In Old Washington (Navy Yard)
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, November 12, 1910 [pt. 2, p. 4]
At the navy yard, in 1821, the laboratory was built, and the schooners Grampus and Shark, each of twelve guns, and a gunboat were launched, a shipping house was erected, also a warehouse, rigging loft, etc., the wharves were improved and work was progressing on the frigate Brandywine.
In 1822 Chaplain Hunter died at his residence on New Jersey avenue, south of the Capitol, after eleven years service, and the year following B. Lawson was the chaplain. A sloop of war of eighteen guns was overhauled and Capt. S. Cassin was placed in command. By an act of Congress of 1824 the years was placed in the first class. In that year the frigate Congress, of thirty-six guns, was repaired. The sloop St. Lois was nearly ready for launching and the frigate Potomac, of forty-four guns, was repaired and refitted. In 1825 the frigate Brandywine, of forty-four guns, was launched and fitted up to take Lafayette back to France. It left here on the 8th of September under command of Commodore Charles Morris. Before leaving the ship was visited by Secretary of the Navy S.L. Southard and others. On the morning of the 8th the distinguished visitor was escorted to the wharf by the military and received on board with salutes and other honors. In less than a month, October 4, Lafayette was landed at Harvre, and Commodore Morris, being engaged in other work, turned the command over to Lieut. F.H. Gregory. The Brandywine then entered on a cruise and served afterward in the civil war.
Before 1827 the shallowness of the Eastern branch barred against the sending of large vessels here for repair, such work going to the New York and Norfolk yards, yet several years afterward official reports recommended it as a first-class building yard. Lieuts. B.W. Booth and Thomas Crabb were stationed in the yard at this time, and in 1826 Carey Selden, was appointed naval storekeeper. In 1828 the sloop of war St. Louis of eighteen guns was launched. February 2, 1829, Capt. Thomas Tingey died at his residence in the yard. He had served as superintendent and commandant of the yard and also as a navy agent, but was relieved from the latter duties only a few weeks before his death. Commodore Isaac Hull, who had made a brilliant record in the war of 1812 and had recently returned from duty in the Pacific, applied for the position, and was appointed thereto the May following. The senior sailing master, Edward Barry, died this year, and Dr. Cutbush resigned. Among the force in the twenties were William Doughty, naval constructor; Marmaduke Dove, sailing master; K. Menzies, boatswain; M.D.C. Marche, armorer; Benjamin King, master smith; James Bury, foreman blockmaster; T. Murray, master cooper; I. Nowland, model maker; J.S. Callan, master plumber; W.B. Ellis, engineer, and A. Serra, foreman of laborers.
About 1830 Lieuts. W.M. Ramsay, O.G. Gordon and J.T. Homans were attached to the yard, as was L. Heermann, as surgeons. W.D. Porter was at that time a passed midshipman and years after was admiral. George Marshall was gunner. Commodore Hull had been appointed navy agent as well as commandant, and in 1832 was relieved from the agentís duties, to which Elias Kane succeeded. Commodore Hull, on account of ill health, retired from the superintendency of the yard in 1835. During his incumbency much work was done, the most notable of which was the refitting of the frigate Potomac, in which Martin Van Buren, minister to the court of St. James, was to proceed to his post, and then was to relieve the Guerriere in the Pacific.
When, however, the Potomac reached New York harbor, information had been received that the natives of the island of Sumatra had attacked and robbed several of our vessels engaged there in the pepper trade. The ship then, under the command of Capt. John Downes, was ordered to proceed by the most direct route to Sumatra and demand indemnity, especially for looting the ship Frederick of Salem, Mass. She arrived off the island in February and on February 6, 1832, landed a force of 250 marines and sailors under command of Lieut. Shubrick.
The natives were intrenched in seven forts and they were surprised by the attack, which commenced early in the morning. For four hours the battle raged, one fort falling after the other and the village was destroyed. The nativesí loss was about 150. Our loss was two killed and eleven wounded. This brought the natives to their senses, and before the Potomac left those waters the native chiefs came aboard suing for peace. The vessel proceeded on her voyage, and among her officers were Lieuts. T.S. Dornin, B.B. Cunningham, F. Engle and John Rudd and nearly twenty midshipmen, including J.P Bunner, J.C. Carter, D. Cameron, J.P. Gillis, C.B. Hansford, H. Ingersoll, W.F. Irving, A.M. Irwin, Kinsey Johns, J.L. Lardner, H.T. Myers, J.W. Swift and A. Taylor.
There were yet on the roster of the yard many who had participated in the Tripolitan war and that of 1812. Among these was David Eaton, a boatswain, who, entering the navy in 1795, became a warrant officer in 1811 and was under Capt. Lawrence on the Hornet when the British ship Peacock was captured, and under Capt. Biddle when the Hornet captured the Penguin. Mr. Eaton was in the yard for many years dying in the service, and was well known, especially in that section of the city. His grandson, George G. Eaton, is the present representative of the family. Salvatore Catalano, a Sicilian was in the Tripolitan war and a pilot of the Ketch Intrepid when Decatur attacked and set fire to the captured ship Philadelphia in the harbor of Tripoli in February, 1804, and was conspicuous in many subsequent events during that war. He was a sailing master from 1811 to his death.
Marmaduke Dove was a sail master at the yard from 1812 to 1846, residing opposite the marine barracks, familiarly known as Capt. Dove and in civic affairs was very prominent, being a member of the councils for a number of years.
Rev. William Ryland was appointed chaplain in May, 1829, by his friend, President Jackson, and was active there to his death in 1846. He had before his appointment filled, the position of chaplain of the United States Senate for several terms, and in 1827 was a stationed minister at Ebenezer (now Trinity) M.E. Church in East Washington. While following his duties in the yard he also was a most active missionary worker of his church, and to his efforts much of the advance of Methodist interests in this section is to be attributed. He is especially remembered for his efforts in building up the Methodist congregation in South Washington and for the aid he gave, presenting them with the site. This church, known as Ryland Chapel, perpetuates his name.
Many of the officers and employes of the yard, as well as officers and men of vessels launched or equipped there, were connected with the yard for a lifetime, and some of them are known in he annals of he nation. Not a few now are represented in the navy or shops by their children or grandchildren.