preston (DD 795) was commissioned in 1944 and transferred to Turkey in 1969.
Benjamin Porter '63 was also lost in this assault; he was the commanding officer of USS Malvern, Admiral Porter's flagship.