From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Colville Terrett '46

Date of birth: 1820

Date of death: September 18, 1860

Age: ~40


Colville was lost sometime after September 18, 1860, when USS Levant (1837) disappeared after leaving Hilo, Hawaii, for Panama.

He was born in Virginia and appointed to the Naval Academy from Indiana; he was survived by his wife and a son, Colville P. Terrett, who served in the Army as an infantry officer and retired a Colonel.


From researcher Kathy Franz:

In 1845 Colville was in China on the Constitution and needed to get back to the United States to take his next naval exam. In September 1846, he was still on the Constitution when the American ship Mississippi was brought into his convoy to Baltimore. She had just left Talcahuano, Chili, and he advised her of the war between Mexico and the United States.

From 1847-1851, he served on the Coast Survey, at the National Observatory, and then on the Cumberland. In 1851 he signed George Welsh's letter to the Navy and Congress requesting changes regarding the rank of passed midshipmen. In 1853 the Cadwalader Ringgold expedition to survey the coast of China was forming, and Colville wanted to be on it. Instead, he was ordered to the Marion and later to the Constitution.

Colville married Martha A. F. Mathews on 8/18/1851 in Washington, D.C. Their children were Colville born in 1852 and Julia born in 1859. They resided with her mother and brother in 1860 Baltimore. Colville’s wife never remarried as testified by her gravestone inscription.

Colville's son's obituary says his uncle George was a Confederate Colonel (he was also a Marine from 1830 on, and in 1847 led a charge on Chapultepec, Mexico). Colville's father, George was a respected figure in Fairfax County running the family plantation. He had 12 kids and died in 1842. Colville's grandfather was William Henry Jr (1749-1842) officer in Revolutionary War and served in the Virginia House of Delegates. His great-grandfather was William Henry who obtained the 982 acre plantation in 1741.

With all this said, Colville is never really mentioned as one of the 12 kids (there were 10 boys and 2 girls), but he must be if his brother was his son's uncle. There were a few other Terretts in Virginia, but none so plentiful as this group. About 2007 an archaeology group dug up part of the plantation area for a proposed development. They did find kitchenware, Navy and Marine buttons, and other artifacts.

When Colville was on the Constitution, he kept a journal which is reprinted as an appendix in the book: Experienced and Conquered: Frederick C. Fisher, Musician, U.S. Navy Aboard U.S.S. Constitution 1844-1846.


From the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Midshipman, 3 January, 1840. Passed Midshipman, 11 July, 1846. Master, 1 March, 1855. Lieutenant, 14 September, 1855. Lost in Levant, 18 September, 1860.

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 1842

Midshipman, Sloop Dale

January 1843

Midshipman, Sloop Dale

October 1843

Midshipman, Sloop Dale

January 1844

Midshipman, leave of absence

January 1846

Midshipman, Frigate Constitution

January 1848

Passed Midshipman, Schooner Phenix (coast survey)

January 1849

Passed Midshipman, Coast Survey

Others at this command:

January 1850

Passed Midshipman, Frigate Cumberland

Others at this command:

January 1851

Passed Midshipman, Frigate Cumberland

Others at this command:

January 1852

Passed Midshipman, Observatory, Washington

Others at this command:

January 1853

Passed Midshipman, Sloop Marion

January 1854

Passed Midshipman, Frigate Constitution

Others at this command:

January 1855

Passed Midshipman, acting master, Frigate Constitution

January 1856

Lieutenant, Naval Observatory and Hydrographical Office, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command:

January 1857

Lieutenant, Naval Observatory and Hydrographical Office, Washington, D.C.

January 1858

Lieutenant, Steam Frigate Minnesota

Others at this command:

January 1860

Lieutenant, Sloop Levant

Others at this command:

Class of 1846

Colville is one of 13 members of the Class of 1846 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.